Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cleaning Tips 101

I'm linking up today with and

I love a sparkly, clean home. We have 6 kids and it isn't an impossibility to have kids and a clean house.

When my kids were very young, it was hard just getting a shower, much less cleaning the whole house.  I remember those days well. Now that they are older, they have helped me out a lot in keeping the house neat. (Those days with little ones won't last forever, even if it seems like it right now. Enjoy these days!)

Here are a few tips that I think will help young moms.

1. Every morning our dishwasher is unloaded and then reloaded throughout the day. I don't like a bunch of dishes in the sink.  After supper, the last few dishes are added and I turn it on before bedtime. It is the nicest feeling to walk into a clean, neat kitchen first thing in the morning.

This is our kitchen. My daughter was doing a little photography editing experiment if you are wondering about the bananas.

2. I use this $39 Shark steam mop from Walmart. It keeps my wood floors in the kitchen, living room, and dining room looking great. It is so easy to use and when the mop head gets dirty, just toss it in the next wash.

3. Have you used this?  Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It is something I always have on hand. It works wonders on a dirty bathtub, shower, or walls - seriously, it is the best product.

4. A friend of mine often gives me clothing that her kids have outgrown. They always smell AMAZING! I asked her what she uses and this was her answer...Tide Mountain Spring detergent and Snuggle fabric softener. I don't know why that combo smells so good, but I notice it every time. Even when her son has spent the night in our basement, our whole basement smells fresh the next day. I'm not kidding! My littlest boy will say, "Our basement smells like Nathan."  That is a good thing, by the way!

Laundry is an ongoing process as you might guess. The kids know how to sort the laundry and I buy the biggest box or bottle of Tide that they sell (and Snuggle, don't forget). Laundry will always just be. Even younger kids can help sort or put away their laundry.

5. I vacuum and dust once or twice a week. I don't do it for anyone but me! I love the way the house feels when it is vacuumed and dusted. I enjoy this part of housekeeping.

6. Make your bed. Teach your kids to make theirs.

7. Clean the kitchen as you cook. When you're done with a pan that you've cooked with, fill it with water and let it soak while you finish cooking. I wipe the stove while it is still warm with Dawn dishwashing liquid and hot water and put things into the dishwasher. Then after we've eaten, it isn't as hard to clean up the rest.

8. I think one last piece of advice I would give is this. Teach your kids how to take care of furniture, clothing, and the house in general. If they don't learn how in your home, they won't know how in someone else's house. I'm all for making blanket tents on couches, but there is a difference between that and breaking furniture.

I love a day with a clean house, a candle burning on the counter, and a dessert in the oven. Those 3 things don't always happen at once. Life can be crazy and some days I don't feel like I've accomplished very much. But keeping the house clean and picked up makes it a more inviting place to come home to It makes it a more pleasant place for me, too. If you have one or two little ones and this seems like an impossible task,  just concentrate on keeping the kitchen and living areas neat for now. It will make a difference for your whole family. Less clutter and things in their places makes everything feel fresh. I have had a little and a lot as far as housing. But keeping the house neat makes anyplace more inviting and a place your family wants to be.

P.S. The temperatures here reached 102 degrees the other day. I thought of something my grandma used to say during those hot Oklahoma summers. She would say that a clean house felt cooler and I believe she was right!

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Part 2 Weeping May Endure for a Night

Part 1   To read Part 1, click here.

 To recap, our twins, Alex and Elisa, were born 10 weeks early on November 5, 1991. About one year later, they were diagnosed with cerebral palsy. It was a devastating diagnosis. All my dreams of a little boy and girl toddling down the sidewalk together were suddenly gone and in its place was a very uncertain future.

But God's hand was definitely on their lives. Alex had almost died once before at Blank Children's Hospital when he was three years old.  A few months later, he saw a photograph of my Aunt Loretta while visiting at my parents' home in Mississippi. He told my mom that he had met Loretta. My mom had said, "Oh, honey, you didn't get to meet her. She passed away a few months ago." Alex replied, "I saw her. When I was at the hospital and I was very sick, she was in a white robe and she waved at me and said "Hallelujah!'." He had not said anything about this to us before. It was as if seeing her photo, jogged his memory.


January 18, 1996 was a normal, ordinary day.

Dave's mom happened to be up visiting. I remember going into the kitchen of our trailer at Teen Challenge and putting Alex and his twin sister, Elisa, into their wheelchairs at the kitchen table. Evan was also sitting at the table with them. (They were all 4 years old at the same time for about a 3 month time period. That next month, Evan would turn 5.) I set up some finger paints and paper and got out the paint brushes. Since Dave's mom was there to help out, I could relax a little and do something fun with them.  Dave brought over some breakfast from the Teen Challenge kitchen -pancake and sausage on a stick. It's strange the funny little things that you will remember for always.

It was snowing outside and the weather report wasn't looking promising. We were going to be in for a big snowfall that day.

I remember watching Alex a little warily. The day before had been quite a bit warmer, but today the temperatures had dropped drastically. That was never a good thing for him. He was very susceptible to croup and, in the past few years, had stopped breathing because of it. He also had a condition apart from the cerebral palsy called tracheaomalacia. This meant that the sleeve of membrane that houses the trachea had never firmed up and was floppy. This caused the croup to become much worse, or exacerbated the condition. I noticed that his ears had some drainage, too. But, for the time being, he was enjoying painting at the table with his brother and sister.

A few events stand out in my mind from that day. I remember getting on to Alex about something and giving him a swat on his bottom. He happened to be crawling down the hallway at that moment and actually crawled right out of his pants. It's funny to think of now.

Then later that afternoon we watched The Donut Man together. We were watching the Resurrection Celebration and there was a part of the episode he didn't care for. A lady was very sad  talking about her husband who had passed away. I remember that Alex didn't like watching that part at all, even though by the end of the story, the lady was happy again as The Donut Man and the kids sang about Jesus' resurrection.

Something else had occurred about a month before that had also struck me as unusual. Dave and I had been gone overnight for a Teen Challenge staff retreat and had returned home the next evening. I had picked out a present for the kids and was excited to show it to them. As soon as I walked into the trailer, Alex took one look at me and burst into tears. I tried to show him the gift, but he just seemed to want to sit in my lap. I held him for the longest time until he finally calmed down. It was unusual for him to react in that way. When I look back at that time, I wonder if he somehow knew that he wouldn't be with us for much longer.

The temperatures continued to drop that day into the evening. The snow began to pile up in front of our screen door until it was hard to even open it. Christopher, my brother-in-law, also worked at Teen Challenge and came over with his guitar. He played a few worship songs while we all sat in the living room together. That was unusual, too. That wasn't a normal, everyday occurrence.  Usually, we got the kids to bed for the night and maybe watched some television.

Soon after, it was the kids' bedtime. I said goodnight to the boys, who shared a room, and gave Alex his drink of water. He asked me what we would have for breakfast the next day. For some reason, he always liked to know. I sang a couple of songs to him that he liked. The first was a little song whose title I can't remember. But it went, "He went walking and leaping and praising God." The second song was, "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus." I told the boys good night and then went on to bed. I didn't know it then, but I had just spoken the last words to Alex that I would ever say.

 I heard Alex's cup hit the ground. That was a funny little quirk of his. He would finish his sippy cup of water and then throw it on the floor. I guess since he couldn't walk, he figured that was as good a way as any.

About 5 a.m. I suddenly awoke to a terrible sound. I could hear Alex in the next room, struggling to breathe. I ran into his room and scooped him up and yelled for Dave. I knew right away that it was very bad.

Dave took him from my arms. Alex stopped breathing. Dave began giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation. Alex seemed to rouse a bit and Dave pushed open the door and stepped out on the deck with him. Sometimes the cold air helped. But Alex went out again. I can remember Dave saying Alex's name, trying to get him to breathe again.

I called 911 as I had done in the past and told them to please hurry and come around to the back of the building where our trailer was located. I knew that there wasn't time to spare. The weather was terrible. There were drifts of snow everywhere, but then I saw their lights flashing and knew they had made it. In the cold, dark night, I followed the ambulance crew out and climbed into the front seat. Dave would follow in the van. We lived about 30 minutes from the hospital. We went quickly down the interstate and another ambulance met us around the Altoona exit. I remember hearing instructions being shouted and the name of a drug being administered (I believe it was epinephrine) and then we were on our way again. Several people were blocking my view of Alex. I kept praying and looking back and suddenly someone moved out of the way so that I could see. They were doing chest compressions on Alex. My heart sunk and I felt so much fear. His heart had never stopped before and I knew then that this night was different from all the other times. We pulled into the hospital and Alex was quickly whisked away from me while a lady asked me questions. I had a hard time even knowing what my name was at this point. I wished so much that Dave was there. I walked into a room where a chaplain met me. I don't really remember what she said, but I remember asking her to please go and find out what was happening to my little boy. She came back and said, "It's not looking good." The ambulance crew walked past the door and they looked so sad. Dave walked into the room and we sat together in shock. I'm not sure what we said to one another. I remember standing up and walking into the hallway where I saw the doctor approaching us. I will never forget his words for as long as I live.

End of Part 2

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fall Pinspiration

Even though it is still hot and the calendar reads "August 20th", I've been looking through Pinterest for my fall fix. It is my favorite time of year. I can already feel the change coming -it's in the air-  time for a little fall inspiration.

And let's not forget...pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks will be back soon along with other fabulous desserts.

The days of summer are winding down slowly. It seems to know that back to school means that its days are numbered and that a new season is beginning.

"Autumn, the year's last loveliest smile." is about to begin :)

*All images courtesy Pinterest
*quote by Wm. Cullen Bryant

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Scope for the Imagination

I love getting inspiration. Sometimes it's through a magazine or lately, through a blog. But there are a couple places that I love to go to which give, as Anne of Green Gables would say, "Lots of scope for the imagination."

One place I like to stop in when I can is fairly close to home.  Take a look and you'll see why I like it.

Boats Furniture
Pella, IA
I love the exposed brick walls!

Boats Furniture
Pella, IA

I get so much inspiration just walking around and looking at how things are arranged.

Another place that I really like is Nell Hills in Kansas City. I've only been there a couple of times, but it is over the top beautiful! On a side note, my husband once drove me all the way to Atchison, Kansas where the owner was having an open house at her home for the holidays. That is one of my best memories of a trip we have taken together because he took the time off to drive me all the way down there, just because he knew I would love it.

The following photos are from her home tour in Atchison. She has a store there also and one in Kansas City.

Courtesy Nell Hills

Courtesy Nell Hills

Love her navy blue walls in the dining room

Courtesy Nell Hills

Courtesy Nell Hills

Courtesy Nell Hills

See what I mean?

What places give you inspiration?

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For information for Nell Hills

Thursday, August 1, 2013

That Wonderful (Holiday?) Feeling!

Yesterday at Target, I felt the most wonderful, magical feeling.

Target always invokes this feeling for me at this time of year.

That feeling was....the holidays are getting closer!!

I know. Some of you are probably like, "Nooo! The holidays are far away and they need to be! Let me just get used to this back to school stuff in the aisles."

I know what you mean. And I'm really not trying to rush the holidays. But every year around late July, I notice a couple of things.

First of all, I notice that the sun comes in the kitchen window differently.  I don't know how to explain it any other way. I"m sure there is a scientific explanation about the earth rotating on its axis at a certain point in late July. I should have paid attention more in science class. But all I know is that the light is softer. It's like summer is already starting to let go.

I also notice that  something switches "on" inside of me during this time of year. I will be doing some mundane task or, like yesterday, walking through Target and I suddenly feel and's not much longer.

I will say that this feeling usually lasts for just a day or two. But then it magically reappears on September 1st and lasts all the way through October, November, and December.

In just a short time, fellow holiday lovers, the back to school stuff will be ransacked and sold. The Halloween items will slowly start making their way in its place, and if you're like me...

You walk back to that section and see a wonderful thing. A few boxes of Christmas lights on the back shelf. Joy!

I really don't like seeing Valentine stuff in January.

I really don't like seeing Easter things in February.

But I do LOVE seeing the first Christmas things slowly begin to appear. My niece, Ashley, works at Kohls and I've already told her to text or facebook me when their Christmas things start to arrive in the back.

She smiled and understood. She gets me.

On the downside of this euphoric joy is this fact.

As the holidays move closer, so does the end of another year. That means I will be a year older. That means my children will be a year older. That's the only thing that makes me say, "Stop! Let now last forever!"

Even though I love the time of year that is quickly approaching, I don't want to miss the now of my kid's lives, either. Do you know what I mean?

So, I will enjoy these last days of summer 2013. My littlest boy won't be 7 years old next summer. I watched him go down the water slide all by himself this year at the pool. That is a beautiful memory for me.  My 13 yr. old son won't be 13 anymore next summer...and so it goes.

Enjoy your today (even if you are like me and find yourself humming "Deck the Halls" while you are doing the laundry.)

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