Our Temporary Chaos

Our life has been a bit chaotic this past month.

We started the first phase of our home renovation on August 22. (And, when I say we, I really mean my husband, my role in all of this is to serve as the cleaning crew and do some painting!)

We put in a wall between our kitchen and hallway, are replacing floors in the hall, kitchen and dining area, plan to take down a partial wall in the kitchen, rearrange our cabinets, put in a gas oven and redo the backsplash.

We’re over a month in and it’s just been a hall renovation so far. We’ve ripped out the tile in the hall. Doing that caused us to find that at some point our return air unit had leaked so there was moisture in the sub floor. This caused the flooring to temporarily come to a halt and we had to bring in an HVAC professional. We’re thankful it doesn’t have to be entirely replaced but it’s currently sitting in our carport, waiting to be re-installed.

Cecilia's Room

Our home has been a bit unsettled these past few weeks. Cecilia’s room holds the entire contents of one of the hall closets and other things from the other two smaller ones. We also have some of the new hardwood flooring in her room and a box of miscellaneous home improvement items.

Hall

Our hall is half painted, mostly floored and we’ve been shuffling tools and other flooring items around in the hall.

Bathroom

The bathroom that is right off of the hall is serving as extra storage space.

Carport

Now, add to this chaos a carport that is half full of flooring, sub flooring, some ripped out tile and a table saw.

Yard Sale Stuff

The other half of the carport contains yard sale items. I’ve been decluttering like crazy over the past couple of months and have decided to have a yard sale so our boys can raise money for a giving initiative at our church. Plus, our boys typically park their bikes in the carport so we’ve literally had to cut out a path just to get to our vehicles some days.

Backyard

Our riding mower is in the shop and our push mower is currently needing repair so our yard looks like a hayfield. (The picture doesn’t look so bad but trust me, it’s tall!)

And, to top all of this off, my husband was sick ALL weekend Friday-Monday. Really sick. He attempted to do some flooring Friday afternoon which I’m convinced made everything worse. And, let’s be honest, lawn mower repair and flooring fall entirely on him because I lack those skills.

So, things are currently quite messy, cluttered and the yard looks awful.

However, I am at peace with the current situation because I know it’s temporary.

This is a huge step for me. My natural bent is perfectionism. In the past, tall grass, a carport full of junk and a house in the midst of home renovation would have made me miserable and absolutely unpleasant to be around.

While I have to admit, most of it is visually unsettling to me (clutter/chaos causes me to feel a bit stressed), I am able to move beyond my feelings in regards to the mess. In those moments it starts to bother me, I remember that a home renovation is a temporary time of chaos, we’re having a yard sale this Saturday and what doesn’t sell will immediately be donated and we soon shall have our mower back and the grass will be cut.

This past Sunday, our pastor talked over some current bad cultural lessons and one of those lessons we believe is that life is a performance.

My perfectionism has been driven by this.

I was trying to please and be found worthy by being perfect. As an adult, it shifted from grades and extracurricular performance to trying to keep my home and yard perfect and appear to have things all together.

Thankfully, the desire to perform has been identified and no longer drives me.

Perfect doesn’t exist. Life is messy, life is cluttered, life is imperfect.

And, while it may be hazardous (ha, ha) to have anyone in our home during this season of temporary chaos, I’m not embarrassed by what anyone may think of the mess and disorder that is currently our home.

Don’t be so caught up in trying to perform and be found worthy that you live your life for other people. Life is not a performance. 

Bringing Meals

Bringing meals to families after the birth of a baby, during times of sickness or loss is such a simple way to really bless a family and make them feel loved and cared for.

After the birth of our third baby, we were blessed with many meals from friends in our small group and other friends from church. Every meal that was delivered made me feel loved and cared for. And, I’m so thankful for the sweet friends who took time out of their busy days of caring for their own little ones to prepare a meal for our family.

Since I know what a blessing meals are to families, I prefer to celebrate babies by bringing a meal or two instead of giving them more stuff for baby (babies don’t need much)!

In the past, I’ve made excuses for not bringing meals to families, telling myself I was too busy taking care of my kids, preparing our own meals and that I didn’t know what to bring.

While, it does take some time out of my day, I’ve found that bringing meals can be pretty simple and involve a minimal amount of time, thanks to planning and keeping meals simple.

I have two meals that I typically bring to families:

    1. Roasted Chicken,  Baked Carrots, Potatoes and Onions, Green Beans, Rolls and Dessert
    2. Chicken Parmesan Casserole with Green Beans, Rolls and Dessert

Dessert is usually cookies or brownies.

Sometimes, I’ll bring fresh fruit (like bananas or cut up melon) or muffins so the family can have something extra to snack on and pack kid friendly foods (cheese sticks, carrot sticks) for kiddos.

Meal to Bring

These two meals are simple to prepare and are family favorites. I typically keep the ingredients to make both of these meals on hand. This makes bringing a family a meal on short notice possible without a trip to the grocery store.

I’ve found that knowing what I’m bringing allows me to volunteer to bring meals without any stress over what I’ll prepare. And, preparing the same two meals makes getting the meal packed up and ready to deliver simple since I know exactly what containers I need.

Packed Up Meal

Once everything is cooked, I package it up in disposable containers and bags. Disposable pans work best for my main dish, green beans can be transported in disposable pans or plastic containers (like Gladware) and rolls/brownies/cookies are easy to package in a plastic bag. (I hate the waste element of this but it’s easier for the family to not have to worry about returning dishes.) 

I have learned the hard way that transporting food in disposable containers can result in some leaks. I’ve had several green bean juice leaks – once all over the back of the van.

To avoid leaks in my vehicle, I line my clothes basket with a clean towel and load everything into the basket. This not only keeps any leaks contained, it’s also an easy way to deliver the meal. I am able to bring everything into the home in just one trip.

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a good cook or truly don’t have the time to prepare meals for families, you can still bless families with food.

  • Pick up a Rotisserie Chicken at your local grocery store, add a salad mix, fresh bread and fruit.
  • Pick up all the fixings for homemade sub sandwiches and add chips and fruit.
  • Bring takeout from any restaurant. (Calling ahead to see what the families favorite foods are would be a nice gesture.)
  • Bring a basket of snacks. (John David’s grandparents brought a bunch snacks and fresh fruit after Cecilia’s birth – it was much appreciated and the boys were thrilled with all the yummy snack foods!)
  • Invite the family over to join your family for a meal – you won’t have to worry about transporting food at a certain time and they won’t have to worry about any clean up.
  • If you live in a different town, you can still bless friends with meals via gift cards to restaurants in their area.

For more meal ideas, here are some of the meals we were given (and everything was delicious):

      • Baked Spaghetti, Salad and Bread
      • Quiche, Baked Oatmeal, Fruit (breakfast for dinner – yum!)
      • Pot Roast, Green Beans and Rolls
      • Chicken and Rice Soup, Salad, Bread
      • Chicken Enchiladas, Beans and Fruit
      • Stromboli, Salad, Fruit
      • Pizza
      • Chicken Casserole, Salad and Bread
      • Hamburgers, Chips and Pineapple Casserole
      • Potato and Corn Chowder and Corn Muffins
      • Smoked Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Our boys really loved the nights that pizza and hamburgers were brought. In fact, they’ve asked me several times over the past year when we were going to have another baby because they liked having people bring us food!  (Our entire family was truly blessed by the gift of meals!)

Do you have specific meals you bring? I’d love to know your easy to transport meal ideas!

Washing MachineTo My Washing Machine,

Thank you so much for being such a faithful worker in our home.

You serve me well each week as I wash our clothes, towels and bedding.

I am thankful for you every other day when I start a load of cloth diapers.

You make doing laundry a simple task.

And, after a bout with a stomach bug, I am even more thankful for you.

I can toss bedding and clothes that are covered with throw up in and hit the ‘rinse’ button and you take care of the icky mess.

Once you’ve rinsed, I simply add in detergent, hit another button and 48 minutes later, clean laundry emerges.

You’ve worked hard these past few days, working nearly non-stop.

Thank you for washing our laundry.

And, thank you so much for having a rinse cycle and making cleaning up throw up just a bit easier.

Sincerely,

Rachel

We’ve been dealing with a weird stomach bug over the past few days. Cecilia has thrown up multiple times- including all over both of us while I was wearing her in the Boba at a church picnic. Ick. Even though she’s throwing up, she seems just fine and is playing like normal. I’m looking forward to whatever this is being over and I really am so thankful for my washing machine!

Homeschooling in a Small Space

Five years ago, when we sold our first home and started looking for a new one, one of the home features on our wish list was a bonus space of some sort that we could use for a school room. Even though our son was a baby, we knew we would homeschool and thought having a separate room for school was a necessity.

We ended up compromising on several items on our wish list in favor of a home that was smaller than the first home we owned but below our housing budget. For us, giving up extra square footage was well worth it since we have a very affordable mortgage.

We’ve lived in this home for 4.5 years and have attempted to sell but have realized that choosing to live small allows our family more financial freedom. And, a few months ago we set a goal to pay off our mortgage by May 2020 so we’re planning on staying here until the mortgage is gone!

Last month, our oldest started Kindergarten and we began our journey of homeschooling without a dedicated school room.

Homeschooling in a small space has proven quite simple for our family.

Our learning area is our dining room. Our table is the most used piece of furniture in our home. It’s where we eat 3 meals a day, do school, create and write (I’m currently sitting at our table writing this!)

As soon as breakfast is over each morning, we clear the table, wipe it down if necessary, then pull out our learning materials for the day and jump right into learning.

We have a cabinet in our dining room that holds all of our school supplies and books as well as our art supplies, coloring books, library books, learning games and there’s even a shelf with toys for our toddler.

Homeschool Cabinet

While our dining room may have a bit of a classroom feel, I think it’s quite charming. I love having a map on the wall, our children’s art work displayed and books in our dining room.

Instead of viewing our limited space as a challenge, I’m embracing the simplicity of making our small space work.

The cabinet is our learning material storage space which makes me think carefully before making purchases and I ruthlessly declutter items that are no longer useful for our children.

I’m also thankful for our library, we check out our limit of books almost every week so our children are exposed to a variety of stories and information but we don’t have to deal with the clutter! Having a dedicated shelf for our library resources keeps them from getting lost and gives them a place to belong while they’re in our home.

After just one month of homeschooling, we’re loving the lifestyle of teaching and learning with our children. We also know that being content in our small home and homeschooling in a small space has given us more freedom.