Are You Ready?

Are You Ready?

Here we are.  The week of Thanksgiving and I haven’t given a single thought to what we will be eating on Thursday.  Not to mention shopping for food.  Oi, the crowds!

Every year we get together with another family that has become like our true family over time.  They are there for us in hard times and share in our blessings.  They will roll in on Thursday morning around 11:00 and we will begin the flow of food that doesn’t stop until around 7:00 in the evening.

Since we already had the whole turkey and dressing meal with our church family yesterday, I am going to skip that this year and we will do something different.  Maybe burgers, maybe Mexican food.  It depends on what strikes my mood while I am at Costco this afternoon.

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I do love the freedom of going with my mood.  It can be dangerous though.  It could take me down a path like Alice down the rabbit hole.  I see a pretty bottle of who-knows-what and my mind says “Drink me”.  Then off I go and by the end of my shopping trip today we may be having tea and giant mushrooms for Thanksgiving.

I am also going to preview the new Hunger Games movie while I am out.  My kids are dying to see it.  Last week I saw “Big Hero 6″ and it was pretty cute.  I don’t think it will become a family favorite, but I found nothing objectionable in it.

I have a lot of work to do on my book over the next couple of weeks, so my main focus is going to be that.  But since my travel for the year is over, I plan to also take lots of walks with the kids and clean out a few spaces that have been much neglected.  I noticed this past weekend that our pantry has things in it that no one has used for at least three years.  I found a can of soup that I bought in 2009.  It needs to go.

It’s always a struggle finding ways to organize packages that are odd shapes and bags of snack and chips.  I will be spending some time on my friend Becky’s blog, Organizing Made Fun.  She’s got some great pantry organizing ideas!  I may also, if I think I can control myself, make a stop at The Container Store.  It’s risky, especially when I have been “mood” shopping at Costco.  The Container Store is my Kryptonite.

While many of you are preparing for Thanksgiving travel or a houseful of family, I am glad to be settling back and relaxing for a few days.  I hope you have a wonderful time and if you need prayer let me know.  Praying for you is what gets me through my own trials.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Rec Rooms and Old People

Rec Rooms and Old People

Being the last day of October I am feeling a little like waxing poetic over the passing of time.

But then I would have to think of rhyming words and watch how long my sentences are and the thought of working that hard makes my dream of becoming the next Emily Dickinson fly out the window.

Today our family will lie low and just be together playing games and hanging out.  We don’t celebrate Halloween at all….it’s just another day to spend with the family.  We may even order pizza and check the Redbox to see if there’s anything fun to watch.

For the past couple of weeks we have been turning what used to be the etsy shop into a rec room for the older kids.  They needed a place of their own to host their friends, watch grown up movies and stay up late.  By late I mean after 9:00, since I no longer have the ability to remain conscious after that.  But the kids like to stay up and talk and make noise that keeps old people awake.  It was either give them their own space or go hoarse calling out for them to “HUSH!” every night.

Good grief.  I have turned a geriatric corner.

I gave them full freedom to fix the room up however they want.  They have been pulling furniture out of storage and dragging junk in there and making it all their own.  I heard whispers of choosing paint colors, so I guess they’re going all out.  Have fun kids!  Mom will be in her bedroom taking a nap.

To be clear, the etsy shop is still in business.  We have just taken a ton of items out of the shop to make it a little easier for the boys. They have taken over the production of our top seller, the essential oil shelves.  It’s a great way for them to earn money and save for college.

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The girls are still making the jar lids and a few other favorite items.  I do all of the customer service and upkeep.  It’s a full fledged family operation.

And since we took our product list way down we were able to move the shop into a smaller space, which left the big room wide open.  I thought I might have a hard time letting go of the decorating and furniture arranging.  But it turns out that I am not struggling with it one bit.  They can turn that place into a sci-fi museum for all I care.  I fully expect a Tardis to be constructed in the corner.  I am just happy they are enjoying it so much!

Our weekend is full of plans to clean the house and get caught up on shop orders.  I also am hoping to get some reading in since I brought home about 20 new books from the conference last weekend.  And to be in bed before 9 every night.

See you in November!

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Chore Ideas for Kids!

Chore Ideas for Kids!

Chore Ideas for Kids-2

This week on YouTube I am answering some follow up questions from another video about kids doing chores.  I am sharing how we manage a simple afternoon chore system.  We call it, “3:30 Chores.”  Every afternoon the younger kids (that’s the kids still in school) do a quick chore and it helps keep the place spiffy and gives them something to be responsible for. Here is an idea of the types of jobs I have on their 3:30 chore lists: Ages 2-5: pick up toys, dust, carry laundry, put silverware in the drawer, put pillows on the bed, wipe the table, folding washrags Ages 6-9: dust, sweep, wash the pet bowl, wash front door, wipe light switches, sweep porch, wipe doorknobs, clean under sofa cushions, windex mirrors, straighten books, fold towels, rake, water plants Ages 10-13: vacuum, fold laundry, cut up vegetables, mop, wash windows, get trash out of car, clean TVs, wash dining chairs, pull weeds, wipe off the fridge, straighten the DVDs,  wash sheets Ages 14+: dust ceiling fans, clean leaves from gutters, shake rugs, organize a drawer, straighten a shelf, get Sunday clothes ready, clean trash cans, wash one window, clean cobwebs, sweep under furniture, wash ceiling lights The idea is for these to be small jobs that can be done once a week.  Try walking around the house and just writing down everything that needs to be done.  Then divide that list into small bits, each taking only about 10 minutes to do.  Those would be the 3:30 chores in our house!  :)

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I’m Keyless

I’m Keyless

The conference this past weekend was a great family activity.  The kids especially loved seeing their friends and hanging out at the conference hotel until 2AM Saturday night playing games and singing.  I do not especially like staying up until 2 in the morning since it makes for a very grumpy mom, so I was in bed by 10:00.  Oh the joy of having kids who can drive themselves home.

We heard a lot of great speakers and ate a lot of hamburgers.  I got salad with chicken, of course, but the kids ate their weight in burgers.  For some reason they didn’t want to go home and eat leftovers when their friends were all going to Fuddrucker’s.  I agree really….the fellowship is the best part of these conferences!  But I’ve eaten enough Fuddrucker’s to last me a year.

We also had a family staying at our house so that meant people coming and going all day long.  I tried to run back and forth between home and hotel so my older kids could just enjoy the weekend.  It would have been nice to spend more time at the conference, but laundry waits for no man.  We invited different families over for meals during the weekend also, so that really kept things hopping.

On Sunday there was a church service to wrap up the conference and our whole family went, but I wasn’t feeling great so I decided to leave right after the service with the little boys and go on home, letting the rest of the family linger and say their goodbyes.

Here’s where I should tell you that I don’t carry a house key.  I really never need one because there’s always either someone at home or a pre-arranged hidden key (don’t bother looking for it….it’s a very complicated hiding process).  But I didn’t think about it yesterday so when I got home I realized I was locked out.

This is not the first time it’s happened.  And before you tell me how simple it would be for me to just GET A KEY, we have tried that.  But every time I go make myself a key something happens to it, someone borrows it, I forget it….the list of keylessness issues goes on and on.

I have thought before of getting one of those keyless entry locks, but two things stop me.  1. They cost like $100 and 2. They are ugly.

I may go back to trying to carry a house key.  But I think we can all see how that will go.

I did manage to get into the house.  I won’t tell you how, but just know it involved a metal bowl and some gardening shears.

One thing I especially loved about the weekend was that the rains brought cooler weather.  It was in the 80s all weekend which pretty much equals heaven in this part of Texas in September.  There’s nothing like a 100+ degree drought to make you glad for the teeniest bit of cool moisture.

We are looking forward to a quiet-ish week of normal-ish activity.

What do you have going on?!

Kids and Chores!

Kids and Chores!

Kids and Chores, tips and ideas from a mom of nine! #chores #youtube #parenting

This week’s YouTube video is about kids doing chores.  Uh huh.  That’s right.  I am talking about deep, dark subjects over there.

I have tried many different chore systems and all of them have their pros and cons.  But there is one thread that runs through any successful effort to get kids to do chores and that’s you constantly checking after them.

They need accountability, they need to have a clear idea of what is expected of them and they need an occasional refresher lesson.  They simply aren’t naturally going to succeed.

I use rewards for the younger kids, but by the time they are 12 they don’t get any “prizes” or payments.  The satisfaction of a job well done is reward enough.  That’s part of maturing….not expecting extra benefits for doing what needs to be done to keep the family running smoothly.  The reward systems when they are young are for teaching….not to be a lifelong practice.

To be clear….I still pay the older kids for some things, just not typical household responsibilities.  I never pay for kitchen work, cleaning, laundry, etc.  But I would pay them to do bigger jobs like work in my etsy shop, paint, yard work beyond basic mowing, cleaning out my car, and other jobs that I might pay someone else to do.

 

 

If you’re wondering what chore systems we use, there are two that I like.  The first, for younger kids, is I Did It Myself! And for the whole family I love the book Managers of Their Homes by Teri Maxwell.  It’s been around for a long time and I have tweaked it to fit my life, but there’s some great info there.

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Everything I Know About the Military I Learned from 70s TV

Everything I Know About the Military I Learned from 70s TV

Now that we are back to a full school schedule life has taken on a busy, yet semi-predictable turn.  No more lets-do-whatever mornings.  It’s back to the military style of living where Mom blows the bugle at 7:00AM and demands pushups for anyone that doesn’t hop-to.

I realize I shouldn’t make military analogies since the only thing I know about it is what I learned from Gomer Pyle, Hogan’s Heroes and M*A*S*H.  Probably not 100% accurate.

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After a week of school we were all glad for Saturday morning when we could relax a little.  But only until 7:30 because some of us wanted to go junking.  Six of us spent a few hours trucking around looking for junk to bring home and reclaim into furniture and décor.  Who needs Pottery Barn when you have trash piles and a good imagination?  I found an old bed spring and some various yard salvage that I plan to use for my fall decorating.  So stay tuned.

After a nap I spent some quality time with my pool net, skimming for leaves and dead algae.  “You boys want to swim?!  Hey, I have a better idea…..Let’s clean the pool!” For about an hour I scraped the bottom of the pool while the younger boys hung around the edges.  Sure they wanted to swim in the middle, but that would have stirred up the scum so we played “Who can stay away from Mommy?”  Elijah won.  So he’s my new favorite child.

On Sunday it was the usual….go to church, come home worn out, sleep, play games, lie around and do nothing.  But there was a small hitch in our plans.  In getting the boys dressed earlier that morning I found in their drawers a pigsty of clothes and socks and belts that don’t fit anyone.  So the later part of the day was spent cleaning that out.

Didn’t I JUST do that?  How did it get messy again so quickly?!  I’m about to whittle everything they own down to what they can fit in a foot locker and while I’m at it I might just bounce some quarters on their beds in the mornings.  How long do you think the clean drawers will last this time?  I am taking bets and whoever loses has to clean the bathrooms with their toothbrush.

Another little incident Sunday was that I got a couple of emails from people who ordered something from my shop and never got their order.  It turned out that someone opened a shop on another site and used my shop name, photos, products, everything.  It was almost exactly the same.  People placed orders and, of course, their orders never came.  They couldn’t find anyone to contact on that shop so they searched and found me, assuming I had a second store and they came irritated about not getting their orders.  I am sure!  I would be irritated too….except they never ordered anything from me!  It was a scam.  Trust me, when you order from my real shop you will get your order promptly and can always reach me if you have questions!

Where’s Radar O’Reilly when you need him?  I need a guy who can get things done.

Salute!

(My apologies to any military people reading this.  I have nothing but mad respect for everything you do!!!!)

More Cleaning and Organizing

More Cleaning and Organizing

I just can’t stop!

Friday was quiet.  We have been getting small jobs done around here and prepping for school to start. I got some shelves cleaned off and straightened and the school books all stacked and ready for me to go through.

On Saturday I was planning to get some more work done around the house and help my son get ready to go to Oklahoma for the week.  But then I heard about a barn sale that was full of junk and I couldn’t resist driving an hour to see what they had that I couldn’t live without.

I came home with a broken old fridge, an old metal slide and a few smaller things.  Uh huh.  Because my house isn’t full enough already.

I’m not sure yet what I am going to do with either of those two things but they made my heart skip a beat when I saw them and I knew we were meant to be together.  I’ll figure something out.  True love can’t be denied.

On Saturday night I felt a little cold coming on.  So I decided to skip church on Sunday morning.  I didn’t want to start a sore throat epidemic.  I kept gargling with Thieves and apple cider vinegar and I took Vitamin C and tried to drink lots of water.

But because I am not one to sit still, I told the kids that if they would help me do some cleaning then I would give them the afternoon off to do anything they wanted (at home that is).  They jumped at that and we all pitched in to get some more organizing done.

The 2 girls set about cleaning out some kitchen cabinets while the little boys and I reorganized what used to be the nursery but had become a room with a bed and treadmill.  It’s a tiny room and with the treadmill right in the middle of it we should have renamed it “The Ugly Room.”

So I moved the furniture, cleaned out the cabinet and drawers and by 1:00 it was a whole new space and there were 3 trash bags full of junk to be tossed out.  Really, that always amazes me how much stuff I have that I never use.  It’s kind of shameful.

Here’s a picture, but not because it’s a beautiful room.  I show it to you because I love seeing other people’s houses (really, I would walk through all of your houses and just look around if I could) so here’s my little room.

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I made a “wall” with the white cabinet and put the treadmill behind it.  Whoever is treadmilling can look out the window or see the TV (it’s right next to me in the picture so you can’t see it).  We just use this room for working out and as an extra bed (which we seem to need a lot).

Once that was done and all of the trash taken out and my bedroom cleaned up from everything we dumped in there I let the kids do whatever they wanted (I believe they watched movies) and I took the world’s best nap.

This week my guys are gone off to school and I have the place to myself.  Well, if you count being home with 6 kids being by myself.  I like to clean things out while James is gone so he doesn’t get distracted by the messes.  When he gets home it’ll all be back in order and ready to start school next week.

There.  That’s my weekend.  What did you do?

Our Boys’ Attic Lego Loft

Our Boys’ Attic Lego Loft

A great room for boys and their Legos! #legos #boysroom #kidsroom

In my Summer Home Tour I showed you my boy’s loft bedroom.  But I thought I’d show you it again with a little more of the details.

A loft room for boys and their Legos!

This room is so small, but we only keep the Legos and two beds up there, so it works.

A great room for boys and their Legos!

There are mattresses on the floor at each end of the room.  We got new mattresses and I am surprised at how comfy it is.  I went to Target and got the dorm-bed-in-a-bag kit.  They were happy to have matching bedding and it didn’t cost me much.  I added a couple of accent pillows.  Doesn’t every guy want throw pillows?

A great room for boys and their Legos!

I decided to add red because I found these AWESOME red metal lockers at IKEA (my happy place).

A great room for boys and their Legos!

The fence looking thing is the rail that you used to be able to see through from below.  But with the room makeover we put luann in front of it so they have more privacy.  To make the best use of the space we built a white shelf at each end of the lockers that faces the beds and one in the middle to hold all of their Lego books and manuals.

A great room for boys and their Legos!

It creates one long surface for them to build their Lego creations.

A great room for boys and their Legos!

On the opposite side of the room is the only wall.  With one weird shaped wall you have to get creative about how to use it.  We built shelves that were completely fitted to the wall and filled them with containers for the….you know what…..Legos!

A great room for boys and their Legos!

Most of the containers I got at IKEA.  Duh.

A great room for boys and their Legos!

If you’re wondering what the wooden thing on the floor is….that’s the door to the room!

The boys have organized the Legos how they want, which is basically not organized at all.

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 I left empty spots on the shelves for them to put some of the things they’ve built.

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I even added (again, IKEA) little lights on each end of the long shelf for them to hit when they need light in the night.

A great room for boys and their Legos!

The whole room was done with 1x8s, paint and 1x2s for the brackets!  It took some measuring, but we got a lot of storage in a small space and it doesn’t feel cramped because the middle is completely empty except for the seat cubes.  They need a place to sit while they build.

If you like attic spaces, I’ve found some more really cute ones over on my Attic Makeover board on Hometalk!

hometalk-attic makeovers

 


Let Me Tell You a Little Story….

Let Me Tell You a Little Story….

One day you’re a woman with a clean bedroom and the next day…BAM!  It looks like you live in an episode of Hoarders.

I try to keep my room clean, I really do.  On Sunday nights I give it a really good straightening and put away everything that has accumulated through the week.  I’m not really sure why Legos and other people’s belts end up at the foot of my bed, but I just take it as part of life and clean it all up.

Now, I love the part of this story where I wake up on Monday morning to a clean bedroom.  I feel like a lady in a mattress commercial that stretches like she’s the happiest person in the world all because she slept on a Posturepedic (FYI: spell check keeps trying to change that word to “pedicurist” which seems like a big spelling leap, but now I want a pedicure because I am easily influenced.  Don’t say the names of any food or I instantly want it.  Except olives or cucumbers which I do not like. #random)

Like any good tale there’s a plot twist.  This time it’s in the form of me deciding I need an office and we have to clean out three rooms to make it happen.  And where does all of the junk and furniture that no one needs anymore end up?  Yep.  You guessed it.

We cleaned and moved and worked so hard and by Thursday I had a situation on my hands.  Sure, I have a lovely new office but I also have an uninhabitable bedroom.  I won’t be stretching my arms like the lady in the commercial.  Because if I did I would hit the enormous pile of clothes that is next to me on the bed.  And forget going to the bathroom in the night without turning on the lights.  Toe….meet the bookshelf that wasn’t there yesterday.

Speaking of piles of clothing, WHY are there so many clothes in the boys’ drawers that don’t fit them?!  We have very limited space.  Four boys have their clothes all in one room which is also where we keep all of their toys and two of them sleep.  Oh, and all of their books.  Every inch is sacred.  So when I opened THREE drawers to find them stuffed with clothes that NO ONE wears I kind of lost my mind.  It’s like I could actually feel a little screw going loose in my brain, hairs turning gray and wrinkles creeping along my face.

It was just last weekend that I announced we might need to find a place to put another dresser in there because the drawers were all so full and I had already had them clean it all out.  In their defense, none of them had any idea who was supposed to be using those three drawers so they never opened them, thinking they belonged to a brother.

We had a drawer intervention.

And now I have a mountain of boy’s clothes on my bed waiting for me to go through.  I also have three pieces of furniture that I have to squeeze into the storage building, which is another touchy subject.  Let’s just agree to not talk about it, mkay?

So guess what the theme for today is!  It’s “Clean Mommy’s Room Day”!  It starts with getting all of this junk out of my room and ends with happy Mommy buying frozen yogurt for everyone.

The end.

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How to Always Find the Scissors

How to Always Find the Scissors

Do you spend too much time looking for a pair of scissors?!

If I told you to go get a pair of scissor right now, how long would it take you?  Or how much time do you think you spend going to the junk drawer for the scissors when you need them from another room then putting them back again, or worse….not being able to find them because you didn’t put them away?!

I have solved that problem in my house.  It was so simple that I can’t believe it took me so long to figure it out.  Now you, my brilliant friends, have probable already done this and will be feeling sorry for not telling me sooner.  It’s OK.  I won’t hold it against you.

I went to the store, bought a bunch of cheap scissors (even some of those kid scissors that are on sale right now will work!).  Then I came home and put them in every spot in the house where I might need scissors.  I no longer look for scissors or hurt my teeth trying to avoid going to get scissors or spend any time fussing at people for taking my scissors.  I am sure if I counted up the amount of time I have saved through the end of my life I would have enough to take a nice long vacation.

Here are the places we now keep a pair of scissors:

1. In a kitchen drawer

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2. In my makeup drawer
3. With my first aid supplies
4. In my sewing/ironing area

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5. In my purse
6. In the car
7. With my essential oils/mailing supplies

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8. By my computer
9. With my school tools
10. In my workshop/garage

Sometimes I keep them in a drawer, sometimes I can hang them (like in the workshop).  But they are right at arm’s length in every room.

The key to the success of this plan is to leave the scissors where they belong.  Just use them and put them right back.  No need to carry them off anywhere.  You could even use tape around the handles to label where they belong.

Happy time saving!

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