What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Thursday, January 28, 2016

In Which The Reader Responds


   Advice.  I need some.  And lots of it.  I want to pick your brains.  I want us to kick ideas around, to put our heads together, have a bit of a powwow.  Or maybe, I just want you to tell me exactly what should be done.    I know I get long-winded sometimes (boy, do I!) and this post pretty much proves it, so for you folks who would prefer an abbreviated version...I've put my queries in bold after all the chatter.  

 I think I can safely say I am feeling like my old self again...capable of doing more than just the same three things every day.  I took on my first major overhaul this week and as exhausting as it was...it was very, very needed.  I always get a bit of a cleaning bug in the spring.  I think this is due to post-holiday clutter and having been stuck indoors for such a long time.  But this was no ordinary clutter bug!
    With the intention of tearing out walls and flooring to the boys' room, I emptied it out last March and moved all the boys' stuff (except the bunkbeds) to the Spare Oom.  The room never was begun and in fact, the mess spread back into the boys' room throughout the year.  All year I have hated going upstairs, all year just the thought of it made me want to scream.  Thankfully, it is UPSTAIRS, which means company could never really see the mess.  (This was my only consolation.)  Before Tiddle arrived, I emptied the boys room all out again, in hopes that the room would be done (or at least, begun) before baby.  Alas.  T'was not to be again.
      Eventually, on top of two rooms worth of furniture and stuff, it became a dumping ground of baby paraphernalia, Christmas gifts, supplies from gift-making, sorted clothing piles and the excesses of two very sloppy boys.  As things accumulated and the already trashed room became even more trashed, it became easier (maybe even necessary, seeing how there was very little floor space in which to walk) to toss more on the heap.  It was bad, folks.  BAD.  I would have taken a before picture but the fact is, I have been nauseated by that sight for so many months and didn't want to spend another moment looking at- ever again.   The room was so out of control that it took three days for me to get thing right.  THREE DAYS.  If I push up my sleeves and jump in, I can usually accomplish any job in a day- but not this one.  I've never taken three days to finish up a room.  During this event, I came to realize a few things.  Firstly, I need some advice!

I moved furniture out of that room and into the master room to fake some floor space.  (Notice I said fake.)  I also had to address the problem of clothing storage. We have two teensy closets upstairs.  One is literally full of just Matt's clothes.  The other, the girls' and I share.   The boys carelessly shove their church clothes in too small drawers and they wind up looking at best disheveled at.all.times.  And that is, if in fact the clothes are clean.   We have a wear-something-until-it-is-dirty policy which, unfortunately, breeds laziness when it comes to actually throwing dirty clothes in the laundry room.  If I see clothes scattered on the floor, I send them up to clean the room and more often than not they shove dirty clothes in their drawers as fast as they can in order to resume their projects/play.  There have been too many times when I discovered too late that all their church clothes were soiled so Mama Hyde mutated right there in the kitchen, yelling for them to find the cleanest looking thing to wear while praying that all those pious souls at church would be so meditative during worship that they wouldn't notice my stained and crusty children.  Not so perfect a heart preparation for worship, let's just say.

Anyone have old farmhouses with small bedrooms, no closet space and a handful of sloppy children? Any solutions and/or advice about clothing said children and storing said clothes would be greatly appreciated.  (Yes, I know fixing the sloppy children problem would be an immense step in the right direction.  Duly noted and working on it.)

Speaking of clothing...I now have a pre-teen who hit a growth spurt like Ella Kate.  Generic teenybopper clothes leave something (a lot) to be desired.  Dresses I can find for her are either too childish or too grown up for her (or my) tastes.   We don't really buy clothes brand new from the store....pretty much ever.  So it is second hand, repurposed or handmade (preferably without the handmade/homeschooled aura) I am in need of some desperate inspiration.  What staples does my 12 year old girl need in her wardrobe and what styles would be fashionable and cute without being too cute or teenybopper?  Anything?  Anything?  Someone make me a Pinterest page, would you? 

I found that woodland animal fabric when I ran into JoAnns the other day and fell in love with it.  I didn't need to buy this fabric (I have fabric), but then again- I kinda did.  I have two yards of it and it is cordoroy.  What should I do with this fabric?  (I realize buying fabric without an intended purpose is a bit ridiculous.  Duly noted and working on it.)

What would be a fun theme party to do for whole families?  I am feeling the itch to plan something for summer.

I started looking around the other day and realized I have so many unfinished projects it might just be a sickness.  I gathered up just the yarn ones (just the YARN ones!) and took this photo.  (PS.  See that fair aisle hat?  I had to pull out my stitches back to the brim SIX TIMES.  That is why it doesn't look any different than it did six months ago.  I have knit on it a lot- but UNKNIT on it just as much.  Argh.)  Is this normal?  How many unfinished projects do you have lying around?  I want numbers, people.

I have found that I have gotten into a terrible habit of waiting until I am ravenous before realizing I need to eat and then, grabbing something not-so-good (like, say, chocolate chips) to eat instead of eating real food that would require me to take the time to make something.  I am trying to cut down a bit on carbs so crackers or a sandwich is kinda out.  I've decided to do a no-grocery challenge for the month of February so you have exactly three more days to give me food ideas before I ban myself from the grocery store for a month.  Hurry!  What are some simple, healthy foods that I can go from getting to eating really quickly?  Maybe it is stuff to make ahead of time...maybe just snacks to always have around?  I need some inspiration!

Alright!  Your turn!   GO!


Rozy Lass said...

Dealing with messy boy's rooms. First, get a clothes rack, or portable closet. If possible one with adjustable sides so it can be lowered to a easy to reach height. Hang up the Sunday clothes, coats or jackets, button shirts, etc. T-shirts, jeans, pj’s, underwear can go in drawers (or boxes). 2nd, sort through all the clothes. Boys need just a couple of pairs of jeans, no more than six or seven t-shirts or button shirts, short sleeve for warm weather, long sleeve for cold. Our four boys usually had two or three favorites that they wore constantly. You can strip down to a bare minimum if you want. Too many clothes, especially for boys, creates a big mess. Pare down and you may find things neater.
Another key to keeping the room tidy is to have "morning work" and "night work". Morning work for us meant putting pj's away, making the bed, grooming, and prayer. Night work meant putting away all the debris of the day, including clothes, grooming and prayer. I supervised their work for as many years as it took for them to get into the habit, usually from age three to age eight, then periodic checks to keep it going. I taught them that there are only three places for clothes 1) on their body; 2) in the dirty hamper; 3) hung up or folded in a drawer. Anywhere else was out of place and needed to be put away. I also taught them when they took off a piece of clothing to see if there was food or dirt stains on it, or if it smelled stinky, if so it was dirty and went in the hamper. If it looked and smelled clean it could be put away to wear again. They heard this lesson many times, and I don't think they really got it until as teens they discovered girls and took an interest in cleanliness.
We had a similar problem with our daughter at age 12. She was so tall and slim that very little store bought clothing fit her, at least in the modest way we wanted her to dress. We used homemade skirts and jumpers paired with thrift store bought tops. Which is a perfect use for that gorgeous corduroy fabric you bought! I measured her waist, found a skirt pattern with that size and just made it as long as she needed to fit. When she was 12 she was a size six pattern around and a twelve up and down. My sewing skills increased dramatically sewing for her!
I have too many unfinished projects to count. And I don't have half the chores that you do. We always lived in the city and didn't have any animals. We did homeschool our five children and have always been active in a church, and scouting for the boys. One day as I was tearing my hair out trying to get things done with many interruptions from our five, I said "Will you children settle down, you're interrupting my work!" Inside my head I heard a voice say to me, "These children ARE your work." Whoa, instant change of perspective there. I decided that people are more important than projects and making happy memories with our five children should be my priority. Our youngest is now a senior in high school and I can honestly say that our adult children are our best friends. We were all together this Christmas for the first time in six years. It was the best Christmas we've ever had. We laughed and talked and remember together and it was just heavenly. It's trite but oh so true, they grow up so fast!
You are a wonderful mother! We don't see the fruits of our labors until much later. Your children will grow up and not remember the messy rooms, they'll remember the fun times, the silly times and the time you spent reading to them or outside with them or something trivial that you will have forgotten but was so important to them. Press forward with faith in Christ! You are doing important work and will be blessed for doing it.

Bonnie said...

May I say that after my long absence, I am thrilled to see that we still after all this time, seem to live parallel lives. Audrey is nearly 11, and clothes shopping makes me want to swear. Totally hear ya on the homemade/homeschooler look. My best suggestion is look at expensive clothing for ideas, then figure out how to mimick it. I've noticed expensive brands tend to be simpler and easier to copy than cheap. Really. Boden, Lands End, are good ones to start with, or go look at my Pinterest page Dressing My Children. I pinned some ideas there. Otherwise, simple skirts, shift style dresses and jumpers, with mix able shirts. Maybe tunic style tips for jeans or capris. For a party- Little House themed. That was the best party/school day I ever came up with, hands down. Games like axe throwing (within reasonable age range) stick bow and arrows, tossing a cast iron skillet the farthest. Watch the Frontier House episode on Y-tube called a Family Affair, they have a fair with games, etc. You could do some sort of baking contest, make butter, serve foods from the Little House cookbook, things like that. Looking forward to what others have to say!

Bonnie said...

That was a really choppy comment, with autocorrect/suggest running wild. Let me know if I need to clarify...

Mary Anne said...

I am not big on sandwiches either. Here are some of my healthy go to foods: nuts, hummus with veggies, guacamole, chips and salsa, peanut butter-stuffed in celery or apples (yum:), salads (chopped a bunch at once and eat several times). Hope this helps!

Christine Thiesen said...

I had a very tall 12 year old daughter too. We got some cute, modest stuff at Target, Old Navy, Gap. A good place to get those brands cheaper is Thred Up. I use the app but I think you can use their website.

rebecca said...

The woodland animal fabric would make cute pillows for the children's' beds, or a darling jumper or skirt for Adele.

I don't have a tween, but I think tunics and leggings with boots are cute for all ages of girls. Sundresses for summer are classic for any age.

For quick, easy snacks I like cheese sticks, dried fruit, and nuts. I really like freeze dried fruit but it is pricey. Any of these will keep for all of February!

Chrysalinn said...

While not a farmhouse, we recently moved into an older home (approx 100 yr) that has no closets and not a great deal of furniture space, and we have six children. We did a lot of paring down. However, clear totes that slide under beds have been helpful.

My first thought for the fabric was a jumper for one of your girls. If you make a little dress for the baby, you'd probably have enough for a little hat.

In addition to the other great snack ideas others have shared, I would add hard-boiled eggs

lydia.purple said...

Minimalism works wonders with clothes. You need only 7 everyday outfits per person (1 for every day of the week and one spare just in case)and 2 church ones. You could even assemble the complete outfits ahead of time each week and put each day's in a ziplog bag (underwear, socks, shirt, pants.) I suggest teaching your kids to do their own laundry. Let Corynn help Adele, and Andrew help Judah) Appoint a specific laundry day for each pair. They should be able to wash their clothes in one load per child. Teach them to fold the clothes and put them away. (And assemble the daily outfits if you like the
idea) Teaching kids to take care of their clothes is a good starting point to teach them being tidy and caring for their stuff. Their clothes are just theirs, so they have a special ownership. Whereas toys for example get played with by everyone and that can create a huge confusion if you want to split the job. In our house we all do crafts and we all play, so we pick those up together without fighting who did what mess.

You are a great mom!

lydia.purple said...

Oh and do another circus party! I loved that one...

Anonymous said...

Woodland fabric- I think a little girl's dress would be sweet in that.
Snacks- I make hummus, cut up veggies and dip ahead of time. Healthy and quick to pull out of the fridge.
Party- Messy science as in making slime, goop, baking soda volcanoes, mentos-pop explosions, stomp rockers, etc.
I love reading everyone's ideas, especially about the mess (same problem here).
Mrs. Bowen

Bonnie said...

And actually I think it might be episode 6 not 5 that has the fair.

Bobbi Anderson said...

Unfinished projects... 3 knit 1 embrodery

Organizing... "The konimari" method... Aka the magic art of tyding up book.... It's life changing, truly! Even my young crew is joining in!

Teens, hmm maybe help her find her own style with Pinterest? Leggings are a big thing right now! Maybe jeggings (the leggings that look like jeans) and cute tops?

Unknown said...

Ahem. This is my life in some ways too, Rebecca. The sloppy children on Sundays...are you a fly on my wall? ;) I've kind of made them "reserve" an outfit or two and that's what they wear over and over again. I don't have any FABULOUS ideas for you about organizing...I'm just not that great myself...I do want to mention that I always get EXTREMELY frustrated by messes etc postpartum, so don't kill yourself...hormones will do nutty things. Annie is GROWING so much also! I've been just stopping at our thrift store and grabbing anything I see that is cute yet modest...if I go often enough, I usually find a few items each time...she is VERY plain dresser...preferring comfort over fancy...so jeans, nice tshirts, or dress shirts, flats, or tennis shoes are really all I get her right now. She isn't loving dresses/skirts and I'm not pushing it since I do want to give her a bit of freedom with her "own" style.

I have SO many unfinished projects that it ain't funny. And many of them aren't even crafty.

Ugh. Food. I'm trying to work on poundage/health and food is my nemesis. Salads are a good lunch for me with chopped deli meat, various seeds or nuts...string cheese is a huge help for me in a pinch...leftover single portions of soup...eggs with veggies...

they call me mommy said...

Oops! I wasn't signed in! :D That was me, AMY! :D

Rosemary said...

Rebecca, so glad to hear you got your energy back. Just remember, you are still nursing and caring for your fanily.
I only have four children, but I found the same challenges with their rooms and dressing the girls. I organized the kids' clothes into outfits and stored them in clear bags in their drawers or together on hangers in the closet. . I made sure that they had two, decent church outfits, which were stored separately and always put away clean. Put their church outfits out the evening before. Check them over then, so that church morning is peaceful. Put bibles, books, etc. By the front door, so that you can grab them easily come morning. I Used plastic- plastic drawer units from Wal-Mart, when lacking dressers. Each room had some old-fashioned hooks on the wall or door to hang a bathrobe, etc. Eventually, we were able to secure a captain's bed, which had drawers under for storage. You do have to be consistent with tidying up room routines each day. The goal is for the kids to do it independently every single day. Once you have cleared excess stuff from the room, and worked out together where items belong, it should not be a major thing for them to maintain. The most important thing to remember is that we do not need tons of clothes. Purge. As for dressing young ladies, I love leggings and capris (for summer) under dresses, skirts and long tunics. I sewed their skirts and simple dresses. If we found something store bought that was too short, I added a modesty frill or trim at the bottom. Someone above mentioned teaching the children to do laundry. I second that. When one of my dear daughters was around ten, she complained I had not yet washed an outfit she wanted. My husband suggested she would hence forth be doing her own laundry. I went through the laundry steps with her many times; and when we were both confident, she was on her own from start to finish. In turn, each of the kids did their laundry as they became old enough. (Since they were taught how to fold and their was a place for their clothes, they could put their outfits away. All of the new chores took close supervision and lots of patience on my part, but it was so worth it when the children eventually could do it on their own. They thanked me when they went to college.

Jenn In Indiana said...

As another commenter suggested, you should get the book by Marie Kondo. "the life changing magic of tiding up". This book has helped so many people declutter and although it is not written from a Christian perspective, you can sort out the good from the book and make it work for your family.
As far as no closets, I understand. I also live in a farmhouse. It is almost 4000 sq ft but no closet space. It drive me nuts. Why would you build a huge house and have no closets? What is wrong with people?
For something quick that is healthy, try hardboiled eggs, they are easy to just grab. Good Luck and keep us updated on your progress.

Stacy said...

I have the same problem with rooms. I have 4 boys in one room with a small closet. Three girls in a room that was a dining room turned to bedroom with no closet. We bought a closet thing at Home depot and it helps but is still too small.

I LOVE the woodland fabric! I would either make a valance for the boys room and or pillows for the bed. It is too cute!

WIP~ Um, don't get me started. I have the same fair isle hat as you and have gotten no further than you. I have redone it so many times and cannot get it right. UGH! Besides that I have 5 other projects I am working on. And 100 I want to start.

I don't comment often but I love to read your blog. I sure do miss Photo Fridays!

Terri Cheney said...

I find it very helpful to donate a whole day to food prep for the week, say on a Monday. Of course, I'm just cooking for two these days but it IS helpful just the same. It makes weekends really nice too if you do food prep on Friday and then have two free days where basically your pour food into the crock pot or sit in the oven.

Because I too will get too busy and forget to eat and drink properly and because diabetes now forbids that altogether, I try especially on days when I am home alone and have a full busy day planned to make my food choices and set them up first thing THEN go to work on stuff.

Do you have a hamper in the rooms or in the bathroom so that it's handy for the the children?

I think the best advice here is to set aside two outfits for church and church only and those get put away as soon as they come in each Sunday.

Alyssa Corley said...

So, I no that you are nowhere near an Ikea ... I don't buy a lot of things there myself BUT the storage advice is amazing. I think when you don't have a lot of room you really have to look to the walls - Europeans really know how to do this. One idea is there are a lot of twin beds that have the drawers built into the bottom of them or you could use a long flat container on wheels to store things for the boys. When I was little I had a friend that she and her brother at to share a room with their parents - the house was literally about 600 square feet. They each had a rubbermaid container with their name on it that was kept under their bunkbed and they kept their pajamas neatly folded under their pillows.
I have three pretty messy boys and what I've done is really gotten rid of excess. I basically just keep the clothes they wear all of the time (I guess people generally only wear about 30% of their wardrobe) and then I only have one or two nice outfits each. Also, why not jeans and a polo shirt for church? Doesn't wrinkle :)

Angela said...

Clothing basics: jeans, at least one bias cut a-line skirt which reaches at least to the ankles to allow for more growth. 2 sweaters, 2 button down shirts (one long-sleeve and one short) do this in her favorite colors and then add to the wardrobe as needed!

stephaniegiese said...

That does sound frustrating! Have you ever hears of Ana White? She is a mom in Alaska who has great plans on her website for occasions just such as these. Maybe Matt could use some of your wood to build something like this? :) http://www.ana-white.com/2014/09/free_plans/industrial-style-wood-slat-closet-system-galvanized-pipes

stephaniegiese said...

Ooops, typo. *heard. :)

Ulli said...

As always, Rebecca, beautiful photography! Such talent!

I'll answer what I can. My boys are in their 30s and their neatness or lack there of is not my problem anymore :). I would tell you, though, to ENJOY every minute of all of it--the messiness, rumpled clothes, everything. The children will not fondly recall how neat their clothes were when the family went to church. But they will talk about your reaction (and the denial) when you discover that one of your young darlings wrote his/her name on the church wall with a sharpie... oops, I went off track... that may or may not have happend to us :)! And one more thing about taking young ones to church. My opinion is that if people are judging you on how your childrens' clothes look at church, well, then they better think about why they are there in the first place. Just be The Newman's--that's all you have to do. You do know that we are our own worst critics, so those people who you think are judging you are probably just happy to see a wonderful loving family come to church.

The fabric--that adorable fabric! I think each child should have something from it. How about drawstring backpacks for trips to the library, or to carry their special treasures. You can find a pattern online if you don't have one. They are simple and sew up quickly. C could probably do them.

Laundry--one or two loads a day will keep the piles in control. First thing when you wake up the first load goes in. A and C could learn to sort and do loads of towels or basic items. My boys learned in their early teens and took over their own laundry. Folding and putting away is a great chore for the littler ones.

Storage--plastic tubs with colored lids--each kiddo gets his/her own color--and you can carry that out in other things, too (like colored cording on the drawstring backpacks, and toothbrushes, etc). For the time being, until the boys' room is done, just stack the tubs or slide them under the beds. At least the kids' things will be contained--and clean up might be easier.

Family party--we have done this at church and school, but never with families, but I think it could be fun since your group is quite large when all of you are together (or so it seems from your pics and posts).
Get a baby picture from everyone aged 6 months - 1 year. No identifying marks should be on the pictures. Number the pictures and make a list of all the names. Display the pics on a foam board with numbers showing. Each person, young and old, gets a list--and you try to match the baby pic to the name. The older kids can help the younger ones.
You always find fun and unique ways to entertain, and I'm sure you'll have a great party!

WIPs--sadly I have about 10 or so, to include knitting, crocheting, sewing, and I'm starting to weave (none in that catagory yet, but give me time!) :)

You're a wonderful mother and wife. I can't imagine how you get done what you do in the first place! Best to you!

thebucketwoman said...

I think you would like this post on being fruitful:


As for boys, have you thought of a coat hook rack? My boys would wear the same thing every day if they could. In which case, they only need the amount of clothes it takes to get from one laundry day to the next. Box it all up and hang 3 shirts and 2 pants for starters. You can always add more as needed. A couple of my friends keep all their children's church clothes together in a separate closet. But maybe you just need to worry about the boys's. ;)

I was thinking about the food question, but then wondered if you were going to put extra effort there, what about nailing down meal times instead? I think that would free you up more in the long run. We eat every day at 8:00, 12:00, and 6:00. Not having to think about meals or provide snacks - or listen to people CRY - is so liberating. I plan my menu every week so I have everything ready to go up front. Although I understand that when people are cooking from their garden/farmer's market they have to be more spontaneous when cooking. And I am so not spontaneous. ;)

Anonymous said...

Sorry not to have anything stellar to add here, but just chiming in to say that adorable fabric would make an adorable tote bag (or more than one? I have no idea about sewing/material) for library books!!
And tasteful, quality clothing (to be passed down x2, yes?) for your lovely firstborn? Some key items from Lands End = totally worth every penny. Conservative, durable, cute stuff.

Mari in MD said...

My daughter was also tall and thin and we found that the thrift stores simply didn't have much that was attractive. We found a few things at yard sales but most of her clothes ended up being store bought once she was 11 or 12. Hollister fit get shape very well and while some of their clothing was too revealing, they have nice t-shirts, jeans, blouses, and the softest sweaters ever. You could pair these with a couple home-made skirts and there are enough sales to get some good bargains there (or at Aeropistale, American Eagle, etc.) If you have a Plato's Closet near you, check them out. They are a consignment shop for teenagers and young adults.

I cook chicken breast, shred cheese and prep raw veggies about once a week. My current go to meal is a quick chicken quesadilla Heat chicken and cut up peppers in microwave for 30 seconds, put them on a quesadilla with shredded cheese, fold it in half, and heat it on the stove or, in my case, in the George Foreman grill until cheese is melted. Takes me about 3.5 minutes to do this start to finish. I love my grill; it is absolutely the best way to cook bacon - no grease spattering, no need to watch it very closely and takes no more time than the stove.

Look at Ikea online for storage ideas. You might be able to replicate those with items you have on hand.

Anonymous said...

Boys room:
Laundry hamper/basket is a must - keep dirt clothes onto themselves ;)
Storage for their room (perhaps Matt can make something - he seems very handy ;)
ideas with pallets:
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/502010689693686267/ - wardrobe - might work in everyone's room
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/289919294738588015/ - one made like ladders

Preteen Girl Clothes:
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/210191507585270876/ - some of this my be too young for her

You seem very creative in this department already ;)
movie night,
game night - https://www.pinterest.com/pin/7318418121839240/
potluck night - have everyone bring something - kind of fun if you pick a theme and have them bring around that theme - Italian, French, etc

Unfinished projects: I have WAY too many, I'm ignoring that question ;)

Healthy snacks/foods:

As you can see I have a rather healthy pinterest addiction ;)

Good luck with everything!

All the best,