Friday, September 28, 2012

Desperate for 10 Minute Cleanings

"Spring Cleaning," March 26, 1949

Throughout the day, I look for opportunities to clean. I might wash a few dishes, straighten an afghan, sweep a floor, or tidy a bookcase. These little touches help keep the house in order. 

When things get really busy at home, with activities, the needs and troubles of children, and the constant care of the very young, there is little time for housework.

If I gave up and just let all the work go, my house would be an embarrassing shambles.  There would be no excuse.  I would be utterly ashamed of myself!  This is why I love to take 10 minutes here-and-there, throughout the day, to clean and organize. If I keep up with things, in this way, and a catastrophe hits, it is okay to stop my work and tend to other duties, without my house looking like a filthy unkempt home.

We mothers need to be proud of our homes and our work at home.  If we don't take pride in our work, we will not give our best effort. 

Sometimes our moods will interfere with our ability to work.  When this happens, it's time to bring in rainbows and happiness. Whatever ambiance you can create to help you get to work, would help tremendously. Sometimes I listen to Bing Crosby singing Christmas songs! Other times, some gospel or classical music is what I need. I also love to clear off the kitchen table and light a candle. I then clean around the prettiness I just created.  Your mood will seriously affect your work ethic. Don't let sadness, annoyances, worries or laziness take away your pride of a neat house.

The grounds of our homes, the front porch, the entryway, and all the rooms inside, give an image of the type of hospitality and love that comes from our family. It must be neat and inviting.  This takes a cheerfulness, and a willingness, and a love of HOME. 

Mrs. White

Solid Old School Advice - Keeping House with Small Children.

To Encourage You - How the Old Time Mothers Survived Poverty.

Never Forget This -  The Home Road to Heaven.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Home Studies in the Evening Hours

School Books

In the old days, farm families worked hard on their land. There were plenty of chores for the entire family.  Yet, somehow, they managed to do some studying and schoolwork.  Since homes were not full of distractions (like television, video games and computers), studying with the family was a lovely way to pass the time.

Today, many homeschoolers use a strict schedule of starting school at 9 a.m. each day.  I used to do this when my children were little. As they got into the teen years, life became more complicated. It was no longer the sweet, slow-paced "nursery" phase.   In this modern day, we are also going to be constantly fighting to maintain a balance of using technology (being entertained by it) with learning, studying and producing.   This lesson must be learned by today's children.

In the last week, with the addition of a new baby in our family, I have been very preoccupied.  There has been more laundry, more cooking, and much more work for me.  This also means less sleep! (gentle smiles).  Even though this is a joyous time, I have been struggling with a way to keep up with homeschooling my 15 year old (John).  He needs to be reminded to do his assignments. He needs to be motivated and encouraged to do independent work.   Daily I have been trying new methods to get him on track. 

Tonight, I think I found a solution.  Our spending time together is centered around chores and school.  When we are together, it is when we are cleaning or cooking, or he is reading me his McGuffey or a Bible passage.   Tonight, even though we were both exhausted after a long day, we sat at the table to do his math lesson. We laughed at all the mistakes we both made. But this helped our analytical skills as we found the mistakes and re-solved them.  This is what quality time has become in our home - a time for learning. 

Life never lets up.  We often say that tomorrow, or next week, we will fix our routine.  Or when things calm down, we will get back on track. But life will keep throwing us something new to juggle.  The goal is not to wait until things are better, but to do them in the middle of the challenges. 

Right now, maybe I can't play cards with John or watch movies with him. But I can do school.  School became the fun.  We are fitting it in, the same way things were done in history; after a long day of heavy chores and hard work.  Our home studies are happening in creative ways.  They are happening in a simpler way, from a simpler time - by the hearth, with laughter. . .   It has become our evening entertainment.

Mrs. White

Oh, Let This Not Be True! -  Only Rich People Have Clean Houses.

Much Better to use these - Mother's Rose - Colored Glasses.

When There Isn't Much Money - The Homemaker's Despair.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Home with a Grand Baby

A Mother with Her Baby in a Pram and their Nanny in the Garden

Last week, Mr. White and I became grandparents for the very first time. Our daughter had a difficult labor and delivery. She had an emergency c-section and it was frightening.   I stayed at the hospital most of the time, to help.

Now that we are home again, we are catering to a patient and a baby boy.  It is difficult to maintain some sort of homeschooling routine for my one remaining student (15).  John has been helping to cook and to serve meals.   He also does much of the housekeeping, with my help. 

We are focusing on medical care, baby care and hospitality for the occasional visitor.  But the baby and mother must have a routine.   I like to remember the nursemaids from the old days, in the wealthy families. Babies got the "air," each day.  They often rode in a lovely "pram."    They also had their play time (awake time), naps, baths and constant meals and changings. 

I am remembering all the things I used to do when my own babies were little.  This is a precious time.  It is also fleeting.  Enjoying a new baby, and all the growth and changes that will happen, is an incredible blessing and a privilege.

We are all very grateful.

Mrs. White

For Those who Wonder - How Can I Quit My Job and Stay Home?

Joy of Homemaking - Cooking for Mister.

How Clean is Your House? - Beware of Random Kitchen Inspections!

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Making Room for Life

Home Sweet Home

A year or two ago, I packed up hundreds of books and donated them to my local library.   The books were taking over and they had to go!  I went through a major withdrawal period, thinking I "lost" books I would need later. But eventually I forgot about them. 

This is happening again.  More and more books have entered my home. They are in my "dressing room," the hall bookcase, and the bedrooms. It is too much.   I hate to let more go, but I will pack some up today and give them to the library.

I need to make room for living.  I want an uncluttered home. I will keep only those books (and items) that are meaningful for me on a daily basis.  I realize it will be painful, but this type of de-cluttering must be done consistently, in order to keep our home pleasant and functioning.

Many years ago, I visited the beautiful old home of a neighbor. She was a retired teacher in her 80's.  She showed me her home library. She had plenty of rooms, and this library was elegant and lovely.  Her collection of books were old, but important to her.  She said we should never get rid of our books.  Her wisdom sometimes gives me guilt when I want to de-clutter. But I know that if I only get rid of books that are "fluff" or not important to me, then I am not necessarily getting rid of them, but sharing them with others, while making room in my home for what matters to me most.

So today, I will vacuum and sweep and clean my kitchen. I will do laundry and homeschool. But my main project of the day will be to fill up a couple of bags full of old books and get them out of the house before I change my mind.  I want pleasant rooms in this house, and this mission is essential to our happiness.

Mrs. White

Frugality - When We Can't Endure a Little Hardship.

What The Store Clerk Said to Mr. White - Are You Still Tricking Your Wife?

Everyone works together - Family Economy.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

When Cooking and Cleaning is Too Much

The Table Prayer

I've gotten into the habit lately of cleaning without cooking. I do dishes and polish the kitchen two or three times a day. I have a little help, but mostly enjoy the work alone, while listening to sermons, or gospel, on my kitchen radio. It is a peaceful, happy time, working in the kitchen.  I also keep the other rooms neat and do most of the laundry. I enjoy this work very much.

But if I add cooking the meals to that? It would overwhelm me.  My teenagers have taken over the cooking for now.   Amy (17) often makes the lunches or suppers. John (15) makes tea, snacks and some of the meals. Matt (19) will occasionally make a meal for us all, but mostly  makes himself something easy to eat very quickly, since he is on a busy schedule.  Mr. White makes a big breakfast in the early morning hours, each day. Whoever is awake gets to enjoy a hearty meal with him. But we are all mostly asleep at that time!

As the cold weather is approaching our rural Vermont town, I will want to start making beef stew with biscuits, or lasagna and Italian bread. But first I must build up my strength and get some energy.  To cook and to clean when one is often weary can be too much!

The other afternoon, I sat in my parlour chair with a nice book.  Matthew was in the kitchen making an early dinner.  He brought me some ginger-ale.  I was delighted! The more rest we mothers get, the more work we are able to do pleasantly.

To do my work in a slow-paced manner, I have to have plenty of helpers.  Children and teenagers have a tremendous amount of energy. They can sweep a floor, take out the trash, clean a bathroom, sweep a porch, do dishes, cook meals and many other things very quickly!  But I wouldn't want them to do everything. I would feel left out of the fun of housework! 

So I rest as much as I can, doing enjoyable things  - like reading or watching an old movie. I also love to visit with the family in the parlour.   I consider my housework my "breaks" from my "rest."  I can spend much more time resting, and doing what I want, if my breaks are the chores.  (It's kind of like rushing through doing dishes during a commercial.)

Mrs. White

In Marriage - When Groceries are the Presents.

Wisdom for Homeschooling - Education Must Not Be Rushed.

When Things Get Really Rough - Make the Mess Look Pretty.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Woes of Housework

Inside Yard, Venice
Inside Yard, Venice

In the quiet of the morning, I bustled about to do my chores.  Everyone was still asleep. I turned on the old gospel music on the kitchen radio and tidied up the kitchen. I found all the dishes in the house and got them soaking.  I cleaned the parlour and made things look nice.

Walking through the house to inspect things, I checked the washer and dryer and found them empty. I scanned the room and was quite content. Until I noticed  the empty wicker shelves. What had happened to all my clean towels?

"Oh no!" I thought as I looked out the window.  But yes, there were all my towels hanging on the clothesline, soaking in the morning dew! I had left them there all night and all of yesterday!

I quickly brought them in, one by one, and threw them in the dryer. As I worked, one of the old clip-style clothespins got caught on my finger!  I suppose all the heavy labor of pulling towels in through the second story window was too much for me so early in the morning!  I was in enough pain to decide I could not wash the dishes. . .

Instead, I had a cup of tea and a little toast. I sat in my parlour chair and read a lovely book.  Now that I am telling you all this, I realize that typing is not causing me any pain.   I am now perfectly capable of washing those neglected dishes!

I hope your day is lovely!

Mrs. White

Calling the Weary, Older Ones back  - Childhood Home as the Nursery.

What Happens When - Mother is Late for her Shift.

Some Ideas - Getting Along in Marriage.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Simplicity of Old Fashioned Homemaking

Farmer-Veteran Sits with His Wife and Child Beside Farmhouse Hearth

We've all seen the busy housewife, who decorates and bakes and throws delightful parties.  She shops and she plans. She is so active in, an out of, the home, that many look at her and wonder where she gets her energy.  Most observe her life and despair of trying to mimic her!  She is her own star and she is unreachable!

There is another way.  It is the humble, basic way of simplicity.  It might look meager and poor. It might even look too easy.  But this way can be obtained by far more housewives, if they only realize it is okay to be simple.

There is a slowness to it. . . There is no ambition. . . It is the quiet servant - the meek one, who guides the home.  This housewife putters around the house and yard, cleaning and cooking in her own way. 

In the old days, oatmeal or porridge was the morning meal. Perhaps some bread and butter went with it.  No family was served processed, sugary cereal because it had not yet been invented.  Now today, can you imagine serving morning guests some oatmeal?  How many would balk at it?  But it is healthy and nourishing and warm and comforting!

A simple lunch of baked beans and biscuits with hot tea might be served during the afternoon break from chores.  This isn't a take out meal, or a fast food lunch. It isn't an elaborate planned out menu item.  It was what was available in the pantry.

Domestic occupations were not about planning elaborate events for the home. The simple duties were for the comfort of the family and basic survival. The laundry, the sweeping, the mopping, the cooking, the dusting were all on the normal agenda at home.   The homemaker would put on her housedress and apron and be "on duty" for the day. She was there to tend to the home and family.  She was not the 'event planner' or the one to spoil the children by gratifying their every worldly "want."

There is something very basic and very lovely about an old time homelife.  Bible reading and family prayers were done morning and evening. The family would have afternoon prayers with the noon meal.  They would break from their labor to worship the Lord.  Thoughts of heaven, eternal rest and joy were the ambition.   The focus was on the journey home and the blessed example they could leave to those around them.

Many of us crave this kind of life, but we are often tripped up and confused by what goes on in our culture.  A routine of homelife, the act of ironing or washing floors in the quiet of the morning (while praying or singing old time hymns) can help keep us grounded.  Are we not pilgrims and strangers on this earth?  May the Lord help us avoid acting like the "stars" of this world.

Mrs. White

Remembering - A Humble Parlour as a School of Theology.

A Modest, Struggling Life - Living Without Credit Cards.

After a Difficult Illness - "Dear Kitchen."

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