Trying out a new form of organizer…  doing it a bit more simplistically.   Instead of hauling around a DayTimer where each day’s page needed to be the same size (and for which I ended up lugging around a bunch of sheets of mostly empty paper), I’m trying out a technique called bullet journaling.  Each day, I keep notes of appointments to keep, things to do, and any notes worth mentioning.  I keep a monthly calendar page, sort of like a calendar on the wall in my kitchen.  Just holds enough to remind me of an event.  I keep a future plans page – listing any events that don’t fit on the current month’s calendar.  And there’s an index page at the front, where I log any significant entries I think I’ll want to get back to.

For some folks, their bullet journals are as much works of creative expression as organization.  That’s not me.  My writing is still scribbles, I don’t doodle or calligraphy in it, and if I’ve changed ink colors, it’s because that was the pen at hand.  Today I did upgrade a bit, and started pasting in a calendar printable, rather than writing the days out on the page.  I’m also trying out a monthly habit tracker printable to see if it helps keep me accountable for reading my Bible and exercising.  Housecleaning might make the list, too, I guess…

I’ve been testing this out since November and am very happy with how it’s worked out for me.  I’ve generally been the type to lug around notebooks anyway to jot things down in – this just extends that with a bit of structure.

 

We decided to use our new addition this weekend.  It turned out, REALLY use our new addition this weekend.  In past years, we’ve hosted a gingerbread party, where the kids decorate gingerbread cookies.  The kids get to invite their friends, we have a bunch of fun with them, and we’re happy to have a mess made in our house.  We clean up the house beforehand, so it sort of all nets out to where it was before we had a horde of kids.

This year, we upped the ante.  We did crafts with a ton of kids.  We’re so crazy, we gave the kids glitter.  We imported two teenagers to help, we fed ’em stuff we picked up at BJ’s, and just generally let them play when they got bored of crafts.  I’m a big fan of just letting kids play when they’re done with whatever stuff’s at hand.  Note that we’d have been in a world of hurt had we had a fire, as I’m not sure exactly how many kids we had.  I know it was more than 15, probably less than 25.  But we were just having a great time with these kids.   And the kids went home with crafts that they had made, and ran around playing with my kids, with other kids.  It was a blast!

And then we had the teenagers from church over.  Teenagers, it turns out, bring lots of teenagers.  And they take up a lot more space than do first graders.  We had more than 30  (!!!!) teenagers in our home.  We munched on food with them, did a white elephant gift exchange, went caroling around the neighborhood…  my kids, my husband, and I had a WONDERFUL time hanging out with these high schoolers.   I had talked my husband into letting us host the high school youth group, figuring we were already set up for a party, teenager parties are low key, and heck, what’s a new addition for if not for making it available for gatherings like this.  As teenagers kept pouring in, I really started to wonder if I had done the right thing.  Folks were stepping over and around each other.  All I can say is, I’ll do it again next year if they’ll let me.  One daughter picked one teenager to hang out with.  The other daughter picked another teenager.  All three kids were delighted to get to go caroling with the big kids.  And it’s a wonderful juxtoposition to see these kids, some of whom I’ve seen grow up in the church, in the same house as my kids.

So weekend’s over, tomorrow’s a back to work day.  But I really enjoyed our tremendously busy weekend, and all of the folks who flowed into and out of our house.  If you were one of them, thank you for coming!  We really enjoyed having you!

We’re in the midst of a home renovation project.  Essentially, we decided that it made more sense to add a little bit more elbow room to our current house than to increase and reset our mortgage payment.  We’re pretty happy with the crew that we chose to do the work – they’re folks we knew already through church who happen to have a home renovation company.  But we’re now slightly over our original schedule’s end-date, with likely another couple of weeks of work left to go.  We’ve been without a kitchen for weeks now and have subsisted on whatever we can cook in the microwave or on a hot plate or on the grill.  Consider your life without an oven, a stove, or a dishwasher.  I’m dreaming of baked goods, and Jason swears that the first week where the oven’s in play, we’re going to roast a different cut of meat every night.   Ham, chicken, duck, …  heck, if there’s a way to roast tofu, I think it’ll be in our oven that week.

Seen on the back of a cake mix: calorie breakdown for cake as mix, and cake when baked. Loophole: those of us who eat the batter! Add in the calories burned worrying about salmonella, and you might have a real light food!

It’s rare that I go out to eat for lunch. Takes too much time, between getting somewhere, ordering, eating, socializing, … And either I’m just generally too cheap, or I don’t value the experience enough, because spending $10 or so on a midday meal doesn’t strike me as reasonable, no matter how big the portion sizes are. (Cut my portion size and charge me less: I’ll eat less, making me happier both for my wallet and for my waist line.) Today I decided to venture out, though not for a dine-in experience. I was looking for a Caribbean restaurant that I had heard mention of on Chowhound. For whatever reason, I was craving something different, some sense of culinary adventure. Jason and I used to regularly hunt out new dining experiences when we were dating, but the required marital attention to budgets and kid-friendly dining have severely limited those expeditions.

Didn’t find the Caribbean place, but did find a Latin restaurant / take-out. Latin to the point of Spanish television channel on, other patrons speaking Spanish exclusively to the wait staff, and a Spanish beer other than Corona being featured prominently. Picked an order nearly at random and headed back to the office. Ordered the rotisserie chicken, fried yucca, and fried plantains. Yum! I’ve had plantains before – I think we had them on our honeymoon. The chicken smelled wonderful and was absolutely delicious, but still, it was chicken – nothing particularly adventurous there. Yucca was a new experience. At first I thought the server had goofed – this stuff sure looked like french fries to me. Doing a bit of poking online, discovered that they’re supposed to look/taste like potatoes. And that they have vitamin C, as well as are a good source of dietary fiber.

Cora’s a fan of french fries – she’ll happily ignore the entree in any kids’ meal and scarf down the fries. That causes me no small amount of mommy guilt. But I see yucca possibilities here…. Definitely worth a venture to a Latin restaurant with our two year old – see if we can pull off the Folgers’ yucca switch. And I think I may regularly try to find other interesting dining around my work… woman cannot live by brown bag lunch alone. (Or she could, but it’s a lot more interesting if she doesn’t.)

Peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches?? What a weird, tasty combination, tastefully prepared for me by my husband. For other ideas of peanut butter sandwiches, see Sally’s Kitchen. For the record, I’ve now tried all combinations except the peanut butter and bacon combination. Pig and peanut butter – culinary combination designed to clog your arteries in record time.

Now that the baby has decided she’s just about on her way, I guess it’s finally time to finish painting the nursery. One wall at a time, the Caribbean green/aqua scheme that was there is being transformed into a light shade of purple. I won’t go so far as to paint the girls’ room pink (until they’re of an age where they themselves request a pink room), but figured purple was doable. Light purple over bright/dark shades of green takes several coats, I’m discovering. I primed the room a while ago, and thought that it’d only take one coat of paint. But I suspect that I’m not going to get off that easy.

Does this count as nesting, I wonder? I’m taking it nice and slow, stopping at the end of each wall for rest and refreshment (in the form of big glasses of water and big spoonfuls of chocolate pudding – girl’s gotta have some way of rewarding herself). At this pace, though, the room will be done when the girls’ are going into kindergarten!

Folks who’ve had to live with me know that I’m not a particularly neat person. I attribute it to just always juggling too many things – a clean home ranks among the priorities, but it’s handled in amongst all of the other things that vie for my time and attention. It bothers me when I stop and look around my house and see things that need attention, but my times to stop are few, and the times when I actually have a moment to do something about it seem even fewer. I’ve often been tempted to hire professionals to come in and do it for me, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to do it. One, I’d be embarassed to have someone else clean my house. Two, it feels like cheating, like I somehow can’t handle the own mess that I make. But, boy, does it seem like a losing battle, this housework stuff. The best I ever seem to do is to keep a reasonably low level of clutter (reasonably low varying depending on my particular time to pick up vs. clutter tolerance level balance), and then rotate through areas of the house, making each one individually at least cleaner than it was. The whole house never seems to be clean at once, and that’s not even counting tackling the basement. It’s not as if we have a large house, either- in fact, I’m fairly well convinced that I never want a large house, just because then the cleaning problem would expand with the increased square footage.

Tomorrow’s task list looms large, even without the household cleaning chores. The lawn needs mowed, and we need to get a new lawn mower because the old one’s decided it’s time to retire. The nursery needs its paint job to be completed. Milk’s mostly gone, so we need to do a grocery run, and heck, might as well do the weekly shopping if you’ve got to wander in the grocery store for something else. And that’s before the vacuuming, dusting, bathroom cleaning, and floor mopping that ought to happen, too. Even if we didn’t aim to keep the Sabbath on Sunday, there’s really no room for chore spillage there, as we have duties at church, and it’ll be Jason’s birthday, so we’ll have cake/ice cream/fancy lunch. Monday it’s back to work, with an hour or so available in the evening after Cora’s gone to bed.

How did folks ever do this before time-saving devices like dishwashers, washing machines, and vacuums??? When women had six or seven children running around, how’d they then have time to tidy up the place and make the dinner? Granted, they didn’t have indoor plumbing, so no bathrooms to scrub, but I’m not ready to retreat to a little shack in the backyard with a half-moon cut out in the door. (Is that where we get the idea of mooning someone, I wonder?)

Just my rant for the evening, I guess… spent a bit of time attacking the kitchen, but feel like someone else walking in would notice what’s _not_ been done, whereas I’m the only one who notices that, gee, it looks a lot better! Pretty depressing…

I offered the director of our Vacation Bible School some assistance in creating “shekel bags”. Since the theme of the VBS is 33 AD (I think – don’t quote me on that), the kids get to shop in the “market” with shekels, and so they each get a little drawstring pouch/wallet kind of thing to hold their shekels (actually metal washers). The VBS director assured me that the bags are easy to make – something very important since my skill and experience with my sewing machine are minimal. She told me that, so long as I could run a straight stitch down some fabric, I’d have no problem.

She was right. I’ve had no problem making shekel bags. The problem is _how many_ shekel bags we need to make – and that’s the question I forgot to ask! The director’s projecting that we’ll have some 220 kids attend VBS, and each of those kids needs a shekel bag. Now, I’m not the only one sewing bags, but my stack of shekel fabric seems pretty deep. Took me about an hour and a half to sew 13 of them tonight, plus set up 10 or so more for sewing tomorrow. I had 15 already done, from previous nights’ labors. And I think I have another 30 to 40 to go, not counting the 25 I “outsourced” to my mother-in-law. (I’ll take ’em back if she can’t get to them – just was hoping to get two pipelines flowing, else I’ll spend a lot of nights over the next week and a half crouched over my sewing machine.)

The wonderful thing is that I’m getting to improve my sewing skill on a project that will help in a very small way with our church’s efforts to spread the gospel to our kids. I’m trying to keep that in mind as I grind away, one shekel bag at a time, and also remember to use it as an object lesson that total effort is the sum of the effort of all the tasks. In this case, it’s sewing one shekel bag, and then another, and then another, and then….