Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sharing Responsibilities in the Household

kitchen Pictures, Images and Photos
Photo from Photo Bucket.

The late, great Erma Bombeck once wrote about how, when her husband retired, he tried to help her out by rearranging her kitchen to make it more efficient. Rather than being helpful, he drove her to distraction and she wanted him out of her kitchen!
  I'm not here to complain about husbands, or their helpfulness around the house. Quite the contrary. I'm thrilled for help, anywhere in the house. Sometimes though, the help adds to the work: spices left on the sink after use, onions too near my sink to get things accomplished, and perhaps the biggest "sin" of all, leaving a cast iron skillet filled with water. That last one is a particular no no for me. My cast iron skillets are the workhorses of my kitchen and I take care to keep them in top shape. 
  I'm not the most organized person in the house, that much is obvious. I can't rightly fuss at my husband for leaving spices out when I'm behind on a few chores around the house. I don't want to, anyway because it makes him defensive and less likely to volunteer to cook. Like most humans he tends to get a little defensive when I even say things such as "While i appreciate your help in this, I'd l'd like it better if you did that." I'm not sure there is a way to get the message across without hurt feelings so for now I'll zip it and (try to) lead by example in how I want my kitchen to be run.
  See? I'm kind of a perfectionist there, huh? I'm trying to ease my grip on that, but my kitchen is small, as is the rest of the house, and the place can get cluttered up very easily. 
  But do we as women take on too much of  the household load, even those who work outside the home?  While we know that it is a good idea to delegate some things, we end up doing most if not all of it ourselves. Why? We think this is what is expected of us as women, and besides, no one else can do it the right way (translated: our way. Even if we let the kids or The Hubby help, what do we do? We go right behind them, redoing the job that was just done. And we complain about it out loud or we steam about it, right? 
   Organizer Julie Morganstern teaches this about delegation: If someone else can get it done better than you, faster than you, or just as good, let them. That's really good advice. Even full time homemakers can and should delegate some of the work. Face it, we're not here sitting at the computer all day pinning recipes and crafts on Pinterest and chatting on Facebook all day while stuffing our faces with chocolate. At least, not all day. Some of us home teach our children (aside from reading to them, singing to them, toilet training, and all those other things we do without once thinking we aren't qualified to teach), planning and cooking meals, running errands, cleaning the house, and taking the kids to appointments and activities. And some of us have home businesses that also take our time. Not allowing the kids (and the husband) to help out because they get in the way, they need to be kids and not worry about such things, they can't do it good enough to suit you, or "its my job" leads to Helpless Husband syndrome and Helpless Child syndrome.
  What happens if you're away on business, or you end up in the hospital for a few days, or heaven forbid, you die? Who will do all those things you do? Most likely the real scenario is your child will move on to college, coming home only when they've run out of things to wear and expect mom to do the laundry while they run off to visit friends. Teach them when they are young that everyone must pull together to keep the house clean and running smoothly. A four year old can make her own bed once you show her and help her the first few times. Sure, it's not going to be perfectly neat at first, but praise her efforts and resist the temptation to remake it. A two year old can pick up his toys and put them away, especially if you already have an organizational plan in place. Simple dollar store bins with pictures and labels can allow him to know where to put the legoes and where the toy guns belong. 
   Have the whole family work together in the kitchen. Depending on age and development the children can set and clear the table, wash the dishes (or load the dishwasher, and help prepare the meal, leading up to them learning to plan and cook a meal by themselves. Even if its just you and your husband, team up and have one cook while the other acts as sous chef, chopping veggies, putting away the ingredients as they are used. Use this time to reconnect.(This will also help avoid the frustration of discovering a cast iron skillet filled with water.) Part of our jobs as mothers is to teach the children, both female and male, to take care of themselves as they eventually leave the nest. 
  I will admit I've been a little slack in teaching J some skills. It's been easier to let him do his own thing instead of showing him how to set the table or wash plates.  I want him to be as independent as possible yet I forget he isn't totally helpless. He is capable of learning to do things himself. He may even learn to cook some things, with supervision. That one will take some work, however. 
  What are some ways that you teach your children homemaking/self help skills?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gratituesday: Grateful For Mothers

 Did you have a good Mother's Day on Sunday? I did. We visited my mother in law and mother the day before, and on Sunday we went to worship, and my husband cooked a spaghetti dinner and made a no bake cheesecake for dessert. I was able to sit and read several chapters of a book, and got a nap in as well. I enjoyed every minute of the day.
  These days I'm thankful, not only to be a mother, but for mothers everywhere. The two in my life both teach me different things, one particularly loves teaching more about the bible and lives her life as a Christian example. Both impart their wisdom and encouragement.
  No matter where we've lived there have been women I look up to and think of as mother figures, especially when my own is far away. There are always ones who consciously or unconsciously live Titus 2:3  Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, (New American Standard). Some teach through their lives how to be good mothers, good wives, more importantly, to follow Jesus and his teachings.
  I watch the younger mothers and am thankful for them also. I see the joy as they speak of their children, even as sometimes they would like a little more sleep, or few minutes of quiet from the day long chatter of a youngster. I learn from them as well. 
  I know we wonder at times, if there is any hope for this world, whether there is still good here. There is. Yes, sin is rampant, and some people are so far away from God that a child's life means nothing to them, but I've seen the mothers and grandmothers who live their lives as a Christian example, and I see the younger ones who were taught by these ladies and follow their example, their teachings. I see the children from two to 20 who glorify God and do well because their mothers have been teaching them from day one. For mothers everywhere, raising their children in the admonition of the Lord, I am thankful.
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Wake Up Call

When it comes to changing my life it seems I'm a slow learner. I know I should be in better health than I am for my age, but I let excuses get in the way. No time. Surely it's not that bad. I'll start tomorrow. I eat fairly healthy. Well, yesterday I received a wake up call. 
  I saw my doctor to monitor my thyroid and hemoglobin. Hemoglobin was up this time from where it had been hovering so yea me! Thyroid I'll hear later about. I glanced at the number on the scale. Umm, not so good. Up ...twelve pounds from last time I saw my doctor. Not so good. And one of the first things he said when he saw me... You have high blood pressure. I want to put you on a low dose of medicine. This is the part where you hear the screeching brakes.
  Let's face it, folks. I wasn't even fazed by the announcement that it's time to schedule a colonoscopy. My dad had colon cancer in his late 40's and died from it by the time he was 50. So yeah, I knew that was gonna happen sooner rather than later. High blood pressure though, I wasn't prepared for that little bomb. 
  Honestly though, it shouldn't be a shocker. Hypertension runs in my family. But my readings at the doc's office have been to the point of monitoring only once or twice, and most of the time low enough to skirt by so I began not paying as much attention to those numbers. My doctor has, though.  And this doctor does not play with my health. He tells me like it is. It's up to me to follow his advice though.
  I don't want to be on medication the rest of my life. I plan on learning more about high blood pressure and natural ways I can bring those numbers down. I'll take the medication every day like I'm supposed to but I'm not going to stop there. It's time to stop falling off the exercise wagon and get more active. I'm fairly careful at the grocery store in that I rarely buy boxed convenience foods, but high amounts of sodium lurk in places you wouldn't normally think of, like ketchup. And here's a tip for you: almost anytime a food manufacturer slaps a label on their product that says "lower salt", "low fat" or any of those type things, guess what: read the ingredients list. Whenever one ingredient such as salt or fat gets lowered or axed completely, something else (usually sugar) is added to make up for it, so it will still taste good. One particular brand of ketchup I noticed has several different bottles of the red stuff, whatever suits your fancy, including low salt. Yeah, that one won't be gracing my grocery cart, much less my dining table because when you look at the ingredients list there is not only high fructose corn syrup, but regular corn syrup, both fairly high on the ingredient list. Sorry for the run on sentence there. I may even look into making my own ketchup. We'll see.
   I will be taking more care in what I eat and being more vigilant about ingredient lists. I don't need to cut out all salt, just cut down on it. I also need to be sure to exercise more. I'm going to begin with walking every day. I want to add in low impact exercises I can do at home (my knees and back scream at me with certain things, another reason for needing to lose weight), and look into calming exercises. 
  I mentioned before that I was going to do some posts concerning health, and now I have more than enough reasons to continue it. What about you? What do you do to take care of your health, particularly if you have high blood pressure?  Maybe we can encourage one another.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Occupational Therapy: Shaving" Real Look Autism

  I just found this through Pinterest. J needs to shave these days and its really difficult to get him to deal with it, so this will come in very handy for us.

Panic Attacks, Housework and Writer's Block. Such is Life

I've been feeling guilty lately because I haven't been doing much writing lately on this blog, and absolutely nothing on my SU blog. Honestly, I don't think I've had much to write about, just living life. Part of my life is getting this place back in order. As I've said before, this place is tiny. So in order to combat the "I don't know where to put it so pile it" routine , The Hubby and I have been rearranging some furniture and purging as we go. J now has a dresser in his room. It's my old girly one, but the one we bought for him is larger than the girly one. The Hubs and I share one so it just made sense to switch. Even though we have a bit more room for our clothes we are still weeding out stuff that does not fit or we simply haven't worn in awhile. I even decided to give up some of my stuffed animals in order to clear up some of the clutter in the bedroom. The ones being kept are two ducks and three bears. That's more than plenty, but I'm sentimental. 
   On the autism front, J seems to be doing well. His doc upped one of his meds a bit, and so far he's sleeping through the night while still napping a bit during the day. It seems to work for him, and I'm okay with the new routine. The only hitch in this ride is he's back to putting things where he thinks they belong. That usually means if there is a space, he will fill it. Since at the moment that and his problems with toilet training are the only things I can complain about, I won't complain. Much. I'm pretty happy with the status quo, actually.  
    Panic attacks have snuck back into my life these days. I'm not sure why, but I have two people hypothesizing about the cause. One says its because I haven't been taking my meds (iron and thyroid) regularly. The other thinks the problem is environmental. I have no idea, I just wish they would stop. Will be discussing the matter with my doc next week. So much fun there, right?  In the meantime, a friend loaned me a dvd and a cd to help me relax and taught me a breathing technique to try when the attacks come on. It's helped. 
 As far as the writer's block is concerned, as a writer I know the cure for writer's block is to write. However, self doubt appears and tells me no one wants to hear cute stories about the three kittens who have taken over my kitchen and are venturing into other rooms and outside now. And as stated above, I've been busy doing housework to sit and write until something interesting pops up. At least, that's my excuse. 
  So there you have it. That's what's been going on over here and why you haven't heard much from me lately. I still plan on continuing with housework, organizing, spirituality, and dealing with autism. I plan on blogging about it all. I just need to get moving with it all. 
  As a teaser though, I was given the chance to review a book, and within the next week or so I'll post the review here, along with a give away. Do you like Christian fiction? That's what I'll be reviewing and giving away. So stay tuned!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

How to Save Money at the Grocery Store

 If you're like me, you have to watch your spending these days. For at least two years we've forgone cable, and have started using Netflix instead. We chose a mid priced plan that is acceptable for us, and I like it because we are more in control of the entertainment that comes into the house.
  The hardest part, for me anyway, is saving money at the grocery store. I'm torn between knowing my budget is very tight and knowing that the cheapest route may not be the healthiest. Like many people, I have to compromise at times. I can't always buy organic, but I try to buy certain things, like potatoes, apples, and strawberries organic. The closest grocery store that sells foods  without growth hormones and such, and has a good supply of reasonably priced organic items is about an hour and a half from where I live so I don't get there very often. I try to make it once or twice a month though. For many reasons I prefer to buy my hamburger meat there as well. I can't afford the grass fed beef or the bison but the ground chuck is at a comparable price to the chain store here in town, and I trust it more. 
  I make my own chicken broth and have been wanting to make my own beef broth so I finally got up the courage to ask the butcher at Earth Fare (my healthier grocery store) if they sold soup bones and such. He replied that they sold them as pet bones and they could be found in the freezer section. And as a further tip, he told me that is where that particular store also kept the packages that were needing to be sold soon. Most of that is packaged as 'mixed grinds', meaning  that anything from bison to grass fed to ground chuck could be in them. Sometimes, I noticed, there are packages that are labeled lamb or bison or whatever. I picked up a few and will try them in my cooking this week.  Each store may be different as to how they handle meats and such that will be discounted so don't be afraid to ask. Get to know the workers in your store, because most will be happy to help you.
  Another tip? Add one or two meatless meals to your weekly menu. We have one standby we use quite often, Taco Style Lentils and Rice from Hillbilly Housewife. We make it just as the recipe tells most of the time, but we also change it up a little by substituting chicken broth, and changing around the seasonings a bit. Both ways are really delicious, and it's a very inexpensive meal. I have to quickly put away leftovers or there won't be any for lunch the next day. J inhales this dish!  Most times I make lentils and rice I make my own tortillas. It's simple to make, but does take a little time. I'm willing to bet that they can be made ahead of time when you do a freezer cooking session and kept in the freezer. Let them thaw a bit, then warm them in the oven or in a warm pan and they will be pliable once again. Other choices we like are pinto beans, collard greens and corn bread, and red (or black) beans and rice. I am also looking into other meatless or vegetarian meals to add a little variety into our diets.
  Other ways to save:
  • Leave the kids and whichever spouse is most susceptible to impulse buys at home. In most cases, that would be me. However, The Hubby and I often have differing views on what is acceptable in nutrition and store brands so if I choose to stay home, he gets a list of what we need with some notes on what is absolutely disgusting. I will say though, that he does rather well in shopping, finding great deals, keeping an eye out for things we like, and it keeps me from temptation (mostly known as the magazine rack and a few other spots in the store).
  • Learn to stay away from convenience food and make your own mixes. In those boxes that say just add hamburger (or tuna or chicken), there is an awful lot of sodium in that box. Cake mixes, you have ingredients that you can't pronounce. It's much cheaper to make your own mixes, or just make from scratch when the mood strikes. Same with sandwich bread and tortillas. In the interest of honesty, I don't always make my own mixes, but I am working my way to that. I love cooking from scratch. The cleanup, not so much, but that's another post for another day. As for bread, I can make tortillas easily. No, they aren't perfectly round but they taste a lot better than the ones from the store. Corn tortillas I leave to The Hubby or I just use the flour ones. Learning to make biscuits and bread is on my to do list. 
  • Use coupons, but carefully. I don't use them often because a, I forget, and b, I rarely find ones I can use. I don't buy a lot of boxed items and I only use my own cleaning products that I make at home. 
  • Check out the dollar stores. Again, carefully. Know the prices at the grocery store and read labels. We go through a lot of cheese in this house so I bought what I thought was cheese at a dollar store where everything was a dollar. What I bought was a fake cheese whose main ingredient is cornstarch. A bargain is not a bargain when it goes into the trash. 
  • Speaking of cheese, it is generally cheaper to buy it in block form and grate it yourself. Check the price per ounce to be sure though. Sometimes they surprise you. 
  • Buy in bulk. Seasonings do expire so if you use cardamom only at Christmas time, go to a store that sells it in bulk and buy the few teaspoons that you need. Food that goes in the trash is wasted money.  Things like sugar, flour, oatmeal, are also things you can buy in bulk and save.
It's now your turn. How do you save money at the grocery store? Share your tips!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Happily Ever After

  Twenty two years ago today it was raining. One sister wasn't speaking to me. One brother was upset with me.The best man was in another town taking his SAT's. I had no idea who would show up and who wouldn't. I was nervous, but it all went away when I saw my best friend.
   Nothing mattered except I was getting married. I was eighteen, on the verge of graduating high school, and I didn't care about a thing except marrying the one I loved. 
   For most of my teen years I saw myself headed to college, getting a job and being on my own. I wanted a boyfriend, but I didn't really give a thought to a husband because that was far down the road. In reality, other than being a writer, I didn't know what I wanted to be. In my senior year I hadn't thought of applying for scholarships because I didn't think my grades were good enough. I figured I would work for awhile. Life has a way of bringing you to a different path sometimes. 
  I didn't start out the school year thinking I would be married before the end of it. I had just moved back home after a year away. I wanted to have fun, no serious relationships. I knew I wanted to date Christian guys, and thought I had one picked out but he just wanted to be friends. So a friend of mine and her mother pointed her brother in my direction. Long, shaggy hair and a beard. Quiet, with a weird sense of humor. The first time I laid eyes on him at Wednesday night bible study, he was wearing overalls and flip flops. He asked me out, and I said yes. 
  I spent the weekend with his family. I was there as his sister's guest but somehow I was with him a lot more. We talked. We went to the football game and his sister was with us. Somehow though, I didn't think he liked me and he didn't think it would go anywhere. 
  By November of that year, we had dated exclusively. I'd seen how he was with his family, his mother and sister especially. I'd seen how he treated me. He opened doors for me, held my hand in public (still does both of those things). Not because I wasn't able to care for myself but because he wanted to. We talked about a lot of things, and we both agreed that marriage was a lifetime commitment. We both felt that for ourselves as individuals, marriage wouldn't end except for death or adultery. We discussed it some more, and he asked my mother for permission to marry me. Then he proposed in front of his family. Twice, because the first time his Dad didn't have film in the camera. I'd had no clue he was going to propose that day, or I would have worn something other than jeans and a New Kids on the Block tee shirt. He was dressed in black slacks and a white dress shirt. And he was down on bended knee. 
   We discussed the wedding date, and decided on the first Saturday in May, the year following graduation. The more we discussed it, and because some family issues reared their head, we moved up the date. Quite honestly, both of us were eager to start our new lives together. Because of that, and illness, rumors floated around. Sorry to disappoint, but our wedding was a want to, not a have to.
   In the end, my family showed up and my sisters and a niece, along with The Hubby's sister, were bridesmaids, each wearing a different shade of blue. Hubby's brother and friends from church were his groomsmen. The best man made it back in plenty of time. It was a simple church wedding, and you can't hear either of us on the wedding video because we were speaking only for each other. I had no idea what to expect of marriage except I would be with my best friend till death do us part. I was his and he was mine. We learned about marriage and, 14 months later, parenthood, together. For me, it has been happily ever after, but not the Disney fairy tale version of happily ever after. In the real world there are bad times mixed in with the good. We've argued and fussed, slammed doors, dealt with the death of one child and struggled with the special needs of another. Some things that are thrown our way are easier than others, but mostly we deal with them together. We choose to work things out and not give up.
  If I sound a bit smug, maybe I am, but also know that I don't know what the future holds. I don't foresee either of us leaving the other but for death. However, I know that as humans, we aren't perfect. Each day I choose to be with my husband, and each day he chooses to be with me. We are one. And we both have learned that a strong marriage takes three to be complete: God, husband, wife.  A cord of three can't be broken.  

Although this was written last week, I am linking it up to Heavenly Homemaker's Gratituesday. Join us, wont you?You'll find lots more stories of gratitude there. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Peace and Quiet

 Even though I have one child (yes, my brain still calls him a child even though he's 19), he has autism, and with that comes ADHD  symptoms. He shrieks when he's happy, he has outbursts when he's hungry, the list could go on and on. There are days when he has two modes: Loud and Asleep. A lot of it is just to say, Hey, I'm here. Pay attention to me! and I get that. These days I smile when we go to the grocery store and he's quiet until he's somewhere in the middle of the store, then suddenly "WHOO!" Invariably someone turns around and frowns. I simply smile and say okay, everyone knows you're here. Indoor voice, please. It does no good to get angry or even embarrassed that he does it.  No matter where we are or what we are doing, I love hearing J reach out and communicate. know what? 
  I'm thankful for time alone. J is with me every day, by choice. I'm a stay at home mom and he's with me. I enjoy it, and I love the fact that I get to teach him what he needs to know, and guide him. But, as much as Jesus loved being around people, and teaching them, he knew that he needed time alone and in prayer. It helped recharge him so that he could continue his mission here on earth. While we moms tend to think we don't need quiet time and can give and give and give and give, if we don't recharge sometimes, eventually we come to a breaking point.
   This morning, after a late night  with J, I'm up and the only sounds I hear are the kittens playing, the occasional traffic  outside, and the ceiling fan. J is still sleeping. That's been rare these days. In a few hours, J and his dad will head out the door to go to a doctor appointment. It's a routine thing, and I have a few deliveries headed my way. So guess who's going to stay home and get some much needed housework done? It's gonna be so nice! It's been awhile since I've had a few hours to myself. I'm going to get some chores accomplished, relax a bit, and enjoy having the house to myself for a little while. What about you? What are you thankful for today?
  This post is shared with Heavenly Homemakers for Gratituesday.