Time and Balance – Keeping It Clean

It’s spring!  Or, at least, we keep getting glimpses of spring and soon enough it will be here to stay.  For many of us as women, spring awakens dormant desires to clean, clean, clean.  It would be interesting to know what causes this internal urge we all seem to get around the same time of the year!  I know it has kicked in around here, so today I would like to share some little things I have been implementing over the past few months.

First, one of my goals for this school  year has been to pass on more responsibility to the girls.  Their activity schedules are getting to the point where they affect my ability to keep the house in order, therefore, they need to help pick up the slack.  We have implemented the Thursday Clean Up, which is either a quick sweep through the house with light dusting and bathroom cleanings or it might be a lengthier, more thorough cleaning of each room.  It honestly depends on what we have time for and how bad the house is.  Either way, we go into the weekend with the house presentable and me not panicking if we randomly decide to have friends over at any point during the weekend.

Second, for the past few years I have done a top-to-bottom scrub down of our house every spring once school is out for the year.  Last year, however, it took a toll on me and took a lot longer than I really had time for, so this year I am trying something different that I am hoping to maintain throughout the year.  Along with our regular weekly cleaning, we are deep cleaning one room/zone each week.  This includes, but is not limited to, dusting ceilings/corners, washing all trim/doors/baseboards, washing windows, and other things that don’t get done during the once a week sessions.  Based on the number of rooms/zones we have, we could potentially do the whole house once each quarter.  However, I know that there will be weeks/seasons when we can’t do this.  So I’m hoping that by being faithful when we have time, we can clean each room to this greater degree at least twice a year.

Third, with the girls taking on more of the cleaning, I have been trying out some home made household cleaners.  This is mostly because my girls really enjoy spraying the Windex and Pledge and excessive use of those can do damage to the budget!  One very simple product that we use during our weekly cleaning sessions is the dry microfiber cloth.*  While I feel like it tends to leave some dust behind, it really does a great job for everyday-type cleanings.   (*I am not promoting this particular cloth; I’m simply including the link as a reference.)

As for actual cleaners, I really like this granite cleaner recipe found on Tip Nut.  I also like several of the recipes at Mormon Chic, especially the window cleaner (plain club soda!) and the all purpose household cleaner.  I am learning that with the homemade cleaners you may have to do some extra polishing (and don’t let your cloth get too dirty/wet) to get a nice shine.  However, especially with the club soda glass cleaner, I am much happier with the end result than I am even with Windex.  Another great, simple product that I have come to love is plain vinegar and water.  I am amazed at how my chrome fixtures sparkle after this!

Well, that’s it for my house keeping tips for today! Happy Spring Cleaning!

~ Sara

Counting the Faith Promises

“God honors faith – stubborn faith – that sees His PROMISE and looks to that alone.  We can only imagine how bystanders today, watching these holy men of God march on, (the Levites carrying the Ark into the Promised Land) would say, ‘You will never catch me running that risk!  That ark will be swept away!’ Yet ‘the priests…stood firm on dry ground.”

“Oh, for the kind of faith that will move ahead, leaving God to fulfill His promise when He sees fit!  Fellow Levites, let us shoulder our load, without looking as though were carrying God’s coffin.  It is the ark of the living God!  Sing as you march toward the flood!”

“One of the distinguishing marks of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament church was the spirit of boldness.  One of the great essential qualities of the kind of faith that will attempt great things for God and expect great things from God is holy boldness and daring.  When dealing with a supernatural Being and taking things from Him that are humanly impossible, it is actually easier for us to take a lot than it is to take a little.  And it is easier to stand in a place of bold trust than in a place where we cautiously and timidly cling to the shore.”

~ Streams in the Desert, March 28

As I count the 1000 Gifts each day, recount them each week, I chronicle His goodness to me, to us.  I list His mercies, His blessings, even the hardships that He uses to mold and shape a mother, a family.  I slowly write a journal of faith and as I look back I see glimpses of nearly a year and a half of gift-counting, record-keeping.  Half a dozen words or less bring back a memory otherwise forgotten in the day-to-day busyness.  And as we face new trials, ones we are not in now but will surely come because in this world we will have trouble, I can come back to the record of His faithfulness and know He has not forgotten us, will not ever forget us.

Clearly seeing God’s hand in my life, recording it, gives that bold faith that allows me to carry on in the face of human impossibility.  Sharing stories gives encouragement, boldness to others.  We leave a legacy of faith by recounting what He has done, is doing in our everyday lives – the big and the small, the mundane and the significant – because for most of us, it is in the daily pressure of life that God’s grace is worked out in us.


Counting just some of the gifts of the past week and chronicling His faithfulness that gives bold faith….

1179.  the end of a long week

1180.  Friday alone with the oldest

1181.  first place painting!

1182.  dates and reconnecting

1183.  words that speak encouragement

May you be encouraged by God’s gifts to you.  May you find bold faith in His faithful love.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

*photos of Grace with her painting for an area fine arts competition….first place for elementary acrylic painting, proud mama am I

Four

Today, at an orphanage in Haiti, our littlest girl turned four.  When the Lord put her in our hearts, we wondered how much we would ever know about her.  So much of her story was a mystery to us.  So much of her story still is a mystery to us.  But we now know more of why and when she came to the orphanage.  And we know her birth date.  A date so significant to a child, but so taken for granted by us, I’m sure I cannot fully comprehend the importance.

So today she has been bathed in extra prayer and tonight we will celebrate here with Haitian style rice and beans and beyen.  (I truly have no idea how authentic either of these dishes are but, then again, neither does anyone else in our house.  😉 )  And, Lord willing, for her this will be one of only a few birthdays spent without a family to celebrate it with her.

1151.  girls playing basketball after dinner

1152.  days of soul renewing sunshine

1153.  clean front yard

1154.  clean truck

1155.  food, fellowship, and long laughter with friends

1156.  looking forward to gathering

1157.  tripping over yesterday’s flip flops while snow falls outside

1158.  dog joyfully, playfully chasing snowflakes

1159.  grocery shopping done early and under budget

1160.  countless ways the oldest is like her father

1161.  7:30 p.m. and still light out

1162.  new KU shirt

1163.  girls always so excited for the hand-me-downs

1164.  park to ourselves

1165.  feeling WARM!

1166.  sisters outside blowing bubbles

1167.  ballet watch week

1168.  oldest really dancing en pointe!

1169.  prayers of a five year old

1170.  soft curls falling across her face

1171.  outpouring of love gifts

1172. photos of our daughter

1173.  words that bless

1174.  last day of winter

1175.  first day of spring

1176.  Christian birthdays

1177.  allergies that leave me flat on the couch but remind me winter has passed

1178.  a birthday celebration for a little one far away

May your week be filled with the good gifts He gives.  May you delight in His love!

~ Sara

Spring Break

It’s spring break here this week, and even though I have numerous blog posts bouncing around in my head, I’m taking this week off.  We have projects to work on and I want to be sure to do some things to make this week fun, so I’m going to do what I can to keep from being distracted by my own pursuits this week.  See you all Monday!

~ Sara

Updates and Such

It’s been kind of a long two weeks on the adoption front.  As the euphoria of our decision to adopt has waned, reality has set in a bit.   I have begun to wonder about different things, and worry has tried to take over.  I have desired to hold our little girl, and sadness has overwhelmed.  I have tried to carry on normally, not sharing this burden with my beloved, and I have drawn in on myself in quietness and isolation.

Last Saturday I finally confided in him what I was feeling, the fears, the emotions, the concerns.  He echoed all of them and understood.  He felt many of the same things.  Just talking with him about these things, I felt lighter, more joyful, more at peace.  I’m not at all sure why I felt I needed to protect him from what I was feeling.

Sunday my mind began to imagine having her in church with us, me holding her as the congregation sang in worship together.  It was all I could do to hold back the flood of tears.

Tuesday brought a fair amount of confusion and emotion that was finally resolved today.  It’s all good, as a friend of ours would say.  😉

We learned last week that it could easily be 18 to 24 months to bring her home after our paperwork is submitted to IBESR in Haiti and that can’t happen until after Matt is 35.  At the end of December.

I found out her birth date yesterday.  Such a gift!  One of the things I wasn’t sure we’d ever be able to know.  She will be four this month (four is one of my favorite ages!) and we will celebrate here in some way.  But, based on the time line we were given last week, she could easily be seven before she comes home.  There’s a big difference between a four year old and a seven year old.  And I am sad that I will miss out on some of my favorite years.  Adoption brings it’s own sort of grieving, I guess.

We plan to send in our agency agreement tomorrow.  I am thankful we are able to do this.  Thankful for this journey God has placed us on.  I know that He will see us through harder times than the past two weeks and all the timing is in His hands.  I trust Him entirely.  He is faithful.

Gratitude on a Tuesday

When I was young, I always wanted a sister.  Someone I could play with, confide in, share clothes and secrets and life with.  For whatever reason, that wasn’t the Lord’s will for me.

But I was elated at the sonogram with our second pregnancy to find out that our oldest daughter would have a sister.  And I was excited again at our third….and our fourth!  (Okay, the fourth was a little anti-climactic, but I was still happy to confirm what we already assumed.  🙂 )

As I sat between all of them at church on Sunday, I thanked the Lord for the gift they are to each other and to me.  I am thankful that they have each other and that, for the most part, they enjoy one another.  It is a delight to watch them help each other, encourage each other, and even tease each other with jokes that are funny only to the six of us.  And I am thankful they have each other to learn how to live life together, living with someone who knows you well…good and bad.

I pray that as the years go by, they will be able to see the gift they have in each other, to see how richly God has blessed each of them.

I was out of the house all day yesterday, so I’m joining in a day late with the counting of the endless gifts with the Gratitude Community….

1143.  sisters for my girls

1144.  dinner with friends

1145.  Exchange City finally here

1146.  confiding in my beloved

1147.  knowing her birthdate

1148.  days that aren’t perfect

1149.  second-born playing piano lovely

1150.  watching her try to teach the youngest

May we all seek the gifts He gives each day ~

~ Sara

Week in Review

It’s been a quiet week here at My Ears Are Tired.  Early in the week things were just too busy to sit down and write and as the week went on, I found time but not words, at least not useful words, so I remained quiet.  While I am usually more than willing to share our struggles if I feel the Lord leading me to, I do not want to come here and whine.  That’s not what this site is for.  And whining is what I would have been doing Thursday or Friday, so I practiced Proverbs 10:19.  In fact, my tongue hurts from how much I’ve been biting it this week.

It was another normal week here.  We are starting to finish up some of our school books already and I normally like this to coincide with warmer weather, but Kansas is not cooperating with me right now, so I’ve been trying to find ways to keep everyone busy in the house, all while continuing our weekday media ban (more on that in a bit).  I have more ideas of things they need to learn/take responsibility for (things that have been easier to do myself but I am now going to force myself to pass on to them – one of which is laundry because it has become impossible to keep up with and someone else needs to help bear that burden), so we will commence that education hopefully next week. I also see some deep cleaning as well as closet sorting/organizing in our future.  Watch, now that I have ideas for them, next week will be 75 and sunny all week and I won’t have the heart to keep them inside working.  😉

As for our weekday media ban, this was our second week of it and frankly, it’s kind of a pain because it is so much easier (and more relaxing for me) to just let them turn on the television or computer (especially during those pre-dinner hours) and then I can do what I need to do quietly and uninterrupted.  But, as I think I mentioned previously (although, it could have been just on Facebook), we were noticing some odd/annoying behaviors so we decided to pull the plug for one week.  Not a complete fast, but no more mindless sitting in front of a screen for who-knows-how-long.  If mom or dad decided to turn on the television (most often for KU basketball this time of year), then the kids were more than welcome to sit down and watch with us.  And we are currently in the habit of a family movie night sometime on the weekend, so we’ve continued that.  But, like I said, no more mindless vegging out and no more mom and dad using the television as a proxy parent.  The first week was fine.  By the end of the week the kids seemed to be settling in to the rule and all seemed a bit calmer.  Adding it back in on the weekend didn’t seem to cause a problem or confusion.  On Monday, it went back off. During our break, I have noticed more piano practicing, more reading, more playing of house, more playing with play doh, more asking to go outside on the nice days, more picking up learning to knit again….all of these things came in to fill their time when camping in front of a screen wasn’t an option.  And I was feeling really good about it all.

On Thursday night, I was planning to meet with another mom to talk about home schooling, so Matt met me at Chipotle and we swapped vehicles so he could take the girls home.  Apparently, he let the girls play on the computer a bit and on the DS.  I was fine with that until Friday.  On Friday morning I noticed every was pretty excited and kinda loud.  They have their outside classes on Friday mornings and they get to see all of their friends, so I just assumed it was that and tried to roll with it.  After classes, I noticed they were still really being loud and a couple of them were suddenly very fidgety again (one of the behaviors that we had been noticing before the media ban).  And then it hit me – the two that I was having trouble with had had screen time the night before.  And I thought, does it really make that much of a difference??? Perhaps I am over-stating the effects of screens (our generic term for television, computer games, DS, Wii, etc.), but the night and day difference in those two girls was shocking to me and I’m still praying about how to handle it with wisdom and balance.

We will definitely be continuing our media ban during the school weeks but I need to find useful ways to fill some of their time on the weekends.  The combination of owning our own business and home schooling means that both Matt and I typically need to use at least part of Saturday and Sunday to work on the computer, which means that we aren’t spending time with the girls during that time.  And the fact that we live in the city (i.e., no land/large animals to tend to) and that they clean with me during the week means that they don’t have significant, time-consuming chores to take care of either on the weekends.  Like I said earlier, I have some ideas for time fillers.  We’ll see how they go.  😉

Well, Matt was gracious enough to take all the girls with him to Emma’s riding lessons so I should go make the most of my quiet time here at home.  I wish you all a wonderful weekend fill with time with those you love most!

~ Sara