31 July 2008

Last day of July!

I woke up this morning and heard on the news that today is the last day of July. Although no intelligent person would claim that as newsworthy, or even news, it did put a big grin on my face. July is on average more hot than August here in these parts, so that's one reason to smile. July has 31 days, and with all the daylight, one might say it is the longest month of the year, especially when you are 9 months pregnant and your due date is in August.

Blah, blah, blah. I looked over the posts for the month, and realized how few good pictures I have posted of the kids. So I took a few today while photographing the "new look" of the place, and thought the relatives might appreciate seeing what the kids look like these days.

So here you go people:

The Nesting Instinct

I think I have got the nesting instinct stronger than ever before! I think that Enoch has been experiencing sympathy nesting, just like he's also been eating for two, or so it seems. So we have not only finished working on the bathroom for now (photos will be forthcoming, once the bathroom is actually cleaned--so maybe never), but we also re-arranged our basement in preparation for the re-model/construction project, re-organized the kitchen cupboards, and are in the process of re-organizing our shelving units in the dining room. Meanwhile, I've also been cleaning like crazy.

My biggest day of work by far was yesterday, when I got the kids to help me move the furniture, wipe down the piano (and sweep behind), triple-vacuum the living room and dining room rugs (which had been sprinkled with baking soda the night before--in preparation for shampooing them), roll up the rugs, sweep the wood floors, and then mop with Murphy's Oil Soap (mmm! smells so nice!). When Enoch came home, the floors were shining I was mopping the kitchen floor, and furniture was pushed to the corners to be re-arranged.

We decided to trade the rugs for each room. The larger one went to the dining room, and the smaller one to the living room. In the dining room, we decided to move the location of the bench and microwave cart, resulting in what you now see. I even found lovely space for my pear collection, which will hopefully serve as a clutter-deterrent on the large flat surface of the cart. Since my kitchen and the middle counter turned into disaster zones that still need to be addressed, I avoided catching that on film. We still plan to re-arrange the location of the items on the shelves, but it is for the most part what it will be.

In the living room, we were faced with the challenge of where to put the furniture. The piano limits our possible arrangement options, but since we had moved the smaller rug into the larger room, we also couldn't quite make the furniture and traffic flow work for the large space. We finally came up with something that we like, and even were able to set up a portable crib for a safe place for the baby on the main floor. It really makes the room feel more intimate, and separates the desk zone from the living room zone, which we like.

So where is all this energy coming from? Funny you should ask. I've been reading Colossians this month. Even just this morning I came across this verse, which stood out to me:

"For this purpose I also labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me." Colossians 1:29
Yesterday, as I was getting the kids to work, we have made Colossians 3:23 our theme verse:

"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men."
What has also been greatly influencing me lately is a book I've been reading, called Neat Mom, Messie Kids, by Sandra Felton. While the title doesn't aptly describe me, the content has been excellent, and I hope to read more books by Mrs. Felton. I also hope to blog more about this book in the future. But for now, this is my little domestic victory.

26 July 2008

And On We Go

Kitchen window with a nice little arrangement of orange Cosmos from my flower beds.

Well, we had a short unplanned break from the internet (and the phone) this week, and had to have the phone company come out to check everything. Although we have very old phone wires in the house, the problem was outside. Old wires from the pole to the house, and also from that pole to another pole a block away were faulty.

We are nearing the "two weeks 'til due date" mark, and we are living the procrastinators dream right now. Heh. Heh. Heh. We haven't officially settled on baby names yet, but that's the least of our worries. We're about to embark on a BIG home improvement project that involves taking out our existing garage door (which is also currently the dividing wall between us and the outside), replacing it with a cinder-block wall and exterior steel door , and putting up interior walls about 6-8 feet deep. Thus creating a storage room with exterior access for our "garage-like" items, and thus separating the "garage" area from the interior basement living space. We plan to begin construction a week from today. A little insane, no?

So I have no idea what our situation will be when my parents come in a week and a half from now, but I am at least glad that we'll have some extra grown ups to help keep me from going insane, although it sounds pretty insane anyway, I know! I suppose it's about time we set up a crib for the baby, or at least a bassinet or pack-n-play where he/she can sleep. Note to self: purchase mattress for the crib. Soon. And size 1 diapers. I might want to pack a toothbrush for the hospital, too.

The funny thing is, I don't really feel stressed or worried about it. Can you tell? Maybe I've already lost my mind. I often wonder what we'll do if the baby comes early. But that doesn't even freak me out. I would prefer he/she arrive sometime after Mom and Dad arrive, but I am also very much looking forward to not being pregnant anymore, and anytime sounds good to me!

"This too shall pass," as Mom often would say. Before baby comes, fine. After baby comes, fine. While baby comes? Uh, boy! I'm going to meditate on Proverbs 3:5-6 now.

21 July 2008

Getting the Week Started

We're in the middle of a heat wave here, which is quite exhausting for me. But we're managing. There's only three weeks until baby #4 is due, so my smile keeps getting bigger, as I know a significant physical relief is in sight. (Only to be replaced with sleepless nights, I know...) But We're keeping ourselves busy with all kinds of home improvement projects. This weekend, Enoch decided to tackle the kitchen. He's been reading books from the library on home improvement and organization, and we've been discussing all kinds of ideas from the basement to the kitchen to the bathroom to the bedroom. Since he's been doing most of the cooking these days, he attacked the kitchen with gusto. I was mostly helping with morale support and input and keeping the kids occupied. While the kitchen still basically looks the same, we've moved some things to new locations (and purged a few things), and have found better use for our space. But this will take some getting used to, since our plates and silverware and just about everything is in a new location.

I've also been long overdue in posting some photos of the bathroom, which is, for the most part finished. We still have detail work to do, like scrape off a few paint drips and hang some pictures, but it's about 95% done. Unless of course you count the need to organize the contents of the bathroom closet. But I'm counting that as a different project all together. (Perhaps if I get the to-do list accomplished, I'll "reward myself" by posting photos of the bathroom.)

Since today is going to be humid and in the mid-90's, I'm keeping my to-do list short and sweet. (I've already made a trip to the store for a couple of items for dinner, and washed a load of towels, but I'm not going to count those things.)


1. Fold and put away clean laundry.
2. Make pulled pork in the crock pot for dinner.
3. Mop kitchen floor.

Let's hope I can stay focussed to accomplish these three things that are top on my list. I have plenty of other work and projects and activities with kids to fill my time, but these three are my goal.

14 July 2008

Another One of Those Days

You know, there are some days when I have no trouble coming up with my own list of things to accomplish, and I somehow am motivated and energized to do them. Other days I just look at everything and can't decide where to even begin! Mondays tend to be especially that way, which is why I've been appreciating the Making your Home a Haven challenge. While I was unable to get dinner prep started, I was able to find some yummy simple recipes to hopefully make good use of some of our garden bounty: basil, zucchini, beets, and green beans. So dinner should be interesting.

After photos of the kids playing. Even they enjoy a clean room!

But I'm doing something brave: I'm posting before and after pictures of what I was able to accomplish in our 5-minute cleaning jobs. Actually, we spent 5 minutes (plus a couple extra) in the living room, 5 minutes in the dining room, and about 15 minutes in the kitchen to get this accomplished (with lunch in the middle). It's not perfect, but definitely improved. The kids enjoyed playing ring around the rosy in the living room while I was fixing lunch, and the boys and I even got to play Memory after quiet time. While there is definitely a lot more time that needs to be spent cleaning and putting away things, for a Monday, I consider this a domestic victory.

Before: kids and living room looking a bit unkempt.

After: at least improved!
Before: Dining room with table full of "whatever"

After: Not perfect, but at least a little more orderly.

Before: Kitchen. This picture says a thousand words!

After: Kitchen: a thousand times better?

12 July 2008

Name That Baby!

As is usual for us, we haven't yet officially settled on a name for this baby, and we've got about 4 weeks to make up our minds! One night we were discussing names, and Enoch had me laughing so hard it was almost cathartic. I hadn't laughed that hard in a while, and I warned him not to send me into early labor. As is our usual practice, I come up with a list of names I like, then he gets to cross off whichever ones he doesn't like, and circle ones he does. From that, we mix it up until we come up with a name we both agree on.

We have some "rules" when it comes to naming our children.

Rule #1, no family names. It's just our first rule, that's all there is to it.

Rule #2, no trendy or overly traditional names (No Apple or River Stevenson, and no Jennifer or Jeffrey Stevenson). The somewhat exception to this rule is for middle names, when a Biblical name may be chosen.

Rule #3, the first name should end with n, at least in it's pronunciation. (Rosalind's name ends with a d, but doesn't usually get pronounced.) {We've thought about adding a rule here about the preceding vowel before the n, since we have -en, -an, and -in(d), but we didn't want to inadvertently place the undue pressure to produce an -on, -un, and -yn to complete the "set" as it were.}

Rule #4 is a rule I realized we had been following without knowing: the "meter" has to match. Although I was an English major and learned the correct terminology for what I mean, basically, the EM-ph-A-sis has to be on the corr-ECT part of the syll-A-ble. All of our names in our family stress the first syllable. E-noch, MER-rilee, JU-lien, TRIS-tan, ROS-alind. While I like names like JusTINE and ChrisTINE, they just didn't seem to sound right to me, if you get my drift.

So, even though the privilege and responsibility to name this child falls to us, the parents, I thought it might be fun to at least post a list of the names we've narrowed it down to, just for others to enjoy. Please feel free to comment if there are any name combinations you love or think sound good, and if you're related, please let us know if there are any relatives' names here that we were unaware of that might need to be disqualified. (See rule #1 above)









06 July 2008

Multitasking in the Backyard

The garden as we last saw it in April (above) after a "professional" hand-tilling.

Below: an "early" snapshot in June with a blanket of straw to keep down weeds and prevent water evaporation.

It's been a while since I've written about the progress of the garden this year. It is growing fast and furiously. We picked the first green bean the other day, and also snatched up two zucchini and one yellow squash. We already harvested the radishes, and also have carrots, beets, and tomatoes to look forward to. This year we also tried something new for the future: we planted raspberry canes in the "upper" part of our grassy strip (what's left of the back yard). The jury is still out on the raspberries, though. I'm optimistic because of the fact that they are weeds, after all, but so far they don't look like they have any life in them. Of the 9 canes that we ordered, only one has leaves growing on it, but they say it can take up to 8 weeks before you begin to see growth, so we've got a couple weeks to go, I suppose. We are also growing rosemary, basil, and mint in the front bed, along with the parsley from last year which has now gone to seed. I also planted a few flower seeds just for whimsy in the front and in a little spot in the back. Much to my delight, I also noticed two dill weeds in the back, which are volunteers from last year.

Above: making the most of nearly every square foot we have.

With all that is growing, what's left of the "back yard" is shrinking. It makes for less of a need to mow (which we don't do too often anyway), but now that we're also hanging our laundry to dry, it makes for precious few square feet on which to play in the grass. So we multi-task. When I'm not hanging laundry, we take the laundry line down and store it inside. We have a couple of chairs and a plastic kiddie pick-nick table that hang out there, and in the afternoon shade of our neighbor's storage shed, we have a little green patch in which to relax and pick clover leaves. Sometimes on hot days, we also bring out the hose and "swimming buckets:" two large multi-purpose tubs that we fill with water and splash in. I've found that even on the hottest and most humid days, I can feel quite refreshed with my feet in the bucket and a hose to mist myself or spray the kids. While my husband would just as soon make the entire back area a garden in which to grow baskets and bushels full of food, I on the other hand am reluctant to give up that little patch of grass so easily. I guess we'll have to see in the future what best will suit our needs.

Rub-a-dub-dub, three kids in a tub, keeping cool in our swimming bucket.
(No signs of success with the raspberry plants behind us.)

04 July 2008

Let Freedom Ring

Those of you who know me know that I don't categorize myself as incredibly patriotic. I am thankful to be blessed to live in this country as a citizen, but I consider my citizenship to be in heaven above far more valuable. I tend to avoid making emotional comparisons of sacrifice for one's country with the Ultimate Sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross when He paid the penalty for our sins. But I had these cute "patriotic" photos of the kids (thanks to the wardrobe choices of their grandparents), and wanted to at least make the most of the opportunity. So here's the photo, followed by a passage from John 8.

John 8:31-36

Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had beleived Him, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."

They answered Him, "We are Abraham's offspring, and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say , 'You shall become free'?"

Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed."

May your celebration of the freedoms that you enjoy be centered around the eternally liberating Truth that sets all men free!

02 July 2008

A New Way of Doing Things

Happy July, everyone! No, we didn't fall off the face of the planet; life has just changed pace a bit, and with the hot humid weather we've been having, posting on the blog has been a bit harder to get to. (My arms don't reach the keyboard from the recliner chair very well!) ;)

I've been meaning to post about the newest change in our routine. While she was here visiting, Mom Stevenson bought us a new collapsible "umbrella" laundry line that she helped Enoch to install in the back yard. Apparently, Mom has been hanging her clothes for years and years. I come from a long line of dryer-users, and haven't used a laundry line much before. I must tell you I wasn't sure I was going to like it! I mean, who likes doing laundry, first of all? Second, why go to all the trouble of carting your wet clothes outside and pinning them up, then unpinning and carting them back in before folding them when I can easily just shove them in the dryer and turn it on? I certainly was not eager to add to my work load, I regret to admit.

(Before I go any further, I must add that the laundry line has come just at the right time. Ever since the washing machine hose incident, the dryer has not been working as efficiently. I wonder if it's related. Whereas it used to take 50-60 minutes to dry a load in the dryer, I was finding it took sometimes over 100 minutes to get the job done. Since getting my laundry line, I have used the dryer maybe three times, and even then I was disappointed with the results.)

But I have come to appreciate it more and more. First of all, our energy bill was nearly $20 less than the last 3-month average, and that's not even from a full month of having used primarily a laundry line! I'm eagerly awaiting our next bill, just to be shocked at how low it is (although the air conditioners are being used more now...but still!) The next reason I've come to appreciate it more has to do with getting the kiddos outside to play more. Since most of my work requires me to be inside, hanging clothes on the line forces me to go outside, and gives the kids a chance to run off some steam and ride their scooters. It is sometimes very challenging to keep Rosalind from following them into the alleyway where I do not trust local drivers to watch out for her. But other than that concern, being outside is enjoyable for all of us. Thirdly, I have learned the secret to crunchy absorbent towels. I always wondered how my mother-in-law got her towels to be so thirsty: line dry them. They feel stiff and fluffy (as opposed to soft but limp), and they just somehow seem to absorb better.

So I'm still learning how to do it right. I've made a few mistakes, and even had to re-hang a load three times because of not putting it out early enough, and then getting rained on twice after that! I'm still self-conscious about hanging bras and underwear out for the whole world to see (even socks seem a bit personal to me, but I'm pretty prudish), and I'm working on getting my laundry washed and hung earlier in the day rather than later. But now that I've gotten accustomed to it, it hardly seems like much more work, which must be an answer to someone's prayer for me, I suppose.

Any of you out there use a laundry line or have pointers to share? I'd be happy to hear from you what things you have learned from hanging rather than machine-drying, as I'm still learning the ropes, as it were.