Thursday, April 30, 2009
Seriously, I hate cleaning. Enough to the point that I have a tendency to allow things to pile up and up and up until what was once a simple job of sweeping the floor becomes a monumental task involving picking up lots of things off the floor first so you can even see it! Especially with the warm weather coming on, I had been really sadly slacking off in this department.
So I came up with a list of all the things I thought should be done around here. Some stuff to be done every day, some to be done once/week, some once/month, some quarterly, biannually, or just annually. Some stuff (like taking out the trash and laundry) has to just be done "as needed."
I've listed the Daily and Weekly jobs below:
Wipe off kitchen countertops, glass stove top, and dining room table
Sweep hard floors
Mop Floors – "Mopping Monday"
Clean Bathrooms – "Toilet Tuesday"
Vacuum Carpet – Wednesday (If windows are open, vacuum bugs from sills)
Town Run – Groceries, etc – "Thrifty Thursday"
Handwash Dishes - Friday
Yeah, I know, it's really cheesy that I have come up with "catchy" names for my chore days. But you have to get your motivation where you can!! I have been doing this for a week now, and it has REALLY helped! It looks like potentially our house will always be clean! Maybe not all at once, but doing all the cleaning all in one day never works for me, especially chasing around a 16 month old toddler! I am so glad I have found a system that seems to be working for the way I like to work (a little at a time) and allows me to keep a clean house and not feel guilty about not playing with Cora (she can either help or wait 'til Mommy's done sweeping the floor - it doesn't take up that much time anymore).
So I've been doing it for a week now, and what was once a HUGE job, was broken into tiny steps that were actually quite managable. Plus, I get the weekends "off" :-)
Anybody out there want to share tips they use to help with finding the motivation to do housework?? I'd love to hear your hints!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I haven't even entered yet, but still I am daydreaming of what in the world I would do with $5,000/week.
Here's what I've come up with so far:
First, I would try really hard not to tell ANYONE.
We'd pay off the mortgage on the house (not sure if there's a prepayment penalty on that one, though)
We'd put some back in investments for each of our children. For college, or their first car, or house, or something good.
I'd make sure to get all the horsey, endurance tack that I wanted. Probably a new saddle! Maybe a living quarters trailer? The trailer we have now is a stock trailer - dual purpose - livestock and horses, so it'd be nice not to have to "share". Definitely would also get another super-safe, trail broke horse - a "husband" or "friend" horse, so if I had someone who wanted to ride with me, they could.
We'd get a tractor for Matt - he's been wanting a smaller tractor to use for hay, etc. Probably several other farm-related items. We'd get our LGD a buddy so he would always have a doggy friend, besides just goat-friends.
I'd hire someone to help me in the house, either a couple days/week or a couple of hours/day Monday - Friday. With two babies, I'll be having my hands full! Plus, cleaning isn't included as one of my top 50 favorite activities.
Nicer Vacations. Although, we really do enjoy the vacations we take (it's more about who you're with than where you go), but we'd probably start going to more fancy, expensive places. Like Hawaii. Or Europe!
That's all I can really think of! Of course, we'd probably quit buying our clothes on sale, and we'd probably start buying top of the line stuff (like the $400 stroller, rather than finding on at a yard sale!). But I hope we wouldn't go too over-the-top.
So, that's all the things I can imagine us doing for ourselves, but what's really exciting to me is what all we could do for others with our money! I mean, $5,000/week -that's a LOT! We could have all the stuff I mentioned and still have PLENTY to give to others.
I'd also like to be able to give to those in need as situations come up and as God leads. Like the people who have been affected by the flooding last year in June, like those who have health concerns w/out insurance and need help - it would be great to be able to freely give generously and anonymously in times like that!
Our church would get money, certainly, but I'd like to be able to give to others in need as well. Like the Pregnancy Care Center, an organization that helps women and men who find themselves in an unexpectedly pregnant situation to made godly decisions and provides them resources.
There's lots of worthy organizations, it would be tough to narrow it down, but we'd be lead to give to the right places for the right reasons. I just hope that if we did actually win, we'd be able to remember and do things for the right reasons, not get selfish. Realistically, there is no way we'd win, but it sure is fun to think about what we'd do if we did!
What would you do? If you want to participate, answer and leave a comment here so I can see
what you put down!
Monday, April 13, 2009
Well, it’s about time I announce this on the blog: My husband and I are expecting our second child!
We’re very excited about it, the baby is due around the end of October, first of November. Cora, our firstborn daughter, will be 22 months when she becomes a big sister.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
I have a confession to make: most of the time I do not live up to my ideal.
I don't even come close.
A lot of the time my house is dirty. There are often times when I can't find a clean spot on the counter to make dinner. I often wait too long to wash diapers and barely get the latest load dry before my daughter needs a change. I spend (waste) way too much time on the internet. My toilets don't get cleaned real often. I actually dislike cleaning quite a lot. Sometimes Cora stays in her pajamas all day if we don't plan to leave the house (sometimes mommy does too...).
All of this is to say that while I may aim big, I am no superwoman. I don't always (usually never) have it all put together. To me this is saying a lot about how much time really needs to be committed to doing this job - because if someone who doesn't even work outside the home can't find time to get it all done, how could I ever do it if I worked part or full-time??
But, God does call different people to do different things, and as much as I am convinced in my heart of hearts that this is the job for me (and arguably, most married women and mothers), it is quite possible that He is calling other wives and mothers elsewhere. Now, I am not at all trying to make wives/mothers feel guilty for choices they have made that are irreversible. Nothing can change the past, but it is certainly not too late to change the future. Earnestly seek God's face on these things - he may have bigger plans for you than your 9-5 (or whatever hours they are) and it is possible you will find that God is calling you to stay at work. Only you and God can decide that, I am not here to judge, I'm only trying to put into words what I feel is the vital importance of staying home with children and keeping house for your husband. There are also some women who are experiencing difficult circumstances - single mothers, for instance, who have no choice but to work to provide for their children. Not judging those women, or anyone. That is not my place. I just wish to shed some light into the important role that a woman does have in her own home. If she doesn't fulfill that role - who will?
I just feel that the voice of the wife and mother who stays home is quite silent compared to the mainstream "American" way path of high school, college, get a degree, get a career, and don't let marriage and family get in the way of pursuing your dream. It may not be directly spoken, but I certainly have had to struggle with this attitude for myself. I genuinely believe that I have the better part by staying home and fulfilling my duty there.
I believe that God created men and women to be different. Each has different talents and abilities given to them, and each person brings different traits to the marriage. These different skill sets that husband and wife have help each one to be a helper to the other. In the most basic sense, I believe that the husband's role is to support the family by providing for their needs, and protecting them as the head of the household. He is to have the final say in important decisions, and he has a very important role in raising his children by demonstrating what a godly man lives like. A wife's job is parallel and yet opposite to her husband's - she is to oversee the home in a way that puts to greatest use what the husband has provided, and as keeper of the home provide a haven there where she, her husband, and her children can be safe and grow as a family. The wife is to respect her husband, and he loves her dearly. When both husband and wife are operating in these respective roles to their utmost, using their talents and skills that God has given them, the whole family will operate more smoothly than if each family member acted as an individual.
My goals in keeping the home for my husband are more about feelings and love and respect than actual written out "rules." I'm striving to be a "wife of noble character" as described in Proverbs 31:10-12: "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life." The rest of the chapter goes on to list specific ways that this wife serves her family. I feel that each married couple will have a different list of specific ways that will best serve their family.
Each husband and wife has different likes and dislikes, and special skills and talents, so each family will look different in how it lives out those Bible verses. But, to me, no matter how the verses are lived out specifically, in general, to me the point is that both husband and wife are expected to have "noble character" toward each other, and that means that both husband and wife will be looking to the other's needs in a servant like attitude. As Christians, servants are what we all are called to be, and we must first be willing to serve those in our own home before we can effectively serve others. If I am serving my husband to help him be renewed and refreshed when he comes home, I am able to help prepare him to show Christ's love to those he comes in contact with - the same for my children. If I can serve them by training them with Christian values and guiding them and preparing them to go out into the world, as a whole our family will have greater impact for Christ than if each member of the family had to serve themselves, then leave the home and try to serve others.
I mentioned before in a much previous blog post that I had made up a list of goals I had for myself, and I think here is an appropriate place to share them. It shows some specific tasks or ideals that fit for my family because of our specific talents, preferences, and personalities.
- To make my husband know how much I love him by caring for him everyday and being a joy for him to be around. Proverbs 25:24 - "Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife."
- To have a solid faith in my Lord and Savior Jesus, and be an obvious example to those I meet in all walks in life. In other words, I want to be seen as a Christian not only at Church, but everywhere I go; at the bank, in my home, by our family - everyone. "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. . ."
- Make our home a pleasant place to be. Keep it clean and tidy, decorate it so that our surroundings are pleasing to the eye, all without spending too much money.
- Grow a flower garden around our home and landscape it in a pleasing way, so that we can enjoy our yard and feel proud of it, and eat produce from our vegetable garden.
- Raise children and teach them how to be creative people and to be strong Christians in a world where "anything goes."
#1 just makes sense because I know my husband - his "love language" (the way he best shows love and receives it) is by doing things for other people. He likes to take care of me - by changing the oil in my car, by taking care of things so that I won't have to worry about them. I want to strive to show that kind of love back to him (by making sure he has sweet tea in the fridge and a snack when he gets home, etc.), even though my main love language is different (I prefer to show and receive love by spending time, listening, snuggling, talking - and I "safely trust" that my husband is trying to increase the way he shows that to me, even though it takes him way out of his comfort zone)
#2 and I feel #5 in fact goes along with the stay-at-home-mom post, in that as I try to work hard daily to improve my faith walk and relationship with Jesus, my daughter as well as others will see that, and prayerfully she will see things that her mommy does by faith that she will be able to model as well. However, I first must be patient and kind and serving towards my family at home, or else how hypocritical will that look for my daughter when she sees mommy being so nice and patient to others, but I can't seem to keep my cool at home. This is an area for me that needs the fruit of the Spirit! I pray that I can be more and more Spirit-filled so I can have the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that a mother needs in ways that she can only have supernaturally! No mother (or anyone!) can have all of those qualities to the extent that she needs them alone - she needs God's help through the Holy Spirit.
#3 and #4 go together - You know that feeling you get when you check into the hotel or cabin you are staying in on vacation? A relief as you crash on the bed after hauling your luggage in after many hours of strenuous travel, "phew...we're here - we can finally relax and forget the stress of life, we're on vacation!" That is a feeling that I hope to be able to recreate daily in my home. I truly desire to make our home a peaceful haven of rest from a busy and hectic world, so that while I work in the home, when my husband comes home from work, while my children are learning and growing up, we can continually be renewed and refreshed physically, mentally, and spiritually. This is a lofty goal, but I do think it can be accomplished with diligence on my part, and a spirit of love and service on behalf of the rest of the family members. I don't think that this feeling can be accomplished without viewing keeping the home as a fulltime job.
Now, that numbered list and the explanations given are pretty obvious that they are specific to my family. Each husband and wife must look for ways to show their love for their spouse in ways that will be most obvious to them.
I just have felt so committed and convicted that being a stay-at-home-mom and keeper of the home is the best place for me to be, that I just have to share my conviction with all. I don't think there's any way I could accomplish all of this without devoting the bulk of my time to doing it, and thankfully my husband has seen the fruits of my labor and also values what I do. We both have made sacrifices financially for me to stay at home, but for us, those sacrifices pale greatly in comparison with all we have gained. In fact, we both have said that even if circumstances change (if Matt loses his job, or some other unforeseeable happens) we are willing to do much more sacrificing to ensure I am able to continue to do my work here at home, because it is a powerful work that can certainly really impact the lives of our children in such a positive way.
Being a keeper of the home is a job I wish I had begun since we were first married, so I would have been more practiced at it before our first child arrived. Having a baby to care for certainly makes keeping the home more difficult. Part of the reason I am writing this is that staying at home just was not at all a vocation I ever saw as valuable unless there were children involved. I no longer see this as true - a wife can do so much for her husband and her household with her time - she can use her talents and skills to stretch the dollar her husband brings home, she can show hospitality to others by inviting them into her home, she will have more time to serve others outside her home (mothers with newborns, helping the sick, volunteering...and so on). A lot has changed in our culture since it was no longer popular for wives and mothers to stay at home after th 40s and 50s, and a lot of that change has NOT been for the better. It is possible that if more wives and mothers stayed home and served their families first, that we might see a shift back to a lower divorce rate and other social problems.
After having made the transition to stay-at-home-mom, keeper of the home, and having seen how difficult it was for me to try to find a "job-description" and validity in a world that keeps implying that what I am doing isn't worth it, I sincerely hope that I can give validity to other women who see value in these same things, and to encourage them to make the leap, or continue to be diligent in their very important work as wife and mother.
The main thing for our family right now is caring for the baby as a stay at home mom. Holding the baby, putting her down for naps, wiping her bottom after a poop, teaching her how to roll a ball and play with blocks, giving her baths, changing her clothes when they get dirty, nourishing her – these are all things that someone must do for a young child. And it is a short, certainly not comprehensive list. It is my not-so-humble opinion that no one besides a child’s own mother is going to do any of these tasks with as much care, love, and fondness as she can.
Certainly, day cares and babysitters provide adequate care. The children are fed, changed, wiped. Maybe even with love. I’ve been a babysitter before, and really enjoyed taking care of those children, but absolutely nothing can compare to the kind of love that I have for my daughter. It’s just a different kind of love. The child the mother has carried for 9 months and painstakingly gave birth to is much more special to her than any other child could be. I also feel that adoptive parents can and do love the same way or greater than birth parents – the adoption process I understand is a grueling task to go through. I’m not saying a child put in day care or with a sitter isn’t getting adequate or even good care – I’m just saying that absolutely Mom is going to do a much better job.
For me and my husband, we choose for my daughter to have the best care, all the time, and that is by being in the care of her mother or father. Sure, sometimes we leave her with a sitter for an evening, but the majority of her time is spent with her parents.
Aside from just the basics of child care, I think another big job a stay at home mom has is child training. Having Mom at home ensures the child can receive timely discipline when necessary, rather than allowing bad behavior to slide and slowly escalate. If Mom worked all day, and the day care ignored inappropriate behaviors, then Mom or Dad is the “bad guy” when she has to discipline them when she picks them up, and perhaps to avoid feeling as though they’re disciplining their children all the time, they avoid discipline altogether. If mom is with the child throughout the day, one of her roles will be disciplinarian, but she will also be able to provide for her children in other ways, so since she has more time with her child, she can be disciplinarian, cook, playmate, teacher, and so she will feel less guilt for spending most of her time disciplining, since that will just be a small part of her job as stay at home mom.
Another big part of child training is the fact that children learn by watching what those closest to her and around her do the most. I take my daughter with me most places I go, and she is learning by watching me interact with the people we come in contact with. She learns by watching how I spend my time even while we’re at home. She learns from me by watching how I speak to her dad – facial expressions, voice tones, volume. Beyond just the basics of everyday life, she is also watching her parents as they live out their faith. She’s learning by watching and imitating the things we do. This fact of how she learns is both great and intimidating. The main thing I must accomplish in order to teach her how to be a responsible adult is to demonstrate the desirable behaviors to her. Whoa! What a responsibility! Imparting a value system through example sounds like a fulltime job in itself, and is a powerful reason for the parents to be the ones caring for the child, so that they can be sure their values and faith system is being passed on to their children.
Our family has decided that the benefits of me being a stay at home mom to care for and discipline and be an example for our daughter is absolutely worth it to our family.