Friday, June 13, 2008

Wonderful Surprise

It was Friday, May 16th. I posted on one of the lotsofkids forums about taking an hpt. I was 10dpo by my chart. Originally, I wanted to wait until I was 12dpo before I tested. I tend to be a testaholic. I was able to wait until 10dpo, but not longer.

I looked at the stick. I saw the color wash over the test and thought I saw a line. This was not the first test I have taken in my 3+ years of ttc. I had thought I had seen a line before. Something was different. My eyes started to water and I saw nothing but double blurred test in my hands. I set the test down.

I collected my thoughts, cleared my head, and wiped my eyes. I was "fairly" calm when I picked up the test again. There were definitely 2 lines on that test aka a frer in ttc lingo. The test line was light, but it was there. I cried. And cried and cried and cried. I managed to post on the forum that there were two lines. I thanked God and commented that I was having trouble containing my happiness. IOW, I was not able to stop crying.

The next several days were a blur of happiness. I was able to say that I am pregnant and my baby, but I was having a rough time really believing it was true. I am happy to say that I have finally digested the whole thing. My hcg levels showed the baby was growing and a sono at 4 wks and 6 days showed a sac.

This past Monday (6/9), I had another sonogram. I was 7 weeks along that day. My oldest went with me and I pointed out to her that the little flicker n the screen was the heartbeat. She had trouble making anything out, but I have seen it all before. It was only a white blob on the screen with a heartbeat in it, but I knew what it was.

I have wanted this for so long. Now, I have the morning sickness that goes along with it. I have also had some spotting, but I know in the end that God will take care of me and this baby. I trust him and have given this to him. I know that whether he has in mind a baby to hold forever in my arms or just in my heart, he will help me through it. I have great peace in that.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Peace: An Organized Home

I recently received an e-mail from a friend asking for ways she could bring order to the chaos taking over her house. As a mother of many, you probably have the chaos monster well under control at your house but in case you are looking for organizational ideas, I thought I would share what works for our family. Although we currently live in a spacious house, these principles were forged during the four years we spent in a one-bedroom apartment with three children so most suggestions will work regardless of where you live.

The most basic idea that I can think of is live by a schedule. Your schedule may have to be fairly fluid if you have a house full of babies and toddlers who change eating and sleeping habits every few months. You just have to live with it. You won't be chained to a naptime forever. Kids just like to know what day they get to go to the library, the park, when is grocery day. Good behavior results when they know, “We go for a walk and then it’s lunch time and then I take a nap.” We tend keep out-of-the-ordinary events a secret until the last minute. Otherwise, they are packing for the beach four months before we go and asking every five minutes if they can wear their snorkel and flippers.

CHORES
1. Start your kids off young. Let them help make beds and sweep up dirt piles and empty the dishwasher. I know it feels more like hindering but you’ll be amazed in a few years at the real help you get from the children. We had company a week ago and the only thing I had to do to get ready was supervise. My kids are eager and capable helpers.

2. We pay our youngest a dime for every chore he does… picking up toys on his own, making his bed, folding washcloths. He earns enough to buy a lollipop each week. This works on two fronts: it does wonders for limiting sugar and it gives him incentive to be helpful and contribute. The older children are just expected to help with the chores because they are a part of the family. No rewards for ordinary jobs. They have to go above and beyond to earn money. Lawn mowing, sweeping out the garage, weeding gardens…

3. We structure our days so that chores come before activities they enjoy doing. We don’t eat in the morning until bedrooms are picked up. Schoolwork needs to be done before swimming in the afternoon. Dishes need to be washed before they can watch television in the evening.

The last piece that you need for a household that runs smoothly is a system for managing the STUFF in your house.

The best advice I can give you is to LIMIT what you allow in your house.

1. We set boundaries. Every kid has two dresser drawers; two coat hooks and one row on the shoe shelf. They cannot have more stuff than what fits in their assigned space. This principle applies to every area of the house. Bookshelves, kitchen drawers, linen closet…

2. As I am putting things away in dressers, cupboards and drawers, my eyes are always scanning for things that we haven’t used in over a year. I often donate these unused items to Goodwill. I keep a laundry basket in the hall closet for these donations and when it’s full off they go. Tip: Black garbage bags are a must for getting rid of stuff around here. The kids always NEED what is being donated.

3. If we receive hand-me-downs, gifts…that we don’t need, I pass them along. No guilt.


CLOTHING.

1. A laundry sorter for dirty laundry makes short work of the time spent in the laundry room. I teach the kids how to stain treat their clothes (age 5) and sort them into the right bag (between ages 2 and 3). All I need to do is dump the clothes in the washer and push start. Everyone helps fold and “mail” the laundry and the work is done in no time.

2. Create a separate storage place for off-season clothes. Only keep clothes in drawers and closets for that season. If you are between seasons, a few warm and a few cold weather outfits are all that the kids need in their drawers.

3. We don’t keep clothes in the bedrooms. All the kids clothes are together in the laundry room. My husband and I turned a bedroom into a walk-in closet for our stuff.

LEAVING THE HOUSE

1. We have these items in our back hall: A large shoe shelf and coat hooks for coats, diaperbags, backpacks, (Don’t hang coats with hangers…too many steps for little hands) A dresser by the door is a great place to hold sunglasses, hats, mittens, sunblock, outgoing mail, keys… You might even want a umbrella stand.

BATHROOM

Every kid has their own plastic divider in the bathroom drawer to store their toothbrush. This keeps germs to minimum. We have dividers for hairbrushes and ponytail holders as well.

TURN TABLES

I use turntables for grouping little things. Bathroom supplies under the sink, cleaning supplies, condiments in the refrigerator, medicines, paints and glue… Use your imagination.

BASKETS

I love baskets. They are pretty and functional. We use them to store:

1. Bibles
2. Catalogs
3. Washcloths
4. Office papers
5. Vitamins
6. Toys
7. Projects
8. Library Books
9. Remote controls
10.Napkins

My favorite basket is a wicker laundry basket. We call it the Mothership because it keeps this mother sane. When I need to bring quick order to a chaotic living area, I throw everything that’s out of place in the Mothership and I feel like all is right with the world.


HOOKS

Hooks are a wonderful invention. We hang bicycles, tools, extension cords, dress up clothes, coats, bathrobes and towels from them.


BOOKS
The library cuts down on the compulsive habit I have to buy… and keep… every book ever written. Even so, we have more than the average family of seven. I organize the kids books sorted by the authors last name. We hoe them out occasionally. Somehow, that job always feels like I have just donated a vital organ.

RECIPES
I copy my favorite recipes out of my cookbooks. I print them out in a kid friendly format and put them in a binder with plastic page protectors in it and give away the cookbooks. Our personal cookbook makes it easy for the kids to take initiative in the kitchen.

PLASTIC DRAWERS
A trip down the storage aisle at your local Jumbomart will give you an idea of the thousands of types of plastic drawers that can be used for storage. I like drawers better than boxes with lids because when the kids clean up, it’s easy to open a drawer. It’s hard to take the top off a box, put the item in and put the top back on. Usually my kids just set the item on top of the box and walk off. So, we use drawers of various sizes for:

1. Office supplies
2. Batteries
3. Craft items: crayons, chalk, markers,
4. Toys
5. Games (We sort game pieces into plastic drawers used for sorting nuts and bolts. We keep the game boards, put the directions in a binder and throw out the boxes. It makes clean up much easier and takes up a lot less space.)
6. School supplies
7. Treasure Boxes: Each kid has a drawer that they can keep all of their kid stuff in…Rocks, bugs, stickers, Happy Meal toys, Salvation Army finds (That’s where they get the Happy Meal toys.) The rule is that if their “kid stuff” begins to overflow out of the confines of the Treasure Box it’s time to toss some “treasures”

ENTERTAINMENT
We keep CDs and DVDs in binders that you can find in the entertainment section at Jumbomart. We store the binders in baskets by the computer or in the entertainment center. Online music has eliminated the need to hold onto my husband’s tape collection of REO Speedwagon, the Cars and John Mellencamp (when he was John Cougar.)

DRESSERS/ARMOIRES
These are beautiful forms of storage. Great for wrapping supplies, crafts, photo albums…

FLOWERPOTS
I love ceramic flowerpots. They are a way to store small items neatly in plain sight. We use them in the bathroom for makeup, in the kitchen for utensils…

KITS
I like to group things together that are used together. Wrapping supplies including scissors and tape, splinter kit (tweezers, razor blade, lighter, antibiotic cream), coin wrapping, letter writing supplies…

KID PAPERS
Each kid get a file folder in my desk. I save SOME of their papers, drawings for the year and at the end of the year move the files to a file cabinet in the garage and make a new folder for the next year. I have a few friends who do the same thing by making a binder for each year.

MESSAGE CENTER
I keep a BIG calendar in the kitchen along with a combination white board/ bulletin board. This works well for keeping track of appointments, grocery lists, to-do lists, menus…

BULLETIN BOARD
My middle girls are prolific artists. Pro-lif-ic. I hate stuff all over our refrigerator so we solved the problem by hanging a good-sized bulletin board in their bedroom. They can only display their work in that space. This has cut back on taping pictures all over the house.

GROCERIES
I made a master grocery list a few years ago. As we run out of items, I circle what we need on the list. We have two of everything. One item that we are currently consuming and a backup item. When the backup item moves from the storage area to be used, I add it to the grocery list to be replaced. We wash the fridge each week before the grocery trip and everyone helps carry in the groceries, wash veggies, tear lettuce and put things away. We store our fruit for the week in glass bowls around the house. It's functional and pretty.

Ideally, I spend fifteen to twenty minutes a day sorting and organizing and another fifteen or twenty minutes deep cleaning (windows, floors, dusting) These are in addition to daily maintenance jobs like dishes and picking up. That said, this house is due for another good round of sorting and organizing. (Especially the paperwork!)

Flylady is a good place to start for developing a system of cleaning and sorting. She divides big tasks into manageable chores.

If you have read this all the way to the end, you are either an organizational fanatic like me, always looking for a new idea or you might be really struggling to bring order to your home. Don’t panic. You can be successful in this area. An organized house will calming and peaceful to you and your family. It’s worth the effort.