My mind often thinks in song and the song playing right now is "Momma said they'll be days like this, they'll be days like this, my momma said!!!" again and again. Yes, there will be hard days.
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come from the strength of the ox.
Our "manager" is anything but clean, but by God's grace, our sons will grow up to serve the Lord. That is my fervent prayer for them.
I wrote my last entry after spending my first day on our new "schedule". Whenever I start something new, especially a schedule, I typically am a bit too zealous that first day, and it is exhausting. I did find the rest of the week to be much better and the new schedules helped out a bunch. I made up check-lists for the boys and slid them into write on/wipe off clear sleeves and I came up with a basic schedule for Benjamin. I realized he had too much free time on his hands, which for a child full of reckless energy, this isn't good. I think he feels even more out of control with a lot of free time, but a routine serves to make him feel secure. His schedule goes something like this:
7:00-7:30 Listen to a Bible story on CD with Andrew and get dressed (I walk during this time)
7:30-8:30 Breakfast and Bible with mom
8:30-9:00 Scooters and Tricycles outside with mom
9:00-10:00 Activities with Micah in basement
10:00-11:00 Puzzles/Drawing/Blanket Time
11:00-11:30 Legos with Isaac
12:00-1:00 Room time
1:00-1:45 TV time
2:00-2:30 Activities in TV room while brothers watch science video
2:30-3:00 Afternoon chores
3:30-5:00 Outside playtime with mom
Now of course, doing all these things does not happen every day. But this is the general plan and I use this as a guide. It has been very helpful to reign that little boy in and he seems to be doing much better in every way. He has turned into a very, very, very affectionate child, giving me dozens of hugs and kisses every day and frequently telling me how much he loves me. It's very cute :)
I'm going to share some pictures and talk about some of the other organizational changes I was inspired to do after coming home from the trip.
I read a little bit of this book on our trip. Probably to cope. It helped me to think about home and I always enjoy becoming more organized. Before we left, I was really working on de-stressing. I had found I was really uptight and not even breathing well. I was worried about too many things. And with the news of another baby coming, I was becoming very overwhelmed with feelings that I could not do this. Everything was going to fall apart. God really used this book to encourage me that I could manage our household. It isn't the impossible task. Women have raised and managed large households for centuries. This confidence has proven to be God-given because, despite the difficulties of first trimester pregnancy, I have had a peace and a calm since returning home. (maybe everything just seems way easier after 2 weeks in that little RV!!!)
A change that was a long time in coming was to actually use my 1/2 gallon ball jars to hold something useful, an assortment of our whole grains (I was just accessing them in the big buckets that we have stowed here and there). Also, I had been storing my grain grinder (not wheat!! this one is gluten free only!!) up on the top of my cabinets. Did I ever want to get a stool and get it down? NO! This was a pain so I did it as little as possible! On our trip I realized I wanted to do more baking. I want my children to remember a home with freshly baked breads and even healthy cookies and brownies. (I make delicious brownies with cocoa powder and coconut oil and oat and brown rice flour!!!) So I needed to make baking easier. I moved this grinder on the counter top permanently. I used to want to keep all my counters clear and "pretty" and uncluttered. The longer I live, the more I want my kitchen to be FUNCTIONAL not decorated! I also moved my "gluten" grinder to a lower cabinet and it is very accessible. I don't use this one nearly as often, so under the counter suits it just fine.
Speaking of baked goods, I'm trying to train my boys to cook. Especially Micah and Isaac. Isaac is my baking boy this summer, and he helped me put together a VERY easy brown rice bread. I can't tell you how amazingly good this is! And it was almost all brown rice, I think 3 1/4 cups brown rice flour to only 1/4 cup of starch. Now, you can see that the bread didn't rise well. Actually, what happened is that the recipe said give it an hour to rise, so I put it in a slightly warm oven with the light on to rise and by chance, looked at it after 30 minutes. It had risen to up and over the sides of the pan. So when I baked it, it fell. This always happen when my baked goods rise too high. So next time, I'll keep a better eye on it! Maybe it only needed 20 minutes to rise! My ultimate goal would be to eat only grains that are soaked or soured. But if I'm going to compromise it will be with brown rice flour. It is the easiest to digest on its own with the least amount of phytic acid. Here is a link to the rice bread recipe. I made a few changes to the recipe. I omited the millet. I used eggs instead of flax seed and water. I used regular cows milk instead of almond milk. I used honey to sweeten. As a starch I used arrowroot flour.
One of the other changes I made was to pull back out my write on/wipe off boards. For some reason I had abandoned using them and they were up on top of the fridge. These are so essential for food prep. I have realized that my number one priority, other than meeting my children's spiritual needs, is to meet their physical needs. This is a major ministry I have to my family. Each night I need to look at our meal plan, see what is the next days meals, write them on the board and get anything out of the freezer if need be. This is so helpful to me!
Inspired by this book years ago, I implemented their suggestions. This was when I had a much smaller house and only one child. I found the system to be a bit overkill and I stopped using it. Recently I pulled it back out and decided it could definitely be helpful.
The first thing I had to do was make a list of all the the chores that need to be done in the house, especially and mostly the ones that I don't ever do, or I struggle to get done. I don't need to be reminded to wipe my kitchen counters. But I do need a helpful reminder to clean out the mudroom closet and declutter our closet.
After the master list was done, I put together my file box, with dividers for the following chores:
Each day of the Month
Each month of the year
Then I filed the cards according to when I wanted to get them done. Each Sunday, conceivably needs to be a day for planning where I file the chore cards behind their appropriate day and time to be done. At least once a month this would need to be done so that I take the cards from that month and file them into the days of the month that I want to do them. Then on Sunday, I would move them behind the specific days of the week I want to do them. Then each night I would move them from that day of the week, to my "daily" chores for the next day. So for the daily cards, I would have the cards that always stay there, things I need to do each day and need reminding, things like take a walk and even take a shower. (I don't need these anymore because I've firmed up my 7:00 walk in the morning followed immediately by a shower, even if Samuel is babbling in his crib. I must shower right away or it doesn't happen until much, much later) And then there would be the chores that I moved progressively from the month, to the days of the month, to the days of the week, to eventually my daily chore cards. I'm sure the book explains it WAY better. So don't give up because I made it sound complicated. Once you get it all organized, it makes sense. And you can not worry about such and such chore, because you know it has it's time coming, and it will get done.
I also decided to get rid of my old ugly binder and replaced it with this super cute one. I actually found it at Office Depot, where Steve and I had stopped on our date night, on our anniversary. So fitting with the little "love birds". :)
I cleaned out my old binder with all its old collections of papers and notes, I replaced the dividers with ones that were much neater. I love that I have a section for "sermon notes", with blank paper, and I have my little zipper pouch, where I always keep a pen and a pencil. So convenient at church!
I also have a couple of these clear plastic page holders to store coupons. I have my monthly calendar that I print for free from the internet, as well as daily planners, blank and ready to go. In menu planner, I printed a whole bunch of blank menu plans to make menu planning easier. I have master shopping lists for the grocery stores I go to, so this way if I'm running in I can glance through the lists to jar my memory if there are other things we need that I"m forgetting. I also use these lists to circle things as we run out or, ideally when we are close to running out, so that I know to buy them next time I'm at the store.
In recent months I have found myself becoming increasingly forgetful, and like I said, generally stressed out. Having a "life book" like this, really helps me stay on top of things. For example, I have a section for "contacts". I forgot three different times what my new salon was called as well as the name of the lady who cut my hair. I had to call my doctor's office several times and ask them the name of the salon next to them to get this information again. It is quite embarrassing. So now, I have it WRITTEN DOWN in my life book. Another important aspect of this book is that I keep it with me as much as possible. That way, when I remember something that I need to do, or someone I need to call, I can write it down quickly, before I forget! So I try to keep it upstairs if I'm upstairs and downstairs when I'm down, and I also take it with me when I go places. That way, I don't say, OH! I forgot my list, or OH! I forgot my coupons! They are right there in my life book with me, all the time.
I also have a section for gift giving. I am soon going to print a list of all the people I want to give gifts to this Christmas and I can keep track of who I've bought for and also gift ideas here. With a baby coming in January, I know I need to be on top of gift buying now!