Routines and Flying {by the seat of my pants}

Routines and Flying {by the seat of my pants}

We started back to school last week. It felt good to get back into a rou­tine of sorts. The chil­dren seem happy to be back, and eager to learn their new sub­jects. Mostly any­way. Latin has been fun.

We’ve been using the same cur­ricu­lum since my old­est was in sec­ond grade. Our sixth child is start­ing sec­ond grade this year. And as far as we can tell, she’s our last. So, it’s the last time I will be going through this par­tic­u­lar rou­tine. It’s odd. And I find myself get­ting some­what sen­ti­men­tal about the whole thing. We put the phon­ics cur­ricu­lum away for good. The girls asked if they can use it with their chil­dren one day, so I’m keep­ing it. That just made me smile. They liked it quite well.

Faith is learn­ing his­tory for­mally for the first time. She loves it. I’ve been down this road a few times. From Cre­ation through present day (we go chrono­log­i­cally through his­tory). So, I am savor­ing the teach­ing, watch­ing her see what new hori­zons are out there.


Faith working on her math.

Faith work­ing on her math.

I’ve been sort of on autopi­lot for the last cou­ple of years. You know, same song dif­fer­ent verse. Just do the next thing and keep going.

I recently asked on The Vir­tu­ous Wife Face­book page if peo­ple sched­ule their week or fly by the seat of their pants. I’m curi­ous about how peo­ple attack life (or ease into it, as the case may be…). Some­one flipped it around on me and asked what I do.

Ha! I don’t feel quite so “vir­tu­ous” by my real­ity. I like the idea of a sched­ule, but in all hon­esty, I tend to fly.

This year is dif­fer­ent though. I’ve returned to my old days of school­ing: I have a plan mapped out. Days on the cal­en­dar. Check­lists. The whole shebang.

And con­trary to what I assumed it would be, I find it to be quite lib­er­at­ing. I feel more in con­trol and like we can actu­ally do this thing well. No more guess­work. No more check­ing at the end of the year to make sure we schooled enough days {and run­ning into July to fill those missed days}. I know what we have to do. THEY know what they have to do. And they are as excited as I am. They love the idea of check­ing off their lists (I made lists for them also.). I feel like I actu­ally have more time in my day to do the other things that are impor­tant to get done. Like laun­dry. And cook­ing. And a host of other things that are impor­tant to the run­ning of my home.

So, what was my impe­tus to get orga­nized? Hon­estly, it is my desire to honor my hus­band. He is the clas­sic Type A guy. Super duper orga­nized, pre­pared, straight­for­ward guy. And he mar­ried a stacker, an “I’ll get to it later” girl. And, as patient as he is, I know it dri­ves him crazy. I know it. And I’ve ignored it most of our mar­ried life. Oh, I have dreams and desires to be more orga­nized. But, when the rub­ber meets the road, I’m busy fly­ing from task to task, hop­ing I didn’t for­get any­thing majorly impor­tant. Like din­ner. {They really do like to eat EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. What’s with that?} And I know that, while I get a lot accom­plished in a given day, I don’t get as much done as per­haps I could if I had a plan.

So I have a plan.

I orga­nized my laun­dry room and school room this sum­mer. It makes the task of putting things where they belong so much eas­ier, cut­ting out wasted time in search­ing for that one thing I can’t find because I don’t quite know where I put it. I can breathe again.

So, do you have a plan? Are you super orga­nized? I know some women who are incred­i­bly so. Do you fly from task to task, hop­ing noth­ing major is being for­got­ten? Good thing chil­dren and pets squawk when they are hun­gry, huh?

But, what would your hus­band like you to do? Does he have a desire for your home to be run in a way that is con­trary to how it is actu­ally run? Do you make his pri­or­i­ties your pri­or­i­ties? That’s the hard one. That dying to self and serv­ing oth­ers thing. I resisted for so long because I was afraid of los­ing con­trol over my sched­ule. What sched­ule? Well, the idea that I can meet an emer­gency that arose, or a friend who needed help or time. But the thing is, I was wrong. I actu­ally now have that free­dom because I know where I am. My chil­dren can stick to the plan even if I’m not sit­ting right beside them. They have it mapped out for them.

Don’t be like me. The stub­born part any­way. If your hus­band is ask­ing you to change some­thing in the way you run your home, try it. You might be sur­prised, like me, that his insight is actu­ally very wise and will be help­ful to you.

I’m thank­ful that my hus­band is very patient, gen­tle, kind, not demand­ing . He has never forced his way with this. He has encour­aged, sug­gested, requested, yet giv­ing me the lee­way to make the final deci­sion about my day. He is so under­stand­ing towards my heart in it all. But I wish I had made more effort years ago. He really is a smart guy. I don’t know what I was so afraid of.

Now, let’s see how long I will main­tain this new rou­tine and sched­ule. I pray it will be for good!


The End of Summer

The End of Summer


I can­not believe that sum­mer is near­ing its end. How did that hap­pen? I sup­pose the travel and the manic sched­ule might have some­thing to do with it.

I had so much I wanted to get done this sum­mer before I am swamped again with school and the daily grind.

But, here we are, sit­ting at the end of August, with the list of projects still mostly untouched. Does that ever hap­pen to you? Lofty plans left undone?

I guess I have a list of excuses as long as my to-do list: a three-week vaca­tion to Cal­i­for­nia {which was AMAZING}, fam­ily camp, com­pany in and out all sum­mer in between our trips, catch­ing up on my busi­ness orders, soak­ing up the sun with the kids before we are stuck indoors again due to snow and cold…

How­ever, this past week­end, my amaz­ing daugh­ter in law came to spend a few days with me while our hus­bands were rough­ing it in the untamed Alaska on Mon­tague Island. We tack­led my laun­dry room. I think it took us about 10 hours together and 1287 trash bags to get through it. It was our own per­sonal Haz­ardous Jour­ney.

Seri­ously, where did all that junk come from? To be fair, my laun­dry room isn’t a single-purpose room. It is the col­lec­tive closet of all the chil­dren. It con­tains the bulk of my linens. I also have all of my craft­ing items stored in there. From 1987 to today. We laughed so hard at all my old sewing pat­terns. Remem­ber the 80s and 90s with the huge col­lars? Yup. I had pat­terns for those. And the Prairie dresses. Not sure why I had those. I don’t remem­ber wear­ing any of that stuff. Maybe I have blot­ted it out of my mem­ory. Let’s not dig up the old photo albums, okay? While I took many things to Good­will today, I threw out the pat­terns. I thought I would be kind to soci­ety and not let those stay in cir­cu­la­tion. We ought to learn from our past, right? And not des­tine oth­ers to make the same mis­takes we {may have} made.

And now my laun­dry room sits in its beau­ti­ful mag­nif­i­cent glory. I used a label maker. Do you have one? They should come with a warn­ing: Cau­tion! The use of this machine is highly addic­tive. Keep small chil­dren away or they may end up labeled along with the pat­terns and fab­ric and zip­pers! {Yes, I have a label for my zip­pers. I am *that* orga­nized now.}

So, beloved Sarah went home on Tues­day with her hus­band safely returned from the wilds. And the bug had bit­ten me. Hard.

I tack­led the school room. I can be down­right vio­lent when it comes to throw­ing stuff out. You would never know in my nor­mal daily life. But, another 672 trash bags later,  a label machine smok­ing in the back­ground, and I have a pris­tine school room.

laundry room and school room organized

The lit­tle girls were giddy. After the fact. They were very ner­vous to come any­where near me dur­ing the process. Not sure if they thought I’d throw them out with the other heaps of things or if I’d put them to work on some project that looked like it might take up all their free time. Hmmm. They did help. Just with caution.

But, as the room came together again, they were so excited. I kept hear­ing cheers and excla­ma­tions to the effect of “I can’t wait to start school!!” and “Hey! This is where our Latin goes! Mom has a label right there!” Yes, I’m doing Latin with all three girls this year. Should be fun.  Right? I look for­ward to watch­ing Faith tackle it. She already thinks she can speak French. {She can’t. She says nor­mal things in a French accent. Makes us laugh. The usual.}

So we are going to start school next week at some point. We have com­pany com­ing on Mon­day for a few days. Our Eng­lish Irish friends are send­ing rein­force­ments. We have the great joy of hav­ing their old­est son and his lovely wife com­ing to visit. And then I believe we will start school. I don’t think I have any­thing else on the cal­en­dar to give us a good excuse to delay any longer.

So, so long, Sum­mer. You were fab­u­lous this year. We will soak up the fad­ing rays of sun while we can until you join us again in all your glory next year. Thanks for the memories!

Top Photo credit: A.Moltini / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Gluten Free Bread {that actually tastes good}

Gluten Free Bread {that actually tastes good}

Appar­ently a rumor has been swirling around about me. And my bread. The word on the street is that peo­ple like it.

I know my fam­ily does. They actu­ally pre­fer it to reg­u­lar bread. I make it and they eat all the loaves up within min­utes. Well, maybe not that fast for all of it. I bake in bulk. The first loaf is gone before it has had a chance to cool. The oth­ers might last a cou­ple of days beyond that.

And I’m just as bad as the rest of them.

Which is why I don’t bake bread  nearly often enough, and my gluten free girls are left to cope with the store bought card­board that passes as gluten free bread. I’m not the least bit tempted by that stuff.

But, today I decided we needed some real bread. It isn’t too warm out­side, so every­thing seemed per­fect. {We have no air con­di­tion­ing, so this is an impor­tant fac­tor in August.} What excuse did I have?

Other than the fact that I was pack­ing for a camp­ing trip. And needed to make a meal for Sun­day. And we have com­pany com­ing to our house the day after we get home.

But that tends to be my nor­mal life. It’s how I roll.

And, I thought that while I was at it, I’d share the recipe with you. It’s not my own. I took a gluten free bak­ing class, and the woman who teaches it tweaked and tweaked until she came up with this star of a recipe. She should take a bow. She gives the recipe out freely to all who ask. I love her.

So here it is for you:

Gluten Free Bread

*Note: I mill my own rice flour, which makes it extra fresh and soft. I haven’t tried it with store bought rice flour, but if that’s all you have, it’s worth a shot!

Pre­heat oven to 375 degrees

Grind 3 cups brown rice
In large mixer, use your cookie pad­dles and add:

2 cups warm almond milk (or water)
1/2 cup maple syrup, honey, or agave (I use the maple syrup)
1 stick of soft but­ter (or 3/4 c light olive oil)
**Note: Here, I just put all the above ingre­di­ents in a saucepan, melt the but­ter, and warm the rest. Not to hot though, as that would kill the yeast.
3 eggs, room tem­per­a­ture
ground flaxseeds (I just fill up my seed/coffee grinder, mill what­ever it holds, and add that amount. This is an extra, optional ingre­di­ent, so you can add as much/little as you like.)
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/4 c freshly ground rice flour
1/4 c tapi­oca flour
1/2 c raw mil­let (optional, only if you like crunch, which we love)
5 tsp SAF instant yeast
1 Tbsp Xan­than Gum
a squirt or so of lemon juice (to keep the bread fresh longer)

Mix all ingre­di­ents in mixer for about 4 min­utes. Spoon into (2) 8″ well oiled loaf pans and smooth the top of the dough. Let rise for about an hour. When plac­ing bread in oven, reduce tem­per­a­ture to 350* for 45 min­utes. Use a read ther­mome­ter to test the inter­nal tem­per­a­ture, which should read at least 190*F. {I don’t actu­ally do this step, but that’s how you can tell if it is done if you are unsure.}

Optional: Add 1/4 cup Potato Starch in the place of the tapi­oca starch.
Throw in a well ripened banana if one is sit­ting on your counter.
If you add 1 cup of pureed pump­kin, add 1/2 c addi­tional rice flour.

That’s it! It’s pretty easy.

I store my bread on the counter in a plas­tic bag. No need to refrig­er­ate it. And it stays moist and fresh. This is great slic­ing bread for sandwiches.

If you try it, let me know what you think. Also, feel free to ask me any ques­tions you have about it, although it’s pretty forgiving.

My girls gig­gled this morn­ing when they saw the fresh loaves of bread I baked after they went to bed last night. The first loaf is already gone.

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