Monday, June 22, 2009

7 Years Already?

Today is our 7 year wedding anniversary! We are putting off our celebration for a few weeks as the new baby's arrival is looming, but we have big plans! We are going back to House Mountain Inn in Lexington, Va. We have been there a couple of times and LOVE it!

I can hardly believe that I was preparing to walk down the aisle (at 10:30 am- just 30 minutes from now!) 7 years ago today! It was a wonderful day, and every day since has been wonderful, as well! I love you sweetie and I'd do it all over again!


Monday, June 15, 2009

I'm going to whine now...

So far, I have refrained from whining too much here on the blog. There are so many verses I could claim (and I do):
I Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

I am currently in the last couple of weeks of pregnancy. Eden was "late", so I expect I have longer than a couple of weeks, but a girl can hope, right?

The last month or so of pregnancy is traditionally a time where the discomfort level goes up as the baby gets heavier and sleep doesn't come easily and your back is killing you and you have leg cramps and walking from the car to the front door has you panting like you just rant the 100 yard dash and you have contractions all the time (that the medical community calls "false" labor- "false" my foot! I'm the one stopped here in my tracks in the middle of the store!). Then there is the need to pee. It is URGENT, but then you get there and you can only eek out a teaspoon! Yes, you feel better, but you realize you just ran/waddled to the bathroom for a teaspoon of pee and yes, that is all you bladder will hold. Then there is the swelling that happens in feet, legs and hands. This occurs because of increased blood volume (necessary to grow another person) and because the baby gets bigger there at the end and sits on the veins that carry blood from the lower extremities to the heart. This causes pooling of blood in the feet and legs (those puffy, sometimes painful, feet) and is the reason you will often see really pregnant women at church (or work or the grocery store) in bedroom slippers.

Well, I breezed through my pregnancy with Eden. While I did have some of those symptoms, they were insignificant in the light of the miracle that was happening inside me! The fact that God himself was "knitting" together a new little person for His glory right there inside my womb was not only amazing and beautiful, it was something that made me feel connected to women across time and culture! Anyone who has experienced pregnancy can probably relate to this. Truly, how lovely to be a woman! I had a beautiful natural birth with Eden and literally within minutes of pushing her out, said out loud that I couldn't wait to do it again!! I really meant it!

All of this to say, I feel like I have missed the miracle this time. I understand what a difficult pregnancy is like now. I understand what it is like to forget that God is working because of the physical trials that are ever-present. I understand the people who take drastic measures to control their family size or wait 10 years before having a second child after a difficult pregnancy.

I'm not really going to whine... my babe is healthy and wiggly and due to arrive really soon. Yes, I have had some physical trials this time, but praise the Lord !! I now have actual sympathy for others who are living their pregnancies on the edge of a breakdown. I now know the exact things that are NEVER appropriate to say to a pregnant woman (maybe I'll post on that one day). I have been there, I have lived it. I just want to let all of you know that now I "get" it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Rivah

The view from the house (I can't remember the name of the creek)!


Eden and I had a wonderful couple of days Monday and Tuesday! We went to the river (or if you are from Central Virginia, the "Rivah")! We went with my mom (aka, Nanny) and her mom (aka, Mema). We stayed in a cousin's house in Reedville.


3 of the 4 generations (someone had to take the photo)!


We spent some time gardening, playing at the beach and reading old letters. The letters were correspondence to and from my Mema's great aunts Sally and Mary (this would make them my great, great, great aunts). Most of the letters were regarding the Ware family genealogy. Some were from folks looking for their own family history (many were seeking membership in the DAR- Daughter's of the American Revolution). We found lots of interesting documentation including copies of several wills that dated back to pre-Civil War era.


Eden watered the plants.


The Potomac River.


Eden loves the beach!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Adventures in Homemaking... Part 3: Real life?

As promised, today I am going to talk about what my life looks like on a "normal" day.

Here is my daily "Morning Routine."

Morning Routine

 Make the beds.

Get showered, dressed and ready for the day.

Wipe down the bathroom.

Bring down the laundry.

Help Eden feed the dogs. 

What a way to start the day!!!

I am usually out of the bed around 7-7:30.  If Eden is not awake yet (pretty rare) I go ahead and make the bed before I head downstairs with a load of laundry (although I have been really slack with this one since I have had some pregnancy issues that have made lifting and stairs impossible for me).  If Eden is awake, we leave the beds for later, potty and head downstairs for breakfast.


If I did my bedtime/ evening routine, my kitchen is clean!  Brandon makes his lunch and unloads the dishwasher while Eden and I eat.  After we eat, I help Eden feed the dogs (her "chore").  After Brandon leaves for work (around 8), we head upstairs for bed making and getting dressed.  If we have somewhere to go that morning, I shower, if we are staying in, I wait until naptime to shower (Eden likes to talk, and I am a completely captive audience for her while I am in the shower... it is a little exhausting).   I wipe down the bathroom counter and swish the potty (admittedly, I am not as  diligent about this as I need to be).  We head downstairs with our load of laundry (if it hasn't already been done).


At this point, the morning is free.  If I have been keeping up, the house is neat and I don't feel oppressed!  We play and pass the time however we want.  Sometimes, I will get started on my room for the day.  The living room and kitchen are the easiest as they are where we spend a lot of our time anyway.  I prefer to do my jobs when the little "helper" is napping as she can add a special level of frustration to cleaning!  She is really good at dusting, though, so I almost always let her help with that! ;)  If I have To-do list items that need to be done, I work on these now.  For example, this week I had to call the hospital about setting up a payment plan for Eden's ER visit bill, find out how to return the non-functioning iron I just purchased off of Amazon, pack my hospital bag, and a few other things that are not normal weekly tasks.


After lunch, we wind down for nap time.  I can usually count on an hour and a half of down time (sometimes she sleeps and sometimes she just has rest time).  If I am efficient, I can catch a nap myself (during early and late pregnancy this has been a really important part of my day)!  I shower and get to work.  I have considered changing the name of the Naptime Routine to the Afternoon Routine since more often than not the Naptime Routine gets done when Eden wakes up.  These are all things that can be easily done while she has a snack or depending on the meal, she can help with dinner prep (she LOVES to cook)!


Naptime Routine

Get dinner started.

Fill sink with soapy water/ clean as you go!

 Clear and set the table.

Freshen make-up.

Brandon will be home before you know it!!!

This part of the routine is pretty self-explanatory.  The cleaning as I go is the most important part of the whole thing.  I feel a real freedom working in a clean kitchen.  I keep a hand towel on my shoulder, a basin of soapy hot water in the sink, and a fresh washrag hanging on the edge of the sink.  This allows me to quickly clean up spills, rinse the dishes so they are ready to go in the dishwasher as soon as I am done with dinner prep, and keep my hands clean.  When I am done, I either put on a little makeup or freshen up so I don't look like a haggard housewife when my sweetheart walks through the door.


Let me just take a second to talk about how important I believe it is to "get pretty" in preparation for your partner to come home.  For any of us who worked outside the home (especially in a corporate environment) we know that the wardrobe of a SAHM is quite different!  I am not scrubbing toilets and changing diapers in my business casual.  Let's be honest, "dressed up" becomes jeans and a t-shirt with no stains.  I am not saying you have to get all dressed up for him to come home, but think about it for a second.  Your partner has been seeing strong women at their best all day.  They may not be gorgeous women (they may be, I don't know), but they are likely neat and clean and they look like they care about their appearance!  If he has to leave that every day and come home to a wife who is worn-out, haggard, unkempt, and wearing stained sweats, he may prefer to stay at work!  Let's make our partner's homecoming a pleasant event!  Wash your face, comb your hair, put on a clean shirt.  If our homes are going to be clean and pretty, we should try to be just as clean and pretty!  


Okay, back to the day!  In the evening, after Eden is in bed, we move on to the before bed routine.

Before Bed Routine

Clear out sink/ load and run dishwasher.

 Prepare clothes for tomorrow.

Brush and floss teeth.

Check calendar for playdates/ appointments.

Go to bed at a decent hour!

This is all self-explanatory!  I wanted to develop a flossing habit, so I added that to the list.  Making sure I have something to wear the next day makes the morning go smoothly (especially if I have somewhere to be).  

So, now you know all about my daily tasks, but what about the weekly schedule?  I made a list for each day of the week, Monday through Friday. One room (or 2) per day… if I don’t get to a task or room this week, it waits until next week.  Sometimes this is not ideal, but I won't throw off the rest of the week to finish what I should have done today.  I do no housework (other than daily tasks) on Saturday and Sunday.  Each day has a room and the list of all the possible things that I could do to clean that room.  I do not necessarily complete all of the items on the list each day.  I do the main ones, and others can be done less often (washing curtains, for example).  So, here it is...

Monday Cleaning List

 Entrance, Front Porch, and Dining Area

 

Entrance Detailed Cleaning List:

1. Clean cobwebs 

2. Wash inside of front storm door 

3. Clean switch plate of hand prints and walls if needed 

5. Clean off coat rack

6. Straighten the coat closest 

7. Sweep or mop the entryway 

 

 Front Porch Detailed cleaning:

1. Sweep down cobwebs and spider webs

2. Sweep off porch furniture/ wash table 

3. Sweep the porch. 

4. Water the plants/ hanging baskets 

5. Refill bird feeders

6. Wipe off light fixtures

 

Dining Area Detailed Cleaning List:

1. Clean the cobwebs 

2. Dust fan

3. Dust window sills 

4. Clean the window 

5. Dust boxer calendar

6. Wipe down Eden’s chair and booster

7. Clean off top of Dining table and scrub any stubborn stains

8. Dust the rungs of the chairs

9. Dust the baseboards

10. Move chairs and sweep underneath


Tuesday Cleaning List

Kitchen

 

Kitchen Detailed Cleaning List:

1. Clean cobwebs

2. Clean microwave inside and out 

3. Clean stove and oven 

4. Dust fan/ vent/ hood

5. Wash inside windows

6. Dust window sill and knick-knacks

7. Empty refrigerator and clean

8. Wipe down cabinet doors (a few per week)

9. Check light fixture for bugs (clean if necessary)

10. Clean dog dishes

11. Clean inside any cabinet/ drawer that needs it

 

Wednesday Cleaning List

Downstairs Bathroom and one Extra Room

 

 Bathroom Detailed Cleaning List:

1. Wash area rugs 

2. Scrub floor/ baseboards

3. Straighten cabinets

4. Clean tub/ bath walls

5. Wipe down shower curtain 

6. Wipe down sink

7. Scrub toilet inside and out

8. Wash mirror

 

Extra Bedroom Detailed Cleaning List:

1. Clean cobwebs

2. Straighten closet 

3. Sweep floor

4. Beat rug

5. Dust/polish furnitrue

6. Wash window/ sill/ dust shutters

7. Dust knick-knacks

8. Wash mattress pad/ sheets if needed

9. Clean sewing area

10. Straighten shelves

 

 Office Detailed Cleaning List:

1. Clean cobwebs

2. Clear off desk surface

3. Straighten one drawer

4. Dust furniture/ knick-knacks

5. Clean off computer screen/ keyboard

6. Sweep floor

7. Wash dog bedding/ towel under crate

8. Clean window sills/ windows

9. Shred documents

10. Dust fan

 

Laundry Room Detailed Cleaning List:

1. Clean cobwebs

2. Clean under washer lid

3. Clean top of washer and dryer 

4. Vacuum floor

5. Check behind appliances for odd clothing items

6. Wipe down table and countertops/ sink

 

Thursday Cleaning List

Bedrooms (Master and Children’s)

 

Children's Bedrooms Detailed Cleaning List:

1. Clean cobwebs

2. Dust/ polish furniture

3. Straighten closet/ shelves/ drawers

4. Wash sheets 

5. Clean window sills

6. Straighten toys

7. Vacuum/ dust baseboards

8. Dust fan

 

MASTER BATHROOM - DETAILED CLEANING

1. Wash area rugs 

2. Scrub floor/ baseboards

3. Straighten cabinets

4. Clean tub/ bath walls

5. Wipe down shower curtain 

6. Wipe down sink

7. Scrub toilet inside and out

8. Wash mirror

 

 MASTER BEDROOM - DETAILED CLEANING

1. Clean Cobwebs

2. Dust/ polish furniture

3. Straighten drawers 

4. Wash sheets 

5. Clean windows/ sills/ blinds

6. Empty trash

7. Vacuum/ dust baseboards 

8.  Dust fan

9. Wash dog bedding

 

 CLOSET - DETAILED CLEANING:

1. Straighten shelves/ shoes 

2.  Hang any un-hung items

 

Friday Cleaning List

Living Room


LIVING ROOM – DETAILED CLEANING

1. Clean cobwebs 

2. Clean windows 

3. Straighten bookshelves 

4. Dust/ polish furniture 

5. Wash couch blankets

6. Straighten couch cushions

7. Vacuum/ dust baseboards

8. Straighten toys

9. Purge magazines

10. Straighten linen closet

 

So there you have it!  My weeks in a nutshell (okay, maybe it's more like a coconut shell).  I feel like my explanations of things are a bit fragmented, so if you have questions, feel free to ask.  Once I get my monthly lists done, I will post a Part 4!  

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Adventures in Homemaking... Part 2: No More Excuses!

I left off last time with me working part-time with a baby in tow.  I was floundering in the area of housekeeping and had no idea how to keep up.  

I had always planned to stay at home full time after my commitment to my friend (to care for her children while she was in Family Practice Residency) ended.  This happened in June 2008.  I knew it was coming and I really wanted to make my time at home worthwhile.  I hoped to have a clean house, clean kids, "real" dinners, and no more guilt!  I started to read!  

I went back to Flylady for some inspiration.  I didn't sign up for her e-mails this time.  I simply read all that she had to offer on her site.  Again I found her to be inspiring!  

I also re-visited a book that I had really enjoyed several years back.  The book is More Hours in my Day by Emilie Barnes. This book had helped me get a few things in my life organized, but it was a bit overwhelming at the time as I was working full-time.  This time around, though, with me staying at home full time and having a child, it really made sense!  

I worked on figuring out my rhythm as I went through my days.  I knew that I would be up around 7 if I got up with Eden.  I knew I didn't care to get up any earlier than that.  This made the mornings a bit slower than if I was already up and showered before she woke up.  I learned that I can deal with that!  I also found that Eden wanted to eat right away when she woke up, so there would be no making of beds or getting out of PJs before heading downstairs.  This was also fine with me, but I saw some danger in this.  It is really easy to stay in PJs all day if you start your day without getting dressed.  I made it my personal goal to be dressed, have Eden dressed and the beds made by 9 AM.  Some days it happens earlier than this and some days it happens later (and yes, some days we still stay in PJs until naptime).  

I learned that I don't work as efficiently in the morning as I do in the afternoon.  We try to run our out of the house errands and to do our playing in the morning when Eden is fresh and we can enjoy each other.  I learned that if we don't get out before lunch, it will have to wait for the next day!  I start the "chores" later (usually during naptime, so I am alone).  I also learned that I like being at home!  I try not to plan to be away more than 2 days during the week.

I learned that there are things that MUST be done daily (clear clutter, read mail, make beds, feed dogs, dishes, etc).  If I let any of these things slide, the consequence is everything else slides!  How can I dust the living room if last weeks mail is sitting on the end table?  I can't until I read all that mail, then I get sidetracked and the living room doesn't get dusted!

I learned that if I stay on top of my daily tasks, then once a week is all I need to really "clean."  I learned that I can divide my rooms between the days of the week, making them quick and easy to complete.  I learned that I can also divide up my daily tasks into time slots where they make the most sense.  This was revolutionary for me!  Making the beds at 5PM seems senseless!  This should be a morning task!  Starting Dinner at 8AM is too early (usually)!  This is a good early afternoon task!  I run the dishwasher before I head to bed, so Brandon can unload it for me before he goes to work.  This way, I clean as I go all day!

All of this learning was great, but I didn't know what to do with all of this information to make it usable for me.  I took the idea of the Flylady's Control Journal and read all of the instructions for making one.  I took the things I had learned and put them down on paper.  Once I had everything down in a notebook, I began organizing the information so it would fit into my life.   I really think this is the key.  If you haven't made a plan that you can actually work into your life, you aren't going to do it!  

I got a 3 ring binder and put my plan into Word documents, so I could change them easily when I needed to.  I printed the sheets and put them in clear plastic sheet protectors.  Since the book would likely sit on the kitchen counter most of the time, I needed the sheets to be wipeable!  I named it the Family Home Operator's Manual.  I organized it according to what I felt would work, and it has been through 2 revisions in the past year.  It is always a work in progress!

At a friend's suggestion, I am currently working on the next phase of the manual.  Now that I have a pretty good grasp on what I need to do on a daily and weekly basis, I am compiling a list of those tasks that need to be done less often (once a month and once or twice a year).  I plan to spread them out over the year so I don't forget to do something (like changing smoke detector batteries) and so I don't have to do a bunch of things in a short period (Spring cleaning).

I am hoping that the new little person who is coming in just a few weeks will not rock the boat too much where the housekeeping is concerned.  The wonderful thing about the Home Operator's Manual is, when folks come and offer to help, I don't have to figure out what needs to be done!  I can say, "Today is Tuesday, check the Manual!"  When Brandon needs to help out more than usual (he helps a lot anyway!) he can just open the Manual!  It makes life easier for all involved!

In Adventures in Homemaking... Part 3: Real life?, I plan to share how To-do Lists fit into my day and the specifics of my Family Home Operator's Manual.

Until then... ;)  

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Adventures in Homemaking... Part 1: Battling it out!

In the past few weeks I have had similar conversations with several different groups of mamas in my life.  It seems we are all in the same boat!  It is so good to be in a struggle that is a common one.  This is especially true when you feel like you are the only one engaged in the battle!  Because of these conversations, I have decided to share the details of my struggle.  I have in no way "arrived" in the area of housekeeping, and this is not a how-to manual.  I simply want to encourage you to find something that works for you and DO IT.  It is actually the doing it part that is the key...

I have been in a constant struggle with my house for the past 7 years (officially 7 years on the 22nd of this month).  I was working outside of the home full time until Eden's birth in November of '06 and during that time I kept house in partnership with Brandon.  

From June 2002 to November 2006, our housekeeping routine looked like this:  Once a month, invite someone for dinner.  Frantically clean common areas.  Move clutter into "spare" rooms that have doors that do not need to be opened while company is here.  Pray nobody needs to go upstairs for any reason.  Sound familiar?  Be honest...

After Eden was born, I worked part time, but realized during my days at home that #1 I have NO housekeeping skills, #2 I have a baby that will soon (gasp!) want to crawl around on the floor, #3 I have less time now (working 2 days a week with a child) than I did when working full time with no child!  For the next 18 months I floundered in mess and guilt.  I read about a few "methods" for housekeeping.  They were all designed for housewives with no children or with older children.  There was nothing for the exhausted, part-time nanny of 2, full-time (nursing) mama of a delightful ball of energy (who, as any mother of a young child knows, messes-up at 5X the speed of any reasonable clean-up endeavor).

But, I had to do something, right?  I gave the methods a try...  

I tried Fly Lady.  When I read through her site, I was SO impressed and inspired!  She had the days broken down in such a way that they seemed manageable.  I signed up!  Immediately my e-mail in-box was flooded with FLYbaby Steps and FLYing Lessons and I spent the next 3 hours reading my e-mail!  After a week of "Go Shine Your Sink" and getting dressed "to the lace up shoes"and all manner of other individual e-mail messages I would have to delete before I could actually *do* any housework, I was completely defeated.  Didn't Mrs FLY know I have a baby and a dirty, messy house and I have to go to work tomorrow?  I don't have time to check my mail 37 times a day!!
I gave up.

I tried Motivated Moms.  This had to be easier!  It has the word Mom in the title!  They know I am doing housework in between baby and dog disasters, right?  Well, it was a bit easier to keep up with, but I was having to double up my days (working part-time, remember?) and many of the "chores" weren't applicable to me (jobs Brandon did like changing filters) or didn't fit into the schedule at the "right" time.  The prime example of this is clipping/ sorting/ filing coupons on Sunday and disposing of expired coupons on Monday.  I hope to not have to work on coupons more than once a week!  The things I did really like about the lists, though, were the "daily chores" section.  Obviously, there are things that have to be done daily like feeding the dogs, making beds, washing dishes, etc.  I liked being able to check these off (but was a little put off that "Read to children" was on my list of daily chores).  I also liked that it included the things that needed to be done regularly but not daily or weekly.  It had items included like flip the mattresses, wash the curtains,  clean out your purse, etc.  I found that I spent a lot of time modifying the list and making excuses for why I wasn't going to do this particular job today.  There was no real order or predictability to the list and I also found it off-putting to have to print the list every week- what a waste of paper and ink!!

So, I continued to flounder.  Keeping things just clean enough for my personal comfort level, but never clean enough to feel comfortable inviting someone into the house if they just stopped by.

I have shared enough for today.  There will be more to come!  Part 2:  No More Excuses!

Oh, and thanks to Miriam at My Country Cupboard for her revealing and honest posts on a similar topic.  Look for posts labeled "My Journey to Homemaking."

  

Monday, June 1, 2009

I'm baaaaaack!

I have been MIA for a couple of months. Life has been busy, pregnancy has been rough and I just haven't made blogging a priority! But, I am back and hopefully I will keep up!

So, what has been taking up all my time?

I have been making baby preparations. If the little one came today, I think I would be ready! My labor bag is not packed completely yet (and Brandon's and Eden's aren't either), but I have a good list. It could all be thrown together pretty quickly, I guess! Other than that, the only big thing we have left is to have the carpets cleaned.

We have been working on the house! We have been working on a mini-facelift on the outside of the house. We are almost done. Brandon re-framed the front door and replaced our storm door. He power washed the house, put up new shutters and painted the trim. The house is now white and black rather than white and blue! It looks great! We plan to paint the front door and change out the front porch lighting before it is all done, but that may not happen before the baby comes. We are just playing it by ear.

We have made it through the first five months of the year, baby prep and a home exterior facelift with NO NEW CONSUMER DEBT!!! We have paid down $7000 of our existing debt! It is so exciting to see the debts disappear!

I'll tell the rest of the story of the past 3 months in photos! Here they are! Enjoy!



In March, we enjoyed the Richmond Auto Show.


Brandon "stole" a fishing kayak from a co-worker for $50!!


In April, we took a cabin trip with some friends! It was a great trip!


Just a couple of weeks later, Eden went cabin camping with Nanny and Grandaddy! She did great and fell in love with hiking! Can't wait to take her this summer!


Eden helped me plant 3 flats of plants and loves to water them with water from our rain barrels! As soon as I can I will take a photo of our beautiful colorful front yard!


Eden and Daddy dyed eggs for Easter! Aren't they beautiful?


We watched as a robin built a nest on our back porch, laid eggs and raised her young. They grew up and flew away way too quickly!


I finished up some sewing projects including a sling for Eden's baby Clem...


... and a crib quilt for the new baby (made of the scraps left over from Eden's quilt)!


Last month, Julie helped me out with this project. It is a belly cast of my big pregnant self! I have plans to paint and decorate it... hoping I can finish it before the baby comes!


Here's my sweet girl and the flowers she chose (all grown in our yard) for my Mother's Day bouquet! The pink rose in the front is an Eden Rose (my mom gave it to me for my first Mother's day) that blooms just in time for Mother's Day each year!


And, finally, we lost a family member. My great aunt Lollie (Mema's oldest sister) passed away just a couple of weeks after her 94th birthday. We were able to celebrate this birthday with her in good health and it will be good to have this as a last memory of a pretty amazing woman!
Pray for Brandon and me as we hope to be making a decision about purchasing her home.

Well, there it is. You are all caught up and hopefully I can keep up from now on!!