Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring Cleaning! Just Do It!

I love Spring. I love clean. I would love to have someone else clean, while I spend Spring outside. Since the Cleaning Fairy doesn't frequent my home, it's time to dive right in and get that spring cleaning done myself. Come on now! We all know how good it feels to have it done!

Here's a few ideas to make your spring cleaning as pain and stress-free as possible.

-Short on time? Spring clean one room a day. This method can be a lot less stressful for moms and families with lots of activities and can't block out several full days in a row.

-Have a plan. What day? What room? What to do? I like lists. I get satisfaction from checking things off. Whatever works for you.

-Make assignments.  This is good for children who need chores to earn extra money or an attitude adjustment. Short of cleaning the barn stalls, washing walls and baseboards is great therapy!

- Have your cleaning supplies organized. Fill an empty bucket to contain the basics you'll be using in most rooms; 1) spray bottle with all-purpose cleaner, 2) sponge 3) Magic Erasers (dollar store brand works great) 3) clean wash rags 4) scrub brush 5) window cleaner 6) furniture polish 7) old toothbrush. 

I use a hanging shoe rack from the dollar store to organize everyday cleaning products. It's a spacesaver and makes it very easy to see. Items that small kids use the most are put at lower levels - like dusting and window cleaning materials.

- Have the family help clear things out before starting - toys off the floor, junk mail and old school papers cleared from counters and desks.

-Clean from top to bottom. Use the broom to dust out any corner cobwebs, dust the ceiling fan, clean the valances, throw the curtains in the washer and dryer while completing the room. Keep going!

-Don't neglect outside. Front and back porch, summer chairs and tables to spiff up, outdoor grills to wash down. Warning: Spring cleaning outdoors will get you in the mood to invite family and friends for a fun-filled  barbeque!

-Take a picture when you're done. Why? Because all of us with big families know that the toys and backpacks will be back the next day. It's nice to just see it all clean AND picked up, all at one time.

-A place for everything, and everything in its place. If there's not a designated place for something, it will end up where you don't want it. OR, you won't be able to find it when you need it. If you can't find a place for something, there's a good chance it's not something you need.

Cubbies are a good organizational tool. We have cubbies in our mudroom. They were  purchased at Ikea for about $40, and my son, Noah, put them together for me. Ours are quite heavy duty and durable. Make sure each child knows where they're expected to put their things.

-Last but not least, REWARD YOURSELF! Whatever it takes to keep you motivated. Maybe that's a personal reward after every room, or a family reward, like a fun outing, when the entire job is completed.


See you in the summer!

Monday, February 27, 2012

World! Stop Interfering!

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." - Proverbs 22:6
Kelsee, Lexi and Katey working on sewing skirts
Sometimes I just wish the world would stop interfering with our lives. 

This weekend I started teaching three of my girls how to sew, and the thought came to me, "This is how it should be; learning the essentials. How could I have let things get so in the way that my 14 year old doesn't know how to sew a dress?" There are more and more days that I want the old days back. I wish my children could have the kind of life I had as a kid.  A childhood of playing kickball and hide-an-seek with the dozen other neighborhood kids my age, of flying kites and thinking the school playground was an extension of our yard. After school homework, Gilligan's Island on the tv (which had 4 channels), ice cream snacks and a home cooked dinner every night at 6:00, outings to the store with Mom, going with Dad to check a jobsite or a school sporting event. Okay, my kids do get most of that, except we don't have tv, don't need it and don't watch movies on school days either. 

A time when kids could be kids!

But the difference is how busy we are. My household size has recently reduced (those kids just keep getting older!) to eight full-time kiddos. I have five children who are in therapy/counseling (again, a sign of the times, as these are children that we've adopted and have a history of neglect and abuse). Often I have children who are in sports or other church activities. All of these activities require a call to Mom's Taxi. That is a big difference in my childhood vs. my kidz lives; I walked or rode a bike most places. it seemed most activities were close by. I would not have my children ride or walk to most of their activities - not just for safety reasons - but the distances are greater, and we live in the middle of a small town. That means a lot more running and time involvement on my part. Kids are busy, and that keeps Mom busy!
In an old news publication is an article titled “Our Neglected Kids.” The article pointed out that “most of them are properly clothed and fed, but something is missing in the lives of countless children.” For many of them, “it is a matter of needing more attention from their parents,” who are caught up in everyday pressures."

Again, the world is interfering. And we are letting it! It's not just about my teaching the girls to sew, or play piano or bake cookies. It goes much deeper than that. I need to take time to do the teaching that I my mother taught me, and not let things of this world get in the way. It's all about priorities. 

L. Tom Perry stated the three most important principles to teach our children are Faith in God, Obedience and Love.

Faith in God
“If each and every one of us who are parents will reflect upon the responsibilities devolving upon us, we shall come to the conclusion that we should never permit ourselves to do anything that we are not willing to see our children do. We should set them an example that we wish them to imitate.” (Journal of Discourses, 14:192.)

Children need to see their parents demonstrating their faith on a daily basis.  They need to see our example of daily prayer, asking the Lord for His blessings and expressing our gratitude. They need to see us worshiping our Father in Heaven. They need to see us cheerfully and willingly giving our time and talents in the service of others. They need to see us studying the scriptures. 

Of course there should be prayer and faith and love and obedience to Heavenly Father in our homes. It is our duty as parents to teach tour children these principles. It begins by teaching at the youngest ages. Again, we are to teach by example. Without obedience and extracting discipline, children will not respect either the rules of our home or of society. David O. McKay stated, “Parents who fail to teach obedience to their children, if [their] homes do not develop obedience society will demand it and get it. It is therefore better for the home, with its kindliness, sympathy and understanding to train the child in obedience rather than callously to leave him to the brutal and unsympathetic discipline that society will impose if the home has not already fulfilled its obligation.”

A Reader’s Digest article written about enduring values stated “that the climate of our times tends to support the idea that love is a seasonal monsoon: it comes, it blows fiercely; it goes by. That is too bad, because a child needs the kind of love that is as trustworthy as the rising of the sun. If a child is to grow up to truly join the human race, he needs to know how to keep love alive. “A child should learn not merely learn to love, but to be a loving person—to make love his stance in the world. ‘Love’ may come and go, but a loving person, like the sun itself, never loses his or her sustaining warmth.” (Reader’s Digest, June 1981, p. 164.)

Again, the strongest teaching tool here is by example in our own homes. 

What can we do to "fix" this? How can I give my children more of what was such a great part of my growing up? This challenge has hit me like a swatter to that pesky fly. I'm determined to meet the challenge, and looking forward to some changes! I feel inspired that these "coming soon" changes will be of great, great benefit for our whole family.  I have much to do, much more to teach. I am setting my goal higher. I can do more, and I will.  

If we do not teach our children, the world will. And then where will we be?

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
-Proverbs 22:6

Friday, February 24, 2012

If I Had My Life To Live Over - Erma Bombeck

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the "good" living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather rambling about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted
in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television, and more
while watching life.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment, realizing that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."

There would have been more "I love you's" and more "I'm sorry's"

. . . but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute . . .
look at it and really see it . . . and never give it back.”
-Erma Bombeck

Friday, November 12, 2010

BIG Grocery Lists

My Grocery purchases for this week were as follows: (these are the highlights, not a complete list)
100# ground beef
12# sausage
15# bacon
24# strawberries
6# chicken tenders
5 loaves bread
2 dzn rolls
7 frozen bread dough loaves
3 cases individual juice cartons (approx 65 each case)
1 case individual milk cartons
1 case individual honey buns (80)
1 case saltines (500, 2pk)
1 case pancake syrup, individuals (500)
25# pancake mix
1 case +4 small flour tortillas, dzn (28packs  total)
1 case individual cheese sauces (approx 100?)
5 cartons ice cream
3# tater tots
3# hash browns
4# bratwurst
6# apples
1 case toilet paper (24 dbl rolls)
4 cases frozen pizzas (Totinos, and what a great deal on them! 48 total)
Fresh vegies
More, more, blah, blah

Okay, you get the picture. For most this is just not normal, however, for those of us with large families, you may recognize the list.

My sister, who has three grown children, was with me shopping yesterday. When the groceries were totaled (mind you, this was just one store), she's gasping and pointing to the amount on the register, $255. I'm smiling and saying "Great deals, huh!" I'm a good shopper (thank you Mom).

For most average families, it's a shocker the quantity of food it takes to feed a household of eleven (or thirteen, depending on who's there, or which college kids I'm buying food for!) Unless, of course, someone has the occupation of ordering for a restaurant or the cafeteria. Hmm. I'm sure I could do that job. I was purchasing from my grocers for months before one of the managers asked me about my restaurant.
"Uh, I just buy food for my family. We have a LOT of kids."

Our lists are just not normal - like our laundry! Ouch!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"It goes without saying that you should never have more children than you have car windows." - Erma Bombeck

In my dream world I would have a van that has sliding doors on each side. The inside would be made of materials that I could open up the van and spray the entire contents out with a hose similar to a fire hose.

Okay, in my real dream I am not driving a van, but a cute little sports car that holds four people and is no more than two years old and matches the color of my hair. Oh wait. I had that car, a 1980 Firebird, when I was 18 years old. Time flies.

In the real world, my real world, I'm driving a giant 15 passenger van that cannot seem to keep clean. Maybe that's because I would do anything, and almost pay anything, to stay out of the back two benches. Scary stuff back there.
 "Onion rings in the car cushions do not improve with time."
-Erma Bombeck

Friday, August 6, 2010

Use it up; wear it out; make it do or do without!

Green is my favorite color. But it's not what you're thinking.

I am pretty "Green". But I don't consider myself  "Green". Large families live differently. I think by necessity. It's that old saying, "Use it up; wear it out; make it do or do without!" Thank goodness for what my mother taught me! 
I've seen a few articles about being more earth friendly. I can't say I have studied them - but I'm always looking for a way to save a few dimes, and I just might find an idea to use. What usually amazes me, is how much Going Green our household already does. I re-use gift bags. I mix my own biscuits. No, I don't drive an electric car. Yes, I consolidate my errands. I wash full loads of laundry. No, I don't own reusable grocery bags. Yes, I save and use most of my plastic bags. I stick two toddlers, or more, in one bath (Heaven forbid)! Short showers? Not a problem! 
All of these things help me out, either by saving time or money. 
A few  of my creations

For years I've made many of my own products; smelly soaps, lip gloss, candles, balms, laundry soap, household cleaners, etc. And that's not counting the cooking mixes. We'll save those for another post.
Lately I've been in the mood to make soaps. It's been a while. It all started when my oldest son brought me fresh goat milk. My first thought was not drinking the goat milk, but how it makes such great soap!
Good natural products....
... but pricey!
This morning while searching around for tea tree oil in my local department store, I stumbled on a "natural" aisle. I had a double take when I saw the prices of these good products. Obviously, I have been out of touch.

For me, making my own products is a creative thing. I love thinking of new "flavors" for soaps. I love experimenting with blending different essential oils to get a good result.
It's been too long. I need to get creative!
If you don't make your own products, you may want to try it! Just for fun! That's how I started - by searching for soap making instructions.

Here's a few sites that will get you started: 
Soaps, Balms, Lotions 
This is my favorite. I also buy most of my essential oils and containers from this site. I don't get any kickback from them - they wouldn't even have a clue who I am. I just like their product and their price. Their instructions and calculator is great.

Laundry Soap

Make Your Own Mixes

Watch out, once you get started, you won't want to stop! Have fun!

"Use it up; wear it out; make it do or do without!"