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!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Her Brothers Were Here

When you discover a bearded baby... you find some solace in the fact that, at the very least, it's a jolly one.

A mother's heart swells with pride as she discovers not only is this a jolly bearded baby but, judging from the twisting of the corners on her moustache, she is a contemplative one too.

I wonder....
Is this look one of disdain for her brothers...or for the Mama who stole her whiskers?

Only time will tell.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bowls are Not for Bathing

Ineke seems so small...but when I got out the cute red and white enamel washbin for her first at-home bath, I realized she clearly ISN'T.  She wasn't shy in showing her disgust either.

For the record, she loves baths now that her Mama gives her a more spacious SINK instead of a cereal bowl in which to bathe.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Handful of Things

The kitchen being this cleared was entirely due to this apron-wearing, wooden spoon wielding man of a man.  I miss him now that he left me for work again.  Sniff.

The sweetling is 3 weeks old today.  (Well, yesterday, when I wrote this!) I can't believe it.   She is such a dear girl- already basically sleeping through the night (10-4:30 ish most nights and waking up once if I put her to bed earlier than that) and still sleeping most of the day too.  She peeks out from behind her eyelids to check things out occasionally- but still, mostly with a squint.  She is such a contented little thing.  But even her wails don't bother me at all or stress me out- this, I think, is the gift of a longed-for and waited-for child.  I feel so incredibly blessed to get to hear those sounds at all, they stir up in me only joy and immense gratitude.  They make me happy.

I spend as many moments I can muster of my days trying to soak up her fleeting expressions and stretches and they are never, ever enough.  Her little puckers and when she sticks her tongue out.  The feel of her warm little hand on my chest, her fuzzy little head nuzzled under my chin (she loves that spot.  me too.).  Baby breathing, heavy and quick.  I wonder at the teeny foot that can be massaged with a single thumb and the wrinkles of her hand and her dainty little fingers.  I love the chubby fat at the back of her neck and her dream smiles, glimpses of what the real thing will be like.    I clutch these moments desperately because I know how quickly they are gone.  

After a blissful two weeks off, Matt went back to work last week and real life began.  I have discovered that real life is harder to get back into than I remember with a new baby, even a most contented one like Ineke.  We still have Christmas cards waiting to be mailed.  We are still, three weeks in, incapable of arriving anywhere on time.  The day ends with basket-loads of laundry still to be folded and science still left undone.  And, though not exactly a need but certainly a want, a blog stands too quiet for too long.

Penny (the cow) is producing such quantities of milk now I have to use at least five gallons of milk a day in order to have clean gallon jars available for the next milking.  That means, daily cheese and butter making on top of the laundry, the schooling, the cooking, the cleaning, the nursing, the snuggling, the thank you note writing, the taking down of Christmas and every other thing ToDo.  In the last two weeks or so I have made and gifted to friends and family 24 balls of mozzarella, 25 rolls of cinnamon honey butter and 6 rounds of queso blanco.   In two weeks.  This of course, is not including the cheese and butter and yogurt we have kept for ourselves.  The cheese & butter making is time-consuming, but the constant state of dirty dishes is the most frustrating.  There are some nights I think- if I have to wash this enormous pot ONE MORE TIME today I am going to SCREAM.    It did make for convenient gift-giving this year...but now that the spreading of good cheer (and milk products) is over ... that quantity of milk products being consumed by this family alone will result in me never.ever.ever losing my baby weight.  EVER.  

I have always been over-motivated to get things done.  (This does not mean that I actually get huge quantities of things done- but that I am motivated to *think* about getting them done!)  I make to-do lists that fill entire pages in notebooks and those are things I hope to accomplish in one day.  These days, however, I am finding myself content to get done just a handful of things.  I feel very accomplished if at the end of the day, those things are complete.  And "those things" require no list.  They are the most necessary things. Milk making-at least a bit.  Schooling- a bit more, but still not nearly where we should be.  A load of laundry- washed AND folded.  Filling bellies, large and small.  And then, maybe, one or two snippets of other things a day.  Paying a few bills.  Taking down bits of Christmas.  Writing a few thank-you notes.  And that's it.  That is all I can muster.  IF I AM LUCKY.  If I am particularly productive that day.  Strangely, I feel completely satisfied with this.  I know this feeling of satisfaction will not continue forever and being able to get by accomplishing only a handful of things a day  is completely unsustainable but for now, I feel pretty proud of those handful of things.

A new year- 2016. I love the fresh start.  I love the looking back to see how I have done on my goals for the previous year. I love looking ahead and coming up with new goals for the new year.  It's my thing.  But this year, this moment, I don't feel like looking ahead or looking back.  I am sure it may come eventually, when I can wrap my head around the hugeness of a new year before me.  But, for now, I just want to stay in this moment with this teeny Tiddle squeaking in her sleep and laying peacefully and heavy upon my chest.  

These moments, I wish they could last forever.