Archive for the 'home' Category

18
Jan
13

Chore Charts

#3, #1, and #2 camping in the living room

I grew up in a home where there were 6 of us kids. I was the 3rd. Both my parents worked and we were homeschooled, so you can imagine what my chore list was like. My parents did a good job of teaching us to be hard workers.  I’ve been scrubbing baseboards and toilets, doing my own laundry, hand washing dishes (we didn’t have a dishwasher back then), and taking out the garbage for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember enjoying all of my chores, but I certainly didn’t hate most of them. With my own kids,  I have tried in the past to set up chore charts for their edification (they end up being more work for me to enforce then to simply do it on my own), but nothing has stuck this far. The older ones do help me around the house with whatever the current need is, but whenever I tried to have a more structured system it only ever lasted a couple months before dissolving. It could, admittedly, have something to do with my frequent HG pregnancies. It is hard to stay on top of chore charts when you are in and out of the hospital, and barely able to get out of bed. We can make plans, but ultimately, God decides the course of our lives (Proverbs 16:9).  The relative chaos in the housework department doesn’t bother me much anymore. My chaos meter has changed a lot since spending collective years listening to my family live while I helplessly listened from my bed. I can get involved again and bring some order to our little world. Plus, I have long since gotten over any aversions I had to chores. I enjoy cleaning. It occurred to me the other day that since we are done home growing our family, that the odds of sticking to a basic program have greatly increased.   I’ve also noticed a good deal of boredom going around our house. During the day when my oldest is at school, my second plays with our third, but then #3 takes a nap and #2 becomes my shadow, her questions cycle around on a loop, “What day is it? When will sister be home? When will brother get up? What are we doing tonight? Can I play games on the ipad or watch tv?” When I have my wits about me I take the opportunity to give her something constructive to do. Preschool workpages, wiping down surfaces, helping me fold the laundry or tear up lettuce for supper. If I am really on top of my game, I’ll drop everything and build a fort with her or host a tea party for just the two of us (and sometimes baby #4). However, more often then not, my wits get lost somewhere between my morning coffee and the Magic Laundry (you know, it pulls dirty clothes out of thin air and strews them about the house). Add into this the constant direction I give throughout the day and it’s no wonder I am ready to crash the second I load the last dirty dinner dish into the dishwasher (Praise God for technology!). The time has come for change. Today I sat down, searched through all those chore lists I’ve pinned on Pinterest, and came up with what I think is a decent working list for us. I’ll share it here, but I would like to hear what your thoughts are. What chores have you found work well for different age groups? What are your thoughts on incentives? Sticker charts or check lists? Have you found any certain flaws in the system that I should be aware of?

 Chores for a 7 Year old Girl 

  • BEFORE SCHOOL
Mon
day
Tues
day
Wedn
esday
Thurs
day
Friday
Brush your teeth.
Brush your hair.
Wash your face.
Put dirty clothes in laundry hamper.
  • AFTER SCHOOL
*** *** *** *** ***
Change clothes.
Put dirty school clothes in laundry hamper.
Wipe down bathroom sink.
Clean your room (make your bed, put clothes away, put toys away, sweep).
Unload dishwasher.
Homework.
Help fold laundry.
  • BEFORE DINNER
*** *** *** *** ***
Set table with plates or bowls, napkins and silverware.
Wash your hands.
  • AFTER DINNER
*** *** *** *** ***
Clear your plate.
Put on your pajamas.
Put your dirty clothes in laundry hamper.
Politely ask Mommy or Daddy to brush your teeth.
Brush your hair.
Wash your face.
Politely ask Mommy or Daddy to braid your hair for bed.

  Chores for a 4 Year Old Girl

  • MORNING
Mon
day
Tues
day
Wedn
esday
Thurs
day
Friday
Brush your teeth.
Brush your hair.
Wash your face.
Put dirty clothes in laundry hamper.
Do school.
Help fold laundry.
  • AFTERNOON
*** *** *** *** ***
Dust coffee tables.
Disinfect doorknobs.
Clean your room (make your bed, put your clothes away, pick up toys, pick up garbage and throw it away).
Unload dishwasher.
  • BEFORE DINNER
*** *** *** *** ***
Wipe off kitchen table.
Set table with plates or bowls, napkins and silverware.
  • AFTER DINNER
*** *** *** *** ***
Clear your plate.
Put on your pajamas.
Put your dirty clothes in laundry hamper.
Politely ask Mommy or Daddy to brush your teeth.
Wash your face.
Brush your hair.

Chores for a 2 Year Old Boy

  • MORNING
Mon
day
Tues
day
Wedn
esday
Thurs
day
Friday
Brush your teeth.
Brush your hair.
Wash your face.
  • AFTER NAP
*** *** *** *** ***
Make your bed.
Wipe down front of dishwasher.
Wipe down front of oven.
Wipe down front of fridge.
Wipe down bathroom cabinet.
  • BEFORE DINNER
*** *** *** *** ***
Wash your hands.
Wash your face.
  • AFTER DINNER
Put your toys away.
Put on your pajamas.
Put your dirty clothes in laundry hamper.
Politely ask Mommy or Daddy to brush your teeth.
Wash your face.
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14
Apr
11

Cleaning

Every Saturday my dad would take all six of us kids out for several hours. He bought us a Big Slurp of sprite to  at 7Eleven and off we went.  Sometimes we fished in the Boise River which ran just outside his shop (he was a carpenter). Other times we walked around a dimly lit warehouse to the sound of an auctioneer bidding off piles and piles of miscellany to crowds of people. When we got home, my mom would have a Barbara Streisand, Pam Mark Hall, or Carly Simon record blaring, the windows were usually open, and the whole house clean with the scent of disinfectant lingering in the fresh air. My mom was in an especially great mood on those days…and now I understand why. Thursdays, Ben’s mom takes the girls to her house.  I get to put the baby down for a nap, turn on my music (without having to worry about my daughters repeating the lyrics), open up my windows and bleach the heck out of the bathroom. I  move the furniture and clean underneath it. I organize the girls closet which always seems to need it and  I wipe down the base boards in the living room and kitchen. I clean out my refridgerator. I wash sheets. I dust! I love Thursdays. It seems funny. You wouldn’t think cleaning would be that fulfilling for a person whose whole life is revolving around taking care and cleaning up after other people (some people of which still poo their pants!). But it is. One of the gifts God gave women is the opportunity to mirror the creation.  He organized by separating earth from water. We organize through folding and putting away clothes. We put structure to the lives of our family just as God brought structure when He created a sun and a moon.  We make our dwelling spaces homes. We create beautiful and delicious foods to enjoy. He created beautiful and delicious foods for us to enjoy. We have been given the tools we need to create our own  family Eden. We can even make life and sustain it.  Isn’t it an honor to be called to this particularly joyful manifestation of God’s nature? I know it doesn’t always feel like it, but being a mom is truely a glory.

27
Dec
10

Abra’s Hostessing Rules

Being a good hostess is a noble calling. There are few things in life that minister better to a person then having a full belly and good fellowship. It takes a good sense of hospitality and generosity to pull it off. Like most things worthwhile, hostessing can be a blessing or a curse to yourself and everyone around you. There are a few basic rules that I have come up with for myself and thought I’d share them since they have made my experiences better when I apply them. Obviously, my list isn’t complete since I am always learning and these specifically address the pitfalls I am inclined to. Your input or added “rules” are welcomed.

  1. The number one cardinal rule of hostessing is Thou Shall Not Have a Bad Attitude. For me, this means not allowing myself to become stressed (with anything, including prep work and the condition of my home). I am rather prone to biting off more then I can chew in the hostessing department, leaving me with food that doesn’t taste just right and a home that isn’t clean enough. The hostess can set the tone for the whole experience. If she is stressed or tense or dissatisfied, it will radiate to everyone else. Children aren’t stupid, they know when something is up with mom. Any adult worth their salt is going to feel any negative vibes coming off their hostess and that will easily make what could have been an enjoyable evening miserable. If I can’t be relaxed and cheerful, then I need to put a hold on hostessing until I can be. It is better to have cheerful imperfection then sour perfection.
  2. Thou Shall Not Become a Cleaning Fiend. Of course, as a hostess, you’ll do your best to keep your home presentable, but especially if you have young children, don’t allow the condition of your home become more important then the people in it. Keep your home sanitary and smelling good. Try to find a place for everything and lend, store or giveaway the rest. But if there are toys laying about and some crayon marks on the wall*, don’t worry about it. You live there. Children live there. The fact that it shows is a blessing. One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen is suffocating cleanliness of a home without children (this might have something to do with the fact that I grew up in a big family, though. At the very least, your guests should not be afraid of ruining something through normal use.) Homes are meant to be lived in, not tiptoed through. Additionally, there is a big difference between a college student’s messy house and the messiness of a family home. There should never be dishes molding in the sink, but same day dirty dishes is not something to be ashamed of when you have happy children and a cheerful attitude. *Mr. Clean Magic Erasers work brilliantly on crayon marks, by the way.
  3. Thou Shall Not Allow Your Level of Domesticity or Finances Hinder Hostessing. Some women have a knack for the gourmet. They can whip out a delicious several course meal effortlessly and have a clean house to boot..and to these women I say, more power to them! But I can honestly say that some of my favorite memories of fellowshipping with friends was done over take out pizza and cheap wine in a home that was definitely being live in. Franzia can gladded our hearts just as well as Guigal La Turque Cote Rotie. Baked potatoes, chicken soup or mac & cheese can fill a belly just as easily as trout fillets with mint pipián. Serve yummy food and good fellowship. It doesn’t matter what that looks like or what the price tag is.
  4. Thou Shall Not Compare. Every now and then something will come up and Ben will ask incredulously, “Women really do that?!” Comparing domestic skills and domestic experiences are in that category. While it is unwise to compare anyone, it is especially unwise to compare and measure your domestic skills against the other women you know (or don’t know). We are all blessed with different gifts and some of us have to work harder then others at various tasks. No good can come from comparing. There are usually only two outcomes from any given personal comparison. 1) Discouragement or 2)Unseemly Pride. It is very rare that I ever find comparing uplifting and helpful. This is not to say that it never happens, it us just uncommon for me. Maybe I should work on that.

Other various tips I’ve picked up for the comfort of both hostess and guests:

  • When having families over for dinner, serve food that isn’t time sensitive.
  • Whenever especially busy, buy premade food or make food that can be prepared in advance.
  • For the comfort of everyone, serve food that isn’t especially messy or gets stuck in your teeth…unless it’s a real causal meal (ribs, corn on the cob) and you plan on providing them with everything they need to clean up afterwards.
  • During the summer months that aren’t unbearably hot, serve dinner outside. Using paper plates makes clean up so much easier!
  • Don’t stress about the after meal clean up. Do it the next day or in spurts so no one feels the pressure to jump in and help unless they really want to.
  • Provide children with space and toys where they can just go crazy without ruining anything.
  • Remember that stuff is just stuff. If something gets broken, it shouldn’t be a big deal. If something is so valuable or special that it would be horrible to lose, put it somewhere safe.
  • Don’t plan on inviting friends over if you are already stressed or having a busy week. There’s nothing wrong with practicing your hostessing skills on your family.
  • Be flexible.
31
Mar
10

Hacking Your Swiffer

I was using something a bit more eco-friendly like the Method oMop. I had one and liked it, but it cracked…note I tend to be a bit overzealous when it comes to cleaning my floors. I bought  a similar model from Mr. Clean and it served my needs perfectly until we moved into an old farmhouse with white, textured, vintagish laminate tiles in the kitchen. In order to keep these floors clean, I was mopping easily 3 times daily. Needless to say, I fell behind. Washing the absorbent pad became not so eco-friendly when i had to do it everyday. That’s a lot of extra water! So, short of it is, I bought a Swiffer Wet Jet. Its been fantastic! I can clean my floors in half the time. The starter kit was only $19.99 at Target and it came with a small bottle of cleaning solution and 2 absorbent, disposable pads. This set up got me through exactly 2 days of full house mopping (we have wood laminate in the rest of the house). I knew the starter kit wouldn’t last long and the prices of the refills can be a bit daunting.  The pads run just over a buck a piece, and the solution runs about $3.00 a bottle. So at a half bottle and one pad a day we are talking $2.50 per use (in my house anyways). I picked up a knock off pinesol. It is anti-bacterial which is fantastic for toddlers, and while it lacks the fresh open window scent of the name brand cleaner, it is not bad smelling or overwhelming in the strength i need it. It was $2.00 for a large bottle, of which I only need 2 tablespoons to refill the swiffer bottle*. Let’s just say, i won’t need to buy it again for 6 months or so, now we are talking pennies per use, much better. There is, of course, the trick to refilling the specially designed swiffer bottle. Have you every tried one of those snap and click toddler sippy cups? They are deathly difficult to get open, which is the appeal, I suppose. I fought with one of them for a full day before another mom tipped me off. Run hot water over closed lid a minute or two. It changes the sizes and snap, it opens. Same was true for the swiffer bottle. I did have to use rubber gloves to twist it open, but my arms are not my strong suit, so it could just be me. So there you have it, I just brought my daily usage cost roughly in half! I’m still thinking there’s got to be a way to make my own reusable swiffer pads cheaply. I’ll let you know if I make any progress.

*be wary of products that have to have a special cleaner. Especially with floor cleaners, the concentrate makes big difference in how well it works. If it is two strong, it will be ever so slightly sticky and make frequent re-usage necessary. It is not a bad idea to try diluting your own at home to find a good balance for your floor vs. traffic.

02
Feb
10

Storage Solutions

2 pieces of peg board
2 packages of misc hooks
1 magnetic knife strip
screws (don’t forget spacers!)
______________________
Whole project was under $35! (the knife strip was $15)

(Now I just need to polish my pots and pans.)

18
Jan
10

Spring Cleaning: Clothes

The cleaning bug has struck early this year for us. First job on the docket is a wardrobe purge. My basic rules for cleaning out the closets are….

  • CHUCK IT if I haven’t worn it in a year.
  • CHUCK IT if I don’t like the way it fits.
  • CHUCK IT if it is trashed beyond repair.
  • CHUCK IT if I haven’t had time to repair it in the last 90 days.
  • CHUCK IT if I don’t really like it.
  • CHUCK IT if I have nothing to wear it with.

Exceptions to these rules include occasion wear (aka formals, seasonal wear) and one or two really awesome pieces I just haven’t found the right thing to match with it yet but it still fits fine.

We moms have an especially difficult time navigating wardrobe management since our sizes tend to fluctuate with every new child. A good rule of thumb is to only keep the maternity pieces you really love, ditto post partum. An alternative  is to start a lending chain. If you have a lotta mom friends, start putting all your extra maternity/post partum clothes in a bin and pass it around. When one person is done taking from and adding to it, pass it on.  It hurts, but I’ve found it best to just lose the pre-pregnancy clothes if you don’t honestly think you’ll be back in them within the next 3 years. I have yet to find a motivational piece of clothing motivate me. I always just end up feeling like a looser. Pass!

RECYCLE:
When you choose what to goodwill, give away or sell, make sure you put anything un-wearable (torn, tattered, stained badly) in the garbage. It’s true sometimes one woman’s trash is another’s treasure, but sometimes your treasures might be trash. Be realistic.  Pick out the best of the best of your chucked items and preferably give it to a friend who would like it or consignment shop/ebay it. With the rest of it, use freecycle.org or craigslist and offer it to whoever wants it. You don’t have to use big descriptions. Mine are usually are something like, “Offer: Bag of 12 month old clothes.” If you don’t mind driving a bit, just run the bag down to a goodwill drop off point and be done with it.

Remember it is okay to clean out your children’s closets. It is NOT okay to clean out your husbands! There’s that one time right after you get married, when it’s kind of cute to go through his clothes and veto parts of it. That is your freebie. Don’t do it again without permission.

When you are done, take inventory. Write up a small list of essentials that need replacing.  Socks, underwear, everyday basics.  Put the list on your phone or in your purse and keep it there so when you happen to have the money, you know what you need.

I try to go through my closet every 6 months or so. Obviously, a lot of the kids clothes are in storage until the next one grows into them, so I just re-evaluate when I pack it away and then again when I get back into it.

When you are shopping, hold yourself to a  standard. Don’t buy things you feel ho-hum about. Even the most uninteresting clothing should make you feel comfortable. Btw, these babies made my top 10 essentials list! Don’t buy things that don’t fit right that you can’t fix easily. And for Pete’s sake, don’t go shopping on a skinny day! The best time to go shopping is in the evening on a “fat” day. If you look good and feel good in what you try on then, you will always look/feel good in it.

03
Mar
09

an addiction

I know that some people have shoe addictions, and others can’t pass up a new purse. My addiction is to linens. It’s very strange. There are two classifications of this addiction too…the Bed Linens Addiction (I have about 5 sets of sheets/duvet covers that I change out every couple of months just because I have to) and the Random Vintage Linens Addiction. I can’t go into an antique store without checking out the linens and hoping to find some great little pillow case, table cloth, or randomly shaped table runner. And the worst part is that I never use any of them because I’m afraid that I’ll wear them out or stain them. A couple of years ago I found this great pair of napkins.
linens
Just too fun. I’m hoping that when we move this fall I can find a great old craftsman style house that will make a few more of my linens feel at home (vintage linens in 70’s style apartments just seem a little out of place).




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