Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

Tell Your Time

I know that I haven’t been posting here at ALL and that’s mostly because I have had no TIME! My goodness, buying a house, repairing a house, renovating a house, running a business, caring for family, and on and on and on, ad infinitum… I’m looking all around and seeing women (and men!) who are just as busy as I am and yet, they seem to find the time to shower, they seem to be able to have conversations (with actual friends, mind you! I hardly remembered I was supposed to have those!) that weren’t words being flung, rapid-fire, with barely a breath drawn. How do they DO that? Where do THEY get the extra 12 hours a day they MUST have? Is it drugs? Why aren’t they sharing?? (JUST kidding!!)
In my search to find peace and balance in my life, I’ve been reading blogs (WHO has TIME to BLOG??!!) and finding different female ‘heroes’. Women who I could relate to, who seem to have their stuff together but are still not perfect, who have similar goals to mine and seem to be actually progressing toward them. I was looking for footprints in the snow! Someone who was a little bit ahead of me on the path but who wasn’t so far ahead that their footprints had already been filled in again with flurries and I’d get lost if I tried to follow them. One such woman has written a book…

Click to check out her ebook!

 …and it is AMAZING!  It is short, it is simple, it is part of what I was so desperately looking for!  A way to have my life reflect my values and ideals. 

Maybe you’re like me.  I have so many ‘roles’ that are key to who I am as a person.  I’m a wife, I’m a care provider, I’m a Mormon, etc…  Somewhere in all of my activities, I lost track of, not only those roles but, also the most important one, I’m myself.  I need to care for myself so that I can care for my husband, my charges, my relationship with Christ, my dreams.  There are so many things that I feel I HAVE to do and there’s always more piling on.  I was spending my days running and my evenings collapsed in a heap of exhaustion and frustration.  Everything has to be done right now!  Look at everything I still have to do!  Does that sound at all familiar or is it just me?

So much was suffering!  I’m able to care for the kiddos but not my house.  I can feed my husband but I’m not drinking any water (AT ALL!).  I can finish my paperwork but I can only sleep 4 hours a night.

After reading Amy’s book (it took about 20 minutes), it was like a lightbulb had switched on!  You mean I only get 24 hours a day and, if I schedule more than 24 hours worth of stuff, I’ll be stressed, frustrated and upset with myself?  Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?  Even though I knew that already (duh, 24 hours, 7 days, 52 weeks…), I was feeling totally powerless.  Everything on my calendar is good stuff, it all has to be done and it all has to be done by me!  I had no clue how to prioritize and eliminate or delegate.  Amy’s book has lit that path.  I get it now and, though it may take some time and effort on my part to make an actual DOable plan and stick to it.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to get it eventually. 

I really hope that, if time management is one of your stress points right now, you’ll take a look at Amy’s book.  You can’t find it in stores, only on her website.  It’s an ebook so, you’ll only have to wait about 30 seconds for delivery and every tool she gives you, you can use right away.  If you read it, please, leave a comment below!  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  If you don’t read it, I’d still love to hear your thoughts!  What do you do that makes your schedule work for you?  What doesn’t work?

Click here to visit AmyLynnAndrews.com.


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Meet My House


A before shot of our house. Actually, REALLY before, we hadn't even bought it yet!

 This is my house.  Our house, really.  We used to walk  by this house every day on our way to the park with the kidlets.  I didn’t like the color and the style wasn’t to my taste but, it was a perfect location and had a HUGE yard.  We were on our way to the park from the house we were renting two blocks away when we saw the realtor’s guy puttin up the For Sale sign.  David & I talked it over while this kids played and decided to call our realtor to see if we could take a look at the inside.  We were able to make an appointment for the next day, decided we could work with it and put in an offer.  We heard back that evening, it was already in escrow.

We kept up our walks to the park.  We kept looking at the house with the awful, hot, dry paint job.  We kept stalking it online.  David was looking at the MLRS page again about two weeks later and, lo and behold, it was back on the market!  He called his uncle, our realtor, immediately and asked him to resubmit our offer.  Now, this was a Friday afternoon and, as far as we knew, no one even knew it was back on the market.  David’s uncle happened to know the listing agent and made sure our offer got right on their desk before anyone else had a chance to blink!  We had everything faxed and waiting for them in the machine bright and early Monday morning and they accepted!!  It was a bank owned property and had been vacant for a little while.  The pond in the back yard had dried up and there were little fishy carcasses just lying there.  😦
After we signed all the papers, it hit me.  What are we going to have to do to make this place liveable?  Not only that, what am I going to have to do to make this place somewhere I want to actually live?!  Here are some more before pics to let you know what I mean…

A View from the Front Door

This is what greeted you from the front door.  High-gloss Mint Ice Cream on the family room walls contrasted nicely with the High-gloss Grape Bubble-Yum in the kitchen, don’t you think?

From Left of the Front Door

Here, from another angle you can see the weird little door thingy under the stairs that leads to the garage.  And the lovely Salmon colored metal banister.  It reminded me of something you’d see on outside stairs, maybe, not in someone’s home. 

I can’t wait to show you the huge difference a year (and David’s hard work!) has made!

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72 Hour Kits

Lately I’ve been wondering if we’re as prepared as we should be in the event that there were a major disaster during child care hours.  I always have a week’s worth of food at least but, do we have enough water?  What if we have to load everyone in the stroller and camp out at the park?  We’re lucky enough to have quite a few of our clients pretty close during work hours, some even live close enough to walk but, what about our clients that live/work on the other side of Santa Rosa?  What if they can get to us but can’t get home?  What if they can’t get to us and we have their kiddos for a night or two?  We have extra play clothes in their cubbies but those are really just for if they have an accident or get dirty, really just one extra change of clothes. 

David had the idea of having several generic backpacks or gallon bags filled with clothes and labeled, not by name but by size.  Perhaps have the parents go through their extra or outgrown clothes and donate them so that we can organize them and have them ready to go here, in a big tote.  What would we need for each 72-hour kit as far as clothes?

  1. Footy PJs
  2. 3-5 pairs of undies (for diaper wearers, we have all their sizes here, as well as overnights for the bigger kids)
  3. 3-5 pairs of socks
  4. 3 pairs of cotton pants, no jeans
  5. 3 shirts
  6. 1 sweat shirt and 1 sweat pants
  7. plastic poncho
  8. pair of crocks or something like that in case their tennies get wet or they come to child care in sandals that day
  9. Anything else?

I’m also trying to think of what types of foods would be best for their 72-hour kits.  Carbs, not having a problem!  You got your crackers, cheerios, oatmeal, etc…It’s the protein I’m having a hard time figuring out.  Most of the kids are under 3 years old and we have one kiddo with a possible nut allergy so, peanut butter is out.  Cheese isn’t shelf stable and, for the kids under 3, I don’t think I’d be comfortable with jerky or something like that, I don’t need to be worrying about choking children on top of everything else!  I’ve seen those packets of chicken or tuna salad that come with crackers at the grocery store and those might be a good idea but, what else?  Of course we have chili and beans, etc in our pantry but, if we have to camp out or can’t get back in to our house for some reason, canned goods would be heavy and hard to transport while herding 7 infants and preschoolers.  For the babies, most brands of formula have those single serve packets and we could put a box of those in each of their kits.  Baby food and infant cereal last a very long time and is very easy to store and transport so, it’s really just the preschoolers kits that I’m having a hard time with!  Do you have any suggestions? 

Have recent events made you start thinking more about your emergency prep?  What have you got prepped and what do you think needs to be updated/changed?  When was the last time you rotated your food or checked the sizes in your kid’s emergency kit?

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Garden Time!

Oh guys, I’m so stinkin’ excited about our garden this year!  It’s the first year in our new home and, since we’re going to be here for a while, we actually have the time AND the space for an awesome garden!

In our front yard, we’ve already planted a couple of Hebe bushes and some Ixia bulbs and I can’t wait til those start really making a showing.  Now that the windows have been installed, we can finally start preparing the soil in the flower bed right in front of the house.  It’s going to be filled with Peonies, Glads, Hyacinths and a ton of other beautiful bulbs.  David has just finished building our Dahlia bed, we’ve got about 42 Dahlia bulbs, ALONE!

What I’m most excited about is our kitchen garden.  We’re doing square foot gardening this year and we’re planning on an abundance, a cornucopia if you will, of food!  We have our four citrus trees, Blood Orange, Dancy Tangerine, Meyer Lemon and Buddha’s Hand Lemon.  We’ve already planted some peas and four types of lettuce outside and we have peppers, cukes, three kinds of tomatoes and some celery starting to sprout in the office.  That’s all just the tip of the iceberg though!  We’re planting strawberries, lemon cukes, artichokes, beans, two kinds of melons, two kinds of pumpkins, a couple of squash plants and I’m sure I’m leaving something out!  It’s going to be so awesome!  I can’t wait to have the kiddos run outside and pick their own salads!  Oh, and the canning I’ll get to do this year!  I’m so excited!!  I can’t wait to post some pictures, maybe even a video or two!

Are you planning a garden this year?  What do you hope to plant?  Let me know down in the comments section!

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You know, there are some days that I am so focused on the kiddos that, after their parents pick them up and I look around, the house has fallen down around my ears.  There’s food scattered and mashed on dining room floor.  There is not a single book or toy on a shelf or in a box.  Garbage cans are stuffed to the gills and, in some cases, close to overflowing.  I may not have even had the time (or inclination) to change out of my PJs, let alone put on a little makeup or do much with my hair besides a messy ponytail.  But the day was fun!  We worked on art projects (as evidenced by the marker scribbled table and glue stick schmeared chairs), we played out side (you can tell from the mud and sand tracked all over my carpet), and probably all made lunch together (with, not only a sink-full, but a counter-full, of dishes to show for it).  Yes, we had a fun day but, I’m so exhausted when I look at what’s left for me to do before bed, just to get the house ready to do it all again the next day.

Other days, I spend most of my time changing diapers and wiping noses in between loads of laundry and mopping floors.  I’m so intent on the house getting clean that I get the kids started on individual projects or spend most of the day in free-play so that I can run around with my gloves on, tidying and disinfecting.  I’m blessed to have my sister as my assistant so that I can spend my time being ‘busy’ getting things done.  At the end of days like that, the kids head out the door with a hug and a kiss and I realize, I didn’t really get to have my ‘kid time’.  I didn’t take the time to roll on the floor and cuddle, I got quick hugs and kisses as I passed with my arms full of laundry basket.  I have less work to do after they all go home but, though I know it’s important for kids to have their individual time and that one of the benefits of family child care, as opposed to child care centers, is that they see what it takes to keep a house running, those aren’t days that I’m left feeling satisfied with my efforts of the day.

And then, there are days like today.  I folded laundry with two of my big helpers and they did a really good job on those wash cloths!  We had a blast counting and matching socks.  We read a new book together and we all learned to count (or rather, read) to 10 in Swahili.  While they worked on their art project in the dining room, I was able to prep snack and chat with them about the colors they were using and the safari animals they’d like to photograph (we were making cameras).  We all cleaned up together and went in to wake the baby for snack.  He was standing up, grinning, just waiting for us and everyone was giggles and smiles.  While everyone ate, I was able to load the dishwasher and clean the counters and then we all worked together to sweep the floor.  Then, since everything was ‘done’, we were all able to play together.  I wasn’t stuck scrubbing out the sink, only popping into the front room to count or scold or give a time out.  I got to enjoy my kiddlets and we all cheered for the baby as he climbed up and over the nap cots again and again.  The kiddos wanted to play my favorite game, ‘Make Sarah’s Hair Pretty’.  It’s the one where I get to sit back and relax while  snuggling the baby and they brush and play with my hair, divine!  

Everyone pitched in to clean the toys up while the baby and I went into the kitchen to prepare lunch, which I had a plan for and it was already partially prepped, thank you very much!  After lunch, everyone went down for naps without a fuss and I didn’t hear a peep from any of them for 2 hours!  More than enough time for me to recharge for the afternoon and clean up lunch.  The kids were so excited to wake up and see that David was home because he had been promising them that they could help him plant a garden as soon as we had some sun and, lo and behold, we finally had a break in the rainy weather!  We packed everyone out to the backyard for a picnic snack while David prepped the soil and then they took turns planting peas and lettuce.

Now, was today perfect?  No, far from it!  We had timeouts and a few tantrums.  The baby is teething and has boogers the size of his eyeball.  We’re in the middle of potty training the kiddos and so there was many a panicked sprint for the potty.  Overall though, it was a great day!  I was calm and kind while still being firm when I had to be.  The house looked decent, not perfect, at the end of the day and I felt that I was able to connect with the kids on a very real level.  They didn’t just get to see how a house runs, today, they got to help make a home work.  They got to participate and see how a family works.  This wasn’t a rare day, in fact, they’re becoming more and more common as I continue to focus on how I want my home to feel.  They key, for me, is to keep trying and to give myself permission to have those off-balance days when I have to but to do all that I can to keep my self, and my home, in balance most of the time.  Maybe, right now, I’m able to accomplish that 70% of the time.  Next week, I’ll shoot for 80% and the week after, even higher.  I don’t have to be perfect and I’m good with that.  I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

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Ahhhh…Nap Time…

Whew, it’s been a busy day around here today!  We have two preschoolers and two infants, a really light load actually but, everyone’s had super busy hands and feet!  We’ve had sun and rain and hail so far today, just waiting for the hurricane and maybe a little earthquake to round it out!  We haven’t been able to do our preschool curriculum yet today, I’ve been trying to catch up on the house a little bit.  Yesterday, we had our new (beautiful!) windows installed and we were all confined to quarters for most of the day so that the installers could have the space to get their job done quickly and safely.  Nothing like having a 12 month old toddle right out of a gaping hole in the wall to throw your safety record out of whack!

Luckily, everyone has been in super-great moods which lets me get my ‘chores’ done without me getting stressed and the kiddos going crazy!  I had some very good helpers during the babies’ morning nap.  We folded two loads of laundry, started a third in the washing machine, and we were able to get supper in the crockpot.  The girls mixed up some onion soup mix, OJ and cranberry sauce and we poured it over a turkey breast to cook for a couple of hours.  The kitchen looks like a bowl of Cheerios exploded and sounds like popcorn when you walk across it but nap time is my break time too and it’s not like the mess is going anywhere, right?  It will be swept before the kiddos are up and I’m hoping my preschoolers will wake before the babies do, maybe we can squeeze school in then!  If not, we’ll wait til David gets home and he can sub as a baby wrangler for half an hour.  He’s very good at it, natural talent I’d say!

I have to say, I’m hating that I haven’t been able to post any pictures yet.  As much as I enjoy these little posts, a picture is worth a thousand words and it sure breaks up the monotony of all those lines of texts!!  I have no idea where the charger is for my little ‘point and shoot’ and an iPhone, while convenient, isn’t really the level of quality I want to stoop to for my blog.  I think I’d like to invest in a real, grownup camera.  I really enjoyed using one while shooting candids, back when I was a school photographer and I’ve always wanted to develop that skill.  Hmmm…I wonder if I could talk David into it if I reminded him that it would be a work expense for the child care home?  It would be fun to start researching them anyway, right?

I have to say, this is one of my favorite times of day, not because the kids are napping and ‘out of my hair’, far from it!  I just love looking over at them as they nap on their cots in the living room, clean faces, totally relaxed.  Their little batteries are recharging for another whirlwind but, right now, they’re just totally at peace.  It makes me happy to know that they feel so safe and at home here, they don’t have any trouble drifting off.  Even the babies, snoring away in the nursery, are completely passed out with little full bellies, drooling and with their booties up in the air.  I love it!

Well, laundry is in the dryer so, nothing to fold.  Dinner is cooking and loading the dishwasher is too loud for my living room nappers so, no cleaning for right now.  I think it’s time for me to take a little, hopefully well-deserved, break!

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Apple Pie Jam

Well, today I finally moved beyond Strawberry Jam!  True, for Christmas, we canned Chocolate Strawberry Jam but, it was Strawberry Jam nonetheless.  Strawberry Jam is simple, crush the berries, cook the berries, can the berries and you’re done.  There is some stirring and mixing and measuring in there but, it’s a very forgiving recipe and the first thing I felt comfortable canning.

Today, we’ve stepped into the unknown…Apple Pie Jam!  I had bought a large amount of Granny Smith apples a few weeks ago and the kiddos were totally over them.  In fact, so were David and I.  We had 8 left and they were just languishing at the bottom of the fruit bowl, under the fresh tangerines, bananas and lemons, waiting to turn to mush.  We’ve been trying to up our self-sufficiency with tentatives steps into urban homesteading and I just couldn’t let those 8 apples rot!  I did consider just chopping them up and tossing them into the compost heap but which would, in turn, help the veggies we’re planting this year but, I just couldn’t do it.  Then I decided to whip up an apple crisp (yummy!) but David and I are trying get in shape and I don’t like the shape that apple crisp encourages me to be.  Canning seamed the best idea and I briefly considered applesauce but that was vetoed due to the fact that, a) I can take or leave applesauce and, b) in my mind it would take either mashing the apples or pulling out my blender and I didn’t feel like doing either of those things, jam it is!

 I googled around a bit to find some recipes and then fiddled with the ingredients and amounts, this is what I came up with!

Apple Pie Jam Syrup

8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced

1/2 cup water

1 TBSP butter

3 cups granulated sugar

2 cups dark brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 box pectin

Combine diced apples, butter and water in a pot and cook on medium until the apples are soft but not mushy.  Add sugars, cinnamon and pectin, stir constantly and bring to a full boil for 2-3 minutes.  Pour into half-pint jars, leaving 1/4″ head space.  Process for 10 – 12 minutes.  After processing, flip upside-down and leave overnight.  In the morning, if there are any unsealed jars (the button pops up and down when you press it), put them in the fridge to use first.  All others can be saved in your pantry for up to a year.  I was able to fill 8 half-pint jars. 

I can’t wait to try this after it’s finished sitting!  Believe me, I was licking my fingers enough to tell you that it tastes delicious but, I can’t wait to have it on toast or a sandwich or maybe even poured over vanilla ice cream!  Bonus, the house smells AWESOME!  If you try the recipe, please, let me know what you think!

EDIT: It looks like the jam didn’t gel properly.  If you try this recipe, perhaps try adding another half or whole box of pectin.  Unaltered, it makes a lovely Apple Pie Syrup!  We can’t wait to try it on pancakes and/or ice cream!

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