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Monday, January 24, 2011

Many hands make light work (Part 2)

(part 2  To read part one, please scroll down)

In our family, as soon as you can walk, you start doing chores. We started with very easy jobs, like bringing toys to Mummy, helping fold facecloths, and letting them sweep with the little toy broom while I was sweeping with the big broom. Toddlers LOVE to copy Mummy.  As they get older, more age appropriate chores are added.  By 2 1/2, by kids were washing their (pre-rinsed) plastic dishes and non-sharp cutlery.  They could put their toys away,  throw things in the garbage, and "help" Mummy push the vacuum cleaner.  By 4 yrs old, they were starting to wash the proceline plates, set the table and peel carrots.  Each chore was explained and done under the suppervision of a parent until they had acheived competancy.  (Notice I said competancy...nobody expects perfection at this age).  Now, at 17, my son mends his own clothes, can do a wash, helps fix the car, indoor housework, outdoor yard work, minor household repairs and is learning to cook.  (My daughter is already out on her own and she is a great cook).  This imortant thing is that my children have never recieved an allowance for doing these chores.  They were expected to do it for a thank you (and a kiss or hug) because they are a part of this family, and thus need to offer willing hands to share in the work load.  The benefits of working together as a family are awesome.  When we work together, we spend less time on chores and have more free time to do things as a family.  No one person is burnt out and my children learn to respect both items, and the work that others do in this world. 

As the children grew older,  I would often give a thank-you gift of an item or some cash for an extra hard job that needed doing.  If the kids wanted extra spending money, we would brain storm ways of earning it.  We've had yard sales, lemonaid stands, hired themselves out to neighbours for mowing lawns and raking, babysitting, etc...  For the last few years, my son has found casual jobs working for a plumber, welding shop, construction, making musical instruments, and has just purchased his first car with his savings.  He has an amzing work ethic and has actually "worked" himself out of a job a time or two.
Does he always like doing chores?  Of course not, but he shared his philosophy with me. "You start out thinking "Oh chores are fun" and then you get older and think, "Oh chores are so boring", but then you get older and realize that they're not that bad and you just learn to do them without complaining."


Many hands make light work (Part 1)


I was having a conversation with my son and I mentioned an acquaintance he had made a few summer ago, up in Ontario.  He replied that the teen had changed from a nice young man and had become quite demanding and refused to do anything without being paid at least $20.00.  Apparently, he wouldn't take out the garbage, mow the lawn or rake the yard with a promise of cash.  Sadly, this story is not an isolated case.  I overhear more and more kids whine about the amount of work they are expected to do (almost none) for an large amount of cash (that they are unhappy with) and think they deserve more money to do less work.  In fact, I think there is a national epidemic of young people adopting this attitude of a "sense of entitlement".

They were young when their parents were working hard and sacrificing to acquire things, and by the time they are older, these teens have become used to living at a certain comfort level.  These kids get used to more "haves" and don't have to learn how to do without.  They receive atomatic allowances that are not earned.  They whine for name brand stuff and parents give in to their whims. When these young people get out of school, they expect top paying jobs, grand houses with two and a half baths, stainless steal appliances and all the bells and whistles. *sigh*

When our children were very young, my husband and I were attending university and fit every stereotype of the starving student.  In fact, if it weren't for the help of my parents, we probably would have been both homeless and starving.  As God blessed us with increasingly better jobs, the chance for my husband to go back to school, and we saw our bank accounts start to grow, we made a conscious choice to implement several changes. One was that Christmas would continue to be modest.  Extreme spending in no way Glorifies God. (I once had friends who thought you needed to spend at least a thousand dollars on each person), we would commit to tithing, and everybody would lend a hand in maintaining our household.
(to be continued...)


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Short but sweet marriage advice


Two secrets to keep your marriage brimming

1. Whenever you're wrong, admit it,

2. Whenever you're right, be quiet.


Saturday, January 22, 2011



Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

                                      William Morris


Frugality is beautiful


"Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things."    
                                          Elise Boulding


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Erik's New Shield

Erik has been working and training hard for a big tourney coming up in NH, USA, called "Birka".  He has just finished making a brand new kite shield.  I think it looks pretty cool, so I decided to post it here.  The shield boss is made from the bowl of a broken brass wine glass.


I'm lost...where's the map?


“What comes first, the compass or the clock?
Before one can truly manage time (the clock),
it is important to know where you are going,
what your priorities and goals are,
in which direction you are headed (the compass).
Where you are headed is more important than how fast you are going.
Rather than always focusing on what’s urgent,
learn to focus on what is really important.”

–Author unknown

I love this quote, and it identifies one of the major problems I've been having with managing my time.  Until last week, I really had no specific goals.  I've had an vague idea of what I wanted, but didn't have a plan on how to achieve it.  It is as if I wanted to visit a town somewhere but didn't have any idea what it was called, or how to get there.  I would need a good road map and the name of the town in order to reach it.  So I need to write down my goals so I can plan how to acheive them.
My goal for today: 
~List out the small things that I would like to see changed.
~Talk to my family to plan how we can work together to implement them.
~Try it for a minimum of two weeks and meet again to see if we need to modify the plan.
I believe that if we experience success in the small areas, then we'll be able to tackle the larger changes with confidence from our previous successes.


What I am reading...


I've been reading several books to encourage me in my voluntary simplicity and de-cluttering endevours.

"Thrifty" by Marjorie Harris

"Frugal Luxuries: Simple Pleasures to Enhance Your Life and Comfort Your Souls" by Tracey McBride

"Teach Yourself Decluttering" by Bernice Walmsley


Monday, January 17, 2011

One down, 99 more to go...


One cleaned and organized shelf in the livingroom.

 Only 99 more spaces to go!





I’ve started de-cluttering my house, which should be pretty easy, since a lot of it is junk. Sadly, I am not progressing as quickly as I want to. Why is that? Because of my thought processes. Yes, that’s right...the way my brain processes things is actually slowing me down. I need to justify (to myself) every decision to get rid of something.

Take, for example my fabric collection. I have some wonderfully quirky pieces that I bought for special projects years ago...projects that I procrastinated on for sooo long that my kids have actually outgrown them. Now, I am NOT going to save them for my “potential” grandchildren, but at the same time I don’t want to throw them out. I have quilting friends, who might want these pieces, but these are special pieces, and I doubt that they want to make quilts with “bug” fabric or “flame” fabric. So there they sit in my living room, because I refuse to throw out new, never-used material. Now multiply this dilemma x 50 and you see what I am up against.

Aha! I know of some lovely women who make children’s toys...maybe they can use them. See, if only I had started blogging about de-cluttering last year, I may have come up with solutions that would result in my house being clean and organized today.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Re-thinking my thinking process...


These last few weeks I have been rethinking a lot of my personal values.  Bob and I felt the Lord calling us to make some changes in our life.  Bob mentioned that he's felt God calling him to be more frugal.  I have been feeling the same way, but have been really struggling with the idea of frugality.  It's not that I'm opposed to "thrift" or that I don't want to be a good steward.  It's that the whole concept of "Frugality" somehow equates itself with deprivation.  When I was growing up, we didn't have a lot, and when I had young kids, we had even less, so the whole idea of "doing without" has been very stressful.  Then, out of the blue, I came across this wonderful term: "Voluntary Simplicity".   Volunteering to live a simpler life filled with those things that are important to us.  A simpler life that isn't cluttered with stuff that gets in the way of the important things, such as relationships with family and friends, time with God and cultivating a good attiude.  I need to reavaluate my homelife, my habit of collecting clutter, and even the way I spend my time.


Saturday, January 15, 2011


We've had a very busy fall.  In fact it was so busy, that Christmas was over before it even began.  Everything was scheduled so close together, that I was spending at least 3 nights out a week.  We had concerts to perform at, dinners to go to, church activities, and homeschool activities...and it didn't help that Erik picked up a part time job along the way.  Our home renovations basically ground to a halt during that time, and stuff started to pile up and take over our rebuilt area.  We used to store everything in Emily's bedroom, since she was away at school, but the week before she returned home for the holidays, we had to move it all into the mudroom.  There came a point where I just couldn't function anymore and I was ready to tear my hair out.  Too much stuff!
I am now in the process of trying to declutter.  At the same time, Bob and I have started a regualr time of devotions.  It has really helped to calm me down.  Lately, we have been wanting to store more food and have found an interesting program (which we are modifying to suit our life) where you spend an extra $5.00 a week, to build up emergency food stores.  Now, in case you are getting the wrong idea, I should clarify here that in no way are we becoming survivalists, nor can we put stock in stuff we accumulate to keep us "safe".  Only God alone can do that.  However, we have been feeling the need to be better stewards of what we have, and since we live out in the country and tend to have really bad blizzards and Bob does work a job that can be prone to occasional lay-offs, it would be nice to have a fully stocked pantry.  The last time Bob was laid off, we had quite a few groceries already, so we didn't need to buy anything except milk, eggs, cheese and lettuce, until he got his first unemployment cheque.  Since these cheques can take quite a while to come, it was a comfort not worrying about food.  I am also planning on doing a lot more cooking from scratch, which should be healthier and better for us.