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

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Happy Spring

It's the first day of SPRING.  

I didn't get every single thing checked off my Old Man Winter list- but just three shy of doing so, ain't bad.  

I really had to push myself to do these tasks- it wasn't something I wanted to do- but I have to say, having checked some of these long neglected chores off the list has made me much happier.  (AFTER they were done, mind you.)   

My life had gotten pretty frayed around the edges and I didn't realize just how much until I started forcing myself to look closely.    The grime was real, my friends.

But, as I knew it would- much of the work that I have done has already been undone.  The dust continues to settle, the toys become unorganized, lincoln logs roll under couches, mail gets tossed on top of the fridge, and those drawers with all the utensils facing the proper way? Yeah, that stopped being a thing the very next dishwasher load.  

Life never stays tidy.  Not when you are truly living.  

Finding the balance of taking dominion of my domain while also embracing Proverbs 14:4 eludes me most days.   But it is a necessary paradox.  

I'd rather have a whole disorderly house full of joy and chaos and dust-bunnies (and INCREASE and STRENGTH!!) than a disordered house full of bad attitudes and grumps about the chaos and mess. 

It's pretty clear the Lord would too.

A few observations I've made recently:

~ Perhaps canned dill pickles from 2015 are something worth dumping.  Yes, even if the seal is still good.

~ I'm not certain but I may be a recovering cotton yarn addict.  I haven't bought any in a long time. (years?) But I still had two HUGE baskets worth at the end of sorting my yarn this past month.  (That's it.  EVERYONE is getting a dishcloth for Christmas this year.  THE END.)

~ I discovered THREE overdue library books that I had to pay replacement fees a few months back for... and I DIDN'T find one book that is currently racking up those charges again. (Woe!  WOE!)

 ~ I picked out the dusty A Year In Provence that has been patiently sitting on my bookshelves for year, awaiting its' time to shine... and shine, it does. After a lot of heavy reads lately, this was just what I needed.  Peter Mayle is such a good storyteller.  A bit foreign, a bit foody, a bit memoir, a lot hilarious.  It scratches all my itches.  How many more happy moments are awaiting me on my shelves?!

~ I recently picked out Talking to Strangers by Malcom Gladwell (from said bookshelves) and was thoroughly underwhelmed.  Which led me to wonder... how many more unwhelming books are using up valuable real estate on our bookshelves?

~ If you sneak Things-Which-Nobody-Cares-About into a donation bag, you had better do it in a BLACK garbage bag because if it is seen, it will immediately become The-Most-Important-Treasure-One-Can't-Live-Without.  This is true of little children AND husbands.

~ I began a crochet project... which I haven't done in forever.  I started a baby bonnet to give to one of the many new babies coming into the world.  I did this knowing that it was dumb... because who will want a yarn baby bonnet in the summer?  (I have no illusions that I would finish it before then.) But also- baby yarn bonnets are darling.  And it will use up the rest of the yarn I had used to make a matching one for little baby Moses.  And... baby bonnets.  And... babies.  And.... waaaaaaaahhhhhhhh.

~ Homemade sourdough crackers are delicious.

~ Hard relationships are hard.  But God is merciful and gracious and kind to those who persevere.

~ Moses makes the cutest four year old doodles ever.

~ If you wait for months for the perfect time to make soap, just as you reach the critical moment of emulsifying fats and lye, you positively WILL get distracted with More Important Things...   

~ Judah makes the best reading nests ever.

~ The smell of lilies in March might be the best smell in the world.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Well Read

I was tucking Moses into bed the other night, I couldn't help but smile when I saw the books he had chosen to read during rest time.

What an erudite fellow.

Saturday, March 09, 2024

It pays to clean

Still working my way through the spring-cleaning list... slowly, but surely. 

And making cheese.  Which is, in a way, cleaning out the fridge.  Sort of.

This past week I was particularly proud because I cleaned out from under our bed.  

This is not a thing I do.  

Monsters live down there and I don't want to cross them. 

And a whole host of things that will make me sneeze.  

So, of course, I avoid it like the plague.

But this week, I decided the time had come... and now under the bed looks like this:

(I should mention I have more than two pairs of shoes. But if you saw my shoes, you would NOT see that I mopped the wood that was LITERALLY furry 10 minutes previous.)

And just like when you give a Mouse a Cookie, it inevitably leads to something else... 

I wound up tackling the rest of the room too.

For over a year I have not seen the surface of this vanity.  (Don't judge.)

 While cleaning the under-the-bed Inferno, I found that the dust bunnies were hoarding a portrait of me someone had made me in college.  I had entirely forgotten about this moment in history.  

They got my nose all wrong. 

In fact, I appear quite Barbie-ish in this portrait (which I assure you was never an accurate representation.)  

Nevertheless, it is a sweet memory that was once lost and then was found.  

I plunked it in a frame and it makes me smile.  (Even though now I am even less Barbie-ish than I was back then!)

In cleaning up the rotting fruit bowl, I decided to make banana muffins for breakfast tomorrow and Ina Garten's no-sugar, no-flour oatmeal raisin cookies this morning.  The cookies were an experiment.

If YOU are ever tempted to try no-sugar, no-flour cookies (even if they are from Ina Garten), I am gonna stop you right there.  

Just don't do it. 

 You're welcome. 

Thursday, February 29, 2024

It's almost pizza night!

 The extended Newman family decided to have a Pizza Party.  The idea was for everyone to bring a pizza (or two) from a favorite local pizza joint and we were all to decide which place made the best pizza.

I paid an exorbitant price for a single pizza at a local pizzeria and while there, I asked if I could have two extra boxes...

and then I made my own pizzas to fool them all. 

BBQ chicken and onion

Buffalo chicken

Homemade mozzerella.  Loaded with leftover wedding chicken.

I win.


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Race to Spring

 I am now living in the point of time where simply winging it through the October/November/December sprint results in the pandemonium that is January through March.

It happens every.single.year around this time.

Surely, I am not the only one.... right?

Too much stuff.  Too long disorganized.  Too many drawers spilling over.  Too many and too long ignored spaces.  Too much to do.  Too little time.  Too daunting to even want to begin.

My day-to-day chores are hard enough to keep on top of.  Laundry is done every day and never done.  Meals are made constantly and still there are growling bellies.   Homeschooling is always and never done.  

But the fact is- those utensil drawers that get clogged every time I open/close them (and drive me crazy) will continue to get clogged until I actually DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.  

(I know, profound.)

For "before" pictures, just imagine layers of dust and no showing surfaces

When my life feels too chaotic and out of control, it always makes me feel somewhat more in control if I can actually rein something in.  Even if it is just the top of the fridge.

 So... I made a list of all the teeny, tiny, long-neglected spaces/jobs that I could think of that would take about 10 minutes to tackle (or so I tell myself) and I am now in a race with Old Man Winter to see how many of these things I can cross off by March 19th.  (That's the first day of Spring, you know.)

The goal is not just to clean and dust these places but to organize them and purge at least 3-5 things that add more clutter than value at this point.  Or to focus on a tiny task that I have been avoiding.

Most of the time it takes longer than 10 minutes.  (Sometimes, even hours.)

(Washing all these shelves and jars took WAY longer than 10 minutes)

The list is constantly being added to.

But the list is constantly being checked off too... and bags and boxes of stuff are being thrown away, given away and/or donated which means... those particular things will NEVER drive me crazy again!

And that makes me supremely happy.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Funny Little Valentine

Corynn surprised me with these beauties last week.  Sweet girl.

Just the typical Valentine mayhem over here.

So what if I can't find the dining room table... who cares if there are a million shards of cut paper in every crack of the dining room floor, broken crayons under every chair, paint splotches on clothes and  candy wrappers in every pocket, just waiting to be washed?!  

There is love.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Goals for 2024

I tell the children all the time that obedience is cheerful... if you aren't cheerful while you obey, you aren't REALLY being obedient.   Obedience must be fueled by LOVE and not be duty for duties' sake.  Mama needed the reminder too. 

 It took a bit longer to get my goals up for this year than I expected.  My apologies to the masses!  ;-)

Here is what I am working towards in 2024:

I see a lot of value in continuing and expanding some of the habits I developed last year so hosting Matt's parents for dinner one night a week, taking vitamins, being active/exercising at least 3x per week, writing one letter/card a month, Christmas shopping throughout the year, and being sure to fit Morning Time with Mama into my weekdays will be a priority for me this year as well.  

In addition to those things (which, let's be honest, are going to keep me busy), here are some new things I would like to accomplish this year.

(Or in the remaining 11 months of it, anyway!)

~ Read Paradise Lost (this was a roll-over from last year)

~ Host ladies + children from church once a month at our house.

~ Get a different vehicle (ours is one breath away from death)

~ Get Andrew into his own vehicle (we will go halfsies)

~ blog once a week (These may be short and sweet but I think my Faraway Girl might appreciate them so I want to try.)

~ Fix up dining room (if not a full do-over, at least repair the broken drywall by the table)

~ Start saving up money for a home generator

~ Sort/Purge Granary in order to make a play space in the upstairs for children

~ Write six long letters (not just cards)

~ Get grapes on fence or arbor

~ Do a better job recording important info into our Hopestead Journal

~ try to grow carrots 

~ try to make a new variety of cheese (maybe cheddar?)

Here is what my January looked like:

Do you have any particular goals for 2024?  How are you doing on them?  

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Looking Back

It may be February 1st but it is only just now beginning to feel like the new year for me... I guess we were on "wedding time" for a while.  Last weekend we had our Christmas gift exchange with the Newman side.  I have not yet written or mailed a Christmas letter...which, if it were to happen, would likely be for the New Year at this point.

I'm absolutely okay with starting 2024 already behind schedule.  (har, har)   

Nevertheless, here I am.  

Behind schedule.

But before I truly begin this new year... I always like to take once last, lingering glance back at what is being left behind. 

(To look at the original 2023 Resolutions post, go here.)  

I feel pretty proud of last year's efforts.  While some of the things I had hoped to accomplish fell entirely off my radar (like reading Paradise Lost, for example), other things I never anticipated being ON my radar (i.e. putting on a wedding) were accomplished.

It really, REALLY helped me to have a daily/monthly checklist to check off... it helped me not only to keep my goals on the forefront of my mind each day (thus helping me to actually accomplish them), but it also helped me to not lose heart when I didn't feel like I was progressing or improving quickly enough.  

Seeing all the checkmarks made me feel like there was real progress being made, even when I didn't make every goal, every time. (And I didn't... see the barren wastelands of the end of November and the end of December.)

An added perk, I've got to say... it is awfully fun to look back on all those little checkmarks now! 

I think I will be implementing the check-off system from now on.  That was the single-biggest reason I had as much success as I did. 


~ NOT reading Paradise Lost
~ NOT repairing chicken coop or getting more chickens
~ NOT finishing the entire Literary Life Reading Challenge
~ NOT writing creatively for 10 minutes a day
~ NOT writing long letters to friends (I did write correspondences but they were usually short cards of condolences, gratitude, encouragement or congratulations... not those lovely, long letters I love to write/receive.)


~ hosted a Community Psalm Sing
~ hosted Corynn's wedding
~ had Matt's parents over for supper once a week the entire year
~ new roof on house
~ accomplished monthly projects
~ Christmas present buying throughout the year (what a blessing this was to me as December's TIME and BUDGET was entirely devoted to Corynn's wedding)
~ homegrown beef (and more recently pork!) in freezers
~ printing photos from '22 and '23 (though now I have a bunch of photos that need to be put in albums)
~ deleting photos from computer
~ and, of course, every single one of those checkmarks above!

(I'll be sharing what I hope to accomplish in 2024 tomorrow.)