My Full House

Today’s post is a ramble about my small home here in the country…two bedrooms, one bathroom, living room, kitchen, laundry room and back porch. We are fortunate to have spacious rooms, and the promise of someday being able to spread upstairs…

In our older home, the upstairs is closed off and only accessible via a door in the kitchen and a narrow, steep stairway leading to two large rooms and an attic storage area. Hubby hasn’t wanted to branch UP with our family yet, not until he figures out the most economical way to heat and cool the space up there. We’re talking major insulation issues, not to mention no ductwork, etc.

Bedrooms

Each Friday’s goal includes a major cleaning of my girls’ bedroom! If you can imagine, three girls sharing a bedroom 24/7…they have so much stuff in there we can barely see the baseboards. A fact that causes me no end of frustration!

A playroom would be nice…but it’s not only toy items, those are actually pretty easily maintained, it’s all their craft projects/supplies. Perhaps I’ve become lazy, but I’ve found it’s just easier on everyone to let the girls work perpetually on their different projects w/o daily pestering them to “finish it up”, “clean it up”, and “put it away”–when it’s not even done to their satisfaction yet! So on Fridays…they know it’s got to be dealt with!

Kitchens

counters1.jpgFunctional countertops won out in my recent poll concerning kitchen counters. That’s great by me, I like having stuff on my counters…it’s homey…as long as it’s not dirty dishes or crumbs or…broken kiddie crafts needing glued, etc. I have no appliance caddy, or pantry, or islands. You can see my main workspace above left. It’s gloriously cluttered functional! The opposite counter top, not pictured, is the one upon which our home schooling materials seem to accumulate in between mealtimes. I have no dining room, so the kitchen is probably our highest traffic area.kitchenview.jpg

Living Rooms

I have a curious question to ask of you ladies. I’ve always assumed that those of us who live in small houses say goodbye to the baseboards at some point or another, but Juli recently sent me some Valentine party pictures taken in her home, and I was in awe of the sheer space I saw there. We’re talking a living room that would be a delight to vacuum! I’m just guessing, but I’d say Juli’s square footage is limited, and taking into consideration that she’s raising four children and homeschooling three of them…well, somehow, she keeps clutter-free. I asked her to share her thoughts and this is what she said,

“I do like to live semi clutter free. I have found that in our society we tend to accumulate many things. (like toys, clothes, shoes) What I try to do, is keep the things that mean something to me deeply, or that we use often. I would say once every six months, we go through our things, and give away what we are not using, or clothes that the children have out grown. I really think too many things have a way of zapping our energy, and make us unhappy. I try to buy only what we need, and not more. (our closet space is limited) There is a book I love called Shelter for the Spirit, it is such an inspiration to me. I guess I think in many ways less is more.”

I for one, am inspired to do better–thanks, Juli, for the encouragement and for the nudge on the book.

lr1.jpgOur living room is around 16’x23′. In this space we have five medium-large windows and three doorways–one to the hall, one to the kitchen, and one to the small entry foyer by the front door. We also have a massive limestone fireplace (pictured here, sorry for the dim quality), sandwiched between windows and three resinors (old fashioned hot water heating vents that we still use for heat). Okay, that’s all the non-movable stuff.

We have two bookcases, a piano, a computer desk, a humidifier, two recliners, two end tables, a coffee table, a couch, a wooden bench in front of the fireplace, a stereo system with two large speakers and an antique dresser which holds blankets in one drawer, DVDs/movies in another, and toddler toys in another. Oh yes, and a quilt rack. And a basket full of library books. (Anyone else feel like humming the Twelve Days of Christmas after that long line-up?)

So a question to satisfy my burning curiousity:

Are you crowded? If you’re not, I’d like to hear from you too!

While we’re at it, feel free to scold me for accumulating so much stuff. My goal for 2008 is to get rid of some of it. Sometime.

Real Life Homeschooling

That’s the title of my post today at Writer…Interrupted. Here’s a hint, real life is full of real interruptions. The beauty of it is, they are very educational…for the most part!

Here’s another gem of a quote:

“Interruptions can be viewed as sources of irritation or opportunities for service, as moments lost or experience gained, as time wasted or horizons widened. They can annoy us or enrich us, get under our skin or give us a shot in the arm. Monopolize our minutes or spice our schedules, depending on our attitude toward them.” ~William Arthur Ward

Whether it’s a cross-country move, a family crisis, or a child facing a road block in the learning process…we’ve all had these “this too shall pass” times. I’d love to hear of your personal experiences in comments!

Poem for Parents Who Have Lost a Child

Before I was born, my parents lost a son. At six years of age, David was hit by a car, never to regain consciousness. As a child, I was fascinated by the many details…subsequently, all my life, I’ve known that life is precious. Children do die.

With my 7 year old daughter’s various health trials this year, especially her four day fight with fevers above 103 degrees, I’ve found myself dwelling a bit more on the unutterable pain of what it must be to outlive your child. Especially when their suffering is involved, suffering you can do nothing to ease. I realize I’ve encountered nothing new, nothing earth-shattering, compared to some of you who have lost a child, whether to miscarriage or a horrible accident or disease. And I’m not promoting thoughts of doom and gloom, merely suggesting that we appreciate the time we have with these precious ones, and in the meantime, pray God draws us close in the best ways possible to prepare us for whatever our future, and that of our children, holds. Without a flight plan, the turbulence of life could easily toss us into storms that break us to pieces.

I’ll Lend For You

“I’ll lend you, for a little while, a child of mine,”He said

“For you to love while he lives and mourn when he is dead.

It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three, but will you

till I call him back, take care of him for me?

He’ll bring his charms to gladden you and shall his stay be brief,

you’ll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay, as all from earth return

but there are lessons taught down there that I want this child to learn.

I’ve looked the wide world over in my search for teachers true,

and from the throngs that crown life’s lanes, I have selected YOU.

Now will you give him all your love not think the labor vain

nor hate me when I come to call to take him back again.”

I fancied that I heard them say “Dear Lord, Thy will be done.

For all the joys thy child will bring The risk of grief we’ll run.

We will shelter him with tenderness, We’ll love him while we may—

And for the happiness we’ve known Forever grateful stay.

But should the angels call for him Much sooner than we’ve planned,

We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes And try to understand.”

Written By: Edgar A. Guest

Did you read this through tears, as I did? Then go hold your children close and thank God for all your blessings.

Sometimes we take the best things in life for granted.

Wind-bitten, Home-smitten

There’s no place like inside on a day like today! I know, because I was just out there slogging through the mud and snow, doing chores…fighting the North wind and getting exfoliated by fresh snowflakes in the process!

It was looking good this morning, with temps in the 40’s, we hit the schoolbooks hard first thing, and spent the afternoon tucked on the couch, under our biggest plaid fleece, reading to the whistle of wind and flapping plastic on our drafty farmhouse windows. Oldest and I dragged ourselves from the coziness for a quick lesson on how to use the bread machine, and then back we went to join the other two…but only for an hour, long enough when waiting for a thick slice each of steamy hot bread begging for butter. Mmm, you bet we indulged!

I’m waiting on dear hubby, he’s had a longer than normal day at work…at least when he gets here he’ll find hot chicken and noodles and his chores done. He deserves it, with the weekend he had!

How’s your weather, your health and your life? Are you getting enough home time lately?

On Motherhood: Being Everything

Sickness is a good thing. For ten days now, I’ve been on an escalating ride, experiencing the various symptoms of the cold/flu virus. You know what I miss the most about being healthy? Everything!

My voice especially. I’m so grateful that this virus isn’t a terminal one. I never realized how dependent I am upon my voice…I miss reading aloud to my girlies. I’m just now able to speak above a whisper without spiraling into a coughing fit that leaves me exhausted on the couch. Not to mention humming along to favorite songs without scaring my children!!!

My 3 year olds response to my whisperings, has been to perk up, glance around, and whisper right back. As if we have this grand secret, which puzzles her out, if the wrinkled-nose expression on her face is any indication!

Because of this sickness, and thanks to all the TLC I’ve gotten from my dear family, I’ve had plenty of time to rest up. I’ve done a load of laundry here and there, and a few dishes, but everything has really been taken care of for me. Yesterday it was therapeutic to clean the bathroom, wash all the sheets and make a chicken and rice casserole for supper. So satisfying to be able to take the reins back on this household of mine…

“To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors, and holidays; to be Whitley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, cakes, and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.” ~G.K. Chesterton

Love that quote!

Yes, sickness is a good thing. It reminded me of how blessed I am when healthy.

And my family is SO glad to have me back!!!

Those Little Things

One night after supper the dryer buzzed as if on cue. Have you ever had one of those days? When every time you think relief is in sight, something necessary reminds you that the day is not yet done? Have you ever wondered if anyone cares or notices all the little things you’ve been doing to make their lives so cushy?

I’m sure you have. We’re moms, after all. Like a washing machine on the spin cycle, we dizzily do what we do best!

So imagine me, that night, after supper so very much looking forward to folding a huge load of whites that I grouched out loud (good-naturedly?) about it immediately following supper. Fifteen minutes sped by as I supervised a bit of the after-supper clean-up. On my way to the laundry room, I noticed that my bedroom light was on. Investigating, I craned my neck around the doorway and saw my ten year old, serenely folding clothes, piles of them, all around her on the bed.

Aw. Pass me the Kleenex. Twas a moment I wound around my heart to treasure always, especially on those now and then days when I feel taken for granted.

As if that wasn’t good enough, guess what? She stood up with a stack of her things, and smiled–my kind-hearted, thoughtful, almost teen girl–and said, “I’m always meaning to thank you for organizing my folded clothes into stacks that I can put away quickly. It makes it SO much faster, and I really miss it when I’m the one folding and forget to do it!” (Wow! I’d been doing that for so long, *I* didn’t even notice it anymore! What–ten years now?)

Besides recording this here for my future “rainy days”, I do have a point…

Have you been meaning to thank someone in your life for something, however little, that they do on a regular basis for you?

Take it from me, they will be ever so tickled that you did, and remember it every time they perform that task in the future.

It doesn’t take much of a spin to make big waves.

What are some of the “little things” your loved ones do for you that you don’t take for granted?

Take a Look at Weekend Kindness

MInTheGap, most influential to my blogging beginnings, also runs the Weekend Kindness site. I encourage you all to check it out regularly, subscribe to it, etc. He’s recruited many great contributors and during the month of February the topic line-up has included: date ideas, special ways to show love to your spouse, showing love to kids, and passion and purity.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting there, with a post titled, “Ten Easy Ways to Savor Life With Your Kids”.

Hope you stop by and get acquainted with the great folks over there!

Why Hospitals Scare Me

It’s called MRSA, a drug-resistant strain of staph that is getting out of control in U.S. hospitals. Check this article out in it’s entirety for a sobering read, and then Google “MRSA stay out of hospitals” for more. This is precisely why I don’t want my daughter’s inch long sliver cut out of her foot in a hospital:

“If you are an American admitted to a hospital in Amsterdam, Toronto, or Copenhagen these days, you’ll be considered a biohazard. Doctors and nurses will likely put you into quarantine while they determine whether you’re carrying methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a deadly organism that is increasingly common stateside, especially in our hospitals. And if you test positive for methicillin-resistant staph, or MRSA, these European and Canadian hospital workers will don protective gloves, masks, and gowns each time they approach you, and then strip off the gear and scrub down vigorously when they leave your room. The process is known as “search and destroy”—a combat mission that hospitals abroad are undertaking to prevent the spread of germs that resist antibiotics. Our own health authorities, meanwhile, have been strangely reluctant to join the assault.”~excerpt from Squash the Bug by Arthur Allen

He goes on to say:

“In the United States, MRSA kills an estimated 13,000 people every year, which means that a hospital patient is 10 times as likely to die of MRSA as an inmate is to be murdered in prison.”

Now, fear and worry are sin, and God hasn’t “given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7) And as hard as it is for me to imagine that my 7 yo daughter’s 1.25″ (3.6 cm) sliver is okay just “stagnating” in her foot, it’s even harder for me to blithely drop her into the hands of a hospital surgeon and pretend that it’s not a big deal.

The alternative therapy lady we visited ended up practicing Applied Kinesiology on 7 yo. It’s a little weird, even for a “wacko” like me who relies more heavily on her chiropractor than her medical doctor! Even so, I was impressed at this doctor’s knowledge and advice. She says that 7 yo is fighting several infections in her lungs, kidney, liver, etc. But dh and I still don’t have clear direction on which way to go.

Podiatrist says the sliver must come out. The Alternative Doctor says we can fight it out with nutritional supplements.

What to do? Any input? And believe me, I’m not trying to be an alarmist about the MRSA. Do your own research, or better yet, share your story in comments.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Hope you all are having a special day with your families!

I’ve been offline for a couple of days, yes, the flu got me. I’m on the mend though, no fever today, so hopefully I’ll get back on track here soon!

My little girls have been awesome nurses and cooks, taking TLC of me and making sure 3 squares found their way to the table each day! My oldest has even made a game of homeschooling, and has taught her little sisters their lessons the past two mornings.

Just wanted to quickly post and let you all know why I’ve been quiet…

When You are Cut, Do You Bleed the Bible?

We’re finishing up our A Life Well Lived DVD Series (Tommy Nelson) and last week, Tommy shared a quote from Spurgeon, something similar to my title, I tried finding the exact quote, without success. But be sure to check out the link above for many thought-provoking quotes of C.H. Spurgeon’s.

The point Tommy Nelson made, was that reading/studying the scripture is so important. If we don’t make it a priority, then we’ll be at sea when the trials come. And it isn’t enough to rely hearing it once a week on Sundays. His encouragement went something like this (again, from my notes, not verbatim!):

“Moses came off the mountain and told the people what he’d learned–their faces didn’t shine, his did. He’d been in the presence of God.” (Wo-ow!)

Rev. Nelson then challenged us to:

“Live life on purpose! Get up at 6 A.M., and get you an addictive substance.” (That would be coffee) “5 pages a day will get you through most Bibles in a year…”

This is an area I yearly fail in. I see the blessing of reading the entire Bible in a year, but often I get in a rut of reading quickly for the sake of getting in my daily quota. I’m much more likely to stay in my favorite New Testament passages, and just take my time with them. The problem with that is, I’m missing out on having a familiarity with the entire picture. So much of the Old Testament is needed for the New Testament to make sense…

What are your thoughts on this, and have you any encouragement for those of us who struggle?

Btw, the video version of A Life Well Lived is on sale currently for only $25.oo. It’s a steal, people!