The times, they are a changing…and so am I

In this past year, I have changed the way I do, well…pretty much everything.  I have changed the way my family and I eat, I have changed the way I clean, I have changed HOW I shop (I now go with a list-this is huge for me!), I have even changed the way I fertilize the lawn (no more synthetic fertilizers!).  With all these changes, one of my goals is to set up a daily household chore list to break chores up over the course of the week.  The outcome will hopefully be a much cleaner house!  I cleaned out all my vents today (something I am sorry to admit that I have not done since we moved in last year).  WOW.  I will leave it at that.  If this is not something you do on a somewhat-regular basis I recommend you start because the vents are apparently where dust particles go on vacation. The Las Vegas of dust, if you will.  (And just like the casinos, sometimes patrons have to be forcefully removed.)

So where was I?  Oh yes, my list.  I compiled a list, borrowing from a few other sites and adding in additional chores to customize it to my cleaning needs.

WEEKLY CLEANING

There it is, for your viewing pleasure.  I keep feeling like I am forgetting something?  Oh well, I will keep cleaning and the area I have forgotten will make itself known eventually, right?

Also, my other project is to learn how to do hair!  As the mother of two daughters, this is something I should know how to do!  Admittedly, this is not the area of life where I shine.  In fact, I am somewhat horrible at this.  My repertoire includes the ponytail, a sloppily done French braid, pigtails, and inverted ponytails.  That’s pretty much it.  I am hoping to expand this to 1) Have some cute go-to hairstyles when fixing my daughters’ hair, and 2) be able to do some cute things to my hair so it doesn’t just lie there all flat and motionless (I have really thin hair in case you are wondering..it doesn’t do much when left to its own devices).

So I have started 30 days of Hair!  My first post will be tomorrow..using various tutorials found on Facebook and Pinterest, for the next month I will try a different hairstyle on myself and my girls every day.  You will get to see the Pinterest/Facebook version (how the hair is supposed to look), and my version (hopefully they are pretty similar, but we shall see)…

Signing off until tomorrow..

Katie

PS To add on to the Natural Cleaning theme of the previous post, I have found a natural cleaner that I LOVE (so far)!  It’s called Branch Basics, and it’s all natural.  No synthetics, dyes, fragrances, etc.-it’s completely plant based.  I am going to try to do my laundry with it as we speak.  I’ll let you know how that turns out..

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When life hands you lemons…you make natural, non-harsh-chemical cleaners with them… :)

Ok, ok, so I know that it has been awhile…but I have one kinda’-lengthy and super eclectic post (read-I talk about a lot of unrelated topics) to make up for it!  This is what I have been doing for the last two weeks while I have not, ahem, been posting to my blog…

1) I took my son to the emergency room because of respiratory distress, boo!  He was okay, but we are still dealing with issues due to what the doctors now believe is asthma.  My husband had this as a kid, so he was all over the situation (in a good way).  The staff at the hospital were great, too…we were seen right away (which in an Emergency room setting, is saying something).

Four hours later we were discharged.  They sent us home with a cute frog nebulizer, with directions to use as needed.

CREEPY SIDE NOTE: When I left the emergency room at 3:30 am, the car parked beside me had the driver’s door open.  No one was around.  It was super eerie.  I ended up calling it in to security after Mateo and I were safely in the car with the doors locked.  That parking a lot is scary enough to begin with, with no cameras or security.

OK, so back to my son and his nebulizer.  I was grateful that they sent us home with the thing, because this wheeziness and shortness of breath has been an issue with him since birth.  However, I also read how over time albuterol can be harmful, so I began to research alternatives to the nebulizer.  (*Remember, I am a nerd.  I research things.  A. Lot.)  I found some super helpful articles, which suggested keeping a journal to find the triggers, using essential oils, different herbs….and cutting out chemicals as people with asthma are typically more chemically sensitive.  (Which is already important to us, and why we switched over to a no-processed foods diet.)

So after we began to eat healthier, it kinda’ made me want to get healthier in other areas, as well (funny how that works)…and this asthma episode with my son was the final push I needed to get rid of ALL of the harsh chemical cleaners in our house.  I had already gotten rid of most of them, but there were a few that still lingered on..yeah, solved that problem now.

2) I have been researching natural cleaning recipes and getting rid of harsh-chemical cleaners in a half-crazed spring cleaning frenzy.  So far I have found really good recipes for all-purpose cleaner (or use this one, there are a lot of diy all-purpose cleaners out there!), dusting, glass cleaner, floor cleaner and even diy-sanitizing wipes.  Oh, and you have to check out the BEST DIY sanitizer!  (If you want the recipe, just follow the link.  One side note…the hydrogen peroxide and vinegar CANNOT be mixed in the same bottle.  They each must have their own separate bottle.  When they are mixed together in the same bottle they create a toxic gas.  I just put a spray nozzle from a cleaning bottle right on the hydrogen peroxide bottle and it fit perfectly!)  Also, I have been dabbling with cleaning with essential oils, as I have been intrigued by the many great things I have heard about them!

green cleaning

3) I have been researching essential oils and their many uses/benefits.  Right now I am most interested in their cleaning powers and in conjunction with treating my son’s asthma.  (Side note: I am aware that my son still may need nebulizer treatments, I am just trying to do some preventive care so we can lessen the need for the treatments-if not altogether eliminate it.)  When my husband was younger and suffered from asthma attacks, he was given donkey’s milk as a home-remedy.  As I don’t have any of that readily available, I figured essential oils may be the next best thing available. 😛

essential oils

One of my good long-time friends, Danielle, was telling me about all the ways she used essential oils, and it intrigued me to find out more.  She has even ingested them as a DIY allergy shot…I had previously not known you could do that!  She said it worked, but it tasted nasty and only lasted about four hours…

4) I have been transplanting plants.   I ran out of containers and so some of them are in milk cartons, some of them are in plastic cups, some are in planters…one is even in a coconut oil jar.  It’s like they live in their own little hobo-plant-village (pictures to come).  I don’t know if the broccoli are going to make it.  They have grown spindly, and I put waaaay to many seeds in a cell.  I wish I could blame it all on my kids, but that was me trying to go too fast.

5) We celebrated my son’s first birthday!   We had a small family get-together, which was sooooo nice.  I remember when my oldest daughter turned one, we had a huge party and invited everyone we knew.  That doesn’t even sound appealing anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and family.  But there is something to be said for the small, intimate get-together with LIMITED CLEAN UP!  I made him a whole-wheat carrot cake with whipped cream cheese frosting that was a hit (and pretty darn healthy to boot).

swingingTeo

6)  I have been dreaming of outdoor adventures.  Since moving back from Peru, my husband and I’s travels have been limited, much to my chagrin.  Prior to living in Peru, I was based out of Colorado for almost six years where I was a snowboard instructor and outdoor trip leader.  Oh, and I occasionally attended college.  (Hey, I DID finally complete all my coursework to get my degree…in Recreation/Outdoor Leadership. Seriously.)  Suffice it to say I like to get outdoors and I like to travel.

So I have been tentatively researching national and state parks that are relatively close where we could possibly have a camping adventure with the kids…

7) I found an awesome gently used-clothes website where you can get designer labels for super marked down prices!  I stumbled over Schoola, and placed my first order yesterday.  If you want to check it out, just click here.

8) I actually watched the Dr. Oz show for the first time.  I wanted to see him “defend himself against his critics“, in his own words.  Plus, I was stoked to hear he is in favor of GMO-labeling.

These are just SOME of the reasons I have been so lax about my blogging.  Don’t even get me started on that time-black hole Pinterest…

 

Why I initially didn’t like behavior charts…but now maybe I do (the jury is still out)

So I finally, finally got around to finishing up my latest Pinterest project-which I have been working on for an embarrassingly long time.  I had been working on a behavior chart for months.  Yes, months, I kid you not.  It was the laminating that really slowed me down-I mean, who has time to laminate?  Usually, I don’t go to an establishment of business unless I have more than one thing to do there…so I had to wait until I had a certified letter to send in addition to the laminating before I went in to Mailboxes-otherwise it’s just not worth it with all 3 kids in tow.  (At least I think it was Mailboxes, my memory is a scary place these days.)

So where was I?  Oh yes, the Pinterest project.  I finally got the darn thing laminated, and the kids were EXCITED.  They’re kind of little nerds like their momma in that way.  I explained to them how it works, trying to keep it fairly simple, because they are 2 and 4 (the baby had to sit this one out, obviously).

behavior

Let me just tell you, those first couple of days were scary.  T, my oldest, is a little bit of a people pleaser.  That aspect of her personality went into over-drive.  At one point she told me, “Mom, if you need anything done, just tell me, and I will do it.”  And she was serious.  She cleaned the living room, dusted the furniture…I had to restrain myself from asking for a back massage.

That’s all fine and good, but she was beyond distraught if her clothes pin ever moved down.  Oh, she would cry and howl.  (She’s always hated breaking the rules-and time outs nearly destroy her.)  And it bothered me a bit.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like that she likes to follow the rules, and obviously I LOVE my daughter.  But should the approval of others matter SO much to her? I mean, I wanted her to obey, but I DIDN’T want her to turn her into a little people-pleasing robot. (And again, she’s four-so maybe I should just soak this all in before she turns into a teenager and that will most likely change!)

Plus it all seemed a little hollow.  My husband and I try to teach our kids to obey, and to watch out for each other because it’s the right thing to do.  Because people matter.  Because ultimately, when we love and take care of His people, we honor God.  I wanted my kids to listen, and to do the right thing..but I also wanted them to do it for the right reasons-not just to get some reward!  (Whenever they end the night on top of the chart, they get to put a few pom balls in their glasses, and when they are full they get a “date” night of their choosing with mom or dad.)

Then there’s my middle child, V.  Time outs have never fazed that child.  Not much does.  She’s a good kid, don’t get me wrong, but she marches to her own rhythm.  So a clothes pin moving up and down on a laminated piece of paper wasn’t super motivating to her.  Plus, 2 year olds are into the here and now.  A reward that may or may not happen in the future…also not motivating to them.

OK, and another thing…when a kid is having a rough day, do they really need to see it?  When you’re at the bottom of the chart, it’s almost depressing, because you have SO FAR to travel to get to the top, and one mess-up sends you right back down again.  Where’s the grace in that?  We also practice forgiveness in this house, and the behavior chart is just not very forgiving.  It remembers-and that doesn’t line up with what we are teaching them, or what the Bible says, for that matter.  When you are forgiven, it’s like whatever you did was washed away.  It doesn’t mean there’s no consequence-there often is.  It just means it doesn’t keep hanging over your head like something you can’t escape.

In Hebrews 8:12 it says that “For I [God] will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”  That’s pretty clear, and that’s not the only place in the Bible where it says God forgets your sin when you hand it over to Him in true repentance.  Check out Isaiah 43:25, Jeremiah 31:34, Jeremiah 50:20, Micah 7:18…and I could go on. God repeats it over and over again in the Bible, because he wants us to know that it is TRUE.

So after all of this inner-turmoil over the behavior charts, you might think that I would have just thrown it away.  But a part of me wasn’t quite ready to give up, not yet.  So we stuck with it for a few more days…and surprisingly (to me, anyway), it got much better.  My children seemed to begin to like having a physical marker they could refer to and see if their behavior was okay or needing improvement.  They liked having something to work towards.  A goal, if you will.  And bestill my heart, they started to encourage each other.  (Which is something we have been working on a lot, as well.)  Instead of T running to me to tell me that V was misbehaving, again, she encouraged her to act the right way so she could get a pom ball at the end of the night.  And I believe that it was the encouragement of her sister that allowed her to do what no pom ball ever could-she stopped what she was doing, and she changed it so that it was an acceptable behavior.

Moral of the story:  I might not dislike the behavior chart as much as I originally thought.  In fact, it might be kind-of okay.  HOWEVER (and here is my huge disclaimer), it is not a cure-all, and it cannot be used by itself.  I am still a huge fan of TEACHING kids the right way to act and modeling good behaviors at home.  Punishments, like time-outs, have always been secondary to teaching kids the right way to act in our home.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not claiming to be some super-parent.  Please.  Far from it.  I mess up (badly), just like my kids mess up from time to time. There is a lot of grace involved, from all parties living in this house.  I am not afraid to apologize to my children, or to tell them, “You know what, Mommy was wrong, and I’m sorry.  Will you forgive me?”  I don’t want them to think I’m perfect, because they would find out soon enough on their own how untrue that is.

Besides, I want a family that is REAL with one another.  That means there are problems, and we deal with them.  We don’t pretend like those problems don’t exist.  We deal with each other, even when it’s painful.  Because that’s how you grow.

family

 

Matzah, matzah, matzah (Plus a tad overdue garden update)…

It only seemed fitting to order the book about Passover.  I think I get more excited about Scholastic book orders than my kids.  Ever since I was little, as soon as I caught a glimpse of those book order sheets, it sent my heart all a flutter.  I’m a dork, I know.  So I was super excited when my oldest child went to preschool, and they sent her home with her first Scholastic book order form.

There was a book on the Passover, entitled A Sweet Passover, that caught my eye.  Right now in Bible Study Fellowship we are looking at the life of Moses and Israel’s mass exodus from Egypt.  Passover originated there.  It celebrated the angel of death passing over the houses of the Israelites who had all painted the doorframes with lambs’ blood, and claiming the first born in all of Egypt.  It was what finally broke the Pharaoh,  who then gave the Israelites their freedom (even though he later changed his mind, and paid dearly for it…because even though Pharaoh changed his mind, God didn’t-he still had plans to make Israel a nation set apart).

Plus, it’s just that time of year!  So I ordered the book, and my daughter LOVED it.  AND it comes with a fun recipe in the back for matzah brei, which she wanted to make.  Unfortunately for her, I didn’t know how to make matzah, which is a requirement to make matzah brei. So we looked it up on AllRecipes.com (what a great site!) and it turned out to be incredibly easy.  And delicious. T covered hers in applesauce and declared it tasted, “Just like cake!”  She now has it in her head that we will be making matzah brei for breakfast.  Ok, so we probably will.  It is cool to see her and her sister make the connection back to what they are learning in Bible Study Fellowship.  Plus I love their adorable excitement over reading and trying new recipes.  (T offered to lend me her book with the matzah brei recipe.  This was after she read it to her babies-they were all lined up and “listening”.)

matzah

The matzah.

 

Tmatzah

T loving her some matzah!

 

In other news, no major news from the garden.  Most of the plants have sprouted and are cover free.  I have yet to plant bell peppers for lack of time.  I also have a little fluorescent light, but have yet to install it.  Noticing a theme here?  I am convinced that the plant babies need more light, and light (of the fluorescent variety) they shall have.  No spindly plants for us (hopefully!).

plants033115

Our indoor plant-starting setup.

 

broccoli33115

Broccoli gone wild.