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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday Tip - Speed Cleaning Tips from the Pros

Do you ever wonder how the professional maid is able to clean an entire house in under 2 hours? Apparently experience pays off. Here are a few tips for the people who do it best:

Schedule Cleaning as A Job

Professional cleaners schedule every job. Nobody hires a cleaning service that promises to arrive "some Saturday when nothing else is happening." Take a tip from the pros, and set up a regular weekly cleaning schedule.There's nothing like the feeling of a completely clean home—but you won't get it by cleaning in fits and starts! The pros don't quit until the job is done, and neither should you. Schedule the job and stick to it to get the work done in record time.

Get Motivated

You won't find the pros pausing to follow television soap operas or check their e-mail. Amateur cleaners, too, should limit distractions as they clean. Use appropriate motivators to energize cleaning sessions. Play upbeat music for an energy boost. Bookworms look forward to cleaning when a book-on-tape plays in the iPod. Cleaning as a team with friends or family members can help you stay on task and ease the boredom of a cleaning session.

Dress for Success

Professional cleaners dress for the job in comfortable, washable clothing designed for work. Check out their supportive shoes and kneepads. Goggles and gloves protect against chemicals. Set aside a "cleaning uniform", and wear it, right down to shoes, gloves and eye protection.

Invest In Proper Tools

Professional cleaners don't use gadgets. You'll never find them toting specialized, one-use tools, or gee-whiz gimcracks hawked on some television infomercial. Forget flimsy supermarket cheapies, and invest in sturdy, well-made tools. Replace the rackety sponge mop with a terry-covered mop for easy, efficient floor cleaning. Buy good tools, once—because they'll have you out the door in record time.

Tote Your Tools

Watch an average home manager clean the bathroom. Ooops! Forgot the powdered cleanser, so down the stairs you go. The toilet brush? It's in the kids' bathroom down the hall. Run to the laundry room for more cleaning towels, to the kitchen for a box of tissues. Where's the vacuum? Professional cleaners tote their tools with them--all their tools. Look in the cleaner's tote tray: all tools, cleansers, brushes and rags needed to finish the job are right there. Vacuum, mop and mini-vac wait in the doorway. A plastic bag for trash is tucked into a pocket, next to the waving feather duster. That's why the pro has finished the entire bathroom before our amateur makes it back up the stairs with the powdered cleanser.

Simplify Supplies

There's a reason the pros can tote all the products they need in one tray: they've simplified cleaning products. Professional cleaners carry:

  • light-duty evaporating cleaner (glass cleaner or multi-surface cleaner)
  • heavy-duty degreasing cleaner
  • tile cleaner
  • powdered abrasive cleanser

That's it! No soap scum remover, no special counter spray, no single-use products designed to clean only blinds or fans or walls. The pros know that these four simple products can handle any ordinary cleaning chore. Take a page from the pros! You'll save money as well as time if you streamline cleaning products.

Make Every Movement Count

Professional cleaners don't circle a room more than once. Taking their place before the bathroom sink, they'll spray and wipe the mirror, scrub the sink, wipe down counters and polish fixtures before they move one inch to the right or left. Don't get physical with your cleaning sessions—make every movement count. Stand fast and clean everything in your path before you move on.

Two Hands Are Better Than One

Professional cleaners don't work as if one arm is in a sling, and neither should you. Get in the habit of using both hands to attack cleaning tasks. Spray a mirror with one hand, wipe it down with the other. Scrub counters with two sponges or cleaning cloths, not just one. Dusting goes twice as fast when a lambs wool duster in one hand cleans nooks and crannies while the feather duster in the other skims flat surfaces.

Pick It Up

Professional cleaners come to clean: counters, furniture, appliances and floors. They can't do the job if each horizontal surface in the home is covered with papers, toys, dirty dishes and just plain clutter. Pretend that you've hired a high-priced cleaning crew. You wouldn't make them sweep the clutter to one side to do their job! Give yourself the same head start you give professional cleaners: pick up before you clean.

Think Teamwork

Two people make a bed four times faster than a single cleaner working alone. Watch the pros at work. Working in teams of two or three, they make short work of an average home. Where family circumstances permit, make cleaning a family affair - especially as your children get older. Family members are more reluctant to mess up a clean house when they have been part of the cleaning effort!

That's all for today! Next week I promise for something different than cleaning. Any suggestions?

I can't sleep ...

... because my baby is awake.

Never thought I'd say that while still pregnant. Yikes! Verity is proving that she is different from her sister in many ways. Charissa never moved in the womb (since then she's made up for it). Seriously. I could go days without feeling her. She was just chilling. Verity? She is on the go all day and night. I don't know when she sleeps. Sometimes I just sit and watch my stomach because I can see her moving.

Tonight I laid in bed for 45 minutes trying to go to sleep, but someone else was trying to par-tay. I think she was dancing because it's just movement all over the place. But it did end up being a sweet moment because I got to feel her foot. I laid my hand on my stomach and she kicked me, and then kept her foot there. So I moved my hand all around the lump and discovered it to be a foot. A tiny little baby foot. I just laid in bed and smiled thinking, "that's my baby ... this is the foot I'll one day get to dress and put socks on - and if she's anything like her sister, I'll put 10 different pairs of shoes on her within a one hour period."

I started off being a little frustrated that I couldn't sleep, but now I'm just thankful that I have a healthy little girl full of energy.

Ok - off to bed for the second time. Perhaps this time I'll succeed!

Monday, September 29, 2008

While Daddy Slaves Away at Work ...

CJ wears pants on her head.
And no - she's not wearing fishnet stockings. That's a cooling rack she's holding in her hand. It's become one of her favorite toys.

I have to say that my job might be more fun than Britt's. :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Make It For Less

I have been trying to figure out what to do for my fall wreath for a long time. My mom sent me a picture the other day for inspiration. Here's the picture:

Instead of spending $20 (or $30 if I didn't make the sale), I decided to reproduce the wreath. I spent about $4 on the leaves and fall ornaments and used the plain wreath I already had. Ten minutes of arranging leaves and other fall-y stuff, this is my result:

I am quite pleased with the results. Not that I think I could do this professionally, but it looks pretty good. Plus it makes me feel like fall is actually here and so I get excited about all the fun things to do and see (and eat!) in the fall.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some People Just Don't Play Nice

Everyone remembers that scene in Bambi where Thumper's mom looks at him and says, "Now what did your father say?" and Thumper begrudgingly says, "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all." Wise words from a little rabbit.

I think a lot of ad campaigns need to hear that advice. And not just political ads - lots of companies make fun of their competition in their ads. Think Alltel and Mac. I'm so sick of hearing about how bad the other company's service/product is and I'm definitely sick of hearing what the candidates are doing wrong. I firmly believe that if your product/service (or the candidate for that matter) is good enough to be bought, then you don't have to put the other guy down. It just seems like weak marketing. It's like admiting that you don't have enough to work with outside of poking fun at the other guy.

I miss the good ol' days where commercials would talk about one brand and "another leading brand." Life was so much simplier then ...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How Appropriate

I was going through an old notebook and found a quote I had written down from Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson. He says,
October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and February.
I just thought it was amusing in light of our nation's recent stock crisis.

God Moves in Mysterious Ways

On Saturday night Charissa woke up at 100 AM crying. Once we had her settled down she asked to eat. We knew she hadn't eaten a lot that day and thought maybe she really was hungry enough to wake up, so we gave her a little snack. While we were all sitting there Britt and I started talking about how little Charissa will eat during the average day. Britt prayed for her and asked God that He would give her an appetite.

On Sunday night we had pizza and pears for dinner. As we were waiting for the pizza to finish cooking and then for it to cool, we gave Charissa some pear slices. She ate 3/4 of a pear - which is monumental for her. Then we gave her a piece of pizza, and she ate the whole thing. She actually wanted more, so we gave her a second slice. She ate all of it too! AND wanted more. So we gave her about half of a slice and she ate it all. It was amazing! It also took her a good 45 minutes to accomplish all this, so dinner was a long affair for us that night.

So after dinner CJ had to take a bath (she was wearing quite a bit of pizza sauce), but then as we were getting her into her pajamas, she looks at me and says "eat?" while doing the sign for it. I looked at her incredulously, and asked "you want to eat more?" to which she simply responded "moh." So she got pudding. Two helpings! Plus a cup of milk.

Britt and I were stunned. We didn't know what to think. And then we remembered that we had prayed for this very thing just the night before. What an obvious answer to prayer! Here we were thinking she must have gotten a tapeworm or something, when God was giving us exactly what we had asked for. Doesn't that just show you how little we recognize God for answered prayers? Or that we ever realize He's given us an answer? We immediately thanked God and told Charissa that we were so glad God was working in her life and using her as a blessing to her parents.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday Tip - The Habit of a Clean Home

The other day I was reading an article about "the secrets to a clean home." Apparently the secret is to clean your home. Well, it's more so that you are in the habit of daily cleaning your home so that it's never in a state of total disrepair that takes an entire day to clean up. So there were a couple ideas I took away from my reading:

Put It Away Right Away the Right Way
Say that ten times fast! This just means that when you have your scissors out and you finish with them, put them back where they belong immediately. It'll take you less than a minute. But what ends up happening is that over the course of the day (and week) piles accumulate of things that simple need to be put back in their homes: shoes, books, pens, recipes, mail, etc. If you are in the habit of putting these things away, you never sit down at your desk and have to wonder where your desk is underneath all the stuff.

Do the Dishes Immediately
How many nights a week do you say "I'll do the dishes when the baby goes to bed"? Well, the baby goes to bed and you're tired and the dishes don't get done. And who likes to wake up to a sink full of dishes? And then there's no way to do the breakfast dishes due to the dinner dishes, and thus a terrible mess accumulates. I can admit that I hate to do dishes. It takes a lot of self-control to just do the dishes immediately after every meal. But if I do that, then I never have that pile of dishes looming over me that makes me want to call for a maid. To help motivate myself I've started trying to see how many dishes I can do while I make dinner. When a recipe says to let something cook for 3-4 minutes between steps, that's the perfect opportunity to start washing the few measuring cups and prep bowls I have out. And if I do this, then there are only a few things to clean up after dinner and I'm much more likely to finish them off.

Everything Has a Home
I read that one of the keys to a clean and clutter free home was to make sure that every item has a place where it belongs. That way you don't have a bunch of stuff loitering around your counters, desks, and any other flat surface. Baskets are great for this. Charissa has a basket for almost everything in her life. She has a basket for shoes, one for socks, another for blankets, one for food toys, another for dress up, and on and on. She doesn't yet understand the difference in the baskets and things are often put in the wrong one, but it does help me keep everything put away. So make a folder for the recipes you want to try instead of leaving them a stack of papers shoved in a cabinet. Have a crate for all your craft supplies. They don't have to be expensive baskets and boxes, a shoe box will do. Be creative!

Touch it Once
I can't remember where I heard it now, but someone once made a rule that you should touch each piece of mail only once. You should immediately go through it and deal with it. Therefore, the junk mail immediately gets tossed, the bills get put away in your bill file/box, and personal mail finds a happy home wherever it is that you put personal notes. That way you never get the stack of mail that when you eventually go through you find a bill that is now overdue.

Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Your Mess
This is my favorite rule. Well, this is the one that's helped me the most. At some point in my evening (after Charissa is tucked in bed far away from any ability to make more messes), I just take a quick walk through my house and pick up things that are out of place. I put the shoes away, straighten the pillows and blankets, put away the dozens of books we've gotten out throughout the day (between the three of us we go through a lot of books in one day), and just tidy up in general. I rarely spend more than 5-10 minutes doing this. And it makes such a difference. One day's mess is fairly easy to deal with. A week's? That can take some time.

Now, having read all that don't expect to always come in to my house and it be immaculate. These are the things I try to adhere to, but I can be honest and say that some days it just doesn't happen. However, on the days that it does it makes a huge difference. It's a habit that we need to work on cultivating the rest of our lives.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Beginning of the End

Today marks the first day of my third trimester. I find it really hard to believe that I'm already in my 27th week of pregnancy. It's just flown by! I feel like I'm just now starting to feel pregnant so I don't feel like I can possibly be this far along. Although I am starting to have those "third trimester treats" such as ligament pains and middle-of-the-night-wake-up-screaming-in-pain-leg-cramps. Oh what fun!

In celebration of entering the third trimester, I filled out all the paperwork I need to send in to the hospital to preregister. Things like that make it real that Verity is coming soon. For my birthday, my family is going to come up and help Britt and I redecorate Charissa's room to turn it into Charissa and Verity's pink polka-dot paradise. Well ... maybe not quite a paradise, but it will be pink and there will be polka-dots. Having the room changed over from the designs we used with Charissa when she was born to what we're doing for the girls will make a big difference in how I see the room and being able to visualize another baby sharing it with Charissa.

I'm looking forward to entering fall in my third trimester. One of the things I love most about being due in winter is that I'll never (or rarely ever) be cold. I have my own little heater that keeps me nice and toasty no matter what the temperature is. In fact, I'm often warm and throw the covers off in the middle of the night and freeze my poor husband.

Only 9 weeks until I'm "term" and then another 4 until my due date! But please keep in mind that it'll probably be a total of 14 weeks before Verity makes her grand appearance. And as my brother has reminded me, I better pray she comes before January 1st so I can claim her in 2008 for taxes. Isn't that a sweet reason to anticipate her arrival? :)

A Story They'll Tell for Years ...

On Saturday we went to my brother and sister-in-law's house for dinner. It's still sometimes a challenge taking Charissa to someone else's house to eat because she gets distracted and it's a different place and she usually decides not to eat. We're also transitioning to a "big girl cup" (not a sippy cup) for meal times, which she's really good at, but still needs supervision to keep her from playing with the cup.

We had just finished dinner when she spilled her water all down the front of her shirt. It was just an accident due to inexperience with cups. Here's the conversation I had with CJ:

Me: Charissa, your shirt is all wet. What happened?

Charissa: Dog. [points to my brother's dog]

Me: The dog? Charissa, I asked you what happened to your shirt.

Charissa: Dog. [points again]

At this point, everyone was laughing so hard. Britt and I don't think she was really trying to blame her accident on the dog, but it was just so funny because it seemed like she was. (I honestly just think she was distracted by the fact that there were two dogs around her who were eagerly looking for scraps.) And of course my family thinks it's a great story so they will probably be telling the story of "Charissa's first lie" for the next 30 years.

It was pretty funny ...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Looking for Suggestions ...

We have like 3 videos for Charissa. Which has never been a problem because it's only been within the last couple of weeks that she's even been interested in what's on the television. But it got me thinking that I don't even know of any good videos to get her. And I'd like to have some more on hand for when I'm trying to take care of a newborn and keep the insanely active toddler entertained.

Does anyone have any suggestions for videos? It can be Christian, educational, musical ... whatever. Just not something that's going to drive me crazy.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

She Just Makes Me Laugh

Today at breakfast I asked Charissa what noise a lion makes, and this is what she does:
In addition to that fearsome face and scary claws, she said "ahh" very emphatically.

Man I love that kid. :)

Big Helper

We babysat our friend's 2.5 month old baby today and it was so fun! There were a few rough moments when Charissa wanted our attention, but overall she did really well and loved to help care for the baby.

First she tried to give Ellie lots of toys. It was a little difficult for CJ to understand that Ellie's version of play is much different from her own.
Then she just wanted to touch and kiss the baby all over. While I am trying to appreciate and promote the loving feelings towards babies, I have to stay on guard for accidental pokings and Charissa falling over in her attempts to be near the baby. It was pretty cute to watch her keep leaning over and kiss Ellie's little cheek.
I've been considering getting an Ergo for when Verity comes, but it's hard for me to make a decision because I've never used one and I didn't really use a carrier with Charissa at all. I asked Kari if we could borrow hers and use it with Ellie just to see what it was like. I'm totally convinced. It was really comfortable and really easy to use. Charissa is also convinced. As soon as I took it off she wanted to wear it and put her baby doll in it.

Isn't she precious? She's going to be such a good little helper.

She also "held" Ellie in her lap and "fed" her a bottle. Every time Ellie made a noise Charissa would say "baby!" It was just so cute to watch her love on Ellie and want to help take care of her. And I know it's going to be different with Verity because we'll keep her and Charissa will have to learn how to share everything all the time, but it was nice to see that she does desire to love and care for a baby. I'm telling you - Charissa has extra amounts of femininity.

I'm starting to get really excited about having two little girls. :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Generous Giver

It's hard to tell what's she's doing in these pictures, but she's feeding a goldfish to the VeggieTales characters on the tv. She kept doing it every couple of minutes and would turn and look at me like "why won't they take my gift?" It was so cute! I guess those lessons in sharing are paying off.

The Economics of Reading

One day I was talking with Britt's friend Stephen about a book I was reading. I was telling him that I wasn't really enjoying it, but felt the need to finish it anyway. He looked at me and said, "That's bad economics."


I took one economics course in college and not much of it stuck, but I was pretty sure that we never discussed books. Stephen is getting his Master's in economics, so he has a little bit more expertise in the area. He went on to explain that I was wasting my resources (time) on a bad investment (the book).

Ahh ... I understand.

He said that a lot of people have a complex that compels them to finish things, even when they can already tell it's not going anywhere good. Examples - television shows, movies, craft/home projects, food. We talked about how if you had to continue paying money to do that thing, you would immediately stop, but since the resource is your time, you continue to invest.

That 10 minute conversation has completely changed the way I read books. Before I never would just stop reading a book because I didn't like it. Now, I feel total freedom to quit when I realize I'm not enjoying it. There's no point in reading the next 200 pages if I hate the first 100. I mean, I try to give the book a chance, but once I feel that I've done that - the book gets the axe. I'm still working on it in other areas of my life.

It's such a good word though to be wise about how we spend our time. It's not an unlimited resource. We are literally giving our lives to the things we fill our days with, and I hope that I don't waste mine on "poor investments."

All that to say - I'm going to stop reading Marriage to a Difficult Man. It's proving to be very difficult to read due to the writing style, and it seems to be more about the life and times of important Christian thinkers who were living in New England than really about Sarah Edwards. Sorry to anyone who found it riveting. Who knows - maybe in a couple years I'll be interested in that and pick it up again.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday Tip - Grocery Store Savvy

I was talking with a friend on Sunday morning about something related to food prep (I honestly don't remember what it was) when we started talking about how hard it is to stay in budget and how there isn't a "one-stop-shopping store" that meets the needs of a family with limited funds. I regularly shop at six stores - or more accurately, I shop at six types of stores. No, I don't go to them all every week. Actually, some I go to once a month or less depending on my needs. But going to these different types of stores helps me stay within budget and still eat a nutritious variety of meals. Here's what I go to each type of store for:

Kroger/Food Lion: This is my "basic shopping" store. I can get most of my weekly needs at one of these stores. That means I can get my breads, cereals, some produce, some frozen vegetables, and things of that nature here. There isn't as much variety, but overall the prices are lower for the same foods you would get at Harris Teeter or Lowes. I have literally gone to Kroger and Harris Teeter on the same day and seen the exact same product (name brand) sold for $1 more at Harris Teeter. Sure, that's not going to break the budget for that one item, but what about over 20-30 items on a weekly basis? It adds up.

Harris Teeter/Lowes: There are some things you just can't find at Kroger and Lowe's. Like pierogies. You have to go to HT for that. But I do a very limited shopping trip to HT, and it's always for very specific, hard to find items like certain sauces, ethnic foods, and seasonal items. And I stick to just those items when I'm in the store and don't get distracted by the fancier packaging and wider aisles. You pay more for that. A note on Lowes: they regularly double and triple manufacturer's coupons so if you are a coupon clipper, this is a great store to go to for those items.

Sam's Club/BJ's/Costco: Everyone loves to go to a "members only" store and when you look at those big bulk packages you feel like it must just be dripping with savings. It's really not. You must become a very wise consumer when you go to a store like this. Sometimes that big box of cereal is more expensive per ounce than what you find in a regular store. And, there's the psychological effect of "well I got so much so now I can consume it at greater pace." It's only cheaper if you ration it the same way you would a smaller quantity. And if you buy the 3 pounds of lettuce thinking that you'll actually serve your family a salad for the next two weeks, you might find that you served 2 salads and then have to throw away 2.5 pounds of lettuce a month later (I've done this ... several times). But there are some very good benefits of club shopping. Meats are cheaper consistently, and you don't have to wait on a sale price. Diapers - way cheaper. And then there are the other random items you'll find: tortillas (48 count for $2.50 as opposed to Kroger's 20 for $2.15), over the counter medicines, chips, printing pictures, computer ink, and other items. Just be careful tocheck what the price-per-ounce/use/serving is when you buy in bulk and not just be distracted by the huge box.

Big Lots/Aldi's: I probably only shop at one of these stores once a month. But they are a great place to stock up on my husband's after school snacks, dry goods, some canned goods, and Aldi's is a great place to get frozen fruit. It can be hit or miss, but you can save a lot of money by even in-frequent shopping.

Farmer's Market: I LOVE the Farmer's Market. Fresh, seasonal produce straight from a local farm for far cheaper than I could get it at any grocery store. And you have to check out the Farmer's Market Warehouse. It's open on Saturdays and you can get bulk quantities of produce for very little money. I'm talking a dozen green peppers for $3. And there is a great store called the "Berry Patch" in the little shoppes that sells incredibly fresh spices for ridiculously cheap. I purchased cardamon for $1 and it sells at Harris Teeter for $12.

Trader Joe's/Whole Foods: There are some items you just have to go to one of these stores for. And I love Trader Joe's. I don't go as often now because I live farther away, but it's a great little store. TJ's sells mostly organic/local foods at a low price. Pizza dough for 99 cents. A pound of gnocchi for $1.50. And if you're a wine drinker, you'll really want to check it out. They have a fairly decent variety and it's not overly priced. But don't get caught up in the hype and cool designs - it costs more.

If you stayed with me through all that - you're a champion. Or really bored. The last thing I want to share with you about cutting costs and staying in your budget is probably what saves me the most money. Here it is: fight your pride. When you purchase certain items, ask yourself what the real reason is you buy it. Why do you buy the expensive, name brands? Why do you purchase some items at all? If you're trying to stay within a budget and have limited funds, you can't always buy name brands. Nor does wisdom say you should even if you could. Studies have been shown to say that name brands and store brands are comparable in quality and that in taste tests the two are almost always indistinguishable. Now there are some items, where it's just not the same. You'll never see me purchase "Dr. Perky." But I will buy "Puffed Rice Cereal."

It's a long road of budget shopping. Thankfully, I feel like God has given me a lot of grace in this area and I'm quite content. Hopefully this post has been helpful to someone and not just a ridiculously long rambling.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Nesting Syndrome Strikes Again

In several pregnancy books I read when I was pregnant with Charissa they talked about "nesting syndrome." It's when a women gets the urge (sometimes overwhelmingly) to prepare for the baby. That can be buying equipment, rearranging furniture, making food, and on and on. In fact, one book I read said that if the nesting urge came over you during the last week or two of pregnancy that it might be an indicator that labor was soon to follow. In my experience, it's not a valid sign at all.

Well, nesting syndrome hit me pretty hard last week. All I wanted to do was get the girls' room ready, wash baby clothes and stock my pantry. Of course, I'm only 26 weeks so it's way to early to do any of those things. So instead I made myself a little timeline of when I needed to do them and I made a list of the meals I'm going to prepare and freeze. It somewhat helped to alleviate my insanely strong urge to prepare for Verity, but not a ton.

Tomorrow Charissa and I are going to babysit a friend's 3 month old baby girl and I'm really excited about it. I think it'll be good for Charissa and I to spend some time with a baby in our house and see how things go. I mean, I know it's going to be totally different when it's my own baby and we don't give her back after a few hours, but even a glimpse of how Charissa is going to react will be helpful for me. Plus it'll give me an opportunity to continue trying to teach CJ to be gentle with babies. One of her favorite things to do is point out all the baby's features (like their eyes and mouth and tummy), but she doesn't always do it gently.

I'm hoping that my nesting urges subside for about 2 more months and then come back with a vengeance. Because by that point I'll need to be getting ready and can do all those things, but probably won't have the energy. Oh well. That's where Nana comes in. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Currently Reading ....

Not a lot. For some reason I can't get motivated to read. And this NEVER happens to me. I'm usually reading 2 books at a time and can finish them in a week (I'm a very fast reader). But for some reason I'm not inspired to read anything. Not even light hearted fiction which is so easy to read. Maybe I got burned out from all the reading I did this summer, but I'm really hoping that I can get back on the ball soon. I just feel like my thinking has gone down a notch or two and it's not helpful to my husband when he needs to read for school or work and I walk up and say, "I'm bored."

I do have a new fall reading list though. I'm using the term "fall" to imply when the list starts, not that I expect to finish them all within this season. Here's my list:
Next week I am planning on starting Marriage to a Difficult Man, so please pray that I actually open the book!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Games We Play

Do you ever play mental games while doing your housework? I always see how many tasks I can complete during a certain time period (and yes, I do use a timer). Like, I'll write down a list of 5 cleaning tasks and see if I can do them all in an hour. For some reason it makes me work harder and keeps me focused. But for me it's not just housework I do this with. It's most of my daily tasks. I take an 8 minute shower. I do my hair in 4 minutes (if I'm trying to make it look extra nice I give myself 8 minutes). My make-up gets done in 5 minutes. This is how I do life.

And I never knew it was weird until I got married. Britt kept asking me why I was trying to hurry through everything and why it bothered me that he didn't clean the bathroom in exactly 11 minutes. I think I just love the race against the clock, and the self-competition. And I think my mom taught it to me. I remember one time we were cleaning the house before some relatives came over and we were a bit tight on time and she said "Ok - these things HAVE to be done before they get here. Now let's see how fast we can get them done." And then we'd accomplish those tasks, and she'd come up with another list of necessary jobs. And on and on until they actually got there. As a child I just remember it being a game and made cleaning more fun, which is probably why she did it. And 20 years later I'm still doing it.

Does anyone else play these mental games? - Surprisingly Inaccurate

I checked this morning to see how much it rained yesterday. According to them, it didn't. However, with my very own eyes I saw the rain and with my ears I heard it.

Which should I trust - my senses or the internet?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Adventures with Toddlers

Life is always interesting with a toddler. Whether it's wanting to wear 3 hairbows instead of one, deciding that heeled, zip-up boots really do go best with shorts, that toys really are displayed best all over the floor, or that manicotti tastes better with Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing there is just no end to their creativity and interests.

That also means that rebellion is close behind. Sometimes curiosity and imagination crosses the boundary of obedience. It's hard to know how to love your child and allow them to grow and experiment, but also to lovingly guide them down a wise path.

Today our challenge was the highchair. Charissa wanted to sit in a "big girl chair" instead of her highchair. There was much crying, saying "no", pushing away her food ... it was a moment. We had a talk, she was disciplined, and after she calmed down we decided to just eat on the floor. Who knew that she would like that so much! Normally she's the very routinized child who likes things a certain way, but today she was completely fine with lunch on the floor. As the pictures clearly point out ...

The next few pictures are of Charissa trying to get closer to the camera and then she wanted to pose for the camera while she was about 2 inches away from it. Silly girl.

So yes, sometimes life with a toddler is exhausting. But then again, we're training her up in a way so that hopefully she will walk in wisdom the rest of her life. It's worth it.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

First Ponytail

We had our first ponytail tonight! It was so exciting - for me. I don't think Charissa knew what was going on with her hair.

I ended up using a bow clip because 1) she has so little hair, 2) I don't have any small hair-bands, and 3) she won't sit still long enough for me to try to wrap her hair in something - clips are just much faster. And yes, if you look at the pictures closely you can tell that it's a mullet-ponytail. But that's what I have to work with right now. At least it's growing!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Gift from Hurricane Hanna

Yup, that's our neighbor's shed in our back yard. We looked out the window at lunch time and discovered we had a new lawn ornament. Thankfully, Britt and another neighbor were able to turn it right-side up and put it back where it belongs. That was the extent of our hurricane damage, so I think we turned out okay. Although I did kind of feel like I was living out the Wizard of Oz ...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Fun Things to Celebrate in September

I feel like September can get lost in the calendar as one of those months that doesn't have anything special in it to make it stand out from the others. You know, it's not summer anymore but it's before we really start celebrating fall and all the holidays. It's just there passing days. Well, if you'd like this September to stand out here are some things you can celebrate:

  • 1st - Chicken Boy’s Birthday – Chicken Boy is a 22 foot statue of a boy with a chicken’s head, holding a bucket of chicken. Formerly the mascot for the restaurant for which he is named, he was rescued from destruction when the restaurant went out of business by Future Studio of Los Angeles, a graphic design studio. Chicken Boy has since become a pop culture icon.
  • 1st – 30th – National Biscuit Month – To promote usage of biscuits in restaurants and other food service outlets. Biscuits are a classic American food, good at any time of day – morning, noon, or night. They’re great alone and make a perfect partner to all sorts of dishes.
  • 1st – 30th – National Chicken Month – Focuses food shoppers’ and restaurant customers’ attention on chicken as the most healthy, convenient, economical and versatile food available; in short, “America’s favorite.”
  • 3rd – 9th – National Waffle Week – A celebration of the wonderful, crispy breakfast orb and its contributions to American society.
  • 5th - Be Late for Something Day – To create a release from the stresses and strains resulting from a consistent need to be on time.
  • 6th – Do It! Day (AKA Fight Procrastination Day) – Feeling overwhelmed? Too many things left undone? Hard to focus? Today is your day to turn your Do Its into Did Its!
  • 7th - Google Founded: Anniversary – 1998; Sergey Brin and Larry Page incorporated the Internet search engine company Google on this date at Menlo Park, CA. Although still in beta, was receiving 10,000 queries a day at that time. Within a year, the company was doing 3 million searches a day. Before long, Google entered the pop culture zeitgeist by becoming a verb for Internet searching.
  • 8th – Bald is Beautiful – To cultivate a sense of pride for all bald-headed men everywhere and eliminate the vanity associated with the loss of one’s hair.
  • 9th – Potato Day – Celebrate the potato and all that it provides for you and your family. And how useful it is around the house!
  • 9th – Wonderful Weirdos Day – All of us are blessed with one or two wonderful weirdos in our lives. These are the folks who remind us to think outside the box, to be a little more true to ourselves. Today’s the day to thank them.
  • 13th – Fortune Cookie Day – San Francisco – birthplace of the fortune cookie – is the fortune Cookie Capital of the World. Celebrate with a cookie today!
  • 15th – International Sing-Out Day – Break out in song today like they do in the musicals. After all, it is better to break OUT than to break up. Sing out your words in conversations instead of speaking them. You can even add a few dance steps if you like.
  • 15th – Someday – You know all those things you’re going to do “someday” – lose weight, start a business, learn another language, skydive, whatever. Well, someday is here! This is the day to tackle new challenges and experience the joy of accomplishment.
  • 16th – International Eat an Apple Day – To promote the beginning of fall with its vivid color and crispness, celebrate by eating an apple, the fruit of the fall season.
  • 16th – Mayflower Day: Anniversary – 1620; Anniversary of the departure of the Mayflower from Plymouth England, with 102 passengers and a small crew. Vicious storms were encountered en route, which caused serious doubt about the wisdom of continuing, but the ship reached Provincetown, MA, November 21, and discharged the Pilgrims at Plymouth, MA.
  • 16th – Wife Appreciation Day – Husbands, show your wives how much you love and appreciate them. Communicate the difference your wife makes in your life.
  • 17th – Women’s Friendship Day – Every woman has special friends she can’t live without; those women to whom she tells everything, friends who will always listen and who know just what to say. Acknowledge the special women in their lives.
  • 19th – Talk Like a Pirate Day – A day when people everywhere can swash their buckles and add a touch of larceny to their dialogue by talking like pirates. For example, “Arr, matey, it be a fine day.” While it’s inherently a guy thing, women have been known to enjoy the day because they have to be addressed as “me beauty.” Arr!
  • 22nd – Dear Diary Day – Put it on paper. You’ll feel better. No need to be a professional writer.
  • 22nd – Elephant Appreciation Day – Celebrate the earth’s largest, most interesting and most noble endangered land animal.
  • 22nd – Hobbit Day – To Commemorate the birthdays of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins and their creator J.R.R. Tolkien.
  • 22nd - Ice Cream Cone: Anniversary – Italo Marchiony emigrated from Italy in the late 1800s and soon thereafter went into business at New York, NY, with a pushcart dispensing lemon ice. Success soon led to a small fleet of pushcarts and the inventive Marchiony was inspired to develop a cone, first made of paper, later of pastry, to hold the tasty delicacy.
  • 23rd – Fish Amnesty Day – Give animals a break by not fishing. Fish are intelligent animals who feel pain just like the dogs and cats who share our homes.
  • 23rd – National Hunting and Fishing Day – Presidential Proclamation 4682, of Sept 11 1979, covers all succeeding years. (Does anyone else think it's ironic that Fish Amnesty Day and National Hunting and Fishing Day are on the SAME day? Who's idea was that?)
  • 24th – Innergize Day – A day set aside for anyone who has said “I don’t have time to do the personal things I want to do for myself.” Today is the day to set time aside for yourself to do anything you want to do.
  • 24th – 30th – National Keep Kids Creative Week – More than ever before, kids today need encouragement to be imaginative. Their busy, task-oriented schedules in home and school give children little room for creative play. Set aside time this week to celebrate the inventive minds of kids. Encourage a child to make up a story, draw, even look for animals in cloud shapes – let their imaginations soar.
  • 25th – Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner With Your Kids – Enjoy a meal with your little ones. Studies show that the more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely the you are to smoke, drink or use illegal drugs.
  • 25th – National One-Hit Wonder Day – Honors the one-hit wonders of rock’n’roll. Anyone who ever had a hit single deserves eternal remembrance.
  • 30th – Pumpkin Day – Learn about the many uses and varieties of pumpkins.

That is quite a list. If I celebrated even 1/3 of those I would be busy all month. But if you're bored and looking for something to do with the kiddos this month you can always make fortune cookies or talk about the Mayflower.

Enjoy your September!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

We've Gone Green!

Well, one of our bathrooms did at least. We painted our hall bathroom a bright kelly green and I really like it! I mean, I picked the color, but it turned out even better than I thought. Britt and I describe it as "feeling like the inside of a blade of grass." We also took out the towel rod and replaced it with 3 hooks. The towel rod could really only hold one towel, but with three hooks you can hang so many more towels, robes, bathing suits, etc. We like the hooks so much that we're thinking of installing them in our bathroom as well.

Sorry for the bad pictures, but I took them quickly and didn't get the whole room. We'll be taking about a month long break from decorating/painting and then we're going to attack the girls' room. My family and Britt's family are going to help us with that room so we should be able to finish it within a weekend - *hopefully*. Slowly but surely our house is taking on personality and becoming our own.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Tuesday Tip - Frozen Meals

A friend of mine asked me the other day about freezing meals and stocking them for busy days and economy eating, and at the bottom of the email she said "for the record, I find this very blog-worthy." So, I'm blogging about it.

There are lots of ways to prepare and freeze meals. I don't know them all. But I do know what works for me. Occasionally I set aside a day that I cook/prepare 5-10 meals and stick them in my freezer. Other times I just make a double batch of something and portion off half to be saved in the freezer. It really depends on what you want to do. But I have found that it's really helpful to have healthy, home-cooked meals in my freezer that I can pull out on a day that I know I'll be too busy to cook, or just don't feel like cooking. It's far cheaper than frozen lasagnas or eating out. And, they make great gifts for someone who is sick, recently had a baby, or is going through a busy period in their life. Hand them 2-3 frozen meals with instructions on how to heat them up and you've made their week.

I was going to write lots and lots of info for you, but I've recently found a website that talks about freezing meals and it's so much clearer and has more info and recipes than anything I could do for you, so I'm just going to refer you to the website. The website is called and the article is called Feed the Freezer. It's not that long, and it's really helpful if you are interested in learning how to freeze meals.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day or Lazy Day?

I know that on Labor Day we are celebrating the work we do all throughout the year, but isn't it funny that on Labor Day we rest? Deep thoughts to keep your mind at work ...

This Labor Day we enjoyed an extra day of hanging out and just doing some things around the house. We had lots of little projects that we were able to finish and we still had time to hang out. So I guess for us it was both a laboring day and a lazy-ing day.

Just for your enjoyment here's a picture of 2 out of my 3 favorite people (Verity doesn't get in the group shots very often):