Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pioneer Days

Last night we had an ice "storm," and this afternoon I've realized something--when it gets wintry here, I get old-fashioned!  We woke up to a sheet of ice covering all our trees, drive, and deck, so Chris stayed home a little while.  And when I feel "snowed in," I mentally don an apron and churn butter.  Or something like that--I turn into a pioneer woman.

First Chris and the boys donned their gear and went out to the horse tank to break the ice.  We don't have a horse, so I'm thinking the only reason for breaking up the ice was sheer fun.  Caiden told me if he'd had a fishing line handy, he could've "ice fished" for the stray bucket at the bottom.  The boys are in heaven when it's wintry here!  Then we read Robert Frost's poem, "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" and used lines from it for copywork.  I have an entire volume of his poetry around here somewhere--cold days like this make me want to pull it out and curl up somewhere sunny to read.

Anyway, after Chris went to work we all read another chapter from "Understood Betsy," and I have to tell you there's nothing I love more on earth than a book about kids living on a farm in the "old days"!  I told my mom today I was born in the wrong century, but then she reminded me about outhouses and home births and cholera.  So instead, I decided to have a meal reminiscent of the days long ago, while still enjoying our indoor toilets and modern medicine  (Although to be honest, I've always wanted to try a homemade mustard poultice on one of my kids!  I just need to convince one of them, first.).  We wanted to make applesauce like in today's chapter, but we didn't have enough apples, so I cooked up oven fried potatoes, a huge pot of noodles, and apples stuffed with sausage and brown sugar, straight out of my old "Joy of Cooking" cookbook.  To my shock, the boys actually loved the apples!  They made me laugh, though--they ate them with their hands like regular apples.  Clearly we don't eat enough "stuffed" foods around here.

Now they're painting at the kitchen table--each boy is painting his dream farm, complete with apple trees, and a long road connecting the two.  They've both decided (for today) that they're going to be farmers when they grow up.  I'll remind them of that later this afternoon when I send them out to the compost pile in the cold!  We're starting our first garden this spring, and my compost pile needs some love.

So that's what we're doing today.  I'm letting bread rise, while the beans soak for dinner, and I'm about to head upstairs to my sewing room (Not the Happy Room, for all who asked.  I'll shed light on that mystery soon!) to work on Addison's duvet cover a little while.  She might be married before I ever finish it, at this rate!   A little baking, a little composting, a little sewing:  It's my version of being a pioneer woman, and it makes for a happy day.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The New(est) Plan

I mentioned that I have a new, simple housekeeping plan.  Let me put out a few disclaimers right away:  

I don't love the FlyLady system, for various reasons.  

I don't have, nor will be getting, maid service.  I am the maid service.  And so is Caiden. :)

While I love having a really clean house, I don't actually love cleaning it, especially mopping.  I really, really, really procrastinate mopping.  I heard once of a friend who had a concrete kitchen floor with a drain in the middle, and I still think it's a terrific idea.  Hose it down!  How easy would that be!  But generally I can find other things to do when it's time to clean, so I needed something to keep me relatively accountable.

Here's my newest housekeeping system, posted on the fridge for accountability:
 Click HERE to view it through GoogleDocs.

I told you it's simple.  Basically it's a spreadsheet with a column of tasks and then a column for each day of the week.  There's space for a checkmark beside each item.  When I get ready to clean on Monday, I choose which tasks I want to do, or have the time to do, and once I've done them, I check them off under Monday's column.  Repeat Tuesday, and so on.  Get the idea?  If I haven't done everything by Friday, then I'm stuck with it Saturday--that alone is good incentive to get it done during the week, but it also gives me grace if life gets in the way.  The only tasks that are repeated are laundry (done daily) and vacuuming certain rooms (twice weekly).  

Now here's the caveat--I actually have to do the tasks, not just create a spreadsheet!  Bummer.  But three weeks into it, I'm doing better than when I just blankly look around the house and try to remember when last I cleaned the kids' bathroom or mopped the dining room floor.  And for me, "doing better" is good enough.  (And no, those checkmarks aren't true for me last week.  I just wanted you to see exactly what's intended.  I have yet to get everything finished in one week!)  

By breaking down "vacuuming"  or "dusting" etc., into each area of my house, I have the freedom to get some of it done on one day, leaving the other areas for another, without feeling guilty for not finishing.  Once spring comes, I'll add outside tasks, like watering/weeding the (future) vegetable garden, and the same for flowerbeds.  I'm trying to think if that means I can remove some tasks from the list, but I guess bathrooms need to be cleaned, regardless of the season.  Unless I convince the boys to go outside, right?  My bathrooms would be WAY cleaner if it weren't for little boys!

If you have a system that works really well for you, feel free to share!  I can always use some great inspiration!  


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Housekeeping

Hey ladies!  Here are a few things for housekeeping (Not literal housekeeping.  Taking care of blog business.):

The post that was chosen (scroll down a couple posts if you're not sure what I'm talking about) was "Where's the Hole in the Ground When I Need It?"  I actually submitted two, and this one was chosen, so now my day of humiliation will be shared community-wide.  Oh, good :)  (Not like I didn't share it with the world on my blog, right?)  I need to go back and see who all suggested it, and then figure out the prize(s).  I'll get on that next week!  Thanks again to everybody who helped me!

I really am going to post about knitting.  (Or did I already?  I'm feeling deja vu, like maybe I did, but maybe I dreamed about it?  I keep having very realistic dreams and thinking they're true, until I go look for the green Kleenex box and remember I only dreamed about buying it at Target.  Very exciting dreams I have!)  So if this isn't a dream, then I will post about what I used to teach myself how to knit.  And then, just for fun, I'll add how I taught myself to sew.  So anybody who's tempted to try can see that this really is doable!  If you know me in real life, you know I'm not exceptionally coordinated, so if I can learn to knit, so can you!

This is nothing but total and complete mama bragging, but I just got back from our Scout Family's Pinewood Derby, and Chris and Caiden's car won the whole thing!  Which made me laugh, especially when I saw Chris trying to look all cool and not grin every time their car hit the finish line and "New Race Record!" popped up on the projector screen.  We're newbies to Scouts this year, so it was really fun to go and see my boys win!  Grayson went in his "Fish Scout" hat--a Bass Pro hat with a--you guessed it--bass on it.  He's too little for Scouts, so he has dubbed himself an honorary Fish Scout.  Addie and I didn't sport any Scout gear--we wore pink instead :)  I'm sure that little blue car will go on a shadowbox and be treasured for years--my brother still has all of his.  It was really fun, and Caiden told me on the way home that he already has plans for next year's car.  Oh, little boys and their toys!

I also plan on posting my "housekeeping system," especially now that my laundry's done.  Now I won't feel so hypocritical. :)  I promise it's not going to rock your world, although you probably will like it if you're a list-checker.  It's super simple and I've even managed to keep up with it pretty much for the last three weeks, so I think that makes it a winner.  

All right, I'm off to put together a little cart I bought from Ikea for my sewing room.  Oh, wait!  My sewing room!  I forgot to tell you--I was on the break--that I did something that has CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER!  But I'll save that for another post :)

Happy weekend to you!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday?

How is it already Thursday afternoon? I feel like I've been busy this week, but when I look at my house and see laundry piles, dirty dishes, and unmade beds, I'm not exactly sure what I've been doing. Clearly not laundry, dishes, or bed-making! But I did get to Ikea Tuesday to get a potty for Addie, and I found the perfect bedspread for our master, so all's not lost, right??

I mentioned earlier this week that I found a new blog, and it's so good that I went back to the beginning and read every post! I was so excited with my find. But then Tuesday morning, when telling my mom about it, she was like, "Oh, yeah. I've been reading that blog for some time now!" So maybe I'm the only one who's not up to snuff? But just in case, here it is: Bring the Rain. I won't spoil the story if you've not heard it yet, but trust me that you need to wait until after your kids are in bed, when you can grab a box of Kleenexes and sit up without interruption! Go back to the very first post to start. The faith, vulnerability, and beautiful writing are worth the lost sleep! And if I'm the last person on earth to have "discovered" this blog, just don't tell me.

I almost mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I've found a new cleaning system, but in light of what my house looks like right now, I'd better hold off posting about it. I think I need to actually go do it, first! If only there could be a system that literally works for me. I can come up with systems easily enough, it's the actual doing them that's not working!

Well, I'd love to kill time sitting here, but I really do think I hear some dirty blue jeans calling my name . . .

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Not So Great Big Night

Yesterday he Googled "ultimate bunk bed forts," but last night at 11 p.m. he was Googling "locating water supply for tub."

Now he's at Lowe's.

Our T.B.N. should be renamed, T.N.S.G.B.N. : The Not So Great Big Night. For some reason Addie wasn't in bed until 9 p.m., and then I got sucked into watching something about eels on "Planet Earth" with the boys, and then at 10, when I was supposed to be in the tub, we were doing a housewide hunt for "Wall-E," because it disappeared. Thirty minutes later, Wall-E was found, the boys were in the fort, and I was trying to figure out which of my plans I could save: Beth's message, coffee in bed, or book in the tub. I went with the bath, because it was freezing outside, and everything was just right: candle, book, bath bubbles, until I turned the faucet off.

It turned off, but the water didn't. If that's never happened to you, it's just a bad, bad feeling. Fortunately, we're pros at bad, bad feelings when it comes to house repair issues. So I jumped out of the tub, grabbed a towel, and crashed the "Wall-E" watching party with my bad news. Chris tried to get the water to stop, and when he couldn't, I just blew out the candle and drained the tub. So much for my relaxing evening.

Finally at midnight we'd turned off the water main, removed the bathtub faucet from the wall, and praised the Lord that I'd remembered to pour a pitcher of water for the morning's coffee. So I just went to bed instead, laughing that the day ended about as well as it started. Some days just need to end, you know?

Now Chris is at Lowe's buying a new faucet and hoping that solves the problem (It won't. I already know it. We never get out of house repair issues that easily.). Everybody has been told to go pee behind the shed because we can't flush the toilets, and I still have half a pitcher of water for the day's needs. And no, I won't be going out behind the shed. Just in case you wondered.

So for all of you who had fun plans last night, I hope they went a little more smoothly than ours did. And for those of you who had to work or didn't have fun plans, I just wanted you to know that you weren't alone. :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

T.B.N.

Right now my husband is Googling "ultimate bunk bed forts" in preparation for The Big Night tonight: he and the boys are having a bunk bed "sleepover." They're roasting hot dogs and s'mores before crashing in the boys' room to watch a movie on the laptop and play with Army toys and build blanket forts all night. I tried to tell him he's crazy--how are three people going to sleep in one twin bed? But the boys are over the moon with excitement, and I think he secretly is, too. Evidently we're having a family-wide Kroger trip in a little while to prepare.

All this means it's my Big Night tonight, too! Addie goes to bed at 8, so I have plans of my own, namely involving my bathtub and book, Beth Moore's message on "Enormously Effective Prayer" on my laptop, and a decaf coffee with whipped cream in bed. After a rotten migraine this morning, it's a happy way to end a day.

What are you doing tonight??

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Good One

Beth Moore and Living Proof Ministries are doing a Scripture memory challenge this year, which you can read all about here. I jumped on a little late but figured when it comes to memorizing the Word, late is always better than never! So this is my January 15th Scripture memory verse:

"I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices. For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners." Matthew 9:13

Now that'll preach. To me, actually.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Booty and Mateys

Grayson just informed me that "booty is lots and lots of money." He should know--this morning I woke up to the clanging of all his and Caiden's money, banging around in a little treasure chest his Aunt Egg gave him. (Aunt "Egg" is another story entirely.). I think Caiden wasn't quite so gung-ho on combining all their money, but now it's too late. I'm just going to have to divide it equally. I don't blame Caiden for being a little lackluster over the plan--nine-tenths of it was his. That Grayson is one smart kid.

Gray and Caiden are pirate-obsessed. When I told them that there are still real pirates sailing the seas, and that they're really, really bad, the boys were really, really impressed. I think they missed my point. The boys have pirate clothes, including a ratty old eyepatch, pirate stickers and tattoos, pirate books, and of course a big pirate ship with lots of little Playmobil pirate men. With interchangeable hair. I find their little hair-pieces all over the place, and it makes me giggle to see plastic pirate toupees. I doubt a pirate would really bother with a hairpiece, right?

Usually I'm the "pirate mama princess," or the "pirate mama queen," which never involves me actually doing anything other than being christened with the name, and sometimes I'm left out of the picture entirely, but Grayson is always the "matey," and Caiden is always the captain. Caiden just drew me a picture of a boat with two little pirates--one has a captain hat, and one has a "matey" hat. Guess who is who. I think it's funny that Grayson never cares that he's always the matey, just like he never questions why he has the bottom bunk. Hierarchy comes naturally to brothers, I guess. (Just don't tell Jacob and Esau.) Of course, Grayson quietly managed to steal most of Caiden's money, so maybe there's a little more justice than I realized.

No real point here; I'm just sitting in the quiet thinking of how glad I am that God, in His wisdom, gave me two boys: I don't have to wear the eye patch, and my spare change is still safely hidden in the cupboard.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Baby, Lost and Found

If I had broken my blogging break last year, this is the story I would've told you:

I took the three kids to Target, way across town, to pick up some pictures my sister and I had taken of our kids. She needed them in the mail to be able to pick out frames before giving them to my parents for Christmas. So even though I'd rather go to the dentist than take the kids to Target on a weekend, I sucked it up and went anyway. We ended up going through just about every section of the store, including the toy section and all of the grocery aisles.

Chris called halfway through to ask me something for the sermon he'd be preaching that night, so Caiden started pulling all the Winnie the Poohs off the shelves to distract Addie, who was hollering and throwing things and being typical for a 2 year old in public. We wrapped up all the shopping, and I lugged our full cart to the checkout counter, when I realized the worst thing on earth had happened: Addie had lost Baby.

"Baby" is a lovey-type thing she was given before her birth, and even though it's yellow and green and not the slightest shade of pink at all, she has loved it her entire (albeit short) life. We don't go anywhere without Baby. She has never slept without Baby, and Baby may look a little worse for the wear, but she is precious to Addie. And anything precious to Addie is precious to us, because all four of us are a little nuts about Addie.

When we realized that Baby was lost, we did what any good mother would do: we walked back through the entire store, aisle by aisle, retracing our steps. I figured she was in the baby aisle where we'd found all the Winnie the Poohs.

No Baby.

So even though my groceries were melting, we repeated our path, for a second time.

No Baby.

By this time, I was a little panicked, but because she was still covered in Winnie the Pooh bears, Addie didn't know about her loss. So I went to customer service, explained our problem, and then checked out. I was sure some sweet soul had found Baby but hadn't made it to the counter yet to turn her in.

We hauled everything out to the car, and it was at this point that Addie asked for Baby. I did the slow motion turn around, looked at her, and whispered, "Sweetie, we've lost Baby." I might've cried just a little bit.

Let me tell you, that girl may only be 2 years old, but she grasped the full meaning of my words, and her entire little body just deflated. She was so sad she couldn't even cry; she just slumped down into her stroller, hung her chin to her chest, and shook her head back and forth.

I snatched open the tailgate, ordered Caiden to start throwing the grocery bags in, and told them that no matter if we spent the rest of the day at Target, we were not leaving without Baby!

So we marched back into the store, with new resolve and determination. (It helped that I promised the finder $10, cookies, and a Christmas movie of his choice. "We are going to have a party when we find Baby, boys!")

But almost an hour later, we'd again searched every single shelf, high and low, and I realized Baby was lost forever. We'd spent over two hours searching, and she was absolutely nowhere. I literally stood in the middle of the aisle, raised my arms, and said, "Jesus, it's BABY! You can't let Addie lose her Baby!"

And I kid you not, as I dropped my head in defeat, I spied out of the corner of my eye a tiny piece of dirty yellow and green satin tucked down into the trash can in the wall. Baby had been crammed into the trash, under Starbucks cups and paper towels. Only about an inch of her was showing at all, and when I pulled her out of the trash and showed her to Addie, I literally burst into tears and shouted, "We found her!" And then I started sobbing, so hard even Caiden was mortified.

As tears poured down my face, and people stared at me like I was completely insane, I realized something: I'm not quite over the whole ordeal of Addie's birth, surgeries, and the summer of 2006. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, feel free to search the archives, starting in about May.) I sort of suspected that I'm still a little sensitive about this, when I spotted a preemie in the nursery at church and cried on the spot, but I didn't realize the magnitude until Baby was lost and found. Something happened to my heart after her birth, and I'm serious when I say I'll never be quite the same. Those of you who've gone through a shattering experience with one of your children know what I'm talking about.

We took Baby home, washed her in some seriously hot water with loads of detergent, and I went online and paid a ridiculous sum of money--happily--to buy a second Baby off eBay. Thank You, Jesus, for scalpers who buy loveys when they're cheap and then sell them for vast sums of money once they're retired! The second Baby--eBaby, as we call her--lives in my sewing room closet and comes out only when original Baby is in the wash. And I can't tell you how much happier I am just knowing she's there.

Today I started the online Bible study, "Believing God," by Beth Moore. (Hang in with me; this has a point.) It took me forever to figure out how to download the video and study guide, and by the time I finished the first session's video all the kids were awake and milling around. Addie came in and stood by me (She thinks Beth is very pretty, so she kept touching the screen.) as I stood to make the pledge of faith at the end of the intro session. And as I stood there, raising my hand, repeating Beth's words, Addie stuck her little hand up, and repeated it too--and it hit me like a bolt of lightning:

I started this study in August of 2006, right after Addie's heart surgery, because by that point in the summer, I realized that while I still believed in God, I was having a hard time believing He was good. I felt betrayed and didn't trust Him to take care of me. So I knew I needed the study, but a newborn, sleep deprivation, and still seeing specialists right and left--oh! and our house was on the market--made for a weak commitment, and I stopped off only a couple weeks into the study. And then I forgot all about it.

So when I stood this morning, saying aloud "I believe God is who He says He is," and that "God can do what He says He can do," with Addie, I realized that God wants me to believe He is good. And more than two years after that summer, seeing my miracle child every day--and I really, truly mean miracle. Her entire story is mind-boggling, and while I don't share it publicly for her privacy, it would knock your socks off!--I see that God is good. I see that He is who He says He is. And so when He does something little like point me to Addie's Baby deep down in the trash can in Target, I feel a reminder that He loves me. And He is good. And I don't even care that everyone in the store stares at me while I have a mini-praise service in the aisle.

So after I finished the session, wiped my eyes and blew my nose, I looked at Addie, clutching her Baby, and thanked Him again. Just like losing Baby made me realize how much we value her presence in our little girl's life, losing some dreams for my daughter back in the early days--and then receiving them back tenfold last year--made me realize how good God is, and how much He lavishes on me, even in those dark days when I can't see His hand at work. And I can't wait to do the rest of this study, because I think doing it through new eyes of faith is going to be incredible.

That's what I would've written back in December if I'd broken my blogging break, except that all I could've shared was the story of losing and finding Baby. It wasn't until today, when re-starting a Bible study I'd forgotten about, that I really saw how God has redeemed the year the locusts took from me, and it makes me really, really excited to see what He has in store for my family this year.

So if you see me out and about, and I start to cry over a stuffed animal, unusually small baby, or something else random, just give me a little grace. My heart is still sensitive about these things. Someday, when my boys are old enough to hear the whole story of Addie, Caiden might understand why I cried over Baby in Target.

God is good. All the time.

(And if you're curious about the study, you can find it online here. I'd love to hear what He shows you!)

Friday, January 09, 2009

Crying Uncle!

AAAAAAH!  I can't do it!  

(If you're rolling your eyes at me right now, that's okay.  My sister definitely is.)

I wrote my "The End" post with full determination to stop blogging.  I was SURE I'd made the right decision.  I didn't look back.

And then--well, I read the first comment you left, and then the second, all the way til the 83rd one I just read from precious Trish Adams, and I knew that as flaky as it is, as Michael Jordan-ish as it is, I can't quit!  I just can't retire the blog, because I like you too much.  I'll miss you too much.  And when things like exploding diapers and hair-brained ideas and great books come by, who on earth will I tell?  (Besides Bridget--poor girl has to listen to my stories regardless.)

So thanks for reminding me why I kept on blogging--all you friends all over the world who like me even though I'm a flake.  

This does mean, though, that my house isn't going to be as clean as I'd like, and I'll spend more time on the computer than I'd like, and my to-finish (The to-do list is great; it's the "finished" list I stink at.) list will never be done.  But here's a secret--I took two months off blogging, and none of that stuff happened, anyway.  I guess a super-clean house is underrated.  I wouldn't actually know, but I hope so, at least.

So go ahead and sigh at me--my husband, who dearly loves Michael Jordan, does every time he comes out of retirement.  But I just can't follow-through with quitting!  

Thank you for all the thoughtful, sweet, encouraging comments you left me.  It really was the deciding factor--especially my sister-in-law's, who was mourning all the way in Australia.  The Lord had never laid it on my heart either way, so I think I'm safe to stick with it!  Thanks to all of you who've stuck with me, despite the fact that I'm a dork.  :)  

Next up:  my new method for keeping my house (relatively) clean (despite blogging).  It should be fascinating!  ;)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The End

I've put off writing this post because I couldn't figure out what to say--that seems to happen after a long blogging hiatus!  I'm still trying to get used to writing "2009," and it seems crazy that Christmas is come and gone, and Valentine's Day gifts abound in the stores.  I feel like it should still be November!

I'm back, but only for a second.  I've realized that my blogging days are done.  I began this blog right before Addie was born, and we hadn't started homeschooling, and I only had one child who could walk fast.  Now all three children run faster than I do, and between picking up their shoes and keeping up with school, I'm letting things go left and right, to be able to stick to what I want the most.   

Thank you to everybody who's kept up with our family over the last few years, for sending us ornaments, cards, emails, notes, and even gifts after Addie was born and had her heart surgery.  Thank you for well wishes when my foot was broken, when we moved, and when we started homeschooling.  Thank you for praying for us, laughing with us, and even crying with us--and for reminding me that there are women all over the world who change diapers on the freeway, have children throw up in the parking lot, and live sleep-deprived lives for months on end.  Blogging is such a great way to connect with others when life is scary or crazy or hard, or just plain funny!

Next week I'm going to close my blog, so that I don't lose the posts I've written or the comments you've left.  Someday, if I'm really adventurous, I'll scrapbook them all.  I feel bad quitting, especially when you've all been so fun to keep up with and have left such sweet, encouraging comments or emails, but I've known for a long time now that the end was in sight.  If you are someone whose blog I read or who I pray for, I'll still be there, reading and praying!  Maybe with all my newfound time, I'll actually get better about leaving comments :)

So thank you again, for a great three years of blogging!  Happy 2009 to you; I hope this year sees prayers answered, people healed, and families restored!  

Blessings and best wishes,
Sarah

p.s.  Several of you have emailed me lately to see if I'm coming back.  I promised each of you that I'd leave you with a list of authors I read:

Elizabeth Goudge (fiction)
Elisabeth Elliot
Sally Clarkson
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Ruth Bell Graham (devotions)
Kay Arthur
Miss Read (fiction)


UPDATE 8:52 p.m.:  Oh my word, you guys are making this hard!  Your sweet, understanding comments are SO great that I'm halfway tempted not to stop!  Thank you for saying such nice things--this blogging world is such a great place!!