Archive for March, 2010

When you have a 1 year old…

…always

always

look inside your coffee cup mug before taking a sip. It can make all the difference in your day.

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goat

What do you do when you have a goat and you’re moving in a few months and you can’t find a rental house that is goat friendly and not an hour away from the base?

We’re moving to the Jacksonville/Mayport Florida area in a few months and we almost have a goat.  Keeping this goat, which I want, depends almost completely on having a place to keep her when we move.  I can’t even think of having her unless we are sure we won’t have a problem housing her when we move, says my husband (why does he have to have such good judgement?).  If it were up to me I’d just bring her home and then worry about what we’ll do with her when we move. God gave me Ryan for a reason, I guess.

This isn’t a spur of the moment thing, getting a goat.  I’ve planned on having a couple of milking goats for years now – just waiting for the right time which never seems to come.  However, we have friends who have a bunch of baby goats now and we’ve been offered a very special one (special as in Kait was there when she was born). And all the sudden my dream of having a goat is closer to being a reality. 

But then there is that whole moving thing I mentioned above.

What was so close to being, is still as far away as it’s ever been.

[sigh]

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I photoshopped a smiley for this post

I write many of my blog posts a bit tongue-in-cheek.  A little sarcasm, a little humor.  It’s just the way I roll.
Let me assure you that if my life had me truly irritated or frustrated, feeling angry or bitter, I’m not likely to blog about it.  I like to keep you all thinking that I have it all together.  It’s one of those perks of the cyber world.  I can be whoever I want you to think I am.

The truth is, there is never a dull moment in this house.  
Sam said, “I need to blow my face”. I watched as he wiped snot across his cheek with the back of his hand.   This isn’t an unusual happening in 2 year olds.  But I’m sensitive to the little toddler things he does.  I find so much humor in my days with lots of children. 
And it gives me something to blog about.

Sometimes A lot of times I have a moment that reminds me that my life is alive.  I might write with a little sarcasm about it all, but that doesn’t diminish my joy one bit. 

Just so you know, I’m comfortable in this craziness.

Just so you know.

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Today

The front of the magazine that I got for free (I wouldn’t buy it because I’m against spending money) said “Get Cleverly Organized”.  Somewhere inside me a little bubble of excitement started to grow.  After an almost endless search through the encrypted menu page I finally got the magazine opened to the ‘organize’ section just to have my bubble burst.  The entire page is so cluttered.  Colorful, I like color.  But cluttered.

So much for organization inspiration.

The Milano cookie on the opposing page is equally disappointing, as it’s just shiny paper.  Jesse has got my back, however, and is taking care of that page for me as I type this.

It’s been a day.

Apparently I need an albuterol inhaler to breath.   I tried it for the first time this morning to help the bronchitis that has really overstayed its welcome, and I had the weirdest gitters for hours afterwards.  It was completely disturbing and I think I’d rather just not breath.  It’s just as well.  The inhaler didn’t do anything to help my weak, dry cough – just as I suspected it wouldn’t when the doc prescribed it for me last week.  I don’t have asthma.  I have bronchitis.

We went to Target to score a Pop-Tarts deal.  It was the best 20 minutes of my day week. To my surprise it was the big boxes of Pop-Tarts that were on sale.  I got them for $.50 a box and my kids about had a coronary (in a good way) when I opened some on the way home.  My favorite are the frosted strawberry, which is good ’cause, you know, they’re way more healthier when they have fruit in the title.  The kids ate up the Hot Fudge Sunday ones.  I’ll make them eat an apple tomorrow.

Then I forgot I was against spending money and sent Joe into the Petsmart to buy crickets.
Bugs.  We bought bugs today.  We’re keeping them in the house.
[crazy pills]

Then we came home and the kids made a mess.  Which I promptly had them clean up, just to have Jesse wake up.  Now the clean laundry basket full of clothes I have every intention of folding is strewn across the living room floor.  Sam is asleep on my side.  There are baby toys littering the hallway floor.

To top it all off I accidentally rented a Redbox flick I didn’t realize I’d already seen. 

How I hate it when I do that.

And my husband has to work tomorrow.  On Saturday.  On my birthday.

Did I mention that Sam was sleeping on my side? I can feel him breathing. 
[sigh]
What a precious end to my day. (i don’t mean that sarcastically, it’s a sweet thing)

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if you missed the beginning of this series, 
read all previous entries in order here

Recently we switched to all white dish cloths; white wash cloths for dish cleaning, and larger white utility cloths my husband picked up for me at the auto store, for drying dishes and counters.   The reason we thought to toss the old rags for an all white option is two-fold.

First, the smell that permeates the kitchen rags in our house is horrible.  Washing them does help, of course, but I can always smell a musty odor in them, even right out of the dryer.  Having all white towels means I can bleach them when I need to - keeping them looking and smelling quite clean.
Second, I like to have seperate towels for hand drying.  Those are colored and my kids know they are not for cleaning or wiping counters.    

While I don’t bleach my dish towels every time I wash them, I do like to give them a good bleaching once or twice a month.  When I do this I gather every last one of them, even the cloths still clean in the drawer, and do one load.  This way not one towel gets missed and I can easily see what my stash looks like and decide if I need to put new towels on the shopping list.  I try to do the bleach load right after the kitchen has been cleaned so there won’t be need of a cloth while they are in the washer.

For some reason, I enjoy taking the time to wash, dry, and fold my freshly bleached kitchen cloths. They are white, smell fresh, fold and stack neatly, and create such an organized looking space in our dish cloth drawer. 

It’s so pleasant and has brought an unexpected simplicity and freshness to my laundry routine.

Do you have a secret for keeping stink out of your dish cloths?  Please share.

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Finding Sanity – Laundry part 4 – sheets

if you missed the beginning of this series,
read all previous entries in order here

Specialty loads are actually my biggest hiccup when it comes to keeping laundry under control.  Things like bedding, bleaching, bathroom floor mats, and diapers always throw off my groove.  I’ve really had to work hard at keeping to a routine in this area to keep these things from falling behind. 

Bedding is today’s subject - There is nothing like crawling into bed with the scent of my favorite laundry soap lingering on my freshly washed bedding.  Something so simple as soft washed sheets…  I can’t even explain the comfort.

We have seven beds in this house.  That means seven sets of linens.  Two are crib sized, which I can combine into one load.  But the rest are twins, and my husband and I sleep on a king bed. 

That’s a lot of bedding to wash.

I used to do all our linens on one day each week. My goal in the next month is to get back on a regular weekly linen washing schedule.  I’ve done it before, I’m certain I can do it again.  Not only do I love, love, love the comforting smell of freshly washed bedding as I climb into bed, but washing my sheets weekly does wonders for my allergies. 

Tips that have helped me in the past to accomplish a strict weekly sheet washing regimen -

  • Start with an empty hamper. If you’ve have a basic laundry routine down this shouldn’t be too difficult.  I run a load the night before sheet wash day to be completely caught up and ready for all the bedding.
  • Get your kids involved.  Much of the laundry load (no pun intended) can be taken off your back by having the kids pull some of their own weight.  Have your children strip their beds down and bring the laundry to the laundry room first thing on sheet washing day. 
  • Don’t overfill the washer.  It is tempting when doing a lot of laundry in one day to stuff as much into your washer as possible.  However, if you resist the temptation to overfill your machine you will end up with cleaner, better smelling sheets.  Any job worth doing is worth the time to do it well.  Taking extra care to do reasonable sized loads will pay off in the end.
  • Set a timer.  Preferably one that won’t stop going off until you turn it off. This way you won’t forget to move the laundry in a timely manner, and won’t end up with a pile of sheets still needing washing at bedtime.
  • Use your favorite detergent.  No matter what detergent we use for our clothing that I might have gotten on sale or free with coupons, I always keep a bottle of favorite detergent just for our sheets. Looking forward to that fresh smell at bed time really does help keep me from putting off the job.
  • Have your children re-dress their beds.   My older 3 are responsible for helping their buddies with their sheets.  I take care of the baby’s and my own bedding.   

While this does take all day, it really isn’t time consuming.  Everybody has a minimal amount of work to do and all are pleased with a freshly cleaned favorite blanket.

Weekly sheet laundering might seem like overkill to some people, while not enough to others.  Evaluate your needs and available time and choose a sheet washing regimen that works for you.

How often do you wash your sheets?  Bi-weekly, weekly, monthly, or can’t remember when you washed them last?  Do you have an organized schedule for this?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Finding Sanity – Laundry part 3

if you missed the beginning of this series,
read all previous entries in order here

A few weeks ago I swapped the dinner preparation job with my 15 year old daughter for the laundry job.  Kait disagrees, but I definitely think I got the better end of the deal.  This switch not only relieved my daughter from a job she really disliked, but it has really shown me where I’ve been slacking off in creating and maintaining a smooth laundry routine.

Creating a laundry routine is essential when your goal is to form habits that don’t include letting laundry pile up in front of the TV (which, surprisingly, is where my clean laundry used to find itself). 
Laundry routines start with the people who wear the clothes.  That isn’t just you, but your kids play a role in this, too.

Put a dirty clothes hamper in an easily accessible place.  When you have young children in the home, having one place to deposit spent clothing may be the easiest way to go.  Not only does having one laundry depository make less work for me, but it also helps that I can look in one place and see how much laundry I have to wash.  This isn’t difficult – I’ve trained all my children (the nursling excepted) to put their clothes in one big hamper. 

Choose your laundry days.  I do one load, sometimes two, on an average day.  However, if you can’t wash daily, or simply don’t want to, pick out a few days a week as laundry days.  Getting into the habit of washing your family’s clothing on certain days of the week will take practice.  But with consistency you’ll be surprised how quickly a practiced routine can turn into a habit. 

Sorting your laundry as you go eliminates needing numerous hampers in your laundry area. Because I wash everyday it isn’t hard to sort and wash clothing in one load, towels in another.  The way I sort is a personal choice.  I have found that for me it’s not worth the added hassle of extra loads, to sort out colors, lights, and darks.  The simple act of separating out my towels from my clothing (which is a new habit for me) has made a tremendous difference in the feel and smell of my clothing.  And that’s enough for me.

Finding sanity in doing laundry starts with a simple routine.  Find one that works for you and stick to it. You’ll be pleased you did.

How have you simplified your laundry routine?  Tell us about it! 

Next up: Specialty loads.  Bedding, bleaching, diapers & bathmats

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tips that work

It’s quite often during my days that I run across guy stuff that I just don’t know what to do with. Little pieces of metal that look like they might go to something, screws, nuts, bolts, and such (how is anything in my house held together?)

I am done with keeping all these little items in a junk drawer forever just in case we may or may not need them sometime in the near or distant future.  I can’t make the decision to toss these things, however, and I think my husband’s head would swim if I bombarded him everyday when he walked in the door with “What should I do with this?”.

So I went and got me an old fashioned idea.  Before my kids could get a hold of it (why do my boys love containers?) I snatched up a plastic peanut butter jar canister (apparently the peanut butter jar was for Sam’s letters) and I am now putting every odd hardware trinket I find in this jar.  I’m keeping the jar in a cupboard in the kitchen where I can easily access it.  I’d rather have it out in the garage to bond with the other man-stuff but I’m less likely to traipse out there with a stray screw.  So, in the kitchen it will stay for now.

This way my husband can go through it at his leisure, I won’t accidentally throw something important away, and my drawers and the top of my dryer(?) will stay stray-hardware free.

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Finding Sanity – laundry part 2

if you missed the beginning of this series, read all previous entries in order here

Now that the laundry room is up to par, let us move on to the clothes part of doing laundry.

Laundry is inevitable.  We wear clothes everyday, and to avoid stinking those clothes must be washed now and again.  And when you throw kids into the mix, potty training, and spaghetti, you have the makings of a mountain range of laundry.

Years ago, when we began looking for ways to make laundry a little more do-able, it seemed like an impossible task to get and keep the laundry caught up.  Now, however, after practicing and practicing some more, keeping the laundry caught up has become easy. 

It didn’t happen overnight.  It has taken us years to get to a point where laundry doesn’t make us crazy.  We had to change a lot of our habits along the way, and I’ve learned that there is much more to keeping the laundry monster under control than just wash, dry, fold.

And it all starts with the clothes.

It’s time to simplify.

The hard truth is that the more clothes your child has, the more laundry you’ll have to do.  I don’t know the why’s or how’s of this.  I just know this is how it works. 

And I do feel you’re pain.  All those adorable clothes.  How are we supposed to get rid of even just one outfit?  But part of finding sanity in a lived-in space is cutting our attachments to material things.  We must become less stuff-motivated and more God-driven.  We must minimize.

There are a number of ways to help pare down your kid’s clothes.  I’ve used this system to shrink my own clothing stash, too.

  1. Evaluate clothing storage space.  Does your child have a dresser?  Do you keep clothes hung up in a closet?  Do all the clothes just sit in a laundry basket because by the time they get there you’re too tired to fold them and put them away? If you have a lot of space dedicated to clothing…
  2. Choose a smaller space to house it all.  Whatever size space you use for storing clothing, you’re likely to fill it.  That means if it’s a 4 drawer dresser, you’ll have 4 drawers of clothes.  If you only use two drawers for clothes, you’ll fill just two drawers.  My baby and toddler each have one drawer and you can bet each one fills quickly. 
    ***If your children’s drawers are nicely kept, the clothes hung up in an orderly fashion, you’re likely not to have laundry issues at all and have no need of this article. 
  3. Decide what clothes your child needs to keep.  Sally probably doesn’t need 15 Sunday dresses if she only wears one each week.  If you’re like us, you’ll find you really only need half of what you have (or even less!). If you’re having trouble tossing those cute hand-me-downs and auntie-gifts in the Freecycle box, maybe try storing them yourself in the attic or garage.  Each month trade out the stored clothes for the current ones.  This way Sally will get to wear all 14 dresses, but you won’t have to keep all 14 out.  Doing this is likely to show you that you really don’t miss all those clothes anyway and it will be easier for you to gift them to somebody else who needs them.
  4. If it doesn’t fit, toss it.  I’m not talking about the clothes fitting your child.  I’m talking about the space you have set aside for housing the clothes.  If you have all the clothes cleaned, folded, and organized, but they just aren’t fitting nicely, you probably need to get rid of a few more items. 
  5. Holes, stains, rips, tears – just trash ‘em.  This is my biggest problem.  A toddler shirt I’ve loved for a long time had a little hole and a stain on the front.  Not only that, but Sam’s dresser drawer was overflowing with clothing love from a friend at church.  He hadn’t worn the shirt for a long time (duh, it had a stain on it!) but for some reason I was still holding on. 
    It was time to let go.   
    I remember going through this same process before with my older children.  And, you know what?  I don’t even recall what those shirts I loved so much looked like.
    Remember, it’s highly improbably that you’re going to think about that shirt a week from now and wish you’d kept it. 
  6. This also goes for the older kids.  While your 10 year old may resist throwing away that torn and tattered shirt, if he can’t seem to keep his clothing in order, this will teach him better laundry habits.  I always tell me kids, “I don’t care what you keep, so long as you keep it neatly.”  They know that if mama has to constantly come in and repair their disorderly room she’s gonna get rid of stuff.   By sticking to this rule I have given them a way to keep their favorites, while opening the door to do away with worn-out clothing if I need to.
  7. Pick a day every month or two to re-evaluate your clothing needs.  Toss cruddy clothes, store outgrown clothes you’ll want to use for another child, and gift anything you want to get rid of.  This is the time to decide if your child needs new pants or a new shirt.  Making a list and sticking to it is a good way to not over-buy when clothes shopping.

And Finally -

Take these tips and design a system that works for your family.  Of course a system for a family with 2 children is going to look different than a family with 7.  A family with children in school is going to have different laundry habits than a family who homeschools.  Find what works for you.

How do you keep your kids clothes from over-taking your home?  I’d love to know!

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finding sanity in a lived-in space

…in the laundry room of all places.

Yesterday I cleaned out our laundry room. It had far too long gone neglected (I really should have snapped a picture). I took a giant rubbermaid in there and loaded it up with junk while little flurries of dust swirled around my already stuffed up head. I then wet mopped everything with a damp cloth.

Then there was clean. Peace. All of the sudden I could breath in that room. I didn’t hate being in there and I felt a surge of laundry-doing energy.

But [sigh] I still had this large rubbermaid overflowing this stuff. I also had drug out another very large box of other stuff we had been storing in the that room. And the library shelves (which are also in the laundry room)…

The work continued.

Thing by thing I went through those boxes. I kept only about 1/3 of the stuff in them. I freecycled that very large box, and the rubbermaid now sits empty in my living room.

The entire room has taken on a different feel.  My kids can now easily get to the board game cupboard - leaving no more excuses for not putting those games away properly and I almost look forward to doing the laundry today.

almost.

If you need some focus or direction today I suggest cleaning out your laundry room/area.  Don’t be discouraged if you can’t get to all of it.  Just start with the area directly around your washer and dryer.  Get your stuff organized.  Wipe down your appliances.  Find spaces for stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with laundry.  Trash junk.  Bless somebody with things you don’t need anymore.

Then maybe you’ll almost want to do laundry too!

How do you keep your laundry area in order?  What do you do with trinkets you find in the washer?

read all of this series in order here
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