Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Preparing for the down time

In the count down to this baby being born, I am probably better prepared than I ever was for my other two! This is partially because I have had to be. You just can't fly by the seat of your pants as much when you have two other little ones! There are other times in life when you need to prepare for the down time too - like when you are getting ready for Christmas, visitors coming, weddings, holidays etc. General life! So I thought I'd put down what I have done so far to get ready.

* maintain the routine. This is something that I did struggle with initially. I'd get all excited about preparing for the baby, cook up a storm on cooking day (Friday) and make so many dishes and wear myself out so much I'd just get it cleaned up the next Thursday! When I learned to slow it down a bit and maintain the status quo FIRST it made the rest a lot easier. Also, because the cleaning was maintained, I haven't needed to do a great big spring clean.

* never cook just one meal! At the moment I have a sausage and bean casserole in one crockpot and brown rice in the other. This will be tea, but there is also enough for at least one serving to go in the freezer - probably enough rice to defrost to make a whole meal of fried rice one night.
It took no more effort to cook than if I made just enough for tonight but stocked up the freezer. I also make bulk veg when I cook - especially mashed potato - then every few days I smush it all together with eggs, cheese, milk and flour and then fry it into fritters for lunch. Yummy and healthier than it sounds!

* Each cooking day, cook a couple of things just for the freezer. Casseroles are great, so are soups - especially those where you can just throw everything in the slow cooker in the morning and dish it out at the end of the day. I tend to do quite a few pies and pasties to stick in the freezer too - good for lunches or a quick tea. We always have a stock of frozen muffins which are great for afternoon tea, breakfast or unexpected guests. Desserts during down time often consist of ice cream or custard with fruit (very easy for me!) but I do have a few baked items that I have made up to the point of putting in the oven and in the freezer. I just take them out, allow them to defrost and put them in the oven. Yeast stuff like Pizza dough and challah bread (a special Jewish Sabbath bread I make) also work well if you do this with them so I always make at least a double lot.

* "Value add" as you put raw meats in the freezer. Put chops and chicken breasts in a marinade before you freeze them, make mince into meatloaf ready to be defrosted and stuck into the crock pot or oven, make a giant batch of spag bol which can then be used for lasagne, spaghetti, pasta bake and about a million other things.

* Streamline your housework. I moved one of our couches so I can now vacuum the whole lounge without unplugging the vacuum cleaner. Probably saves me 50 seconds of effort but believe me it adds up! I also gradually organised the kitchen so things are in a logical place and I don't have to wander all over the kitchen while I am cooking.

* Declutter! I have removed all our knick knacks that don't earn their keep - to earn the effort of me dusting them they have to have great sentimental value and make me smile every time I notice them. Items that people gave me because they thought were funny and cute - well, the joke wears off about the tenth time I dust it! I can appreciate the kind thoughts while passing the item on to charity where it will do FAR more good than sitting on my shelf being resented! I know some people who remove even the items they love and put them away for safekeeping during a big down time. Bringing them out again is just like Christmas! Prevention is also a great thing. Only buy things practical that you will use and love or consumable items, don't burden yourself with stuff!

* Tame the toy monster. Cull any kids toys that are broken, items that are not age appropriate need to be packed away. Items that you hate because they are noisy or otherwise annoying need to go, or at least be put away for special occasions. Soft toys breed - they also breed dust mites! They also hold limited play prospects and kids get bored with them if they have too many. Each of my kids have two or three "special" soft toys - their first teddy (which Daddy buys them) and another one or two given by grandparents that are very special. The rest go into a baby's bath that slides under the bed. If we get a new soft toy given to us, one of the old ones have to go to make room or it finds its way straight into a charity bag. Again, we can appreciate the thought without burdening ourselves with items that won't be cherished or cared for. Someone else will love them more! Teach your kids to only access the toys put out for them, to put them away each day and to care for their toys. Too many kids are overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF well meaning friends and relations give them. It leads them to be careless with their toys and does not teach good stewardship. If anyone has any tips for me on how to ask people nicely to give the kids one good quality item for Christmas and birthdays rather than bags and bags of stuff please do! But it is possible to be very thankful for the time and effort put in then quietly, discretely, pass on the blessing to someone else. Kids can do much more with a rock and a stick than with most things that need batteries!

* Finish projects. Make a hit list of projects and jobs that need finishing and stick it to the fridge. Don't start anything new until everything is crossed off and your down time is over! The feeling of accomplishment is fantastic. It also gives other members of the family an opportunity to see what needs to be done and jump on board. Older children may be offered an incentive for helping out with the list! We still haven't anywhere near finished my list on the fridge, but the highest priorities are done and I am happy with that.

These are the major things I have done to prepare for this time. I have actually found it so helpful that I am planning on doing many of them in the normal course of the week. That way, when unexpected down time hits, such as illness or unexpected guests, we are already prepared!

Incubating happily still, waiting for our down time to arrive!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Still here.....

and still in one piece!

is reading her 80th anniversary special edition Winnie-the-pooh book that Uncle Andrew gave her with me in the afternoons at the moment. We are both loving it! The illustrations are fantastic and I had almost forgotten how great the stories are. Her prayers really crack me up. Yesterday at the table she said grace and as well as asking for the food to be blessed, she also blessed the computers, including Daddy's computer at work on his work desk!! Last night she told God a big story about the new baby and how the tablets (my raspberry leaf tablets) work and how the baby will be coming out soon!

has discovered books in a big way! He's always been read to, but now he brings them out by the armload and sits for each of them being read (yes, you read right, SITS!). Just in time for the new baby so he will (hopefully) sit and read with me while I feed bubba. Unfortunately he has also discovered moving the dining chairs around and using them as ladders! Oh well, you can't have it all good! He is an incorrigible flirt. We went to King Solomon's Caves on the weekend and walked through with a tour group to see the formations. The whole time we were there he was either exclaiming at the top of his lungs ("OoOoooohhhh, Ahhhhhh!!! OOOoooohhh!!") or leaning over grinning at the older ladies on the tour ("'ello there, what's a nice girl like you doing in a dark place like this??"). He does it during church too. He has quite the little fan club there!

The new baby:
has no plans to move out before University. It has decided that it is quite roomy and comfortable in there and the outside is decidedly LOUD so inside is good. My guess is this will be a BIG baby. People keep saying "but you haven't even dropped yet!"......I have, the only way this kid is getting any lower is to come OUT! It is just big. The ultrasound actually put my due date at the 17th so today I am technically 1 week overdue. I prefer to go by the dates I set!

The Garden:
is looking quite good at the moment. Jon mowed all the lawns yesterday and I did heaps of weeding (in an effort to convince bubba to get out!). Erin picked the pink tulip that had grown in the round garden, but when I was weeding I found two other plants, so hopefully we will get some more!

The house:
isn't too bad at the moment. It slipped over the weekend, but Jon helped me stack the dishwasher last night and I finished off any other dishes this morning. The kitchen is clan (including a mopped floor!), tea is in the crock pot (meatloaf! yum!), the lounge is vacuumed - it is just the washing that needs addressing but I swapped office and washing day this week because it has been pouring rain today.


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Thursday, September 20, 2007

For those who think I have it all together....

Sometimes I feel like a little bit of a fraud, spouting on about routines and home management books etc. The truth is, there are days when my house looks like a bomb has hit it, my children can wreck havoc in the five minutes that I am not watching (as evidenced by the wall mural and the indoor pond in the bathroom just in the past week!) and I have had visitors arrive after lunch and spring me still in my PJ's! So I thought I would do a run down of a typical evening. A comparison of what is planned and what actually happens.

This is actually what is planned for a typical afternoon

4pm: Bring in the washing/fold

4:30pm: put away clothes,

lay out tomorrow's clothes,

quick lounge room cleanup

5pm: Put music on, Make tea

5:30pm Bath kids/make self presentable

6pm Finish making tea, set table

Sounds great doesn't it?? Here is what actually happened one afternoon last week:

4pm we headed outside to bring in the washing. The kid's mooed at the cows over the fence and I finished up with an extra 15 minutes to spare! We took a walk to the end of the drive to check the mail and enjoy the sunshine together. On the way back, Erin gets a bout of the runs which coats her thoroughly from waist to ankle!

4:25pm I clean up Erin in the laundry. While I am doing so Billy goes walk about. When I notice this, I leave Erin half naked in the laundry while I bolt around the backyard calling for Billy in a panic (visions of him going to check the mail on his own and going out on the road!). I find him around the front trying to climb on the trampoline.

4:30pm We go inside and I check that I am not in labor or dying (DON'T run in a panic when you are 39.5 weeks pregnant). We run a bath and I pop both kids in while I sit and fold the clothes.

4:40pm Billy poos in the bath. Do we see a running theme here? Anyway, I 'rescue' the panic stricken Erin and fish Billy out before he starts playing with it. I hose both children off in the shower and clean out the bath. We head out to the kitchen where the children are dried and dressed in their PJ's.

5:15 pm We then put the folded clothes away and get out new ones for the next day. I start tea and instruct Erin to pick up her toys in the lounge room.

5:30 pm The kids are getting fairly rowdy now as they are used to just getting into the bath at this time and expect that once they are in their PJ's tea will be fairly soon! I put a Christian music kid's video on for them, which quells things enough for me to get tea well underway, set the table and finish folding the clothes.

6pm Jon is still not home, but this is not unusual (one of the reasons I moved tea time to 6:30). I put the last of the laundry away as the video finishes then I put some "grown up" music on (evenings are usually for grown up music, plus I like to have something a little more appealing than "Five Little Ladybugs" greet Jon as he opens the door!). I sit the kids up at the table and give them some sultanas to snack on. Tea is still not ready as Jon opens the door but I pop the kettle on and we sit and have a cuppa before I dish up.

Please note - this is a GOOD day!! Everything got done, everyone got fed, there was relative calm when Jon walked in the door and everybody ended the day in one piece!! Perhaps I will give a run down of a BAD day one day, we will see!

So what is the point of having a routine if it all gets shuffled about? Well, in Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, one habit he talks about is "beginning with the end in mind". He uses the analogy of a pilot in a plane. Apparently, during a flight the plane will spend the vast majority of time OFF the flight plan! This is due to weather, other air traffic and other factors. Now, when a plane leaves, say, New York for Moscow, if their navagation is off by 1 degree, they can land in a TOTALLY different country!!! Hang on, didn't I just say that they spend the vast majority of their time OFF the flight plan? Yes, they do, but they are constantly returning to the original plan, readjusting, altering course to meet their intended final destination.

My intended destination - short term - in the evenings is a calm, soft place for my husband to fall after a long day at work, a warm, loving environment for my children and a restful period for myself to enjoy after a long day. My flight plan is my routine as put in my home management book. Because I am constantly readjusting and altering back to the original plan, more often than not, we make it. The LONG term intended destination is a family which can communicate, can show love, support and affection for one another and, most importantly, can fellowship together. Even when the whole evening collapses and I end up shoving baked beans down the children before sending them to bed and defrosting something for Jon and I (or asking him to!) I know that the next day we will start again. Why? Because we have a final destination in mind.

So, no, I am not perfect. We have our days. There are moments when I finish the day with a Scarlet O'Hara like, tear-stricken "After all, tomorrow is another day!" (best pictured with a southern belle accent and wide hoop skirts al la 'Gone With The Wind') But I shudder to think of trying to make it through my day with no flight plan. I may leave for Paris and end up in Timbuktu!

Monday, September 17, 2007

This week at Jess' house....

The daffodils are finishing and the leaves are starting to come out on the blossom trees, so spring is well and truly here and poor Erin didn't get to make a snow man! It is a wonderful time of year to have a baby though.

has had a slight destructive streak in the last week. On Saturday morning I found a mural on her bedroom wall!! Both the kids know they must stay quietly in bed until Mum or Dad tells them otherwise in the morning. She had put her handbag (which has pencils and crayons in it for drawing during church) near her bed and, while sitting quietly in bed in the morning, decorated the wall!! After opening the bathroom door to find her and Billy "making a pond" the night before (about 15 litres of water, maybe more, bailed out of the bath onto the bathroom CARPET!!) I can safely say I was unimpressed!! It hasn't been malicious or wantonly evil, just normal 3 year old not being supervised properly and getting into mischief. Lessons were learned on both sides I think.

has a welt on his forehead where he was running into the house with a saucepan (helping me unload the dishwasher, yes, a 15 month old CAN unload the dishwasher!) and slipped, smacking his head on the edge of the saucepan! Poor waif was rather displeased! He soon got over it though and finished the job. He is also in pig heaven outside as there are cows very close by to moo at and a big pile of wood to be stacked! Although, Mummy finds it hard to keep up with stacking the wood these days! He is very affectionate at the moment, grabbing my face in both hands and planting big, wet kisses on me at a moments notice. Still being Billy, he has been in the thick of any mischief Erin has been into and had a few solo escapades of his own. He did sit quietly through 95% if the sermon at church this week though, so I am hoping that he is learning to do that regularly!

The new bub:
All stations are go.....still :) Still feeling quite good and I'd love it if things held off until next Friday night at least, but bub will come when bub is ready. Erin has decided that the baby is a girl and will arrive on Friday.

The garden:
was freshly mowed last week and you wouldn't be able to tell that now! Of course, it rained this weekend so Jon couldn't mow it again. Spring has sprung!!

The house:
is reeling under a massive outburst of nesting. The freezers are groaning, the kitchen bench was clean on Friday night (unknown in this house!!) and will be again by tonight. In fact, I even saw the bench tops OVER THE WEEKEND!! Wonders will never cease. I am making a concious effort to curb things a bit, because this energy boost is not intended for rearranging things and cleaning, it is intended for getting bubba out!!

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Another Erin Quote

I was reviewing Erin's current memory verse with her after Lunch and asked "do you think you can do it by yourself??" I then prompted her by saying "A...." She turned to me and said "I can do it myself thanks Sweetie!" shot me a grin, then did it herself!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Answer to prayer!

Kim of Large Family Logistics (check out a link to her site under "homemaking sites" on the right hand side of my blog) is taking baby Matthew home!! If you have followed the story at all with my calls for prayer requests, Kim was due to have baby Matthew at around the same time as me. She had him over 12 weeks ago! He is her ninth child.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The new, improved Blog!

I have memories of sitting up cooking Apple and Passionfruit Jam the week before Billy was born. Tonight I am sitting up baking muffins! The last half a dozen are due to come out in about five minutes. I did some renovations and added some links last week. I quite like the new format!

has clicked with the idea of being a BIG girl now! Everything is "I can do this BY MYSELF because I am a BIG girl!". She is thriving on any positive attention I can give her at the moment, which is great because mid last week I was about to tear my hair out over her behavior! For some reason, my lovely, helpful little girl turned into a demon child of destruction! Including destroying books and trashing her room. I am not entirely sure what turned her around, but I am sure me looking for things to praise her about and keeping firm boundaries helped. Also, spending some quality time all four of us as a family this weekend makes a WORLD of difference to her. She is definately a different little girl now. This morning she was helping me unload the dishwasher and do some other jobs and she said "We're working together as a TEAM aren't we Mummy?" then sang one of her memory verses "Work together as a team" Philippians 1:27

has worker's hands at the moment because he scratched them up a fair bit yesterday running around the paddock and "helping" Daddy build the new chook run. He is growing up so fast! After tea I get him out of his high chair and tell him to kiss Daddy and Erin good night. He gives each of them a cuddle and kiss then runs off to the bathroom where he collects his toothbrush and stands on the stool and brushes his teeth. He continues to brush his teeth while I change his nappy then he puts his toothbrush away and runs to his room. Often, he has to press the funnel of his toy train before he gets into bed so that it makes music, but then he does his best to climb into bed (I have to lift him still) and snuggles down to sleep, waves at me and says "eee ya!!!" (see ya) before I turn off the light. He is not my little baby anymore!

The Newest Baby:
People have started to ring just to check how I am doing (translation: see if I've had the baby and kept it secret! LOL) so the end must be nigh. To tell the truth, having people ringing to check up on me is a little like having kids in the back seat calling out "Are we there yet?!?!" ha ha. I have only just come to terms with the idea that bub can arrive any time now. Up until today I would daily say to bub "please don't come yet, mama has to do (xyz) first!" Now, I'd like to get to the end of that list stuck on the fridge, but if it doesn't happen that's OK. Bub floated up again today and started kicking the life out of my ribs, however, so I am not expecting any movement down south in the next day or two at least.

The garden/farm:
Jon built me a new chook run yesterday so the chooks have a courtyard instead of free run of the whole yard. This means I will be able to plant out the gardens without fear of them scratching them up and we will have less chook poo around the place! I will miss them sitting under the kitchen window and comming to talk to me while I hang out the washing. I picked up Audrey today and she definately has some meat on her! Hopefully, now they are a bit more restricted, they'll start laying! Jon had to buy me 24 eggs today because I am going through them at such a rate.

The house:
is OK, kind of. I am cooking like a mad woman, I woke up (WIDE awake) at 6am this morning with an urge to do laundry and clean the house, but I keep letting the basics slip. It is all very well to have 20+ muffins to put in the freezer, to have cooked a huge breakfast for the family, to have a crock pot full of soup bubbling away and mounds of laundry clean, but unless you clean up the kitchen after the cooking and fold the washing and put it away, it is just a series of half finished jobs! I need to stick with the routine of dishwasher full and on before bed and kitchen tidied fully every morning or it will just start to breed. I also need to pace myself so I get the whole job done rather than try and take on the whole world at once!


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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Let us all give thanks for my washing machine

8am - night nappy malfunction meant full single bedsheets, full PJ's AND our queen size bedsheets needed to be washed.

8:45am Billy needs his pants and socks changed after a self-feeding, porridge incident.

8:55am Mummy needs her OWN PJ's changed after spilling her own porridge

9am Erin needs her pants changed

9:05am While I was busy with Erin Billy bathed himself in Apple juice

And the day sort of just followed on like that with Erin washing Billy's hair with the hand soap (while he was fully clothed of course!) and various other adventures!! I had, of course, just changed all the sheets the day before, but why should a thing like that make a difference? Thanks to my fabulous washing machine though, I do NOT have piles of dirty laundry everywhere - even though there were a few days of rain last week!!

is still rather thrilled with her new room! I think she likes being more in the middle of things rather than right up the front of the house. We had another trip to Launceston on Saturday and stopped in at the church to catch up with everyone. She was in her element with lots of people to be adored by!

has finally got all his eye teeth through (I think) and that should do us until the 2 year old molars. He is just BESOTTED with Erin at the moment and is throwing his arms around her any chance he gets. It makes for very cute viewing! Today when we were outside, he climbed up on the fence that faces out over the road toward the railway line and started "mooing" at the top of his lungs at the cows in the paddocks the other side of the railway line. Also, very cute!

The new baby:
is going to be a big 'un! I am still getting kicks in the ribs even though the head is well down. I had someone ring to see how I was going today and they made a comment to the tune of "you must be so sick of it by now!" To tell the truth - no! Yes, I am tired sometimes (I will be when I am getting up to a newborn, chasing around after a toddler, staying up finishing costumes for parties, worrying about teenagers etc. It's just part of being a Mum!) Yes, I won't miss the heartburn or the stabbing pains I've been getting in my ribs. Yes, I am looking forward to sleeping on my belly and being able to move faster than a hippo with a gland problem. BUT I will miss these little movements, the priveledge of being the complete caretaker of this little life, laying quietly 'talking' to the baby as I drift off to sleep (after visiting the loo at 3am AGAIN). I will have to share this little person with everyone else, pass him or her around to be held and loved by others rather than just holding him or her close to my heart. I won't be able to protect them as well once they're out. So no, I am not sick of it yet.

The garden:
is keeping us in full supply of daffodils and jonquills and snowflakes. We also have an arrangement of blossom from the ornamental cherry near the clothes line that I made on Friday to grace our Sabbath table. I love this time of year, I just wish I could get more done around the garden to take advantage of the spring!

The house:
suffered today with the continual interruptions, but I have been setting my standards low. I have been restraining myself from the big cook ups, knowing I won't have the energy for the clean up afterwards. I have been doing little bits often rather than large onslaughts. Overall, it has been staying live-able in spite of regular baths of apple juice on the kitchen floor!

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