Saturday, January 10, 2015

34 Weeks of Clean: Holiday Decorations!

Hey, y'all! We are suffering in the Arctic temps down here in Texas this week -- 30 seems absolutely frigid when the average in January is 57! (no laughing, Chicago friends!)

We're also fighting our way through colds, but I'm excited to share with you a fun thing to get you through the winter blues - cleaning!

Okay, so we all have different definitions of fun but whether you're a neat freak or a complete slob, there is something positively joyful about getting something cleaned up and organized and spit-spot, as Mary Poppins would say.

My sweet friend, Michele, (yes, we have met in person) is one of those amazing organizers who has started a fun new series: 34 Weeks of Clean. Each week she's assigning a new section of the house or project to focus on and she's giving some of her great tips to keep us on task.

Week 1 was Holiday Decorations and I'm thrilled to say that all of our Christmas decorations came down the day after Christmas this year. I was practically the Texas Grinch this year because we actually celebrated here at Thanksgiving with my whole family --


And the month of December was insanely busy so by the time December 25th rolled around I was ready to be DONE!

Here are the clean-up-those-holiday-decorations tips that work for me:

1. Keep it all in one place! This is an idea Michele recommends too. Although our artificial tree has to go up in the attic (I miss having a basement!), we have an antique trunk in our master bedroom --


That is stuffed to the gills with Christmas stuff. It really helps me to be limited in the size because if it doesn't fit in the trunk, something has to go. It also makes me get rid of older, unused stuff.

2. Clean as you go! This is a great time to get those shelves and knick-knacks dusted off as you put away holiday stuff - particularly in those homes where dusting is fairly low-priority (hypothetically speaking, of course). Even better, if the temps are too cold to send energetic children outside, hand over that dusting rag with a smile.

3. Keep the storage as simple as possible. Michele uses a big covered plastic garbage can to coil her lights and garland! I love that idea. This is also why I like to use our antique trunk - it keeps stuff neatly stored with little fuss.

And rather than spending money on little light storage units my husband just notched a few boards and made it so much easier.


4. Keep a list of what you have. Hmm. Still working on implementing this one. It would certainly be good so you don't buy what you already have. I can imagine this would help for those women married to men who go berserk when they see "Buy 5 Sets of Lights, Get 12 Free" at Wal-Mart's post-Christmas sales. Not that I know any husbands like that.

Personally, I think this 34 Weeks of Clean series would be even more effective if Michele could actually come to my house and organize it for 34 weeks, but, alas, that's not the deal. So until I can convince her that she needs to move from South Dakota to Texas, I'm going to have to apply her cleaning tips from 1000+ miles away!

Head on over to Family, Faith, and Fridays because right now they're in the middle of Week 2: Pantry!

And I would like to issue a personal challenge to Michele as she considers what categories to schedule for future weeks:


SHOES. (and these are just the girls' shoes!)
I know that picture alone is enough to drive a neat freak a little crazy.

Have a great week!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

When Mom is Sick

Earlier in the week this little goober started running a fever and a bit of a cough.


Which means that every night she climbs into bed with us around two or three o'clock (in other words, the time that we're too zonked out to notice) and proceeds to spend the rest of the night sharing my pillow . . .


And coughing on me. Yes, she's very good at sharing germs and pillows.

Yesterday, I started with a fever and a cough - shocking, isn't it? Today I felt pretty miserable and - due to the sweet, older children that I have - I was able to spend quite a bit of the day in bed.

(Note to all parents with young children: when your kids are little, train them to be responsible because some day you'll be reaping the benefits of them being trustworthy!)

While the older kids were great at getting their own schoolwork done, making their own lunch, and keeping the little ones occupied, occasionally the three year old and five year old escaped their watch.


I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure of being sick with very unsympathetic, talkative nursing care. Maybe your experience has been different, but with my preschool medical personnel, I've discovered that they like to bring me things (mostly pictures decorated with the prodigious use of markers), ask me questions ("Is it time to eat?"), and tell me things ("I'm hungry!")


I'm feeling much better tonight and it's a good thing -- nothing strikes fear in the heart of a sick mother like a three year old with the ability to collect/carry eggs in her pocket and to locate markers that have that frightening label - "Permanent".


Have a great Thursday! May your days be free of broken eggs and your nights be free of cough-sharing three year olds.
 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Biology 101 and Other Things To Study Over Christmas Break

Let's just say that my intention was to take a complete break from school for two weeks around Christmas and New Year's.


And then we had an unfortunate occurrence.

It involved our male Great Pyrenees . . .


And our female Husky.


Also known as our Biology 101 instructors.

A wise man once told me that when your kids are raised on a farm (or a farmette, in our case) it's not necessary to teach them the birds and the bees.

I never realized the truth of that statement until our amorous canines decided that Christmas break would be the perfect time to start on the next litter of Great Pyrenees/Husky puppies. Or Great Huskenees as my husband calls them.

So there are four important (okay, not that important) facts to note from our unintended Biology class over the holidays:

1. Dogs have absolutely no shame.
2. Yes, we just had a litter of puppies in September.


3. We will most likely be having another litter of puppies in 58-65 days.
4. Get your puppy orders in now because John already has dollar signs flashing in his eyes.



Sunday, December 28, 2014

If You're Planning on Reading Through the Bible in 2015 . . .


The start of a new year seems to inspire people to start a Bible read-through. I don't have statistics but I'm guessing that many of those people don't actually make it through to the end.

For many years, I did the same thing and it wasn't until about five years that I found some things that worked well for me - things that helped me to make it through to the end. Since then I've read through the Bible at least a half dozen more times using a variety of methods (90 days, alternating days between OT and NT, etc.)

Here are some things though that have made me continue reading through the entire Bible over and over again:

1. Nothing gives you a comprehensive grasp of God working through history like reading from Genesis to Revelation. For this reason, it helps to read it faster than in 1 year. Taking an entire year can cause you to lose sight of the overall picture.

2. If you're going to read it in 90 days, you'll need to read 13-14 chapters/day. I usually take about 6 months to read it and that means I need to average 6-7 chapters/day.

3. I have a basic chart that I use to mark off chapters and on the back of this sheet I take notes of passages I want to go back and study. By the end of Revelation, this page is crammed with references.

4. After I've completed reading the entire Bible, I spend a few months studying those passages in depth that I've written down. Then I usually start reading the Bible again. In this way, I'm getting a good balance between a survey of the Bible and an in-depth study. Both methods are important. I'm amazed that there are Christians who have failed to read the majority of the Bible - God didn't just give us the book of Philippians! We can't know what God wants to teach us if we have no idea what He's said.

5. I love how you clearly see the character of God as you read through the entire Bible. My margins are now full of handwritten notes like "Attribute: Holiness" or "Attribute: Sovereignty". Some other character traits of God that you may want to note in your margins as you read are:

  • Immutable (God never changes)
  • Eternal
  • Omnipotent (All-Powerful)
  • Omniscient (All-Knowing)
  • Omnipresent (He is everywhere)
  • Just
  • Love
  • Truth

This in itself makes for a great study once you finish the entire Bible.

6. Never use the excuse that you don't have time to read the Bible. You have time for everything that's important to you. I often just leave my Bible open on the kitchen counter and read a chapter here and there throughout the day. This is incredibly effective at turning my mind toward things of the Lord all day long.

So let me know if you're planning on reading through your Bible in 2015! And prepare to be blessed - there is always something new to learn.

"Teach us to number our days
That we may apply to You a heart of wisdom."
Psalm 90:12
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