My Birthday, Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

I had to sing the title as I typed it. Well, at least that last part.

2013 was a wonderful year. I met and exceeded many of my goals. I wrote a book, attended a writer’s conference and ended the year with a clean kitchen.

Those who were following me at the beginning of last year might remember my word for 2013 was “determined”. I was determined all the way to the end to finish the year out strong.

Here are a few blog posts of note in 2013:

Why I Started the New Year with 1000 Kicks (We’re doing this again this year.)

Conquering the Chore Monster

How to Baby Proof a Kitchen in 8 “Easy” Steps I need to do another post like this with Elisabeth as a toddler. We have not put a baby gate up at all to our kitchen this year.

Finding Beauty in Imperfections

These are just a few to show what we have been up to during the year.

I also wrote a book “Don’t Quit: Build a Legacy of Commitment” which you can download for free here. You can also read the blog posts I wrote to go along with my book. I plan to finish the 31 Day Building Commitment series and write a more in depth book from that theme.

December was a very busy month. Our children were sick the week before Christmas. I caught it the day before my birthday. 

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Birthday Presents from My Husband and Kids

I shared this on Facebook about my Birthday.

“Thank you, everyone, for the Birthday greetings! I had a wonderful day. 

My younger children gave me one roller blade and a floaty.  Now I can skate on one foot in a swimming pool without drowning.

My oldest son gave me a beautiful necklace. And my husband took me out for dinner and bought me a Keurig.

When we came home we had birthday cake made by my kids, ice cream, and coffee made in my new Keurig.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day! — feeling loved with Scott Maness

I had quite a few comments asking, “What’s up with the one roller blade and the floaty?”

I promised to write a post about that and then immediately the busy-ness of the season set in and I never stopped to post the rest of the month. So I will now give you that explanation. 

My children have sweet, caring hearts even if at times they are a bit misguided in their efforts. They believe that a Birthday is not complete without a gift being given some time during the day.

My younger children felt bad that I didn’t already have a gift so they ran to their rooms and grabbed probably the first two things they found on their floors as a present to me. It just so happened that those two gifts were a roller blade and a deflated floaty which they wrapped in a baby blanket. 

They brought it to me and when I opened it I smiled and with all the excitement only a mother can give for such a gift, I exclaimed, “Wow! Now I can skate on one foot in a swimming pool and not drown!” I gave them all hugs and thanked them for the gift. 

My 15 year old son later in the day gave me a necklace he had bought a month earlier. I was very impressed by his having thought to get me a gift that far in advance. It was very sweet and a sign of his growing up. 

My husband took me out to eat and we shopped for Christmas presents and bought a Keurig for my birthday. I have only been drinking coffee off and on for about a year and a half now. Two years ago I would have never dreamed I would want a Coffee Maker for my birthday. It’s amazing how much we grow and change in just a few years.

We spent Christmas with my family and enjoyed seeing my sister and her family as well.

Did you have a good 2013? Are you as excited as I am about the things to come in 2014? What type of posts do you like to see on my blog? Is there anything you would like to see more of? Feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comments or if you follow my blog by email just hit reply if you would like to talk with me privately. 

It took me long enough to get this post written. I have quite a few goals for this year. My word for the year is “organize” and I’ll be sharing more about that soon. I will also tell you about the goals I have for this year. I’m looking forward to a lot of great things to come. 

Have a very blessed and productive New Year!!!

~~ Anastacia ~~

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How to Baby Proof Your Kitchen in 8 “Easy” Steps

You may remember a recent post I did on How to Maintain a Clean Kitchen in 6 “Easy” Steps. Well, the more mobile your youngest becomes your methods sometimes have to adjust. Especially when your oldest young’ns are away.

I now present you with my latest method of baby proofing the kitchen with less helpers.

Are you ready?

Step 1: Hold your baby out in front of you. Take a good look at her. Pay close attention to her size. Smile real big and coo before continuing on to Step 2.

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Step 2: Position your baby on your hip and hold her with one arm. Grab a broom with the other.

Step 3: Sweep a spot on the floor at least two baby lengths square. (May need 3 baby lengths if your baby is a fast crawler.)

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Step 4: Keeping broom in close reach set baby down on the floor.

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Step 5: Quick! Grab broom. Immediately start sweeping the area your baby heads toward.

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Step 6: Throw a pan lid and spoon in her path to slow her down a bit.

(WARNING: Pan lid and spoon are no match for the Cheerios clear across the floor in keeping your baby’s attention.)

20130221-233757.jpg(But having a big brother with a matching lid and spoon helps.)

Step 7: Grab dust pan. Sweep it all into dust pan before baby sees the dust pan. (Dust pans are even more attractive than Cheerios!)

Step 8: When baby gets fussy because you took all the “fun” stuff away give her a nice big carrot to teeth on.

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How about you? Do you have any great baby proofing tips you’ve learned along the way? Please share them with us in the comments.

I have so many things to write about. The hard part is deciding what to write about first. I’m also contemplating a few book ideas. Be watching for more on that.

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Happy New Month!

At the beginning of this year, I decided to do something a little different.

All the previous years I would write down all the goals I wanted to accomplish for the year. This year I’m setting monthly goals.

For the month of January, I had several main goals. 1. Keep the kitchen clean. 2. Blog twice a week. 3. Write 1 devotional each week. 4. Write one children’s story book in the month.

I am happy to say that I did pretty well at keeping the dishes clean. There were a couple of nights that I was too tired to wash dishes before bed. But I got those first thing the next day. My husband and kids helped quite a bit by doing dishes when I was busy with the baby.

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Those of you who follow my blog may have notice a long break in my posting. I blogged twice a week most of the month. That goal is good if I don’t want to write anything else.

Last week I spent my normal blogging time to write the rough draft of my next children’s book. I plan to finish editing it this month and then it will go to my illustrator (aka my husband).

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My husband, Scott, started an art class for our family. Since we homeschool we can add classes at any time. Monday is our main art day.

On Wednesdays we watch The Wednesday Drawing Show. Shoo Rayner is the instructor. His videos are made for all ages. Then when you draw the assignment he gives you can upload it to his website and he’ll show it off on his Sunday Gallery Show that he added to show off all the art.

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So far we have drawn snakes, made or drawn eyeballs on scrap materials, and this Monday we did charicatures of famous people.

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Here is my first charicature. Can you tell who it is of? Go ahead and guess in the comments. I’m curious if he’s recognizable.

This month I’m switching to just one blog post a week. I need a little more time for pursuing other goals.

So for the month of February I plan to blog once a week, write 1 devotional a week, write another children’s story, and learn some HTML.

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Keeping the dishes clean is an ongoing goal. I am adding to that getting the master bedroom cleaned up. It’s the catch-all room. I’m going to be brutal and get rid of a lot of stuff.

I’ll give an update at the end of this month on how I’m doing.

Did you set goals this year? How are you doing with your goals? And don’t forget to guess who my charicature is of.

I’ll let you know if you guessed right or not. In my next post I’ll tell who he is.

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How to Maintain a Clean Kitchen in 6 “Easy” Steps

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I spent a day this week with just my 4 younger children. Joshua and Ruth had gone to a nearby farm to help with their animals and to have riding lessons.

I had to drop them off. Leaving the younger 4 by themselves is a disastrous proposition not even worthy of consideration. (Okay, I admit I enjoyed putting that many big words into one simple sentence.) In other words I’m not leaving the little kids by themselves for even a minute.

I got them all up and the older children ate breakfast while the younger ones were scrounging around for their shoes.

We dropped their big brother and sister off for their riding lessons and I took the younger ones to a local store for honey buns and hot chocolate mix.

That was a fancy breakfast in their minds.

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After breakfast I decided to let them have a little free time while I worked on some lesson plans.

Jonathan and Hannah were pretty creative. Hannah made herself a mop lady and Jonathan a broom man.

Hannah named her new friend Jennifer. Jonathan said his was grandpa with a Mohawk and a cowboy hat.

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Elijah has been working on potty training. I have also been having to teach him not to be rough with Elisabeth.

In the above picture of Elijah and Elisabeth they are playing on our kitchen floor.

I’ve been managing to keep the kitchen clean. I try hard to keep every dish washed up after each meal. Sometimes there are a few left to be done before bed but not nearly as many as there used to be.

I have learned that there are a couple of things that help in being resolved to keep the kitchen clean.

1. You can’t expect anyone else to do it. I can tell my children to help but unless I show that I care and put forth some effort myself then no one else will.

2. Be determined. I tell myself that I’m not going to bed until every dish is clean. If I want to get to bed at a reasonable time I have to keep those dishes up throughout the day or I’d be up all night doing dishes.

3. Don’t make excuses.That popular saying going around that I used to listen to. “The dishes can wait they’re not going any where.”

That is true but unless you want those dishes to multiply into an embarrassing mess you better catch it while there is just a few. Otherwise you’re stuck playing catch up and believe me that is no fun. Keeping it up is much easier than catching it up.

4. Numbers don’t matter. Cleaning with 2 versus 6 kids? I’ve had only 2 kids before and now I have 6. I can actually speak from experience on this question.

With 2 children you don’t have as many helpers. Of course, they don’t make as big a mess either. Technically clean up is about the same with both.

With 6 kids there may be more dishes but you can assign them jobs that you would normally have to do if there were only 2 children.

5. Make it quality time. The same saying about the dishes not going anywhere is usually followed by “…but your children are only young once.” In other words, you should spend that time doing dishes and cleaning house with your children instead.

Okay, I’ve followed that advice before. I actually liked it. I much preferred spending quality time playing with my children to housekeeping. That’s why I had a messy kitchen for the past 2+ years.

I now have a new outlook on quality time. This year I’ve determined that I’d have even more quality time if the kids and I cleaned up the kitchen before we do other things.

And who says cleaning the kitchen isn’t quality time? If you think about it we are all in the room together. Why not teach my kids a new song while we’re cleaning.

Now with little ones particularly of the potty training years then I may have to leave the dishes for a moment to take care of an emergency.

If it’s a 6 month old wanting to be held. A clean floor with a pot lid and plastic spoon is a very fun toy. More fun than a brightly colored toy in fact.

6. Give the excess away. If I haven’t used a dish in over a year then I probably don’t need it. Give it away! Think of it as one less dish to wash. It’s also one more spot in the cabinet freed up for those dishes I do use.

Do you have any advice on keeping the kitchen clean? Or do you have a housekeeping question that you’re struggling with? I’d love to hear from you. Tell me what you think.

I’ll be posting again in another day or two. In that post I’ll be answering the frequently asked question, “When do you find time to write?” :-)

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Conquering the Chore Monster

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We are coming upon the end of our second week of 2013. Quite often you can know at the end of a month whether the goals you set were reasonable or not.

I feel pretty good about our goals this year. One great thing is I’ve been meeting my goal of waking up earlier in the mornings. I’ll be posting more on that in future posts.

Today I want to tell you about our housekeeping goals. I have a goal this year to never leave dishes in the sink. There were many nights in 2012 that I sighed and left the dishes to be done the next morning. That is because I had a chore assignment fail between 2011 and 2012.

Yes, it was pretty sad.

Let me tell you what happened.

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I have tried so many things these past couple of years with chores. We do pretty good when we’re in a good routine that works but when something breaks the routine sometimes it turns crazy. In 2011 we tried assigning each child monthly chores and paying them an allowance. That did not work!

The problem I had with paying them an allowance was that they took so long to get the job done. Then if there was a dirty job they didn’t want to do, it wound up set aside for the next month’s switch. Which meant that just made that chore yuckier for the next child assigned to it.

It was also hard to judge how much to pay our children because they preferred not working more than money. I also felt if I helped them by doing their assigned chore they were only learning that  someone else will do it for them. 

It is a lot easier to maintain cleanliness than to catch up on it.

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This past year (2012)  I had a hard time getting caught up. I felt I was constantly washing dishes. I’m faster at the dishes than the children and more thorough. So I had my kids doing other odd jobs around the house or working on their lessons while I did dishes. 

My husband was very sweet and started trying to help me with dishes as well. He was seeing the effort I put toward getting things caught up around the house.

Two weeks into the new year and things are going well. I’m determined that my goal of having a clean house is higher priority than even my writing goals.

The clothes issue is another matter.

We have too many clothes. We are given quite a bit of hand-me-down clothes which isn’t the problem. The problem is we’re not getting rid of the outgrown clothes quick enough.

Then it becomes a mess because the kids don’t have a place to put it all. It gets left on their floor along with dirty clothes. Well, you can probably imagine how their rooms looked. Picture 6 kids in 2 small bedrooms. Scary!

My husband had 2 weeks off during the Christmas break. One of those weeks he took and bagged up the trash and hidden toys in their rooms and kept the laundry running with clothes.

I had the kids helping me sort through those clothes as soon as they came out of the dryer.

We’re not finished with that project yet but basically I am having them pick only a certain number of clothes to keep. The rest we need to get rid of. So far besides what my husband has already taken away, I have two large garbage bags of clothes waiting in the van to be given away.

My husband told them that he will be doing weekly checks on their rooms at random to ensure they keep them picked up. Anything he finds on their floor or out of place will be thrown away. He gave them a warning to look in their rooms yesterday and tell him what they would be losing if he were to check them right then. They had a few things they would have lost but I think they are taking him seriously.

20130111-111510.jpgI have simplified our kitchen routine this year. We no longer leave the kitchen for one or two people to clean. I assigned the two younger boys to wipe the benches and the floor. (They tend to cause the most spills.) We don’t let those spills set around for someone else to clean up anymore.

I assigned my 7 year old daughter the task of clearing and wiping the table. She can reach everything on the table and is able to put things where they go. In the picture I also have her straightening the cookbook shelf.

My 12 year old daughter is very good at organizing. I usually have her dry and put away the dishes that I wash.

And my 14 year old I usually have getting all the trash off the floor and sweeping. I’m not sure where all the trash comes from but there never seems to be an end to it getting on the floor. We don’t even use paper napkins. I’m not sure where it all comes from.

That’s our new after-meal routine. I must say that so far it’s been working. I no longer have to stay up late doing dishes. Nor do I have to sigh and decide to leave the dishes for the next day.

I found that by my being in the room washing the dishes while they do their tasks keeps them from getting distracted. We now get the kitchen completely cleaned in a matter of minutes.

That is much better than the whole day it use to take.

How about your home? Are there chores that your family struggles with? Do you have any housekeeping tips that might help us out?  Please share in the comments section.

Hopefully I’ll be having a success story about our laundry woes soon. Stay tuned by subscribing to my email updates. That way you won’t miss a single post.

I’m also linking up with some other Mommies today at
Rediscovering Domesticity Blog Button

If you want to read some other Mommies perspectives on Thriving at home, check it out.

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Working on Organization

This week we have been working hard to get our house organized. We moved Elijah into the smaller bedroom with his brothers. We will be getting him a toddler bed soon and I wanted to get him used to the change of room before we change his bed.

In order to make it all work both the boys’ and girls’ rooms needed major work. There were clothes all over their floors. This hasn’t been a new problem. In fact I’ve had to go through their clothes fairly often. I decided we needed to go through them again and see if we could get a handle on the problem.

Elijah loves it when I try to organize clothes. Piles of clothes are mountains of fun to him.

We started off with sheets and blankets. I even had them take the sheets off their beds. I put those in piles. Twin size sheets and pillow cases in one pile, baby bed sheets in another pile, towels that somehow got into the mix in another pile and crochet blankets and quilts in yet another pile. I then got a basket and had them put their favorite set of sheets in it. I started that load to wash.

Then I had them pick out their favorite blankets. Once we put the first load in the dryer, we started a load of blankets washing. I had them pick out a second set of sheets each and the rest will be either given away or stored in another location. (If anyone needs sheets let me know soon.) :-) We had sheets and blankets washing all day.

After getting that major work done, I had the kids take a break to work on their lessons.

The next day we started gathering the clothes off their floors. I’m still working on getting that organized. I have to figure out what fits them and what doesn’t. I’m automatically throwing away clothes that have holes. I hope to get done with this task before Spring Break next week.

I want to share a couple of cute pictures from the past week or two. In the one above, Elijah had fallen asleep while playing in a small box. I took a quick picture before rescuing him from his cozy quarters and laying him in his bed.

And this next picture, I took after karate class last week. Hannah is wearing her new green belt and Elijah is trying out a black belt that belongs to one of the students in our adult class. Elijah liked the belt so much that he almost wouldn’t part with it. :-) Maybe one day, he’ll earn one of his own that will fit him a little better.

Now to get back to work organizing. Maybe next week, I’ll be able to post pictures of nice, neat rooms.

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Team Work

I am finally able to stop and blog a little bit. I have a hard time finding a “good” time to blog. So I’ll just try to pop in and blog as best I can when I am able and the computer isn’t tied up.

Yesterday, the kids and I worked a bit on our living quarters. I swept all the toys, clothes, trash, papers, etc. into a pile in their room and had them picking it up. I would love to be organized like a family I saw a website for that has 11 children. I like to glean tidbits of information from those families so that I might can incorporate a little bit of organization into our daily routines. I have quite a ways to go before I’m that organized, but maybe before I have 11 children I’ll have it figured out. Until then we just have a massive clean up the bedroom of too many toys. It gets better though because they wind up breaking their toys and those get thrown away, so that makes less to pick up for next time.

While they were working on their room, I had my own challenge of clothing. There is 6 of us and a lot of clothes. So I spent the time they were working on their floor to work on sorting clothes. Winter clothes, summer clothes, church clothes, play clothes, outgrown clothes, torn clothes, for 6 people can be a bit daunting sometimes. Then on top of it being daunting I put the job off and it really becomes a disorganized mess. So that was the task I worked on yesterday and still have more to go on it. I have found though that when the children and I work together on tasks they get done pretty well. There are a few jobs that the kids wind up being “too much” help and slow me down, but if I get them on the right task then the job gets done easily and quickly.

A good example of team work was our moving a t.v. yesterday. We have a big t.v. that my brother had given us before he had moved to France. The t.v. was on our floor because we didn’t have anywhere else to put it. We had been given a rolling t.v. stand and it was in the children’s room. Hannah helped me roll it into our dining/ family/ bed room. Ruth helped hold the cart from rolling so that Joshua and I could lift this incredibly heavy t.v. Joshua held the back of the t.v. while I lifted the front. We had to lift it about two or three feet in order to get it on the cart. It didn’t take long and we were real happy to be able to surprise Scott when he got home, instead of having to wait until he got home from work to pick it up for us. I was real proud of our team work. I couldn’t lift it by myself so with the little bit of extra help, we were able to get it done.

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
(Ecc 4:9-12)

It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we all work together. Time to get back to work. Just wanted to share my thought for today. :)

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