Wednesday, December 31, 2008

House Cleaning For Non Neat Freaks

OK. I admit it. I am not a neat freak. Not even close. Yet, I try to be a good keeper of my home. In my quest to fulfill that calling on my life, I have to be careful to walk a tight line and not be critical of myself for my shortcomings, yet make progress towards getting it all done.

I can't do it all

Now, the first thing that I have to remember, which would probably be helpful for most of us to remember, is that I can't do everything. No, I am not all powerful. I am not omnipresent. Despite what my sweet husband likes to tell me, I do not have unending energy. So, the first thing I have to remember when it comes to house cleaning, is that I've got to make choices.

I can't do work, ballet, homeschooling, housekeeping, exercising, prayer, bible reading, gardening, keeping up with yard work, hiking, photography, cooking, sewing, co-op, violin, soccer, have a social life, and spend quality time with my children and my husband, all at the same time.

I'm constantly in need of re-evaluating what I'm spending time on right now. Maybe, I can't do co-op and soccer, I've got to let go of the yard, choose easier meals, and not do as much sewing and photography as I'd like. Maybe I even need to set a realistic goal for bible reading time and prayer time - and simply set a goal to make them a regular part of my day - by starting the day with prayer and reading the bible with my husband before bed.

Break It Down

Break down your tasks. Don't get bogged down by how much you have to do. I'm always surprised how things don't pile up, if I just give myself a few minutes to take out a load of laundry, put laundry in the dryer and washer, and fold the laundry right when it comes out. Or, if I just give myself a couple of minutes to straighten the living room. Or, if I give myself a goal to unload and load the dishwasher and clear off the table. Then, when I'm done with that task, I'm glad, because I've crossed something off. I'm not looking at EVERYTHING that has to be done, just what is in front of me.

Get Your Kids Involved

I think the lack of getting kids involved is a big problem in our society. Society tells us that kids jobs are play, play, and more play. I don't disagree that free play is a very important part of kids development. Homeschooling provides ample opportunities for this free play, especially if you restrict or eliminiate television and video games.

Yet, if we don't train our children to work, how shocking is that when they grow up and have a household to look after? "Whoa, this is hard!" Why? It is hard because they haven't been given the tools, the practice, and the discipline.

What's more than this, we really underestimate our children. They are much more capable tha we give them credit for. My seven year old for instance can load dishes, unload dishes, sweep the kitchen floor, clean the kid's bathroom, get clothes out of the dryer, and even fold clothes given enough encouragement. She also gets our egss every day and lets the chickens out in the morning. My ten year old step-daughter is great at clearing the floors and vacuuming in rows. And she likes to do it. My five year old can get clothes out of the dryer, she can unload dishes that are low, she can wipe off the kitchen table.

This really helps when your kids are getting stir crazy and starting to make a mess. The kids don't know what to do? Give them a job. LET them help you.

Do It Fast

I used to work at a busy restaurant bussing tables and hostessing. On a Friday and Saturday night, I can assure you that we didn't move slow. More customers were coming in and the tables needed to be turned. You grabbed as much off the table at once as you could and took it quickly back to the dishwasher. Back you went to your table after this, wiping the table, cleaning the floor, setting and straightening the table and chairs. Do your chores like this! There is no need to spend more time than you need to doing tedious chores. Teach your children to do their work quickly as well. I try and teach my Natalie (7), you don't have to do every step perfectly, but do your job quickly and make sure it is done correctly in the end.

Do It All The Way The First Time

I have to remember this. I also have to remind the children of this. Do your job all the way. If you do laundry and get it folded, but you don't put it away, it will haunt you. It will slow you down later, because nagging at your mind is an unfinished task.

When Involving Your Husband Make Clear Request

It took me a long time to learn to make clear requests of my husband. I still need to remind myself of this so I don't slip into what comes naturally. Men process differently than women. And, as stay at home moms, we naturally have to do more of the housework than our husbands. Yet, that doesn't mean that we don't sometimes need or want our husband's help. But, telling my husband, "I want help!" does not help. Maybe, at this point, he's learned to figure out what this mean. But, naturally, to him this means I'm disappointed in him. Go figure?! If I asked you women for help wouldn't you just chip in and also ask me if I felt overwhelmed or something? But, to my husband, I need to say, "Honey, could you unload the dishwasher, clean up the baby, and tuck the kids in bed?" He likes that. Then, he can check it off. LOL. I imagine you would need to approach boys in a similar manner, but since I don't have any boys of my own, I really have no idea.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Pics

Here are some Christmas pictures and they are more snow pictures - because mostly we went out to play in the snow on Christmas.

Our chicken coop was entirely surrounded by snow. The chickens didn't even want to attempt to go out and free range. Our eggs showed this by turning their yolks pale yellow, instead of the rich orangish-yellow yolks of a farm fresh eggs.

Rachel's a cutie, isn't she?

Too tired to walk.

Here are the older girls together. I got a Digital Photography book for Christmas. One of the hints in the book when you are taking a picture of several people (3 or 4) is to have them stand my a vertical object and that they will organize themselves around it without standing in a row. It worked well!

I hope all of you were as blessed at Christmas as we were.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone! We are enjoying our day. There were no major glitches today, except for forgetting to turn the oven back on for the Turkey, after the power went out briefly. So, our Christmas evening dinner will be a little late. We opened presents last night and then the girls got some things in their stockings this morning. They are in hog heaven. I'll have some more photos for you all as I go on, but I wanted to share two with you now.

This first picture is a panoramic of the hill behind our property. I wanted you all to see in a similar way that you would in person - looking from left to right. No, I didn't get a fancy fish-eye lens for Christmas or anything. I just pieced photos together in Photoshop and attempted to blend them. Do you like it?


The second is a picture of me. Now, that's unusual, since I am the picture taker of the family. I handed the camera over to my step-daughter Mariah, put it on Portrait and had her take my picture. I'm glad, my avatar I've been using is a picture which is several years old and was taken in Maui. Oh, that was nice. We looked on the internet this morning and Maui was 80 degrees at 8:25 in the morning and the ocean was smooth. Perfect for snorkling. One day we'll do it again. But, anyhow, I digress, the picture wasn't very new, nor very wintery. So, I'm happy to get this picture.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas Eve to everybody out there! This is really a festive Christmas Eve at our house as we still have a tone of snow on the ground. It is warming up a bit, but we should actually get a little more snow tonight. So I wouldn't be surprised if we had 18" total snow tomorrow for Christmas. What a lovely gift.

We are getting present wrapped up today. Is that pathetic? When I was growing up, a lot of the presents were wrapped on Christmas morning. So, I figure I am doing pretty well getting them wrapped up the day before. And, I am terrible about cards as well. It feels like a lot to me. And it's not something my family ever did. It probably felt like a lot to my mom. It is my desire to digitalize it all one of these days. I'd like to take all our family photos and order them over the internet way ahead of time. Once I get the formula figured out I'm usually pretty good about things I can do on a computer and from home. And, I'm usually pretty good about e-mailing people. So, I hope family and friends can be understanding with me and know that my shortcomings aren't because I don't think about them. The traditional Thank You's and Christmas Cards and Gift Wrapping and Christmas decorating and all that are just really hard for me. In the same way I think that some tell me doing this or that on the computer is hard for them.

Anyhow, I thought I'd share some pictures of our Christmas Tree Ornaments, some pictures of our girls, and some tree light pictures. Once again, I've been inspired by Alyssa and Julie and their recent posts.

Which ornament do you like best? The nativity is my all time favorite.




Which face shot do you like best?



My light pics didn't turn out as cool as Alyssa's. I think she was taking pictures of outside colored icycle lights - which are in a row, close together. But, if you have a digital SLR, it's really easy to do and it's fun! Just set a long shutter speed and a low ISO and move your camera around in a pattern that you desire.


tree_lights Lights

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Snow Pictures

<p>Here are a few more snow pictures. These were from yesterday. This is what I refer to as "in town". We probably have an accumulation of about 12-14 inches total. In town 6-8 inches. And, for around here it was bizarre - going to Target and having packed snow - no dry (or wet) pavement. The snow was before Christmas at that!

Watch For Ice

Driving In The Snow

This is a tree. I thought it looked cool.

This is the snow at the business park where we have our business. I thought the snow was a really cool. Color. Notice the bluish tint. It really did look like that.

Picture Of The Baby

What do you think of my picture?

What do all of you think of this picture? My husband says these kinds of pictures bother him, that he just can't really see it. (He said the same thing about our ultrasound pictures.) How about you? Does this look just like splotches of ink that might kind of resemble a baby if you really concentrate? Or, do you like my image?


Sunday, December 21, 2008

More About The Snow

We played more in the snow today.

We were very confused by the weather forcast last night, which had a forcast of 21 degrees for a high and possible rain and snow for last night and today. We did get a little freezing rain, just enough to give us an 1/8 of an inch of crusty ice in between the layers of snow. Yesterday and today were pretty treacherous even in town. Here, we have about a foot.

So, I still haven't made it to do Christmas shopping. My plan didn't work with that. Luckily, if push comes to shove, I have enough of the kid's Christmas shopping done to make due. And, my husband would be very forgiving. They are, after all, forcasting snow through Christmas.

Here are some pictures from today. Enjoy.

Natalie & Jon Sledding

Natalie & Mariah Getting On The Sled - Mariah is the one making the funny face.

Mariah & Rachel sledding. I love how Rachel leans back into Mariah. I especially love it because Rachel is such a stubborn, independent one that doesn't much show that kind of emotion normally.

Natalie and Rachel on Intertubes

This is how we make a good snow run.

My Favorite Guy

Here is a picture of my favorite guy out in the snow yesterday. He thrills me! And, I love him.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow, Snow, Snow

If you have read further down in my blog, you would know that we have either had or been threatened with snow for about five days. The first day we were suppose to get snow, we got only a half an inch here, none really in town. Then there was a break (except for the cold weather) after that day and I got out of the house. Then, on Wednesday (two days ago), it snowed three inches. This wasn't a lot, but it is enough to cause problems on our crazy road. The next day we got an inch, but it seemed to warm up and was definitely warmer than the weather forcasts. Today, I'm not sure, I think we got another inch or two and it's below freezing. This means I can't leave the house without my DH.

But, I still have some shopping to do, so this is what he is going to do for me. He's going to take the whole family out to town tomorrow in the 4x4 truck.He reminds me 4x4's, even chained don't really do better stopping or going down steep hills. Yet, lucky for us we have two ways out of here. One crazy one lane road uphill and one crazy one lane road downhill. So, if he's leaving he goes one way, if he's coming home he goes another way. Once we get in town he'll take the older kids to work with him and give them a video to watch on someone's computer. I'll go out shopping. Perfect.

Well, here are some pictures of the snow from today and yesterday.

Natalie pretending she's a snow dog.

Gives a new meaning to the phrase "Free Range Chickens". The chickens could have, but didn't choose to go outside their pen.

Muck boots make great snow boots.

I think that's a pretty contrast of colors, don't you?

Two snowmen

Rachel's Snowman

A Snowman Without A Head

A Junco In The Snow

Bird Footprints

Sad Snowmen

Sophie Dog In The Snow

Sophie Dog Is Always On The Lookout For Something To Herd

Annabelle - Our Pinzgauer "Calf" - Weened About A Month Ago

The Snow Landscape

Isn't That A Great Tree?!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

10 ?'s To Ask Your Children

Alyssa posted these questions on her blog. Her children had the funniest responses.

My kids were much more to the point, but their responses are cute nonetheless. I did this with Natalie my 7 year old, and Rachel my 5 year old. I interviewed my kids seperately, so they didn't hear each other's answers.


1. What does mom always say to you?

Natalie- To help Rachel get down her clothes
Rachel- Maybe (I always say this to her because she asks me for things so often.)


2. What makes mom happy?

Natalie- Me & Rachel not fighting
Rachel- Laughing


3. What makes mom sad?

Natalie- When Rachel & me fight
Rachel- Crying (not making a happy face)


4. How does mom make you laugh?

Natalie- Tickles me
Rachel- By laughing


5. How old is mom?

Natalie- 38 (This is the correct answer.)
Rachel- I don't know.
Me- Do you have a guess?
Rachel- Fourteen


6. How tall is mom?

Natalie- Five foot (I am 5 foot 7 inches.)
Rachel- Fifteen feet


7. What does mom like to do?

Natalie- Cook
Rachel- Clean
OK. These answers crack me up the most. I do like to cook quite a bit, but I wouldn't say cooking is my favorite thing to do. I like Photography, Sewing, Playing The Piano, Gardening, and Photoshopping more. And I definitely do not like to clean.


8. What is mom's job?

Natalie- Keeping the house clean, feeding Abigail, and watching over us.
Rachel- To clean.

9. What is mom's favorite food?

Natalie- Peppermint Ice Cream, Lemon Pound Cake, and you also like Carrot Cake
Rachel- Peppermint Ice Cream
OK. So, I've been enjoying a tub of Peppermint Ice Cream lately. And, I've been talking about which they would rather have me make Lemon Pound Cake or Carrot Cake.

10. How do you know your mom loves you?

Natalie- I just do.
Rachel- Because you're in my family.

If you would like to ask these questions of your children and are posting it to your blog, then tell Mr. Linky to get your link added to my blog.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Creative Endeavors & The Snow


Well, today, was a beautiful day. It snowed today. Three inches! That's a lot to us. We were hoping for seven, since the forcast was for three to seven. But, we'll take three. It could get tricky, as I haven't quite finished Christmas shopping and our hill coming in and going out of our place is so hard to maneuver. My husband does have a Ford F350 though with four wheel drive - and he has chains. So, we should be able to figure it out - but it may be a group effort. You know, he takes me to where I still need to buy presents for him and then he picks me up. As it is, my husband always tells me specifically what he wants, and doesn't want me to use my creativity when it comes to gift giving. Basically, he wants tools or tool accessories. Sounds unusual, doesn't it?

Video Of The Snow

Well, I wanted to share the snow with you. However, my camera battery was dead. And, I do have a backup battery! However, it was dead too. So, I'll have to charge them both, one at a time. However, I did take some video of the girls. And, it has been my goal, for I don't know how many years to figure out how to take that video and put it up on the internet. I spent two hours trying to figure it out just now, only to come to the conclusion that I need to buy some software and/or some hardware. Basically the "editing software" that came with the video camera does not work (and it has that reputation out there - it's not just me). So, we'll see - SOMETIME I want to share that with you. For today, you'll just have to trust me that it was beautiful.

I'll Share This Instead

I have been inspired by Julie's blog and by Alyssa's blog. They both always have such beautiful pictures and do such neat work with Photoshop. Alyssa also puts up some neat videos. So, I played with Photoshop and even though it doesn't have much to do with homeschooling, I share it with you now:

This is the actual picture my husband took of our home:


This is the Photoshopped picture where I turned it into our home at night:


Monday, December 15, 2008


We didn't get much snow last night (or today), but it is cold. I stayed inside. Natalie and Rachel played outside for quite a while. I was playing around Photoshopping some photos of the girls. Do you have a favorite?




Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Girls

They say it may snow here tonight or tomorrow. It did snow today already. And, we did probably get about 1/2 an inch. But, in my grown up mind, it isn't real snow until there are several inches of dry stuff - not the slushy stuff. Later in the day it was raining. But, we are hunkered down, awaiting the snow.

I don't know why I anticipate snow so much. When it snows, it means I can't get out. husband can get out. But, we have these steep hills on either side of our property. It's not just that there are hills, but it's the nature of the hills. Here I'll show you a picture of one of the hills (which is one of the ways out). This picture has no snow on it. That's the only kind of picture I have.

But, do note the curvy-ness of the road, and if you can see it clearly enough, the drop off on one side of the road. In fact, two years ago a UPS truck went off the side of the road and ended up upside down. Lucky for the UPS driver (who UPS tried to fire saying he was going too fast), his upside-down truck was caught by some trees (and not in a bad way). But, if we did end of going on the cold side one of these winters - the cabin fever could get bad. Have I ever mentioned I grew up in the city and my husband drug me to the country kicking and screaming? No, I love the country too, but it could be interesting.



Well, we all settled down to watch "It's A Wonderful Life" after stopping at the store for essentials tonight. The baby didn't get much of a nap today as her only nap was in the car, so she was SLIGHTLY grumpy this evening. After feeding her she conked out, so I handed her to Daddy. This kind of transfer isn't usually successful. So, I had to take a picture. Here it is. Isn't she cute???


Then, I took pictures of the other girls, since I had my camera out. Here are a couple pictures. I really like the first one of Natalie as it really shows her personality. And, Rachel is always a cutie pie in pictures (unless she is pouting - oh my). I'll add a picture at the bottom, so you can see what a not so cute looks like...