Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mt. Washmore (Laundry for a Large Family)

Dear friends,

I love the blog Cheaper by a Baker's Dozen that Debbie Pittman writes.  This lady is hilarious.  Debbie is the mother of 11, six of them by adoption.  This morning, she tackled the topic of  Mega Laundry Solutions.  Go take a look -- it will be well worth your time!  She also links to "laundry for large family" posts by several other bloggers.

Meanwhile, I remembered, as I was putting a load of linens into my own washer this morning, a section of a chapter in my first book The Real Life Home School Mom all about laundry.  So here we go!  I definitely need the refresher course since we always seem to have laundry waiting in baskets to be put away.  I think I'm going to try Debbie's tips on doing all the laundry every day and putting the clothes in labeled dish pans for the kids to put away.

Three other related posts from this blog and my main one...

(Photo below is from this last post!)

Clothing the Lilies of Your Field

            Those lucky lilies!  The flowers of the field are arrayed in dazzling colors with velvety soft textures, and they don't even have to do laundry!  If your house is like mine, clothing care is a never ending job.  Here are a few suggestions to make life easier:

            Equip your laundry area or bedrooms with plenty of containers for sorting dirty clothes.  For several years, we used recycled laundry detergent buckets and labeled them for each child, as well as delicate clothes, linens, white clothes, items to be bleached, etc. Now that we have less space in our laundry area since our garage was converted to a bedroom, storage room and office.  I try to keep minimal dirty laundry out there.  The kids are supposed to bring out their clothes when they are ready to wash, and not let things pile up.   I find that sturdy square laundry baskets are much more practical than the larger rectangular ones because they are easier to carry, especially for young children.   We also use smaller, transportable hampers (rectangular trash baskets) for their dirty clothes in their bedrooms.   We have a small hampers in our dining room and kitchen for dropping in wet rags used for wiping the counters, drying dishes, or cleaning up spills.  These get washed every day!

            Round up all dirty clothes and linens after breakfast.  Then sort them into your bins or baskets, and get the first load going before starting school. Try to put away clean clothes the same day they are washed.  If you do a mixed load of all of your children's laundry every day, they may each have only one or two outfits to put away!  My three sons share a bedroom, and I do all of their laundry at once.  I usually sort the clean clothes into separate baskets for them so they can fold and put away their own stuff.  Otherwise, it takes much longer for them to get it done if they do the sorting themselves.

As soon as your children are able, make them responsible for their own laundry.  You will need to show them which washer and dryer cycles to use, how much detergent to add, how to treat stains, and other specific skills.   Children as young as age two can help fold wash cloths, match socks, and put clothes away. Stock up on a few dozen pairs of identical socks to cut down on sorting.  Equip closets with plastic hangers, low rods, and sturdy plastic boxes to make it easier for them to finish the job.

            Lay out clothes ahead of time when you are going out.  This will cut a lot of frustration as you are trying to get the family out the door for a field trip, co-op classes, or church service.  Ideally, you should lay out clothes, shoes, and hair accessories the night before.   If modesty is an issue at your house, make sure that all clothes are approved my mom or dad, too!

            Find good sources for “recycled” clothing.  Garage sales, consignment shops, friends, and family members are good bets.  When you don't pay full price, you aren't as grieved when an item is damaged, lost, or outgrown.  We often find plastic bags with hand-me-down clothes in them next to our van after church, and we’ve been known to do the same thing for others!  It makes sense!

            Teach your children (and maybe the adults too) a few laundry policies.  Here are a few of ours:

   Don't go outside in stocking feet. 
   Use towels, pajamas, and sweaters more than once before washing.
   Take wet or heavily soiled laundry directly to the laundry area.
   Turn items right side out and empty pockets before placing in the hamper.  
   Never put crayons in pockets, even for a minute! 
   Tell Mom about stains and rips immediately so they can be treated before laundering. 
   Use a smock or wear old clothes while doing messy projects. 
   When you take out anyone’s laundry from the dryer, make sure that you lay clothing such as nice skirts, pants, and shirts nicely across the top of the basket are on a bed so they won’t get wrinkled.  We also want them to alert the owner that their laundry is out so they can get to it promptly.

Your turn!  What do you do to stay on top of your laundry?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Consider the Camellias

 Dear friends,

"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;
they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you,
that even Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these."
Matthew 6:28b-29

I'm trying to train myself
to be aware of my surroundings,
especially all of the little beautiful things
that I tend to forget
in the daily chaos of motherhood.

Camellias only bloom for several weeks each year,
but since our bush is out of sight in the back yard,
I sometimes miss much of the blooming season,
just because I have forgotten to look.


So many of the blossoms end up
fallen, unappreciated, wasted...

But when I do remember,
I can bring the beauty inside for all to enjoy,
floating in water in my wedding crystal.

The camellias now share the table with Valentine roses,
which help me rejoice
in my husband's affection
every time I walk through the room.

I made a goal this afternoon
to walk around our yard and pay attention to the flowers.

Some, like this magnolia (from a year gone by)
won't bloom for a while yet. 
I must take notice, look out and up,
or I will miss this beauty too.

This crepe myrtle left behind
brittle brown buds from last season,
a promise of fresh blooms to come.

This year I decided to plant my flowers in pots
given to me by one who cannot tend
her own garden anymore.
Now I can bring them inside during a cold spell.
They are also up closer to eye level,
and protected from the pests and weeds on the ground.
And I can move them from place to place,
wherever their grace is needed at the moment.

These geraniums grace the garden wall.

Pansies are my lifetime favorite flowers
with cheerful little faces.
In Florida, they thrive in cold weather,
but I never remember to buy some
until well into the growing season.
Mine are in matching pots,
each side of the front walkway.

My hardy little azalea bush delivers year after year.

My husband planted star jasmine bushes many years ago,
hedges of privacy and loveliness and sweet aroma.

My daughter Melody,
a beautiful little blossom on Blossom Lane,
or as her shirt proclaims, a Busy Bee.

Who made these flowers and our sweet children?
This beauty?

The Gracious God who created them, he is beauty.
Take time to see and savor him!

"One thing I ask from the LORD,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple."
Psalm 27:4

Virginia Knowles