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My House is Lived in and I Don’t Feel Bad About It…Anymore

I used to have an acquaintance who lived in a perfect house.   It was neat.  It was clean.  It was decorated.  It’s the kind of house you see in a magazine.  It’s that neat.

Every time I saw this woman, she would tell me something that was wrong with my house.  She made sure to tell me over and over that she didn’t think I was a slob or anything.  And ya know, I hadn’t thought she did, until she said that over and over for 2 hours.

I slowly felt worse and worse about my house.  I had never been a neat person.  And I had been ok with that, until I met this woman.  I started to let it build up in my head.  I started to compare my house to hers.  I started to compare my house to those on tv.  Those on the pinterest.  My house never looked like those houses.  And I felt horrible.

I was under the mistaken impression that my house was messy, because I didn’t have time to clean it.  I thought, if I didn’t work, I’d have time to clean my house.  If I didn’t work, I’d have time to cook all of our meals.  If I didn’t work, I’d have time to lead a girl scout troop.  If I didn’t have scout outings every weekend, I’d have time to clean.  If I didn’t have to travel to see family, I’d have time.

So, I quit my job.   I suddenly had 6 hours a day to clean!  I had big dreams.  Big dreams of the perfect house.  It would be neat.  It would be beautifully decorated.  It would be sparkling clean.

Boy was I in for a rude awakening.  After a full year at home, my house was not neat.  My house was not perfectly decorated.  My house was not sparkling clean.  And boy did I feel like a failure.  I felt pretty bad about myself, but I said hey, you can’t catch up on 15 years of mess in one year.  But after 2 years, my house still did not look like Better Homes and Gardens.

Now, halfway through the 3rd year, I have finally realized that my house will never be neat.  There will always be books or crafts that I am working on in the living room.  That’s where the comfortable furniture is.  There will always be art projects on the dining room table, that’s where the big flat surface is.

My house will never be perfectly decorated and I love that. I love that my kids can tape their artwork to the wall with masking tape in the middle of the living room for everyone to see.  It helps them see that I really appreciate their artwork.  I like that the kids have chalkboard walls in their bedrooms so they can write on the walls.  I think it gives them ownership of their own room.  I love that we have a whiteboard in the dining room.  Our house is functional, fun, and easy-going.

And yes, it is cleaner.  Dishes and laundry get done every day.  I can usually find the stove to make dinner.  Everyone can usually find clean clothes to wear.  Most of the rooms are painted.  I’ve got daily and weekly routines in place.  We can usually walk through the house, and it’s usually company ready.

But ya know what?  We are busy people.  I run a Girl Scout Troop.  I help out with a Cub Scout Pack.  I run a FLLjr team.  My husband is heavily involved in Boy Scouts.  We camp.  We ski.  We travel.  Sometimes, we get back late at night and suitcases get dumped in the entryway.  Sometimes, it takes a week to catch up on laundry or groceries after a 3 week trip.  Sometimes, I’m so busy running errands for scouts that I don’t get the house clean.

And what I’ve learned, is that travel is important to us.  Adventure is important to us.  Fun is important to us.  A house that is under control helps me feel less stressed and more productive.  So, I just follow my routines and accept where the house is at.

 

Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches

Here are my requirements for weekday breakfasts

  • It is quick
  • I don’t have to cook it
  • It is healthier than cold cereal
  • My daughter will eat it

Freezer Breakfast sandwiches hit the mark on all of the above.  It’s quick.  Just nuke it and eat it.  I don’t have to cook it, because I already did.  It has protein, so it is already doing better than rice chex.  My kids LOVE them.  They work so well, I’m pretty proud of myself, and I’m going to share them with you.

IMG_2881First, you need your eggs to fit on the bun.  To keep mine contained to a relatively circular shape the size of the bun, I used wide mouth mason jar rings.  I just sprayed them with pam, and put them in my cast iron pan.  Cracked in the eggs and broke up the yolk a little.

While the eggs were cooking, I toasted the buns.  I used hamburger buns, because Aldi does not sell gluten free english muffins, but you can use english muffins.  I would recommend toasting them pretty dark.  I toasted mine only once, and they get a little mushy when I microwave them.

IMG_2883I’m so proud of how pretty the eggs came out.  I added a slice of ham.  Next time, I plan to try bacon.  You can even add cheese!

IMG_2882And the finished product!

 


Ingredients:

  • Cage Free Organic Eggs
  • Deli Ham
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Gluten Free Hamburger Buns

Directions

  1. Melt a tablespoon or 2 of bacon fat in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  2. Spray wide-mouth canning jar rings with cooking spray inside and out.
  3. When the pan is hot, crack an egg into each jar ring.  To check if the pan is hot, run your hand under cold water and then flick your fingers to put water in the pan.  If it sizzles, it’s hot enough.
  4. Break the yolks a little with a fork.
  5. Meanwhile toast the buns.  I run them through my toaster twice, because it’s old.  They need to be well toasted, because they are microwaved to thaw them, and they will get soggy if they are not toasted enough.
  6. When the eggs are set, lift the ring off, and flip them.
  7. Once the eggs are fully cooked, move them to a plate and sprinkle on cheese.
  8. Allow everything to cool.
  9. Assemble your sandwich.  Bun, ham, egg and cheese, top bun.
  10. Put them in a sandwich bag, or plastic wrap.  Then put them in a Freezer bag, label it, and stick them in the freezer.  I like to double wrap, so you can re-use the bag, and they don’t get freezer burn as easily.

 

Vacation Prep

Good Morning!  I just got back from Christmas break, and my house is a disaster!  It got me thinking about a few simple steps that I could have done to prepare ahead to make my life easier this week.  See my previous post about how to recover if you didn’t do this and you are already in a mess.

There are lots of reasons that the house falls apart.  Some are unplanned, like a medical emergency, but others, like vacations we can prep for.  Here are some things that can be done.

  1. Get ahead on your laundry.  Make sure all of your laundry is washed, dried, ironed, folded, and put away before your trip.  This way, you’ll have clean clothes to wear when you come home.
  2. Change your sheets twice this week.  I normally change my sheets on Monday.  So, I just change my sheets again on Friday.  That way, I can skip it during recovery week.  That’s one less load of laundry.
  3. If you can, do laundry while you are on vacation.  Not always possible.  Not always something you want to do on vacation.  But in my case, I easily could have done laundry.
  4. Take suitcases to the laundry room immediately.  This gets suitcases out of the entryway, so we aren’t tripping over them.  It also gets the clothes to the laundry room, so that they get washed quicker.  I don’t have to wait for the kids to sort them and bring them down to the laundry room.  I have to admit, we didn’t do this after this trip.
  5. Get ahead on your meals.  Fill your freezer with dinners for the week when you get back.  Identify some quick breakfasts.  This could be more stuff for the freezer, but more likely, it’s oatmeal for me.  For lunches, freeze a couple loaves of bread, and plan on tuna salad or pb&j.  Now you can skip grocery shopping when you get back.
  6. Get ahead on cleaning.  With all the extra shopping, meal prep, and laundry, I don’t see how you are going to do this, but go ahead and do some extra deep cleaning before your trip.

That’s it.  That’s all I can think of,  but if you’ve got more ideas, leave them in the comments.

 

Recovery Mode

Ugh!  It’s the week after Christmas Break here in the US.  We are having a snow day, so it is the perfect time for me to write a few posts for you.

Today, I am writing to tell you that I have figured out why I fall into the Winter Slump.  I come back from a full week visiting family, and I am wiped. I am tired because we drive 4 hours to my husbands family for one holiday.  We stay there for a few days.  Then we drive 4 hours home.  We stay home overnight.  Then we drive 3 hours to my family and stay for a few days.  Finally, we drive back home just in time to put the kids to bed for school the next day.

I am exhausted from traveling.  We have only been home long enough to dump Christmas presents and suitcases in the entryway.  No laundry has been done for  a full week.  I’m in vacation mode, doing literally nothing all day, so I am NOT motivated to do any cleaning.  Oh ya, and there’s no food in the house, because I didn’t want it to rot while we were away.  The state of the entryway, and the laundry, and my exhaustion make this a very overwhelming situation, and I can see how I become so lazy and depressed in the winter.

If I don’t get on top of this, there is going to be disaster.  So what to do?  Throw out the usual schedule for a week, and write up a recovery list.  Look at the state of things and write up a list of everything that needs to be done.  Work through the list, and accept that it’s going to take a couple weeks to get the house back on track.

Recovery Steps

  1. Keep up with dishes and laundry.  On the first day back, I didn’t push myself to do my full morning routine, but I did do a load of laundry and a load of dishes.
  2. Meal plan, shop, and meal prep.  While I was still on vacation, I did my meal plan and grocery list.  When I got home, I checked items off my grocery list that I already have in my pantry.  Then I shopped and baked on my first day.
  3. Get back into your morning routine.  On my second day back, I did my full morning routine.  Yay!
  4. Do a little bit of catch-up.  After my morning routine, I spent 15 minutes putting away christmas presents or emptying a suitcase.  Continue to do 15 minutes a day, and you’ll be caught up by the end of the week.
  5. Skip what you can.  I’m skipping my Weekly cleaning this week.  My daily cleaning includes sweeping, tidying, and bathrooms.  I’ll probably mop the kitchen, but I am not going to worry about upstairs.  And I know the entryway won’t get vacuumed, because there’s still stuff all over the floor.  Don’t worry, I’ll clean it next week, and no-one is coming over anyway…

Stay tuned for my next post about how to avoid this in the first place…

My Daily Schedule for Winter

Since I have become a homemaker, my daily schedule has fluctuated to both extremes.  I talked about this in my last post.

At this time of year, if I don’t have a schedule for the day, it results in me sitting on the couch until I “feel” like getting my day started.  Usually around 9:30.  I do the dishes, maybe sweep, and start the laundry, and poof it’s lunch.  I start up Netflix while I eat and crap the kids are home.  The house devolves into a mess.  I end up resenting the kids, because I am trying to clean and they want my attention.  I feel guilty for taking breaks during the day, and ashamed that my house is a mess when company comes.

During the last couple weeks, I’ve been focusing on finding a schedule that works for me, and this is what I have come up with:

5:30am  Get up and have a cup of coffee and watch videos until I wake up.  Would love to read a book here, but I am usually to tired to focus on written words.

6:00am Time to make lunches

6:30am Get M up.  It works best if I read a book or Bujo while I monitor her getting ready.  I get less frustrated by the interruptions than I do when I am watching a video.

7:45 M is out for Bus.  Hubby is off to work.  Have another cup of coffee.  Bujo, watch videos, whatever.

8:30 By this time, I am usually showered.  Bathroom is cleaned.  Move into the bedroom.  Make bed.  Spend 15 minutes tidying the bedroom.  Iron.  Put away laundry.  Start a load of laundry.

9:30 By now I have moved into the kitchen.  Empty, Load, and run dishwasher.  Wipe counters.  Wipe dining room table.  Tidy living room.  Sweep downstairs.

10:30 Take a break.  Make sure to drink water.

11:00 Head outside to bring in firewood.  Split wood if the weather is good.

12:00 Lunch

12:30 Project time.  Girl Scouts or Cub Scouts or Lego League or House Project or Groceries or meal prep.

2:30 G gets home.  Make sure he’s got snack.  Finish up whatever you are doing and take a break before M gets home.

3:15 Snack for M.

3:30 Help M with homework.

4:30 Dinner Prep

5:00 Eat quick and get to those evening activities

7:30 Dessert.

8:00 M goes to bed.  Watch TV with G and hubby.

9:00 We all go to bed.

This schedule serves me pretty well.  I don’t follow it to a T.  Today, I am veering off of it to write blog posts, but  I do stick to it most week days.  The house is clean and neat.  I don’t feel guilty about taking my breaks at mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

I would like to see a little more social interaction during the day, and a better outlet for my stress.  I tend to unload on my poor husband in that 7:30 time block.  I’m exhausted from a day full of chores.  I’ve just gotten back from an hour and a half of screaming 8 year olds.  I’m sure that the parents all hate me.  My anxiety and exhaustion come together and I lose it.  If I can avoid that, I end up having a nice night of tv with the boys. It’s nice.

 

Embrace the Seasons

I worked in the corporate world for almost 20 years.  In the corporate world, every day of my life was the same.  Get up.  Go to work.  Come home.  Do evening activities.  Go to bed.  Try to cram in a workout.  Try to cram in some me time.  Repeat.

As a homemaker, my days are different throughout the year.  It looks like this:

Fall: Ahh!!! Back to school.  I’ve got to get my Girl Scout Troop off the ground.  Ahhh!!! I’ve got to help out with Cub Scouts.  Ahhh!!!! I want to volunteer at school.  OMG!  Every night and weekend is full of activities for the kids.  It’s halloween already?  I’ve got to prep for Thanksgiving!  Oh no!  I’ve got to make all my Christmas presents.  I’m so overwhelmed.

Winter:  Phew.  The Holidays are over.  Volunteering activities are moving along at a manageable rhythm.  It’s cold out, let’s sit by the fire and do nothing all day.  My husband is at work.  I should be working all day too!  I feel so guilty.

Spring: Ugh.  I can’t get motivated!  Winter’s over, but I don’t want to get back into a routine.  I don’t want to clean my house.  I want to waste my days like I did all winter.  I can’t get motivated.

Summer: The kids are home.  I have tons of energy.  I want to clean the whole house.  I want to do all the house projects.  I know I should be outside.  It’s too hot.  I want to take the kids to cool places all day.  I can’t fit everything into one day.  Holy cow!  We are traveling so much.  I’m annoyed that I can’t get any of my chores done!

As you can see, the days are NOT all the same, and I am very upset by this.  For 2 years, I tried to make all my days the same.  I failed.  They are not the same, and I feel bad that they are not the same.  Well, no more!

I am making a New Year’s Resolution to live seasonally.

September: Just keep up with daily routines.  Do the dishes.  Do the laundry.  Pick up stuff laying out around the house.  Sweep.  Use FlyLady’s “Crisis Cleaning” once a week to get the downstairs clean.  Get the whole family involved.  Focus on the areas that guests will see.

November:  The daily routines are now a habit.  We’ve ironed out the schedule for our extracurricular activities.  Now we can get the house in order.  This is a whole family effort!  Make a list of the messy areas.  Divide and conquer.  Get the house neat.  For me, the week before Thanksgiving is cram week.

December: We are in maintenance mode people.  Stick to your daily routines.  Tidy the house daily.  Clean the house weekly.  Focus on your Basic Weekly Plan.

January: Keep up those daily and weekly plans.  Now is the time to do indoor projects.  This could be house projects.  This could be crafting gifts for people.  It could be peeping freezer meals.  It could be learning a new skill or starting a social group.

May: Stop the projects.  Keep up the Daily and Weekly chores.  Start planning and prepping for summer.

July: We are in summer.  Just do your best to keep up the daily and weekly routines.  Finish the chores by noon.  Do something fun every day for just 2 hours.

That’s it.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

 

Quick Freezer Breakfasts for Weekdays

When I envisioned myself as a homemaker, I thought I’d be serving my family full breakfast every day like they do on those tv shows from the 50s.  Boy was I in for a rude awakening!  My son has to be out for the bus at 6:30, and there is no way I am making pancakes at 6 in the morning.  It’s not good for our timelines or our waistlines.

What to do?  Freezer cooking to the rescue! I am going to stock my freezer with these breakfast staples

  1. Breakfast Burritos
  2. Breakfast Sandwiches
  3. Quick bread

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A Year In the Life of a Girl Scout Leader

It’s day I don’t know of my NaNoWriMo challenge.  I’m trying to write a post a day for the month of November.  I’ve decided to allow myself to write a post each weekday and skip the weekends.  So, without further ado, on to our topic for today’s post.

How to run a Girl Scout Troop.  Sounds easy, right?  Ya, I thought so.  The lovely volunteer paraphernalia makes it sound like you can lead a troop in a few hours a week.  It’s simple right?  Just buy some supplies and spend an hour at the meeting.  Ya no.

What I actually did as a Girl Scout Leader:

  1. In September a parent registers her daughter for Girl Scouts.
  2. In September, or October, a parent meeting is held to identify 2 leaders, a cookie parent, and a fall product coordinator.
  3. In October, Volunteers complete the Volunteer Process.  All Volunteers, including leaders fill out an application and receive a background check.  They then attend 5 hours of training in person or online.
  4. In October, Leaders collect Health form, Families Make it Happen, and Annual Permission Slip.
  5. October-November is Fall Product season.  Since fall product is so early in the year, many troops opt out.  New troops just can’t get through the volunteer process quickly enough to participate.  Established troops that participate, do receive a larger percentage of the profits than they would from cookie sales.  But troops in my area do not have booths to sell fall product.
  6. December-April is cookie season.  The cookie parent, often one of the leaders, orders is responsible for managing cookie sales for the troop.  This includes ordering, transporting and storing cookies, ordering and distributing prizes, collecting and depositing money from cookie sales, and scheduling cookie booths.
  7. In October, the girls select their year plan.
  8. In October – June, the Leaders plan, purchase supplies for, and run the 15 Girl Scout Meetings associated with a year plan.
  9. In February, my community holds Brownie and Junior Lock-in.  This is an indoor overnight event.
  10. In February-May, my community plans and attends Camporee.  This is an overnight camping event held each spring in my community.  Leaders can join the Camporee Committee to plan the event.  Girls can participate in a patch design contest, and make swaps for the event.
  11. In October-June, leaders work with the girls to schedule outings.  The year plan that my troop is following has a hike, a campfire, an overnight camping trip, and letter boxing.
  12. In October-June, leaders attend monthly Leader Meetings.  Leaders for all of the troops in the community get together to learn what is happening in our area.
  13. In June, the girls complete a Take action project.  The Leader works with the girls to plan, perform, and reflect on a project in the community.
  14. When Available, leaders attend First Aid training.  One leader for each troop must be trained in first aid in order to attend any field trips.
  15. In Fall or Spring, leaders attend BOLS Training.  One leader must be trained in Basic Outdoor Living Skills to attend a camping trip.  This is a 3 day class, where you plan and attend a camping trip.

So, as you can see, it is NOT 3 hours a week.  I think Girl Scouts does a great disservice to volunteers when they post on their website that you can be a volunteer in 3 hours a week.  When I see that as a parent, I think “What the hell is wrong with these Girl Scout Leaders”?  Why can’t they get their act together, it should only take 3 hours a week to run a troop.  They don’t need me.

Umm.  No.  You need to tell the parents all of the things that need to be done.  You need to tell them how much work there is.  So that they realize that their leaders can’t do it alone.  And they certainly can’t do it alone if they have a full-time job.  So we all need to help.

And then comes the hard part.  How do I as a leader, figure out the little piece that someone can do, and use that help free up my time?  Well that’s what I am working on this year.  I’ll give you my ideas in my next post.  Because right now, I need to go plan a Girl Scout Meeting!

 

 

 

Day In the Life

Just a quick update to keep up with the daily posts. 

Must do Today:

  • Schedule parent Teacher Conference 
  • Gather supplies for tonight’s Cub Scout meeting 
  • 1 load of Dishes
  • 1 load of Laundry 
  • Use the brown banana before it rots
  • Check due dates for library books
  • Tidy up enough to walk through each room
  • Make dinner
  • Sweep
  • Clean bathrooms 

Nice to do Today:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Split wood

Meal Plan Monday

We had a storm on Sunday night into Monday which resulted in a power outage and two trick or treating events.  As a result, this week’s meal plan features lots of quick meals.

Featured Recipes:

  1. Dump Soup.  The power was out on Monday, and I needed to run all over town running last minute errands for Girl Scouts.  Dump Soup to the rescue!  Dump soup is something I learned on our 3 week camping trip last summer.  You basically dump a whole bunch of cans in a pot and add some spices.  My favorite actual recipe is Cub O’Soup the Scout’s Outdoor Cookbook.
  2. Breakfast Burritos.  I cooked up some hot sausage and eggs.  Opened up a can of refried beans, and a can of diced tomatoes.  Put it all in a gluten free wrap and froze it.
  3. Breakfast Sandwiches. I cooked some eggs in Wide Mouth canning jar rings.  I broke up the yolks a little.  I toasted up some gluten free hamburger buns from Aldi, because that’s the closest thing to english muffins they had.  Added some shredded cheddar, and some ham.  Froze em.
  4. French Toast Casserole.  See last week’s meal plan.
  5. Muffins.  See last week’s meal plan.