Saturday, October 2, 2010

Good Stuff, Part I

A while ago, I posted that I was going to make a concerted effort to purposely neglect my hobbies (especially birth-related lore) and to focus on my spiritual life and my family.

It has had great effect! Let me share some of the great things that have happened.

(1) I discovered that there are great resources to be found in Christian mommy/homemaker blogs! I got a recommendation from a friend for one or two, then went off of "blog roll" lists to get more, and am now reading a considerable number of them. I wouldn't have believed it, but they have been SO incredibly helpful! They have encouragement, reminders, gentle correction and admonishment, practical ideas for child-rearing, discipline, family time and a host of other topics, recipes, and other great stuff. So helpful! Here's a partial list - I don't have time to do the links, but if you google them and add "blog" to the end, they'll come up:

A Wise Woman Builds Her Home
Angel Wings and Apron Strings
girltalk - Conversations on biblical womanhood
Like a Warm Cup of Coffee
Women Living Well
Passionate Homemaking
Raising Homemakers
Raising Olives
Working on a Full House

Good, good stuff. Let me know if you have any others to recommend!

Extra Note: Today I achieved recipe nirvana with a recipe found on one of these blogs: Pumpkin Waffles with Spiced Whipped Cream from Women Living Well. So incredibly good. Try it - and don't forget the whipped cream. Yum yum yum. 

(2) Whenever I get inspired, I start making organizational notebooks. About a month ago, the papers flew as I went into a notebook frenzy! It was just great. I started out by making a notebook with a tab, paper, and page holder for each major holiday. Then, whenever I see an idea or a tradition that I want to add, I can slip the article into the page protector or note down the idea.

This is really helpful for me, because I am clueless when it comes to decorating, traditions, etc. They just don't happen spontaneously for me. So planning is in order! I'm excited to see where they take us as this year's holidays start off.

After that, I made further notebooks:
- A travel notebook - with tabs for ideas, planning, locations, car games, yearly vacations, camping trips, etc.
- A marriage/womanhood notebook - tabs for marriage, personal development, goals, etc.
- A parenting notebook - tons and tons of tabs for parenting advice, school info, snack ideas, etc.

And I'm getting tons of articles from the blogs I'm reading that I copy and print off for my notebooks!

(3) I'm getting serious about planning trips for our family. We've never been into traveling - no money and little motivation. But our trip to Dallas-turned-Tucson this summer made me realize how fun family vacations can be, so I'm now saving and planning for one short family vacation a year plus two overnight camping trips (spring/fall), plus our usual trips to see family.

(4) I've really gotten into using the library. I'm using several anthologies of children's books - "The Read-Aloud Handbook," my favorite, plus "Honey for a Child's Heart" and "Books Children Love" - I order the books every week and pick them up. It has been great! I'm really enjoying getting into children's books, especially now that our son is old enough to enjoy beginning chapter books.

I used to think that writing children's books was rather silly - as in "I could do that while I brush my teeth" - but now, upon reading more, I realize what an art and a craft there is to it. Love it!

(5) I am doing my best to spend time with my family and not obsess over the house. Sort of. I'm an obsessor (sp???) by nature, but I do my best. I am also learning speed cleaning!! I read "Speed Cleaning" by Jeff Dial and the Clean Team, and though I didn't get to finish it before I had to return it, it was excellent and I highly recommend it.

One of the main points of the book was that a majority of "cleaning time" is not spent actually cleaning, but running back and forth getting materials to clean with. This is certainly true for me! Time running back and forth to get the vinegar, the windex, the paper towels, the scratchy pad, etc. etc. The answer, according to the book, is to carry most things on one's person, and other things in a carry-all that goes to each room. That way, one can move around a room only once to clean it, plus another time to vacuum, and then one is done.

So, in my apron (and with me) I now carry a toothbrush, a bottle of windex, a bottle of 409, a moist cleaning towel, a duster, and a whisk brush. In my carry-all I have bathroom cleaner, Barkeeper's Friend, more cleaning cloths, a scratchy pad, and a couple other things I can't remember. I need to get a proper cleaner's apron rather than the flimsy one I have now, but it still works.

And it works! I can now clean my house (sans vacuuming) in 30-40 minutes. So I do that during one of our son's preschool times, and the vacuuming/mopping during the other. It doesn't include deep cleaning, but hey - I wasn't getting to deep cleaning anyway! It's been a big improvement for us.

(6) I resuscitated my prayer life with the uber-new-and-sophisticated Ritz Cracker Box Method, and it's been a big success. Most prayer methods drive me to distraction because of their eternal sameness, but having the variety of this method has been a big improvement. Similarly, my Bible reading time has also been improved simply by borrowing my husband's ESV (rather than my NLT) - I love having a new version (my favorite so far!) and new study notes to read.

(7) I have been purposely studying parenting - reading good books (like "Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Children" - great book!) and praying daily (and fervently!!!) for wisdom, grace, and the character needed for being a good parent. It has really had great effect.

Parenting is hard. It is the hardest spiritual/emotional thing I've ever done in my life (the hardest physical things are reserved for HG and childbirth). It has tested me beyond anything I could ever imagine - and I'm only 20% done with the first child! (And 5% done with the second!) Some days I have literally ended my day in tears - and I'm not the crying type. I have realized how much I need God's strength, wisdom, spiritual filling, and grace. Focusing on learning about parenting and on praying for wisdom has had great positive impact.


I think there's more, but I need to get to bed! More later (if I remember anything), and have a wonderful Sunday, everyone!!!

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