Monday, February 26, 2007

The ABC's of Homemaking

I've really been struggling with feeling like a maid lately. It seems that my entire existence consists of cleaning, laundry, cooking, and stain removal of all kinds. I'm no domestic diva, but I thought I would share my insights and opinions about housekeeping. Thanks to More Cowbell for the idea.

Aprons? - I have quite a collection, but I never wear them. I'm actually a rather neat cook unless I'm dealing with chocolate. But I do have a favorite apron. Kendra made it at preschool and it proclaims that I am, indeed, the world's greatest mommy.

Baking? - I love to bake. I'm a super-geeky baker. I actually weigh my flour for certain recipes because it's so much more accurate than scooping.

Clothesline? - Not a clothesline, per se, but I do drip dry several blouses, sweaters, and other unmentionables. I would never hang clothes outside, though, because with my luck a bird would poop on them.

Dusting? - I'm a little neurotic about dusting. I love my microfiber cloths and use those to quick dust. I use damp rags on the blinds and most of the furniture. I use every attachment on the vacuum to dust behind furniture. I really like to dust.

Everyday - One homemaking thing you do everyday? - Wash dishes. That's pretty much it. I don't make my bed every day. I don't do laundry every day. Heck, I don't even shower every day. But dishes? They're neverending.

Freezer - Do you have a separate deep freezer? - Not a deep freezer, but we have a second fridge in the garage. It doesn't work very well so I try to not keep much in it! Things tends to melt slightly and then refreeze. Not very safe, but nobody's gotten food poisoning yet!

Garbage Disposal? - Yes! I take great joy in shoving things down the disposal. Today I made key lime tarts and I happily put the rinds of 5 limes down there. My sink smelled yummy.

Handbook? - A handbook for what? Cleaning? Not really, although I've read Queen of Clean and a few other "housewife" type books. A handbook for parenting? Tons, but we've yet to decide which route we're actually on. A handbook for life in general? That would be the Bible, my friends.

Ironing? - I try to save it for my mom, who loves to iron. She lives 1400 miles away and visits twice a year. And that's pretty much how often things get ironed around here. The only exception is if I'm sewing something. Then I'll iron a seam or hem.

Junk Drawer? - I abhor junk. I have neatly organized drawers that house a variety of things, but I refuse to have any junk in the house. Drives me nuts to own things that don't have an assigned purpose.

Kitchen - Design and decorating? - The walls are Builders Beige, just like the rest of the house (although we're painting in the near future). My decorating is seasonal, and I try to change the accessories based on the weather. I have summer dishes and winter dishes that go with the summer chair pads and winter chair pads. And that's my extent of decorating.

Love - What is your favorite part of homemaking? - I love a clean house, but I can't say I actually love any aspect of homemaking. I'm an organizational freak, but that's more of an obsessive/compulsive thing than an act of love.

Mopping? - I do not mop; I FloorMate. Mopping is gross since you're just wetting the dirt and moving it around. But FloorMating? (Yes, it's a verb.) That actually sucks up the dirty floor water! It's brilliant! OK, maybe this is what I love -- the joy of pouring out the dirty FloorMate water and knowing that all that filth is no longer on my floors.
Kevin mops, by the way. We have a loose agreement that I handle everything from the ankles up, and he handles everything ankles down. He loves to vacuum and he mops almost every week. And, God bless him, he actually dries the floors with a towel.

Nylons - Wash by hand or in the washer? - Nylons? Can't say I've worn them since our wedding. I'm exaggerating, of course, but the last time I went to put on nylons I found that they were all so old that the elastic was shot in every single pair. And I hadn't even opened the boxes on most of them! When I do wash the occasional pair of Spanx, I use a lingerie bag in the washer and then let them drip dry.

Oven - Do you use the window or open it to check? - Open to check. The window is so filthy that it is hardly an accurate gauge on how the food is cooking. Of course, my oven isn't even working properly right now. Every night is a crap shoot on whether I'll cook something edible. Tonight's dinner didn't fare so well. I really need a new oven. If you'd like to donate to my oven fund, I accept Paypal.

Products - What cleaning products do you use? - I've got quite a list of favorite products. Best invention of the decade, hands down, is Lysol Wipes. I prefer them to Clorox Wipes which leave a sticky residue. But I use Lysol Wipes all over the bathroom, kitchen, and even to shine my shoes. Best invention of the 90s would have to be OxiClean. Man, that stuff is amazing.
Other products I can't live without? Comet or Ajax with bleach for the sink. Cascade powder with lemon. Sno-Bol. Mr. Clean erasing sponges for the walls. Scrubby sponges (the gentle kind) for my kitchen counters and dishes. Windex. Lysol for the counters and floors. Dawn dishwashing detergent. Liquid Tide with bleach alternative. I'm very loyal to my brands! No generic cleaners for me.

Quiet - What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment? - Check my email or waste time online. That's during the day. At night I read or do logic puzzles.

Recipe card box? - I have a three-ring binder. I have a template on my computer for recipes so I can format them and print them out. Then they go into my binder in a plastic protective cover. Did I mention that I'm obsessive/compulsive?
I also have a fairly large collection of cookbooks. The two I can't live without are the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, which is 1200 pages long, and my good ole' Better Homes and Gardens cookbook with the traditional red cover. I'm a fan of Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and the supersized Southern Living cookbook, too. My biggest disappointment has been all my crock-pot cookbooks. I've never found a crock-pot recipe that I really love.

Style of house? - Kind of colonial. Two story red-brick with big white columns. It doesn't match the neighborhood, but we sure like it.

Tablecloths and napkins? - With three small kids? We use vinyl tablecloths even though I think they're tacky. And cheap paper napkins, but I'll break out the good paper napkins for company.

Under the kitchen sink? - A whole lot of cleaning supplies and two huge boxes of Latex gloves. I can't stand to touch raw meat, so I wear gloves when I make hamburgers.

Vacuum - How many times a week? Usually just once, sometimes twice. Kevin vacuums 90 percent of the time. I try not to look down very often.

Wash - How many loads do you do a week? - I don't count. It's a neverending, continual thing. Maybe eight loads a week? I truly don't know.

X's - Do you keep a list of things to do and cross them off? - Only lists of errands and things to buy. I don't keep a to-do list of household tasks because that would just add to my stress level.

Yard - Who does what? - I am absolutely, positively NOT allowed to touch Kevin's lawn mower. It was in our pre-nup. My extend of yard work consists of occasionally watering the potted plants and trees. And sometimes I remember to fertilize the potted plants, but only when they look really bad.

ZZZ's - What is your last homemaking task for the day? Does throwing my clothes on the bathroom floor count? Honestly, I pretty much shut down after the kids are in bed. I try not to do housework at night, so making dinner is usually the last job of the day for me. I don't even do the dishes at night. The clattering bothers me after a long day, and I like working in a sunny kitchen so I usually do dishes in the morning.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hey, It's Franklin

It's Saturday and the kids and I have been cleaning house all day. Kendra opened the front door to go get the mail, and suddenly I heard shrieks. I ran to the front door as Kendra was screaming, "There's a turtle!" Shore 'nuf, there was a turtle on our front porch, just wandering aimlessly in a Grapes of Wrath kind of way.
The million dollar question: Is it somebody's pet or is it wild? We live in an awfully dry, rocky part of town, and don't turtles like creeks and wetlands? All I know is that we're not adopting this one. We've made signs to put up at the exits of our neighborhood. Hopefully somebody will claim it. If not, Kevin will be assigned to release the turtle at the closest creek.
If blogs had sound, I would upload the horrifically creepy scratching sound that the turtle's nails are making as he tries to climb out of the cardboard box. I'm getting the willies just thinking about it.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Allergy Epiphany

We're all suffering through cedar season right now, and I would just like to point out that the word snot, reversed, spells the word tons. Lowbrow humor or literary truism -- you decide. All I know is that we've gone through a Costco-sized multi-pack of tissues this month.

And in an update to my previous post, I had no idea that a new double oven with convection would cost around $2,000. Talk about sticker shock. As a result, I'm taking my husband's advice and using the "see-if-your-hand-gets-burned" method of cooking right now. And I put a cheap oven thermometer on the rack so at least I'll have some idea of how to calibrate the temperature. At least I'm not cooking on an open fire with a cast iron kettle.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Top Chef

My electronic panel on my oven has gone completely black, the oven is taking twice as long to cook things as it should, and the convection feature died several years ago. I'm a little concerned about the safety of cooking food when the temperature doesn't seem to be getting much hotter than the girls' Easy Bake Oven. And, considering I had to replace the electronic panel three years ago and it only has a 90-day warranty, I'm leaning toward just buying a brand new oven. Kevin, on the other hand, thinks I should be able to adjust my recipes to make the oven last a little longer. An excerpt of our most recent conversation:

Me: How can I cook if I don't know what temperature the oven is at?
Kevin: You know what numbers you've punched into the panel, right?
Me: The panel is black. I don't even know if the oven is on anymore.
Kevin: Can't you just stick your hand in there and see if it gets burned?

And on that note, I'll be visiting the Factory Builder Store this week to buy myself a new double oven with convection and a panel that has an extended warranty. There goes my hard-earned eBay money...

Friday, February 09, 2007

February Funk

I'm recognizing a few patterns in my life. I get overcommitteed because the word "no" is difficult for me to say. I manage to get through highly-stressful times, although my family suffers a little due to my sleep-deprived grumpiness. And when the deadlines are over, I turn into a sloth. For days.

Right now I'm recovering from a massive eBay sale that sucked two weeks from my life. I also had a massive stamping show in Houston last weekend that required me to plan and prepare 10 projects. I want to be in sloth mode, but I'm currently scrambling to finish a massive proofreading project for my sister. And I have another massive 10-project stamping thing at my house next Tuesday. The theme here is massive, as in coronary.

Couple all that with allergies, a sick Caelyn, a disgusting amount of laundry, a broken oven, a broken toilet, and the daily demands of life, and I'm running on adrenaline 90 percent of the time. Does this count as my aerobic activity for the week?

I know there's a lesson in all this. I just don't have time to process it right now.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Timothy Kyler

The bravest person I've ever known has gone to be with the Lord. Timothy was a 13-year-old boy at our church who battled cancer for 5 years. I got to know the family a little when their youngest daughter, Rebekah, was in my 3-year-old Sunday School class. Rebekah told me many times about her "bubba" and how he was sick. My heart goes out to her as I know she is missing her bubba today.

I don't have the words to express how wonderful Timothy's spirit was during this whole ordeal. I'm just going to reprint what his dad wrote in a recent email. This was written during Timothy's final stay in the hospital.

Thursday, 1/25/07, 10:00am: Timothy is awake and fairly alert, eating breakfast with shaky hands, needing very little assistance. Over the next minute or two, as he, Kay Ann, and I are talking, Timothy's body slowly—but steadily—slumps, his thoughts and words drift, his voice shakes, he speech becomes slurred. His spoon flails aimlessly at the mashed potatoes he's trying to eat. Suddenly his eyes roll slightly in two different directions and his head lists far to one side. I rise from my chair, take the spoon from his hand, gently press my cheek against his, and whisper some calming words—hopefully a lifeline of reality and assurance he can hang onto. In the minute or so that follows, my emotions begin to swell and I tell Timothy (as I have so many times before) how much we love him and are proud of him. No response. My emotions continue to swell. I tighten my hug, press the check just a bit more and whisper some "sweet nothings" into Timothy's ears. Still no response. I say, "Timothy, are you coherent?" Seconds pass without a response. I say again, "Timothy are you coherent?". After a few more seconds, eyes still closed, head still listing, Timothy responds, "Piiiiink Flamiiiiiingos!" My cheek still pressed against his, I said "WHAT?" then I backed away to check out the bigger body language picture. At that, Timothy suddenly and literally bolted to life, eyes wide open and said, "HA! Just kidding! Got you, Dad!" The momentary fade was real. The recovery just as real. The final punchline... all Timothy.

Some verses about our heavenly destination have become dear over the past months. We learn specific things about life on the other side from Luke 16:19-31, Revelation 6:9-11, II Cor. 4:16-18 & 5:10, to list only a few. We've also been reading the book "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn and I strongly recommend you lay hold of a copy. There are many other verses about heaven we've shared together as a family and more specifically with Timothy. I'd like to share insights, but now is not the time.

I asked Timothy what words he would have for us should he be promoted. He thought for a moment, then replied, "See ya on the other side." We endure with joy our ministry for a few short years on this earth and look forward to meeting up with many of you "on the other side."

A most important footnote. Having spoken with him this morning, Timothy wants each of you to know, as he knows, the certainty of your salvation and position in heaven after death. In his words, it is "unacceptable for you not to join him someday for a reunion in heaven." At Timothy's' concurrence and for those of you who may not know for certain if heaven will someday be your permanent home, we encourage you lay hold of the free gift bought and paid by Jesus on the cross as is so well described in John 3:16 and other verses listed below.

If any truth has been gored into my soul through this trial, it is the absolute zero worthlessness of our ability to be righteous before God and earn heaven on the basis of our works. Take Timothy as an example. The suffering of the innocent for something he, from a parent's perspective, does not deserve. The cancer is deadly, the treatments (like our attempts to work our way to heaven), though well-meaning, ultimately bring hurt without cure. So as the chemo, such are our attempts to earn heaven. God has recognized the insufficiency of our works to achieve the standard of perfection for His heaven (Rom. 3:23).

Take Jesus—the only true innocent, out of love for His created mankind and need to atone for and cover sin, voluntarily humbling himself, becoming obedient to the suffering of the cross, momentarily forsaken while bearing the wrath of God, taking the full penalty of our sin on His broken body... that "whosoever believes on Him (His sacrificial work on the cross), should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Now imagine man's rejection of that painful, humiliating sacrifice to pursue a life of works to gain the favor of God and ultimate entrance to heaven. If I were Jesus (humanly speaking), I'd be hacked watching children I've created and loved, literally to death, ignoring the high price I just paid while trying to be good enough to earn heaven. It was the very fact that man was and is hopelessly lost in sin that Jesus decided to pay the penalty by death (Rom. 3:10-20 & Rom. 5:8).

Take a few minutes to read the following verses: John 3:16; John 5:24; John 6:40; Romans 3:9-28; Romans 5:8; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:1-10; Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5,6; II Cor. 5:21. Also, see I John 5:10-13. Note in verse 13 the ability of one to "know that you have eternal life." If you believe that God loved you so much that He gave Jesus to die on the cross for your sins, and you, by faith, by confession of your mouth by prayer (Romans 10:9), you may be assured of your position of heaven at death... thanks to Jesus. Free gift. Can't be earned, can't be lost. Accept the free gift today.