Monday, April 27, 2009

Picture Post

A little pictorial evidence of what we have been up to lately.

My new pantry shelves. A huge improvement over what I had before.And I even have an empty shelf left!

Our raised beds. The green that you can see in this photo has already doubled, even though this was only taken two days ago. Way in the back you can see my new compost bin. A lovely custom design that takes advantage of the giant slope that is our yard.

The inaugural load of wash hanging on my new clothes lines.

The last board being nailed in place on the new bridge. And..

Ta Da! All done.
Everything pictured so far was built and designed by my husband. And not only that, everything except the pantry shelf was made from repurposed materials, so the costs were minimal. Sometimes it's like I live with this magical genii. All I have to do is ask and POOF, he creates it! I'm so blessed!

And finally, the lovely view of God's handiwork that the last few days of warm weather have made possible. I love opening the curtains in the morning!

Monday, April 20, 2009


Oh April, how you tease!

Today it is grey and rainy. After a lovely weekend of working outside and our first sunburns of the year, we are once again stuck inside. But we have been busy.

My husband is constructing a bridge to cross the little stream at the bottom of our hill. Now we will be able to take better advantage of the rest of our property.

The raised beds are constructed and cold-weather lovers planted. We should see the peas, spinach, and lettuce poking their heads up soon with all of this rain.

My tomatoes, peppers, and marigolds are flourishing in our livingroom window. I love the big southern-facing windows that are in our main room! I use them for so many things.

My ever-continuing home bread experiments are going well. Although, the lack of sun today has led me to find an alternative heat source for my rising dough. I'm giving my crock pot a try. I placed three drinking glasses inside the heating element, turned on low without the crock, and placed my loaf on a plate balanced on the glasses. It seems to have worked very well, and the loaf just came out of the oven looking beautiful.

My handy husband is also midway in building a new set of shelves for my pantry. All of my cans, bags, and boxes have been moved and dusted in anticipation of their new home.

I guess that we have been productive enough to make up for our rain delay.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Man's Best Friend?

The drive home from church today found me, as it usually does, chatting with my daughter about her Sunday School lesson. With this being Palm Sunday, I was pretty sure what to expect.

Me: So what was your lesson about today?

Sydda: Um... I don't remember. (also usual, lol.)

M: Did you do anything special today? (I knew they were supposed to have a "Palm Parade")

S: Yeah.

M: Like...?

S: Um... Oh! We talked about Jesus riding into town on a dog.

M: A dog?!

S: Yeah, a dog.

M: Do you mean a donkey?

S: No mom. A dog. (said with her best teenage disdain)

M: Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.

S: No, I'm pretty sure that my teacher said a dog. And everybody shouted
something at Jesus and threw down their plants.

M: Oh? They threw down their plants?

S: Yeah, and shouted something... I can't remember.

M: Hosanna?

S: Yeah! That was it!

M: Sweetie?

S: Yeah?

M: Jesus rode a donkey, not a dog.

S: ...

S: Oh.

And then ensued a discussion of the Palm Sunday story. It's funny how mishearing a word can change your whole perspective of a story, lol.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Clean Home Carnival

I haven't posted since President's Day?!


Well, today should be entertaining anyway.

My friend-for-oh-so-long, juliemom, is hosting a jumpstart to spring/fall cleaning on her website today. And here is my contribution.

First, let's start with an exerpt from a letter that I sent to juliemom a few weeks ago.

"...I also wanted to tell you that the Lord used you and your pots as a wake-up call today.

We have been living the 'drop-it-and-run' lifestyle lately. It's seems as if I am never home, running from playdate to program and my home has been suffering. It's been making me feel restless but I just kept telling myself that I was too busy and there was no helping it. And I've been noticing that look in Brian's eye, the one that says "you are dropping the ball around here, but I'm not going to say anything
because you will just snap at me and tell me how hard you work everyday and that I just don't understand". I HATE that look, mostly because it is perfectly justified and I don't like having my shortcomings as a wife and mother pointed out to me.

I've been praying for peace about my running around and half-finished tasks, knowing full well that the unease I've been feeling is straight from God. It's so strong that I can almost literally hear Him speaking. "You are not doing this the right way. Your job is to nurture your family and teach your child, not play keep-up with the other homeschoolers. I gave you Brian and Sydney to care for, not to ignore and blame. Slow down and do what you know is right. Stop this busy-ness. It's not what you need or want."

But, as per usual when I'm feeling chastised, I played dumb and and ignored the wisdom being sent my way. All the while, praying for a change.

And, as per usual, God gave me exactly what I needed. A good swift kick in the behind. Well, actually, the ankle.

As I was running around today, desperately dashing in from a shopping trip, trying to come up with something for lunch in the hour before Brian had to leave for work (because I have been too busy to do my meal planning lately), Sydda asked for a glass of water. My first reaction was annoyance, "Why does she always want something from me when I am my busiest?". So I half-stomped into the kitchen peeved and distracted "Why do I never have enough time!", and... I fell over a can of paint. (Paint that my husband was nice enough to go and pick up for me so that I could finally finish my part of the bathroom refurb that was begun over a month ago (because I was too busy to pick up the paint or to do the actual painting)). And when I say fell, I mean FELL, arms windmilling, body twisting, frantic grabbing for anything within reach, and a mighty crash.

Sydney came running in from the living room, asking if I was alright. I sent her out to the garage for Brian, thinking that by the feel of it, my ankle was broken. I crawled over to the cupboards and propped myself up, pulling off my sock and trying to catch my breath. The ankle was already purple, the faint outline of the can's handle bail showing in the bruise. I was sore and embarrassed at my lack of gracefulness, seething at one more thing making me run behind.

Brian came in, took a look at the ankle and deposited me on the couch with some ice and assurances that he would order a pizza for lunch. I was told to sit and rest. "Oh great! Just what I needed. Yet another delay in my already busy day. I don't have time to just sit around." But I sat and rested as I was told, for really the first time in two weeks. And that's when I noticed it... my house...


It looked as if no one had really cleaned in weeks. Sydney's copywork on the whiteboard were the same words that we had worked on two weeks ago. There were Valentines and envelopes still stacked all over the coffee table. A mountain of library books were piled on the floor near "my end" of the sofa, unread and over due, even though we make two trips to the library a week. The dust was thick on the TV and stand, and Sydney had drawn pictures in it. The carpet was so covered with crumbs and hair that I can't believe we were brave enough to walk on it barefoot! Truly disgusting!

And now, I was stuck on the couch and could do nothing about it! Great!

But then I realized, at the rate I had been running around, I probably wouldn't have noticed the extent of the mess until we were about to have company. Which, with Brian's schedule, wouldn't have been for another month. I would have continued to plow my way through the house only picking up what was necessary to keep us from tripping (ha ha) because I was too busy.

Well, since I had all this time on my hands and I was feeling guilty about the state of affairs, did I pray and ask for guidance? Was I grateful for the situation being brought to my attention? Of course not. I picked up my computer and proceeded to ignore and squash down my feelings. Hiding in my email inbox and my blogroll list. I wasn't about to admit that this was a message created especially for me, as an answer to my prayers and guidance as to the way I knew I should go. A forced slowing so that I could actually see the damage I was doing to my husband, daughter, and home.

Ignore it and it will go away.

But God is ever patient and persistent. And He knows that it takes a few beatings over the head sometimes to get me to listen.

Here is where you come in. Browsing around, I came upon your half-hour pot scrubbing pictures and I was inspired by your Spring/Fall cleaning. (kudos by the way, your pot looked spectacular!) There are no such things as coincidences. God was not allowing me to mentally run away and forget. ("Look! I will not let you brush this off yet again.") Your post reminded me of why I was so uneasy with the state of affairs around here. Why it bothers me so much that we run, run, run and never get anything accomplished.

God was saying, "Remember, you enjoy being a wife and mother. You enjoy serving your family. All of this other stuff is just busy-work created by the world and yourself. That is why you are so unhappy and unfulfilled. Because running around and ignoring your home and family is not my plan for you or for wives and mothers anywhere. You know this is true. Wake up. Pay attention"

And so I woke up.

Brian had taken Sydda outside to play, so I was alone. I had a good pray-n-cry, felt my conviction renewed, and started to make a list.

So thank you. Thank you for the reminder, even though that's not what you meant it to be. God did. Also thank you for being there for me to send this ridiculous ramble to. Your friendship to me over the years has meant so much.

And here is where I need to ask you for one more thing. I need someone to be accountable to. I know myself and all of this new conviction can fade very easily if I don't have someone checking in on me. I am planning on taking a whole batch of 'before' pictures first thing in the morning and I'd like to send them to you. You can just ignore them if you like, but I'll send them on anyway. As I finish, I'll be sending you 'after' pictures. I've given myself a week to deal with the actual "dirt" and two weeks for the clutter. Also, I have decided to cut any and all playdates, homeschool outings, and out-of-the-house lessons to two days a week. This includes library trips. If we can't do it in those two days, we are too busy. I need to schedule home time much more than yet another playdate. This is actually perfect timing (is God awesome or what?) because it is time to renew a few of our commitments, and I plan to drop them cold turkey. I would like things to be running smoothly again by Easter, so here goes..."

Reading over that letter, I am reminded again of how really desperate I was feeling, but, out of a misplaced sense of obligation to my daughter's "education" I was ignoring the feelings. I am now happy to report that things are running more smoothly.

I managed to get everything major done in one week, with just a few organizational projects left (pantry, I'm looking at you). Of course, scheduling a Mom's Night get together at my house helped to keep my conviction running high. And also a renewed desire to have my daughter learn more about helping around the house has given us both a reason to clean and enjoy it.

So, here are a few before and after photos for your entertainment...

Our living/diningroom before

And after...

My office before...

And after...

And the project that has had the most impact on my daily life,

The Homeschool Closet!



Mostly, things have stayed under control. I have noticed a few areas that tend to collect stuff (mainly my desk) that I have to be extra vigilant about keeping clean. All in all, it's been a much happier home for all of us.

I think the biggest help has been actually staying at home. I've made good on my plans to keep all homeschool/play running down to two days a week. It has made for a much calmer and more productive week.

So, there it is, my mess and recovery. It feels wonderful to have a neater and more organized home. If you are feeling inspired, go on over to juliemom's blog and leave a link to a story and some pictures of your own.

Happy Cleaning!