There's Mail From Mom!

Wouldn't it be nice to have a letter from mom in the mailbox each time you checked it? Here's a place to check your mailbox for a heart-to-heart talk with mom...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Wonderful World of Home-Keeping...

I just returned from a wonderful visit to Idaho.  Three glorious weeks with grandchildren, a son and precious daughter-in-law, cooking, baking, playing games, talking and being a family together.  We spent Christmas together for the first time in years and our bonus gift was a brand new granddaughter born on December 15th.  Better than any gift you could wrap up and put under the tree.  Shaelyn Brianne welcome to the Neal family!
(Look closely at the little dress--her Grandma Tami had a wonderful time designing and sewing it! ;)

   When I came home I was almost overwhelmed with all there was to do!  As nice as it was to get all the Christmas things out for the kids before we left it wasn't fun to come home to all those things to put away.  It gave me the strangest feeling that they had all sat here unused during the Christmas holiday.  I know they're inanimate but I felt sorry for them sitting all alone in Tennessee while we celebrated Christmas in Idaho.
   Along with that I had lots and lots of luggage to unload, (Thank you dear Jennibeth for letting me get all the laundry done before I left so I had clean clothes to unpack!)  a house that needed dusted, decluttered (Christmas goodies), and I was battling a setback with my health. Our computer wouldn't boot up and so we were unable to get Cierra back to school.  My camera wouldn't download pictures when it had worked just fine before we left on our trip.  I needed to buy groceries--the cabinets and fridge were depleted.  I felt overwhelmed to say the least. 
   First, I had to run to the Lord and get some spiritual shoring.  That took about three days.  Just reminding myself of His faithfulness and looking at my problems through Him instead of looking at Him through my problems.  (Thank you, Mr. F.B. Meyer.) 
   Then I had to get my handy-dandy notebook out and begin prioritizing and making a daily plan to tackle all that needed done.  I also had to spend two days on the couch and in the bed.(Unplanned --longggg story and a funny one looking back at it!) 
   I had to quote my own little mantra--"Break all large tasks into managable small ones."  With a piece of paper I divided my week up and took those things that needed done and gave them a day.  Today I'm looking at a house that is back to normal.  Not perfect--just back to normal.
    I had to give my days to the Lord and laugh when an unexpected visit on a day when I was trying to get a lot done got a prayer answered concerning the computer problem! 
   I had to remember to look to Him to meet my every need on a daily basis.  Another wonderful laugh when the Lord sent the neighbor lady with a ham that she said she wasn't begin to eat  by herself so she'd taken off what she wanted and brought us the rest.  We are finishing it off in a big kettle of pinto beans tonight.  It fed us a total of five meals!!  Thank You Lord for the ravens!  Pretty much all we had to buy at the store this week was bread,some vegetables, margarine and milk.
   After seeing the Lord take all my worries and reduce them from mountains to molehills I was able to relax.  So I got out a book that my daughter Niki gave me on Mother's Day of 2006.   I love to read it at the beginning of each year.  It is called "Mrs. Dunwoody's Excellent Instrustions for Homekeeping".  It is written as though a mother of the Civil War period is writing her children with instructions on keeping a home.  
   Her first chapter is about the art of homekeeping.  She discusses  the importance of order and talks about keeping a "homekeeping notebook".  As I've surfed blogland I'm seeing all the talk about organizing.  This book is taken from excerpts from women's notes from the late 1800's and it looks like the talk hasn't changed much!  The sweet thing about this book is that she sees homekeeping as a woman's main duty.
  She says "Order is the mainspring in housework."  Then she gives a domestic calendar to follow.  She was the "Flylady" of her day! :) 
   Her suggestions for "Planning a Superior Day" consist of
1)  "Make a plan for your day."  This doesn't require much explanation.  Fail to plan and you've planned to fail.
2)  "Concentrate."  Basically, keep your mind on the chore at hand and you'll get it done.
3)  "Learn to rest and catch your breath."  Taking a break makes you ready to hit the work again.  Rather it's 15 minutes or taking a day away from it all if you've learned to do this you know it is true.
 4)  "Don't Procrastinate ."  Sometimes the chore we've put off is a chore than only takes a few minutes.  To hit it and get it done takes an emotional load off of us along with the load of the chore.  If you're dreading it move it to the top of the list and get it behind you.
 5)  "Sift and sort."  Prioritize your day!  If it needs immediate attention than do it.  If it can wait till the evening in your chair in the living room put it at the bottom of the list. 
6)Strive for excellence, not perfection. 
7.  "Never lose sight of the big picture."  People are more important than projects.  And as I once heard someone wisely say--"The castle is no more important than the king who lives therein."

  I've just begun making my own laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent but Mrs. Dunwoody has all the cleaning solutions you might want to find in her second chapter along with wonderful advice.  I remember using mostly vinegar and ammonia when Gary first went into full-time service.  I also remember my mother telling me if all I had was warm water to mop my floors anyway because I would know I was using what I had.  Thank you, sweet mother!
   Some of the wonderful advice in her second chapter includes cleaning suggestions, how to miter a sheet corner, getting rid of those unwanted guests (she knew cockroaches didn't like Borax!), and even the advice that mice don't like peppermint extract! 
  Her next chapter is on laundry, mending, etc....lots of good advice!   As a lover of linens I enjoy reading this because you can tell the women of her day loved a table spread with lovely linens.  I love reading a book that makes having them and caring for them seem a wonderful blessing and joy!  These types of books are my friends, my "aged woman" reminding me that homekeeping is a gift-a wonderful, varied career choice that has God's stamp of approval on it for me.
   The next chapter is recipes and kitchen ideas.  One of my favorite things in this chapter is her advice on how to season a cast iron skillet.  Everyone should own one and use one.  It will keep you and your family from being anemic!
   Chapter 5 is on the art of entertaining.  I love the whole chapter.  Diagrams for setting tables for different types of suppers, holiday entertaining, and sage advice on how to "Dine--not to Eat".
  The following chapters are on health and beauty, marriage and family, the garden and final remarks.  The pages have some pithy little statements by Aunt Mary Middle that make you laugh (like "My idea of house cleaning is to sweep the room with a glance.") and excerpts from Godey's Lady's Book from the 1860's that make you wish we still had magazines like that being published for the general public, and other wonderful things that make you glad you're a keeper at home.
  Although I love reading the blogs at this time of year and gleaning new ideas for our home I love my dear friends the books more.  They have sustained me during my marriage years and lifted me up by my bootstraps when I was on a pity party more than once!
  I pray as we enter this new year that you are drawing all your strength from the Lord and looking at 2011 as the year that you are a better child of God, wife, mother, daughter, and woman than you've ever been in your life.  God bless each one of you! 

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