Saturday, July 25, 2020

Summertime, Socially Distanced of Course


















Our summer is quickly coming to an end with schools starting soon.  Our oldest goes back to college in two weeks!  The youngest goes in three weeks and our middle goes in 4.  Three kids at 3 different schools is fun, really.  I am thankful they are all in-state.  We are 1 hour and 15 minutes from two of the schools and 1 hour 30 minutes from the other.  They are just far enough away that coming home is possible but not likely to happen too often.  For the first month, they will stay put and we will come to them if they need anything.  The semester will go quickly as they will all be home for 8 weeks the end of  November.  Already looking forward to it! 

Monday our state becomes a masked state.  I know it is a controversy, especially if you have clinical reasons not to wear a mask.  I just wear mine and go about my life.  Hopefully, this trial will ease some soon. 

We did manage to get up to Lake Michigan for a day trip on Jeff's staycation week.  We were able to avoid the crowded beach.  We had a yummy lunch at one of our favorite restaurants.  We walked up a dune trail.  We sat on the beach and read books while Grace produced a lovely watercolor.  I never want to take for granted again these times with my kids at the beach.  I was tempted to despair a little.  I wanted a week at the beach, not 3 hours!  But I realized that 3 hours was more than some get so I needed to be thankful for them.  

We have been riding our bikes, playing disc golf, walking to the little park when the weather is not unbearable. We were going to go camping but the weather turned super hot and humid so we have put that on hold for September and October.  I am looking forward to camping this fall, something Jeff and I can do together without children.  

Speaking of the empty nest, since the kids have been home since March, I am ready to send them off!  It is time for them to be working towards something productive. Yes, I will miss the daily interactions.  I will probably not hear from the oldest very often.  I will eagerly await any and all text messages.  Thankfully, I have been down this road a couple times now and I am prepared for the emotional toll.  I am actually looking forward to a few of the perks of the empty nest, especially, less food to buy and fewer dishes to wash.  It has been 22 years since Jeff and I lived alone.  

Summertime freedom is almost over but there is still a lot of summer left to enjoy! 

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Wherein We Finish Homeschooling

Congratulations, Trevor!
Wow. We are celebrating our last graduation from high school.  I am so proud of this young man. He's been a real trouper with all the canceled milestones his senior year.  Thankfully, his first semester at Purdue University is still a go.  It will be challenging for college students to adjust to social distancing away from home.  The semester will end online at home, as well at Thanksgiving break, no other holidays either!  You can be sure I will be on my knees for this young man as he takes his next steps towards adulthood.  Go Trevor!!   

Friday, May 1, 2020

Speechless

Back in December, we were hosting our small group, sitting around chatting after our meeting.   One dear friend, who happens to be Chinese, was telling us about this terrible virus and how it was impacting her family back in China, a lockdown no less!  I blurted out with a laugh, "Oh that would never go over here in the US!"  I laughed it off and went about my life until it did indeed impact my life weeks later. 

I have been quiet here, digesting these changes.  I do not think many people could have expected this level of upheaval.  I do not feel qualified to write about such a deep topic either.  I am not able to do it justice with my writing skills.  Yet, I feel compelled to write something as this space is in part a record of my life.  Someday I would want to look back and remember these difficult times. 

I am first of all so thankful that we are all healthy at this moment in time.  We have the privilege to shelter at home. My husband is working from home.  My children are able to complete their semesters online from home.  I have a bonus time with my college students.  I am continuing to babysit as my babies have essential workers for parents.  I have food and can buy more when I need to.  I am able to worship at home with my church online.  I even have toilet paper, hee hee. 

This virus has taken from my family little in comparison to others.  My heart aches for those who have lost loved ones, jobs, homes, security, wedding days.  We have a senior who is not going to have his in-person graduation and a big celebration like his siblings.  Thankfully, he is taking it all in stride. 

I have gained a deeper degree of thankfulness for the things I find at the grocery store.  Before the pandemic, I was spoiled.  I had thousands of choices.  I could count on getting what I wanted when I wanted, how I wanted.  Spoiled!  Now, I am so happy to just have what we need and a lot of what we want.  Those early days, I was shocked to find empty shelves and being unable to find simple things like hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, toilet paper, paper towels, eggs, milk, chicken, and many other things,  Finally, grocery stores put limits on things and we all were able to get restocked.  Just amazing.  I hope that I do not take this for granted again. 

Everyone is talking about a "new normal."  I know the world has changed.  Our state is reopening and I am eager to get back to a life that includes going to church, seeing my family, and getting a haircut. 

Take care,
Jenn

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Saving My Sanity Right Now

Curbside pick-up!


I don't know about you, but routine grocery shopping has never been something I love to do.  I say routine, because, I did love grocery shopping with my dear husband when grocery shopping dates were a thing.  We used to go to Trader Joe and Costco while the kids were at youth activities at church.  Those were the days!  Now, well, shopping is my sole job and I prefer to be as quick as possible.  Enter curbside pickup!

First, you put a fun little app on your phone to build your list as you go.  All I have to do is notice that I am running low on an item, quickly grab my phone and add it to my list.  I don't have to spend time thinking about what we need.  As the week goes along, I see my bill rising.  Sometimes the growing total prompts me to take off an item or two to keep under budget.  It's rather useful as a budgeting tool.  I have also taken my app out when shopping at another store to compare prices. 

Once my list is finished, I reserve my time slot and wait for my grocery fairies to go to work for me.  There are a few things I usually like to pick out myself, so I still go to another smaller store to get those things, fresh produce and meat on sale.  But that trip is quick and usually a few days later so I can also pick up anything that we may be low on at the moment or is a better deal at that store.  I am usually out and about anyway so I can make this an easy stop. 

At the appointed hour, I hop into my van, drive 7 minutes to the big box store and wait for the nice, friendly people to load me up.  I actually cannot imagine walking around a big grocery store gathering all this stuff all by myself!  I used to do that with 3 kids???  Another perk is that sometimes my darling husband will stop and pick up the groceries for me on his way home.  I do not like to use this option very often because I would rather have him home as soon as possible, but it is a good plan B. 

So, that's my current sanity saver!  Do you use grocery pickup?  Do you have anything saving your sanity right now? 

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Let's Talk About Routines

Hello friends!  Like a lot of homemakers, I have been all over the place with routines in my 25 years of being home.  Probably like most people, I go for spurts and then life happens and I get off track.  When I first found Fly Lady, back in the days of homeschooling littles, I thought my life was set!! I had found my guru!! I remember printing out routines each week with a grid labeled Monday through Sunday.  Nothing would make me happier than checking those boxes off.  And I think along the way I learned to be more organized. 

Flash forward to this past year, again with littles and a house that needs my attention.  (Just an aside here, this stage of life is hard.  As moms, we labor to raise our babies, teaching them to do chores alongside us, and they grow up and become a vital part of the housekeeping team, but then they leave you but said chores do not go away! So here I am with work to do and fewer hands to do the work.) 

It came to my attention a few months ago that dear Fly Lady now has a free smartphone app. Glory be!  All her routines in one place and I can add my own for customization!  Plus I can check them off as I go, a win. 

Right now, my goal is to have my morning routine done before babies arrive between 8 and 8:15AM.  It goes better if I get up at 5:30, but I have not mastered that yet. 

Morning Routine
  • Make bed
  • Ride bike 20-30 minutes
  • Get dressed to shoes (includes a shower, teeth, etc...) 
  • Eat breakfast
  • Empty dishwasher
  • Start a load of laundry
  • Kitty box #1
  • Cat bowls changed 
  • Swish & swipe bathroom(s)
  • Powder room reboot
  • Adjust thermostat
  • Talk to my precious mom
Then, I try to get my afternoon routine done by the end of naptime, usually 3PM. 

Afternoon Routine
  • What's for dinner?
  • What can I do now to make dinner easier later? (Lazy Genius question)
  • Drink your water ( my cue to refill my water bottle)
  • Reboot laundry
  • Fold clothes
  • Homeschool paperwork/emails 
  • Sweep kitchen
  • Be a reader!
I am usually pretty good at getting both morning and afternoon routines done, but my after-dinner routine suffers at times, depending on if there is an after-dinner activity or a dreadful attack of apathy occurs. My future self depends on this routine happening, but so far it is the hardest to make happen. 

After Dinner/Before Bed Routine
  • Check calendar and forecast
  • Hot spot clean up (dining room table is usually the worst offender)
  • Shine your sink
  • Vacuum living room, set up for babies (I do this in the morning a lot.) 
  • Personal hygiene
  • Go to bed at a decent hour
  • Kitty box #2
  • Put away laundry
  • Bible

I am blessed to have Mondays off to get errands run, appointments made, groceries bought and my house blessed.  The key to Fly Lady's weekly home blessing is to do the middles!  Set your timer for 15 minutes and quickly go through each item.  It does take me longer than an hour but I do not mind.  Fly Lady also breaks the house into 5 zones and there are lists to do in each zone as well as weekly missions.  I am hit or miss on those.  She suggests a daily 15 minute decluttering, but I try to at least do a weekly one.  This summer I plan to do a daily one in the garage.  I need to purge in there but it is too cold right now. 

My Weekly Home Blessing
  • Vacuum
  • Dust
  • Mop
  • Windows/sliding glass door
  • Trash/recycling
  • Tend to plants (water, fertilize) 
  • Change sheets
  • Change bath towels
  • Save the veggies (My own reminder)
  • Declutter in this week's zone 
How about you?  Do you have routines?  Do you wing it?  I'd love to know.  :) 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Five Things Making Me Happy This Week

Let's just jump in, shall we?

1.  FaceTime!
Regularly we have FaceTime calls with Grace and I love it. Valentine's Day, we set my phone in her spot at the table and talked away as we enjoyed our meal.  It really is almost like she is with us. This is the best gift she could give me!  We frequently text, but nothing compares to seeing her smile and hearing her melodious voice.
Pretending I have a woodstove. 


2.  My Fly Lady routines.
This might be a whole other post soon.  I just can't say enough about how having good routines will get you through the day that ends up successful.  I have 3 routines, morning, afternoon and after dinner.  They are essential! More soon.
Valentine's Day gift!

3.  My Instant Pot!
I know.  I can't say enough about my IP.  Just this week I have made soup, yogurt, chicken stock, and cheesecake.  It would have been more but when I am making yogurt it is tied up for 9 hours plus time in the refrigerator, so I had to use my oven and my cast iron dutch oven this week, too.  Haha.  My 6 quart IP is on loan to a friend who is enjoying it so much that if she can fit 2 racks of ribs in it she will keep it.  Otherwise, she will buy herself an 8 quart.  I have enjoyed helping her overcome her fears of the pressure cooker and see her soar this week!
Trevor hard at work. 

4.  My Kindle.
I am reading again.  I am out of my drought!!  Currently, I am reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.  So far it is a pretty good book with an interesting plot.  One of my Fly Lady routines in the afternoon is "Be a reader."  I decided that if I was indeed a reader, the way to read was to set aside some of naptime for reading a chapter as well as other things I need to get done without babies.  It has been working!
Tea after an arduous snowy carpool. 

5.  My stationary bike.
Another routine that is serving me well is getting on my stationary bike every workday morning.  Moving wakes me up at the early hour of 5:45.  For a couple of weeks, I was either sick or nursing a sore knee so I was so happy to be back up to over 50 miles this week. I do not take it for granted being able to ride. 

So there you have the 5 things that are making me happy this week. 
~Jenn

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Visiting Grace

Yesterday, Trevor and I made the one hour, 15-minute drive to see our dear Grace at her university.  She was eager to see us, although it had only been a couple weeks.  I love that!


She wanted to get off campus so we took her to the mall so she could spend Christmas money on a new dress and matching sweater.  Then we had lunch.  Dorm food is good but she enjoyed the change.  What she really wanted was my food. Next time I will have to make that happen.  They do have a dorm kitchen I could use.  That would be a lot of fun to do together. 


After lunch, we cheated and I drove us to a parking space in a central location, another way to spoil her as she is used to walking 5 miles a day now.  We walked to the student center and I treated us to BIG Starbucks drinks, more spoiling, ha.  We hung out and chatted until it was time to walk over to the school's amazing art museum. 


She was so excited to give us a tour before the actual tour by a docent that happens each Saturday.  Grace has spent hours at the museum sketching.  It has an impressive collection on two floors, 10,000 objects!  The building itself is art.  It was built in the 1930s and has been restored, just a delight!


The guided tour was very interesting.  I always learn a lot on museum tours.  This one focused on the funerary art of all things!  Side note:  does it concern anyone else that we have taken these objects from their original location, from their original purpose, to mark the grave of a person.  I mean, what if a thousand years from now people from Italy come here and take our grave markers back to their museums?  Oh well.
 

After the tour, we headed back to her dorm to visit with her sweet roommate, play Uno, and relax until it was time for yet more food.  Again I drove us to the dining hall of choice.  Another little note here, Grace's dorm is the farthest away from the center of campus and it does not have a dining hall.  They are building a dining hall nearby but it is not open yet.  She has to walk quite far to eat. 

Her roommate joined us.  We enjoyed a little more conversation and food and then it was time to drop them off at the dorm and head home.  I do not love driving that far in the dark but it could not be helped.  Only three weeks until her spring break!!!