Thursday, May 26, 2011

My grown up Christmas, err, Birthday List

Ever hear that song by Amy Grant?
Well, aside from world peace and all I've been thinking about a few little things I'd like to have. I don't NEED anything, but with my 30th birthday being tomorrow I've put together a wish list of sorts. Welcome to my little world.

I'm on the market for a new perfume. I don't like strong scents. I usually stick to clean airy scents that remind me of summer. I've been out for months and months, and think it's time for something new.

This is the color of paint that I'd like to paint my bedroom. Right now it's a strange redish brown color. I'm hoping for a spanish cabana feel. Lots of whites and creams on the bed. Ooolala. Someday...

I'd love a rung for the living room. I had one that I got at a garage sale for $10, but it was too small for our space so I put it on Scotty's work classifieds and sold it for $50.=) I can't decide if I'd like the zebra or the giraffe, but either of these would be so wonderful in my living room. Maybe I'll find one at a garage sale.=)

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have one of these beauties! With all the consigning I do this would help the process go so much smoother. I have a great little consignment corner in our garage that Scotty built for me, so again, this isn't something that I NEED just something I'd really like to have.
A day at the salon would make me feel like a natural woman! I need a new look. I haven't had my brows waxed in years, and my hair hasn't been cut since December. I'm always slow to do anything to my hair while I'm pregnant because I'm worried I'll do something I regret. Now that Amelia is here I'd really like a day at the salon. I did get a coupon for great clips. Maybe I'll get a $4.99 haircut tomorrow.=)
I actually do really need a new pair of tennis shoes. I have trouble with my feet in the pair I have now and I've had these since Scotty and I got married! I don't need this particular pair as they are WAY out of my budget, but something that would make me more likely to run would be fantastic.

I LOVE long dresses. They are so wonderful and airy and great for me with the kids. I love this whole ensemble. I'd really like to make it mine.=)
I don't wear my contacts too often in the spring time because of my allergies, but in the summer I wear them a lot more. I need a new pair of amber colored shades. Any of these would do...

What I'll probably end up getting this year.
Our Suburban needs new tires before we drive to Florida in September, so I'm thinking any birthday money I get will likely be going towards new tires. Hey, at least it's not a new toilet or something.=)

A child will lead them!

So, once you've got your simple, organized house it's time to teach those who live there to help keep it that way. For us, with little ones who can't do a TON around the house it means teaching them to pick up after themselves and to do simple household chores. This will look different depending on who makes up your household and the ages of your children. Some lucky duck moms may have most of the household load while others will be able to give all the work to their children. The important thing to remember is that your kids CAN and WILL do chores if you teach them and STAY CONSISTENT!
Children 6 and under(this is my oldest child's age) can:
  • Fold clothing. It may not look like you folded it, but even my 2 year old folds washcloths, dish towels, and other small things. My three girls ages 6, 4, and 2 fold all the clothing for our family. I have a basket for each family member with their name on it, and the girls put all the clothing into the baskets and take it to the bottom of the stairs for each person to take to the proper place to be put away.
  • Put away clothing. This was the hardest for me because I love a tidy clothing drawer, but it's one I had to let go of. If it's at least IN the right drawer it's good enough, All the lines on the washcloths DON'T have to line up. I promise. Your house won't implode. The girls put away all the laundry in our home except for mine and the MM. We do our own. Even Isaiah(15 months) can put bibs into the bib drawer in the kitchen. He actually LOVES his "chore."
  • Swish a cleaning brush around in a toilet. This is actually my kids favorite chore. Go figure. I have them do it daily so that it doesn't ever get too nasty for them to clean.
  • Wipe down counters and tables after meals. This is Emma Claire's(4) daily job. She does it after each meal.
  • Put away their toys. This is an obvious one, but you'd be surprised how many moms are cleaning up their kids toys. As. We. Speak...Don't do it. Make them pick up after themselves and make it easy for them. If it's taking them more than 10 minutes to clean up they either have too many toys or too many toys out. Try putting most of their toys up out of reach so that they play with one thing at a time. We have bins at our house that are separated out by kinds of toys. I let the kids have one bin at a time. SOMETIMES two depending on what the toys are they want(Babies and pretend clothes). Children are rarely organized by nature. I have one child who is, but I think it's a pretty rare trait.=) You can teach them to be responsible with their things though and expect them to take care of the things they have.
  • Make their bed. Again, it won't look like you made it, but you'll be surprised. Addison makes a pretty nice bed at 2. Olivia's usually looks like it's been made by the Disney World maid.=)
  • Sweep up crumbs after meals or craft time. I have a little sweeper with dust pan and Olivia has this chore. She does it as often as we eat or make a mess.
  • Fill up water bottles. Olivia likes this one. Plus she gets to play in the water while she does it.
  • Rinse dishes. We do this on a rotation because all the girls love this chore.
  • Put away silverware. Minus knives, of course. This is usually Addison's job.
  • Help with meals. They LOVE this and can actually get quite good at it. Olivia recently made an entire meal with supervision.
  • Wipe baseboards and banisters. This is Emma Claire's job. It doesn't take her very long any more because I've taught her to do it like a race. She basically runs around the house with her cloth on the baseboards. You go speed cleaner!=)
  • Empty bathroom trash. Emma Claire gets the honor of doing this daily chore. When done daily it doesn't get too bad and she doesn't mind it too much.
  • Mop. Olivia helps me with this chore on cleaning day. I taught her to do it by telling her she was coloring the floor with a wet marker and it wasn't done until the whole floor was colored wet. She thinks it's so much fun and it's a HUGE help to me!
  • Simple yard work. Scotty has the girls go in front of him before he does yard work and pick up sticks, rocks and any toys that might be in the yard.
  • Dust. Addison has this job. That means it's only things that she can reach, so I still have to do a few things on my own, but she does a great job with the things she dusts. I put the dusting stuff on the cloth for her and she goes to town.=)
  • Set the Table. This job is rotated in our home, and usually all the kids help.
That's all I can think of right now, but I think my point it that they can do JUST ABOUT everything with a little help or with training by you. This may seem like a lot, but I'm telling you, your kids will like the responsibility if they are little enough and should be taught to help you take care of your home if they are older. Get your oldest child on board and the others will follow. I teach my kids to do EVERYTHING with joy, and as if it were God's home and we were taking care of it, because honestly that's the truth. Everything we have comes from God and it's a gift to us while we are here on earth. We have to teach our kids to take care of what we have.
Another thing to consider is that without the distraction of cable television kids have a lot more time on their hands. Giving them a block of time in the day(ours is right after nap time-3PM) where they do their daily chores will give them something to do, and it really only takes mine about 10-15 minutes to get everything done. We don't do all these chores on a daily basis, some are just for cleaning day, so don't think I'm making my kids do these every day.
Daily Chores:
  1. Sweep crumbs.
  2. Wipe down bathrooms.
  3. Take out bathroom trash.
  4. Make beds. 
  5. Wipe down counters and table in kitchen.
  6. Help dad with dishes.
Most everything else we do as part of our cleaning day which I'll talk about next time. Don't get overwhelmed with starting daily chores. Talk to your kids and find out if there is something that they'd like to do. I sat all the girls down and we split things up together. This gives them a say in what they do and also makes them feel like a part in the process and not just a little worker bee who gets told what to do.=)

What YOU Want to Know

When talking about what to blog among my friends I always get the same response:Blog about HOW you do all you do. I'm always slow to do that, though, because I never want to come across as a know-it-all, perfect mom. Those things, I AM NOT. However, I've been thinking lately about many of my new friends whom I've met at our new church. Most of them are older and more mature in their life. They've been mothers longer than I have, they've been married longer than I have, they have more experience with life than I do. I soak these ladies up as much as possible, because I want to learn from them and use their experiences to help me along MY way. It's such a blessing to get a few great tips from them, and THIS is the reason I've decided to try and share a little of how I do what I do with you all, my 3 readers...
SO, here it goes. You want to know how I do so much, and (for the most part) keep it together. I can sum it up in THREE EASY WORDS: Simplify, Organize, Maintain. Sound too good to be true. It isn't. Lets start with the first of those words.
When I was 16 we moved for the first time in my life. At that point I boxed up so much junk that moved with me to our new home. We moved again after I'd started college, and again, the junk(some of which was still in the boxes) moved with me. This happened one more time when the Manly Man and I got married, but soon(like before I could sleep in our bed for the first night)it ALL had to be gone through and thinned out.
Scotty and I lived in a one room shack cottage our first year of marriage, and we didn't have room for groceries, much less all of my JUNK from growing up. We're talking every letter I had ever gotten in the mail. Every greeting card that had ever been given to me. Every picture I'd ever taken or had been taken of me. I even had napkins from places I'd been on dates with guys from long long ago. Crazy, I know. ANYWAY, living in the "cottage" made Scotty and I realize that you really didn't NEED that much stuff to live. Just as long as you've got a few rolls of Scott, some chicken, and a gallon of milk your good.=) Now there were some things we really felt the need to keep in our life and those things got a special place that was there own, but we'll talk about that later. The point is Scotty and I SIMPLIFIED our life and to this day it's been the best thing we've ever done.
I think the easiest time to do this is in a move, but anytime is a good time to simplify. We've shaved more and more stuff off of our list of things we need. For instance, we don't have a TV. We don't keep things that we don't love. We aren't attached to clothes, shoes, or anything else that has a good resale value. We go through the kids toys and simplify several times a year. Probably about once a month. I never keep broken things that can't be fixed without spending money. We take stuff to the Salvation Army about once a month. We have a consignment corner in our garage for things that we'll sell at consignment sales or stores. We just don't keep things in the house very long.
When simplifying ask yourself these easy questions: Could someone else use this more than me? Could I make money on this if I sold it? Do I LOVE this? Is this something that I'd go back for at the store? Is there a better way for this to remind me of a memory? Is this taking too much of my time? After you've answered some of those questions you'll get a feel at what you really NEED. Once your home is simplified its time to organize.
You've heard it said, "A place for everything and everything in it's place." This is SO true for a well ran home. Until you have a place for everything(and everyone) you will feel like your home is never clean and like you are running yourself to death trying to keep up with your life. Take it slow. Start out with something easy like a drawer and end with your hardest room. If need be but some organizing tools, but usually you have what it takes already around your home. You just have to be creative. The biggest tip for organizing is that you HAVE to stay put. If you start taking things all over the house you'll never have an organized home. You'll just be like an ADD chicken with it's head cut off. When organizing keep a basket for putting things in that go in other places. Once you're finished with your space take your misplaced things basket and put the items where they belong. ONLY ONCE YOU'RE FINISHED with the space you were working on!! This really is the thing that trips most people up with organization. Try to keep clean and clear cabinets in bathroom and kitchen spaces. This is a big help when you have a very limited space to work with. Once everything has a place there is a VERY important step that really puts you over the top as far as being a superstar home-keeper-KEEP IT THERE! Yes, maintain an organized home be keeping things where they belong.
Maintaining is the KEY for me to be able to keep my home tidy(not always CLEAN, but it always LOOKS clean to the eye), my kids happy, and my MM thinking I'm the bomb digity. By maintaining things in an orderly fashion I am able to spend less time cleaning and working, and more time doing things like reading to my kids, taking walks, and talking to friends on Facebook. Taking an extra second to put things away where they belong instead of leaving a pile on my bed, or mail on my desk, really pays off for me. Keeping the monthly menu, ongoing grocery lists, and a growing family calendar starts to get easier as I keep at it and just get it done. Persistence is hard for a busy lady, but it's the most important thing when it comes to having a well managed home.
It really is just as easy as that! I'm going to go into much more detail on some points later, but for now, GO. Simplify. Organize. Maintain. It's your life. Soak it up.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Amelia's Birth Story

I've had many requests to tell Amelia's birth story. Her story actually starts almost 7 years ago when Olivia was born. Each of our babies were born under very different circumstances, but each had left a bad taste in our mouth. Because of that we really felt like we wanted to try something else that might work better for us. I looked into getting a midwife, but didn't think that we'd be able to do a homebirth due to the breathing issues that three out of four of our kids had. We set up an appointment with Birthworks. I had several connections with Birthworks, and knew they had a good reputation in the area. Our plan was to meet with them and either go ahead with a midwife or hire a dula to be part of the hospital birthing process. After meeting with them for the first time Scotty and I were sure that we had picked the right place. The midwife and her apprentice took their time to talk through our history and get to know us. They assured us that they thought they could help us make it through a 40 week pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby at home. After praying through it we decided to go ahead with the homebirth and we hired Mary Alexander as our midwife.
The entire experience was fantastic. Each prenatal visit (which were at Birthworks) was spent talking about my total health and nutrition. The kids and Scotty were welcome to come to the appointments and Mary even let Olivia help find Amelia's heartbeat! We got to hear the baby's heartbeat each time we were there, and Mary checked my BP, and measurements. Birthworks didn't have an ultrasound machine, but we were able to set up an appointment with Shea at Baby Views and found out baby #5 was a GIRL! We did all the normal tests that you'd get with any OB including glucose and strepB. It was actually much like going to an OB, just a lot better.=) Each time I was given as much time to talk out anything I needed to, and I was given Mary's full attention for as long as I was there. I was also given Mary's phone numbers so that I could call her directly any time I had any problems or questions. I had Mary, and an apprentice, and for the labor/delivery I also had the other midwife, Kim. Let me tell you, they were such a great team since they were so used to working together. So, now that you know more about the whole process I'll share a little on how my sweet Amelia Joy joined our family.
When I was about 36.5 weeks I started having regular contractions while I was working at Rhea Lana's. While 36 weeks is pretty far along, with my history of early deliveries and breathing problems for the baby, I was scared and wanted to try and get to 40 weeks. SO, I loaded up and came home and rested. The contractions finally stopped, but started back the next afternoon, so I called Mary to let her know and she gave me several suggestions to help stop them, but she said the best thing would be for me to stay in bed and rest. SO, that's what I did. My mom came and got the girls and I got in bed and stayed there for the next few days. I made it to my 37 week appointment, where Mary said that I needed to decide that everything was going to be OK and be at peace with whatever happened. She said that the baby would most likely be fine and that me being scared was just going to make things worse. So before I left there I decided that I was going to be fine and Amelia was going to be fine and that God was going to take care of both of us. I didn't have any regular contractions after that until May 3rd, when I was TWO days shy of being 40 weeks! God is good!
I woke up on May 3rd feeling terrible. I kept thinking maybe I had a stomach virus or something because I was queasy all day. I was pretty sure the "end was near," but went ahead with my day and took Olivia to school, ran my errands, and cooked dinner, gave the kids a bath, and got them in bed. Scotty had a softball game that evening, so after the kids were in bed he went to that. I fell asleep waiting on him to get home. The next thing I knew it was a little after 3AM and I had a contraction that woke me up. They were strong and about 5 minutes apart. I got up and walked around a little because I was more comfortable moving around instead of being in bed. The contractions got harder, so at about 4AM I called Mary so that she could get things together and call everyone to come. By 5:30 everyone was here and everything was set up and ready. I had ordered Mary's birthing kit and had all the supplies she had suggested. Mary and Kim brought in the oxygen tank in case of any emergencies for me or Amelia. They also brought a birthing stool in for me to use. You can also use a pool as an option, but I decided I wasn't interested in that.
I was still doing great and able to manage my pain just fine. Holly(the apprentice) was wonderful about helping me to get in positions that allowed me to be in less pain. At about 6 my water broke on its own! This is the first time my water broke on it's own. Yay!!=) Anyway, after my water broke my contractions were much stronger, but still manageable. I moved around a lot and stayed pretty comfortable. This was the first time I'd labored with time gaps between contractions and my water breaking and the baby being born. It was nice to be able to catch my breath and be ready to push. At about 6:50 I moved to the birthing stool and at 7:03 Amelia Joy Smittle was born. In our bathroom.=) Once I had been cleaned up I moved over to the bed and nursed a very hungry 8lb 8oz (21 3/4 in)HEALTHY pink baby!  At 7:30, when the kids alarm clock went off, they came downstairs and into our bedroom and got to meet their new baby sister. That moment, when our whole family was in our king size bed snuggling our new baby, was one that I will never ever forget. It was beautiful, goose bump inducing, magical, wonderful, God given.
The midwifes stayed a little longer to be sure everything was OK, then they put all of the linens in the washing machine and left. I spent the rest of the day resting in bed with my baby. Mary came back to check on me the next day, then Holly came a few days later. They have called to check on things several times since then. It's been so nice to have them to talk to whenever I need them. What a blessing.
So, there you have it. I know your next question is will I do it again. The answer is YOU BET. As long as it's left up to me I'll be at home with any other pregnancies that we may have.