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Thursday, June 19, 2014

It's Summer!!!!

Can you tell it's summer?  I'm just not here as much as I want to be.  But our days are full.  We had VBS last week, which was a blast and had a great turn-out.  Then our youth group did some concessions for two night - there were over 500 people each night.  And this week so far, I've been playing catch-up in the garden and that gives me a lot of time to think.

#1 on my list to think about is excuses.

Excuses people have for making their choices that drastically and most of the time negatively affect those around them.  But they have their "reason" and so that makes it all o.k.

Right along with that, and maybe at the top of the list, are my excuses.  Slowly over time, I'm realizing that I've thought all along that I was submitting to my husband and that "I'm good." in that area.  But what I have come to realize is that I haven't been putting his desires for our family before my own. 

My own aren't necessarily bad, but over and over and over again.  I see times throughout our 17 year marriage where he was asking me to do something - the dishes at each meal time, keep up with the laundry, etc.  And when he asked, it was with this motive, "Life would be so much easier for you and less stressful, if you could do these things."  His heart was tender toward me.  He wanted what was best for me, but I didn't listen for so many years. 

First it was the dishes, I would let them pile up all day and maybe get to them that night.  And I hated dishes.  Hated them.  Why did I hate them?  By the time I ever got to them, they were stuck on tight and took forever.  I don't know how many years ago, I made a commitment to do them after every meal.  Now that I have help from the kids it's a bit easier, but even during the school year when the kids were gone so quickly, it was not so bad.  Now, although dishes are not a joy, there are times when I do find joy in serving my family.  And now, I do not hate them.  I do not dread them.

Then it was the laundry, and the pile to wash would be as high as the washing machine from the floor.  It was so discouraging.  I hated to think of laundry.  And then one day, I made a decision to do laundry every day, set the buzzer on the dryer and change loads immediately, until I had all the things done in the laundry room.  Oh the freedom, I do not dread laundry. 

So while working in the garden many hours in the hot sun this week, I was thinking about the things he suggests that I still have not done.  He wants us to work in the garden for an hour to keep up.  It's a fairly big garden and has much to be done.  To me, it's a daunting task.  All he wants is for me to have a lighter load.  He doesn't want me to have to pull huge weeds, because I let the garden go for a week.  After being in the garden for over 10 hours in three days, in the hot sun, I think he may have something here. 

Why does it take me so long to figure out that Carpenter isn't out there looking for things for me to do?  He wants me to enjoy life.  He sees that it would be best if things were organized and then I wouldn't have to run around like crazy to find things. 

And in the same way, I think God must at times shake his head at us.  His desires for us are that we would enjoy life and yet we choose not to do things his way. 

Keep pressing on,
Steph

Monday, June 2, 2014

Who's first?

I'm a little humbled.  I haven't gotten it right yet.  Next Saturday, we'll have been married 17 years.  And I still don't have it right.

You may have heard all of this before from me, if so you can find something else to read.  I don't do a very good job of keeping track of what I have and haven't written about.

Here's the thing.  When he casually mentions that he'd like something done, I need to do whatever it takes to get it done as soon as I can.  For me that usually means writing it done on a to-do list, because with all the things I'm working on, it usually gets relegated to the back of my brain and I may or may not remember it again.

Usually, I remember it when he walks in the door, or goes to the spot that he'd mentioned he'd like cared for, or when he asks about it.  Too late.

He's my number one guy, besides God who is in fact the most important one - I forget that priority all too often as well.

So if I remember back to when I was dating - and yes, I know I'm not now and therefore the relationship is very different - but back then I wanted to remember everything he suggested.  I was diligent to remember, I didn't need a list.

Last week, as he was preparing to preach on Sunday, he asked if I could pick something out for him and have it ready by church. I did put it on a list, and then got into my busyness and the list ended up somewhere, but not in front of me.  Still the thought crossed my mind several times, but I was waiting for the shirt he'd thrown into the laundry basket to come through the dryer, because I knew I would do it then. 

Saturday and still no shirt and he asks about it.  Ugh, where is that shirt?  Sitting in the now-full laundry basket in my room.  Oh no!!!  But I still have time. It's not Sunday yet.

I take the laundry basket downstairs and send one of my helpers with it to the laundry room to start a load.  In my mind, it was a full load of wash and all needed to go in, but in his mind it was two loads.  So the shirt ended up still sitting in the laundry basket the next morning when I went to get the wash out of the washer to put in the dryer. 

I was somewhat panicked but simply set aside that load to be dried and started the washer.  The shirt is finally getting clean.  Later when the washer was done, I put only the shirt in the dryer and it came out of the dryer with minutes to spare. 

My goal is to quickly and diligently do the things that he suggests need to be done so that I'm not left in the pickle of trying to get it done last minute.  It will save a lot of stress from my mind. 

Keep pressing on,
Steph

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Faithfulness

I hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend.  Some men fought long and hard and gave their lives for our freedom.  I am so thankful that we can worship and live in freedom.

Yesterday, we got out and got busy in our garage and sheds, but I recognize that the process will take some time.  So yesterday, Carpenter and I talked about some projects that need to be done.  It's not too much for eight people to do, so the kids and I are going to make the effort to finish these projects this week.  It will actually be in three days.  Carpenter wants to take Friday off from work if possible to get things headed in the direction of our ministry opportunity.

But before we can move and work on this opportunity that has presented itself, things at home need to be shored up.  Organization needs to take place and things need to be taken care of.  Attitudes need to be adjusted and kids need to be prepared to work as a team.

So this week, we have to:
Clean out the old fort and repair the roof so that we can store metal in it for the scrap yard.

Clean out the garden shed, so that we can put the lawn mowers in there with the tiller and other gardening stuff.

Finish cleaning out the garage and the woodshed.  Move the mower and the tiller out of the garage so that we can use the garage for vehicles again.

So I guess I figure we can do one portion each day.  We'll also have to work in the garden faithfully, dentist appointments, a trip to the park with other moms, and babysitting one day this week.  Pool is our incentive - Daddy gave the go-ahead for not one trip on Fridays, but several throughout the week. :) Yay!!!!

So it will be an incentive to get our work done in the morning.

Keep pressing on.
Steph

Friday, May 23, 2014

Age appropriate chores - junior high and high school

We've reached an age where our kids can be a huge help to us.  In fact, they can almost work as hard we do.  You should teach them new things, but you won't need to do one-on-one as much as with the little ones.  Please don't think that they don't need to do things with us anymore, you will need to find other ways to hang out with them.

Inspection is key when you have teens.  You need to train them to do their best at a job.   They can mow the lawn, do yard work, clean bathrooms, do laundry, clean thier rooms (yes, I do think they should keep their rooms clean) and a myriad of other jobs.

I have a home business and mine enjoy some of the extra things that I can find for them to do.

Help them learn to enjoy doing a good job.

Keep pressing on and enjoy your family this weekend.
Steph


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Age appropriate chores - elementary age

Let's think about elementary ages today.  Whether you are homeschooling or sending your kids to a school, your children should still have chores.  They should be getting more independent.   But they will still need to be checked and inspected.  Continue to have a plan for checking up on their chores.  Reward occasionally, but not always.

There should still be a chore or two that they are still learning and that they get to learn with their parent.  The independent chores are still important, but they still love being with you and learning from you.  Use this opportunity to be with them and enjoy spending time together.
  • Dishes - Our children continue to learn to dry and as they get taller, they can put away more dishes.  They also around can gradually learn to sweep, clear and wash dishes.  Just let them wash on a day when there are only a few or let them start the washing with the cups, and then you can finish up for them.
  • Baking cookies - At this age, they can learn how to measure and make cookies.  Watch them and work with them and slowly hand over the whole job to them.  My oldest daughter (just finishing 5th grade) made some fabulous peanut buttter cookies the other day.  And don't forget cleaning up, see Dishes.
  • Laundry - They can learn how to measure the soap and start a load, and how to switch loads over.
  • Making beds - Somewhere in this age range, they shouldn't need you to do it with them anymore.
  • Dirty laundry - This should be a habit now, but I've found it still needs inspection on a regular basis.
  • Pick up toys - The habit should be well learned by now, but they lose the focus easily and get out too many things.  When this happens, they feel frustrated when clean-up time comes.
  • Dusting - During this age they should be able to do this well, by the time they are done with elementary

Summer is a great time to learn something new.  Take each child and spend just five to ten minutes each day with them teaching them one new chore.  Don't change the chores around, just let them learn that one new chore until they can do it all by themselves.  The elementary children can learn more about laundry, or cleaning the bathroom, or gardening.  These children have so much potential that it's tempting to work right along with us all day.  They can do a lot, but be careful not to overload them.

Keep pressing on,
Steph

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Age appropriate chores - 4's and 5's

Let's think about 4 and 5 year olds today.  Those little ones that are still learning about the world, maybe they are in preschool, or maybe they are learning the things that are needed at home.  They are older now, and therefore, some of these things they could do on their own, independently.  But they will still need to be checked and inspected.

I think that if you are inspecting their chores and letting them do some of them alone, find a way to reward them on a regular basis for a job well-done.  We have to remember their age still, so we must think of what a job well-done for a four or five year old is.

There should still be a chore or two that they are still learning and that they get to learn with their parent.  The independent chores are still important, but they still love being with you and learning from you.  Use this opportunity to be with them and enjoy spending time together.
  • Dishes - They can bring their plates and things from the table.  They can also wipe the table off with a bit of help.  They can dry a few things as well.   But I would pick between clearing and drying and not have them do both at each meal, unless they absolutely want to.  Now is the time to teach them what "dry" looks like, or you'll have them rushing and have dripping plates and cups. In our house, children dry a certain number of dishes according to their ages - sometimes we say "Your age times 3" or "times 2" depending on the number of dishes.
  • Baking cookies - stirring, taste-testing, etc.  And then cleaning up, see Dishes.
  • Laundry - They can learn to sort laundry.  But will need much supervision.
  • Making beds - they can help put the stuffed animals neatly on the bed after you have helped them pull up the cover - and at some point during this time depending on the height of their bed they will be able to handle the sheet and blanket on their own, even if it means switching sides of the bed.  
  • Dirty laundry - when they take off their clothes, they can learn to put their clothes into the basket. These things should already be a habit, but now they can learn to carry their basket to the laundry area.
  • Pick up toys - they even are quick to pick up how they are sorted.  A friend has her toys in bins and when I was over there the two and three year olds were showing me which bins which toys go in. Now they should be learning that they can get out new things, if they put away the others.
  • Dusting - they won't get all the corners, but they can hold a dustrag while you are dusting. 
Keep your child involved and remember training is a big part of your day when you have a toddler.  It's easier to put them in front of the TV, but it's not training them a lot.  They aren't learning how to interact, or how to handle frustrating situations.  These things are good for them.  As moms, we want to take the frustration out of their day, but it's not healthy for them.

Summer is a great time to learn something new.  Take each child and spend just five to ten minutes each day with them teaching them one new chore.  Don't change the chores around, just let them learn that one new chore until they can do it all by themselves.  With a preschooler, you would have to pick a chore that they would be capable of alone.  I'm not thinking of laundry or washing dishes.  But making the bed and picking up toys should be getting easier for them.

Keep pressing on,
Steph

Monday, May 19, 2014

Age appropriate chores - 2's and 3's

In our Mom's group, we started talking about age appropriate chores.  So this week I thought I would share my lists of chores and what is age appropriate.

Some things we need to remember about 2's and 3's, and continue to remember as they grow up, are they need help.  They need a teacher.  So while these are age appropriate, I would probably always say that you can't just have them do them on their own.  They should be working alongside you, not alone.

It's more than just that they are still learning to focus.  It's a pleasure for them to work with their mommy/daddy at this time.  They love being big and helping, but it's not as much fun, if they are being big and helping on their own, while Mom is doing other things.

So let them help while you are doing these things:

  • Dishes - mine stood on a chair and played in the rinse water and "rinsed" while I washed.  The bigger ones were the dryers.  Did I really need a rinser?  No.  In fact, the "rinser" probably made more work for me at the sink.  But he wasn't off being naughty and so maybe it was less work to have him with me.
  • Baking cookies - stirring, taste-testing, etc.  And then cleaning up, see Dishes.
  • Laundry - they can help remove clothes from the dryer.  Yes, you will have to help them learn to be careful of buttons and zippers.  Pour the soap in when you start the washer.  They probably won't be able to measure it yet.
  • Making beds - they can help put the stuffed animals neatly on the bed after you have helped them pull up the covers
  • Dirty laundry - when they take off their clothes, they can learn to put their clothes into the basket.
  • Pick up toys - they even are quick to pick up how they are sorted.  A friend has her toys in bins and when I was over there the two and three year olds were showing me which bins which toys go in. 
  • Dusting - they won't get all the corners, but they can hold a dustrag while you are dusting. 
Keep your child involved and remember training is a big part of your day when you have a toddler.  It's easier to put them in front of the TV, but it's not training them a lot.  They aren't learning how to interact, or how to handle frustrating situations.  These things are good for them.  As moms, we want to take the frustration out of their day, but it's not healthy for them.

Summer is a great time to learn something new.  Take each child and spend just five to ten minutes each day with them teaching them one new chore.  Don't change the chores around, just let them learn that one new chore until they can do it all by themselves.  With a toddler, you would have to pick a chore that they would be capable of alone.  I'm not thinking of making beds, or dusting, or washing dishes.  But getting the clothes out of the dryer and pushing the basket into the living room to fold, that's fun when the laundry basket is a car and you're driving it to the store.  

Keep pressing on,
Steph