Wednesday, April 30, 2014

When the Weather is Making you Grumpy

When I saw the rain coming down this morning, and felt the grumpiness rising up inside, I knew I needed to take action! I needed to do Something, Anything, to add a sparkle to the day. I searched around in my brain in desperation and pulled up an old, old idea. Do people still do Daffy Suppers these days??

After school the children went to work cleaning up the house with a will when they heard there were Big Plans for supper! When the house was set in order, I explained the event as smiles grew broader and eyes sparkled. We would each come up with a place setting for the table. Each place would then get a number and numbers would be placed in a cup. Come meal time whichever number you drew would show which spot was yours!

First of all, though, they helped with supper prep. Isaac stirred up the sauce for the meatballs and the girls peeled the cooked potatoes, then shredded them and mixed up scalloped potatoes. By the time Dad arrived, the suspense was nearly getting the best of some of us :) What fun to scoop up food with an ice cream scoop and glug water out of a jar, while someone else sipped daintily from a tiny cup and nibbled bites from a teaspoon!

It was fun, and it was worth it, and it did wonders for my case of the Grumps! But Lord, could we please have no rain tomorrow??

Sunday, April 27, 2014

When My Mind Went Wandering......

My mind went wandering in church Sunday morning. Shocking, I know. Especially considering it was communion morning! It stayed within the four walls of the church and dwelled on things pleasing to God, forgive me? Good. Cause I'm gonna tell you about it :)

Our church does not have segregated seating. And, just so you know, I've never been able to see the logic in segregated seating. Completely baffles my mind, but I digress. So anyway, I'm sitting in church, and I find myself observing the couples in front of us. (I'm sorry if you were one of those. It was all good, promise!) Let me paint you the picture.......

Here was a mother, chuckling at the eyes her son is making and nudging daddy to share the sweetness. Here was a daddy, reaching over to make the sleeping laddie on mamma's lap more comfy. Here was a couple, seperated on the pew by children, but sharing unspoken messages when daddy's lapful misbehaves. Here was a mommy, hands full with an unhappy little Miss, and daddy takes the hand off for a trip down the aisle.

I don't know if you see what I saw, but what I saw was beauty. Wasn't God amazing when He created husband and wife? When He planned for them to produce little people and nurture those little lives together? There was something beautiful about observing the working together, the love, the commitment, the "two-become-one-ness". And I marveled at a Creator who would plan it this way as my mind wandered in church Sunday morning. My heart swelled at the beauty, and I .... I don't know. I think I worshiped, even though my mind wandered on Communion morning..............

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Best Organizing Tip of All

It came to me one day, as I thought on organizing households and tips for doing such, that there is one tip that trumps all the rest! As a mom I can use space savers, and have a place for everything, and use a planner, and straighten up the house to keep me sane, but unless the rest of the people in my house share in my mission, it's really a hopeless one! Therefore, I submit to you, that the Best Organizing Tip of All is to Train Our Children!!

I've often heard moms with large families or older children say, "Oh, I have a lot of help!" And as my children get older, I see the truth of that! But, I also realize the truth of the fact that they don't become "a lot of help" all on their own!! So, while the secret to an organized household lies in our children learning the skill and putting it to practice, ultimately the ball lands squarely back in mom's lap!

So how do you do it? I'm asking for your input again: How do you teach your children to "be a lot of help"? Summer is coming up and I've been thinking about things I should teach my 10 and 12 year olds, any good ideas? And how do you make sure the younger ones learn the same skills the older ones did, any good tips? Do you teach certain chores at certain ages? Go by the abilities of individual children? Let their interests be a cue? Not every family does it the same or has to do it the same, but what works for you?

If you have some input to my questions (or ideas for things I haven't even mentioned!) jot them down and send me an email at I'll read them eagerly and share them with everyone sometime in May! I'll round up a few ideas we've used in this house too, and maybe we can all become a little better at putting to use this Best Organizing Tip of All!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It Is What It Is

Thoughts after hearing this Elizabeth Elliot quote along with my husband's favorite response to life: "It is what it is."
"God is preparing you for what God is preparing you for." -Elizabeth Elliot
Life happens
We wonder,
guess, ponder, speculate.....
Why this? Why now? Why me? Why?
Maybe He wants to....
Maybe this will.......
Maybe now we'll.......
Life happens
"We trust our Father", so we say.
But we sure would like to understand His scheme....
Life happens
What if It Is What It Is? What if we
Don't Need To Know?
What if we sat still and let our hearts grow?
Grow in love,
In obedience,
In grace, in patience,
In time spent seeking His face......
Life happens
Maybe It Is What It Is.
Maybe doing what we know is all that God asks,
Ordinary tasks.
Life happens
And while we obey,
While we follow, and do what we know.
Without grappling so
For answers,
And reasons,
And figuring out His Scheme.....
Suppose what He is preparing us for

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Thoughts From A Sleep Deprived Mother

It's been one of those weeks, the kind you don't want to repeat. Sick children, particularly babies, can drain away all the reserves of a mother so quickly! Not only that, they tend to drain away the reserves of a marriage, too.

Last Friday, Chris took off work to do a few things that needed done, but mostly for he and I to have some us time. We did our errands and ate lunch and then, instead of the usual Thrift Stores, shopping, etc that would be our norm, he took me to an Arboretum. We wandered around there on the paths, dodging mud puddles and enjoying the beginnings of green showing up in the woods. Mostly, though, we just enjoyed each other. We held hands and talked and laughed and sat on the old log cabin's porch and kissed until the bees chased us away! It was lovely.

One week later, and I feel like I'm dying for some us time!! We haven't slept in the same bed for most of the week and waking hours have been spent on everyone but each other. And it's necessary; it's part of being parents. I wouldn't want anybody else to be comforting my sick child! It's beautiful in it's own way, really. Him sending me to bed at 4 a.m. to get a little sleep, me rubbing his back when all I want is to collapse and do nothing....

What I'm thinking though, is this: If it takes so little time to deplete that lovely day off of only a week ago with someone I can see and touch and hear and feel, why am I surprised when my prayers suddenly seem to be bouncing off the ceiling? Might my relationship with my Heavenly Bridegroom take just as many (or maybe even more) lovely moments at an Arboretum? I know we don't always have time for Arboretums, but I know I, for one, could put in a lot more effort to make sure my reserves with my Heavenly Bridegroom don't get depleted! .......or has lack of sleep messed with my mind and this comparison doesn't even make sense?? It seemed like it did, in those few minutes alone in the bathroom........

Thursday, April 17, 2014

And, Somedays, THIS Is My Life

Some days the busyness and activity of life fades into a blur... There's little, hot bodies to be rocked and sung to. There's tylenol to be measured and soothing to be given. There's nights spent between couch, rocking chair and bed. There's mornings, when we stagger forth, wondering which way the truck went that hit us 3 times?? There's sitting and holding and rocking, while dishes and laundry and eating lunch waits. There's tip toeing to the bed to cautiously deposit little head onto pillow, only to replace little head on slobbered shoulder again minutes later. There's weariness and tears and pleading prayers to the Father for relief!

Yes, if these little people ARE my life, then days like this are also my life! Thankfully, there's husbands to lend helping hands and shoulders for tears. There's older children to take up the slack and help to keep things running smoothly. And, there are Doctors. Doctors to say, "Yes, he's starting with an ear and throat infection, I'll get you an abtibiotic!" Best of all, there is sweet, welcome relief in knowing that my smiling, busy baby should be back shortly!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

On Doors Closed to the Past, and Doors Open to the Future

I was born and raised in Arkansas. Save for a short, 13 month stint at a children's home in VA, I've never lived anywhere else. We Southerners have always been a little too proud of our "southern-ness", and I exception! As a child, we always had this special verse we added to the song "This Little Light of Mine" it went like this, "Shine all over Arkansas, I'm gonna let it shine..." I was always rather proud of that verse.

Almost 3 years ago, our little family packed up all our earthly belongings and moved North. After 10 years of submerging my long-suffering husband in the wonderfulness of my home state, the time had come for me to have the tables turned. The other week, my little girls were playing, and the song they were lustily singing suddenly caught my attention - "Shine all over Antrim, I'm gonna let it shine..." Something seemed to hit me in the pit of my stomach! Oh yeah. We really aren't from Arkansas. Most of my children won't even remember being from Arkansas! Ouch.

This morning, I'm feeling that same feeling again. This morning, I will become a member of the Antrim Mennonite Church. It's time, it's necessary, and I'm totally on board with it, but it feels final, like the last nail pounded into the door on the past.

I know in my heart that final nails pounded into doors of the past only means there's a new door open wide to the future, a door God is holding open just for me. So, I'll allow a few tears this morning. I'll allow some sadness for what was, and what might have been. And then I'll dry my tears, hang a pretty wreath on the closed door, and live in the present.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

More on Organizing

I love lists - to do lists, what I need to pack lists, don't forget lists, grocery lists... you name it! Last year my mom gave me a lovely planner by Dianna Overholt called Guiding the House. I loved it!

There were just a few problems with it. 1) It only lasted one year and, if you will recall, I don't like to spend money :) 2) I used less than half of it. There were about two or three sections that I really loved, the rest wasn't really that useful to me.

So, at the beginning of 2014, I took a $.15 notebook from our school supply stash and made it my "planner"! My favorite part of the boughten planner was the section marked Days. Each page had the date for the week at the top: April 7-13. Then the page was divided into 7 spaces with the day of the week and the date in each space. At the bottom was some extra space for misc things.

I decided I could take a notebook and make my own pages like that! I like to jot down things in the spaces on dates that I know ahead of time and need to remember. Every morning (or the evening before) I like to make a list of things I'd like to get done that day. I might jot down a note on the weather, just for interest, or something interesting that happened. At the bottom, in the misc space, I might list some things that should get done in the week.

I don't strictly abide by my lists, but it helps me to be motivated if I at least jot down a list! I'll be honest, sometimes I write things down after I do them just so I can cross them off :) Another reason I like it is because I write a weekly email to family and it's so much easier to write if I can glance back and see what we did each day! I also used tape to make tabs in the back of my notebook for 2 smaller sections for Things To Remember and Misc. These make great places to jot down ideas for birthday gifts, lists of who I sent Christmas cards to last year, recipes to name it! It's nice to have one place to go to look for "that thing I wrote down the other day"!

My notebook is already looking raggedy, instead of sleek and clean like the boughten planner, and I didn't count to see if I'll have enough pages for the whole year, but I like it. If it falls apart or I run out of pages, what's another $.15 for another one? ;)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Amidst the interruptions of writing multiple blog posts and combing my hair and brushing my teeth and doing laundry and cleaning my grimy stove and microwave (Wait. I never finished that did I?!), we did this today! :) The girls were more then thrilled to fold and press and tape. They can't wait to see if Jasmine will notice them when she comes home from school :) Yes, they ARE my life!!

They ARE My Life

I've been remembering an incident lately, and been meaning to write about it but haven't gotten it done. This morning I read this:u and couldn't believe how nearly she took the words out of my mouth!

It happened way back, when I was a mother of 2 (yeah, waaay back! :) ) I had been married maybe 3 1/2 years and my life was pretty much taken up with dishes and dirty laundry and diapers for two and naps and discipline and breastfeeding and reading "The Saggy Baggy Elephant" for the 23rd time! One day I was at my parents house and my dad was watching me be a mom. He suddenly asked me, "What in the world is it like to be a mom?" My mom looked at him strangely, like duh, you're a dad! And we were both like no, it's not the same to become a dad. Before you're a dad you go to work every day and after you're a dad you go to work every day. Before you're a mom you pretty much do what you want every day and after you're a mom you pretty much do what your children want every day! (Granted, it's not quite that simplistic, but you get the point.)

So, what in the world is it like? Well, I had just had this epiphany of sorts not long before my dad asked that question, so I told him: "One day recently I was feeling frustrated with all these "interruptions" that were "ruining my life". I couldn't do the things I used to enjoy anymore - no volleyball, no leisurely shopping, no late nights reading.... Then suddenly it hit me! They aren't ruining my life, they ARE my life!"

I've forgotten that fact many times in the years since, forget it daily, it seems! Most of the time I'm scurrying along with My life, My agenda, the things I want to get done, wish I could do. How would it look if I would really embrace the fact that the little voices interrupting my phone calls, my writing, my list of "to do's", are really My Life, and My Agenda is the interruption, instead of the other way around?

I have a feeling things would look a lot different around here. There would undoubtedly be a lot more patience and love and a lot less sighs and sharp words!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Happy Birthday Charles!

How is it possible that a year ago at this time I hadn't met this little man who is now such a big part of my life? How is it possible that a year ago we welcomed a tiny, helpless little bundle and now he is pulling books off of shelves and walking along furniture? Some days I wish I could freeze time right here and keep my baby this size forever! The bright eyes, full of mischief when you smile and giggle. The little head that snuggles on my shoulder when you're tired. The clinging little hands that reach to feel the moles on my neck when you're happy to be with mom again. That lickety split crawl that takes you wherever the action is. That certain "uhh uhh" fussing that means you need rescued from atop a chair or couch or steps..... But life goes on and time can't be frozen. My little man will continue to grow and change and learn. Happy Birthday Charles!
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Space Savers

Living in a 720 sq ft house with no closets and a family of 5 children has given me lots of opportunity to get creative when it comes to household organization! Most of the time I rather enjoy the challenge, although I have my days and my dreams... One of the things I have found to help tremendously is Space Savers.

I don't like to spend money. Chris teases that I don't think something is a bargain unless it's free! :) That's stretched, but you get the idea. Usually I have tried to organize with what I have - cardboard boxes, baskets, whatever. I've finally decided that in this house it's worth spending a few $$ on some nice things to make the place more tidy!

There are sooo many things you can buy!! Here's a few of my favorites that have helped around here: (clockwise from top left) 1) Plastic drawers under the short hanging clothes for sweaters, etc. I used boxes turned on their side and stacked but this looks SO much neater! 2) Three small turn tables in my big, unhandy corner cupboard in the kitchen where anything you put in the back you might as well forget about getting to! Works wonderfully!! 3) Over the door hooks to make extra space to hang clothes on hangers. I use these nearly every day! When I wash, the dresses go there to dry. 4) Again, plastic drawers. The bathroom vanity doesn't have drawers so where to put toothpaste and all that good stuff?? Small plastic drawers in the cupboard under the sink work great! 5) Shoes. Under the bed has been the place for shoes around here, but that space could be used for so many more things, ya know? ;) This shoe holder hangs in the girls room and takes up very little space! 6) Over the door towel racks. In our teeny tiny bathroom there is no space for racks and the walls in the laundry/sink area outside the bathroom had no free space, so these towel racks on both doors were the perfect find!

And there you have it! A few Space Savers I've discovered. Check back in 6 months and I may have found more/different ways :) What do you do around your house?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Some Organizing Tips from You, to You!

It was fun hearing from a few of you, especially since it introduced me to one person I didn't even know! :) So...a few tips:

From a mother of 11 - "Putting items of a like kind together will help you find something much sooner than if you don't have categories." Very true! I can see this being a good idea for toys, for example, along with the elusive scissors, tape, and many other categories.

From a friend in OH: "Probably the row of hooks in the laundry room for coats, jackets, umbrellas with crates underneath for shoes, crocs and rollerblades. Oh, and the muffin tin to sort loose change and paper clips and stuff in the drawer." Coats, jackets and footware are a major thing in need of some organizing in any house with children! And I love the muffin tin idea...someday when I have an extra drawer :)

From an old time friend: "How can you organize when you don't know how?? The book *Large Family Logistics* by Kim Brenneman is helping dig me out of the hole of unorganization." Sounds like a book worth reading!

And then from a family member: "Guess the older I get, the less answers I have. And maybe realize that at this house, for this time, there are other important things. 'The things that really count are the things we cannot count.' T.J. Bach. Still, clutter drives me crazy and it's hard to have rest in my spirit if everywhere I look is a mess. So it's nice if in the evening the living room or sitting room gets straightened up. A restful place to read and pray before the day gets too busy." I so identify with that last part! There is something about a straightened up house that can change my whole mood!!

Thank you all very much for your contributions and if this inspires anyone else, feel free to send me an email at Tomorrow: Some tips from me :)

PS I am thrilled to have a new phone - hence the length of this post!! Look out, now you'll find out how long winded I can be! :)

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