Today was my first time trying out a BeautiControl product although I have heard many nice things about the brand! Erika Thirkill sent me a sample of their at-home spa for hands and cuticles, called Herbal Serenity Show of Hands Instant Manicure.
First of all let me say that this stuff smells wonderful! As soon as I opened the sample I was oohing and aahhing to myself about it.
The product is a exfoliant make with natural oils such as macadamia, avocado, safflower, orange, and tea tree. I love stuff that uses lots of natural goodness in it!
It's super simple to use--just rub it all around your hands and cuticles, and the rinse off. Voila! My hands feel silky smooth and have a light, pleasant scent. Ten seconds to softer skin!
I strongly suspect that this would be a great product for feet as well, especially in the summer time when we are all wearing sandals so much.
The product is only $26.50 and since it only takes a small amount to get your hands silky smooth, that jar should go for a pretty long time. Ladies, wouldn't you like your husband's hands to be silky smooth too? Maybe this would be a good gift for BOTH of you..... :)
BeautiControl has a lot of wonderful looking products including specials each month. One really cool product they have that has got my attention is their Body Glue. This roll-on adhesive works to help keep your clothes where they belong. Got a problem with your bra strap slipping off your shoulder? Your underwear or swimsuit landing in all the wrong places? Got a collar that doesn't want to stay where it should, or a neckline that need a little help keeping you properly covered? This is the product for you. How COOL is that?!
I asked Erika how she got into the BeautiControl business so she shared a little of her story with me:
I was a Noxema girl until I was introduced to BeautiControl skin care products in October 2001. I decided to become a consultant just a few months after becoming a client - I was that impressed with the products! BeautiControl cosmetics are fantastic as well! Contact me at ErikaThirkill@aol.com or check out my website for more products.
Erika is offering a special discount for new clients: New clients may enjoy a 10% discount on their entire order! A FREE GIFT will be shipped with orders of $40 or more (before tax)!
Friday, June 30, 2006
Thursday, June 29, 2006
So how are you liking What's Cool Week so far? Lori wrote me earlier today to say that she has been swamped with contacts from you mighty fine people, shopping like crazy and discovering that Dollymama was truly right-on when she told you how much you were gonna love what she has to offer. Yay!
Well, today I have another cool business to tell you about: Story Time Felts.
If you grew up going to Sunday School and VBS like I did, you probably remember your teachers telling Bible stories with the help of a felt board with felt figures and background scenes. I loved that stuff! Story Time Felts has Bible stories plus tons more!
Remember paper dolls? Story Time has them. Only now you won't be accidentally ripping off the little tabs that hold the clothes on. Karen Clark sent a Jessica felt doll set for my daughter and we really like it! Jessica is 7 inches tall and comes in a zippered case with all of her clothes and accessories. There are something like 60 different clothing and accessory items in the bag, so Jessica is never without something to wear. One really neat option is to get the clothing from different cultures, time periods, and careers! All of my kids from age 10 and under enjoyed playing with the doll and trying all of her clothes on. I was really happy to see that there are even boy felt dolls to play with. To me, this set is perfect for the car, a quiet activity for sitting in waiting rooms, or for a nice quiet break during a busy day. All the felts are machine washable, so even a spill or blob of peanut butter isn't going to ruin this stuff!
You can get the felts precut, or if you want to save a little money you can cut the figures out yourself!
Paper dolls are just the tip of the iceberg at Story Time Felts. They have TONS of great educational items from preschool through to older children. Math, social studies, science, and music are just a few of the subjects they have materials for.
I was really impressed after looking through the web site and catalog at how much they have. They have really got a lot of great products! One of my favorite items is the felt activity books. Again, they seem perfect for all those times when kids get bored and need something quiet to do. Personally, I'd like to get one of each for my kids.
Story Time Felts are sold through home parties and well as directly through consultants. Karen Clark is the owner of Fun Felts and has been in the business since 1998. As a mother of three she knows first hand the quality and value of what Story Time Felts has to offer.
Karen has catalogs and free samples for those of you that are interested, and she is offering a 20% discount on any orders if you mention that Dollymama sent you! Go check it out and take advantage of this great sale!
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
This week my daughter went off to camp for the first time. She's a picky eater plus kind of emotional, and those two things didn't sound like a winning combination for a week away from home. We found a way to work around the food issues (take her own food and make friends with the cook when we arrived, plus take her daddy along as the Camp Nurse for the week!) and we poured over the camp brochure and had many talks late into the night to prepare her for what camp would be like.
She seemed good to go, and then we got there.
The brochure said cabins and flush toilets. What she got was a tent on a raised platform, and latrines and outdoor trough sinks.
We were expecting a counselor to be in the cabin with the girls at night. We got a tent for 4 little girls, and counselors in a different tent a little ways away.
Poor kid. She was looking at this situation unfolding as we drove through the camp grounds, saying, "Um, hey--I don't see any cabins."
Yeah. Me neither.
I stifled my instinct to start laughing like a stark raving lunatic, and instead pointed out all of
the great things about the way things were turning out. "Oh, hey, this is WAY better than a cabin. Those cabins get so smelly and tons of spiders live in the cracks and crevaces. This tent will be so much nicer for fresh air!" "Oh look! These latrines are really, really nice ones. They are way better than the ones I had at camp when I was a girl." ugh. Sullen snickered up a storm despite my hairy eyeball warning signals to Shut Up.
But I am very proud of her. Rather than do what she normally would (start crying and demand to be taken home) she held it together and put on a brave face. She allowed herself to accept my positive spin as possible truth. Truly, I think her main motivation for not falling apart was that it is horse camp, and she really, really wanted to ride horses this week.
So, my little girl is out in the woods right now, sleeping just one tarp away from wild animals, hopefully not having to walk over the hill to the latrines til morning..... She isn't the only one for whom this experience is outside of their comfort zone!
Today I'd like to tell you about a lovely jewelry business, Sodijety's Accessories. This creative handmade jewelry comes from Yecy Delgado, a stay-at-home mom in Puerto Rico!
Yecy shared a little about herself and her business:
Yecy's prices can't be beat. Wow! She offers matching necklace and earrings sets for $10-15 with FREE SHIPPING! Right now she has a special where any $20 purchase will get you 3 free pair of earrings. Don't want to do that? Get three pair of earrings for only $5! Again, FREE SHIPPING!
Yecy also offers wholesale opportunities and drop shipping. I don't know how she does it all for such low prices, but I'm glad she does!
Yecy is participating in a vendor fair this Thursday, June 29th, at 11am. Vendors fairs are a hot new concept where you can go to a private party chat room to learn about various businesses and products. Usually there are games, door prizes, and specials. You can attend Yecy's fair by going here at the party time.
I would really like to see you all helping to support this business, so I have a little promotion for you. I have four pair of Yecy's earrings to give away. I am going to do two different drawings.
One drawing will be for those of you that post about Yecy's business on your own blog. Your post needs to include some information about her business plus links for your visitors to go check out her site. Leave me a comment here so I know who you are. Make sure you leave contact information. Sunday I will do the drawing.
The other drawing will be for those of you that go and shop at Yecy's site this week. Tell her that Dollymama sent you. On Sunday I'll find out the names of those of you that shopped at her site, and one of you will be hearing from me so that I can send you your free bonus earrings!
Be a good sport, have some fun, and do something nice to help out someone that is working hard to make a great thing happen for her family!
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Hey folks, listen up. This is a business I am SO excited to tell you about. I have been working with the lovely and sweet Lori for over a week with a couple different project and she is WONDERFUL!
First let me tell you about her really cool, fun business, Lori's Candy Wrapper Creations. If you are like I was at first, you are wondering what on earth you need candy wrappers for. Well, let me tell you--you will need or want more than one thing that Lori has available!
Lori makes customized items for all sorts of things. Got a birthday party coming up for one of your kids? You can buy some mini candy bars and order up some cute little wrappers to slap on those babies, and now you have adorable party favors! She can also make matching invitations and thank you notes, bottled water labels, party favor bags, or anything else you might want to carry a theme.
Lori also makes these mint matchbooks that would be so cute for wedding favors, showers, advertising items, and so forth. You put a little certs single inside and it looks great!
You can get wrappers for regular sized candy bars and use them for fundraisers!
There is a lot more, so you have to just go on over to her site and check it all out. Once you start looking around you will see so many possibilities. I already have quite a long wish list of my own.
Lori has lots of great sample ideas at her site, but you don't have to just pick from those. She will come up with anything you want, and she's awesome at it! And she does all this custom design work for FREE!
I was really excited to get to know about Lori and her business because last year at Halloween time I was wishing that I had a way to hand out a candy item that advertised my business. I didn't come up with an affordable way to do that then, but now thanks to Lori I have found the answer. She made me a set of mini candy bar wrappers and they are ADORABLE and of excellent quality. I am really excited about them.
I would also like to tell you that Lori is an absolute GEM to work with. Her sweet spirit comes right through the email. She has an excellent knack for coming up with just the right ideas, she puts the stuff together just great, and she always manages to make you feel comfortable requesting any changes because she wants everything you order to be just exactly what you want. I love that, and I have LOVED working with her. Lori is going to be getting a lot of my business in the months to come, no doubt about that! However, her prices are so wonderful that it is not going to cost me a lot.
I hired Lori to put together a business card design for me. She gave me a couple of ideas to start with, and once I made my selection she had it done within a day. It was painless and inexpensive. I'm telling you, Lori is already indispensable to me!
I asked Lori to share about who she is and how she got into her business. Here's what she had to say:
I have 3 daughters, age 15, 7 and 20 months. I have been in business
for a little over two years now. I got into the business after I made
my own candy wrapper favors for my own wedding. I also earned my
Bachelor's Degree at AIU Online in August 2004 and then wanted to put my
degree to use and be able to contribute to our family income, while also
being able to stay home with my daughters. I have to tell you, it's one
of the best decisions I made in my life. I absolutely love what I do, I
enjoy creating new designs and I love meeting new people through my
business. It's the best job I ever had and I still get to spend time
with my family and do things with them that I wouldn't be able to do if
I worked outside the home.
Lori is offering a wonderful and very generous promotion for you folks. She is willing to give you 30 FREE mini candy bar wrappers with FREE shipping! There's no catch! Go over to the site and look around, and contact Lori directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for the details. You are going to LOVE working with her and seeing what she can make for you!
Does anyone else find it odd that Brad Pitt is now being honored left and right for being such a Great American, and for helping the less fortunate of the world?
I mean, aside from the last year when he left his wife and started shacking up with Angelina Jolie and riding on her charity coattails, when did we ever see Brad doing any wonderful charity work? I cannot think of any instances where I heard about Brad doing anything except for going to movie openings and being in interviews about movies, his life, and being famous.
Now he's the great America hero. Wow!
I have gotten the good news today that my friend and her baby girl are doing well. Last I knew the baby was in the regular nursery and not the NICU, and was able to drink from a bottle. Apparently she has a heart murmur but nothing serious at all. Thanks for praying, and keep it up during the recovery time, getting the baby nursing, and all that good stuff.
Monday, June 26, 2006
Mary Kay is one of the best-known and best-loved cosmetic brands in the world. What I didn't know was how much NEW stuff they have!
Nicole Pereira was kind enough to send me a sample of Mary Kay's NEW TimeWise Microdermabrasion Set. I'm sure it's not news to most of you that microdermabrasion is a hot thing right now. I figured my dear little face could use whatever boost I could give it, seeing as how I'm going to a class reunion in a few weeks! I just got the sample today and used it right away.
I was expecting it to be a complicated ordeal with many steps, like so many skin care routines are. Thankfully, the TimeWise set is as easy as one-two.
You just slather some of the refiner on your skin. It's an exfoliant, so it's got a fine grit to it. You gently rub it all around your face (and I did my neck too) and then rinse it off with water.
The next step is a replenisher that is very soft and soothing. My skin feels SO SOFT! It is a crying shame that my husband isn't here to feel it.
One of the things I really liked about these two products is that neither of them has a strong scent. I don't do well with strongly scented lotions, skin products, or cosmetics. These two items are very mild and not annoying at all.
Nicole is a really sweet person. I even got to talk to her on the phone! You can get to know about her interesting life, her baby boy, and how she got into Mary Kay here. She even got her first Mary Kay car recently! (She didn't have to get a pink caddy, thank heavens!) She wanted to offer you folks some special deals, and at first wasn't even wanting to make it tied into you buying anything! How COOL is that?! I asked her to consider her own business needs, though, and to see what we could do to bless you readers plus bless her in her business. She is a mommy with a little baby and decided to offer a special to help her go to her business conference this summer. I knew you all would want to help her out plus enjoy some savings. Now is the time to stock up on the stuff you need, and to have on hand for gifts and goodies for the rest of the year.
Please note that these specials are only good until June 30. She has a quick deadline to meet for raising money for her trip, so act fast!
You can shop on Nicole's site, or enjoy some special savings on some things she has in stock:
Nicole is offering free shipping AND, she will pay the tax for you on anything from my sale!
-Our newly discontinued Satin Hands on sale for $25 (normally $28, 16 in stock) (My husband got me one of these for Christmas awhile back. It is great for hands and feet!)
-Our Spa Gift sets, choice of 4 scents on sale for $27 (normally $32, 6-7 of each scent in stock)
-Our Mint Bliss Pedicure set on sale for $30 (normally $32, 10 in stock)
-Our Gold Glimmer set on sale for $30 (normally $32, 8 in stock)
-Our Boxed Fragrance Gift Sets $35 (normally $40, 6 purple 7 pink in stock)
Anything else in our last chance section on the web site is also free shipping AND free tax.
Nicole is going to GIVE AWAY a free TimeWise Microdermabrasion Set to one lucky winner that helps her out with her goal of getting to her conference. She is such a sweet mom, she is taking her baby with her. I love that and would really like to see you all help her out. Here is how the give away will work:
-For every $10 you spend you get 1 ticket
-For every book/virtual party you do you get 10 tickets plus 1 ticket for every $10 someone spends at your party (earn double tickets for buying from your own party).
-Refer someone that books/holds a virtual/catalog party get 10 tickets
This offer ends on June 30th, folks, so get crackin!
And for those of you who would love to help but can at the moment, Nicole says she still loves ya so request a free sample here.There are a lot of neat extras at Nicole's site:
Find out how to plan a party (steps to help plan, party can be in person, online chat, via e-mail, though e-vite, using a catalog. People would have to contact Nicole to discuss what they want to try and earn free so we can decide the best type of party to get them that)
I'd love to see you all supporting this young lady as a mom and an entrepreneur. If you could spread the word through your personal contacts and your blogs, that would be great!
Since summer is heating up, it's time for something cool. Right?
Well, have I got COOL for you!
Several Mom Pack members have sent me samples of their products so that I can tell you about them and their businesses. Get ready to hear about some really great stuff, and to participate in some great contests and promotions! Tell your friends, tell your readers--get over here because this week is going to be fun!
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Remember a few weeks back I told you about a friend on bedrest? I stopped by her house to drop off food and visit, and her kid peed on my kid? Yeah. Well, now that I've jogged your memory...
Tomorrow she is going to have a c-section. The baby is still only about 31 weeks, I think. There has been a serious complication during the pregnancy (hence the bedrest) that makes it dangerous for the pregnancy to continue. They have gotten to the point where the baby needs to be born now.
In addition to the arrival of a very premature baby, ultrasound has shown some possible heart problems for this little baby girl. So, they do not know what kind of condition she will be in or what to expect once she is born.
Aside from this, this dear family suffered an unexpected death in their family last week, and have had a crushing amount of stress from health problems and family trauma for almost a year. They really, really need prayer support.
As I've stated in a previous post, I don't fully buy into the notion that when my kids are older I am going to mourn the passing of these days. However, every now and then I notice something that I definitely will miss. Today, my husband and I said we would be sad when our kids are all too old and articulate to not say cute little things any more.
Our oldest son, when he was a little guy, had caught on to us saying, "you crack me up." His version? "You're crackin' my potatoes!"
Our daughter, when a toddler, was trying to describe a gymnastic feat. She couldn't think of the right word for it, but came up with a close second, using the last name of a friend. "I'm gonna do a cartwright!"
Yesterday my youngest, Squiggy Magoo, fell while climbing up the tree fort ladder because a spider scared him. He was fine, just a little sore. He complained to me in a pitiful little voice, "I really hurt my feelings, mom."
Same kid, the other day, hurt his "L-bone." Adorable.
Those cute little sayings....glad I don't have to go without them yet.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
I've already mentioned that I've found out about all sorts of new, great businesses run by stay-at-home moms. Well, today I've got a new one to tell you about!
Handmaid for the Lord sells some very lovely jewelry that is fashionable, affordable, and features themes that would be appreciated by Catholics and other Christians of all denominations, as well as those that enjoy jewelry with a Celtic theme. I saw so many gorgeous items I decided I had to share it with you all. There are so many beautiful items at Handmaid for the Lord that would be perfect gifts for First Communion, Weddings, a special birthday, or just to give you a beautiful and special reminder of your faith.
Handmaid also features a bracelet of the month that is a limited edition item, a blog, a newsletter, and an affiliate program. You can check it out here, and from my sidebar from now on.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
The other night the hubby and I watched Shopgirl, starring Steve Martin and Claire Danes. The movie is based on Steve Martin's own novella by the same name.
I expected a chick flick, but that's not what I got. Instead we enjoyed an artistic, insightful, entertaining, and poignant story that was surprising in all the right ways. The overall message is very good. I recommend it!
Monday, June 19, 2006
Good morning dear readers! I am having an insomnia night, so am getting a jumpstart on today's Monday Morning Meme. This week I want to meander through some great businesses run by work at home moms.
The Mom Pack is a really wonderful thing that I learned about a few weeks ago. The idea is for "mom-owned" businesses to help support each other by networking in a variety of ways. They have a wonderful egroup for members to join. I have learned so much from this group and have also expanded my business dramatically. Some of the members do a thing where they exchange brochures, samples, flyers, or coupons for their business. Each one makes up Mom Packs with one of each item and they give them away with their orders and so forth. Right now I'm working on making up tons of cool Mom Packs to give out during Back to School time. The Mom Pack also features member business directories and lots more. Really, really valuable if you have your own business (or want to!).
One of the great things about the Mom Pack is that I have learned about so many businesses I hadn't previously known about. Some are companies I had never heard of, and some are unique home businesses. I have been amazed at the creativity and style of people!
Little Pink Line features pregnancy pin-up shirts. These unique, sassy, often hilarious designs will make some of you wish you could be pregnant just to wear 'em.
If you're like me and love some of these items but would never have the nerve to wear them in public, they would still make really fun pajamas, don't you think?
Mr. Candy Wrapper is a really cool looking business that all moms should know about. Not only do they make customized candy wrappers that you could use in many ways, but they also have a HUGE assortment of party supplies. In my quick look through their kids party themes I found all sorts of stuff that I have wished I could find in the past but didn't know where to get them. Now I do. Check it out!
One thing that has been very interesting to me is the number of really good looking businesses out there that cost very little or nothing to get involved with. I actually signed up with one last night: Cajun Country Candies. This gormet gift basket business looks completely gorgeous and delicious. I love the variety of items that offer, and that shipping is already included in the price. You can actually sign up to be an affiliate for FREE, get your own web site, and get to work promoting your new business. How cool is THAT!? You make 40% on every sale! Seems like a good possibility for lots of women. Go see what you think.
In the weeks to come I plan to let you know about some really great mom-business products that I will actually see, smell, touch, and try out. Hopefully we can all work together to support these ladies in their endeavors.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
I love irony.
In my last post someone asked me about my church denomination, siting that I seemed to have good values and be a real Christian, but not in a way she had seen before. I wrote a little response to her but have been thinking about it ever since. This morning I thought I'd write some more about it and I went in search of some art to add to my post, focusing on being an enigma or contrast or paradox or something. I couldn't find anything I liked, so decided to just find something that I liked that had nothing to do with any subject except that I liked it.
Then I found this and immediately liked it. Beauty and contrast! I love it.
It's been interesting to evolve in my beliefs and style over the years. I've had a strong personality all of my life and have had no trouble standing on my own opinions and beliefs even when I was standing alone, even when I was very young. I'm a firstborn and had parents that always affirmed me as strong, smart, and capable. I don't know which came first (the chicken or the egg) but either way, this is the core ME.
As a young mother (I was 21 when my first baby was born) I hadn't read any parenting books telling me the "right" way to do anything. I think my entire reading of parenting books was one breastfeeding book and What To Expect When You're Expecting. It was not hard for me to follow what felt like the best way to be a mom and to take care of my kiddo, even in the face of people telling me that other ways would be better for one reason or another.
Later on I found that my style actually fit in with a whole movement of parenting that I hadn't known existed, and for awhile I got on a bigger bandwagon than was true to myself. It's easy to get sucked up into group momentum when there is a basic point at which you agree. I think there is something in me (and maybe all of us) that likes to fit into a group. All the better if we can be More Right than all the people not in our group! Have you been there and done that?
Eventually I found my way to homeschooling, did what seemed to make sense to me, but then found movements that branched off of that, and again was, for a time, sucked into a homeschool mom characature of myself in some ways. It's not that I was being a fraud, just that it's easy to get pulled into the black hole of extraneous things that you truly don't care about or perhaps like very much for yourself but don't actually feel there is any deep reason for, but find yourself in the midst of anyhow.
I could bore you with all of my side trips, trying on lots of different ideas and philosophies for size. The thing that I find more interesting than the movements themselves is how at the core of so many of them seems to be a mighty fortress of believing that one's lifestyle, habits, or style makes someone superior to others, particularly in terms of making God happy. Not only is this powerful in creating a monster of those within the movement, but it is also powerful in scaring people to stay within the movement for fear of being not only wrong, but so thoroughly loathed, or at least pitied, but ones former peers.
So many times I have known of a family that put their formerly homeschooled child into school and heard hard-core homeschoolers refer to them as "wimps" or at least declared that we need to "pray for them." Of course, we are not praying for them with a pure heart because we love them or want the best for them. We are to pray that they will see the error of their ways. We pray because of our disapproval. We pray because they are wrong.
I may sound like I regret my side trips and group hugs and superiority complexes that I've had. In fact, no I don't. All of those trips have forced me to try out ideas, roll them around in my head, hear from lots of different people with wide ranges of opinions, and then accept or reject each one, largely with all the available facts in front of me. (so many beliefs come from only knowing one side of a story) All of the trips have helped me know what I believe more clearly than I could have without them.
My little journey in life has shown me so many flip sides of so many things that I now seem to rest most of my philosophy in moderation and mercy. I have too much compassion for other people's situations, and too strong a belief that most people do what they feel is best, to raise my eyebrows and think that I know better than others how they should be living their life. I also believe that most of the issues people get tripped up on are of very little importance to God, and that He sees right through us to our core of trying to fit in, trying to look good to others, trying to cover up something by making our life more shiny in some way. The Bible says that all our righteousness is like filthy rags. How much we need to get ahold of that idea in Christian circles!
The trick to my current state of mind is to not let it become a monster just as the other things were. Not to become haughty about my laid back style. To remember that others are also on a journey, that we are not all walking the same road, and that my journey is still in process too.
It's very unsettling, at times, to feel like there are so few Right Things to hold onto. Those are like walking sticks along my way, and I want lots of them to hold onto as I go up steep slopes and along slipperly paths. If I'm honest with myself, though, there are very few absolutes thatI can find in the Bible. I tend to believe that God left a lot of vague areas so that we can both live authentically, and so that we keep talking to Him to try to find our way. If we had an actual rulebook blueprint for every little thing in our life, why on earth would we need to talk to God? Rules do not produce relationship.
So, yes, you're right. I'm not your Type One Mother of Many of Typical Denim Jumper-Wearing Homeschooler or typical about much of anything. I try to live authentically, be compassionate, think clearly, and love fully. Seems like that's the way it should be, but apparently that makes me an enigma. (which seems fun)
Thursday, June 15, 2006
During the school year I have to get up around 6am, therefore I try (usually without success) to go to bed by 10pm. 6am just kicks my butt. I never feel ready to wake up, and I am looking for a nap anywhere from 1-8 hours later. It always feels like a struggle for me to get up and stay up on that schedule.
It has been a joy to be on summer break. Without that 6am wake up call I am getting up when I feel like it, or when the children need me, whichever comes first. (they do very well playing together quietly for awhile before I get up) I've been putting the kids to bed only an hour later than their usual time, but I'm still having tons of time at night to clean, organize, fold laundry, hang out with my husband, watch movies, and work on my business. Most nights I stay up until 1 or 2am. Interestingly, I seem to function fine on the same amount of sleep as I get during the school year, and rarely need or want a nap. I just get up and go all day.
I wish there was a way that I could always function on the time schedule that appears to me optimal for my body. At least I get to enjoy 7 more weeks of late-night bliss.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
I Dreamed My Whole House
A new reader asked me a day or two ago about my home. I had offered her some strategies on making the house kind of "lean toward clean." I would like to start out by saying that my house is in no way perfect. I have 6 young kids, 5 of them are rowdy boys. They are the children of two parents that are also rowdy, known to allow Big Wheels to be ridden up and down the hallway at times, impromptu water fights at the kitchen sink, dance parties with all ages jumping around in the living room (including sometimes on the furniture), and so forth. We don't just stay here, we LIVE here.
Early on in my marriage we were expecting our first child, and we decided that for our personalities we did not want to have breakables around that we would constantly have to worry about, or things that we had to say "Don't touch!" It isn't because we're afraid to discipline our children, only that we didn't want a "don't touch/don't mess" kind of a house. Others do have nice rooms with breakables down low and pictures arranged nicely on display. I have no quarrel with that. It's just not something we wanted to keep up on.
Most of my ideas are best in my brain but a little harder in real life. Still, they are good ideas and I think that even though my house is far from perfect, the use of these ideas helps me to keep things nicer than they would be otherwise.
I find that what stays cleanest longest is PLAIN. What I mean by that is:
I don't do throw pillows or throw blankets. They would all be made into a tent and I would forever be chasing them down through the house to try to put them back "the right way."
I don't have a bunch of stuff arranged on end tables or whatever. As the children have gotten older I do now have a few things, but mostly the tables have something like one lamp and maybe one basket that holds magazines.
Totally clear surfaces make it more obvious that nothing "goes" there, and that if something is put there you notice it right away. when we have stuff already on a surface, a little more is hardly noticeable, and next thing you know our stuff has multiplied!
I don't do glass door cabinets, I also oon't do "tchotchkes" as Christopher Lowell says. (knick knacks)
I purge stuff really, really often so that we can try to keep down on the clutter. When I was first married I had little and then started being given all sorts of things by helpful and kind neighbors. I held onto most of it thinking I would need it. I guess that was an ok step along the way, because I had to figure out for myself what I would like, which things I would use, etc. So, don't be too ruthless before you know your situation very well. But once you do don't be afraid to part with stuff. If you can give things away with kindhearted generosity then that's all the better.
Eventually you'll learn what kind of stuff you can find easily at yard sales or Goodwill in your area, so you may have fewer hesitations on parting with items that you don't use now but might want in the future. This is especially good if you don't have space for all your stuff.
One of the things that makes our house homey is the extras. For some of us it may be candles, photos, memorabilia, books, plants, or other things. I like some of each! :) We have an armoire in our living room that holds our stereo, music, and some books. On top of it we have a collection of clay pots, a plant, and just a couple extra special items that we enjoy seeing often.
We have pictures on the walls, and that is where I try to keep most of my photos since the framed ones sitting on end tables always get knocked over or carried around and eventually dropped.
A lot of designer-type people will tell you to get plain or neutral furniture and to use them as a backdrop to layer upon your color scheme with pillows and blankets and such. For me, knowing it will be a long, long time before I can get away with such things, I choose two loveseats that had a funky floral print. These are fun personality pieces all on their own. Luckily for me, once I like something I will like it forever. So, I have no regrets on funky floral love seats. Other people may not be able to do something like that.
The only thing I would do differently on the furniture if I could go back is to buy leather furniture instead. I have friends with children who have leather furniture and they rave about how easy it is to keep clean. My next furniture will be leather, I hope!
Hard floors are so great for families because you can always wipe up the urps. Any nasty bodily fluid or food spill is quickly removed without fuss. Carpet is not so forgiving.
Don Aslett has some really good books about cleaning. I have read Is Ther Life After Housework? and in it he talks about ways that you can kind of design your house to clean itself. He teaches the reader about high quality floor mats at entrances and other things that can make your house just naturally stay cleaner.
I have found that a lot of times when I am not satisfies with the way something in functioning at my house, if I can take even 5 or 10 minutes of dedicated time to think about how to solve that problem, I can come up with a solution. (the trick is to remember to take the dedicated thinking time, rather than to let the problem roll around in my head for days/weeks/months/years!) By doing this I have created a pantry where I had none, found a way to make my applicances instantly useful to me but never keep them on the counters, given up cabinet space and not miss it, and lots more. This isn't because of any great skill on my part, and it isn't because I went out and spent lots of money to solve my problem. Basic resourcefulness and "thinking outside the box" have helped me to do a lot with my home on a shoestring.
One of my favorite recent improvements was to (almost) eliminate my worst clutter area of all. To the left of my kitchen sink we have our telephone and that is where I tend to accumulate papers of all sorts plus lots of odds and ends that need a place to go. I have battled this area for 6 years, never winning for long, and finally decided that since I have no junk drawer and no office space handy to where I handle most paperwork, I needed to make peace with my need for this space. What I ended up doing was getting a little $5 three-drawer-high plastic thingie. the drawers are big enough for a regular piece of paper to be in. Now the three drawers hold everything plus the phone sits on top. Now instead of the whole counter space being taken up, almost all that stuff is put away. it's also safe from water damage, and it doesn't accidentally fall off the counter and onto the floor. :) I put two plants next to the drawer unit to liven up the space, and it looks really good. I also now have a little more work space that was never available to me before.
Here are some links to past posts showing various things I've done at my house to organize stuff:
I think that homemaking just takes time to get to learn things and to find a style that suits you. There isn't one "right" way to get stuff done. Just be kind to yourself as you try to find a balance that works for you, and then don't be afraid to tweak it as your needs change. :)
Today the End of the Spear movie is out on DVD and we got it from Netflix. I've been familiar with this basic story for a long time, but only since the whole hullabaloo about the lead actor in EOTP did I decide to learn more. Months ago we got Through The Gates of Splendor (also from Netflix) which is the telling of the same story, but in more of a documentary format, with original home movies, and interviews with various family members.
I really expected to love End of the Spear since so many people spoke out about how wonderfully done it was. However, I didn't.
Contrary to what I had heard about it, the movie does not clearly tell the gospel story, indeed never even tells that the men are Christian missionaries. Some of the most key elements of the story are completely left out of EOTS.
If you're interested in learning more about this story of the 5 young missionary men that were murdered while trying to reach a new group of people, check out Through the Gates of Splendor. It tells the story much better and really got to my heart a lot more than End of the Spear.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Illustration of a Little Girl Scolding a Cat
It never ceases to amaze and dishearten me, the messages given to and from women today. In popular media the messages are:
You should be thinner!
Your should be prettier!
You should have bigger boobs, fewer wrinkles, better clothing, and more money!
In short, you are not good enough!
In Christian circles certainly we would expect values to be placed elsewhere, and they are. But, with the same message of our basic lack:
You should be happier!
Your should be more modest!
You should not want to do anything outside of your home!
You should not care if your husband is thoughtless, rude, or selfish. Nothing about you counts!
I have noticed this kind of thing many times over. It is amazing to me how women will line up in droves to buy books that tell them how lowsy they are. My belief is that women that are in unhappy situations that they feel powerless to change will turn to anything that tells them that they are their own worst problem, so that they can think for awhile that they alone can fix their unhappy marriages and unhappy lives. There is great optimism in thinking that if we change ourselves everything else will get better.
Recently at a blog I sometimes visit a young married woman wrote in with her dilemma. She is newly married and is enjoying being a homemaker. She was brought up in a family where her mother did a wonderful job keeping the home cozy and welcoming, and she was hoping to do the same for her husband and family. The problem she was experiencing was that her husband does not seem to appreciate the work she was doing, and when he came home she felt that he basically undid all that she had worked on for the day within 20 minutes of his arrival.
Not surprisingly, all of the responses that she got (except for mine!) gave her a written slap on the hand and told her that she is basically just home to serve her husband, that is doesn't matter if he wrecks everything she has accomplished all day long. Basically, the messages was: It's not about YOU, babe. YOU and your work don't count for anything. But you are still supposed to be happy and content and feeling all snuggly in your role as wife and homemaker.
Nice! (pass the prozac, please)
I was the only person to actually offer her some strategies on how she might arrange her home to kind of build-in neatness and cleanliness. Ways to kind of work around her husband's tendencies so that her work sticks for longer. She has commented here and on her blog and on that original post that she really appreciated what I shared with her.
Why is it that women are so prone to tell each other how wrong they are, rather than to say, "Hey, babe, that stinks. Let's figure out some ways to outsmart that messy man. " ;)
In no way would I want to encourage this woman to allow a grudge to build up against her husband. In now way do I want her to get fixated on "her rights" or whatever. What I want to do is encourage her in ways to creatively solve this problem, plus let her know that young men aren't exactly known for appreciating and upholding household loveliness. (they do age and improve, usually)
Interestingly, there seems to be plenty of positive encouragement written for Christian women that work outside of the home, choose to get divorced, or have their children in school or day care. But for women who stay at home, who homeschool, who have a lot of children, instead of there being that encouragement written in the spirit of "gently leading those with young" as God describes Himself as doing in the book of Isaiah, there seems to be the choice between mean, meaner, and meanest resources to keep kicking the butts of these women to keep them "where they belong."
If this is truly "where we belong" why do people feel the need to scold and vilify women?
I have often felt that Nancy Campbell of Above Rubies was the lone encourager of these women, but in recent years I've even felt her piling on too many shoulds and shame-on-yous than I could take. (Her article on what a shame it was that women don't wear aprons any more just about did me in. I had no idea wearing an apron could make or break me as a woman and homemaker! Give me a break....)
Women choosing to be at home, to practice the art of homemaking, to lovingly care for their children and to educate them at home, are women swimming upstream. They are living a huge goal, in a society that is in no way making it easy for them. To have your own team fighting against you is senseless.
Do we really need to hear how horrible we are because we want some love and respect? I honestly suspect that people giving out these hand-slapping messages cannot be very happy themselves. Happy people do not automatically see the bad in you.
Homemaking, childrearing, loving your husband are all good enough to warrant our best loving encouragement and creative ideas so that we can all succeed. Hand-slapping should not be the first resort.
Lake Como Landing
Back in the olden days of blogging, people did Monday Morning Memes where they would go to various blogs (hopefully some new ones picked at random from other blogrolls) and then report back to their blog readers about 5 of them in order to kind of clue people in on noteworthy places to visit.
Today, I've been traveling. Care to join me?
Mary at Owlhaven has shared a beautiful family photo plus a lovely essay on never being alone in a big family. The essay is featured at the new blog, Larger Families.
For those of you who find knitting patterns of the past quite humorous, you will cherish this unique blog.
Chris has an excellent strategy for motivating their stone thief to change his or her ways. You must see these signs!
Recipes for a Postmodern Planet is the blog of the daughter of famed mother of 39, Big Mamma of the Bodie Bunch. Her blog is a very interesting mix of recipes, politics, motherhood, and so forth. I really like it.
Enjoy looking around, and consider bringing the Monday Morning Meme back to life on your own blog. I've found some great regular reads that way.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Awhile back I read an article about women's health and being aware of your own body. In this article the author talked about her observation that oftentimes women's energy levels and creativity levels are related to their hormones/menstrual cycles. She shared how she had taken a couple of months to make note of when she felt the most creative and energetic, and when she didn't, and charted it in relation to her monthly cycle. Sure enough, she found a rhythm to it.
I took her idea and applied it to my life. Sure enough, I have about 2 weeks where I am wildly creative, with ideas literally coming at me too fast to deal with. When I was in that stage this month I literally worked at the computer for 18 hours over the course of two days, wrote a rough draft to a new book (from start to finish), plus did a bunch of other projects. I started just writing all of the ideas down so that I could come back to them later. I also started setting things up for myself when I have the energy and creativity, so that when I'm in a lull (like I am just entering into today) I can keep on making some progress even though I'm lacking vision for the project.
By respecting what I've noticed about myself it's been less frustrating and has helped me to help myself by compensating for both extremes. I'm excited about it and thought it might help some of you as well.
I got this quote in an email I received today. I thought it was worth sharing.
Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil
On a blog I sometimes visit a woman commented about women that stay at home full time. Particularly in the case of single women or childless women, she seemed to think that staying home was "basically doing nothing all day long." Wow! I think this woman is not alone in that assumption. Here were some of my thoughts on the subject:
I have been a stay at home mother for the past (nearly) 14 years. I have never been accused of basically doing nothing. :)
I think that today many people do not realize how many things of value and beauty are done at home.
If you homeschool or have small children then that takes up a ton of time and energy. If you don't, there is still a ton to do if you are industrious. Here is a list of stuff that I have done from home other than homeschooling:
Baked homemade bread and other baked goods (my husband is sometimes the "envy" of the men he works with because not too many women do such things)
House projects such as painting, sanding, gardening, canning, learning to make healthier foods, organizing, and so forth.
Personal interest things like reading, exercise, visiting with friends, hospitality, serving others with meals or help when in need.
Money making ventures such as starting and running my own businesses, writing (both for fun and profit), selling things on ebay, etc.
Learning things: I have learned so much over the years because of the time at home that I've had to read and study. I have tons more I want to learn, too. Almost all of it can be done either from home or because of my schedule because I am home.
Certainly the making of a home to be cozy, welcoming, warm, and well kept is not easy. It takes skill, thought, and hard work. I have far to go.
I have TONS more that I look forward to doing as a homemaker. Some of my current wishes include:
Writing books, learning to stencil and then using that skill around the home, improving our garden and therefore saving us money and increasing the healthfulness of our food, learning more about natural health and eventually becoming a doctor of naturopathy, then using these skills both to benefit my own family and teach my children but also to help others with their health needs.
I have so many ideas and projects I am looking forward to do, and none of these even mentions all the stuff I do and want to do with and for my children. (I left those out since the question was more about single women)
I am not of the mindset that young women need to always stay at home, but I think many people have no idea of all the useful, interesting things to do from home, so here I am.
Recently I was talking to my younger sister. She is in her late 20s and is single and has a career. She worked hard to get through college and earned two master's degrees. This is her first big career job and she is extremely busy with it and travels half of the month, etc. It is a real, big time career.
I was talking to her about our current very strained financial situation and how my husband and I had discussed the possibility of me needing to get a job, and how we decided to try to put more energy into some of my current home business and other enterprises instead. It was interesting to me that her comment was something like, "If you don't have to get a job, DON'T! It is so hard to have to do what your boss wants you to do and have to play games all the time and jockey for the right positions in the workplace." She went on to tell me many unglamorous aspects of her career and how disheartening it can be.
At home I'm the queen of my castle and have so many opportunities to bless and be blessed. I am sure that if I had to work outside the home there would be different opportunities also. I am not doubting that. I am just thankful that so far I can be at home, and I am trying to be as resourceful and industrious as I can be while I'm here. I love being home and feel rather spoiled to be able to do so. Very few women I know are able to do it. I am blessed.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Friday, June 09, 2006
I'm currently reading A Woman in Berlin, which is a diary written by a woman living in Berlin at the end of World War II when the Russians invaded.
Apparently this book was published right after WW2 but was so scorned for it's contents that it disappeared for about 50 years. Now it's making a resurgence.
The anonymous author was a 30 year old single woman without friends, family, or many connections in Berlin. She describes the way people banded together out of desperation and need. She tells of starvation, nights spent in bomb shelters, and then of the Russians coming, and how every woman knew that her body would be considered spoils of war.
After the first horrible day of violence and rape she realizes that her best chance of survival is to find one higher-ranking Russian officer to attach herself to, hopefully making herself taboo for the others. She uses her wits and rudimentary knowledge of basic Russian to accomplish this, thus providing herself and those she lives with some measure of protection and provision, all bought with her body.
She discusses her feelings about having traded in being raped at random, to being a whore. (her words, not mine) She is not sure which is worse. All of the lines have blurred, and all she knows is that with the latter option, she is safer and better fed than she's been in months while living on war rations.
This issue reminded me of the movie Paradise Road. Glenn Close stars in it, as one of a group of women who end up in a Japanese concentration camp in World War I. As we watch the lives of these women we see them starving, sick, cold, beaten, terrified. They witness one of their own being burned alive by the Japanese soldiers. They are suffering incredibly.
One day there is a list of women that are to report to a truck. The women get on the truck and are taken to a beautiful house away from the concentration camp. They are ushered into a room with a large dining table spread richly with all manner of foods. These women have no idea why they are there or what the food means, but of course they are hoping they get to eat.
So, what's the catch? They are being offered a job! This place they are at is an officer's club. Any women willing to stay there and work as "hostesses" for the men will get plenty of food, water to wash with, toilets, silk sheets on their beds, and will not have to do manual labor. What a deal!
Many of these women were married, mothers, some of them had husbands fighting in the war. What were they to do? Stay in the work camp and hope not to die there, as they were very likely to do? Take the job at the officer's club and live, but at the cost of knowing they had sold themselves?
Both of these dilemmas are interesting to me. So often we might say, "Oh, I would only do what's right no matter what!" Yet when you use some of your imagination to envision yourself in one of these situations, can you be sure of what you would do? Can you even be sure of what is the "right thing" any more?
I remember telling my husband about Paradise Road. I asked him, "If I were one of those women who had that decision to make, which choice would you want me to make?"
I think I won't tell you his answer, nor my feelings of what I would do. I just think it's an interesting concept to think about and discuss.
We have a lovely little winding creek across the street from our house. My older children get to go over there a lot, but the little ones can't go without supervision. So today I thrilled them by taking them over there.
The whole thing probably took 20 minutes and was very pleasant since it's not too hot today. The boys loved it so much, and I had to ask myself why I don't take the time to do this for them more often. I couldn't come up with a good reason, so hopefully this will be a regular outing for us.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
I have had the "funny" realization that last June I was writing about blooming where you're planted despite financial troubles. Here I am again, same song, next verse.
Anybody who tells you that you can live on one income if only you're willing enough is.....only partially correct. We have lived off of one income for most of our nearly 15 years of marriage, and it has always required sacrifice, creativity, and thrift. In the past year or so it has gotten even harder, without us having made any major mistakes. It's so hard that at all times we are just one small step away from not being able to survive on one income. It's ridiculous how small the margin is.
My husband is no slacker. He works hard at two jobs and I do what I can to make the dollars stretch, plus whatever I can do here to rake in a little extra money on ebay or whatever. Lately I've been working very hard writing a book (got my rough draft finished!), working on writing more books, and building my business. Hopefully all of the many, many seeds I have been planting along the way will start to grow an income for us....soon!
In the meantime it can be disheartening to not have the money to do the things we would like to do. By this I do not mean "We cannot go to Disney for vacation." I mean, "We do not have the gas money to take the kids fishing 25 minutes away." When I say we live thrifty I am not kidding.
It is fortunate, I suppose, that it comes fairly easy for me to look around and see what I have rather than what I do not. I have a nice, comfortable home with air conditioning. I have the best backyard of anybody I know of. We have one nice vehicle that gets us from A to B, usually without too much trouble. I live in a lovely, quiet town where things are simple, and I like that.
My husband was feeling low about having to not do so many of the even simple things that he would like to do for me or the kids, but I encouraged him about all the good, fun things we have to do around here that are FREE.
So far this summer we have had FUN getting our free bricks, and my husband just last night completed our lovely new patio. It didn't cost us a penny! We worked together, taught the kids how to do something new, enhanced our yard, and it was great. We even used the sod clumps that we dug up to cover bald spots throughout our yard! We felt very resourceful and proud of ourselves.
We set up our tent in the back yard. The kids have enjoyed having it to play in and to get shade while reading or laying around outside. If you move it to a new spot every couple of days, it won't kill your grass.
We've used our slip-n-slide. All it takes is some medium weight plastic or a tarp. Lay it on your grass, hopefully going downhill. Use some dilluted liquid soap to squirt on the tarp, and keep a sprinkler going to keep the tarp wet. Slip and slide to your heart's content!
We're all enrolled in 2 library's summer reading programs, so we have those reading goals to work toward, plus have the activities to attend. Lots of free fun there.
We have many home improvement projects that we can work on. I think most people do. It can be as simple as needing to reorganize a closet, or it might be something like painting. We've got plenty of both of those plus some. I love to do home improvement projects of any type, and always enjoy the rewards of having things nicer afterwards. Why not put our energy into making our home nicer? Why not use up the paint that is waiting to be used, the flooring that still needs to be put in the unfinished areas, and so forth? Get it done! Most of our projects have already been paid for, and are now waiting for us to get off our rears and complete them!
Enjoy the outdoors! We have a beautiful, big back yard with a big hill. Our kids run up and down the hill, climb trees, ride their bikes and big wheels, play in their tree fort, and tons more. My husband and I like to go walking through the yard and talk about ideas we have for things we could do to enhance it in the future. We also enjoy checking on the progress of our various fruit trees, grape vines, berry bushes, garden, and so forth. Get a little fresh air, take a little walk, see what's going on around you.
Read! We read a lot here and enjoy it so much. I have some audio books for the littler ones to listen to, or sometimes even the older ones enjoy those if they are tired after playing outside.
So often people today get stuck thinking that they have to GO all the time in order to do something worth doing. That is so wrong. I am convinced that the richest moments come from being home as a family, and by being engaged with each other so that when the special moments arise, we are there to experience them together.
The other day I got a lovely picture drawn by my daughter. She had drawn the two of us dressed like princesses. She had written, "Mom, you ROCK! Thank you for playing games with me. When you spend time with me like that it builds a great fellowship!" Somehow I don't think I'd have gotten a note like that if she'd been getting carted to activities in all of her spare hours.
Be there. Be thankful. Life is full of so much good.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Yesterday, amidst a thousand other things, I made the time to read this book from front to back. I think this book gave me the kick in the butt that I needed this weekend.
Dr. Laura uses common sense and examples from her call-in show and private practice experience to teach women the simple things that need to happen to take care of their husband. Basically: feed 'em, respect them, take good care of their kids, and give 'em good lovin'.
She talks about gratitude and selfishness, and about the destructive messages that feminism has brought to women that cause them to mess up a good thing.
There wasn't a lot in this book that I haven't heard before, but it was a powerful reminder that I needed. I recommend it heartily.
Friday, June 02, 2006
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