Sunday, November 28, 2010


Haven't posted because this table and chairs are kicking my butt. I'll post again when I'm done, hopefully with pictures of something good...I'm choosing to look on the bright side of the BFHP (Big Fat Hairy Project)...for now. My continued disposition depends on how long it takes and how it goes from here. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


***Pictures of my insanity added below***

I'm in the middle of a Big Fat Hairy Project that I admit I'm a tad nervous about. I have no IDEA how it's going to turn out, and half of me thinks I'm a little insane to be trying it. I've been reading too many crafty, creative blogs, and now I'm afraid I might have taken things too far.

What is this Big Fat Hairy Project (or the BFHP, as I like to call it), you may ask? I'm so glad you did. It's a table and six chairs that I bought for $80 from Goodwill. Yep. You read me right. And the set needs MAJOR work. I've been using wood filler on all the chairs and sanding them down for almost a week. I'm planning on sanding the table too, and painting the whole set, as well as re-upholstering the chairs. Say wha-?!

Yes, you read me right again. And if this doesn't turn out well....I'll probably cry. Because it's taking a whole lotta blood, sweat and tears already. When I get the time, I'll post a picture of the set (or the best I can get - it's all dismantled right now), so you can see just how crazy I really am.

Two of the six chairs, with the cushions removed.
Two chairs that have been filled and sanded, the old seat cushions in all their glory, and the THREE table leaves that also need to be painted.
Two more cushions, the table top and legs.
If it turns out the way I'm hoping, it'll be beautiful. If not....yikes. Wish me luck!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Wasn't really sure how to go about this post - lots of info? Just a little? I mean, does anybody reeeally want to hear about how I clean my house? But then I figured it's taken me this long (seven years) to figure out what on earth I'm doing to keep things in order and in their place, and I thought I'd go ahead and share the specifics, as I wish I'd read from someone else YEARS ago.

First, I'll talk about the things that have NOT worked for me over the past seven years:

1) Doing one main section of the house each week (master, living room, dining/kitchen, etc).
This didn't work because a) the plan was to do EVERYthing, including blinds, vacuuming, dusting, washing, blah blah blah, and I found that I was ALWAYS overwhelmed looking at that one room because there were too many different things to do, b) I almost always ended up scrimping and avoiding certain tasks in each room (I LOATHE doing the floors and dusting) and c) the rest of the house went to pot well before I made my way around again, so even while I worked hard, I always felt behind and defeated by my house. Yuck.

2) Cleaning whenever I got disgusted enough. Because by that point, you're already disgusted and frustrated, and when you wait that long to clean one thing you're grossed out about, chances are you're also grossed out about a lot of other areas in your house as well and you've started playing a ridiculous game of trying to keep up.

3) Forgetting about the deep cleaning entirely and focusing only on surface cleaning. When I say "surface cleaning," I mean dishes, laundry (with folded-waiting-to-be-hung-up clothing almost always hanging around), kitchen counters, along with the occasional vacuuming of the area rug and toilet scrubbing...gross that this list is so short, I know, but I'm just keeping it real here. This also tended to find its way back to the "clean it when it's disgusting" method.

4) Doing all laundry in one day. Never worked because a) I never did rugs, didn't do linens often enough, and had to get three loads run through, folded and put away in different rooms by the end of the day. b) what ended up happening is I would have all our baskets overflowing with clean, wrinkled laundry that might actually get folded, but wouldn't get hung up for days.

None of these methods worked, no matter how I split things up, and I was tired of having to run around like a chicken with my head cut off every time someone came over to play or visit. Depending on who it was, I'd do different levels of intense cleaning to make up for neglected, dirty areas of my house. Blah.

But a few months ago I started reading different blogs about cleaning, organizing and crafting, and the sites really inspired me. I really wanted my home to feel homey and clean and welcoming, like theirs did. I wanted an organized, common sense way to clean my house. And for me, I feel like I've found it.

I will say here that I've also had to completely change my mindset about cleaning and keeping house. Before it was something that was on the back burner, more or less. But I've come to accept it as a literal job for me. I used to teach full-time before I had kids, and I spent 8-9 hours a day prepping, teaching, reviewing, evaluating, reflecting, etc. Back then keeping a clean house was a lesser, secondary job, and I didn't feel bad about that at all, because I was "doing my part" outside the home. But now, my part is solely inside the home, with my husband, my boys and our home, and I've picked up some tools and inspiration that make the house part of my job exciting and even fun for me.

First, I'll tell you how much time I spend cleaning every day, but you have to promise not to run away scared!! On average, I spend 1-2 hours cleaning, straightening, etc. Yes. Every day. Call me a crazy woman, but that's what it takes me to keep my home truly clean, and after doing it for a couple of months now, I've gotten used to it and it makes sense in our home and daily schedule. Usually it's on the side of 1 1/2 to 2 hours. I have 1-2 lighter days built in where it's more like an hour, and I don't work at all on Sundays. When you really think about it, I'm still just putting in the hours I used to put in teaching school - I'm just clocking in those hours in different places: playing with my boys, feeding and dressing them, cleaning the house, fixing dinner, running errands, taking them on play dates that will encourage/teach/stretch and grow them, etc. I see cleaning house as part of my job and responsibility now, instead of an extra, on the side option. And I don't mind. I like having that purpose, because it's organized and straightened out in my head now, and it works well for me.

My daily cleaning includes all straightening/picking up (usually 2 times a day - toys, clothing, random stuff), a spotless kitchen (unloading and loading the dishwasher, wiping off the table, high chair and counters after meals, rinsing out the sink), wiping down all counters including the bathrooms/sweeping all hard floors (I alternate these two tasks, every other day), one load of laundry that makes it ALL the way through - washing, drying, folded and put away, and one big task each day like vacuuming all carpets, dusting all furniture, bathrooms (I alternate between sinks/toilets, tubs/showers every other week), etc. I also have monthly tasks, which change each month of the year - bigger things like washing the windows, cleaning window treatments, cleaning the oven, deep cleaning the fridge/freezer, changing the filters, spot cleaning furniture, wiping down phones and switch plates, etc.

Before you become horrifyingly (real word? doubt it.) overwhelmed, I'll point you in a couple of different directions that can make all of this a little more clear:

1) The basic structure of my cleaning (basic daily chores, weekly chores, and monthly chores) comes from a blog I have on my sidebar, called Clean Mama. Take a look around, click on her different posts about cleaning, go to her etsy store and look at her organized printables. I bought the cleaning house printables from her and made a binder just for my housekeeping stuff because I'm just that kinda gal; I ADORE check-lists, to-do lists, and generally feeling like I'm accomplishing something of importance. The printables help me do that, and it's a digital file, so it's a one time purchase. Nice. This has made all the difference in my cleaning schedule and sticking with it. I don't know this lady, and I'm not getting anything by promoting her - just trying to help by suggesting what helped me. (I'll also say that Michael has FABULOUS editing software on his computer that I used to alter her printables a little to fit me once I figured out what worked best for me personally, but Clean Mama can also customize the printables up front, too, if you already know what you want).

2) I also read up on suggestions on a website by a woman known as Fly Lady. Kristen C. introduced me to her, and I love almost everything she says on her site. She gives great, practical tips on keeping a clean house and how to start your day off right. She's at The website itself is hodge-podge and unorganized looking (which is rather ironic), but just click on stuff and take the time to read and explore. Read her 10 rules (can't remember what exactly she calls them - commandments? laws? Anyway, you should read them).

Now for my own personal rules of cleaning that I've adopted as I've begun this whole new cleaning regimen:

1) Do not leave a dirty house at night to be picked up after and panicked over the next morning.

2) Start the laundry early in the morning, move it through, and fold it during nap time. Put it away while having the boys play in whatever room the laundry goes in. (how I do my laundry: Monday is Linens day - ALL towels, wash rags, sheets, pillow cases, etc. from all hampers go in this load; Tuesday is Mama day; Wednesday is either a break from laundry, or depending on the week in the month, I'll do rugs (by the doors, in the bathrooms, in the kitchen) once a month, and also whites with bleach once a month; Thursday is Bennett day; Friday is Jasper day; Saturday is "catch up" day, if I fudged one load and didn't put it away like I was supposed to. And Michael is one awesome dude - he does his own laundry, usually on Saturday. We both like it better this way. We have four hampers for dirty laundry (yes, one for each person) and four baskets for clean laundry in our house, and I LOVE it. Target has an AWESOME dark brown one with a cream sturdy liner for $16. Totally worth the investment since laundry is a huge, necessary task.

3) I unload the clean dishes (that should have been loaded and run before I went to bed the night before) while the boys eat breakfast.

4) I use cleaning products and cleaning tools that I really LIKE - colorful, easy to use, fun designs. I invested some money in this at the beginning of re-vamping my cleaning, and I'm so glad I did. I got dusting cloths, microfiber cloths, eco-friendly cleaning products that work GREAT (also from Clean Mama), a good broom and dust pan, Mr.Clean magic erasers (always have these on hand because they're miracle workers), a good dusting kit with extenders, etc.

5) I keep the cleaning products and tools in an easy to access (for me, not the kiddos), convenient place, because otherwise I'll procrastinate and won't use them! All of mine are stored in my laundry room because it's the hub of cleaning for me - my hand vac hangs on the wall next to the washer, I have a clip board/to-do list hanging up as well, along with a calendar to write down appts./play dates, and also three baskets on the wire shelves above the washer/dryer that contain my rags, scrub brush, magic erasers, rubber gloves, and ALL cleaning products that I use around the house. The broom, swiffer wet vac (about to switch over to a new eco-friendly refillable mop by rubbermaid that I'm really excited about!), and dusting extenders are in the closet in our laundry room. So I grab what I need, go clean, and put it right back where it goes (or throw the dusty rags in the hamper for Monday's Linens day).

6) Whenever possible, I get dressed, including shoes, to keep me motivated. I turn on some really good music, and I involve the boys in the process, or at least get them tied up playing something that they enjoy so I'll have minimal distractions and we're all feeling happy. :)

So that's it. My novel about cleaning house. More than you ever really wanted to know, as seems to be my way of doing things. :) Regardless of what you read or hear about from others, I think the most important thing is to find what works for you. What works for me may not work for you at all, but it might (depends on whether or not you have an anal, dominant Type-A personality like yours truly, eh?)! :)

Later I'll try to come back and post pictures of my laundry room hub, for those of you who care, and also of my mini "kitchen hub" that also has cleaning supplies, pens, paperwork, etc.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


In light of recent happenings and conversations with several other people whom I dearly love, I really wanted to post about this.

It is no secret that Michael and I went through a very difficult time in our marriage, including a needed seven month separation, and at one point, only the Lord knew how it would turn out, and all I could do was trust in Him to work it out for His glory.

What I want to say briefly, but emphatically, is that there is no shame in getting outside help - for marriage, yes, but also as individuals.

Shame is a lie from the enemy, from Satan, and it has no place in our lives. So many times, we can't see the forest for the trees. It's so hard to step outside of oneself and see the truth - objective, needed truth - that gets us and keeps us on the right path.

Call them whatever you want: counselors, shrinks, therapists, but it's not weakness or stupidity or a shameful thing to ask a person who is trained and professional and has your best interests at heart, to help you and your situation.

Pride is the second great deceiver used against us. We hold onto pride, thinking we can do things, figure out things, work through things, on our own. But that's not true either. First and foremost, we need the Lord. And second, God uses His people to help others. When we take advantage of the tools God has provided, we are acting in wisdom, and these tools can provide hope when it's nowhere to be found.

These thoughts have been heavy on my heart because of different situations I've encountered recently, where people are hesitant, scared, doubtful, prideful, or covered in shame at the thought of seeking out help. But when it's needed, it's needed, and that's okay. It's okay to not have all the answers (Because who does, really? I'm pretty much of the belief these days that we could all use a little counseling and outside help :) ).

Michael and I's relationship and testimony is no secret, because we want everyone to have the kind of relationship we have now, all to the glory of God - one that is redeemed and blessed and wonderful - more than we could have imagined, honestly. But before that, we went through 1 1/2 years of counseling (both separate and together), we both had mentors that we met with once every week or two, and were involved in other appropriate groups to help us out. This was a long, painful process, but SO very worth it. We sought the prayers and help of others, and God blessed that to His glory. He saved our marriage, using others to guide our footsteps in practical, healing ways.

Random post once again, yes. Here's hoping and praying someone out there reads it and is able to move past whatever shame or pride might be holding them back.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Okay, here's the book update for anyone who's still paying attention to it all.

I have submitted to half of the agents on my list (8-10 I've already submitted to, about that many left to approach). Of those agents, one responded and asked for a partial manuscript to read. She hasn't read it yet (is currently working on June submissions...I submitted in July). This is actually a great ratio, so I'm not disappointed that this is all I heard from. I haven't submitted to the remaining agents because, frankly, I got burned out. Submitting is HARD work, and not half so much fun as actually writing the novel itself. On top of that, the agents I saved for last are ones who are pickier and more specific about their query standards - they want very detailed, specific info on me, the book, etc., and pretty much all of them want the information in completely different formats. So that essentially means I have to tailor-make each submission for each of the remaining agents, and each submission will take a couple of hours minimum to construct. Yuck. So I put on my Procrastination Pants back in August and I haven't taken them off yet :) But I will. Promise.

For a while I've been considering posting A Fat Girl's Revolution on a separate blog that I would link to this one, and post all of my writings and work on that blog, open to whoever, to hopefully bless someone else. I considered posting a chapter a week of the book. Publishers and agents would call this utter foolishness, but I figured, hey, if it's not going to get published anyway, why not share it some other way, to encourage and help like I intended? However, since then my mother-in-law, Vicky, has read the book, and though she is family, she's honest and direct, and I knew she would tell me what she really thought. I also consider her to be a good judge of such things - she reads a lot, is a teacher, and is really smart.

Soooo....a few weeks ago she called me and told me firmly that she really didn't think I should post it on a blog. She really thinks it's publishable and should be on the shelves with other Christian fiction. And in the past day or so, she's even written a blog post, just about my book! To read what she had to say, go HERE. I was humbled, excited, and motivated by her response. So I've decided to give these remaining agent submissions everything I've got, and continue praying about it.

That said, I've begun working on a sequel of sorts, which involves one of the minor characters of A Fat Girl's Revolution. And I'm just excited about the plot, characters and events of this novel as I was about the first, which I didn't think would ever be possible! I've written 25 pages total, and the entire book is outlined on my computer. I've known from the beginning exactly where the story is headed and where it will end up, which is a FABULOUS feeling. I don't have a title yet. Maybe when I've written a bit more, but it's hard trying to come up with another original title that fits with the first book. I would say this book will go much more quickly and smoothly than the first, but I'm a lot busier with other crafty/cleaning projects around our house, so it's not getting worked on quite as regularly right now. And honestly, I should probably put the second one to the side until I've exhausted all my options for publication with the first one.

So there's the big fat hairy update I know you've all been sitting on pins and needles waiting for :)


I have to post this really quick: As of today, Jasper John is WALKING (for real walking, not just a few steps)!!! By himself!! Unprompted!! All over the living room!! YEEEEHAW!!!! And he stood himself back up any time he stumbled or fell, and kept on going. Instead of a discouraged, uncertain look in his eye, he was confident and excited. Praise God!!

When I was pregnant with him, planning and expecting his arrival, I never would have dreamed that we'd be where we are, but I also have to say, I can't remember the last time I felt so excited about such a simple, natural thing as my baby learning to walk. Because it really is a challenge for him - it really is more difficult for Jasper to walk than other babies (the therapist confirmed he has lower muscle tone, and he has to work HARD to do things that come naturally to other kids). So my mommy heart is swelled with pride and thankfulness right now. I'm willing to bet this is how God feels about us when we work and sweat and try, never giving up, to do something that is difficult or painful, and He's there all along, holding our hand, encouraging us, whispering, "You can do this!" What a beautiful reminder.

Thank you, God, for another answered prayer with my little one! And thank all of you who have ever offered up prayers on his behalf!

P.S. We got it on video, and I'll try to come back and post it later.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


You know how some days as a mom of littles are just tough? Put your head in your hands and bawl your eyes out tough? Goodness knows I've had plenty of those, but today wasn't one of them. No, siree.

Because on the way to Bennett's little school, we were talking about Spiderman (a new phase that began thanks to a Happy Meal toy from McDonalds), and B was trying to figure out how Spiderman could still be a good guy, even though he hits and punches the bad guys. We've been talking about using gentle hands and feet lately, and how to be a good friend, and the difference between good guys and bad guys (all due to his obsession with asking questions, and with how physical and hands-on he is), and he hasn't quite figured out when violence is appropriate in the real world (???) and when it's not. And yours truly is at a loss on how to explain it! :) (if anyone has any tips, I'd LOVE to hear them!) But the conversation itself was just precious, a sweet reminder of how innocent and young and sweet my big boy still is. It was a nice, needed reminder. I'm praying more and more for wisdom as a mom these days, because I know that on my own I am completely unequipped to raise this boy up in the Lord. Thank God that He is stepping in and doing the work! Anyway, it was just a fun little conversation that made me thankful for the relationship I have with my three (almost FOUR - eek!) year old.

Then for the rest of the morning while I was running errands with Jasper, he kept saying "Hi!" to Every. Moving. Car. everywhere we went, like he's been known to do for the past couple of weeks. And I LOOOOVE it!! He gets this HUGE smile on his face and says, "Car! Hi! Hi, car!" He and I broke into a fit of giggles together two different times today. One was when he proceeded to say hi to the same stinking car about 50 times in the Wal-mart parking lot, and the other was when he was smushing up his nose and making piggy sounds over and over and over again while we were playing this evening. I love the way our relationship has evolved and become special and unique in its own right, and I'm so thankful for Thursdays, when he and I get some one on one time.

Also, Jasper's first occupational therapy session was today, and it went wonderfully. His therapist's name is Meredith, and she's amazing. She makes everything fun and is SO encouraging, to him and to me. In one hour she did so much with him, and I've already seen a change in his attitude toward walking! Seriously! And I have specific tools that I can use with him in between our sessions. A therapist comes to our house once every two weeks, and it doesn't cost us a penny! What a load off to be working toward a specific goal, and what a blessing it is!

They call this "Good Day."

(next up is book stuff)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Our church had a GIGANTIC garage sale this past weekend to raise money for our "Greater Things" campaign, and for a new baptistry, more specifically. I scored big.

I got a sewing machine for $10. It's old, but it works, and I'm pumped, because I'm just now trying things out with it. Whoo HOOOO!!

I got a light jacket for Bennett for $1.

I got a pair of calf-length brown boots in mint condition for ONE DOLLAR. I KNOW!! Brown boots were going on my Christmas list, and I was planning on them being one of my big ticket items, but now I don't have to put them on my list at all! :)

I also bought a set of shelves/bookcases that are very old that I'm going to attempt to completely make over in the next few months. I paid $10 for both of them together. Sweet.

There were also random knick knacks and home decor, and it was all $1-$2.

I stayed for an hour, and could have stayed a lot longer, but I was afraid of jinxing myself since I found EXACTLY what I wanted, and that pretty much never happens!

I would say after this experience that I'm a huge fan of garage sales, but that's not entirely true. Maybe I just don't hit the right ones, but I've very rarely had good finds at garage sales. But this one at the church was positively huge (spanning a large outside parking lot and four gymnasiums worth of stuff!). So any time there's an enormous sale like that, you can bet yours truly will be there!

Monday, November 1, 2010


First off, I tried for about 30 minutes to get the pictures to appear here the way I cropped them in iPhoto, with no success - gah!! So these pics are only somewhat as cute as I had them worked out to be, a rough draft of sorts, if you will...but I'm probably the only one who really cares anyway, eh?

We carved and painted pumpkins the night before Halloween. For Halloween itself, after the boys woke up from their afternoon naps, we loaded them up and took them to Poppy and Mimi's house for some dinner and festivities. Me and Mimi took them trick-or-treating while Michael and my dad stayed home passing out candy to droves of trick-or-treaters. The boys did REALLY well and both of them LOVED going up to the houses, knocking on doors, saying "Trick-or-Treat!" and getting a bucket full of candy.

Carving and painting pumpkins.
(I also attempted roasting pumpkin seeds, but I set the oven too high, and they ended up tasting like burnt sunflower seed shells. Rough. We'll try again next year.)

Off to Poppy and Mimi's house for pizza and Trick-or-Treating!
The Pumpkin (what Bennett asked to be this year) and The Spider
One Sad Spider
Yes, I am dancing and carrying on like a crazy woman in the background. I am unashamed. Anything for good pictures, my friends.
Let's go get some candy!
Their favorite house of the night.

Happy Halloween!