Friday, October 24, 2014

A Cottage Week

My brother works for a wonderful couple who own cottages up in northern Ontario. He was able to rent three for our families during the second last week of August. It was nothing short of wonderful! What a beautiful spot! Our cottages were clean and cozy. There was water everywhere and still plenty to drink too. ;o) (It was purified.)

Our cottage was AMAZING in the morning! Two big windows on the east side allowed the sunlight to stream in! I couldn't resist getting up early most days and sitting on the dock with a book and a cup of coffee. I would often just gaze across the water and watch the mist lift.

The kids spent the brunt of the week boating and swimming or playing in the sand (the two youngest) along the man made beach. We all did some bridge jumping -- even Grampa! We ate when we were hungry, napped when we were tired. One day we hiked into town and bought fresh fruit at the farmer's market. Another day, we went geocaching. On the last day, we stopped at the bakery on our way out to buy some breakfast. Good thing we didn't know how good the stuff is at that bakery, or we would have lived on baked goods alone the entire week. Diviiiine!!

It was a wonderful week of relaxation!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Disappearing Act

I know, I know. I went and disappeared again. What is it about the fall that I always find it so overwhelming? I had coffee with a friend last week, and I think she finally helped me hit the nail on the head. It's something my mom and I have been saying for years, but now I'm beginning to think it's perfectly legitimate. It's not only that everything extra-curricular starts up again in September, or that there is still all the outdoor work to do -- never mind the disaster created by having the children home every day for ten weeks, and added in to that harvesting the garden before the first killer frost, it's that the season is changing. The days are already shorter. Despite all the work that needs to be done outside, less time is spent outside and more time inside because of autumn-y type things that need to be done. It's a type of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Let me clarify. I don't have SAD, I just do strongly feel the change of season from summer into fall for the multitude of reasons I listed above.

The Engineer and/or I are out six evenings a week with kids for kid things. Too much? Maybe, but there are still six children at home (so one night per kid ;oP), and we/they are involved in not only church things, but community things. I'm back at coaching volleyball at the younger girls' school, which I love, but to my great relief, another mom has stepped up to coach one of the teams while I coach the other. So now I am not running to the school at noon every. single. day. (Have I ever mentioned that the school is barely a five minute drive from home? Very thankful for that!)

Somewhere in there homework is completed, reviewed (sometimes), children are helped with homework, and instruments are practised.

During the day, I seem to get nothing done. It only seems like that because my house is a disaster. No really. It's a dirty mess! The continual running of so many of us creates constant messes as things are dropped where they are to move on to the next thing. I try every morning to do a run through and get things picked up, but I don't seem to accomplish ever getting the house clean. I am also really beginning to dislike having two dogs in the house. Although we love them both, they are a pain in the butt! The number of times I get interrupted in a day to have to let them in or out is in itself enough to put me over the edge sometimes. To top it off, Maverick is bad! He's healthy again, but he is a food thief. His whole doggy world revolves around finding and eating food be it surfed for on the counters,  ripped apart as in the garbage, and yes, *gasp!!* even eating his own or his fur brother's latest "log" in the backyard.

Then there is the vegetable garden. Although it didn't do as well as I hoped, partly due to weather, partly to its new location, and partly because some big black animal and his little fur buddy keep helping themselves to the beans and tomatoes, I still had lots to put up for the winter months, but only because I took advantage of roadside stands and great sales this summer/fall at the grocery stores. Although sorely lacking fruit of any kind, we're pretty much set for vegetables. I still have some squashes and pumpkins to freeze, as well as celery that is in the garden, but I think the end just might be in sight for the vegetable season. We just won't talk about the flower beds though. Every time I think I'm going to get at them, time is so short I only get a few perennials cut back, or it starts to rain. The forecast looks great for the next few days though, so hopefully I will find some time to get in them uninterrupted for a few hours.

Those shorter days are what's getting me! I'm pretty sure that when autumn hits, the days no longer have 24 hours in them. Okay, maybe it's because it's now still  dark at 7 am and I have a very hard time getting up in the dark. By 8:00 pm it's dark again and with the disappearance of the light, there goes all my energy.

The Engineer was out and about in the United States this past week, which also meant I was single momming it again. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but I have a bad habit of going to bed way too late when he travels because I enjoy the peacefulness that occurs when everyone else is in bed. It's marvellous! I tend to work on projects more when he is gone. So last week, I got caught up on all the sessions for our clients. Now I just need to finish some of our own stuff. I did also finally get one room nice and clean and (re)decorated. It feels so good to have one room that you know is clean!

Photo taken on the way to string lessons one afternoon.

So yes, we are all well here. I'm just enjoying autumn as much as I can, and ever so slowly working on things on my mental list of things to do. Oh and I've been knitting. I knit when I have to sit and wait for children.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Morning (and Evening) Clean Sweep Help

In my constant quest to at least keep our home somewhat tidy, here's the latest project trial. So far it works well. It works better for some children than others.

Baskets (ahem, garbage cans) dollar store. Name tags so everyone knows whose basket is whose and there is no argument as to who it putting what away -- unless of course Mom puts the someone's stuff in the wrong child's basket. Best part? Unlike buying six fancy and pretty wicker baskets that I can't afford for an experiment, these babies stack for quick and easy stair cleaning -- not that there's been any of that going on these days, but I know nice little square wicker baskets don't stack, they pile -- and topple.

Oh, I nearly forgot the other great part! These suckers are quite a bit bigger than a fancy and pretty little wicker basket. I've been know to pop clothing, sneakers, AND combat boots (upside down) into them.

For now this experiment gets a two thumbs up from me!


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Seven Days of Yellow

Beans's favourite colour is yellow, and somehow her wardrobe is beginning to reflect that more and more, so she decided that she would wear some item of yellow for an entire week during the summer holidays.

 Sunday -- and yes, she wore the cowboy boots to church. :o) Dress is from Goodwill. (Bad photo, I know.)

 Monday. Darling little blouse -- Goodwill.

T-shirt. Formerly mine, but I outgrew it. :oP From Sears.

Circle skirt. Made by me from fabric bought at a thrift store.

Tank top from Sears. Originally worn for our Philippines Independence Day Party last year.

Different yellow tank top with floral shirt that has yellow flowers in it of course! :o)

She did wear this shirt in her week of  yellow, but I forgot to take a photo. This is for a Fifa party during her last week of school. Notice the yellow socks too!

Well, there you have it. She does own enough for a week of yellow -- and then some. :o)


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My (Not So Basic) Wardrobe

After posting about minimalizing the children down to a basic wardrobe, a friend of mine challenged me on my wardrobe -- and The Engineer's too, but he's responsible for weeding out his own stuff, and well, that hasn't happened yet.

Truth be told, I go through my wardrobe every season and get rid of stuff. I hadn't done it yet this fall, so Maria's challenge prompted me into action, and once again I managed to get rid of two large shopping bags full of cast offs. A little more stuff than usual, as I have shrunk this year instead of continued to expand as I have the past four or five years. Yay me!

Below is what my side of the closet looks like. Yes, we are blessed (and thrilled) to have a walk in closet. What you see here is the entirety of my wardrobe. We don't have dressers or cabinets for additional clothing in our bedroom. So yes, both summer and winter stuff is shown in the photos. The only thing you may not be able to see is my love of boots as they are mostly hidden under the dresses. I have four pairs. A little ridiculous maybe, but maybe not.

Yes, you see sheers to a window because yes, we have a window in our closet. Far left are tote bags, some formal dresses, summer dresses, skirts, and a favourite sweater that is old and ugly, but I still wear. To the right of them, lower down, my meagre winter wardrobe. (I hate winter clothes. I always feel like a sack of potatoes in winter clothes.) The baskets hold socks, slips, etc. as well as p.j.'s and athletic wear. On the bottom shelf are my tank tops that I wear under other tops year round, and beside them are my t-shirts. The shelf above holds one really cosy hoodie, my one pair of I'll wear-them-in-public jeans, a pair of jeans for the garden, a couple of pairs of shorts, and a pair of capris that I'm dreaming of fitting into again one day.

The top shelf holds my shoes. They are all my dressier shoes. My running shoes are mostly on the floor under my rainbow of zip hoodies. I have a weird obsession for hoodies -- and yes I do wear them all. To the right of all the zip hoodies are the rest of my dressy clothes -- a couple cardigans, and various tops. Finally, my three pairs of pants. One dress pants, one pair of black khakis, and an army green pair of summer weight athletic type fabric pants that are probably over fourteen years old. I don't like to mess with a good thing. ;o)

The Engineer's ties and my scarves. I can still never figure out a good way to wear my scarves, but I do wear scarves quite often. Finally my two (I just recently acquired the second one from Goodwill, and you do NOT want to know how old the pink one is), and my ball cap that I wear in the gardens or when I have to run an errand and haven't showered yet. :o/ Not as minimal as our kids wardrobes that's for sure!

Some day maybe I'll show you The Engineer's side.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Basic Wardrobe for My Girls

Decluttering is really an arduous task, but somehow when I see bag after bag of stuff going to our local Goodwill, to the landfill, or other various appropriate places, I get downright giddy with glee. I really do. With seven (well mostly six now) children and two dogs that insist they must live inside with their hoomans, along with the busy comings and goings of normal family life, I have a real problem keeping our house tidy, let alone CLEAN.

Generally you would never know it, but I really do LOVE a clean house. I just don't even come close these days. Between filling the freezer and cold storage for winter, taxiing children to their extra curricular activities, Bible study, volunteer positions, watching over homework, and keeping us clothed and fed, who has time to clean?!? Not me! So far the cleaning fairies haven't made an appearance either.

However, I firmly believe that the less stuff we have, the less there is to clean. Not to say that I'm going to sell off the brunt of our furniture or anything, but I feel that there can and should be a good limit on what the children have for clothing and footwear -- until they're old enough to properly look after it themselves.

Clothes with the three youngest has been a HUGE battle. The two youngest especially have no concept of appropriate clothing. Red and blue plaid shorts with a pink and yellow polkadot T-shirt and it's 12 degrees Celsius out? Sure! After all it's sunny! Let me just say, I am totally not one of those Duggar family worshippers who think they're so amazing and wonderful, but they havet one thing correct. I totally love the family closet idea! Unfortunately, we have no appropriate place for such a thing, but if we did, I would have one in a heartbeat!

123lbs (in 8 large bags) of clothes and some other items off to the thrift store! Happy Dance!!

So as summer wanes into autumn, I have been purging clothing like crazy! In fact it started even before Labour Day. The Boy was the first to have his closet and drawers emptied. Anything in good condition went into a nice large bag and was given to friends of ours who have a thirteen year old who is very similar in size and build to Bub. Not that he's at Bub's 6'3" yet, but he's working on it. The rest went to Goodwill or the landfill.

Next was Peach. She does hers completely on her own. Whatever she decides doesn't fit or that she doesn't want immediately goes to Beans because Beans is right behind her in size. Then Beans goes through it and gets rid of what she doesn't want or what doesn't fit. I have to keep a bit of an eye on her though because she is far more sentimental and likes to hang on to things because she LIKES it -- even if it doesn't fit any more.

There is a significant size gap between Beans and Squirt, so if anything is kept or wanted by Squirt, it goes into boxes for a year or two. Squirt and Bella are back to back in sizes too. Then there is a huge gap between Bella and Bright Eyes again, so now only the least worn, non trendy, classic and classy stuff is stored, and even then, it might not be worn by the last two girls. Bright Eyes and Peanut are again back to back in sizes.

Purging the two youngest of excess clothing was easy because they both had waaaaay too much! They are horribly hard on their clothes. So anything that was worn out, torn, faded, stained, misshapen, out of style, or just plain ugly was tossed into the appropriate bag and then tossed in the trunk of the van. Oh I'm sorry girls! You no longer have any clothes left! Well, that's not quite true, but I did make a list. Unfortunately in our part of the country, we have very distinct seasons. That means we have about two and a half wardrobes. The half? Well that's because no one it seems has ever really figured out what to wear in the spring and fall.

So far I have only come up with the winter basics. They are as follows:

3 pairs of jeans
1 pair of black dress pants (needed for various school functions)
1 denim skirt/or jumper
1 black skirt
1 dressy white blouse/shirt
1 pair black leggings
1 pair black tights
1 pair navy leggings/or tights
6 long sleeved shirts
3 sweatshirts -- zip up and/or hoodie style
2 dresses
1 or 2 sweaters

I haven't decided the minimum on footwear. Perhaps because I myself know that I am a bit of a shoe lover. I don't have many, but definitely enough. Some of my girls have far more than others. I have some other ideas on how to make this whole clothing and footwear thing work for the younger girls, but I have to implement it first and see if it works. I'm hoping it's going to save what little sanity I have left. ;o)

If you have any thoughts or suggestions on another way to minimize or simplify the girls' wardrobes, feel free to share it with me because I'm all for simple, and I love to hear what others do to make their lives easier.


Friday, September 12, 2014

And We Have an Eighteen Year Old

I really don't know how it is possible that we have a child that is eighteen years old, but we do. I'm pretty sure the Engineer and I are barely thirty. ;o)

From the day he was born, this boy loved his food and still does. One of the reasons he chose the residence he is in at university it that they have chocolate milk on tap. At last chat however, he has still to have had any because it's so popular that once the allotted gallons are gone for the day, they are gone.

Considering this was Bub's first time away from home for his birthday, it sounds as though he had a good day. I has brought him birthday cupcakes when we were up the Sunday before and he stored them in their little fridge for when he had a few friends back to his room on Friday evening. He said they got two thumbs up from everyone. :o)

It's amazing to think he is off beginning his years of independence now. I posted this on his wall on Facebook the other day. It sums up our feelings about this whole having a university student who is now eighteen.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. We've raised you with a Christian world view. We have not taught you to stick your head in the sand and avoid real world issues. We are proud of you! Go out and enjoy the real world, but be wise. Use that Christian wisdom that God has given you, and when in doubt, seek HIM!"

Then on his birthday, he posts this on his wall.

"I'm an adult now!"

Oh yeah, he's all growed up. We're very thankful for the friends he has and his version of being an adult.


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