Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The business of being domestic

School's out and so I begin my adventures in being a full time domestic goddess. In the fall all of my classes are online and I will be homeschooling Cole in pre-k.
I have the entire summer to try out new things and figure out an at home schedule that works for us!

I'm going into this with some goals and I just need to figure out what's going to work for us. I have a few things to consider as well. Two big considerations are -adjusting to life with another body in the house and
-my health. There are days when I just am not able to do much and I get up and I pray and I know that as long as I give my days to God then he will let me get done whatever it is that HE wants me to do; if all I get done is taking care of my family then I will do it for his glory and the housework can wait.

A few things I want to explore and implement for myself are:
  • advance food prep- things like cutting up snacks in advance and getting dinner items cut up in advance.
  • nutrition and menu planning- I when it comes to giving my kids the right things to eat ALL the time! I buy fruits and veggies and often times they just sit and rot. using my advance food prep goal I'm hoping to make use of what I buy and give my family better snacks. I also rarely stick to a menu and I want to follow through for more than a couple of weeks with my menu planning.
  • cutting the grocery bill - I want to learn to use coupons and to plan my menu around the store sales to cut my grocery bill.
  • housework- do different things on different days and sticking with it!
  • quality time- with the kids and husband every day. This mean purposing to plan an activity to do with the kids each day and making sure husband gets undivided attention.
  • exercise- get in 45 minutes of physical activity for myself each day, I even have a gym membership and I admit that I don't use it as often as I could especially given that I live very close to the gym. Yes, I'm 9 months pregnant but as soon as I get a solid routine going for feeding the baby I'm going to make sure I get to the gym regularly, for now I have prenatal yoga DVDs and after the baby is born I have other exercise DVDs to help me out with this goal.
I am not able to just overhaul my life and make all these things suddenly work overnight. I don't know about you but I'm not some super robot who can just reprogram myself and work more efficiently. I have made some changes successfully; the kids are sticking to their jurisdictions and life is easier when then know what is expected of them. I am doing fairly well (though still a work in progress) on the whole laundry thing and have also started menu planning! I suck at menu planning though so I need to figure this one out some more but at least I'm working on it ;-)
I figured I would break these goals up into phases which will help me out especially while life is so unpredictable while we wait for the baby to make her grand entrance and adjusting in the first couple of weeks after she's born.
Phase 1- advance food prep, menu planning, some housework, and quality time.
I'm going to stick with my laundry and finish getting through all my purging and organizing. I'm going to make a menu and stick to it, this might be made a bit easier as I try to prepare some things in advance for Faith's arrival. As for food prep; I bought tupperware containers and have done some research as far as what can be done in advance and how much to do. Today I cut up carrots and apples for our snacks. I should have a couple of days worth of carrots now in the fridge while the apples will probably be gone by the end of the day and for sure by tomorrow. I'm going to sit down with the kids today and find some ideas for things for us to do everyday, we can make a binder and store our ideas.

As I write this I see several other blogs posts in our near future.

Phase 2- Housework, exercise, and couponning
I really think this is going to happen as I get into a routine feeding the baby.
I can start couponning first and try to get the hang of how all these people do it. I have made a couple observations about using coupons already. There is a difference between what I call practical couponning and extreme couponning. Extreme couponners don't buy their whole grocery list at once and save all that $$$. They buy things in bulk as they go on sale and build up a stash of stuff. I don't have the space to have that big of a stash or the funds to build it up while still buying the practical things we need. Also, I don't really ever see people buying fresh healthy foods when they go on the coupon binges. I want to find a balance and cut the grocery bill.
I will make a list of our household chores, as we get into a routine we can work things in where they fit.
I will start making time for exercise as soon as I'm able to. Being 9 months pregnant doesn't work so much with Jillian Micheal's last Chance Workout. Right now I do my yoga though so that's a start!

Like I said, I see a lot of potential blogs as I figure out what works for us. Keep an eye out for kid activities, homeschooling adventures, coupon tips, and menu ideas!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The truth about going into labor


If there are 1st time mom's reading this and curseing the ground I walk on I'm sorry to tell you but it's true.
I know this from previou spregnancies and had heard of things this time that I hadn't tried before so I did have some glimmers of hope.
I am almost 38 weeks this time and I really need to get my baby girl out! I'm not so much inpatient as I have a valid concern for avoiding another c-section. She's already pretty good size and last weekend when I went in to get checked out in the L&D unit her heart rate dropped when I had random contractions. If she gets too big then labor and delivery could be extra stressful which isn't good for her and her heart rate and definately not good for my prospects of haveing another successful VBAC. Grrr!

Here are a list of things I have tried now and in previous pregnancies:
  • black cohosh- tried it with Davin & Cole
  • raspberry leaf tea- Davin
  • walking!!!- It's good for positioning and any exercise is better than none but it only gives me painful unproductive contractions
  • dancing- tiring but fun! I have seen this work for others and I will continue my efforts in this arena.
  • climbing- stairs, hills... good for positioning but not so helpful for me
  • sex- fun but not helpful to me right now at least
  • clary sage oil- nothing
  • nipple stim- I'm getting a good stock of colostrum in the freezer but mo contractions
  • yoga ball- great for positioning and as a comfort measure during labor but no amount of bouncing has helped me in any of my pregnancies
  • squats- I got the baby to move down pretty nicely but I did them to early and she moved back up and I pulled something in my undercarriage. I will do these again once I can get a few regular contractions going.
  • evening primrose oil- nothing!!!! not in any of my pregnancies has this worked
  • accupressure- If I can get someone talented going on it I will get contractions but so far nothing has panned out
  • castor oil- I tried I had such a fun night and all that night and yet I had no baby :-( midwife still recommends it though if I get desperate this time so I might choose to try it again here next week
  • stripping of the membranes- yup we have done it and I lost my mucus plug but not much else. going to keep at it though, it can't hurt!
  • pineapple- apparently you need at least 7 pineapples and those I have ever eaten is 1 whole one.
  • spicey food- it only gives me heart burn, I really don't need more heart burn
Nothing works!!! Science says that the baby gives off chemicals which sigmnal the mother to deliver. they don't know the composition of the chemincals  or how and when and why it happens. obviously sometimes it doesn't happen for everyone. I might just be one of those people that has a stubborn body. Not even medical inducion worked for me the 1st time around. Cole's induction failed and he was delivered by c-section.

This is the reality of bringing children into the world. If I do find something that works I'll bee sure to shout it from the roof tops and if I go into labor within reasonable proximity of any of these "natural" induction techniques I will document it  and let you be the judge.

For now; wish me luck and labor:-)

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I stole the term "jurisdictions" as an alternative to "chores" from 19 kids and counting. I like it better but no matter what you call it it all boils down something you are responsible for doing and you don't have to like it.

My boys are almost 4 and 2 years old. I have been putting off giving them chores because it simply hadn't occurred to me that they might be old enough to do things without it being more work for me. Yup; I'm lazy.
Let me share something with you.... Shhhhh! it's a secret! MY KIDS ARE HOOLIGANS!!!!!
I decided to give them chores because busy hands are hands that can't get into as much trouble.

What do you set up for chores for a 4 year old and a 2 year old? What can they  do? I thought about this a bit and I thought about what they can do... they can do alot when they put their little minds to it. How much effort and skill is put forth for every act of mischief that they seem to fill my life with these days? Here's what I know, I know that my kids can smear things which mean they can also wipes things clean (same action). I know they can tear stuff down which tells me that can pick things up to especially at the lengths they will go to get down whatever it is they want. I know they're fast little buggers too so all this slow poking around doesn't need to happen.
researched and asked around about chore charts and came up with something I like.
Here is what our chart looks like. I listed the kids' "jurisdictions" I put a space where they could stop and pick up later in case of school days or days when we have AM appointments. The top half need to be done in the morning no matter what!
Obviously my kids can't read yet so I have pictures which they mainly go off of. Next to each task there is a bit of Velcro. This is so they know where they are in this whole scheme of things and what needs to be done next. When they complete the task they move their little picture guy to the next task to show which task they are on.
The kids will keep these same jurisdictions until the beginning of each summer. Some people like to start with the new school year but I like summer because that gives us some leeway for adjustment. Since I'm starting this this whole project and it's like mid-spring I will see where we are at this time around the beginning of July and switch/add tasks if it seems appropriate.
... I'm already thinking I'm going to add setting the table and putting away silverware to Cole's and putting the dirty dishes in the sink after every meal for Davin.

Do they get an incentive for keeping up with their jurisdictions?
As of now- NO
The kids are pretty young so an allowance doesn't seem appropriate yet. Plus it takes many hands to keep a household running and it seems like contributions shouldn't be paid since these are what my mom always called "family duties". I have heard good arguments for an allowance though as well and we will probably revisit this topic later as a family.

The Chore Jar-
We have this jar and it contains thing the kids wouldn't normally do (wash walls, chairs cabinets, etc...) the kids can draw out of the chore jar if they want to earn the money to buy something that we don't normally buy for them and there isn't a holiday coming up. This works really well even as young as they are!
They also draw out of the chore jar and work for free as a consequence. Usually we get in trouble as a result of our own selfish actions and by drawing out of the chore jar they are given the opportunity to do something nice for someone else.

This is what out set up looks like and it's posted upstairs in the central area there by their room. Most of the morning chores are upstairs things and this is a central location anyway.

If they don't get the morning stuff done in a timely manner then we will skip something to catch up the time and so far we haven't had that problem but it worked for me growing up. I only went to school in my pajamas once.
For the later tasks the kids know and have experienced not being able to do what they want to do until these things get done and they have been awesome at keeping a positive attitude!

Our kids are still pretty young and we are new at a lot of these things. So far the chart has worked beautifully because the kids can see what is expected of them and there aren't any surprises and it keeps them busy. I feel like we have had less behavior issues since giving them responsibilities. We do still have our struggles but I think the frequency is much less and I feel more relaxed with the extra hands to help out!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Home Organization- laundry overhaul

I went to a bible study this week. It's called Keepers Of The Home; made up of all women they cover things that apply to our daily lives as a wife and mom. I love this study and regrettably it has been too long since I last attended.
The topic this month was home organization- more specifically laundry. Most people know how much I HATE HATE HATE laundry!
It overwhelms me.
I thought this might be an entertaining and helpful topic since I know I am not the only one who struggles with laundry.
It was explained to me that everyone has a system. Your system may not work well but it is a system.
My current system:
            I throw the dirty clothes into whatever unseen place I can until it’s gets on my nerves too much. Them I round up all the dirty clothes and block the doorway to the garage where my laundry area is and I wash… and wash… and wash some more. Then all the clean clothes get piled either on the couch or in my room where we pick out of the pile until we start the process all over again. Out of all those loads of laundry I probably put away the first 2-3 loads and then I give up. It has already taken me so long to wash and dry and pile I need to move on to other things in my life. I do have other housework, kids to raise, homework to do, and errands to run; who has time to stay chained to the laundry for a day or more?

The new system:
            We are minimizing what we have. It was suggested that our children really only need 5 play outfits and 2 dress outfits.  1 large towel for each member of the family, 1 hand towel per bathroom per day, and 1 wash cloth each. Adults only need 2-3 pair of pants or shorts and maybe 5-7 every day shirts and again a few nice dressy outfits.
I’m not that great at letting go so my plan is to cut down in the following ways.
·         Boys- 7 shirts and pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of pants for the summer and 1 nice dress outfit for each season. 1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of tennis shoes, 1 pair of swim trunks, 2-3 sweat shirts. The boys have the same socks- I had already thought to combine them and they live in a plastic bin for both boys to share. We only have 1 color in 1 style for them, it makes folding a LOT easier!
·         Aaron- 2 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of denim shorts, 2 pairs of khaki shorts, 5 tee shirts, 3 collared shirts 7 under shirts, 2-3 favorite sweatshirts. 4 work uniforms per season.
·         I don’t have much… typically I like 2-3 pairs of shorts and 2-3 pairs of jeans. I like to have my shirt options but will cut down to 7-10 shirts. I only have a couple of skirts. My clothes are seriously not a problem here.
·         2 bath towels and washcloths per person, 9 hand towels, 7 kitchen towels and washcloths- these are changed daily if not more as needed.

I seriously have WAY more stuff than all that. How else could my current laundry system work? The plan is to do 1-2 loads of laundry per day, no they won’t usually be full loads and it will include cloth diapers.
From talking to other moms who have done this I gather that it will take the kids and I about 10 minutes per day to just get it done. The boys will now start helping with the laundry where they can as is appropriate. Cole is in charge of his pants, and the big towels. Davin is in charge of folding all the hand/kitchen towels and washcloths.
I actually taught them how to fold these today and they rocked! They were so proud to have helped!

Today I am going through my washing tirade. The clothes have been piled and we have been picking out of the pile for about a week now. Since I’m stuck at home with no car seats and don‘t have any excuses I decided to try to tackle this project. I’m purging! I have actually taken the summer clothes out of storage and picked through what I wanted and set aside 7 pairs of shorts and shirts for Cole. I actually lost Davin’s summer clothes when we moved and thanks to my general lack of organization I was able to scrounge up 5 pairs of shorts and 5 tee-shirts from random places for him. I see 2 new outfits in his future. I am still washing and still have probably about 5 loads to do. The kids are set and from here on out I am simply setting their clothes aside. Cole’s will go into the 4T bin and Davin’s will go to donation.
I still need to round up Aaron’s and my clothes and purge the unneeded  ones, most of the remaining dirty and clean unfolded laundry is ours. We are just about set on towels. Right now I have 2 blue towels for the boys 1 pink for faith and 3 white ones set aside. As I get funds I want to make more of those hooded towels I mentioned in a previous blog and replace the towels so there are 6 hooded towels in 3 different light colors (so I can wash them together) Aaron and I have 2 soft fluffy towels and will probably obtain 2 more in a similar style… eventually. For now we will make do with what we have. I have no rhyme or reason to the wash rags so matching wash rags are eventually in our future. I want to get all white hand towels so they can be bleached and will be easy to organize.

So that’s where I stand. I will upload before and after pictures as I continue this adventure.