Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chore Day

Monday is 'Chore Day' at our house.
We spring into recovery mode from the busy weekend.

Our Saturdays are free for whatever.
We're either out & about {doing something fun}
OR we're together at home, enjoying the day without the 'regular weekday activities'
{like work & school}.

Sunday is generally a busy day, going back & forth to church with not alot of extra time to keep things tidy.

That's why I chose Monday.
We put things back where they belong,
the house is cleaned & we're ready for the week.
It's like a fresh start every Monday.

Each Monday morning, I write 4 lists & lay on the counter...
one for each of the boys & one for me.
There are certain chores I always do....& there are some that I divide up between the boys.
Each boy has their preference, so I usually assign the chore I know they kind of 'like'.

Your boys do
I've heard this question a time or 2...and the answer is YES!
Not only do they do chores, they do them well!
They are hard workers, doing a thorough job on any task!
I couldn't manage a home the size of ours (3000 sq. ft) without their help.
We are training young men who will someday have a job & will be responsible to provide for a family.
By working at home, the foundational building blocks are being put in place for their future.
Besides that, it builds character & strengthens our family unit.
We can't make it without each other.

Below is how I divide up our chores.

The chores for our 3 boys are as follows:

Each must clean his own room (tidy, dust, vacuum & bring down dirty laundry).
Yes, they do this every Monday, as soon as school is finished.
All chores must be completed before getting free time.

Here are the chores that I divide up between them:

-swiffer the lower-level tile
-straighten & dust loft
-vacuum loft & hall
-dust office
-dust dining room chairs

-shop vac the steps
-clean upper-level trim
-clean lower-level trim

There are 3 chores that are assigned to 1 boy for the whole week.
Once they've completed their week, they have 2 weeks off until they are on the schedule for these chores again.
We rotate this by birth order, so everyone knows when it's their turn.

These chores are:

1)  Bathroom duty   (the boys have their own bathroom)
     -clean sink, faucet, toilet, shower, floor, empty trash
2)  Dishwasher duty
    -empty it when needed
3)  Dog duty    (we have a mini-Schnauzer named Cooper)
    -responsible for feeding, watering & letting out dog

Here are the chores that I do on Monday:

-dust living room, dining room, our bedroom
 (dust wall hangings/decor bi-weekly)

-vacuum entire lower level & our bed/bathroom

-clean kitchen (counters, appliances)

-clean lower bath & master bath

-all dishes, dishwasher loading (daily)

-laundry (washing, drying, folding, distributing)

-clean glass doors (front & back of house)

All in all, I'd say the boys are finished w/their chores in 30-45 minutes.
It usually takes me 2 hours, minimum, with laundry going throughout the day.

Every morning, each is responsible to make their bed & tidy their room.
Each night before bed, we tidy up & put away anything that needs to be.
This is what helps keep the home orderly throughout the week.

My motivation for keeping a clean & organized home is that it not only promotes a sense of well-being for all of us, it's a major part of maintaining an atmosphere that's warm, inviting, & relaxing.

~ The daily grind of hard work gets a person polished. ~    unknown

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Pumpkin Tree

Today, my sweet hubs bought me home
some beautiful flowers...
& a PUMPKIN TREE {incredibly cool}!

Who knew there was a such thing...a PumPkiN TrEE!
...but that's what the package said
Look at these adorable lil' pumpkins (or whatever they are).

My boys say they look like a cross between a pumpkin, a tomato, & a pepper.
{The lil' yellow things are chili peppers}
I absolutely love it all!

So, never underestimate what your hubs can bring home from Kroger.
Not only did he decide to grill out today, he planned the meal, went & picked up the items he needed....
and yes,
brought me home this wonderful prize.
He said it was all to make me smile.

It worked =D

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Laundry Chore

At our house, 'CHORE DAY' is on Monday.
This is the day that all our household cleaning is done, including all the laundry.
Yes, I only do the washing 1 day each week...this just works best for me.
I do not wash a load (or just a single item) later in the week just because someone needs a particular shirt.
I encourage our children to plan out what items of clothing they may need for a certain event/activity, as not to dirty them beforehand.

Here is how I divide up our laundry chore:
I do all the washing, drying, folding & distributing.

Our sons are responsible for bringing their dirty clothes down to the laundry room on Monday morning, emptying it into a basket.
They also do any pretreating of stains (this is done, if possible, immediately after the stain has occured).
They also must have all their laundry put away before bed on Monday nt.

Every bedroom has a laundry hamper...& only DIRTY clothes can go here!
(We use wicker hampers like the one below)

Teach children that just because an item of clothing has been worn doesn't mean it's dirty!  (This, of course, excludes the underwear! lol)
We'd probably all be surprised to know the number of clothes being washed that aren't even dirty.
Not only does this increase your amount of laundry, it's increasing your cost (soap, softener, dryer use, etc).
In addition, clothes will fade & look worn out much quicker.
So, establish the rules about when an item is tossed in the hamper.

Here's our general practice:
  • If you've only worn it to church for an hour or 2, or to town for a quick errand, hang it back up in the closet.  (Wash after a wearing a couple times).
  • Anything denim always fits best after wearing a time or 2, so wash when dirty/stained.
  • If you've worn it all day long, especially after being outside or working, put it in the hamper.
  • Underclothes, wash after 1 wear, of course;)
      **For babies/small children, adjust accordingly. 

Here are another 3 ways to cut back on the amount of dirty laundry:

1)  PJ's:  No need to wear a clean pair every night.  They're only being slept in & are not getting dirty.

2)  Towels:  Use more than once before tossing in the hamper!  The body is clean!
I have installed an additional shower rod (just the tension rod type) a few inches out from the back of the shower wall.

This is the perfect place to hang the damp towels so they'll be dry for the next use.
Pull the curtain closed & these towels are out of sight, keeping the bathroom nice & tidy.
Each person needs to remember the color of their towel & always use their own.
After a few uses, put in hamper, only if DRY!
Wet towels in a hamper ruins clothes!
(All damp towels are placed on washer lid)

3) Do not let small children (& teenagers) change clothes over & over throughout the day! 
Unless there are special circumstances, 1 outfit should get anyone through the day.

Helpful hints:
~I have a 'sock' basket on the shelf in my laundry room.
This is where any individual (clean) socks go until the match turns up, which is usually in the next load.

~I make my own laundry soap (recipe on another blog) & always buy fabric softener when it's on sale & use coupons.  I buy 4 or 5 at a time, if the price is right.
I keep dry color-safe bleach to use on loads that may need it...& I use liquid bleach for my whites.

How to get children on board with the laundry chore:
Take time to explain to them WHY things operate in the household the way they do.
This will get them on board with helping out.
Show them scripture about being a good steward, not only with money, but with resources & time!
And most importantly, don't just tell them, show them....& show them again, sticking with it until it's become habit.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

From Clutter & Chaos ~ To Clean & Calm

                     Simple Housekeeping Tips ... for every room in your HOME.

Clutter.  NO.  Clean & calm. YES!

I am all about enjoying my home...
& bottom line, I cannot enjoy it when it's upside-down!
Furthermore, I want my husband to enjoy HIS home, being able to relax in a pleasant place after a long, hard day's work.
Even our children thrive in an atmosphere that's clean & tidy.

I am also all about being efficient - finding the best possible way to accomplish any task.

If there were ever 2 statements that fit me to a 'T', it's these:

1)  Work smarter, not harder!

2)  A place for everything & everything in it's place!

Just making these statements cause me to happy dance...
& yes, these are words that I live by.
I've got this house-cleaning thing down to a science.;)

I've implemented a cleaning routine for our family... a system that's simple & works perfectly in our household.
Over the next few blogs, I'll share our cleaning routine, room by room.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with keeping things clean & organized, hopefully you'll see some ideas here that you can implement at your house.
You can take control of your clutter & ultimately return the order to your home!

Keep in mind, as we are working diligently in our home, not to concentrate on the particular tasks, such as the vacuuming or the dishwashing, the mundane household duties ... but rather on performing each task as a labor of love & service.  Col. 3:23 reminds us that whatsoever we do, do it heartily as unto the Lord.

Home, the spot of earth supremely blest~
A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.
Robert Montgomery

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Evenings Are Spent At Home

I NEVER spend evenings away from home.  Never.  Tonight, as my older sons & I ran a quick errand, it felt so awkward to be out & about ... without my husband...or the whole family.
 When our children were little, out of necessity, I would wait until James came home from work to run errands.  He would keep the boys at home while I did the grocerying, etc.    It would give me some 'quiet' time...& give the lil' guys 'one-on-one' time with Daddy.

My heart, however, was always back at home.  I'd hurry through the stores as fast as I could go, just so I could get back.  I didn't want to miss a thing.  One trip to Kroger usually constituted at least 2-3 phone calls...ya know, just to make sure everything was alright;)  Of course, it always was.

As the boys have gotten older, our routine is much different.  Being a homeschooling family gives us the opportunity to get our schooling done, run errands...& still get home in time to cook dinner before James comes home.

This is how I like it.  I like our evenings to be spent together.  I closely guard our 'family' time, resisting the things that pull us here & there...away from one another. 

This is how James likes it.  After working outside the home all day long, he wants us to be here when he's here. 

We sit down together for dinner EVERY the table.  We have heart to heart conversations & we laugh ... alot!  James leads us in family worship every evening (that's the feeding of the spiritual man & is vitally important).

Deu 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

I have a picture hanging on our dining room wall that says:  We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

Without a doubt, our evenings together are the best part of our day. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

25 Things About Me

1.  I am married to my soulmate - we met when we were 15, married when we were 18 (my, we were young!) & have been married for 19 years!
2.  Found out at 9 weeks into our 1st pregnancy that we were expecting twins (boys) - what an exciting time, from then to now (they're almost 16).
3.  When our twins were a few months shy of turning 3, God gave us another son...yep, 3 boys under the age of 3! (he's now 13)
4.  My husband is a visionary man, Godly & passionate, leading us daily in family worship & discipling us in God's word.  He is the pastor of our family.
5.  He is also the BEST gift-giver ever (I could go on & on here but I'll save it for a future blog)!!
6.  I was a 'surprise' blessing to my parents, coming along 10 years after my sister.
7.  I have one brother, 12 yrs older than me...& he rescued me from falling into our basement when I was just a toddler.
8.  I gave my heart to Jesus when I was 7, kneeling at a folding chair in Connersville, IN (my dad was preaching a weekend meeting).
9.  I love to sing & play the piano...our sons now sing 3 part harmony, all can play the piano, 2 play the bass & acoustic guitar, & 1 plays the drums.
10.  I am a list maker!!  (I have several lists going at all times)
11.  I am very conscientious - lover of etiquette & social grace.
12.  Organization makes life easier, thus my tidy closets & drawers;)  A place for everything & everything in it's place...those are words that I live by =)
13.  I suffer from slight road rage.
14.  My parents are top-notch...taught me to love God, be faithful to church & not eat the bread of idleness (all of which I'm incredibly grateful).
15.  I collect cookbooks...& boy, do I ever LOVE to cook!!  (my 4 guys are sooo spoiled)

16.  OK, I admit, I love food too & for that reason, I am faithful to Weight Watchers...sigh....
17.  If I were independently wealthy, I would travel, travel, travel!
18.  Did I ever tell you that I love to travel?  Oh, & did I mention how much I love Charleston, South Carolina?  (that's a very important tidbit!)
19.  I hate that texting, albeit limited, & FB has caused me to give in to the abbreviating culture...the internet slang that  I so dislike =(
20.  I love to decorate my home (unique pieces, flea-market finds, shabby chic...yay!)
21.  I love watching my sons mature into young men...seeing their individual personalities taking shape.  Children are indeed a blessing.
22.  One of my greatest regrets is that we didn't have more children (I always thought how neat it would've been to have a second set of twins!)
23.  I am content beyond my wildest dreams.
24.  My favorite scripture is Psalm 68:19 - "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation."
25.  I'm thinking it's pretty incredible, this whole blogosphere thing, AND that you've come by for a visit! Love & prayers to each one of you!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bagpipes & Kilts

This was our 4th year to attend the Scottish Highlander Festival at Apple Works Orchard.  Every year, the weather seems to be fitting for a festival celebrating the Scottish heritage.  It's usually a bit overcast, with a slight chill in the air.  It's even drizzled on us, a time or two.  We meander through the encampments set up to display life in the 1800s.  Some are cooking...roasting meat over the fire.  There's always a pot of stew, tempting all with it's earthy aroma.  One little lady is knitting, another making soap.  They're eager to share stories & demonstrations, all interesting & informative.  These folks are very passionate about their heritage. 

saluting the American & Scottish flags

Then...there is the music!  It's all about the bagpipe!  This is thee highlight for me.  I love, love the bagpipe!  The singers join in on a folk song ... singing of their homeland with so much vigor that you can't help but grin.  Next, they strike up a sad-sounding ballad, almost haunting in a way.

And of course, one can't attend a Scottish Highlander Fest without seeing a'plenty of laddies in their kilts;) The wearing of the kilt ... well, you've heard all the talk;)  The practice dates back to the 1600s & is still alive & well today (at the Highlander Fest, anyway)!

All in all, another fun year at Apple Works...learning new things, making memories, & enjoying each other.  We head home with some apple butter & a couple bags of apples, usually breaking into the bag before we even leave the lot.

 Psalm 127:3  Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Homemade Chicken Broth

This morning, I made homemade chicken broth.
I used the remainder of a rotisserie chicken that I purchased at the grocery.
All you need to make a pot of rich broth are the following ingredients:

approx. 2 lbs of bony chicken pieces (or a leftover rotisserie)
approx. 2 qts. water
a couple each: ribs of celery, carrots, slices of onion, bay leaves
sprinkle of salt, pepper, & garlic powder

Increase/decrease ingredients based on amount of chicken you have to work with.

Place all ingredients in a soup kettle.
Using Chef Anne Burrell's kitchen lingo, BTB RTS!
Bring to boil, reduce to simmer.
Skim foam, cover and simmer for 2 hours.
(Reduce simmering time to 1 hour if using a rotisserie)

Set chicken aside until cool enough to handle.
Remove meat from bones & throw them out.
Save the meat for another use.
Strain broth, discarding vegetables and seasonings.
(If making soup, dice up the cooked veggies & toss in the soup)
Skim fat from surface before using.

You can keep your homemade broth in the fridge, sealed tightly for about 5-7 days.
I like to keep quart sized mason jars for uses just like this.
Bring it to a rolling boil before using.

You can also store it in your freezer.
Just let it cool completely, then pour into a plastic storage container.
I save the containers from my store bought potato salad, etc. & they work perfectly for this!

This broth is wonderful for many uses:  soup, casseroles, rice dishes.
I'll be using mine tonight for some chicken 'n dumplins.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Homemade Laundry Soap

I am ALL about saving money!  I've been thrifty since I was a little girl.
My parents raised me to understand the value of a dollar & to spend it wisely.
Now that I'm grown up with a family of my own, I understand the VALUE of those life lessons.

As a stay-at-home wife & mom, I've made it my mission to make financial contributions to our household by finding creative ways to save.
As James so diligently works providing for our family, it's the least that I can do to be careful with the hard-earned money that he brings home. 
I've learned all sorts of ways to stretch a dollar & ultimately, to keep as many of them in our pocket as possible!

Here is one of the newest ways I've found to cut laundry cost ...
Using regular store brands, the cost per load is between 9 - 13 cents.
By using this recipe, we are saving a bundle with our cost at 1 - 3 cents per load!
With these few ingredients, you will be able to make batch after batch of this soap...
and it only takes a few minutes!

                                            Here's my recipe.
(a combination of the Duggar's recipe & another one shared with me by a friend.)

1 c. Arm & Hammer super washing soda
1/2 c. Borax
1 c. dry color-safe bleach (Purex)
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
4 c. hot tap water


Grate the Fels-Naptha soap bar. In kettle, add soap & hot water. Stir constantly over med. heat til completely dissolved.

Fill 5 gal. bucket half full of hot tap water. Pour in melted soap & all other ingredients. Stir well til all powder is dissolved. Fill up bucket with hot water. Put on lid & let sit overnight to thicken (it will be a watery-gelled consistency). Fill a used clean laundry soap dispenser half full of soap & fill to top with water. Shake before each use.

yield: 10 gallons
Use 1/2 c. for regular washer -- 1/4 c. for front loader (HE)

I made our 1st batch in late April & it lasted til this week.
That's 6 mths for a family of 5!

Just a couple answers in advance to some FAQ's:
-It WILL NOT be a solid gel...more a watery-gel consistency.
-This is not an overly sudsy soap...don't be alarmed.  It will still do the job.
-A couple drops of essential oil can be added to final product.

We chose not to add the essential oils for a few reasons...
1) It smells nice enough as it is  
2) Most of the fragrance in our laundry comes from the fabric softener 
3)  The little bottle of oil costs more than all the ingredients for the soap! 
     Remember, we are doing this to CUT costs.