Thursday, April 20, 2017

Routines and Habits



There have been numerous studies done and articles written on the power of daily habits and routines. Our mothers and grandmothers had daily habits that helped them work through the duties of the week. In this modern, busy world, why would we ever try to go through our days without habits and routines?
“We are all mere creatures of habit. We think our accustomed thoughts, make our usual small talk, go through the trivial round, the common task, without any self-determining effort of will at all. If it were not so– if we had to think, to deliberate, about each operation of the bath, or the table–life would not be worth having; the perpetually repeated effort of decision would wear us out.” ~ Charlotte Mason

I want to keep this post short and sweet, but I also want to share a few things that have helped me create daily and weekly habits to get through the busyness of life.


Daily Routines

It is not a difficult thing to sit down and make a simple morning and evening routine for yourself and/or your family schedule. It will take a mother about 10-15 minutes to think through what they'd like to accomplish each morning upon waking, and each evening before bed.

Now, mamas: BE KIND TO YOURSELF! Don't make these lists so long and ambitious that you could never complete them! Be practical and realistic about what you can do every morning and every evening.

To see what my personal morning and evening routines look like, check these printables out here:


Tools for Getting Things Done

My husband, teenagers and I are all having a LOT of fun working together to get things done by using the website and application at www.habitica.com .

Essentially, it is a role-playing game that is also a way to get things done and solidify habits. I have been AMAZED by how much I get done each day-- and how little I forget these days! 

I have been known for spacing appointments and important events in the past, but using technology has really helped me to be more dependable.

Along with Habitica, I also use the alarm on my phone and Google Calendar reminders to help me remember the commitments and appointments that I have scheduled.

It feels really good to finally be a mother that is where she needs to be when she needs to be there!

So, yes; the irony of this "old-fashioned mother" using modern technology to finally become organized is not lost on me! 

(ahem...)




One Less Daily Decision

If you've been following me on Instagram or Facebook, then you have seen my posts about our new family color-coordination.

I stole the idea from a wonderful homeschooling mama on YouTube named Andrea Mills. I found her idea right at the moment when I was overwhelmed with all the laundry of our family of 15. I had had enough!!!

(insert angry emoji here.) 

But instead of throwing everything away and starting over, I went through EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM. of CLOTHING. that each person owned, and I decided on a color for us to all wear for each day of the week. (And yes, that was partially based on what colors everyone already had.)

I did end up getting rid of lots of clothes-- six garbage bags full! But each person has two shirts in each color, and a few pairs of pants. I keep everyone's (except the grown-ups) shirts in the boxes you see above, and we fold them Kon-Mari style, so everything fits beautifully. 

PLEASE NOTE: If my teens are doing their own laundry, I do not require them to match with us. Some of them do, just for fun, but I only do the clothes-matching thing for the people whose laundry I have to clean and fold.

This idea has REVOLUTIONIZED the way I do laundry. I only have to do ONE load a day, and the colors of the loads is timed perfectly according to who wore what on which day.

It's been working beautifully for us!


To close...

You don't have to do all the things that I have suggested above to create good habits in your home, but I love sharing what has been working for our family, and I hope these ideas might inspire you to try something new to establish habits and routines in your home! 

HAPPY Homemaking,
Mama Rachel

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thoughts from the Hearth: Week Three

Photo source unknown, found on Instagram


*Please note that I was too tired to put any affiliate links in this post. Just FYI! *


Okay, so this is a VERY late "Week 3..." I apologize for falling off the consistency bandwagon. We have had a CRAZY-BUSY month since I last posted...

On my mind-

Trials. Change. Times of transition. Our family seems to be getting a lot all at once.

We are planning a move at the end of May to the area where my husband and I grew up-- both sets of our parents are still there, and we decided it was time to move our family near them. 

We have not done a BIG move out of our area or state since 2010, and our kids-- especially the teenagers-- are not completely looking forward to it. Honestly, it is a very difficult move for me, too. Arizona has been our beloved home for the most part of fourteen years. We will all miss the culture, the beautiful winters, the amazing people... and the lack of Daylight Savings Time...

Yeah. 

But it feels right, the employment issues are working great, and things are falling into place. Which leads me to...


Grateful for-

We found a house in our new state! And after TEN YEARS of renting, we are actually able to buy this one.

THAT feels awesome!

My hubby and I took a plane ride up to our new state to look at some houses that we'd been researching for quite a long time. We knew we could not make a good decision unless we looked at them in person.

It was quite an exhausting experience, emotionally and physically. The house that we had been SURE we wanted and loved turned out to not be the right house for us, which broke our hearts. And then, we found something AMAZING and perfect, but it was more than we really wanted to spend, and would have been overwhelming to take care of. And so, we broke our hearts again.

Then, the last few hours before our plane took off to take us back home, we found something unexpected in an area that wasn't on our radar. And so we made an offer the day after we got home, and it was accepted.

We are buying a house!!! And I am so grateful.

Pondering-


BIG changes have been happening in our family, and they are only going to be coming faster and more often as time marches on.

Our oldest daughter got accepted to a little college in southern Utah, and she is THRILLED. We are excited for her, but we are going to miss her terribly. She begins her new adventure right around the same time we move up north.

And then, there's our married son and his bride that will be staying here in Arizona. It will be sooo hard to leave them behind. SIGH.

Our 20yo son is not planning on coming with us, either, which is worrying this mama to death. I just don;t like this whole idea of children leaving the nest. Yeah, I know I'm a wimp. But I don't like it. One. Little. Bit.

SIGH. SIGH. SIGH.


My messy business notes

Organizing-

I have had a enormous breakthrough in organizing my business thoughts this week! Consolidating all my business ideas has been something that has hounded me for several years, and I have never been able to find a way to bring together all the things I have wanted to do, such as: promoting and encouraging traditional motherhood, sharing homeschool methodology and curricula, Shakespeare.

I mean, what could these things possibly have in common?

Well, I feel that the Lord gave me an epiphany or two on how to bring all those things together during a few quiet hours without distractions in the dentist's office this week. And I am excited to share them here in the coming months!

Creating-

Okay, since my thoughts have begun to get untangled, I am facing the work I have before me. I have many things to write, and loads of planning to complete. It's not going to be quick or easy, but at least I now have a direction! Yay!



Reading-

Oh, I do still love the principles of Japanese "tidying up." I began what we now call "The Great Purge" back in 2015 using the principles in "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. It was the only way we were able to move into a house half the size of where we were living at the time. We got rid of a TON of stuff at the time, and I have been able to maintain the tidying I did at the time, but we never did finish the entire process, due to life-happenings.

Well, I just got Marie Kondo's most recent book, called "Spark Joy," and I am really enjoying reading it! It is more in depth than her first book, and also addresses more complex issue like how to deal with other people's stuff, and how to tidy with your kids.

I am again thanking my lucky stars that we color-coded the kids clothes, because that means that the process of tidying all the kids' excess clothes is already done! Check off step one of tidying for the kids.

Homemaking-

The cleanliness of our home is definitely where I wish it were right now, but I am hoping that the tidying/de-cluttering and the packing of the house will eventually help over time.

One other big issue we are having in the homemaking department is that our washing machine quit working, and so the laundry (especially all the bedding that we pulled off everyone's beds last weekend) is back-logged. 

The repairman is coming tomorrow, so I'm hoping we can get that fixed very soon.


Picking lemons off our lemon tree

Songhaven Homeschool of Fine Arts-

We are on Spring Break, and it has been a blessing, since I have had time to begin the packing process. We begin our third term on Monday. Yay!

Scripture Study-

I am still really enjoying my study of the Doctrine and Covenants. I am constantly amazed at how much love the Lord has for us, and how often He calls us to repentance. He is waiting there to save us, if only we just turn to Him!

"And again, the Lord shall utter his voice out of heaven, saying: Hearken, O ye nations of the earth, and hear the words of that God who made you. O, ye nations of the earth, how often would I have gathered you together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not!" Doctrine and Covenants 43:23-24

Pink is the color for our "Common Room," where we do most of our homeschooling


Something to Share-

We have moved a TON of times. I am embarrassed to even say the number of times out loud, but it should suffice to say that it is more than most military families I know. It crazy, really.

Today I just thought I'd quickly share some of the helpful methods of my moving process here, in case they might help someone else.

First of all, I begin with decluttering and organizing storage items, and also start packing the MANY books we own. I usually get cardboard bankers or paper boxes for packing our books, but this time when I went in to Staples to buy their usual $1 each paper boxes, they said they don't do that any more. *sad face* So I bought some over-priced shipping boxes-- I don't know that I'll do that too many more times. (Boo, Staples!)

My other favorite boxes to pack in are the large plastic bins you can buy at WalMart for around $5 each. One has to be careful not to over-pack these, so that they're too heavy, but they stack quite beautifully, and are VERY sturdy.

I use color-coded sticker labels for both kinds of boxes, and cover each label with clear packing tape, so that the labels don't fall off. I also label the heck out of each box, putting labels on all four sides, and also on the top of each box, so that I won't have to turn the boxes during the moving and unpacking process to see what is in each one. It might be overkill for some, but it is a HUGE help for me!

Aw, I can't believe I'm moving again... Bleh...


Storage boxes always have plain, white labels.
I put clear packing tape over each label so they don't fall off.

Final thoughts-

I am very tired, but satisfied about all the things I got done this week. I still have a LONG way to go before we are ready to move at the end of May, but I can now say that I have the VISION to do it. 

We can do hard things, Mamas!!!

Love, Mama Rachel

Friday, February 17, 2017

Thoughts from the Hearth: Week Two

"The Storm" by Adolphe William Bouguerea, 1874



*Please note that some of the links I put in this post are affiliate sales links. You will not be charged any extra for clicking on an affiliate link, but if one buys the product at the link, Amazon pays me a small commission. Thanks for your support! *

Hello, wonderful readers! I am happy to be back sharing some of my random thoughts from this past week. I hope all is well with you and yours!


On my mind-

Popular feminism.

I am beginning to see it rearing its ugly head again in the rising generation, and it is deeply troubling to me.

With the recent "Women's March," I have seen an upswing in the amount of young women who are blaming the universe in anger as "victims of oppression." I have even seen grossly ignorant statements comparing the "struggle" of today's women with the persecution of Jews during World War II, and prejudice against blacks during the civil rights movement.

Honestly, the above thoughts made me sick to my stomach, and caused my blood to boil.

Only truly uneducated, UN-OPPRESSED generation could ever make such a claim. The literal suffering, pain, and bloodshed of MILLIONS can in no way compare to what the modern woman "goes through."

There are no bodies hanging in trees after vicious lynching by mobs. There are no cargo trains filled with sobbing men and women traveling to death camps. There are no people being forced to "sit at the back of the bus." There is no starvation or victimizing of human beings in our country or in the Western world.

But there IS death. There IS murder of the innocent. There ARE millions of lives being snuffed out every year.

And that depraved work is being promoted and carried out by the very women who are crying "victim."

And that is why it makes me ill to see vicious feminism gnashing its teeth and crying "oppression" when THEY are the oppressors.

I have said enough on this subject for today, but I am sure it will come up here again. I just know that I feel called to defend the Family and the divine calling of Motherhood with all that is in me.

That's why this blog was created ten years ago, and I have no plans to stop now.



Grateful for-

My husband is so very good to me, and I am grateful beyond words for the loving care he gives and the sacrifices he makes to support our large family.

I am thankful that I have rarely had to spend my time outside our home working to help provide for all these people we are raising. I know that the burden he carries is heavy, but he continually rises to the occasion every morning as he leaves us to work "by the sweat of his brow" to give us what we need and desire.

I know that I often take this daily sacrifice of his for granted, and I want to acknowledge and show appreciation to him more than I have lately.

Thank you, thank you, Honey. You make our comfortable lives possible, and I honor you.



Pondering-

In the last few years there have been people I admire and love abandoning their faith.

And it breaks my heart.

But it has also made me examine my own heart and standing with the Lord, and brought me to my knees before God in prayer.

With every fiber if my being, I hope that we each realize how VITAL it is that we give sufficient time each day to studying the scriptures and praying to our Father in Heaven.

Approaching each day without those two things is tantamount to going out to fight in the most challenging and deadly of battles with the most skilled enemy without using any protective armor, or without even a weapon.

We CANNOT face life in the modern world without the strength that the daily nurturing of our faith provides.

We MUST NOT go into our daily battles, unprotected and unarmed.



Organizing-




I am LOVING the color-coding we are doing with our family's clothes! For the first time since my first born child was an infant, I have a good grasp on what clothes each of my kids own and wear. For so many years I have been drowning in an inordinate amount of laundry to wash, but now I have a complete inventory of every article of clothing that each person has to wear.

I made a spreadsheet that mapped out each day of the week, and then chose a color for each day. I gave the boys some choices on a couple days, since they don't love pink or purple. Ha! When I specified each color, I decided that the colors did NOT need to be exact. That helps a lot.

This has NOT been a quick process, and I have had to do a little bit of shopping at the thrift store to replace some of the worn out, old clothes that I got rid of. Everybody who depends on Mom or big sister to do their laundry has matching shirts, and then I just make sure each person has enough pants, shorts, or skirts to wear with those shirts.

My teenage daughters are not participating, because they do their own laundry, and don't have so many clothes that overwhelm our laundry process. Plus, they are a bit more "fashion conscious" than the rest of us.

Just in case you might be interested, here is a list of the colors we wear:

  • Monday- Red
  • Tuesday- Pink OR Gray
  • Wednesday- Purple OR Brown
  • Thursday- Green
  • Friday- Blue
  • Saturday- Black and/or White

Sunday is not assigned a color, though I did go through and purge a LOT of my little girls' Sunday dresses. With five little girls under age twelve, you can imagine how over-loaded we were in the dress department!

We're all enjoying matching one another-- it feels like we're all on the same team. And it makes it easy for me to pick my kids out in a crowd, so that's helpful, too. (Notice that we're all in Thursday green for our trip to the park in the photo further down in this post....)

The last things I need to purge/organize-- and hope to finish this weekend-- are the pajamas. Wish me luck as I face that mountain...



Creating-

You know how I was working on my Shakespeare curriculum, and was sooo excited about finishing my Table of Contents? Well, something went wrong and IT ALL DISAPPEARED from off my computer.

... (cue screaming here)...

Yes, technology can be a blessing, and it can also be a curse at times.

SO!

I am going back and looking at everything again, and trying to take in the idea that all my work is gone. I have decided that there MUST be a reason? Maybe I was on the wrong track, and need to re-think it all again.

I choose to see this as a happy accident, and a new chance to start again.


Reading-

I recently read Sarah Eden's "The Kiss of A Stranger" and it was good Regency fun, I can tell you! It was just a fluff read, but I need those now and then. Sarah Eden is the ONLY modern Regency writer I can tolerate. For the most part, if I want to read a good Regency romance, I'll just look to Miss Austen! But Sarah has done enough research, and writes in such a way that I am never jerked back into the modern world until I close that last page.

My other favorites by her include "Seeking Persephone" and "Courting Miss Lancaster" (my personal favorite of hers).

Maybe one of Mrs. Eden's books will help you endure the last of winter this year.


Homemaking-

Reducing our family laundry by six garbage bags has been so freeing and helpful! I can now do just ONE LOAD of laundry a day, people!!!

MONUMENTAL.

If you missed it, I go into more details above in the section on organizing. ^^^ 



Songhaven Homeschool of Fine Arts-

Homeschool Outdoors
This week's beautiful weather simply called for some outdoor reading and learning time. So on Thursday, we packed up lunches, put all our homeschool supplies in a box and the kids toted their backpacks down to the park with me.

We are really enjoying reading "A Little Maid of Massachusetts" by Alice Curtis for our American History read aloud. The kids get so involved emotionally, sitting at the edge of their seats, and yelling at the characters. Lots of good lessons for kids in this one so far, all contained in the backdrop of the American Revolutionary War.

We're also reading "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" together, since there are some among these younger ones that have never heard the book. Reading C.S. Lewis NEVER gets old for me! He never fails to inspire, and I love sharing his writings with my children.


Scripture Study-

I have started reading the LDS Doctrine and Covenants over again this month, and I'm really enjoying "hearing" the voice of the Lord as he counseled His imperfect servants at the very beginning of the Restoration of the Gospel.

One of the scriptures that stood out most to me this week was this:

"Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided to enable you to translate; but be diligent unto the end. Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work." ~Doctrine and Covenants 10:4-5

I don't know any mother who does not need the support of heaven in this all-important work. I know that I cannot do it alone!

I hope that we are good to ourselves and to others, and do not compare ourselves to other women who seem to "have it all together."

Ladies, NO ONE HAS IT ALL TOGETHER.

We are all just trying the best we know how.

And so we need to take care that we do not "run faster or labor more than we have strength." We can rely on the arm of the Savior to make up the difference when we feel we are falling short of where we want to be. If we trust in Him and ask Him for His help, he can fill in all the gaps we might be worrying about.

Truly, He is there for each one of us.



Something to Share-




My husband is one of the greatest cooks I know-- no joke! I have been spoiled by this since the day we got married. (I am keenly aware how lucky I am, ladies!)

I just want to share a yummy treat recipe he came up with for our kids the other day:


Yummy and Easy Chocolate Shake
Made from all the cheap ingredients you probably already have at home

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • Enough ice to reach the 32 oz. marker on the blender
Blend and serve!



Final thoughts-

I have had a couple experiences this week that reminded me how important it is for us to stand up and defend Families, Traditional Motherhood, and our roles as homemakers and nurturers.

This is a stand worth taking, ladies.

My hope and inspiration for creating this blog has always been with the aim of taking that stand. And I believe it is more important now than ever.

Thank you for standing with me!

Love, Mama Rachel

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