Friday, January 31, 2014

How I Keep My House Clean: Part 3

You've seen my daily and weekly lists, so now here's an overview of monthly tasks I try to tackle. I don't necessarily do all of these things on the same day always, but many of them are simple enough that I can do several of them in one day. What would you add to this list?

MONTHLY TASKS: sweep out and clean up garage, dust ceiling fans and light globes, wash walls and light switch plates, clean baseboards, clean out fridge and both freezers, wipe down all doors, cycle clean the dishwasher and washing machine, clean garbage cans, wash bed quilts, straighten up all closets

* Garage cleaning is something Brent and I do together. We remove the car and truck first, and then we sweep, use the shop vacuum, and put away stray items. It's about a 30 minute task, and we try to do it on a day when the weather is nice.

* This is another team task since I can't reach some of the ceiling fans without getting on a ladder. If you have ceiling fans over your bed, clean them while the linens are in the wash or use an old bed sheet to catch the dust bunnies. This task takes less than 5 minutes per ceiling fan.

* Okay, so I don't wash all of the walls from top to bottom necessarily, but I do go to each room and look for hot spots (around light switches, near the baseboards, Chandler's room, etc...). Most of the time I just use a soft wet cloth and gently scrub any spots I see. Switch plates are fairly easy to clean with just a damp cloth.

* Baseboards are not my friend! They collect dust way more quickly than I like, and they take a lot of time to clean.  However, a couple of years ago, thanks to Pinterest, I discovered that wiping them down with a dryer sheet helps keep at least some of the dust from settling on them. So, after I clean them well, I usually wipe them down with a dryer sheet. I am teaching Chandler how to do this in hopes that he might take over one day. (A girl can dream, right?)

* I take everything out of the fridge and freezers (I have a small one in addition to the one with the fridge) and wipe them down with a cloth soaked in warm, soapy water. It takes about half an hour to do all three as long as I don't wait too long in between cleaning sessions.

* If I ever build a house, the doors inside of it will be solid with no panels. Dusting doors with panels isn't necessarily all that difficult, but after you do about 10 (or more) of them front and back, it can get pretty boring. As long as I don't wait too long between cleanings, I can usually use a damp cloth for this task.

* Clean cycling the dishwasher and washing machine are actually two of the easiest tasks on this list. I use vinegar, and it works wonders!

* Cleaning the garbage cans is something I generally have Brent to do. He generally uses dish detergent and the water hose outside, and then he turns them over to drain and dry for a while before putting them back inside. When I first started asking him to do this, he thought I was crazy. However, it's a necessary task in order to keep a clean and fresh-smelling house.

* Washing the bed quilts is another relatively simple task, and it keeps our beds looking and smelling fresh.

* I like to go through all of the closets in the house about once a month and do some general straightening up. I spend about five minutes per closet putting things back in their proper place or tidying up the spaces. It saves me a lot of time later on, and I love the way it looks.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How I Keep My House Clean: Part 2

A couple of days ago I posted my daily cleaning tasks. Here, I would like to elaborate on the weekly tasks I do in addition to the daily tasks. Some weeks, I do all of these things in one day over about a three-hour span. Sometimes I do one big chore a day throughout the week. It really just depends on how busy things are in my life. (Some weeks I am mostly on my own because of Brent's work schedule, but when he can, he helps, too.)

WEEKLY TASKS: dust and wipe down all furniture, vacuum entire house, vacuum under sofa cushions, sweep and clean all floors, wash bed sheets, deep clean kitchen and bathrooms, wipe down and clean out refrigerator, shred junk mail, clean all glass and the microwave

* I must admit that dusting is one of my least favorite tasks around the house. Thankfully, I do have two helpers most weeks with this task. Chandler loves having his own duster! I also wipe down all the kitchen chairs and use a lint brush as needed on our sofa. (For some reason, dust likes to settle there.)

* We have mostly hardwood floors, so vacuuming my entire house doesn't take very long. If you have mostly carpet, it may take a little longer, but it is necessary to vacuum regularly no matter what size your house is to cut down on allergens in your home.

* While I have out the vacuum, I usually go ahead and vacuum under the sofa cushions. I have a preschooler, so I always find all kinds of "treasures" here. If you don't have small children, you can probably get by with doing this task monthly.

* Since I sweep the main part of the house daily, sweeping the entire house really isn't all that bad. After sweeping, I like to use my Swiffer Wet Jet.

* Bed sheets can honestly be one of the dirtiest items in a house. I like to wash ours once a week. Thankfully, Chandler's is the same color as ours, so I can do one large load and save some time and money.

* Because I am in the habit of wiping down kitchen and bathroom counters daily, it doesn't take long to deep clean these rooms. I do spend extra time in these rooms on which ever day I decide to deep clean them. I found an amazing way to clean my shower and tub recently, and it saves me so much time!

* While I am deep cleaning the kitchen, I wipe down all the shelves and drawers and throw out any old food. (We don't throw away much around here, so don't worry!)

* Since we sort mail most days, we like to save up a week's worth of junk mail and shred it at one time. If you don't have a shredder, make sure you blot out personal information, and then you can recycle it if you wish.

* I've tried other brands, but Windex is by far my favorite for cleaning all the mirrors, glass, and the microwave at our house. This is a task that Brent usually does while I am working on something else.

Do you have some weekly that you would add to this list? I would love to hear all about them!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

How I Keep My House Clean: Part 1

I like neat and tidy spaces, but I don't like to spend all my time cleaning. I do have a few "secrets" for keeping my house in order, so I thought I would share them with you. Today, we will take a look at my daily tasks.

DAILY TASKS: make beds, prepare lunch, wipe down bathroom counters and toilet seats, sweep the kitchen and main living area after each meal, wash or put dishes in the dishwasher right away after eating, open and file mail, do a quick pickup of entire house, laundry, lay out clothes for the next day

* My dad always made my sister and I make our beds before school, so this is a habit I formed years ago. I make Chandler's bed while he goes to the potty each morning. The timing is just about right. He is learning how to do this on his own already, too. Brent and I take turns making our bed.

* I prepare my lunch each day right after (or while I eat) breakfast. Then, all I have to do is grab it on my way out the door! 

* Wiping down the bathroom counters and toilets is one of my newer routines. I like using Clorox wipes for this task. With a preschool boy and a husband, this is a must for me!

* Sweeping is honestly not a favorite task of mine, but I found that it takes literally less than two minutes to sweep my kitchen and main living area after each meal. It really isn't that bad!

* I hate a sink of dirty dishes! That's why I like to take care of them right away whenever possible. I have also started washing dishes more often by hand to save water. It's another task that Chandler and I enjoy together. He's learning and having fun at the same time! I try to only run the dishwasher twice a week. (We do only have 3 people in our house, though, so I can understand why some families may need to use the dishwasher daily.)

* Mail...we get a lot of it, and at least half of it is junk. This is a task I have turned over to Brent for the most part. He's usually the one that goes to the mailbox, so I set up a mail sorting system and showed him how to use it. We have a place for bills (with a whiteboard nearby so we can post due dates), a place for papers that need to be filed, and a place for papers that need to be shredded. (More on that later.)

* The quick pickup around the house involves the entire family. We put up items that have accumulated around the house since the day before. It takes less than 5 minutes. I usually like to do this right before Chandler goes to bed. I want him to learn the habit of putting away his things when he is finished with them.  At times, when the house has gotten a little extra dirty or piled up, I have been known to set the timer on the microwave for 15 minutes, and we "race" to see who can get the most done!

* Until recently, I saved up most of the laundry for the weekend. Now, I do a load a day (if needed). It's much quicker and easier to put away when there's not so much at once.

* Picking out my clothes the night before is something I have done for a long time for myself, and now I also do it for Chandler. It has saved my morning many times, and I can sleep a few minutes later than I could if I didn't do this each night before bed.

Do you have some daily tasks that you would add to this list? I would love to hear all about them!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Still Small Voice

I usually pray when I first get up and take a shower. 
That's about the only time of the day I am alone and things are quiet. 
My alarm is set on a Christian radio station, 
which helps jump start that prayer time on most mornings.
More times than I can count, 
the very song I need to hear is playing when I get up. 
 I think not.

This morning when I awoke,
I felt especially moved to pray about 
something specific in my life.
As the water from the shower ran over my body,
tears also fell down my cheeks 
as I poured my heart out to God.

I know He heard my prayer this morning,
and He hears it anytime I call out to Him, 
because He gently reminds me
in that still small voice
that I am His,
and everything is going to be okay. 

I have no way of knowing what 
the future holds,
but I can trust that He will 
lead me where I should go. 
He's always been faithful to me.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Where Do You Find Encouragement?

Encouragement is something all of us need whether we are young or old, or somewhere in between. We all walk through the valley, and we all throw pity parties from time to time. We all get discouraged about and overwhelmed by different things, and sadly, as women, we often let those things take over our lives and we start missing out on the good things around us called life.

We all need that handful of friends that will pick us up when we need it most, and we need to strive to be that encourager in the lives of others as well. Have you encouraged someone today?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

He Is

* hard working and committed
* faithful
* compassionate
* thoughtful
* sensitive just when he needs to be
* smarter than he gives himself credit for
* kind-hearted
* creative
* a problem-solver
* a night owl
* a Mr. Fix-It
* messy (although he has gotten better)
* stubborn
* hilarious (sometimes when he's not even trying to be)
* a wonderful Daddy
* a perfect partner in crime
* my best friend
* a gift from God
* my husband

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Shower Cleaner That Really Works!

I like things clean, neat, and organized. However, the everyday task of keeping things that way isn't always fun. I am always on the lookout for shortcuts that actually work, and if they save me money at the same time, that's even better. A penny saved is definitely a penny earned (and money in the bank for something I actually enjoy doing).

So, I am here to share my most recent discovery, thanks to a couple of friends who tried it before me and were kind enough to tell me about it. It's so simple, you will probably be a little skeptical. I certainly was at first, but now that I have tried it, I will never go back! The best part is, you probably already have the items you need on hand!

Here's what you need: 

1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
4 Tablespoons baking soda
1/2 cup blue Dawn dish detergent
small scrub brush

Here's what you do:

Pour the vinegar in a medium-sized microwavable bowl and heat in the microwave for 90 seconds. Allow the vinegar to sit for about a minute in the sink before adding the baking soda. (It will bubble!) Then, add the dish detergent and stir if necessary. (You could also try putting the mixture in a spray bottle if you have one on hand.)

Pour or spray the mixture in the shower, using a cloth or scrub brush to make sure you really soak the tough spots. Leave it alone to do its magic for about two hours. Then, using a cloth and the scrub brush, wipe down the shower starting at the top and working your way down to the bottom, rinsing with warm water as needed. (I made sure I had some of the mixture on my cloth when I started this process.)

The results: 

I was simply amazed! I didn't have to do any heavy scrubbing. There was even a little mildew around the edge of the shower, and there was definitely a good bit of soap scum. An extra bonus is that it actually smelled good while I was cleaning. With everything else I have tried, I felt like I had to wear a mask in order to safely clean the bathroom. I challenge you to try this in your own home, and I would love to hear your feedback. Happy (and frugal) cleaning!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

I Just Realized...

My little boy is not a toddler anymore. He's a preschooler. I guess I've known it for a while, but it really hit me hard this evening as I watched him play with all his new toys, and then as he sleepily crawled up into my lap, ready for his pjs. He didn't want the green dinosaur ones tonight. He wanted the red fire truck ones, and he told me so.

He's potty trained, he has mood swings (pouts and complaints included), and he makes up his own silly songs. He remembers things that happened over a year ago with pretty accurate detail, and he knows the words to lots of books and songs we have read or sang together. He can (mostly) dress himself, and he now often has input on what he wears when we go out. He even knows what he likes to eat and drink at various restaurants and can tell the person taking his order what he wants. His jokes sometimes even make sense now, and he knows how to flash that sweet dimpled grin to get himself out of trouble. (In other words, he knows he's cute.)

He gives sweet hugs and kisses, and he loves to tell secrets. His facial expressions give him away. He can count to 20 and spell his name (with help; it is 8 letters long, you see), he plays well alone, and most of the time he gets along with other kids, too. He likes making messes, but he likes for things to be in their place as well when the day is done. He hates having his hair washed, but he loves taking a bath. He enjoys being naked and would run around without clothes more often than not if we allowed him to.

He loves the people in his life with his whole heart, and he talks about all of us often, naming each of us regularly. His giggles are contagious. He likes to help out in the kitchen, and he even helps clean up around the house. He gets excited easily and his little eyes dance. He has a wild imagination, and he hears everything we say, even when we think he's not listening. He says a short and sweet blessing at meal times (or designates someone to do it instead), and he says sweet bedtime prayers, too.

How is it that almost 4 years have come and gone so quickly? I never knew I could love someone the way that I love my sweet and precious little guy. God must think I am very special, you see, because he chose me to be this sweet little boy's mama.