Monday, August 31, 2009

Getting It All Together: Weekly Cleaning Schedule

“Being a homemaker, full-time or part-time, is a gift. Every woman should realize that she has the greatest profession in the whole wide world. ~ Emilie Barnes

So are you seeing the benefits from your routine yet? Experts say habits may take 21-28 days to officially be ingrained in your daily patterns so don’t despair. Just keep up the good work!
Did you take the first important step in getting started? Did you make a list of all of your regular chores, errands, commitments, and activities? It can be overwhelming and even eye opening to do this task.
When my own routine is working to my advantage it allows me to complete my chores daily with little frustration. The house can be clean by 10:00 in the morning leaving the rest of the day to go to the park, run errands, cook or bake, enjoy some scrapbooking, play with the children, and serve others. Please don’t get this wild idea that my days run smoothly, I fall off the proverbial wagon more often these days with busy little ones. I have to keep reminding myself that’s ok, there is always tomorrow.
I believe housework can be accomplished easily if done regularly. For instance, cleaning the kitchen during meal prep or immediately after takes only 15 - 20 minutes. But cleaning the kitchen after 2 or 3 meals when the day is done can take 2 or more hours. That’s no fun!
It seems I am forever tweaking my routine too and one of these days I know I will have nailed it but until then I’ll just keep working on it.
If you do an Internet search you will find several types of cleaning plans available. Here are some examples I know of: The once a week clean-a-thon, the Cleaning one room per day method, dividing the house into zones and cleaning a specified zone for the day or week plan, or doing certain tasks per day so that by the end of the week the whole house is clean (task-by-task cleaning)
In our household I have followed the cleaning one room per day technique which learned when I married my sweetie peachy 13 years ago. The idea is to work in one room at a time each day so by the end of the week you have covered all the rooms in the house. Due to the season of stay at home mommyhood this method hasn’t been working so well for me. Maybe because it is difficult to focus on one thing for more than 5 minutes at a time or maybe the task just seems so overwhelming that I let that “stinkin’ thinkin’” set in and not do anything at all or maybe the house is just “lived” in more now than ever before. I am considering trying out the task by task cleaning method though. I think the cleaning one room at a time method will be great when I get to deep cleaning situations, etc.
This is why my morning and evening routine became so important. In following the routines I am able to make sure the every day needs of the house are taken care of (so the kids won’t have to run commando through the house; although that hasn’t stopped them yet, 3 hot meals are prepared and the house is in a general (term used very loosely) sense of order) while I figure out a better way to manage the home. It’s a never ending cycle. I am considering trying out the task by task cleaning method though.
In an effort to recuperate from last week keep my head above water I am just going to send you to this post I did back in January regarding my weekly schedule.
You can also download my schedule here if you want to print it and put it in your notebook. I would love to know what anyone else is doing for a weekly cleaning schedule. Anyone? Anyone? Tap-tap-tap…this thing on?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chinobilly Infirmary

One of my little chickadees hasn’t been feeling well the last few days. It’s been a bit challenging at times as the lack of sleep is taking its toll on all of us. Bree has been very needy and wants to be held at all times.

Yesterday I decided to let the kids go camping…
in our living room…
I busted out the tent and their sleeping bags.
They got to stay in their jammies ALL-DAY-LONG.
I even indulged them by allowing them to watch a few movies from the DVD collection.
Wathcing "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"
Abby is just like her Aunt Cathy...The suspense is almost more than she can bear. It totally cracks me up! They had quite the time and it brought a smile to Bree’s face and a twinkle to her eyes, the first I’ve seen since I crushed her little heart by telling her we couldn’t go to the library due to her fever. The tent made a perfect Chinobilly Infimary and I might have won the mommy of the day award too!
Hopefully we’ll be on the mend soon so I can continue my organizing, notebook making, gettin’ it all together mission.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Encouragement for the week

Bree @ 16mo couponing

One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.
~Henry Ford

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Getting It All Together: Mid Day Routine

Welcome to day 3 of building our binders. This will be a pretty light day for me since my mid-day routine varies so much. Truthfully I didn’t even have one written out, until today. If you would like to print mine out you can do so here. It would seem that once my morning routine is completed we just tend to follow our daily schedule/plan which I will post next week. I have a general structure such as when I would like for the kids to eat, nap, etc. but other than that we’ve just been doing what feels good. Now that everyone around us is getting back into school mode I will probably add more structure to our day with picking up where we left off in our preschool work.
So here is a little assignment for you to be thinking about. Back in the “good ol’ days” even June Cleaver had a basic weekly routine. Though times have changed many of us still know what day we are going to do certain things. You might remember seeing my laundry schedule on the morning routines for example. I’m sure you have a certain day you like to grocery shop or run errands, pay bills. Maybe you have specific days you take the kids somewhere or have a date with your spouse. Maybe you regularly attend church or a bible study group. These are the things to be filling in the blanks.
Here is where I would start.
Take out a sheet of notebook paper and write out the days of the week down the left side of the paper leaving plenty of room for your notes. Then fill out a main task you complete on specific days.
I will share my basic weekly plan with you next week so you will have plenty of time to be brainstorming/collecting your thoughts.

Now, the weeds are taunting me in the garden so I'm gonna go show 'em who's boss!
Wish me luck :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Getting It All Together: Morning Routine

Hello again! We’re on day 2 of building our notebooks. How are y’all doin’? Establishing routines takes time up front but you’ll reap the rewards in extra time later. I do however need to clarify something that my dear friend Stephanie pointed out yesterday. Her comment was very good “My evening routine is drop everything and chill with [her family]. As soon as [her husband] walks in, my day is done, except for dinner.”
You are right on Stephanie and good for you for keeping your priorities in line. Our family time is waaay more precious than following any routine. A few years from now our kids will be grown up and moved on (cringe). But for now we are to enjoy the little ones who want to examine every single pot and pan in the cupboard, or make a line of Fruit Loops out the front door to entice the dog to go outside and leave their dollies alone. It is far more important that your children remember you as a mom who is involved in their lives and interested in who they are rather than someone whose house might pass a white-glove test. Your husband wants and needs time with his bride to unwind from a stressful day at work. Be there, in the moment, enjoy it!

That said and for clarification purposes, my “evening” routine starts when the rug rats get up from their nap. Dinner time is when the house starts winding down and by 6:30 or 7:00 I have 90% of my “evening” routine complete and ready for Daddy to come home. Hopefully I didn’t mislead anyone or make them feel I was trying to add another burden to your day. Lord knows we don't need anymore burdens!
Back when I worked outside of the home my day began something like this: 6:00am alarm blasts me from my dreams. I’d pull myself out of bed, half asleep stumble into the shower, dress, kiss my still sleeping sweety peachy, leave house for work by 6:45am, on the daily commute drink an Instant Breakfast and an English muffin, get to work by 7:30 am, say my good mornings to coworkers with a plastic smile, check some emails and visit with my boss and my assistant then jump right in and start the day once the sugar from the donuts the girl down the hall brought kicks in oh somewhere around 9am. Does any of this sound familiar? My days still tend to start out quite harried with trying to get my husband off to work and the kids fed and settled so I could try to appear life-like. Life got a little easier when I implemented my evening routine since the house was fairly in order before I collapsed into bed the night before. Then my quest for the perfect morning routine really seemed to flow when I realized I needed to rise at least 30 minutes before anyone else to get my shower in and get dressed. Since it would appear I tend to set the tone for our day...happy, showered and dressed mamma is better than half-asleep, where do I start mamma. This doesn’t happen as often as it’s supposed to in my book because Abby thinks it’s quite a fun challenge to make sure she is the first one up. We are working on her though.

I have often read that most people have more energy in the morning than any other time of the day so many organizational books will tell you to get with your tasks first thing when your energy level is at its peak. I’ve never been much of a morning person so this has always been difficult for me. Just remember that You know yourself best so make the routine work for you not the other way around.

As you can see in my morning routine (available for you to download) I haven’t added daily devotions. Many of you have that precious time with the Lord in the morning. Yay! I’m finding it more feasible during this season in life to have my quiet time when the kids are napping. I believe with all my heart that each of us should spend time the Lord every single day. Morning might be best or some other time. Do what is right between you and the Lord, just do it!
Some other ideas for your morning routine might include

balancing/updating the checkbook

taking vitamins

taking a walk

computer time

Here is a link to FlyLady's morning routine if you want to take a peak.

Since I struggle so much with a morning routine I am going to focus on making my morning routine a daily habit for the rest of this month. And here is my last confession for the day.
The computer is my enemy. In the hour after we wake, if I so much as check my email my routine is shot. I’ll still be working on getting the dishwasher unloaded at 3 in the afternoon, the kids won’t have any structure, and my brain will be on overdrive the entire day. So if you guys could please pray for me in this department I would truly appreciate it.

Do you do a morning routine? What's on your list? I’d love to know.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When Satan Attacks

He uses Google to do it. I tried posting the first in the notebook series yesterday but Google wouldn't let me into any sites operated by them. Strange I know. It seems to be fixed now so hopefully we can continue our series. So sorry for the delay.

Getting It All Togeter: Routines Baby

The first section I want to work on is the Daily Routines Section of my binder. It will be divided into three sections (routines): Morning, Afternoon/Midday, and Evening.
I will start with an evening routine. Why you ask? There is nothing more aggravating to me than getting up in the morning, goopy sleep stuck in my eyelids, dragging my feet across a dirty floor covered in crumbs and entering a dirty kitchen with a sink filled to the brim with dirty dishes from the night before. It makes me really, really grumpy when I have to finish yesterday’s work before I can even begin today’s work.
A few months after becoming a stay-at-home-mom I realized just how much I liked missed having structure to my day. I was accustomed to working in an office, with a schedule and fine tuned routine and defined expectation. I’m the kind of girl who needs order and routine. Motherhood offered me neither with my new job having no beginning or end, no boss to tell me what to do and when, no schedule, no plan. I became undisciplined and unmotivated. During my undisciplined and unmotivated days I was doing some surfing around on FlyLady, and found her routines. Once I implemented an evening routine I began to feel a sense of structure and peace return to the home. Yes, it will take some commitment but unless you commit to following your routine, it will never work. And not to sound like your mother but I’m sure you’ve heard it before…”when you don’t feel like it – do it anyways”.
Don’t feel bad if you can’t always follow the routine. Don’t let it become a burden, it’s there to help.
If you don’t know where to start I’d like for you to stop by FlyLady to see her routine. Also, here is a link to My Evening Routine for you to download, print out and place in your new handy dandy household notebook.

Or here's a quick challenge for you:
Start by writing out just 5 things you can or should do every night
Stick this list in your notebook
Do it for just one night and see how the next morning runs SOOO smoothly
If you try it, you'll be hooked. And then you'll do it the next night and the next.

Do you do an evening routine? What's on your list?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More rambly ramblings

I normally don’t post on the weekends but I feel my head might burst if I wait until Monday. Also with school shopping in full swing this might be a good time to purchase the supplies we will need for our binders while they are on sale if you don’t have them lying around already.
Here's my list:
Bible (this should be your first resource for keeping the home; study His guidelines first)
A Dictionary
A concordance if you have one (mine was borrowed and never returned) I miss my concordance so I'm hoping to find a new one for a reasonable price very soon.
A large 3 ring binder
Clear page protectors
Notebook paper
Stick on index tabs
A pen and pencil
A dry erase marker
A zippered pocket/pouch that is made to be put into a three ring binder to hold things such as pens and extra stick on tabs
Little Post-its that can be stuck onto certain pages in your binder, should you need to leave a note for yourself

If you are unable to obtain everything above, don’t worry about it. Whatever you do, don’t make that an excuse to not continue on. Work with what you have, and be creative.

Our women’s bible study is wrapping up on Monday. I was so saddened to learn they were skipping the chapter on “Keeping Up The Home”. So I decided to study it on my own since my heart has been longing for some guidance in this area. Here are some verses that the author asked the reader to study and pray over.
You are to “build” your home.
Proverbs 9:1
Proverbs 14:1
Proverbs 24:3
You are to watch over your home.
Proverbs 27:23
Proverbs 31:27
Proverbs 14:23
Proverbs 19:15
You are to manage your home.
1 Timothy 5:13-14
1 Timothy 5:3-14
Proverbs 31:10-31
You are to keep your home.
Titus 2:5
Proverbs 7:11-12
Proverbs 14:1
1 Timothy 5:13-14

I’m praying that the little things we are doing now will make a big difference in our marriages, our homes, and our relationship with the Lord. Remember that we need to give ourselves some grace – giving heaps of it to yourself and your family members, remembering that the stage of curtain climbing, boogery noses, and general mayhem at home is so short. But – I still need to keep up the house. This life stage doesn’t give us a Get Out Of Housework Free Card when it comes to keeping the home. In fact, I’m finding that this stage makes it all the more important to find a management system that works well. My kids are happier when our home is neat and tidy and so am I. I can hold on to that last string of sanity when there’s at least a tangible goal towards house cleaning. And Matt can come home to an actual haven, not a chaotic zoo. Well, most of the time. It’s a nice goal, anyway.
I need a place to go for some direction, goals, and checklists for my job here at home, and maybe these ideas have triggered some of your own. What are you constantly looking for throughout your day? Would it help you to have it in a master notebook, so that it’s quickly at your fingertips? I think the trick is to have your notebook complete enough for it to be useful, but not so crammed full or overcomplicated that it’s de-motivating to use (totally speaking from experience here).

Friday, August 14, 2009

This Chinobilly is on a mission!

There is an organizing tool I've wanted to put to good use for a long, long, l-o-n-g time along with an innate desire to put things in my life in some sort of orderly fashion. Don’t cringe…A household notebook.

And this is why in a nutshell: I’m the type of gal who has to get my thoughts out on paper. For some strange reason Procrastination and perfectionism set in every time I start one I have yet to finish what I started.

There are three reasons that I need to do this. 1) As much as I love to use my computer/pda to keep things organized, sometimes I just need to write stuff down. And keeping it all in one organized place would be best. 2) I'm pretty good at remembering things. But one of my best tools for "remembering" is writing stuff down. And one of my worst enemies is the 425,904,825 things that I get interrupted with while trying to remember what it is I’m supposed to remember! Did I just hear an “Amen Sista”? 3) I’m having surgery in 6 weeks so my sweety, peachy will be running the show for a few days.

So, those are my reasons and here's what has been keeping me awake at night as plans for my notebook swirl around in my head and I begin craving peach pie and suddenly I have to pee but Matt’s arm is wrapped around my stomach and I’m trapped. You think I’m kidding? This was my mind at 2:48 this morning. Luckily I had paper in the bathroom once I wriggled free from the bed without disturbing the hubby.

The notebook will need to be pretty big but not too big. Let’s start with a 2 inch clear-cover binder for now.
I imagine stylish dividers inside. The dividers could have handy pockets for keeping things that I don't have time to punch with holes right off the bat. I think my notebook will generally stay on my desk or on the kitchen counter. This way it is accessible to me at all times but because it is a neat little binder and not a mess of papers, I don't mind it being out all the time. I won’t carry it with me on errands, I will continue to use a pared down version of my current day planner. It will be a tool I use at home.
And the cover...I will of course have to get crafty with the cover for my notebook. I want to make it pretty because things are so much more fun to use when they are pretty.

Sections/dividers (All to be discussed in greater detail later)
Daily routines
Weekly plan
Cleaning Schedule/Zones
Menu ideas/master grocery list
Emergency Info
Chinobilly Yellow pages and contact list
Children’s Stuff
Blog Ideas
Gift Ideas
Personal/Family Goals
Communication with Matt

You'll notice that I don't have a calendar in there anywhere. That's because I have a PDA that works very well as it synchronizes with outlook. But that would be a handy tab if I didn't have that sorted out.

So, that's my dream notebook. I think it will really help keep me sane by making sure that my poor little brain doesn't have to be responsible for too much information at once.

In the spirit of chronicling the chinobilly gardening wannabe adventures this spring while examining our progress in raising two wild and crazy chinobillies and our adventures in life, I will be starting a Chinobilly Household Journal over the next 6 weeks. I would be totally held accountable encouraged if you would like to begin this project with me. I will be formulating a plan over the weekend (hopefully) so I will have an idea of where I’m going with this crazy task. I have dreams of having this journal completed before I go under the knife so this fiasco may be a blessing to me AND my family as I begin to manage our home a little better each day. Not everyone needs everything I’ve mentioned. Feel free to let your specific need/desires “dictate” what you will incorporate. I want to start small and add as time allows. Let’s encourage each other and get started shall we?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Easy Butter Cream Icing

Some of you gals asked for the icing recipe I used on these cupcakes.

I've always admired the swirly tops of the cupcakes you can buy at the bakery. They always look so pretty. And even though I am a chinobilly through and through pretty cupcakes speak to me. They do! And once I get something fixed in my mind I can't seem to let it go. (It's just a confirmation of the borderline OCD result I got on a Facebook Personality Quiz I took the other day.) Well that firstborn trait reared its ugly head and I was on a mission to learn how to make the swirly tops. A phone call to my mom led me back to my recipe box (which I've had since I was 14) to find the Easy Butter Cream Recipe. It also led to my very sweet husband making a dreaded trip into a Michaels craft store to get a 1M start tip during his trip to town. On the eve of the Princess Party I got the kids off to sleep and began Mission Swirly Top in my kitchen. Ladies I'm telling you it was so easy I don't know why I haven't tried it sooner. I'll tell you how to do it and advise you NOT to wait until 9:00 at night on a very HOT July evening to do this because you will have so much fun you will want to make more cupcakes and more icing just to practice your swirly top technique and then you will stay up 'til 11:00 at night on the EVE of THE Princess Party. And I do not want to be held responsible for your puffy eyes on the day of your little princesses birthday party.

Consider yourself warned.

1) Bake and cool your princesses favorite cupcake.

2) Prepare the easy butter cream icing recipe below and tint with your princesses favorite color.

3) Using the 1M star tip you should have purchased yourself pipe delicious buttercream swirls on top of cupcakes. Hold the bag and tip at a 90° angle to surface of your cupcake. Pipe a spiral of icing, beginning at the outer edge and working inward. And for extra "purtyness" and extra sugar pipe a second spiral on top.

4) Sprinkle with your princesses favorite sprinkles and there you have it:

A swirly top cupcake fit for a princess!

Materials for Recipe Card: Adobe PSE7; Little Princess Kit by SMJDesigns; coffe stains brushes free by Guerilla Graphics; Pea Alesa font free by Amanda

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Princess Party For The Birthday Girls

We hosted a princess party for the twins over the weekend. What fun we had! The girls invited six of their friends over for games and crafts and food and cake and fun! Abby was tickled pink that her daddy got to be there (Abby thinks daddy's don't get to go to parties) and Bree was tickled pink because...well...she got to wear pink.
I am truly blessed not only with amazing daughters but I have amazing friends too. Thank you all so much for spending time with us!

Materials: Adobe PSE7, The Story of the Day Layered Template Set, Celebrations Journal Blocks, Everyday Brushes, Remember Brushes by Ali Edwards, Little Princess Kit by SMJDesigns and Ali Edwards Font.

Now I'm off to work on Ladies Bible Study, thank you notes, upload my photography assignment and catch up on lessons, make a recipe card for a blog post and I'm behind in changing my blog background. Thank goodness for naptime and the chorse being caught up for today. I get to play.