Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tackle It Tuesday: Clean Home Challenge: Week 1: Top of the Dresser

I am super excited to start doing these challenges again. My plan is to post the challenge as given by Katie each week in the morning with my before picture(s) and update it in the evening with the after picture(s).

For this week, I am doing the tops of both of my dressers. In my bedroom, my husband and I have two dressers. We have our regular dresser (which we refer to as our long dresser) and our chest of drawers. We both have clothes stored in both dressers.

If I have time, I will also try to do all three of the dressers that my four kids have. Cephas and Koren share a dresser in their room and then in Oralee and Jeriah's room, they each have their own dressers. I'm not sure that I will have time to get to all of them, but if I do, I will share those photos as well.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

Monday 1/6/14 (Feed the Missionaries)
Breakfast: Special K cereal bar
Lunch: Salad
Dinner: Roasted Chicken with Red Potatoes and Vegetables

Tuesday 1/7/14
Breakfast: Special K cereal bar
Lunch: Salad
Dinner: Mountain Man Stew (made by my 12 year old, Cephas)

Wednesday 1/8/14 (Scout night)
Breakfast: Special K cereal bar
Lunch: Salad
Dinner: Sweet and Tangy Meatballs

Thursday 1/9/14
Breakfast: Special K cereal bar
Lunch: Salad
Dinner: Beef Stroganoff

Friday 1/10/14
Breakfast: Special K cereal bar
Lunch: Salad
Dinner: Pineapple Chicken Burritos

Saturday 1/11/14
Brunch: Waffles, Scrambled Eggs, Bacon
Dinner: Black Bean and Corn Salsa Chicken over rice

Sunday 1/12/14
Breakfast: Peanut Butter Breakfast cookies
Lunch: Hot ham and cheese sandwiches
Dinner: BBQ Cranberry Chicken

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Family Activities - Week One

One of my goals for this year was to make an extra effort to spend some time doing family activities each week. There were a few from this past week that I could have chosen from, but the one that I am choosing to share is a trip that the kids and I took to a large gingerbread house display that was held at the Winter Quarters Visitors Center.

Here are some of the amazing pieces:

And then there was the life of Christ as depicted in gingerbread style:

Mary and Joseph travelling to Jerusalem.

The Birth of Christ

Christ as a little child

John the Baptist baptizing Jesus.

Jesus healing the blind man.

Jesus healing the leper.

Jesus calls the children to Him.

The Last Supper
The Resurrection

Some other pics from the museum portion of the Visitors Center:

It was an absolutely amazing time! I feel incredibly blessed and thankful that we were able to go and visit and learn about this time in history! And a few fun shots of the kids:

The kids standing outside a replica of a log cabin home reminiscent of the time. Cephas is all in black, with his arms across his chest. A friend of ours joked around that he looks like a bouncer, which is doubly funny to me, because we don't drink.

Koren, Oralee and Jeriah pretending to pull a handcart like many of those who travelled from Illinois all the way to Utah.
It was such a  blast and I am so thankful that we had the opportunity to go and visit and have fun and learn!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Company Girl Coffee Week 1

Company Girl Coffee...man, it has been awhile since I have participated in this weekly meet up!

There have been so many things lately that I could share with you all, but I am not sure where to even start.

December was an interesting month for my family. We had so many things happening all at once! For starters, the kids and I attended church services all but one Sunday, when a family Christmas coincided with services.

Jeriah, my little six year old Aspie (which is no longer an official diagnosis anymore), has been having a rough run at school since the beginning of November. He has been suspended once, has been in the Alternate Learning Environment room countless times, but December showed marked improvement for him at school.

We are pushing for Jeriah to get an IEP at school. His behavioral psychologist thinks he should have one also. The school has been extremely resistant to putting him on one, opting to exhaust every possible resource that they can. We'll see what happens though. Jeriah was in Special Education from the time he was a year and a half old until he was four and a half.

This year, at one of our meetings for Jeriah, the school recommemded that he be placed in the Differentiated Math class (which I recommended last year as he is able to do his sister's homework with ease and without instruction).

I have a feeling that by the end of this school year, he will be in both Differentiated Education and Special Education. He's just that kind of kid.

Earlier this month , when we were at church, Hubby had the day off of work and I had asked him to join us. He dropped us off at church with plans to come back after services were over to pick us up. I had a feeling, call it intuition, that he should stick around that day, but he really didn't want to and so I didn't press the issue.

Sacrament meeting went well enough. Jeriah kept his shoes (which are likely to be thrown at a moment's notice) to himself and behaved fairly well for the most part. Second hour came and it was time for our Sunday School classes. Jeriah ran off to his class and was ready before I had even gathered my bags from the meeting.

During Sunday School, Jeriah was escorted into my class by his teacher, who was holding Jeriah's hands over his head and steering him in the direction he needed to go. I excused myself from class and went out into the hall, hoping to get Jeriah back on track. It didn't work. As I struggled with him and desperately tried to reach my husband, I was quickly losing patience. It was heart-wrenching to experience. I have never had such a dificult time with any of the kids (him included) as I did that day.

When I finally got ahold of Hubby, I tearfully (partially sad, mostly angry) begged him to come back and get this child. Then I went out into the foyer to sit and wait for Hubby to show up.

The next Sunday was the one we missed for the family Christmas. By the following Sunday, I asked Hubby to please please please come to church with us. That way, I wouldn't have to miss any of my classes if Jeriah acted up. He agreed.

The plan was for Hubby to sit with us during Sacrament meeting and then to hang out in the foyer during second and third hour classes. I told him that he could bring the laptop to play on or surf the web while hewaiting for us, but that it was important that he remain there during that time so that I wouldn't miss my classes.

Jeriah didn't need to be removed that week (or the following week) so I think having Hubby there is having a positive kmpact on Jeriah.

The second week that Hubby was there, I actually did miss my Sunday School class. We sat in the foyer together and talked about a calling at church that we had been asked to consider accepting. We also discussed some activities that my church recommends that families do together each week and we went over the first lesson in the manual. I missed my class, but I felt that it was a very worthwhile cause for which to miss.

Also during the month, we had received some major acts of kindness from a church member that I barely knew by sight. Our hvac system in our home is rated for efficiency for half the square footage of our home. During the summer, our home gets very very hot and during the winter, it gets very very cold. We supplement our hvac system with either fans or space heaters.

During this month, our two best space heaters went out. They are meant for part-time, supplementary use, not the nearly full- time primary use we were needing from them. This gentleman was pulled out of his bed at 11pm to dig out two space heaters they had and bring them over with her. I had no clue that she might do that. I had posted on facebook my frustration about our hvac situation and she jumped to action.

When they dropped the heaters off, the husband said he could probably help take a look at our system and maybe come up with a partial, temporary fix. I figured, in all honesty, that it was an empty offer. But it wasn't. Within four days, he had recruited the missionaries from our ward and between the three of them, my husband and two of our boys, the hvac system was greatly improved. As it turned out, there were points in the system where the ductwork wasn't even attached to the vents that the air was supposed to be coming out of. So while the system itself still is too small, we no longer have cold air coming in through the vents.

As a result of that day, I asked the missionaries to stay for dinner, which Hubby was completely fine with. They agreed, even though I ended up stealing them away from my visiting teaching companion, who was supposed to feed them that night.

All that being said, there was a huge change in Hubby this past month. He went from not wanting to have anything to do with anyone from church (not even wanting them to come over) to not only having them over, but hosting them for dinner, attending church with us, accepting a calling at church, working to plan and implement the weekly family lessons that are recommended and being a huge encouragement to the kids and I in spiritual matters. He even attended a dinner and game night that a friend from church hosted, in which he was the only non-member present. The best part was that he really enjoyed himself. No pressure, just good family fun.

Wow. That ended up being quite the post! I have another lengthy topic, but I will save that one for next week. Have a wonderful day, ladies! It's so good to be back!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Home CDO

I have been wanting to start a cleaning, organizing and decorating business for awhile now. I have done many jobs for people, but rarely have I had the forethought to take before and after pictures of the work that I am doing. I did, however, take before and after pictures of a job that I did in a friend's home in December. I'm going to share the photos with you here and give you a run-down of the space that we were working on and what was in there. The job took two days to do and is done and I will show you after pictures next week. But to get started, here is the room:

The Den:

This room is supposed to be a place where the husband can balance the checkbook, pay the bills, file away all of the important papers. The wife was supposed to be able to do her homework in here, but she was graduated from college before we were able to even get this room started. Now, she will be using this room to put together her resume and apply for jobs. This is the room where scrapbooking will happen as well as other kinds of crafting. The husband also plays video games in this room.

But when I got to the house, this is the view that I was greeted by (after having dealt with some items in order to get into the door to start with)...

As you walk in, you are initially greeted by an older computer tower, with random clothing items on top. The computer tower was determined to go to be recycled, the clothing items on top went to Goodwill. Behind the computer tower, although you may not be able to see it, is a small hexagonal side table, covered in papers and other randomness. Behind the table from this view, is a box filled with miscellaneous dishes, towels and knickknacks that were brought in to the house when a relative passed away. Next to that are two gun cases with guns inside and I cannot quite remember what is in the corner between the dresser  and the box from the relative, apart from the pictures that I can see leaning against the wall. You will see the narrow path that they used to get into and out of this room.


In this picture, you can see the random items sitting atop the dresser and the filing cabinet. If you click on the picture, you can also see the layers of dust coating the items in this room. They have outdoor dogs that have a doggy door into a kennel in their kitchen, so they end up with a lot of dust throughout their house.


In this picture, you see the desk where the husband works to manage the household finances, play his video games, et cetera, as well as his haphazard attempt at organizing papers on the small bookshelf that divides his desk from his wife's desk. His wife's desk is also covered in random papers and miscellaneous items that just ended up being put down in this room.

Here, you see the desk a little bit more clearly, along with a very large shelf that the wife and I had picked up a few years ago from Goodwill that has never made it up on a wall in their home. It has lived in various corners, propped up as such, since it's purchase date.

In this picture, I am standing in the narrow pathway that you saw earlier. At this point, it is nearly impossible to get to the wife's desk due to the random clutter between the walkway and the desk. Included in this picture (as best as I can remember and see) is another shelf from Goodwill (that oddly enough ended up going back to Goodwill, with price sticker still attached!), a ball and a stuffed dog for their niece who visits weekly, a gun box with ammo and other items stored in it, a couple of bowling ball bags, a set of bowling shoes, another gun bag, a small tote with random items, a box of stuff from the deceased relative, a super cute endtable with two fold-down leaves that the husband made in high school, an old school metal chair, some backpacking equipment and bags, a dog bed, a tote of scrapbooking supplies, bags of purchased but unused scrapbooking supplies, some throw blankets, a bag full of bows and ribbon to be used on Christmas presents, and a bunch of other mostly miscellaneous stuff.

And here are some other random shots from that narrow walkway:


So, as you can see, on this day when I got to their house, we had our work cut out for us! The first day, the three of us spent about 6 hours to get it to a semi-presentable state. The second day, the husband was at work and it took the wife and I about another hour and a half to tidy up the loose ends and actually get the room cleaned. I will show you the intermittent and final pictures of this room next week.

As a side note: No bashing will be allowed or tolerated in the comments. People end up with clutter for a myriad of different reasons. We dealt with some of those underlying issues as well when we worked on this room. I will post some about those issues when I show you the pictures next week.

And on a personal note, I signed paperwork today to be an employee in a friend's cleaning, organizing and decorating business. It is a part-time position that I can work around my family and my obligations. While I'd much rather have my own business, working in this position and doing jobs, like the one above, on the side will help me to develop my resume and references for when I am ready to branch out and go solo.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Back to Blogging and Goals for 2014

Somewhere along the way last year (many different times, actually) I stopped blogging. Life got hectic and I had to cut something out. Most of the time it was blogging. I am going to commit myself to blogging regularly. I treat Facebook like a mini-blog oftentimes anyhow, so what would the real difference be in just posting regularly to a real blog? Not much, to be honest! So here goes!

Along with regular blogging, I have some goals that I'd like to set (with it being New Year's and all, might as well go with the whole cliche, right?)

  • Eat meals at home together at least five nights a week.
  • Participate in Family Home Evening each week.
  • Do one family activity out of town each month.
  • Have a family game night each week.
  • Have a family movie night each week.
  • Have a family gym day each week.
  • Have a family counsel one day each month.
  • Have family prayer time each evening.
  • Have family study time each evening.
Fitness / Health:
  • Work out at the gym three times a week.
  • Take the kids to the gym to swim at least once a week.
  • Eat homemade meals at least five nights a week.
  • Eat breakfast and lunch at home at least five days a week. 
  • Eat breakfast and lunch daily. (This is a major struggle for me, as I don't think about it. Or if I do think about it, I tend to eat out for lunch with a friend.)
  • Weigh myself weekly.
  • Measure myself monthly.
  • Be in bed by 10pm each night.
  • Be up by 6am each morning.
  • Take vitamins daily.
  • Plan a budget each month and stick to it.
  • Eat most meals at home.
  • Set aside $100 each month for long-term savings and $200 for short-term savings.
  • Participate in Katrina's 52 Week Clean Home Challenge, starting Jan 7, 2014. This is a closed group so just ask to join the group.
  • Follow a weekly cleaning schedule here at home. (I'm mostly a stay-at-home now, so I have the time to devote to this. No reason not to.)
  • Paint every room in the house this year.
  • Replace the roof this year.
  • Replace the HVAC unit this year.
  • Put in a fence around the yard this year.
  • Take at least 3 classes each quarter this year.
  • Finish my Business Administration degree this year.
  • Work part-time.
  • Establish a cleaning and organizing business.
  • Have personal prayer time each morning.
  • Have personal scripture study each morning.
  • Have family prayer time each evening.
  • Have family scripture study each evening.
  • Attend church each Sunday.
  • Attend the Relief Society activity each month.
  •  Do my Visiting Teaching each month.
Not all of these are new items. Many are things that I (or we) currently do. I just want to make sure to focus on continuing to do these things. Some of these I will post about, some I won't. I will report my progress on these items though.