The countdown is on!!

>> Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Only 29 more days till Summer Holidays!!  WOO-HOO!

(How are YOU counting down?)

Sleeping In Class 
* though we've used this "system" for counting down to Christmas, this cute little sunshine countdown chain idea comes from Happy Home Fairy.


31 Days to Clean ~ Week FOUR

>> Friday, May 27, 2011

Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to CleanAlternate title: Throwing in the Towel

I absolutely HATE it, but I just have to concede that this is the wrong time of year to be focusing on deep-cleaning my home. For the first two weeks, the weather co-coperated with my goals and it was cold and damp outside, so it was no problem.  But now?  There's just too much yardwork! Plus, with our Canadian summers being so stinkin' short, I want to make sure I get to enjoy the weather when it's nice outside!!

I love the idea behind this whole thing, and I intend to keep up with the Mary Challenges.  I went through this week's, but quite honestly, I'm still mulling over last Friday's ~ creating a lesson plan for teaching my children why having a clean home is important.  Trying to figure out how I'll handle that.  In yesterday's Mary Challenge, though, I think that problem was sort of addressed.  The task was to do a bit of a biblical search of the words "joy" and "self-discipline."  Self-discipline, of course, isn't a term found in most translations, but self-control certainly is!!

I was reminded again in the words of Paul to the Thessalonians that self-control and discipline in our lives is one of the things that's supposed to set us apart from the unbelieving world.  I have been far too self-indulgent with my time and my habits, which is the exact opposite of what Paul is telling us here.  We find Paul talking about self-control and living a disciplined life in many of his letters, but that's the passage that stuck out for me today, and I might use that as an argument in my "lesson plan." (whether it's an actual lesson plan or just a general idea for how to gradually bring the girls in on home-management tasks)

I will continue with the Mary Challenges, but these (nasty) Martha Choresallenges are going to be set aside for now.  I plan to try again in October, once the yardwork and gardening/harvesting/preserving (the little that I do!) are done.  I'm also looking forward to the new Martha Challenges that Sarah Mae will be revealing in June ~ they're supposed to be more along the lines of simple routines and upkeep.  A little less time- and energy-consuming, but good for developing the ol' self-disciplined routine!


*Click the button at the beginning of the post to visit our host and other participating cleaning ladies!


Practicing Gratitude ~ Road-trippin'!

>> Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hosted in May by Laurie @ Women Taking a StandThis week, I'm thankful for family, road trips, and safety. I can't even remember the last time I've been on a road trip, but this past weekend (which was a holiday long weekend up here), my parents came out and we all piled into the van for two days of driving, snacking, sight-seeing, and a night in a hotel with a pool and waterslide! The girls have never stayed in a hotel before, so it was a pretty big deal for them.

I'm thankful for roadside parks, lakes, and campgrounds along the way!  The 1200+ km (746+ mi) round-trip was nicely broken up by rest stops, but the main point of the whole trip was our province's largest visitor-friendly waterfall. It isn't actually the largest waterfall, but it's the biggest one that's easily accessible to the general public.  The largest set of falls, which is just about 10 km/6 mi away from it, is only accessible by boat or the hiking trail which starts at the mouth of these falls.

Check out the massive snow/ice drift still sitting here!  I'm thankful OUR snow is gone!!

I'm so thankful for the creation of beautiful scenery.  Thundering waterfalls are incredible.  And I'm thankful we all stayed safe while hiking around the falls. ONE of our girls is all over the place and constantly running on ahead or doing her own thing before anyone notices ~ and completely oblivious to potential dangers! ~ so she needed some rather harsh reminders a couple of times, but we stayed safe!

Even while playing on the rocks at the mouth of the falls.

Saturday evening and Sunday morning were spent at a hotel in a large former mining town ~ mostly in the pool!

I'm thankful for all the fun we had here. The girls spent a generous three hours in the pool between Saturday night and Sunday morning, and towards the very end, Fidget was brave enough to go down the slide alone, complete with swimming to the edge of the pool. For most of the time, her dad had to catch her at the end of the slide, but suddenly, she was doing it on her own! (and not panicking when she couldn't touch the bottom of the pool) I'm thankful for her growing confidence in the water and for how comfortable Peanut is when she's in the water.  She's quite the fish!!

And all too soon for the girls' liking, it was time to head back home again.

I'm thankful we had no mishaps along the way, that we didn't get sick and tired of each other while stuck in the van, and that we could spend our weekend in an unusual way. (although the long hours in the van felt all too familiar to The 'Man, who drives semi-truck for a living and travels some of the route we took daily!!)

I'm thankful we don't necessarily have to go far away or for a long time to feel like we're on a holiday. And I'm thankful my parents wanted to treat us all to this little weekend get-away!

*Click the button at the top of the post to visit our host and other thankful bloggers!


Hope springs eternal...

>> Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wish me luck!!


Two of My Favourite Yellows

>> Sunday, May 22, 2011

     Happy Sunday!     



31 Days to Clean ~ Week THREE

>> Friday, May 20, 2011

Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to CleanWhew, we're halfway there!!

The first week, I stuck to the Martha Challenges almost down to the letter. Last week, I cleaned and organized the more noticeable areas of my home since we were getting weekend company.

THIS week... This week was tough for me both mentally and physically.  (How interesting that the strongest themes were limitations and fatigue!) I think my body is just in shock from all this sudden hard work.  I've felt really tired, despite sleeping well.

I kind of got a break from the housework because Days 11 and 12 were things I'd already taken care of last week, but in addition to house stuff, now that the weather's FINALLY improved, there's been plenty of yardwork, too, so it hasn't really felt like a break! I mowed lawn for the first time this year on Monday, which took two hours. It had to be done again yesterday ~ another 2 hours.  I also hoed my large front flower bed, which was thoroughly overgrown, so that took up almost three hours, which I spread out over as many days.

Day 13 was a literal break. In looking through the ebook before we began, I'd already decided I wouldn't be renting a steam-cleaner for my carpets until I was ready to do the whole main floor ~ which I'm not sure will ever happen. I'd be a little afraid of them falling apart if we did! We're really hoping to rip out the old carpets and replace them with laminate sometime in the relatively near future. So Wednesday I got to focus on regular tasks and hosting my ladies' prayer group in the evening.

Which brings us to yesterday and today. I decided to focus just on the master bedroom now and do the girls' room once the challenge is over.  Their room is essentially the entire second storey of our house (it's a half-storey); it's one massive room and it's full of STUFF.  So it will not be included in this challenge!  I'd already changed all our bedding to the summer stuff and put the winter bedding away, but I did not flip our mattresses.  The girls' I will do next Monday when I wash their linens, but mine will have to wait till hubby can help me.  (He's away, living in the semi-truck during the week again these days.)

I had given the master bedroom walls a wipe-down about a month ago, so I could skip that now.  I swept the ceiling, but I did NOT tackle cleaning under the bed.  Partly because I had no one to help me with getting the mattress off the bed, and partly because that's another one of those jobs that, with the increase in yardwork and coming weekend guests, is just not a priority.  Today I will be cleaning the mirror and windows, but I'm not quite sure what to do about cleaning my curtains and "canopy," which are a gauzy dry-clean-only fabric. I will at least take them down and give them a good shake outside, if nothing else. We don't have a dry-cleaner locally; only a drop-off/pick-up depot. (which is why my pillows didn't get washed either ~ they're down-filled.)

My parents are coming out for the weekend this afternoon, and taking us on a little road trip tomorrow and Sunday, but since we will need our van in order to travel all together, a good hour was spent cleaning the van with the girls after school yesterday.

And somewhere in all this, I had to find time for some meal prep ~ not to mention laundry and all the other everyday home-maintenance chores!

I AM exhausted.  And reading this list doesn't make me feel better!!  In looking over this book before the challenge started, I wondered a little how ideal the timing would be for me.  Lawn-mowing is required twice a week now in spring/early summer and with hubby's job having him gone all week long, I will be attempting to take on the part he normally mows with the tractor and 6' deck mower as well.  I want him to not have to worry about that in the few short hours he'll get to spend at home on the weekends.  But that will add an additional 2 hours to the 1.5 hours I already do.  (but at least I can SIT for those two hours!)  We're talkin' 7-8 hours of lawn-mowing per week until the grass slows down a little!

And then there will be looking after the garden once we put that in next weekend...

Hmm, this sounds like a lot of whining, and I REALLY don't mean for it to come off that way! I do want to continue this challenge as best I can, but I tell ya, it will definitely be a CHALLENGE!

*Click the button at the beginning of the post to visit our host and other participating cleaning ladies!


Practicing Gratitude

>> Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hosted in May by Laurie @ Women Taking a StandI have so much to be thankful for!  But today I will focus on family.

This past weekend, my brother-in-law, his wife/my cousin, their two daughters, and another single sister-in-law came to visit.  What a great weekend!

I'm thankful the two lovely ladies agreed to bring the snacks for the weekend, alleviating some of the food-prep and provision pressure from me.  I kept a fairly simple menu ~ just two meals a day, brunch and supper, and then we'd bring out the spread of snacks early afternoon to "tide us over."  (I say that in quotes because it's not like we really NEEDED the snacks to get us through till supper time!!  The kids probably did, but us adults mostly just sat around!!)  I'm thankful I'm so blessed with the struggle of trying to control how much I eat, as opposed to struggling to find enough.

I'm thankful I allowed myself to splurge on paper plates for all our meals.  So many times when we have company, I tend to feel like I end up spending the whole time in the kitchen, either preparing a meal or washing dishes (I don't have a dishwasher), and so this eliminated some of that kitchen time.  I paid more for good quality paper plates so they'd stand up to steak knives, but that we could still just throw them in the burn barrel in the garden when we were done.

I'm thankful the weather co-operated SO nicely!  Up until Friday, we hadn't seen the sun in a while and our spring had been very cold and damp.  Friday was still cool, but at least the sky was clear.  Saturday the SUMMER sun came and we all got nicely sunburnt because we were outside ALL DAY in summer clothing!!  And then again all day Sunday!!  And it's kept up like that ever since, so our ground is FINALLY beginning to dry out and the trees are getting greener and greener every day!  I might even be able to put in my garden next week because the standing puddles have finally vanished.

I'm thankful for the relationships I have with The 'Man's siblings.  It was wonderful to spend time together again and fun to see the girls having fun with their cousins.  I'm thankful for a really awesome weekend!


*Click the button at the top of the post to visit our host and other thankful bloggers!


10 Ways to Let the Sun Shine In

>> Monday, May 16, 2011

I found this article in a Readers' Digest magazine years ago, and like to remind myself every spring as the days start getting longer and the sun starts getting warmer ~ which is FINALLY happening here! Normally I post this at the beginning of May, but since we were under 2 inches of fresh snow on May 1st, I think that would have just been cruel!! Until this past Friday, it's been a cool, damp spring, but suddenly the sun came out and we've been wearing shorts and flip-flops since Saturday morning ~ YAY!!

I post this every year ~ including the outdated pictures! ~ as a reminder for myself, because somehow, despite my intentions, I often realize I've been too busy consumed with the work of looking after a house and a yard to really sit down and enjoy my life, and to make the most of the time I have with my girls. If you are in the same boat, maybe this will be a helpful reminder to you, too.

1. Get up an hour earlier. Step outside, listen to the birds, smell the air, pray. Give thanks for what's going well in your life.

2. Stay out of the supermarket. When the growing season is under way, try to shop at the farmers' markets instead. Enjoy the colours, textures, and smells; the taste of fresh food harvested just hours before.

3. Pick berries. Nothing tastes like a ripe strawberry just picked from the plant. It is the flavour of seduction.

4. Make a pie. Real pie - homemade pie - is a work of art and an act of love.

5. Eat outside. Yes, more picnics. Bring a big blanket, a straw hat, a basket of fresh bread, cheese, fruit, wine and a few good friends.

6. Just say no. Try to stay firm and save some time just for yourself; to loll, nap, daydream.

7. Get on - or in - the water more.
Haul out that old canoe and paddle down a nearby river on afternoon or slip into the nearest water hole and let the water wash away the stress of the day.

8. Find a hay field. After the hay has been cut, drive by at dusk with the windows rolled down. Stop the car and just sit there, breathing in the sweet, green fragrance, watching the swallows swooping in circles over the darkening fields.

9. Go outside at night. Walk outdoors after dark and admire the stars, the Milky Way, how the clouds look in the moonlight. Walking at night heightens the senses ~ and moonlight is a powerful aphrodisiac.

10. Let go. At least a little. Give yourself some sanctuary, some breathing room every day. When we make the time to replenish our reserves, we find new energy to reach out in ways large and small, to change our world. To change ourselves.

Butterfly watching 


31 Days to Clean ~ Week TWO

>> Friday, May 13, 2011

Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to CleanSO not impressed that Blogger had issues and had to get rid of my scheduled post for today!!!  Boy, technology is awesome when it's working, isn't it?  Funny (or maybe actually a little bit sad) how lost and annoyed we feel when it's not!!

This week, I kinda did my own thing as far as the Martha Challenges go.  We are getting company for the weekend later today (and then again next weekend, too!) and I just felt that the more noticeable areas of my home needed my attention more right now than my kitchen cupboards and pantry did.  I did clean a few of them ~ the dirtiest of the ones that get opened and seen all the time, like the cupboard under the sink (eew!), the cutlery drawers, my "overflow" spice drawer, the plastic wrap/tin foil/lunch baggies drawer, and the JUNK drawer.

In the dining room, I cleaned the inside of the window as well as the mini-blind (wow, what a time-consuming pain in the rear!), spot-cleaned the walls, washed the chair rails, baseboards, door frames, and dusted the pictures on the walls.  I also spot-cleaned the floor and cleared off, dusted, and re-organized the one open shelf in the room.  In addition to our small stereo system, it also houses a collection of large coffee table books and the girls' colouring and craft stuff.  The latter has a tendency to get unorganized, messy, and overflowing very quickly!!

In the living room, I dusted, and I cleaned the inside of the window as well as another mini-blind (did I mention what a pain in the butt those are to clean??!), and the patio door that connects the living room with the front entrance/toy room.  In the front entrance (which we still can't use because the ground heaved so much the door jammed shut. It's getting better, and we can actually open it again, but the doorknob latch still doesn't line up with the hole in the frame.), I tidied up the shoe racks a bit and the bin that holds all our winter gear.  I cleaned up the toys and thoroughly vacuumed the floor.  This room will be used as a second guest room this weekend, so there needs to be room for a camp cot!  In our basement guest room, I tidied, dusted, vacuumed, and got the bed ready.

Upstairs in our 1/2-storey, which is basically just one large room that the girls share, they cleaned up so I could sweep their floor and put the camper mattresses up there for them and their cousins to sleep on this weekend.  Hubby brought in those mattresses last night and they'll get bedding this afternoon.

There are definitely times when I wish we had more than our one small bathroom (like when we have company for the weekend!), but when it comes to cleaning, I'm kinda thankful there's just the one!  I washed the walls, the door and frame, the baseboards, the floor, and the window yesterday.  Today I will do the "normal" bathroom cleaning ~ the tub, toilet, and sink.

I have definitely been fightin' off the LAZY this week!  I have worked HARD and been exhausted at the end of each and every day, but at the same time, it's been such a good feeling.  The sense of accomplishment feels so good!  Even better, The 'Man is starting to comment on how great the house looks!

You know, it's funny how your house can be relatively tidy, but when you actually get around to a bit of deep-cleaning, you see how long overdue it really is!  My whole house just seems brighter!  And what I really like is that I've still had time to read with my girls, have a friend over, hang out with hubby in the evenings and do all the things I've always enjoyed.  I haven't felt cranky or overwhelmed at all ~ just really tired!!  My recreational reading and my computer have definitely not gotten as much of my time, but since the computer is something I've been struggling to cut back on anyway for the last, oh, couple of YEARS already, it's been a wonderful thing.

I am really loving this challenge!  How are you doing?


*Click the button at the beginning of the post to visit our host and other participating cleaning ladies!


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