Category: Family

Throw the Kids out of the House

Throw the Kids out of the House

According to a report on Fox & Friends on March 29, 2019, kids are having more surgeries for sports injuries than professionally athletes.

Why – because we aren’t throwing them out of the house.

Okay, maybe that wasn’t what they said. But it was close.

Kids aren’t free playing anymore. The aggressive sports players do get out and practice, but that’s not the same. Attending exercise classes or working out at the gym is not the same. Free play gets the kids out of the house and into their imagination, their group engagement, and activities that don’t happen any other way.

My sons have always been free-ranged. It’s a little easier for us, because we live in the back corner of 40 acres and neighbors don’t see the free-ranging for the most part. Living in town, neighbors that don’t know you, complete strangers that have never met you, and even family members that just don’t like you want to get into your business are all watching and waiting to pounce on your lack of parenting skills.

But we live in the woods, so in the woods they go.

One day, the older boys (probably 8 and 10 at the time) came in and told me there was nothing to do. I encouraged them to go dig a hole. Later that day, they came in and asked if they could dig a tunnel from the shed to the creek.

“Absolutely,” I replied without hesitation. Not because I wanted a tunnel from the shed to the creek, although it might be cool. I was quick to respond because I understanding of how much would have to go into a tunnel.

To their credit, they did manage to dig a hole about five feet deep and four feet wide. Years later my youngest son would continue their efforts, but the giant rock that stopped his brothers also put a damper on his tunnel plans.

Did I tell them they were exercising? Nope. Did I mention they were working their joints? Of course not. Did I explain to them the value of getting the natural D from the sun? I bet you know that answer by now.

It’s not as easy with my youngest. His brothers are off at college or work. They don’t have time for playing or hanging out with their brother. I’ve started encouraging him to get out with me to build, to dig in the garden, or to burn (boys LOVE to burn).

Together, we dug a fire pit in the back yard, so now I’m more comfortable with him going out to build a fire without supervision. He’s a Boy Scout and has his firem’n chit (which means he’s supposed to be responsible), so that’s another reason to let him go.

Over the last several days, I have been pushing him more and more to get out. It’s spring break, the sun has been shining, and he needs to have less screen time. So do I. And in encouraging my son to free play and enjoy all that is around us, I have been encouraging me as well to get out and do more.

So encourage your children to free play more, even if they are involved in structured sports. And try to make some time to join them. Free play – it’ll do your heart good (and don’t forget your own rubber boots)!

The Mom

Girl, Stop Washing Your Hair

Girl, Stop Washing Your Hair

Confession time!

I gave up shampoo three years ago and haven’t looked back.

I used to tell people that I quit washing my hair, but it made my husband uncomfortable. “You DO wash your hair,” he kept insisting.

It’s true. I wash my hair, just not with anything you might expect.

It all started with a pool.

After the tornados, we installed an above ground pool. I went to the pool store to get the things I needed to keep the pool healthy and almost passed out. It was going to cost more to upkeep the pool than it had to install it.

My research instincts kicked in and I went searching for a better way. The research led me to the BBB Method on Pool Solutions.

It worked and it got me thinking. If there is a better way to maintain a pool, what about other tasks?

My research uncovered an ant killer solution that was simple, safe, and quick.

My research uncovered a homemade alternative to quick fix rolls.

My research uncovered a shampoo replacement.

And that is when I quit washing my hair.

It’s simple. Every week or so, I mix a small bottle of baking soda and water. I use this paste to scrub my scalp. After I’ve rinsed out the past completely, it’s time for the second round. I mix a larger bottle of ½ water and ½ Apple Cider Vinegar. I then coat my hair and make sure it gets over every bit of my scalp.

All that is left is rinsing well and letting my hair dry.

My hair is naturally curly, and always been more than a bit unruly. The more humidity the bigger it would get. It is also tight curls, which has always made brushing and styling a challenge. If I wanted it to be soft curls, I had to wait until it got “dirty” or I had to apply lots of product. I then had to take the time to curl it with hot rollers or with a hot iron. I spent a lot of time with my hair in a ponytail.

My hair is VERY think, which means my scalp had always stayed dry making it impossible to wear anything dark (especially if there was a chance of a black light making an appearance).

My scalp had always broken out once a month. It would itch so bad I had been known to pour Sea Breeze (original formula, of course) right on to my scalp. Yes, it would hurt, but it would also stop itching.

Now, it’s all changed.

I can brush my hair as soon as it dries and it doesn’t frizze up at all. It falls into a soft curl. I haven’t used product of any type in the last three years. The only time I use any styling tools is when I want to direct my bangs – although they still revert to their own thing when they choose.

Hair – on the road and on a rainy, humid day!

In the last three months, I have had dozens of people tell me how nice my hair looks. My reflection amazes me almost every morning. I haven’t had to “treat” my scalp for itching and I can wear any color I want. Most importantly, I don’t have to put my hair up to control it.

All in all, not washing my hair has changed my life.

The Mom

What secret natural tips do you have that you’ve implemented for drastic change?

It’s Okay to Do Things a Little Different

It’s Okay to Do Things a Little Different

I give you permission to do things a little different – a little different from the way you do them, a little different from the way others do them, or a little different from the directions. When you dare to try new things, you never know what you might discover.

While cleaning out some of the final boxes of items from storage, I found my mom’s spiced tea infuser – at least that’s what I remember her using it for when I was growing up. It was always exciting for me to see the container come out because I knew the treat that would be around the corner.

I love sipping on warm drinks while I write. Coffee is great for the early mornings, but when my husband gets up and the pot is empty then he begins to worry. I don’t worry . . . although I do hit a speed of going that often ends up in a collision.

Coffee all day will make me nauseous no matter how good the coffee.

An alternative became a necessity if I was going to work beyond lunch (and it turns out I’m supposed to do that).

Brewing one cup of tea at a time was not an option. I want to take a break, walk into the kitchen, and refresh my cup without an hassle. I tried brewing a pot of hot tea after the coffee ran out, but I forgot to tell my husband. It turns out if you are expecting coffee and get tea, it’s a shock to the system.

We received a second coffee maker from a family member. It was white. It was perfect. I know could brew tea to my heart’s content.

I then found my mom’s infuser and everything changed. The tea bags I had were quickly put to work and it was time to find a better way to brew the tea.

Did you know they make loose leaf teas? I didn’t. I found a new world of flavors when I discovered these wonderful delights.

Recently, I ordered two blends from Tiesta (through Amazon) and the Blueberry Wild Child Blueberry Hibiscus Fruit Tea – which is a lot of words for WOW!

The first time I brewed a pot, I used about a half a cup of blend. I put the infuser in the pot and then ran the water through the coffee maker and let the hot water steep with the tea. The result was a dark purple – almost black – liquid with magical properties. I drank a few cups, added some more water to the pot and brewed some more.

It was still thick and when I finished the pot I left the infuser to brew a second pot the next day.

Today I used only ¼ of a cup and it was the perfect amount.

How I Do It Different

  • Add a little hot tea to the sweet tea for a tasty blend.
  • Add a little cayenne pepper when you are feeling rough. It’s a great healer.
  • Change it up. Follow the directions the first time (if you must) but be willing to change it up until you find the perfect level of flavor for you.
  • Mix it up. You can blend blends with blends to blend the perfect blend for you need. You can also add spices to existing blends.

If you have been trying to find a good alternative to coffee then I recommend checking out the different flavors from Tiesta.

The Mom

How to Change a Habit of Being Messy

How to Change a Habit of Being Messy

Messy is a habit formed by consistent practice the same as clean or organized are habits. It is the day to day practice that will create the difference.

break messy habits
The squirrel scampered up the tree with a dead limb three times its size. I watched it as it went up the tree knowing it was in the process of building a nest and curious where it had decided to create its home.

We have some very tall trees, and I’m always amazed when the squirrels perch so high that it seems like sheer will holds the nests in place.

This squirrel did not go very high. It stopped on a limb and went to work, right next to a limb that already had a nest built.

I thought it was odd the squirrel would build so close to another squirrel. “Maybe it’s starting a squirrely neighborhood.” I was raised in a rather squirrely neighborhood myself so I understood the appeal.

The actions of the squirrel drove me to do some research. Did you know when a squirrel’s nest becomes too messy the squirrel abandons the nest and builds another one?

I guess that is one way to deal with a habit of being messy, but it’s probably not the most cost-effective – especially for us human parents of boys!

Messy habits are learned behaviors. If I want to avoid having to abandon the house for a new abode then I need to develop the actions and behaviors to change my messy habits (as well as those of my children if I don’t want to be cleaning up after them for the rest of my life).

control the squirrels

Change a Habit of Messy

  1. Keep the table cleaned off. Over the years I’ve discovered any location near the door becomes a dropping place for random stuff. There are two ways you can avoid letting tables becomes storage locations. One, clear the table every meal. That is not only a way to get the table cleared but also a way to encourage family mealtime. Two, remove the temptation. If you don’t need the table then get rid of it.
  2. Put clothes away when you change. It is an easy habit to drop your pajamas in the floor because you know you are going to put them back on later. Instead, create a home for your rewearables. Have a space in your bathroom drawer or a hanger in your closet that holds your rewearables until it is time for them to be reworn.
  3. Put clothes away when they come out of the dryer. I have to remind myself that “in your room” is not put away. The clothes need to go into their home before that task can be marked off.

  4. Put the dishes away when they are clean. The longer you wait to put away the plastic drying in the rack or the dishes in the dishwasher, the more likely you are to create a backlog in the sink. Once dishes start piling up in the sink they magically multiply. The last thing you want is to wake up in the morning to have to face down a sink full of dirty dishes. Put the dishes away and you have space to clean as you go.
  5. Take out the trash when you get out of the car. If the small trash bag if full, take the whole thing. If there is one piece in it, then just take out that one piece. Again, this is the “clean as you” process that makes changing a habit of messy easier.
  6. Get rid of the boxes. Stacks of boxes might look better than piles of stuff, but you need to conquer the stuff instead of hiding it away. Take one large empty box and set it next to the door. Once a week, go through one of the boxes you have stacked up and determine if you want to keep, repurpose, or release what has been hiding in there. The key is you have to find a permanent home for anything you keep. Put all release items in the box by the door. When it is full take it to a thrift store or charity.

Messy is a habit. If you want to change the habit of messy then you have to make the choice to do things different. Don’t invest the time and energy you have into putting things off (which allows things to pile up). Clean as you go. Take one step at a time. And just keep going. You will get to the place where messy is no more.

What are your habit changing tips? Share your ideas in the comments below.



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The Insanity of Daylight Saving Time

The Insanity of Daylight Saving Time

I live in North Alabama in a rural community. My ruralness increases because we built our house in the woods, back away from the road and neighbors. It gets dark at night.

I am an early riser . . . not by choice but by necessity. Home schooling three boys and writing in a full-time career required me to make quiet time to walk. Mornings became that quite time. I could get up, do my study time, get in some exercise just as dawn would break, and still have time to get work completed before the chaos ensued.

Until . . .

Winter brings on the longer periods of darkness, made even longer for me by the government’s determination to steal my morning. I spend the winter months longing for the burst of green that the Spring will bring, and the early mornings that will creep up along the way.

I used to anyway. At some point, the government must have discovered my new found morning routine and set about to steal the light of my morning.

I suspect the conversation went something like this.

“We need more daylight.” Politician One said.

The politicians had gathered from all around to correct the light problem.

“I concur the we need more daylight.” Politician Two concurred. He had made his mark concurring.

The politicians huddled around for days, talking some and sharing meals. The cries of yes announced that the answer had been discovered.

“We will set all the clocks forward one hour and then we will have more daylight.” Head Politician declared the measure.

The vote was unanimous. They all patted each other on the back and smiled for pictures. They had fixed the the problem

I HATE Daylight Saving Time

No matter what the clocks declare, the amount of daylight remains the same. Instead of driving home in the dusk or dark, commuters make that drive on the way to work. Instead of being able to start the day at sunrise, farmers start their day in the dark.

Now, we just have the added core of resetting all electronics and clocks to the “right” time, which is the wrong time, until the fall colors sprinkle the ground (and then we have to reverse the process).

Stop the Insanity

You will never make a blanket longer by cutting off the bottom and sewing it to the top. All you do is increase your work and make the blanket a little less effective.

Daylight Saving Time never worked and will never work. It is time to leave time alone!

Signed,

the Mom

What do you think? Do you love DST or do you hate DST? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Organizing the Home (or How to Keep the Dining Room Table Clear)

Organizing the Home (or How to Keep the Dining Room Table Clear)

There is a misconception that some people are born organized and others are not. If that were true, I would fall into the latter category. My room was always a mess, I never planned things out, and spontaneity was always my style of order.

Now I’m a mom – and one that is working at home and homeschooling the kids. Organization is no longer a choice or a trait; it is the only way to survive. The “organized” people of the world have been kind enough to put out books and books about becoming decluttered in life and spirit, and I’m reading as many as I can find time to read. None of them are perfect, but they all have a bit of wisdom that I’m applying to my life.

Organization Basics

  1. Lists are not a bad thing – especially if you follow them. You just can’t spend all day on making the list. I keep a To Do list on my desk. If I think about something I CAN’T do right then (make a phone call or run an errand) then I jot it down on my list. Otherwise, I try to do it then. Also, I have a list of things that I need to do daily that I print out. It helps me to know what I have to accomplish throughout the day.
  2. Sit down at the table to eat all meals. Eating in front of the television is not just bad for the waistline, but it steals quality time from your family. The greatest benefit to eating at the table is that it can’t become a clutter catcher. I noticed that our table was covered after just one day of not sitting down for meals.
  3. Consistency is the key to a peaceful life. I started washing clothes on every Thursday. Now I PLAN for laundry on Thursday, the kids expect to get up and sort clothes on Thursday, and my husband expects an easy supper on Thursdays. By doing the same thing at the same time everybody is ready and prepared for what is to come.
  4. Make a list of chores cards and then have a drawing game every month to see who gets the privilege of doing what chores. The younger kids can draw fewer cards or be assigned a buddy to help them out. Do it at the supper table when everyone is present (maybe dad will volunteer to join the “game”).
  5. When in doubt, call in re-enforcements. I have a friend that will volunteer some time to help me if I get overwhelmed (although I try to always pay her something). If I have to go away for a couple of days or if things get too hectic because of one emergency or another (say there is an invasion of hundreds of red wasps in the attic coming in the house through the baby’s room) then she is there to get things in somewhat of an order for me.

Organization is not always easy for me. Finding the time to organize as well as the determination to follow through has come from much trial and error (and is still being perfected). The more I do, the more I know how to do, and the more I want to get done. Maybe one of these days, I will be the organized wife my husband dreams about at night.

Blessings (and Curses) of Working from Home

Blessings (and Curses) of Working from Home

Working at home has its blessing (although there are those days that these same blessings can be cursings). The kids are close at hand, so I know what they are doing and where they are – for the most part. Work is dictated by me because I am the boss, so I work as much or as little as the chaos of the day allows. Being a work at home mom (WAHM) is the perfect life for me.

It wasn’t the perfect life just a few years back.

There were so many ideas running through my head and not enough direction. It took some serious soul searching to narrow things down. Instead of trying to find something new, I went back to my first love of writing and found new ways to utilize it through online opportunities.

Find some classes in your area (online can be a great source). Taking classes is a great way to learn new tips, refresh old skills, and grasp the trends that are hot for now.

I took some grant writing courses to help me refresh the skills I had gained in college. These same courses gave me the basis for developing a business. With the accumulated information, I put together a packet to help other new businesses lay out a strategic plan and potential find money. These same courses also gave me a leg up on grants research and development that I have used in many applications.

The local community college has online courses available at a large discount if I go through their website. I am able to take my class when time allows – which is great when you are a work at home mom with active kids.

Attending conferences will give you contacts and increase your experience in the field of your choice. Go to all the seminars that are offered at the conferences and get engrossed in the lunches or dinners. You never know who you might be sitting next to or where you might hear about your next job.

Dive right in. There are always opportunities to do what you love; you may just have to search them out. If you get paid for it, no matter how small the pay, it will be more than you are making NOT working. My first writing job was for a local paper. It wasn’t much, but cashing that first check meant I was an actual PAID writer. Now I don’t hesitate to fill in the employment section of forms. WRITER.

Don’t underestimate the skills that you have. When I first began writing online, I was hesitant to charge anything. Being new in a field can be scary. After working hard for no very little pay – or worse, NO pay (because some guy stiffed me), I became a bit bolder in my requests. I expect more because I know that I am worth it.

Pass it on. The most valuable thing I can do as a work at home mom is to share the information and experience I have with others so that they can join the ranks. When I found a paid to post opportunity, I shared it with friends and family. As I began to branch out into the blogosphere, I encouraged others to join me. At least two of my compatriots are now making a decent living writing online.

Finding employment on the internet is a new experience for most of the world. Being a work at home mom can add to the apprehension. It is possible to make a living through the internet with more than just selling items. With a little creativity and a lot of faith, you can write your own ticket to financial freedom.

Finding Your Way to Work from Home WITHOUT Stress

Finding Your Way to Work from Home WITHOUT Stress

My husband was trying to fix something and the baby kept climbing on his lap. “See, this is why I couldn’t work at home. I would need a space somewhere away from it all.” He was implying he needed a space apart from the family for his own entrepreneurial endeavors.

What a wonderful luxury that would be – to be able to work away from it all instead of in the midst of the chaos. The flaw in the idea is that I work at home so my children have a parent with them. If I worked somewhere else, I might as well get a “regular” job.

There are ways to balance home and work. Sometimes it requires creativity, sometimes it requires cooperation, but always it requires a sense of peace and flexibility.

Get up early. Getting up an hour or two early than the rest of the house lets me have creative time alone. Not only am I free from the kids, but I am free from the neighbors and relatives that don’t get that I’m actually working.

Stay up late. Grab another hour or two after the children go to bed. This may mean turning off the television, but it is worth it. Save the television for special times instead of all the time.

Save the mundane for when the children are up. Wait to check on your web stats or emails until the action has started. You will be able to multi-task easier if you don’t have to focus as hard.

Encourage the whole family to help out. Set aside thirty minutes or an hour (or whatever you think you need) to do chores around the house. Let the kids (and the hubby) help out. Assign tasks if you want or, better yet, make a list and let everyone choose. If you work as a team, it will be done in a flash.

Don’t stress if things don’t go as planned. There are going to be days that the kids get up early or there are unexpected errands. Instead of having a panic attack, let some of your list go. Don’t update your blog that day. Don’t mail in the query. Give yourself a break, and your family will thank you for it. The important thing is to work for a consistency but to plan for the unplanned. (There’s nothing to it, right?)

Do make a plan of attack. You WILL forget what you wanted to do if you don’t make a list. I have a schedule that I want to try to follow and I have a list of things that I want to get done for the day. I can look at the schedule to see if I’m on time or what area I need to do next. I can look at my list to see what goals I want to accomplish.

    Chores
    Phone calls and emails
    Letters
    Writing (personal and creative)
    Writing jobs
    Blogs
    Errands

Do make connections with like people. Other work-at-home types will be more sympathetic to your situation. Find a support group online or start a club that can meet once or twice a month. They will be able to help you in your times of crisis and will be the encouragement that will keep you going when you want to give up.

Being a work-at-home-parent is no small task. It is a balancing act on the good days and a tornado on the bad days. Following these few, easy tips will help the good days outweigh the bad days and get you on the way to a successful business.

Knowing When to Ask for Help

Knowing When to Ask for Help

I broke down and asked for help. For several months now, I’ve been convinced that I could do it all. I could be the housewife, the super mom, the great hostess, the avid gardener, the available volunteer and a successful writer. Something had to give.

After praying about it, I decided to ask a friend if she wanted to start coming around once a week to clean the house – the weekly stuff like mopping and dusting, along with the big projects like organizing the boys’ closet. After all, she said she ENJOYED cleaning and that she thought God had gifted her in that area.

See, I can clean. God has been working (and it’s been an uphill battle the whole way) to get me to where I can do it. But I would never say I ENJOYED it.

Before I had a chance to bring the subject up, she announced that God had directed her to get a job. “Hmm,” I thought to myself. So after everyone else left, I asked and she said yes – quite enthusiastically.

So now I have help.

The thing that you have to know about working at home is that it REQUIRES you to delegate. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it ALL done. I’ve tried. Look at your life and see what you can bless others with doing. It may surprise you that your children, or friends, or parents, or spouse actually want to help out. Even more surprising is that they are often gifted in the area that you enjoy the least – if you would just give them a chance.

If you are serious about working from home, you have to be willing to ask for help. Take some time to look at your obligations and see which ones you can give away.

What I Learned Today

Sitting here writing this I thought, “My husband is a gifted cleaner and organizer.” But he spends most of his time working in the yard. Why? He does it because it’s man’s work and that’s what is expected of him. To make it even more interesting, he’s allergic to pollen. Just the thing you need if you are going to be out mowing, huh? I think I’ll share this thought with him. Maybe if we all worked where we were gifted and talented instead of where THEY told us we needed to be then our homes and our lives would be more peaceful.

Budgeting Basics to Help Get Finances on Track

Budgeting Basics to Help Get Finances on Track

Living off a budget takes some time and planning, but it will be the best decision that you and your family could ever make. Not only will it help you if you are struggling with debt, but a budget can also guide you to financial goals (like a new car, a dream vacation, or even a new home.).

The first step will take about a month. You need to keep a record of everything (and I mean literally everything) that you spend AND what you spend it on. If you buy a soda for one dollar, write it down – it could be groceries or entertainment or even personal. If you put change in the meter, write it down – it could be work-related or auto costs. Be methodical when you make your list of spending. It could be what determines whether your budget will be a glowing success or a dismal failure.

Step two: Take the list you made and break it down into categories. Make a list of MUST PAYS – tithe (I’m a firm believer in giving God his first), mortgage, internet, phone, cell phone, water, electric, garbage, television, alarm, car insurance, and flood insurance. The next thing is the NEED to pays – gas, groceries, pets, clothes, car, education (we homeschool). Then finally there is the WANT to pays – entertainment, gifts, savings, and misc.

Step three: Total up how much you spend in each category. If your outgoing amount is less than what you are bringing in, then it is time to make some changes. Either you have to bring in more money or else you have to cut the fat out of your budget. Start at the bottom of your list – with the wants – and cut until the outgoing is less than the income. It might hurt for a little while, be eventually you will find your way out.

The fourth and fifth steps just require you repeating the second and third steps every few months. Your budget will fluctuate as your income fluctuates. The key is learning to control your spending no matter where that income ends.

What tips do you have for keeping your finances in check?