Life Management for Busy Women

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It never ceases to amaze me how we ladies can come unraveled with our busy lives.  I joke often about every woman needing a wife.  Because we want to live purposeful lives and its hard to feel like we are when we spend a lot of time running around like a chicken with its head cut off.  Sometimes the busy-ness of kids and jobs and everything else gets to be too much. It can become difficult to make choices and learn to say no when there are so many great opportunities out there.

 

One of the best books for wisdom on managing the busy life of woman-hood is Life Management for Busy Women, by Elizabeth George.

 

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I read this book about 12 years ago, when a friend and pastor’s wife gave it to me before moving away. She always spoke highly of Elizabeth George’s books.  I actually read it in the car while we were driving to our new home out of state.  I couldn’t put it down.

 

Since then, I’ve read it two more times.  No surprise that I’m getting ready to read it again.  Just when you think you’ve got your schedule managed and you’ve got a handle on things, you enter a new phase in life, then its time to readjust and reprioritize the calendar again.  This book helps me to take a macro biblical worldview so that I can adjust my micro family view and drill down to what is most important to our family and make time for the “must do” items that line up with those values.

 

If you are finding it difficult to manage your calendar and life, I highly recommend this book, whether you are a mom, working mom, or just a woman who wears many hats both in and out of the house.  Elizabeth George beautiful shares great stories and scriptures that outline how we should live with passion and purpose. I recommend the paperback version, not the kindle, because you’ll be underlining and highlighting all the great quotes and scriptures.

 

I’m getting ready to start this book again, for the 4th time, since we just entered into a different phase of homeschool, High School.  Yikes!

Prudent Meal Planning For A Busy Momma

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It never fails.  Right about 3pm you get a little anxious because you realize you hadn’t given one thought to dinner.  Or maybe you did but you didn’t follow thru and pull something out of the freezer.  Did I just describe you?  Or was I only describing myself?

 

Last year I heard about this really neat concept called Meals In A Jar.  I did some research, ordered the supplies, then life got busy, and then forgot about it.  That is until last month.  Since August is when school starts back up so did my crazy life.  For this homeschool mom, whose personal and educational motto is “If its worth doing, its worth doing right, and with purpose and passion”, I like meal time to be pleasant as well as nutritious.  But I found that I was becoming so busy that I never gave dinner a single thought until after lunch.  It became a logistical nightmare several times a week if I was away from home when I realized I had no plan for dinner.  Feeding my hungry family was starting to stress me out.  Which is not God’s best.

 

Putting the inevitable forgetfulness or unexpected interruptions aside, sometimes I simply don’t feel like cooking and I still need something to serve really quick.  In comes Freezer Meals (which is a publication from Taste of Home I found at the grocery check out) and the Meals In A Jar idea again.  I did a little more research to refresh my memory and then I got busy.

 

Three weeks later and I have to tell you that not one night have I had to concern myself with dinner.  Even if I forget to pull out the freezer meal the night before and put in refrig, I have the meals in a jar to fall back on.  Each family member has their favorite too.

 

Whatever your taste buds desire, whatever keeps your calendar full, whatever the size of your family and whatever your budget, consider planning and preparing your meals one month ahead.  It saves so much time, stress and money.  Lord knows, we could all use some frugality in all of these area, eh?

 

Here are some of the jars.  I made labels using a rubber stamp, copied onto cardstock, then hole punch and tied with twine.  The directions for each meal in a jar are on the label.  I had to make it simple enough that my dear husband could do it.  So naturally, my kiddo can too.

 

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Ruth was a Marine-Semper Fi

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Semper fidelis is a Latin phrase that means “always faithful” or “always loyal”. (Wikipedia)

Last week I finished the book of Joshua and only had two days remaining in the week. So, I decided to read Ruth.

What a lovely story.  Ruth could have been a Marine.  The Marines have a saying, Semper Fi, which means “always faithful”.  Ruth, even though it wasn’t customary in that day, was always faithful.  And to her mother-in-law, no less.

Here is a summary of Ruth and why I think its such a lovely story.  Ruth marries this guy, and I can’t remember his name, but its not important.  Well, they never have any children, and he dies. As was the custom of the day, Ruth should’ve been married off to one of his brothers, except that his only brother also dies!  So, she goes to live with her father-in- law.   But, then her father in law dies, as well.  I know, tragic, huh?!?!  Which leaves Ruth with her mother-in-law, and no man to care for them.  Well, as the Lord would have it, it was customary under these circumstances at this time in history for Ruth to return her father’s house.  This is where the story gets really good.

Instead of doing what was expected, what was customary, Ruth decides to stay with her Mother-in-Law.  I know, you’re probably thinking, “what?!?”  This woman is just cursed with bad luck.  Ruth needs to run from her.  I mean her husband and both of her sons die, leaving her alone.  She even changes her name to Mara, which means the Almighty has afflicted me.  Does it get any worse than that?  So Ruth commits to staying with this lady and they return to Jerusalem at the start of barley harvest to work in the fields.

Word had spread throughout the region (yes, people gossiped back then) that this Ruth lady didn’t follow the custom and decided to stay with her mother in law and they were in Jerusalem to harvest.  So, Boaz, who was like this rich farmer guy, put her to work in his fields.  He didn’t know who she was at first, only that she was there to help harvest.  So anyway, her reputation had proceeded her, and when he found out “who” she was, he already knew that she was a good girl.

When Mara finds out who Ruth is working for she begins telling her to go to him  and “see if he can help you to find a husband”.  So Ruth does just that.  She tells Boaz who she is, what she has done, and what she wants.   Boaz, after a few other customary procedures, falls in love with her takes Ruth for his wife. They eventually have this little kiddo named Obed.  And they live happily ever after.  But the story doesn’t end there.   Obed begets Jesse, and Jesse begets David.  Yep, that David, the little boy who kills a giant with some pebbles, then becomes the infamous King David.  From whose line we are promised a Savior.

So what’s the point?  Lets start with doing what is right in your heart, even when it’s not what is expected of you.  Ruth could’ve left her momma in law and returned to her fathers house where she would have been taken care of for the rest of her life, either by her dad, or a new husband.  But instead, she stayed with her aging mother in law.  Who knows what kind of relationship they had.  Some people love their mother in laws, while others don’t.  Regardless of what she thought of her, she stayed.  She was faithful.  She was loyal.  She was a MARINE!!  And because of this faithfulness, we see how Boaz and Ruth’s son, grandson and so on give us the promised Savior.  I just never know how your actions today will effect future generations.

But another sticking point, and the one that stayed with me after reading this, was that her reputation for being faithful and loyal spread throughout the region.  There weren’t any phones, emails or text back then.  Your word was your word, and hand shake was all that was needed, and your reputation always proceeded you.  Even in this day of millisecond communication, your reputation goes before you.  ESPECIALLY when you go against customs.  So what do people say about you?

I had the pleasure of meeting with an individual this morning about a personal matter.  She mentioned to me that she loved to work with a certain individual because she is “straight as an arrow”, and shared that its a pleasure to work with someone so professional and on the up and up.  Once again, its her reputation.

I find it rather fascinating that  when we do something that isn’t expected, something that is right and not what others expect, that those people will remember that.  They will talk about it.  They will remember it for a long time to come.  So, what are people saying about you?  I ask myself this question all the time.  I want to know that I’m doing what is right in the eyes of God, no matter what is expected or not expected, or what is the custom or procedure of the day or hour. I just want to do what is right.  I don’t always get it right, but I sure do try.  I want others to say that I’m a pleasure to work with.  I’m a pleasure to be around.  I’m a dependable person.   I want to be like Ruth.

Here comes the babies!!!

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Ruby started labor on April 12 after her water broke. She didn’t actually have the babies until April 14th.

It was early on the 14th that I had just dropped my daughter off to intern at a Vet. When I returned she was on the ground pushing. I couldn’t believe it! My daughter was going to miss it. So I called my friend Jennifer to come over. She had a little bit of experience, more than me, in assisting her parents goats in delivery so I felt good about her being here while I was gone. Meanwhile, I ran back into town to pick up my daughter.

When we returned Ruby was hard at it. A late winter storm had just hit and temps had dropped back down into the30′s, with wind and rain. If was a cold wet mess. But my friend and I settled inside the shed, on the front porch with Esther. We were bundled up with Jackets, blankets and hot chocolate. Ruby was taking her sweet time. Esther was fast asleep.

By 12pm she was ready to deliver. And it was a boy. We named him Stormie. I had a towel and assisted Ruby in cleaning him off. It was really cold and I wanted to get him on her teat quick so we could fill his stomach with warm colostrum.

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Then within 45 minutes of Stormie’s birth Ruby laid down and began pushing again. We’re having twins!!!Out came a little girl. She was slow to get up and Ruby was slow to assist. So I immediately grabbed her and dried her off too. Again, I just wanted to get some warm colostrum in her. Her name was Rosie. My little Rosie.

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Ruby is the most awesome momma. She had them both cleaned and on her teats rather quickly. We had to wrap the goat shed with blankets. You would’ve thought a band of gypsies had moved into that shed. It was funny looking.

So glad I did that because the wind and rain had turned to ice and I had to do whatever I could to keep them warm and dry. I was ready to put their igloo house inside but I had to clean out the shed of the afterbirth first.

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Honey I think we need to build an addition

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Shortly after our noble steed arrived, we knew we needed to have shelter for him, as well as the new babies, who were due to arrive within the next month. So I decided that I would just build an addition to the front of the existing shed. That was easier said then done.

It took a whole week for this to happen because the animals kept trying to “help” me. They were into everything.

When it was finally done it was the perfect size. It has two separate rooms. The new addition looks like a front porch to me. When it rains, Buddy, our donkey likes to get up in there. That will be a problem when the babies get here.

I gave up Facebook today

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That’s right.  No more “crack-book”.  At least for the foreseeable future.  I’ve missed out on so much that Facebook had distracted me from.  Its easy to do, you know.  I mean, all you have to do is pick up your phone and see how many notifications you have.  I thought about disabling the notification aspect, but still the inherent problem with Facebook is that the virtual relationship can seem like a real relationship.  Its really just a cheap substitute.  And guess what, if you can’t touch someone, how much of a relationship do you really have with them?  I would argue that we were created for relationships.  I just enjoy people and I can’t help myself.

 

Much like the personal time I spend with people, I really enjoy the prolonged intimate time I spend reading God’s word and talk with Him.  Not just some real quick devotional that I read that makes me feel warm and fuzzy.  No, I’m talking about digging in, with a fresh cup of iced tea or coffee and hanging out with the Creator of the Universe.  My Lord.  My wonderful Savior. That is one of the things that has benefited the most from my hiatus from Facebook. 

 

And I don’t miss Facebook at all.  As matter of fact I couldn’t make the announcement fast enough.  It felt good.  And so, I’ve got some really great pictures and articles I need to write for this blog.  So much has happened in the last 4 months, its gonna take a lot of thought and organization to get it all together.   So check back.  Often.

Our Noble Steed Has Arrived!

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What a blessing this little guy is.  I prayed for a free donkey to protect our goats about 3 months ago when I heard coyotes that were so close they sounded like they were in our back yard.  Two weeks ago I stopped in to pay my trash bill and there sitting all alone in a horse trailer in the parking lot was this cute little guy.  His owners had weaned him from his momma the night before and needed to find him a home because they already had 3 at their place.  The guy delivered him to me that night.  He is so cute.  He is a fast learner and a very protective guy. His name is Buddy. 

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I love kids!

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I love kids!

Ruby is in the final stretch before the kids arrive. She is usually trying to find a comfortable place to lay down, but no matter where she lays she just can’t get comfortable. The baby or babies are really giving her a heck of a time. She is stomping her feet and kicking at her side, staring into space and pacing. We’ll see. Expecting those little ones any day now.

Hungry, Angry…Hangry

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What would you do if your daily caloric intake dropped from your traditional 2000-2500 calories a day diet to just 1200-1500 calories a day?  And what if during that same time you also had to increase your physical activity just to make your circumstances safe and healthy for your family?

This thought occurred to me as I was reading global political and economic news this evening.  It occurred to me that we are teetering on the edge of a cliff and even the slightest change in the wind could knock us off.  And then I began to think about the eventual end and what it would look like for us, given the fact that there are only 3 days of food in the stores at any given time.  Everything has to be thought thru to its logical end. And when you think this one through, it just doesn’t end well.

So that got me to thinking about how hard it would be to do things by hand to survive (collecting water, building fires to cook, etc.) and how quickly I would become frustrated over the simplest task.  That’s what happens to our brains when we haven’t had enough calories, we can’t think.  We can rationalize.  We can’t reason.  We are easily agitated because simple tasks are harder to perform when you haven’t enough energy or clarity of mind due to poor nutrition.  And this is when accidents happen.

I was thinking about the little bit of food that I have stored and growing outside.  How long could that realistically last me and my family.  And what if a bad storm or other severe weather destroys what I have growing?  How long then could we survive? 

Hunger and anger equals hangry.  Hangry causes mental stress and even physical harm from injury.  Its time to really think through what we have in our extended pantries.  Are there enough carbs, protein and other nutritional foods to hold you over for more than a couple of weeks?  How would you store water and purify it.  How would you cook food or purify water to drink?  You will die within a few days if you don’t stay hydrated. 

Its time to consider what you’ve put up and determine if there are some gaps you should fill or skills you have yet to acquire.  And soon.

Change…

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I love change. Its a chance to do something different, and hopefully with better results.  On the “change” menu this year is my garden.  It has been a complete disappointment.  Only one thing to do.  Change what I’m doing.

Ah, my garden. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my garden ever since moving out of the city. One would think that moving to the country would be great for a gardener. One would be mistaken to believe such a BIG FAT LIE.  Gardening in the country brings a whole new set of challenges not seen in the city.

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For starters, the local wildlife love gardens.  It’s like a 24 hour buffet that costs nothing.  Just drop in anytime.  No lines.  Bon Appetite!  Then there is the issue of getting water to the garden.  In the city most people have irrigation systems.  Strategic water dispersment.  On a timer.  Just remember to pay the water bill and then plant the plants.

Yea, not the case here.  Sometimes I have to drag a hose the length of 30-40 yards (yes, that’s a long, heavy hose) to water the fruit trees during the heat of summer.  Also, I have to put up fencing to keep out the small critters, etc.  And still, they find a way in.  Its been a pain in the neck (or back).  But I must prevail!!!

Change in the garden is definately in order for this year.  First up:  Location.  I had to move my beautiful and strategically-placed raised garden beds from their old location to a new location, near the house and water hoses.

You may recall in the fall of 2012 I designed and built 12 3 x 4 raised garden beds.  My husband measured and placed them in the garden so the riding mower could easily maneuver around them.  The location should have been great.  It was fenced in, had 4 Rainbird 180 degree sprinkler heads hooked to in-ground irrigation, plenty of sun, out of the way so the dogs couldn’t destroy it…it should have been wonderful and a huge success, but…

It was awful.  The rabbits were able to squeeze through the fencing and would escape the woods near by and eat, eat, eat.  I couldn’t figure out what or who was pulling the green beans completely out of the ground.  Or who or what was running off with the entire cucumber vine.  It was a disaster.  Then there was the issue of these darn sprinklers.  I don’t have any idea how many hours I let those things run, but they watered more of the grass then the beds.

So, in early fall of last year, I uprooted what had survived the brutal heat and dry summer,  and relocated a few beds closer to the house in my herb garden, which had a wooden fence.  It worked.   These pictures are a couple of weeks old so these crops are better looking then the pics.

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So, now that I know this location is going to work, I’ve moved the rest of the garden out of the old location and closer to the house.  Only 6 beds are behind the fence.  The rest are outside the fence but close to the house where the dogs are.

I prepared the beds by placing cardboard on the ground inside the frames.  This will kill the grass, and since its biodegradable, it will breakdown and eventually become one with the earth.  Or the worms will eat it and then make it one with the earth.  Next I added good soil that has composted manure mixed in (I’ll be writing about the changes to our composting system in another article).

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In the case of potatoes, this year I’m changing the method I’m using.  See above picture. I mixed saw dust into the soil with a pitch fork so the potatoes can have loomy soil to grow in, which should increase the pounds of potatoes per square feet.  Or at least that’s the what I’ve heard from a friend who produced 100 lbs from 5 lbs of seed potatoes.  Last year I had so much grass grow into the beds that the soil wasn’t fit for growing potatoes.  The results were pathetic.  And the potatoes had scab on them.  Another learning experience.

The whole point of this is to share my failures and to show you that as long as you don’t let the failures get you down, you can achieve the intended goal.  You just have to keep going.  I mean, if we all stop trying, what then?  No matter what it is you’re facing, if the outcome isn’t to your liking, try something new.  Just don’t give up.  Keep at it.

I’ll let you know how the garden goes this year.