Quite the week

There are weeks when I’m thankful the weekend has come, and then there are weeks, like this one, when I recognize I NEED the weekend to recover from the week.

–The Hubby-man dashed up north to visit his family. Found a great ticket price with car rental, and it seemed quite worth it. It just meant dropping him at the airport (almost 2 hour drive, one way) then picking him up. It just meant a late night Monday.

–Tuesday Hubby-man and I went to the Mission Waco Banquet. It was great to hear the stories of how people have turned their lives around, gotten off the streets, have become ministers themselves. We left Little Man with a… wait for it… babysitter! At someone else’s house, no less! He had a great time, we had a great time. But, another ‘late’ night. (around here, ‘late’ means out past Little Man’s normal bedtime)

–normal day Wednesday.

–On Thursday, Little Man and I did what only crazy people do. Drive to downtown Austin at 5 pm. We ventured down that way to attend the book signing for “Notes from a Blue Bike” by Tsh Oxenreider, founder of theartofsimple.net. It was a ton of fun, nothing like what I expected.

Driving into Austin, at a crazy moment

Driving into Austin, at a crazy moment

Can you see my "I'm meeting a published author!" look?

Can you see my “I’m meeting a published author!” look?

The Palm Door, where the book signing was hosted.

The Palm Door, where the book signing was hosted.

–Today, we are taking it easy. Watching a bit too much TV. Tomorrow will be the same. Rest. Then, into the next week!

Finding my stride

This is a major thing for me these days… finding my stride. I’m not a runner, yet this running analogy really seems to work for me. I’ve run enough to know what it feels like when I find that stride or pace that lets me get in the zone. I do swim, or at least try, regularly, and I know that feeling of ‘the zone’, where I’ve found the pace, the rhythm that I can let just take over my movements.
I pick up a new work project and I need some focused time to ‘find my stride’, which means I’ve figured out the paradigms of the project, I’m able to move through the steps easily and smoothly.
I’ve nearly completely lost my stride in writing, shown by how sparse my posts are. More on this later.
I’m always thinking that with a bit of focused time I’ll find my stride in scheduling, housekeeping, parenting (which includes getting Little Man to sleep, or play on his own, or not scream/yell at me, or whatever), exercise, sewing, and anything else that life brings along. It took a few years of focused effort to find my stride in menu planning and cooking daily dinners.
But, of course, something happens, my stride is broken and the process of finding it starts over. Most recently, Little Man decided to sprout some new molars. At least, I can see buds on the bottom jaw, though nothing on the top, and this clingy, weepy, grumpy boy has been around for several days already. Or I have a few crappy days (or just one), or we get a bit busy, or someone gets sick (croup cough at 2 am… yeah, that not just breaks my stride but knocks me on my butt) and the stride is broken.
I don’t think this is a bad process or a misguided analogy of living life, but I do think sometimes I lack perspective on it. Most things in life are cyclical, think sweeping the floor, vacuuming or laundry. As soon as its done, it needs to be done again (esp with a 2 1/2 year old running around the house!). And the rest of the things in life are ‘this too shall pass’ kinds of things (good or bad). A little focused time and finding my stride for the daily ins and outs of life and life just runs better.
And then there are the really important things: reading the Bible, praying to the God of the universe, seeking Christ-likeness, loving Hubby, loving Little Man, loving people. And these are not things that are put down on the to-do list, nor checked off in a ‘I’m done!’ kind of way. These things don’t lend themselves to finding a stride in. These things are not about moving forward… they are more about standing still and being fully present in the here and now.
Finding my stride in the dailies (or weeklies?) does seem to help me stand still for these really important things. Maybe this is a part of living intentionally, or living simply. Or maybe its that the ‘stride’ for the really important things is of a different kind than the ‘stride’ for the dailies.
I’m still exploring this, thinking through it, and trying to understand this dynamic of daily ins and outs.
How about you? Does this even feel like your life?

2013 reflections

Well, my hopes at getting back to blogging didn’t pan out. But its my own fault, I just had no initiative to write. I know that something like writing is some thing you do when you want to and when you don’t want to, but at the same time, I’m writing this blog for friends and family… not to generate income, or create a business base, but to encourage, enlighten, and inform. And sometimes, you just gotta let it all lie dormant for a bit.

I started to look back at my 2013 posts, but there are an awful lot of them. The first post of the year, however, was a fun one, and I thought I’d do something like that. A few pictures, a few reflections…

G&G Younger Visit

Feb 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 20131

Sept 2013

Oct 2013

Nov 2013

Dec 2013

 

2013 was a good year in many ways. We’ve had a ton of fun with Little Man as he grows and develops. It was also a hard when we lost Kiddo in June (an early miscarriage), but we have great hope to comfort us in that loss.

Its exciting to look ahead at 2014. I see the potential of lots of exciting things! Or perhaps normal things… I plan to do laundry today. :P

Christmas Shorts

Taking a cue from another blog-friend, here are a few tidbits of our Christmas.

–We took it easy this season. Put the tree up, did the advent train, and a single manger scene on the mantel. And a candle on the dinning table with a runner under it. I made cookies with Little Man on Christmas Day (or was it Christmas Eve? no, Day of, I think). No guests. We didn’t travel. It was so nice. I’m realizing I’m not sure how I feel about decorations, per say. I think manger scenes, angels, shepherds and wise men about are quite appropriate, and I do love putting up and having a tree up, but I’m not sure I’m interested in the rest of the hoopla of the season. Though, based on Little Man’s love of the various displays of lights around our neighbor, we might put up a few more lights around the house next year.

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Christmas morning, before anyone else was up.

– We mainly did stockings for each other. Not sure why, but I *love* stockings. Hubby did a great job for his first time doing stockings and got me The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals. Yes, I can google, but having  book is so much for useful when you know its a fox, but you don’t know what kind. I decided I’m pretty sure it was a Grey Fox that came through out yard last May. And that we have Fox Squirrels running around.

–Little Man has become very interested in letters and spelling lately. He can form a recognizable “H” now, which I think is pretty impressive for 2 1/2. He has begun ‘spelling’ things, though most of the time the words are all p’s, g’s and a few c’s. I’m seeing how fine motor skill development really opens a whole new class of activities for a child. (see about the sewing card below)

– I’m thinking and reflecting on goals, habits and 2014, of course. This is just part of who I am! I think, based on my failure to finish any of my 2013 goals, I ought not do ‘goals’ right now. I think its just time of life, really. So, I’m going to focus on ‘habits’. First up, the daily routines habits, like ‘morning routine’ and ‘evening routine’. More on the details of these later…

–I’m still finishing off the Christmas gifts for the niece and nephews. I’m now declaring them ‘Epiphany Gifts’, since I think I can get them to the kids by Jan 6…. I hope. 15 mins of work a day, and they will be finished in 2 or 3 days, but Little Man doesn’t like to let me work unless its what he is doing also. I did create a ‘sewing card’, and he really enjoyed it. I need to remember to pull it out for him more often. I think road trips got easier with this activity. Maybe its time to explore putting together some ‘busy bags’. Might make ‘afternoon rest time’ easier.

working hard on his sewing card

working hard on his sewing card

– Little Man appears to have mostly given up the afternoon nap. I’ve maintained an ‘afternoon rest time’ for my own sanity (and patience), but that has its own learning curve. He is getting better at it, and is understanding better that its as much for me, as for him. I’ve also realized the ‘quiet time boxes’ that I’ve put together are woefully inadequate, so they will get some revamping soon.

There are more things I could talk about, but I think this is long enough! Again, I have intentions of getting back to blogging, but we will see. I’m working to make the internet and the computer a smaller part of my life, but I’m still working to find the right balance, I think. I’m not back on facebook, and I’m still thinking about when I might open that can of worms. I miss some of the interactions of facebook, but I’m also enjoying that I have one less thing to bother with on the computer.

Until next time….

Getting back to writing

I see that its been a LONG time since I put up a new post. Life got difficult, then busy, then better, then busier… but that’s just life isn’t it? Here is a brief run down of the last 2 months…. (in mostly-chronological order)

1. We realized I was dealing with postpartum ‘blues’ after the miscarriage, so I started being more intentional about getting exercise, good social contact and some time away from Little Man. All that has helped quite a bit.

2. We went camping at Lost Maples State Natural Area. Wow, its beautiful and perfect for testing new equipment and general hiking ability. I got to use the ‘new-to-me’ external frame backpack and I LOVE it! And I learned that Little Man is about as heavy as a pack as I would carry. That might have been the last hike I carry him on.

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Little Man had his own backpack for this trip, and its still being used. He really likes it, even if it is hot pink.

3. HubbyMan went on a backpacking trip to Big Bend National Park. He had a ton of fun and we hope to get back there as a family next spring.

4. Little Man has decided that sleep is for wussies. He has wonked up his sleep schedule with napping some days and not napping other days, falling asleep easily at night some nights and struggling for an hour and a half (or more) on other nights. He’s hit some developmental milestones in various areas, and his energy level has skyrocketed. His outside-time need has also gone up rather significantly. Talk about wonking up my schedule!

4. We are excited to host a lot of family this November. We also hosted another family of 5 one night in October. Its the most activity our guest bedroom has experienced in a long time.

5. I hope to be back on the blog post bandwagon again. I’m taking a facebook sabbatical for a few weeks, which should be a lot of regained time. Yep, gonna have to contact me the old fashioned ways: email and phone calls!

My own homekeeping strategies

Here it is… how I organize my own meta-homekeeping. (can I say it that way?)

I’ve tried a lot of different techniques… how to organize your house, how to organize your time, how to keep your home running smoothly, etc. Also remember that I am quite the tightwad, so I didn’t pay for most of them (I purchased one book, and 2 tools). I have the general attitude that its not worth it if you have to pay for it (except a few really good books).
The main thing I’ve learned in all this is…. know thyself. Are you a naturally organized person? Are you a visual person? Do you like pen and paper? Do you have an iphone or such device that you keep about you all day? This is where the rubber meets the road and as you work through different methods you will find what you like, I’m sure of it. This is my personal progression….

Flylady

     I was a dedicated flybaby for several years. What I really took away from that time is routines and zone cleaning. She’s got other good stuff, but this is what stuck.
     If I keep going with my basic morning and evening routines, life runs so smoothly. As soon as I get tired, skip steps, add a few steps because I feel ambitious, get overwhelmed with trying to do too much… well, you get the idea. But routines are what I always come back to.  Flylady recommends 3 basic daily routines… morning, afternoon and evening/bedtime. I have found I work best with 2… morning and evening/bedtime. I’ve learned (still learning) to keep it to a few steps/items. E.g. for my morning routine, I’ve got a few basic things I do… get up, bathroom, brush teeth, get dressed, coffee. If I’m trying really hard, I have breakfast and read Bible on the list, also. Evening tasks include things like set up coffee maker (no compromise here), get out clothes for next day, get bags together for next day. At times, I’ve striven to have ‘sweep tile floor’ on that list, but that doesn’t last long. The idea is to use your evening/bedtime routine to get ready for the next day. The morning routine is to get ready for that day. My routines have regularly shifted around to include different tasks or different ordering at different stages of life, but I always come back to thinking about my routines. Keep in mind that you *do* have a routine, even if its not written down, or well defined. By writing it down, its easier to make it more refined and more efficient.
     Zone cleaning is about dividing your house into ‘zones’ and focusing on one zone each week. I used flylady’s basic zones to define my current home and the tasks related to each zone. If done right, this becomes a part of your basic routines of life and you just know when to do what. If you do it my way, its a helpful way to not feel too overwhelmed as you think about what you need to deal with this week. You’ve got your tasks that need to be done weekly (vacuuming for one) and then tasks that don’t need to be done but once a month (or less), like cleaning windows or switch plates. I listed cleaning tasks for each area of my home (living room, kitchen, guest bath), then lumped those areas into 4 zones. defined 4 zones for this current house and then listed the cleaning tasks for that zone. Now, I have 1 zone to focus on each week. Not that I actually do this all the time, but when I do do it, the house is nicer.

Large Family Logisitics

      I have really enjoyed Large Family Logistics, also. I use/like her Day of the Week plan, where one day is laundry day, one day is town day, one day is kitchen day, etc. I do better having a day focused to a particular set of tasks, though when I take this too far, I give myself more tasks than I have energy for. In all of this, there is a balance act to perform.

Confident Mom Planner

     At the New Year (i.e. Jan 2013) I picked up an ebook bundle from bundleoftheweek.com that included ‘The Confident Mom Planner”. This is a planner that you can print up that has each week laid out with repeating tasks assigned to particular days. I love the idea here, but I’ve found that I don’t like the way she spreads the tasks out over the week. E.g. when I vacuum, I’m going to vacuum the whole house. My house isn’t big enough to warrant only vacuuming children’s room and hall way on one day, then the living areas on another day. Perhaps if I had a bigger house, this might make sense. She’s got a good generalized task list, but I’d rather (theoretically, at least) create my own list with my own tasks that are personalized. You might not care. See… know thyself!

Planning Worksheets

     Now for the specifics of the actual day to day running. I LOVE planning worksheets. I’ve used who knows how many styles and structures while looking for the perfect planning page. I’ve not found the ‘perfect’ one yet, but I’ve found several that work quite nicely. You just have to use them. :P I’ve found planning worksheets to be quite customizable, flexible, but they provide some basic structure to the planning. I’m sure that if you google ‘daily (or weekly, or monthly) planning worksheets’ you will get some huge number of hits. I’m currently using the weekly planning page, the weekly menu planning page and the daily planning page from Organizing Life as Mom, an ebook I got in the ‘ultimate homemakers ebook bundle’. You can get these from here (http://lifeasmom.com/organizing-life-as-mom-redesigned-and-updated-ebook).
     She, author of Organizing Life as Mom,  suggests laminating the pages you want to use and getting them spiral bound. I’m perfectionist enough that I’m working towards that, but not yet there. I’ve laminated the planning pages I’m using, but I’m waiting to laminate my pantry stocking pages (a whole ‘nother topic!) till I think they are truly completed, then I’ll spiral bind them. Of course, that might be years away…. For now, I’ve got the pantry stocking pages in sheet protectors. The sheet protectors work much the same way as laminating… you can write on and wipe off, I’ve just found that lamination works a bit better. The wiping off is a bit cleaner and the writing on is more crisp. If you are using sheet protectors, use the matte style, not glossy. Glossy ones are hard to write on as the glossy plastic just doesn’t hold the ink. I use wet erase pens to write (I’ve read you can use dry-erase, but they don’t clean as well, I think). You can use the basic Expo wet erase pens, which work just fine. I, however, use Staedtler Lumocolor non-permanent pens. The point is significantly finer than Expo pens, so you get a much smaller mark and the colors don’t run at all. The pens are such that there is a bit of drag so it feels more like you are writing on an actual sheet of paper, which is something I really appreciate. If there are any teachers out there, these pens are great overhead pens… the fine points and sharp colors let you get so much more detail on overhead drawings and the sharp, crisp lines are great for viewers to see clearly what you’ve written. Can you tell I love these pens?
So, there it is. I’ve come up with a few more ideas, but what questions do you have? Other aspects of home keeping that you want to hear about?
(none of my links are affiliate links. They are direct links, based on my own recommendations, and I get nothing from your clicking or any purchasing.)

Homekeeping resources: ebooks

This is really a huge topic, but I will try to be succinct. (all links given here will open in a new tab/window)

Ebooks

There are a ton of ebooks out; a fair number are good quality books. I, in my tightwad ways, might notice a book I want to read and will wait till I see it free on amazon, or a sign-up-for-this freebie, or somesuch. Most of the ebooks I have, I got for free. Legally. Some have been pretty bad, and some quite good, and the majority in the middle. Occasionally, I’ll pay for an ebook, such as when, last spring, there was an offer of a huge swath of homkeeping-mothering-parenting-and-all-other-topics-that-an-adult-woman-in-the-US-might-be-interested-in ebook bundle. I’ve found the best way to find ebooks you’ll be interested in is to find the blogs that cover the topic you are interested in. Of course, if you just want free ebooks, a site like http://www.free-ebooks.net/ might be what you want.
In general, ebooks tend to be shorter and more focused than bound books (at least in my experience), such as ‘time management’ or ‘scheduling’ in one book, while another book discusses the documents that are helpful in homemaking (to do lists, calendars, etc).
Here are the ebooks that I’ve found most useful in my quest to better my homekeeping skills.
Organized Simplicity, by Tsh Oxenreider (http://simplemom.net/books/) – I got this book as a free amazon book in Jan 2012. She walks you through establishing your own family’s mission and vision, and then helps you figure out your priorities such that what you do lines up with your family’s mission (purpose statement is what she calls it). This is a great book for figuring out how to go about living simply
Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule so you can Live Free, by Annie Dillard (tellyourtime.com). Wow, this book was awesome! The author walks you through defining your roles, using those roles as a guide for establishing priorities, then uses those as foundations for setting up a weekly schedule. This has been the best book I’ve read, so far, about scheduling and how to go about it.
Organizing Life as Mom, by Jessica Getskow Fisher (www.lifeasmom.com). This book is the nuts and bolts of homekeeping and general parental organizing. The book is a compilation of “worksheets and planning pages to help you get your act together”. I use several pages from this book, which I’ve laminated, for my weekly planning. When you buy the book, you get a monthly update with new worksheets and planning pages and a new monthly calendar jpg you can use for your desktop background. I really like this.

Other useful ebooks

There are other ebooks that I enjoyed, learned from, or have good information, but aren’t one my MVB list.
The Homemakers Guide to Creating the Perfect Schedule, by Amy Roberts (raisingarrows.net). She walks you through establishing a schedule for your home. It was straightforward and useful information, ideas, and guidance.
Hula Hoop Girl, by September McCarthy (hulahoopgirl.net). This book more deals with our own tendency to get overly involved and too busy. Are you trying to keep more hula hoops spinning than you really ought? Or perhaps you are trying to keep more plates spinning than you ought? Either way, this book was really good at taking the reader through these issues and focusing one’s efforts.
Do the Funky Kitchen, by Laura Coppinger (www.heavenlyhomemakers.com). My kitchen is the control center of my home. And I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and in the dinning room. This book walks you through getting your kitchen into shape to work for you, which the author admits that she needs to do on a regular basis. I should probably do this again soon.
Next up: What I actually do!
Yep, finally, after how long? I’ll walk you through what I’ve done in the past and what I’m doing and what I’ve found works and doesn’t work and what really doesn’t matter. At least in my life.

School is in the air

Alas, I must finish my homekeeping project… but not today.

So, I’m itching to do some ‘school’. I really enjoy academics and I love to learn. And I love to teach. I just couldn’t help myself when I found (via moneysavingmom.com) this fun set of lesson plans: God’s Little Explorers. I figured we could do as much or little as we wanted (joys of doing ‘preschool’ at home!) and have fun with it.

We did Week 1:  “X” Marks the Spot (God’s Word is a Treasure), day 1 today. I think we had fun.

First, I made some ‘binoculars’ for Little Man. He has really enjoyed them, and they are made from a major heavy duty cardboard roll (I have no idea what came on it) that required a knife for cutting. Hopefully, that means it will last longer.

I see you!

I see you!

We went on a walk with the binoculars, and I think Little Man really enjoyed looking at stuff through them.

Little Man has discovered a special joy in running. Just running. Not to get any where, per say, but just to run. So, for some of our walk, we ran. He’s pretty fast. I can still keep up with him fine, but I can’t just walk, I have to jog to keep up. Which does me more exercise for me. Which is good — so I keep telling myself.

Back at the house, we (I) drew a ‘treasure map’ on the drive way. No, Little Man can’t hop yet, but he had fun jumping through the hop scotch.

start here. then hop scotch.

start here. then hop scotch.

On the way through the treasure map, I also drew up a ‘four square’. Not sure if this is what everyone else calls it or not — its where you each stand in opposite squares and bounce a ball to each other. Except that our ball was flat, it was fun. I don’t think the flat ball affect Little Man’s fun.

finish here. Drink water.

finish here. Drink water.

We played outside for a while more. We even watched the garbage truck come by and the guys pick up our garbage. Little Man loves watching them. We came in for a snack… crackers and cheese. I had put out all the cheese sticks as ‘x’s’ on the crackers,  but Little Man promptly took all the sticks off, lined them up and ate the crackers. (He did eat some cheese).

cheese and crackers... yummy!

cheese and crackers… yummy!

 

I think from here we will do a bit of book reading, and talking about ‘treasures’. I have a few other ideas for fun activities.

I have no expectation that Little Man will learn any letters from all this, its just fun and I enjoy the focus and intentionality of it  – and getting to plan.

I highly recommend Home Preschool and Beyond, both the book and blog. Home is the best place for littles, I think. I don’t think there is anything special you need to do for your child, it is fun for someone like me.

Simplifying, Decluttering and Personalities

Back before Little Man was born, I received the book Simplicity Parenting. It really made since. I aim to keep us home at least 3 or 4 days a week, we’ve aimed to keep toys to a minimum. We aim to sandwich A days with C days.

Then, one day Hubby says that there are just too many toys out. Its too much to clean up, he says. I had to agree. So, I removed several toys that weren’t played with all that much. Put about 1/4 of the duplo blocks into a basket that was put back out; the other 3/4 were put away. The next day, Little Man hardly noticed, but he did play quietly by himself for a while.

A few days later, I read a blog post about a mom who, in response to seeing her daughter’s discontent, put away *all* the daughters’ toys. As in, every single toy. All the dress up clothes, all the toy food, all the puzzles. It took two weeks to adjust, but then the girls started playing happily together.  Then they reached the day when the girls would ask for a toy (such as dress up clothes) that would keep them happy all day.

I was inspired. We’d been trying to teach Little Man to play on his own for months; nothing too intense, just setting him up with something and leaving. Or making suggestions of what he could do. I hoped that it was just a ‘someday’ skill, he is only 2. But I figured this was worth the try.

I cleared out another 1/2 of the toys. Most of the toys left out fit on a small 3 foot bookshelf. The books fit in a basket. There are other random toys around, and he’s acquired a few more ‘toys’, like an empty roll of tape. I didn’t clear out all the toys, because he isn’t old enough to ask for particular toys. Here’s what’s out:

Most of the toys. This is the 3 ft bookshelf.

Most of the toys. This is the 3 ft bookshelf.

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I use a wire trashcan to hold the various balls and a beanbag. If nothing else, it makes a natural target for throwing.

I use a wire trashcan to hold the various balls and a beanbag. If nothing else, it makes a natural target for throwing.

The remainder of the toys that got put away are up in our closet. The books are on a shelf in our bedroom. I figure I’ll trade a few things out every now and then, especially if I see something that isn’t played with all that much.

This doesn’t include outside toys, those are just a different category.

Result: One morning, he pulled out his car and truck and played with them, quietly and on his own for nearly 2 hours. I think he was watching the wheels as he rolled the vehicles over various surfaces. Another morning, at the local children’s museum, he played, quite intently, with toy trains for nearly an hour. And this has continued. He has spent 30 minutes studying the water as it flows ‘down hill’ as he poured it with a cup from the swimming pool (not that we have hills in our yard, but there is enough of a slope in places for the water to flow down).

Last weekend, at my nephew’s 1 year birthday part, at one point I realize that Little Man isn’t out playing any more. I look around and find him back in the bedroom with toy trains, playing quietly on the bed. I realized that Little Man is more like me than I’d assumed. Yes, he likes interaction, but he likes the one-on-one interaction. Big groups seem to wonk him out. And with slimming down his choices about toys, he seems to find it easier to focus on one thing.

And its all way easier and faster to clean up.

 

I think I’m a ‘busy brain’

I started reading The Common Room several months ago and I’m really enjoying it. On Fridays, the Equuschick has been writing on raising a ‘busy brain’. These are kids who try your patience with their curiosity and perfectionism. They might not do well in traditional school settings (think Einstein and such). From the start, I was rather convinced that I was married to a busy brain and that I’m working to raise a busy brain. As I read and thought, though, I began to think “am I a busy brain?” This link here will take you to the ‘Brainy Friday’ posts, and here is the first post that prompted it all.

I’ve never considered myself particularly gifted, and I struggled to get all A’s in school. I was tested for the Gifted and Talented program several times, but never quite made it in.

But I’ve been paying attention to my own thought patterns lately. They are everywhere. And rather unorganized. I can jump from one topic to the next in no time, without missing a beat. I have strong perfectionist tendencies. Somethings come very easy for me, and other things are quite difficult. I don’t think I’m a classic ‘busy brain’, but then who is, right?

Anyhoo, I started that Homekeeping Strategies Project, and I WILL finish it. Of course, I’ve gotten distracted by picking up an old Greek textbook, CS Lewis’s “The Abolition of Man”, several new Kindle books (free from amazon!), and have even considered working on (might I finish it?) my Master’s Thesis which I never finished because I decided to just take the comp exams and graduate. And I’m thinking about this all while I’m working hard to finish a work project on time, get up early enough to have a bit of planning and a bit of bible reading before Little Man gets up, which means getting to bed at a reasonable hour, and keep my home running smoothly — which includes running after a very active and rather passionate little boy. And not drink too much coffee.

Okay, typing all that made me more tired.

With the start of a new school year, lots and lots of folks are talking about their new start, new routines, new goals and new habits. I, in general, enjoy thinking about these things. But then I think nothing will change all that much for me when school starts so why think on these things too much. But you know what, I will have more of a schedule. HelloMornings (and here) will be full swing starting Monday. Tuesday morning Bible study will start up, likely, in the next few weeks.

Yep, got more think about. I hope to have more on homekeeping strategies up soon!

Homekeeping Blogs

I realized that I was far overdue for the next installment of homekeeping resources. The online world is so massive and I decided I needed to reread one of the books I was recommending, so I decided to break up what was becoming a very long post into at least 2 posts (maybe 3?) Here is one part of the online resources: websites and blogs. Okay, just blogs.

The Blogs

The world of blogs has exploded in recent years. There is a blog for every topic and every stage of life. I’m still learning that though I found this blog (or that blog) interesting and useful at some point in the past, its okay to delete it from the RSS reader if its not doing that for me now. Here is a list of current favorites (and how long, approximate) with commentary.
Like Mother, Like Daughter (http://ourmothersdaughters.blogspot.com/) I LOVE this blog. The authors are catholic and so occasionally I might skip a post on ideas for celebrating the feast of this saint or that saint, but as often as not, I will still read the post to see what goodies I might find. See, Auntie Leila, who is the mother of a brood of 7 children and the grandmother of 4 (I think), is the primary author and she offers so much wisdom. It is so worth reading the achieves on meal planning, raising children, loving your husband, and a slew of other worthy topics. She preaches community (which I think is so wise!). I enjoy the Thursday “Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real” even if I don’t post my own. I really enjoy the weekend “Bits and Pieces” which is articles, websites, videos etc that were found interesting of the week before. I find that just as I reread LFL or Home Comforts occasionally, this is a blog I need to come and read articles on certain topics, such as meal planning (I printed that series up and put it in a ‘meal planning journal’) and raising children.
Simple Mom (http://simplemom.net/) This blog is just refreshing. I really enjoy the ‘Weekend Links’ usually published on Saturday or Sunday. The various posts through out the week might cover just being a mother, or parent, or homeschooling, or something fun to do, or a reflection on life.
Money Saving Mom (http://moneysavingmom.com/) This blog could be very overwhelming if you don’t know what you are getting in to. Continually, throughout the day from Monday to Saturday (the blog is quite quiet on Sunday), of shopping deals, ways to earn extra income (think swagbucks and the like), goal setting, and meal planning. She, Crystal, often puts up posts on a topic, such as getting up in the morning, not running out of blog post ideas, or organizing something. I have my feeds set up in feedly, and will, in the index view, mark a whole slew of posts as read without opening them. The post titles do a good job of telling you what is actually in the post.

Why just blogs?

As I wrote this post, I realized that I mostly read blogs. I don’t read many other web sites, though I might read an article here or there via links on facebook or a blog post. I think this relates back to the ‘living book’ aspect of writing. These blogs are written by women who are passionate about what they write about. This is what makes the blogs come alive and makes them worth reading.
So, go out and find a few blogs that cover the topics you care about. If you already have a favorite, leave a link in a comment.

A separate, but related part of home keeping

That is … making good use of mornings.

I have a post in the works on the ebooks and other online/digital resources for home keeping. But its taking me a while to get it completed. There is just so much out there! And I decided to reread at least on ebook before talking about it as its been nearly 2 years since I read it.

In the meantime, here is something that might make a difference in your home keeping.

Christian Community 

I participated in the last 2 challenges (spring and summer) and starting Aug 19, I am serving as an Accountability Captain (AC) for a group. My group is a ‘specific’ group which is targeting stay-at-home-moms. There are general groups with women from all walks of life and other specific groups for particular situations.

Here’s the idea… your morning can really make or break your day. Using your morning well can set you up for whatever task(s) God has for you that day. So, this groups provide accountability for getting up at a reasonable time, spending some time in the Word (a Bible study is given out free through the groups) and getting some exercise (or loving movement as flylady calls it, I like that). If you find you struggle with your mornings, or you feel like your days are always behind or chaotic, consider working on this morning habit.

As for me… well… I struggle with mornings. I’m a solid 9 hours of sleep kinda gal, and if I let myself just run on my own internal clock, I tend towards a 25 or 26 hour day. If I just get up when I’m done sleeping, it will be a tad later than the night before when I’m ready to sleep. Then the next morning I’ll sleep in a bit more, and then stay up a bit longer. I know this because I let myself do this one summer when I was living on my own, had no one else I needed to report to and any work I had to do was just me. All that to say that I just need to get up with the alarm clock, whatever time I was up to the night before. If I’m that tired, I ought to go to bed earlier that night (yeah, whatever! I know this in my head… not that I live it.)

Then, I LOVE to sit with my cup of coffee, read my email, read my blogs (loving feedly.com!), browse a bit of facebook, write a bit, think about my day, drink some more coffee… you get the idea. Alas, if I’m not intentional, this becomes a 3 hour ritual. Which on a Saturday morning before Little Man was born, was totally do-able. Now? Somewhere between that first cup of coffee and blogs, Little Man is up, wants breakfast, wants interaction, wants to go outside. And the day begins.

These challenges are helping me to focus that time. I’ve read enough and heard it preached enough to know that I need a morning routine for getting my day going, and the HelloMorning group has helped provide some of that accountability I need to get that morning routine done. And do it again the next day.

Here’s my plan for the fall challenge: get up at 6 am, get dressed, get coffee, do Bible study, look at day’s plan, eat breakfast. Little Man usually gets up around 7, but if he gets up early, I’ll eat breakfast with him. The laptop won’t come on till after I eat breakfast. (gasp, did I really just say that??? oh, my goodness, I think I really am committing to this…)

Unless there are special circumstances, no napping in the afternoon.

Be ready to actually go to sleep (not just climb into bed…) by 930. This gives me some wiggle time to chat with Hubby, read, or lay quietly in the dark.

You might notice that I have no mention of exercise in that plan… yeah, not figured that out yet. It really can’t be that hard, right? I just gotta decide on something and go with it and keep at it. So says the theory. Here’s my problem…. I want to swim laps. Swimming laps requires driving up to the university pool to do, without Little Man. I am thinking through some strategies, just not figured out a good one yet.

What’s your plan? Gonna join the HelloMornings Challenge? Got your own thing going? Are you looking to the flylady community? Some other group? Are you completely without a plan? Do you even want to do anything about using your morning well? (maybe you just don’t care?) Maybe you already have a plan that works for you?