family & home

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Lately I have been feeling a bit of a general time crunch that has coincided with a conviction that I need to be more deliberate in ordering my days. I’m very type B and have no natural proclivity for organization, scheduling, or deadlines.

So, homeschooling and caring for four young children with weekly freelance deadlines comes totally natural to me… as does making stuff up. The truth, is I leave a trail of chaos wherever I go and my natural tendencies make it even more necessary for me to plan things out and try to pull. it. together.

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I’m still working my way through the 2014 edition.

One thing that has helped immensely is relying on something other than my own brain to keep track of stuff. This Homemaker’s Daily Planner has saved my hide on more than one occasion. After years of trying other planners and homemaking print-outs, I’ve found this one little book to be exactly what I needed. It’s got a monthly calendar and a weekly calendar to write in all of your tasks as well as a menu for the day. In the back it houses a “Tasks” section, a “Projects” section, a list of contacts, and a perforated shopping list.

This allows me to keep all of my school, homesteading, blogging, and freelance lists in one space. It is my brain, if my brain were well organized and decorated with pretty flowers and nice typography.

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Anyway, I’ve been trying to squeeze everything in and recorded a recent day that worked fairly well. Some days are very different in that I spend way more time on the garden or computer than school and chores. But this reflects a more common, balanced day in the life. Also, all times are approximate (see note above about being type B).

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3:30 a.m. Ruth wakes up every night at this time and I’ve given up on trying to change it with shorter naps/more day-time feedings. So I get up, feed her, put her back down, and head back to bed.

5:45 a.m. Up with Ruth. Feed her and have our solo time for the day while I do a little reading.

7:00 Annie and the boys are up. Make and eat breakfast.

8:00 Start soaking laundry and filling up the sink/putting away dishes. Direct boys with school and chores (this is pretty much ongoing all day).

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9:30 Ruthie takes her nap while I wash dishes/garden/work in the kitchen/do computer work (whatever is most pressing)

10:30 Ruthie’s up so I head over to the new cabin with a helper or two to feed her, make beds, clean up, and sweep.

11:00 Finish up kitchen stuff and start lunch.

12:30 – 1:30 eat lunch and then put the girls down for afternoon naps. Do a reading lesson with Abram, answer Elijah’s school questions and supervise their stuff. Work on computer stuff.

3:30 Girls are up. Feed Ruth, get Annie a snack, wash a load of laundry.

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5:00 Start supper, pop into the garden, keep Ruth happy through fussy hours, finish supervising school.

6-7 eat dinner, get Abram started on dishes, have Elijah finish up chores/school, feed Ruth.

8-9 family time, put down Ruth, get them ready for bed, read for a bit.

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9:30 Hopefully I have shut off the solar flash light and zonked with the book laying next to me. Sometimes the book didn’t even get cracked and I am already drooling snoozing by the time the children are asleep.

Stumble out of bed at the sound of the Ruthie alarm. Full and wonderful days, these are.

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Sometime in June it was decided that summer was barreling down on us in this space with few windows. And so it was time to move into the new cabin, even if we hadn’t finished it. One sweaty Friday Stewart and I lugged over mattresses and bedding with stragglers dragging carrying pillows and blankets behind us across the dirt and mulch pathway.

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While Stewart put together beds for us and the boys, I brought over essentials and mopped the floor – something I hadn’t done in 2.5 years. That night we threw the windows open and enjoyed the breeze while sleeping in a space with only four corners.

This is significant because the camper/cabin has 14 corners (yes, I counted) and after living there for a year or two, we dubbed it the hallway house.

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The new cabin has quite a few more features that are a step-up from our old space:

  • A door that does not have an internet pole directly in front of it because the installation crew didn’t realize that was our door. I understand; plywood doors do look like plywood walls.
  • Access to the sides of the bed. Our bed in our old cabin was placed inside a cove that was only accessible from the foot of the bed. Also a bonus in the new cabin is not having an office above the bed where a desk chair is perched atop the bed during the day.
  • Ten windows. There was one window and a hole in in the wall with a screen/shower door (depending on the season) in our old cabin. Not quite the same.
  • A floor that is level and atop a true foundation. This is in contrast to the floor in the old cabin that we hastily put up because “it was temporary” and so could take a man down if he wasn’t paying attention to the topography beneath his feet.
  • 100 more square feet. That doesn’t seem like much, but when you start with 300 square feet, it adds up quick.

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The first few days in the cabin I was overwhelmed. The space felt huge, in comparison, and I felt guilty and grateful and confused all at once. Even though I was willing to make this camper/cabin a home, even though I thought I was content with living in it for as long as we had, even though I knew we could live in that space forever if we really truly had to; I hadn’t ever really let go of the idea that it was temporary. Up until just a few months before we moved into the new cabin, I still looked at this first space we built as a stepping stone to something better, something more.

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And then, somewhere between starting the cabin and moving in, I dropped the one thing that seems to negate any gratitude or contentment I struggle with my flesh to have – expectations. Maybe it was the hullabaloo surrounding Ruth’s arrival or maybe it was watching Stewart turn a corner in his recovery from adrenal fatigue, but something I didn’t even recognize shifted.

And so, one June day Stewart said “I think we should move in this week,” and I said “Sounds good!”

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That Friday night, and the days that followed, I stared around 400 square feet with an open floor painted light blue. My husband walked around to his side of the bed freely and I watched our four children sink into their own little spaces and drift off to sleep. With the old cabin/camper now serving as kitchen and office space, it felt like we could stretch a little, sink in a little, breathe out a little.

That feeling I had that I couldn’t quite put my finger on… I think it was gratitude. And I don’t think I would have fully known that if it weren’t for 2.5 years surrounded by 14 corners… where our daughters were born, where our sons learned to read, and where their Mama learned to let go of expectations and gain some perspective.