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If you’ve read very many of my posts, you know that I struggle to balance all of my responsibilities.  I have a lot of things on my mind every day!  I need to making sure everyone is cared for and has everything they need.  I don’t know how many waking hours I spend every day pouring cups of juice and getting snacks or food for meals.  Then, of course, there’s making sure our house stays in a clean enough condition to be considered livable (I’m setting the bar high, aren’t I?).  As a homeschooling mother, I also have to make sure that the kids’ educational needs are being met.  Let’s not forget nursing a baby.  I can’t get much else done while I’m nursing the baby…though I must admit to a certain amount of screen time while I’m doing that!

There just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to get everything done that needs to be done, much less the things I want to get done…things like playing a board game with the kids, or curling up on the couch to read a stack of books to them, or heading out for a bike ride.  But these things are just as important to the emotional well-being of my children as are their physical needs.  Plus, sometimes I just want to relax without worrying about the things I’m not getting done!

The only way to accomplish all I need to do and all I want to do is to have everybody, from my 8 year old clear down to the 2 year old, pitch in as their able.  All the kids really actually enjoy helping out, most of the time.  But sometimes they get frustrated because I don’t give them enough guidance.  I say, “Clean up the living room.”  But, they don’t know where to start.  A task that seems straightforward to me can be daunting to a six year old.  

We’ve tried all kinds of chore systems, but until recently have met with little success.

The Tools

Enter Zone Cleaning for Kids.  This system is fantastic!  It gives kids, even young kids, the tools they need to really help out.  It walks them through all the steps to get the clutter monster under control day in and day out.

The Zone Cleaning for Kids system contains everything you need to help teach your kids the right way to help you keep your house clean.  When you order, you receive the Clean ‘n’ Flip chore chart, an instructional DVD, basket labels, and even a dry erase marker.  You also receive an e-book containing instructions to make some kid-friendly cleaning solutions.  These are non-toxic and can even save you some money!  Who doesn’t like saving money?

When we received the system, I sat all the kids down around my computer, and we watched the video together that explains how to use Zone Cleaning.  It’s amazing how excited my kids get over watching a simple video.  After it was over, they were excited and ready to get started.  That’s right, I said they were excited…about cleaning!  I’ll take it when I can get it!  Then, we went through the Clean ‘n’ Flip chart.  Bear, my oldest was really excited about being able to check off the steps as she went.  

You can find some sample pages on the Zone Cleaning website

 

How We Use Zone Cleaning for Kids

There are 4 Zones: Living Room, Kitchen, Bathrooms, and Bedrooms.  There is a space on the chart to fill in the child’s name or names to be responsible for that zone for the day.  I have our kids work in teams of two on each zone.  One of the girls always works with one of the boys.  The girls help keep the boys on task…since the boys are younger, they do tend to get distracted more easily.  I try to switch up who works with who on a daily basis.  I float between the zones to help out and make sure things are getting done properly.  

There is also a space on the chart to fill in the times of day each zone needs to be completed.  I’m not super-specific on the times.  I usually just fill in “morning”, “afternoon”, or “lunch time”…you get the picture.  Sometimes each zone needs to be done more than once a day.  Each zone has 3 time slots you can fill in.

The core of the system is the check-off pages that use pictures to detail how to complete each section.  Even young children can use it, because the pictures show them what to do.  It’s also written with complete instructions for those who can already read.  In each zone, these pages detail step by step how to complete each task.  If your kids need additional help, you can watch the DVD for additional instructions.

There is also a page to fill in extra daily chores for each zone.  This is the page where you can really customize this system to work in your home, with your kids’ ages and abilities.  My kids are still pretty young, so I don’t really use this page much yet.  The core of the system is enough for right now.  But, as they get older, this system can grow with them as I can add to it.  Even with the kids doing just the basics, it takes some of the strain off of me, so that I can tend to other tasks that need to be done as well.

Zone Cleaning
Bear thinks I’m crazy for taking pictures at chore time!


I like the Zone Cleaning for Kids system because I can customize it just for our family…for our kids’ ages and abilities.  As they grow and show new capabilities and talents, I can continue to tweak the system to fit our needs.  Best of all, this system actually teaches skills my kids will need for their entire lives.  As homeschoolers, teaching life skills can often fall by the wayside, but with Zone Cleaning, I have something tangible I can use to help them learn.

If you’d like to try Zone Cleaning for Kids, right now, there is currently a 20% discount for anything offered by Trigger Memory.  This includes Zone Cleaning as well as their fantastic Times Tales program. 

Use Coupon Code PARTNER20 for 20% OFF Times Tales Products Including Zone Cleaning for Kids

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Socks

Where do they come from?

Socks.  I despise socks!  Socks comprise a major part of the laundry around here, and I can’t really figure out why.  They’re relatively small, and my husband is really the only one who wears them regularly.  You can usually find me wearing a pair of flip flops…rain or shine, hot or cold, it doesn’t really matter to me.  Our children don’t like socks.  The oldest decided several years ago that they made her feet sweat, and said so within earshot of her younger siblings, who, in their quest to be like their big sister, have followed in her bare (but not sweaty!) footsteps.  If you find any of my children walking around with socks inside their shoes, rest assured, there has recently been a knock-down, drag-out fight over the occasion.  I’ve found, in motherhood, that it’s important to pick your battles.  There are circumstances that I will force the children to wear socks…but most of the time it just isn’t worth it.

So, how is it, then, that socks have come to represent such a large portion of the laundry?  Honestly, I have no idea where they all come from.  If you know, please tell me the secret!  Really…it’s driving me crazy (yes, dear husband, I know…it’s too short a trip to waste the gas).

Continue reading “Socks”


I am a wife and the mother of five children.  I love my family.  We live on a farm…no pavement in sight.  You know what that means, right?  Dirt.  Dirt, dirt, and more dirt.  Then it rains.  Then comes the LAUNDRY!  Loads and loads and loads of it.  But, that’s just the tip of the iceburg.  

Let’s not forget the dishes.  My youngest doesn’t eat solid food yet, and is exclusively breastfed.  She doesn’t contribute to Dish Mountain.  So, that makes six plates, six cups, six forks, six spoons, six knives…plus all the pots and pans to cook in…for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Doesn’t my life sound glamorous?

Housekeeping is NOT one of my gifts.  Yes, I said it.  I don’t enjoy housework…I’m really not very good at it.  I don’t see all those little tasks that need to be done to keep a house truly clean and comfortable.  I’m generally happy if I manage to keep the dishes clean and enough clean clothes in my kids’ drawers.  I’m very lucky that my husband is an enormous help in this department, too!  He can often be found washing dishes with the kids (like, every night after dinner while I’m putting the baby to bed), folding laundry, or sweeping and mopping the floors.  But, there are always so many more things to be done…and with a two month old infant, even the basics often seem to slip.  Alas, I fall further and further behind.  There’s not enough time or energy to tackle that growing pile of clothes waiting to be folded…much less that big project that needs to be done!

But, I knew what I was signing up for eight years ago when I quit my job to stay home with my oldest…I thought.  Of course, the load has gotten a little heavier with each addition to the family, but that’s to be expected.  My biggest problem is that I tend to look at the housework all wrong.

I’ve always measured myself, and my personal success, on what I can complete.  What I can finish.  What I can check off that good ole’ to-do list.  With my housework, I always felt like such a failure.

“I found the bottom of the dirty clothes hamper!  Yay me!  I did such a great job today!”

Ten minutes later, I visit the bathroom and the hamper (OK, I’ll be honest, it’s usually the floor in front of the hamper) is already full again!  “All that time spent, and nothing to show for it.”  Sigh.

“Yay!  The dishes are done and put away.  The counters are clean and disinfected.  My husband’s coffeepot is sparkling!”

But then, “Mom!  Can I have a snack?”  And of course, if one person is hungry, everyone else realizes they’re famished too.  They find and finish their snacks, leaving dish carnage in their wake.  It’s not enough to justify a whole new sink full of dish water (No, we don’t have a dishwasher), but if I don’t do it now, after dinner it will look like a dish sculpture of Mount Everest.

I looked at the housework as something to be accomplished.  Completed.  Defeated!  But I got so discouraged because it just simply cannot happen.  It isn’t possible.  Even if I were to get every single article of clothing in the house clean, folded, and put away, we’re still wearing something while it’s getting done.  So it isn’t done.

If I can help my kids learn the right attitude about it all, they’ll be so far ahead of me.  My way isn’t the right way to think about all the housework.  Now that I have daughters who are getting old enough to actually help, I have to do my best to make sure they don’t get this attitude about work, and about life in general.  Because honestly, that’s what housework really is…LIFE!  If I can help my kids learn the right attitude about it all, they’ll be so far ahead of me.  

So, now, for that all important question.  How should I try to teach myself to think about housework?  How should I teach my kids?  I already know how NOT to do it.  But how SHOULD I do it?  Well, I’ve got to look at it as an on-going process, not something to be completed.  We can’t stop living because I just swept and mopped the floors.  I have to learn to accept that life happens.  There’s going to be a dog (or 3) who just took a nice swim in the pond trailing my husband who’s carrying a big pile of still mud-caked turnips inside from the garden the day after a good rain.  That’s ok.  So what?  I’ll try again tomorrow (and make my husband sweep again after he’s done washing the turnips!).

I also have to learn (and teach!) that if I’m doing my job right (which I rarely am), no one is going to notice.  But, that shouldn’t be why I do it anyway.  Housework is my act of service to care for my family, to make my guests feel welcome and comfortable…whether they called first or not!  This is one (of many) ways I should be showing love for others.  I should expect nothing in return…not even praise for a job well-done.

If I can impart this hard life-lesson early on in my daughters’ lives (and my sons’ too), that’s just another way to help them live happier, healthier, more satisfying lives than have I.  One way I’ve started is by making sure we do ourZone Cleaning  twice a day, every day!  This program really helps them break down each cleaning task into manageable chunks.  It also helps us all remember that keeping our home neat and clean is an ongoing process…not something to do that stays done forever.  We have to come back to it many times every day!

It’s a work in progress, but someday, maybe I’ll figure it all out!

 

 

I linked up this week with:

 

Blended Life Happy Wife

 

Coffee and Conversation button

 

Awesome Life Friday

 

 

Inspire Me Monday

 

 


A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that she had lost her phone.  She has been looking for it for a couple days.  Hopefully, by the time I finish writing this post and get up, she will have found it! 

It can really be frustrating when things get lost.  It’s even more frustrating when you look everywhere you can think, and you still can’t find it.  If you have small children who share your home, you must learn to think like a toddler if you want to find your missing item.  Maybe it’s your phone, maybe your car keys or wallet.  Maybe it’s the keys to the tractor.  So, for those of you who are lucky enough to have a toddler or preschooler living in your home, I’ve put together a list of the strangest places I’ve ever found my missing items…maybe it will help you locate that long-lost set of house keys!

1. The dishwasher

Thoroughly inspect every crevice of your dishwasher.  Look on the inside, look on the outside.  Check inside that little hollow area right under the door handle.  Bear hid my phone in that little hollow once.  I searched and searched for my phone.  It disappeared on a Friday afternoon.  We looked all weekend, but we couldn’t find it.  I was pregnant with Monkey at the time, and we decided it would probably be a bad idea for me to be alone at the house without a phone.  So, Monday morning, I loaded the girls into the car, and went to purchase a new phone.  All was once again right, and I had learned that I should keep my phone up in a higher location!  A few months later, we were giving the dishwasher a thorough cleaning.  I saw something weird in the gap underneath the handle.  I got a pair of kitchen tongs and managed to pull it out.  There it was…my long lost phone…found months too late.  It even still worked!  It became a decoy phone for the kids to play with.  It’s still wandering around the toy boxes to this very day.

2.  A child’s play purse…

…that is inside a stuffed animal backpack all crammed down together in the bottom of a dress-up box.  I can’t make this stuff up!  One of our dear children once absconded with the tractor keys.  For a week, my husband had to hotwire the tractor if he needed it (it just happened to be that time of the year when it was needed…often).  Daddy was mad!  We looked all around the tractor for the lost keys.  We knew one of the kids was responsible for the disappearance, but we weren’t sure which one…though we had our suspicions that it was Lizard.  We really thought they had been dropped outside somewhere, so we searched the entire yard.  I had the kids out searching every day.  One day, I had the girls inside cleaning their room, which looked like a scene from some sort of natural disaster stricken area.  Bear pulled out the backpack.  She looked inside, and pulled out the purse.  Lizard looked up and said, “Oh!  I wondered where this was!”  Then Lizard grabbed the purse and looked inside, wondering what sort of long-forgotten treasure she would find there.  Her face was priceless.  She looked up at me, and back down into the purse and sheepishly pulled out the tractor keys.  “I forgot!”  was all she said.  Then, she started laughing hysterically.  We showed Daddy, who was still a bit irritated, but glad to have the keys back.

3.  A bag of flour

This is one of Rhino’s favorite places to hide things.  Of course, being a family of seven, we don’t ever get the small bag.  Oh no…we buy the 25 pound bag.  I’ve pulled phones, keys, and toys out of the bag of flour.  It’s at that perfect height that just invites little hands to investigate!  Plus, it’s in a bag that’s in a box under the cabinet.  The multiple containers make it extra fun!

4.  Inside a table

This is Rhino’s other favorite place to hide things.  But, inside a table?  How does a small child put things inside a table?  Well, we have two tables that have an inside.  One is the coffee table.  It’s on wheels, so he can push it around the living room.  The top opens so that ideally, you can store blankets or magazines or books…whatever you need accessible but out of site.  It also has doors on the sides so you can access the inside that way.  Rhino likes to put things in the top, then locate them in the blanket stack from the side.  It’s a fun game…until something gets lost in the folds of a blanket.  Then, the mystery can quickly become a tragedy…especially if no one saw him put the item inside the table.  We looked for his “nice” for days once.  His nice is a little blanket that he always sleeps with.  We finally found it inside the coffee table, wrapped up in another, much larger blanket.

We have another table that folds up and stands against the wall most of the time.  It only comes out when we have company and need extra seating at meal time.  The chairs for the table fold and are stored inside the table.  There’s a little door on each side that opens so that the chairs can be removed.  It’s a neat little table that has been with me since my college apartment-dwelling days.  Since the children came along, though, many a small item has turned up inside that little table, sometimes fallen between the cracks in the folded chairs.  

 5.  In the tupperware drawer 

We were visiting my parents a year or so ago.  Rhino was toddling about with his sippy cup most of the afternoon.  When dinner time came, he was very thirsty, and really wanted some juice.  But, no one could find his cup.  We looked everywhere!  Still, no cup.  We finally caved and got out a fresh cup for dinner, but we still needed to find it before we left.  We didn’t want to forget the cup (we only keep a couple at home), and I’m sure my mom didn’t want to find the cup months later…no one enjoys that kind of surprise!

The next day, I happened to open the tupperware drawer (looking for something else, but still unfamiliar with they lay-out of my parents’ new kitchen), which was one of the lowest drawers in the kitchen.  Again, it was the perfect height for little hands to explore!  Low and behold, there was something bright orange showing from an upside-down stack of Ziploc containers (or possibly Gladware…who can tell!).  The color caught my eye, since everything else was clear plastic.  It was also odd for the stack to be in the drawer upside down.  So, I lifted the overturned stack, and there it was…the missing sippy cup!  Found at last.  We were all relieved.  


So, if you ever find yourself missing an item and you have little ones in the house, think like a toddler.  Look inside of stuff that’s inside of something else!  Your mom may have told you to look where you left it, or maybe to retrace your steps.  “It didn’t grow legs and walk off!”  Well, the moral of the story here is…maybe it did!  It just have grown some pint-sized legs and walked somewhere strange…somewhere strange and exciting-to a toddler anyway! 

 

Think Tank Thursday  

 

 

 

Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Awesome Life Friday

 

 

 

Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth

 

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for http://www.godsgrowinggarden.com/ photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsncuylahd.jpg

Darling Downs Diaries

 

Amaze Me Monday

Blended Life Happy Wife

 

Coffee and Conversation button

 

Awesome Life Friday - I Was Featured!

 

The Blogger's Pit Stop


The impending birth of our fifth child has my mind racing about all things “new baby”.  One thing a lot of new moms have trouble with is breastfeeding.  I’ll save the bottle or breast debate for another time and place.  I’ll assume that if you’ve taken the time to read this post, you’ve already made your decision for once your baby gets here…or maybe you’re already breastfeeding.  You’re tired (there’s the understatement of the century!), and maybe a little discouraged because things aren’t going quite as well as you had hoped they would.

I am by no means a professional expert.  You can take my advice, or you can leave it.  It’s up to you.  One thing I can tell you, however, is that I’ve successfully breastfed four infants for longer than a year each.  So, without further ado, here are my breastfeeding tips for beginners.

Take advantage of help while you are still in the hospital.

The nurses you will meet during your stay usually have years of experience helping new moms learn all the ins and outs of breastfeeding.  You’d be surprised how much they can help.  Most hospitals also have lactation consultants on staff.  If one doesn’t happen to wander into your room soon after your baby is born, request a visit!  They are paid to be there to help you.  Many pediatricians’ practices also keep lactation consultants on staff.  If your hospital doesn’t have one (or if you don’t use a hospital), contact your pediatrician’s office for assistance.  The sooner you take advantage of help, the better.  Be an expert before you head home!

Educate yourself!

Hopefully, you’ve already started your research…before your baby gets here.  But if you didn’t, better late than never!  There are a couple of points to keep in mind.  The sooner you try breastfeeding your baby after birth, the better.  Give it a try as soon as they hand your baby to you.  Trust me, it’s a truly amazing moment!

There are a lot of common problems, many with fairly easy solutions.  Things like improper latch or positioning, lip and tongue ties, low supply, over-supply, thrush can all make breastfeeding challenging…but not impossible!  There are things you can do to correct these problems…some are easier than others.  Learn all you can about common problems so that you can recognize the signs and get the help you need!

Nearly all breastfed babies lose some weight during the first few days following birth.

This was a shocker to me the first time around.  I’m so glad that someone had the foresight to mention it to me before my daughter was born.  My oldest was fairly small to start with…she was born at 5 pounds, 15 ounces.  I had pre-eclampsia, and had to deliver a tad early.  We were both healthy after birth, but if I hadn’t known to expect a little weight loss, I would have been really scared since she was already so small.  I might have been talked into supplementing by some well-meaning, yet overly nosy people in my life.  So give breastfeeding a fair try.  Make sure you give it longer than a week!

Position is everything.  Make sure you are comfortable!

Find your favorite spot…couch, bed, wherever.  Get enough pillows to support your back.  Make sure you have something to drink nearby.  You’ll be thirsty, I promise.  Find a nursing pillow that makes both you and baby comfortable.  Personally, I like the Boppy, but a lot of people like other brands.  I even know a couple who made their own!  Find whatever pillow best fits your body best.  If the pillow you got at your baby shower isn’t working, don’t be afraid to try something different!

Make sure to get a well-fitting bra (or 6)!

This is something that will be difficult, even impossible, to do before your milk comes in.  There will be no doubt in your mind when that happens!  Your size will change dramatically on that magical day.  You will need a nursing bra before then, obviously, but it’s a good idea to wait to invest heavily in these garments until you know what size you will need for the long run.  Have an expert determine the size you need.  Try on several different styles if you can.  Sometimes, you’ll have to order your size.  There isn’t a store in town that carries my size (I’m kind of a big girl).  So, I have to order mine.  

Try out La Leche League for some great fitting and affordable bras.  It’s always a good idea to have several, because, well, leaks happen.  I also have different styles depending on what I’m going to do.  I have some that I can sleep in, others that I live in during the day, and a couple that work well under clothes I wear to church.  You just have to find out what fits your habits.

Get a good pump.

This is especially important if you plan to go back to work.  Make sure you have parts that fit you…yes, they come in different sizes.  You are going to be miserable if you’re working with a pump that is uncomfortable, and you might be tempted to give up breastfeeding.  Even if you are planning on staying home with your baby, a pump is still a good idea.  I always try to pump a little so that I can have a small stock of milk in the refrigerator…just in case I have to go out unexpectedly.  

Many insurance companies will pay for pumps these days.  It’s a good idea to call ahead of time to find out the procedure for getting one through your insurance.  Sometimes, your doctor has to write a prescription, and sometimes, you only have a certain window of time to get one.  It will be well worth your time to find out!

Every baby nurses differently.

Try not to compare your nursing experience with your best friend’s.  Don’t even compare your older child’s former nursing habits with this younger child’s habits.  Every baby is different.  My oldest took forever to finish each feeding.  I had to plan on at least 45 minutes for her to eat.  She was just a slow eater (and still is!).  My second was a speedster, but she liked to eat a lot more often than my first.  Number three had to play around a lot before he finally got down to business.  My fourth was another speedster.  Who knows what number 5 will do!

Trust your instincts.

If you think something isn’t right, get help.  Don’t wait.  The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get the breastfeeding relationship reestablished.  On the other hand, don’t let well-meaning friends and relatives (and even sometimes medical professionals) convince you that something is wrong when you know everything is going quite well.  Trust yourself.  You’re the momma.  You know you, and you know your baby!

When Rhino was about 9 months old, we got thrush.  I knew there was something wrong, but my doctor couldn’t “see” any problems.  This is quite common with thrush.  Sometimes there are obvious white patches in the baby’s mouth.  Sometimes, a mother’s pain is the only symptom.  I had to find a doctor who would believe me in order to get the problem solved.  Again: trust yourself!  Stand up for yourself and your baby.  Don’t let anyone else tell you that it’s time to wean just because you run into a little problem.  That decision is up to the two of you.

Don’t give up!!!

Breastfeeding can be hard.  There’s no doubt about it…it’s exhausting.  Being a mother is hard!  You’ve made a great decision for your child’s nutrition.  Don’t let anyone talk you out of it.  Don’t give up!  Get help when you need it.  Take care of yourself.  Trust yourself.  I wish  you the best of luck on this new adventure!