Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Who is the Proverbs 31 Woman? Not Me Yet!

Self-Portrait, 2012
Who is "The Proverbs 31 Woman"?

(Not Me Yet!)

Proverbs 31 came to mind as I woke this morning.  Not that I had studied it recently, though I certainly should.

Our family is about to go through a major transition.  After a decade of working from home, my husband is hoping to start (if all goes well with the final technicalities) a full-time paid job internship next week.  During all these years of flexible schedule, he's been so helpful with fixing stuff around the house, cooking, laundry, dishes, yard work, taking care of the cars, paperwork, home schooling, chauffeuring kids, and so much more.  And now I need to step back up to the plate and take over more of these duties.  At least I don't have a house full of babies and preschoolers as I did back when he was last working full-time-and-then-some when I was out-to-here pregnant with our 9th baby.

Knowles family, with the new generation
But we've still got 8 of our 10 kids at home, though some of them are capable young adults with jobs and college classes to keep them busy. There is always much for me to do and I wonder how I will do more.  I look around my bedroom.   On my desk: a budget, a revised schedule with scritch-scratch changes to accommodate Daddy being away, plans for my daughter's birthday party, a pile of papers to be sorted, pictures of my sweet little grandsons, my weekly vitamin organizer (freshly filled this morning), my mending pile, folded laundry waiting to be put away, a bin of pictures to be hung, and a bunch of books I plan to read soon (for planning home school co-op English classes, for reading to my children, for dealing with family health/home/organization issues, and for my own spiritual nourishment).  My inbox is full. And that's just in my bedroom. I still have to wake up several of the kids up to get started with the day.  

All of it a bit much, I'd say.  Time to cut the fluff and make every moment count.  My ADD brain is having a hard time wrapping itself around that reality.  At least I've already started back with scheduling my mornings to spend an hour doing schoolwork with each of the three kids who need help with their lessons.  (That was a great practical encouragement from my logistically-gifted husband.)

And then there is my open Bible, with these words beaming their timeless encouragement up at me...

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her servant girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Ah yes, the legendary Proverbs 31 woman.

Who is she?

Who am I?  

I'm not her, yet, though I've been told that this is a panoramic view of many seasons of her life, not just a snapshot of a single moment in time.

But it is clear: she is not a pampered princess, not a wilting wallflower, not a dependent  doormat.  There is no frilly fragility or prissy passivity about her.  I think she would embrace the belief that men and women are completely equal in Christ, that women are not second class citizens, that our lives go far beyond exclusive-and-perpetual domesticity.  She would not be cowed into idolatrous pseudo-submission by an Alpha Male who uses power to control rather than to serve alongside. She worships God - not her husband, or children, or home.  (Those are the ones she loves and serves out of the overflow of her full heart.)

She is capable, strong, wise, creative, diligent, intelligent, generous, resourceful, enterprising, versatile, confident, cheerful, firm, faithful, noble.

She can hold her own.

And I only hope I can hold mine.  I have a whole lot of growing up to do!  :-)

How about you?

Virginia Knowles

P.S. I wrote a related post that is more directly related to home schooling here -- and as a bonus, there are links to my free home school e-books!  Home School Day in the Life (2nd, 6th, 8th & 10th Grades)

You might also like to read these posts:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Welcome to Our Living Room

Dear friends,

It's the weekly organizing challenge at Organizing Made Fun!  

This week? The living room!  

What great motivation to tidy things up!  (It really needed it, and I'm not showing "before" pictures.  Definitely the "lived in" look with books and laundry and...)

One tall bookcase,
one of many in our home,
is organized by genre.

Antique books on top,
then nature guides / easy science books,
then fiction chapter books,
then Bible & character building,
and finally picture books at the bottom.
(Our other bookcases throughout the house
hold other kinds of books.)

On the floor, I keep a bin for books 
that are too big to be shelved, 
or that need to be put away.

I found the automated kitty cat
at a yard sale for 50 cents.

A large basket holds
library books 

and current selections.
I just finished reading
A Bear Called Paddington
with my youngest daughter.

A little reminder, not yet a reality.

The color scheme of the room is
burgundy (couch, curtains, area rug, etc.)
and light yellow (walls)
with accents of green and other dark colors.

All of our wood furniture is fairly dark, too.

The couches have sturdy microfiber fabric
with attached back cushions,
which I really prefer since it keeps them in place.
The covers of the seat cushions
can be removed for washing.

I lucked out at Walmart and found four pillows
that were an exact match on the couch fabric.
When they eventually got lumpy from washing,
I took out the original stuffing and replaced it 
with four identical (new) throw pillows from Goodwill.
At $1.99 each, this was much cheaper than buying pillow forms.

The quilt is stored in a large basket
when it's not being used on the couch.

I found the area rug for free
at someone's curb.
All I needed to do was clean it!

Our gray carpet has a lot of
permanent stains on it.
Next time, I'll go for easy-to-clean ceramic tile!

This bin is tucked in a corner between the couch 
and an end table that holds one of our several fish tanks. 
Blocks for my grandsons (that we've had for 20 years!) 
are the only toys regularly kept in the living room.
My own kids store their toys in their bedrooms
(though they do migrate out here!),
and there are more baby & toddler toys 

for my grandsons in a bin in the storage room.
Our piano books are stacked up or 
tucked into a wooden box.
My daughter keeps assorted sheet music in a binder.
When my parents bought this piano 45 years ago,
the bench lid flipped up for storage.
Now we use this padded bench that my husband found at a thrift shop.
The chair, one of my favorites, came from Goodwill last year.
It's amazing how we found our room colors for both.
Chair fabric
Piano bench padding

Our "entertainment center" is an 
antique cabinet from my husband's grandparents.
I store family photo albums down below.
The small basket holds miscellaneous items,
like crayons and hairbands, 
that I find lying around the room.
We have a video closet in the 

adjacent front hallway to the left,
but people have been more inclined 
to pile DVD's on the cabinet 
rather than take a few steps put things away.
Plus, the closet shelves are so big that people 
just throw stuff in there.  It's always a huge mess.

So I bought the black wire DVD rack 
(to the left of the cabinet) for $7 today
at Habitat for Humanity's ReStore thrift store.
It took me quite a while to match stray DVD's to their cases.
I still have a bunch of both discs and cases left unmatched,
but I'm hoping my new rack helps keep things tidy!
Again, one shelf for animated movies, 
one for live action movies, one for short kid stuff, 
one for science stuff, and so forth.
(Our VHS videos are still in the closet, 
but our VCR is broken anyway.)

You can also see to the right that our living room
is connected to our computer room 
in a large L with one step up.
When we first moved into the house 20 years ago,
there were two iron railings extending out three feet
from the walls into the opening between the rooms.  
With our active kids, we had many accidents with those!
When we replaced the carpet, we yanked them out.

Well, that's that with reorganizing the living room today!  

My living room is also featured in this earlier post: Maniac Cleaning Day

How do you organize your living room or family room?  Take some pictures and link right up to the New Year's Organizing Revolution!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Kitchen Organization Ideas from a Mom of 10

Dear friends,

Welcome to my kitchen!

One of the blogs I read is doing a weekly organizational challenge, and this week the featured area is the kitchen!   Since I pretty much already have a place for everything, I didn't need to reorganize mine much or figure out new storage solutions.  Our on-going problem is that 10 people still use my kitchen, and not everyone is very good at putting things away or wiping down the counters when they're done making a snack.  I did make sure everything was in its place before I started my little photo shoot.  

Every kitchen is different and every family is different, but maybe some of my ideas will spark a solution for you.  Let's take a clockwise tour, starting where the kitchen meets our dining room.  I'm not showing you everything, though!

There is a low counter between the two rooms.  Where the counter meets the wall, I put a shelf to give me an extra layer of storage.  On top, I put a tray that holds a power strip, a can opener and a small blender.  There is also a large container of hand sanitizer.  Underneath, there is a small electric food chopper, a large basket of trivets, and a small basket for miscellaneous little stuff, which I put away every few weeks.    Other items that stay on the counter are a vertical paper towel holder, a banana stand, a large bowl full of paper plates, and a fire extinguisher. 

Over the counter hangs a cloth bag for storing plastic grocery bags.  I bought it at Walmart.

This cupboard is over the aforementioned shelf so I have to stretch to get to things. The top shelf holds our stoneware dishes that I don't use as often.  The middle shelf stores our beverage supplies like tea, coffee, cocoa, and drink packets for water bottles.  Our spices are on the bottom shelf; I use the rotating lazy Susan for general spices and a plastic bin for baking spices.

Plate racks in my cupboard allow for different sizes and types of plates.  Plastic ones are on the lower shelf, where my younger kids can reach them, while the glass ones are above them.

The top shelf of this same cupboard holds my medicine and first aid bins.  

Other appliances that always stay out are the toaster and a large electric skillet, since I use them every day.  I bought the skillet for about $40 from Walmart when the inner coil of our large stove burner quit working.  I love the size of it. It is so much easier to use than a pan on the stove anyway!

A low cupboard holds my pots and pans, as well as a larger blender and an omelet maker.

Next to the stove on the other side: a large glass pitcher for my spatulas and other cooking utensils, and a smaller crock for mixing utensils.  On top of the microwave, I have a large bowl for hot pads.

At the other end of the top of the microwave there is a basket for measuring cups.  It's too hard to store them in a drawer or cupboard.  In the small corner between the microwave and the sink area, I tucked in containers for small plastic miscellaneous stuff and various sizes of sharp knives.  I keep another paper towel holder and our drainer rack there, too.

The kids run about two or three dishwasher loads every day, but in the meantime, my husband and I try to keep the dishes rinsed and stacked in the sink so that we don't have a huge messy overflow.

Next to the sink, I keep a small organizer for sponges and a toothbrush for scrubbing nooks and crannies.  I noticed yesterday how gross this organizer was getting.  I had to give it a really good scrubbing.

I store extra dish liquid and detergent under the sink.  One of my adult daughters, who as a nursing student is very conscious of safety, recommended that I start putting a mat in front of the sink to prevent slipping on drips.  It also cushions the feet.  I've been doing this for a few months and love it.  I try to buy seasonal mats.  I found this one at the dollar store and bought three since they were so cheap.  The key for buying a kitchen mat is to make sure it has non-slip material on the bottom, and it's generally better to not get really light colors since they get dirty.

A drawer by my sink holds dish towels.  

A high narrow cupboard holds small cleaning supplies like sponges, the store brand of Magic Erasers (I love these for getting marks off walls), and small cleaning solutions.  

My brooms and dustpans are nestled in against the back door.  I love the dustpan with the tall handle, which saves me from a lot of bending over.  I also keep small wastebaskets for recyclables and wet linens.  The rug keeps sand from getting tracked in.

I use bins in the refrigerator and pantry cupboards to keep things organized.  Every once in a while, I take everything out, wipe it down, and reorganize.

I store a bin of larger cleaning supplies, my sugar container, and our plastic cereal containers on top of the refrigerator.

I hang our large calendar and a bulletin board on the access door for our air conditioning unit.

One thing that I moved out of our kitchen recently is my basket of cookbooks.  Besides these regular cookbooks, I also keep a full size notebook of recipes that we have gathered from other sources.  One of my cookbooks fell apart, so I removed the spiral binding, hole punched it, and put it into another notebook.

Our house is about 40 years old.  We've been here for nearly 20 years, and put a lot of wear and tear on the whole house, but especially the kitchen.  While we have replaced all of the major appliances at least once, they each have their own issues, like loose handles or burners that don't work.  We haven't ever replaced the cabinets or drawers since we can't afford to do it and our kids are still likely to damage them anyway.  Some of the doors have been rehung, and there are lots of nicks and places where the laminate has come off.  But I make the best of it.  I often tape pretty note cards and sayings to the cupboard doors to draw the eyes away from the places that are less than perfect.

We did replace the kitchen floor -- twice!  When we moved in, there was horrible vinyl sheet flooring  that kept peeling up.  I used duck tape to keep the edges in place.  Blech.  We replaced it with  heavy duty urethane tile many years later, but that took a beating, too.  In 2004, we finally put in ceramic tile with a wood grain design and that has been wonderful.  It is so durable and easy to clean, and I love how it feels under my feet.  Highly recommended!

You can read more about kitchen organizing at these other posts:

Happy organizing!

Virginia Knowles

A Bowl Full of Lemons

Who is Ready to Get your Kitchen Organized? Challenge #2

This will also be linked here: