Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Women: Can't live with them. Can't live without them.

So this is Part 2 of Meagan's question about how I deal with the expectations of others. You can read Part 1 where I talk about how driving a commuter bus has it's challenges and how I often find people judge me by the size of my butt! Ha ha! However, what I really want to talk about today is Women.

In thinking about how I deal with the expectations of other's, I have to say that most of my toughest pressure and criticism has come from other women. I know there is a saying that says, "Men: Can't live with them. Can't live without them". I also feel that this applies to women. Women: Can't live with them. Can't live without them.

Women: Can't live with them. My first thought in relation to this is, why is it that we judge each other so much? We are fierce in our support for the roles of women in society but harsh in our judgement of each other in our every day lives. We want society to accept us as equal but we can't simply accept each other for who we are and the way we raise our children in our homes. When it comes to being a mother we are often at our worst. We speak out against other women who are trying their best to raise children and go out of our way to embarrass them when they are doing the best they can. I have even been guilty of doing this myself. I have often judged others and then felt terrible that I let myself get caught up in such crazy thinking. 

As women we talk, we gossip, we whisper, 
'Did you hear what ... did with her kids?', 
'I can't believe she is feeding them ... !!', 
'I saw ... today and she had her kids dressed in ... !!'. 
The list is never ending.

Now I know not everyone does this and I am being very general here in making this statement but I find that if you are going to be a mother and especially one of a large family you need to be aware and prepared that other women will not like what you are doing and will tell you so if given the chance. Women love to share their opinion. If you have been pregnant you will totally understand what I am talking about. Just think of how many birth stories you heard and how many opinions about hospitals you received! Being aware of this helps me to deal with the pressure and expectations of other's.

Women: Can't live without them. As women we can't live without each other. We need friends who are women in our lives, we need to talk about girl stuff and to share our hearts with each other. We need to chat and share our mothering challenges, our birth stories, how our husbands or partners sometimes drive us crazy and to know that we are not alone in our parenting journey and trials. We know that other women just get it, they know where we are coming from and that makes all the difference when we are having a bad day. We seek out other women who like minded because our heart tells us that is what we need in our life and we know that having great relationships with other women is healthy and necessary.

They are the type of friends who lift us and inspire us. They help us stick to our expectations we place on ourselves and they don't let us quit when the going get's tough. They are a shoulder to cry on, open arms when we need them and a listening ear that never judges. They accept us for who we are and stand up for what we value and against those who may be putting us down. 

Even though most of my harshest criticism has come from other women they have also been a source of great support and encouragement when I need it most. I need them when people expect me to be a super woman. Just because I have seven children it does not make me a super woman. I make mistakes, I feel vulnverable, I feel overcome with my parenting role, I get hurt, I cry, I struggle with situations that come up in our family and I worry. I worry if I have done enough to help my kids, I worry I may have destroyed their life already and I worry about if they know I love them enough. 

The only time I find that I have trouble dealing with the expectations of others is if I am upset, people often say, 'Don't worry you will be alright'. Well, some days I am not alright and I feel it is unfair to put that expectation upon me. Yes, I know I will be alright eventually, but right now I am not. I am hurting and my kids are draining me and I have nothing left to give myself. I need someone else to give me some strength, I need someone to simply care and to listen. On days like this I find myself saying, Women. Can't live with them. Can't live without them!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dealing with the expectations of others: Part 1

Meagan asked me: 'How do you cope or deal with other's expectations of you?

When I first started this blog I wrote a blog post addressing this topic: Does my butt look big with this bus? In this blog post I share how as a mother of a large family I never really thought about what car I would have to drive and how I was adjusting to driving a commuter bus everywhere I go. I also talk about how I often feel like women are judging me on the way that I look and by how many children I have.

"One of the funny things about me driving this bus is the reaction from others. When I pull up somewhere, lets say at a playground where lots of other kids are playing. It is as if the whole playground goes stops...parents included, to see what sort of tragedy is about to happen. This is when I start to smile to myself... The sliding door opens, normally loudly...and all my kids start to tumble out. I see the other kids on the playground looking scared and I know they are thinking...'it's a gang of kids coming to get us'. Now my kids are not perfect but they are kind! 

Then I see parents counting my kids and it is fun to see them start to shake their head, like I have committed some crime bringing all these children into the world, and then their mouths drop when they get to the end. Yes! There really is seven! Then when all the kids are out of the bus. It is my turn. This is the funniest part. When I get out of the bus and make my way around to the other side of the car, to normally close the sliding door because the last person out has of course forgotten to close it, people stare at me. It is like they are in shock! After they have stared for a while they then look me up and down, I mean, totally look me up and down. Especially women! They start forming a judgement in their mind and begin to wonder about this spectacle and they always seem to look at my butt. I get so tempted to give them a big flash of my butt just so they can have a closer look - with clothes on of course! 

They love to see if I am overweight (which of course I am in my own small way) and it is as if they are saying to way are all those kids hers, she doesn't look like a woman who should have 7 kids."  

Now I understand that people are just fascinated, in shock and intrigued with the fact that I have seven kids. I have days where I am in shock about it too! I am happy to answer questions and tell them that yes, I did plan to have all these children (all except the twins, we did not expect to have twins) and yes we do have a television! 

I know I am not alone in having a large family, there are so many combined large families today and there are plenty of other women who desire to have lots of kids too. Most comments from people are kind and on the days I get unkind comments I try not to let it get to me. I am used to driving my bus now, I love it, and I am used to talking to people about our family. 

Once upon a time I would have piled my kids in the bus and gone home and cried when people said unkind things to us about the size of our family. Now I have a collection of comments that I use as a reply and I am much stronger in dealing with criticism. Having a blog has sure helped me toughen up in a lot of area's and I know that if I am going to put myself out there with things that I do and opinions that I have, I need to be prepared to also accept the opinions of other's, even if they are not nice.

I also know that as a mother of a large family I simply can't keep up with many everyday situations in life that others do. For example, the kids homework. It takes me a lot longer to help my children with their homework than it might for another family. With 6 children currently at school and 6 lots of homework to deal with each night I have to let other things go in my life to keep up with it. Yes, I would like to attend an event, read more blogs, comment on more blogs, watch television, visit a friend etc. but I simply can't fit homework and all those other things in my life. So I accept that I let people down, I can't meet the needs of friends or others and I can't do everything. Homework and my children comes first in this season of my life and everything else will just have to wait. Some days this makes me sad, especially when I feel like I am tired and want to bang my head against the wall because the homework is way above what I remember learning at school, but most days I cope with it fine.

Recently, I had an experience where people were asking and wanting some more of me with my time. My desire was to fill that need because I wanted to help and I knew it would be a good thing in my life. But, when I looked at my family situation I had to say No. I knew I could not fit it in our schedule, that it would take more time away from my family and that we were already stretched to the limit. I had to say No. I explained I would love to help but right now I simply can't. I was really tired that day and had a little cry about it. After I let those emotions out, I moved on.

But really, to be honest, most days I don't worry too much about what other's think of me or expect of me. I am simply too busy keeping up with my own life and that of my children to let it get to me. I know what I do with my time, I know I am working hard, my family knows I am working hard and that is all that matters. 

I do have a little more to say about this topic and am going to share Part 2 tomorrow. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

home inspiration: family clothing checklist

I have several checklists that I use around my home to help keep it organised. One of the checklists I use is a family clothing checklist. I simply write down all the names of my children and then list all of the basic wardrobe needs that they have. I find this is easy and works well for a large family. 

I then print my checklist out and go around to all of the children's bedrooms to see what they need to have updated or purchased or swapped from the extra clothing storage containers we have to keep their wardrobes up to date. 

The way I use it is to cross off all the items that they have enough of and then I am left with they need. I can then plan how I am going to meet those needs according to our budget and the time and season of the year. For example, I don't need to worry about new swimmers in winter time, I can put that off until it warms up a little more later on in the year.  

I also might write a number next to an item to remind me how many they have or how many more they need. Often they might only need one more of a certain item and recording a number helps me to save money and to remember what to keep track of.

If you have a smaller family you might not have a need for a checklist like this but I find with a large family it is of great help to me. It can be hard to keep track of what the clothing needs are for everyone in the family and it really saves me time and money.

How do you keep track of what clothing purchases you need to make in your family?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

i heart my saggy, baggy body

I am sure most of you are familiar with the golden book story: The Saggy, Baggy Elephant. Like the elephant, I always felt confident and happy about my body when I was growing up. I kept myself fit and active and it was not until somebody pointed out to me that my body did not look the way they thought it should look, that I started to have a problem with it.

Your thighs are too big.
Your breasts are too big.
You walk funny.
Your tummy is too large.
You are short.

Just like the saggy, baggy elephant I decided I need to improve myself. So I started to eat less. I began to seek the opinion of others on how to look better and over time began to love my body less and less.

I tried to shrink my thighs.
I tried to shrink my breasts.
I tried to walk better.
I tried to starve myself so my tummy would shrink.
I tried to buy shoes that would make me look taller.

In the end I hated myself and the way I looked. The harder I worked to change myself the more my body seemed to rebel. It was as if it was screaming at me to just love it, to accept it the way it was and to embrace it.

I am now happy to say that I heart my body.

My thighs have been strong enough to help carry me through many pregnancies.
Those breasts that were too large have helped me to breastfeed seven children.
My funny walk my husband adores!
My large tummy is now covered in battle wounds from having children and I couldn't be more proud!
My shortness has not stopped me from any goals or dreams I have had in life.

I may not look the way some people wanted me to look and I may have a saggy, baggy body after having seven children but my body allows me to love them and hug them and to serve them in many wonderful ways as I raise them into adulthood. My body is a precious gift from God and I am so thankful that it is healthy and I am able to do whatever I desire in life with it. 

I now embrace who I am, I take pictures of myself, I dress up more, I celebrate my soft tummy, my bigger butt and I work a little harder at keeping fit. I am so thankful to my husband who constantly tells me I look great and on days where I feel a little low he always lifts me up. I know I am not going to ever be really thin and all I really want is to be healthy in life and to be fit enough to enjoy my kids. I love that I heart my body and hope that you do too! 

two sets of rules in the home

We are lucky that we all live together in one home. That we are one family and have one set of rules in our home that we follow. I know there are many who do not have this luxury in life and deal with children struggling to live in two different homes with two sets of rules. That is a completely different topic than what I want to talk about today. 

For me, along my parenting journey I have learned a few lessons. One of the lessons I have learned is that in our home it really is a bad idea to have two sets of rules that we follow. One rule for the parents and one for the children sends a mixed message and confuses our children. We have discovered this the hard way and have found that having one set of rules in our home saves on arguements and creates unity for us as a family.

Now when I am talking about 'rules' in the home I am talking about guidelines that we follow as a family. I also understand that there is a difference between adults and children and they are not the same in how they live their lives. For example: I am not going to expect a child to clean the kitchen the way an adult would, I am not expecting a child to have the freedom to stay up to midnight every night if they wanted to or that a child is allowed to drive a car. What I am referring to are general family rules or guidelines to follow. Having one set for everyone as a large family allows us to be clear on what we value and expect to be upheld in our home. It gives us a protection in a way. 

We have found that with so many children in our home at differing ages it just became too difficult to keep track of what rule applied to what age. So we set clear rules that apply to all of us as a family. We also made sure that we set rules that we agreed on as parents as we were the one's who needed to be consistent and follow through with them. We also needed to be able to live them ourselves!

So here are some examples of what we came up with in our home:
We have one set of rules for watching movies. We have a set family rating and we all follow that guide. 

We have one set of rules for words spoken in our home. We don't use any swear words as a family so we don't have to deal with the 'only mummy and daddy are allowed to use that word' situation. 

We have one set of rules for music. We all check the lyrics on songs before we purchase them and only invite music into our home that we feel is going to be uplifting and fun for us as a family. 

We have one set of rules for physical punishment such as hitting, smacking or kicking. There is NO hitting, smacking or kicking in our home. There may at times have been threats given when tempers have exploded but as a rule we have no physical punishment given in our home.

We have one set of rules for name calling. We do not use degrading words to put each other down and on many occasions I have had to bite my tongue off not to use them! It drives me crazy to see parents calling children degrading names and then when the child says it they get in trouble for it. 

We have one set of rules for computers. All computers are kept and used in family rooms where everyone can see what is being watched, played or used on them. This keeps us all accountable.

As you can see, as parents we take this kind of thing seriously. It is not easy to follow these rules some days but we have found that it stops resentment and any bad feelings between children and parents and it helps to bring more unity and harmony to our home. To us that makes it worthwhile.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

practical parenting: a dinner time apprentice

{Pasta making lesson from Dad and I have no idea what is going on with Liberty's hair!}

Over the years I have discovered that one of the most common times when things get destroyed around my home is when I am preparing and cooking dinner. As I am busy chopping and cutting up food and watching pots and pans, my cherubs are often off getting into things they should not be. It is almost as if they have planned and waited all day for me to be busy in the kitchen so they can get into that drawer or cupboard they have been dreaming about all day!

So to help overcome this little problem I started to always cook dinner with a dinner time apprentice. My apprentice normally was the child I knew would get into the most trouble {normally the youngest at the time!} and they would become my special assistant in the kitchen. On really bad days I would have several special apprentices helping me in the kitchen. 

You know the days that I am talking about, where everyone is tired, where no matter what you do, it is not going to run smoothly. I would have all my cherubs lined up along my kitchen bench with a job to do and even though it would take me twice as long to get dinner ready, it would bring a much nicer feeling into our home. 

I found it a wonderful opportunity to praise them for their efforts, to teach them to share, to help them be patient while they are waiting for the next person to do what they need to do and a way for them to serve our family. It also started a new family tradition where over dinner we say things like, 'Thank you Harmony for the wonderful potatoes' or 'Thank you Sam for the salad you made'.

All of my children have been a dinner time apprentice. They know how to be careful when using a knife, how to chop vegetables, how peel potatoes and carrots, how to mix food in a bowl, how to crack an egg, how to be careful with mixing hot food items, how to mash vegetables and how to sneak taste tests when I am not looking :)

Lucky for me I have a husband that also loves to cook. He often will decide to do some baking {bless him!} and will grab several children to help him out. They love helping him out in the kitchen and some of their fondest memories are cooking with Matt. He has taught them how to make bread, ham and cheese rolls, pasta, cinnamon rolls and pancakes just to name a few.

I know it requires a little more effort and planning to have a dinner time apprentice and some days you just want to do the cooking by yourself, but it has been a great blessing to our family and now that my kids are older, they still love coming to help me cook in the kitchen. I think it really is because they love all the praise they get at the dinner table!

Monday, October 22, 2012

my sanity saving dinner time secret

People often ask me how I run or organise dinner time with such a large family. So today I thought I would share with you my special sanity saving secret to success with so many people to feed every day. I believe these items are essential for any woman and mother to have in her home and kitchen. Whether you have a large family or not, it will help you be prepared for when people drop by or you just feel tired and exhausted after a busy day. They will bless your life. Truly. Here is my secret to success below:

Yep! Paper plates, cups, knives, forks, spoons and napkins. Blesses my life people. On days where I feel too tired to cope with the dishes and clean up routine or arguing with the kids to do the clean up, {which tires me out more than actually doing the dishes myself!} I pull out the paper/plastic utensils and plates and it is amazing how much of a burden is lifted from my shoulders. 

Now that I have older kids I hardly ever use them but it is a huge relief to know that I have them there if I need them. It doesn't make me a bad mother and it doesn't mean I can't cope. What it does mean is that I am aware of my needs, my emotions and that I am giving myself a gift by taking an easier option to help myself out. Best of all the kids and Matt don't care what plates we use!

So there you have it. My sanity saving secret to dinner time success. 
Get yourself a supply if you don't have one. Immediately! 

{P.S: I am going to write a more serious post about this topic. Hope this one made you smile though.}

Saturday, October 20, 2012

food storage to bless the lives of others

I know many people who have read my blog posts lately about why I have food storage and how to create a food storage supply are still really struggling to grasp the concept of why I have so much food piled up in my home. If you have never heard of this idea I can understand that it seems a little weird and freaky even!

So I have one last thing to say about the topic of food storage and why I have so much food in my home. I hope that this will put you at ease and help you to understand why it is so important to me and why I put so much effort into making it work.

As I have mentioned previously, the main reason that I store food in my home is:
1. To be self reliant
2. To be prepared incase of emergency or crisis
3. For peace of mind
4. To save money on shopping
There is one last reason why I have food storage: To bless the lives of others

Now I have been a little reluctant to share this reason because I am sure someone is going to think that I am proclaiming that I live some higher way of living than everyone else or that I am bragging about what I do to try to help others, but that is not the case at all. I simply want to share that when you reach a place of feeling like you are living a more self reliant life, {which has taken us a long time to get to!} you can use what you have to bless the lives of others.

Matt and I have worked hard to strive to be as self reliant as we can be with a large family and we know we live a blessed life. We have made it a priority to accumulate a bonus food storage supply, a vegetable garden, a herb garden and an extra chest freezer of food. 

We love to have this supply for ourselves but also to help others. We feel very thankful that we are in a situation to be able to do so. We are not rich but have sufficient for our needs and try to be wise with how we use our finances and excess. 

Some of the ways we like to bless others are:

*When we hear that someone is having a hard time we often grab a bag and fill it with items from our food storage cupboard to give them. 
*When I visit someone I often like to take a tin of peaches. It is not much but I find it is always nice to help someone feel you are thinking of them and most people love peaches.
*When we know someone has lost their job we can take bags of food over to help them from our food storage supply. We do this to help them get through the next week or longer if possible and we can slowly build up our own personal supply again over time.
*From our vegetable garden we can share our bounty with friends
*If we want to donate money to a worth cause we can live off our food supply to make up the difference
*If I hear or feel that someone could do with a nice dinner, I already have supplies on hand to quickly make them a meal and take it over right away. 
*If I see a great product on special I will often buy an extra one to give to someone else. 

There are many other reasons but that is just a small example of why we love to have a food storage supply to help bless the lives of others. I love that we can use our food storage to teach our children to think about reaching out to help people and that small sacrifices we make can make a big difference to touch other people. Food storage to me is not just about hoarding food, it is about blessing lives. My own families life and the lives of others. I am going to have food storage for the rest of my life. I won't need as much as my children leave home but I hope that I will continue to use it to bring a little happiness to those who are in need. I hope that helps put your mind at ease and you no longer feel I am crazy and look like I am stockpiling as if the world is going to end an day now!

Friday, October 19, 2012

how to create a food storage supply

After sharing why I believe it is of great benefit to have a food storage supply in your home, I want to share with you how I created my supply, how to make sure you have the right items in your storage and how to store all that food in your home. Now before I start, remember that what works for me might not work for you, that I am in no way saying this is something you need to do in your home and I am just sharing what I do because so many people have asked me questions about it. I am no food storage professional. I am simply a mum of many cherubs who tries to store a reasonable amount of food to help us be self reliant and to have a backup incase of emergency. I am also not writing this blog post about how to organise your pantry or preaching about what products I believe you should have in your home. That is your personal choice. I am also not trying to promote any brand or type of food. I simply buy what I see on special and if you have a problem with the type of food we eat and use, please keep it to yourself. So now that I have that out of the way, let's begin!

How I first started my food storage supply:
When I first looked at creating a 3 month food storage supply, Matt and I were newly married and both studying at University. Finances were not good and the thought of spending all our spare cash on canned items of food was not a happy thought. Practical but not happy! So we decided to start small. Every time we did our food shopping we purchased a couple of cans or items to add to our food storage supply. We really just started out with 2 cans of food. Often this did not add up to be too much of an extra expense and we were able to afford it. 

When we got home we placed them in a place different to our normal pantry so there was less temptation to use them and we knew that we had to try to stretch everything out to not use them. There needed to be a sacrifice involved with starting the storage to make it work. With one can or item at a time we were slowly able to build it up until we had enough to sustain ourselves. 

When our food storage was small we kept it in empty nappy boxes {we had plenty of those!}, spare boxes and large plastic containers stored in any weird place we could find around our home. We have stored it under beds, in the linen cupboard, in our wardrobe and in our kitchen. I think people believe you have to have this beautiful looking dedicated pantry to have a food storage supply. When you are starting out, simply store it any where you can!

As more children came to our home we simply kept up our routine of putting away a few items every time we went shopping and over time we were able to maintain a 3 month food storage supply. Over the years I also became better at keeping an organised home and was able to find more and more room to store food. This has led me to where I am today. At a place where having a food storage supply is more of a priority than many other things in our home. If you are like me, I often need a visual picture to motivate me to do something, so I thought I would start out by showing you how I keep my 3 month food storage supply. 

My food storage supply now:
Just like most people I know, I have a normal kitchen. I don't have a walk in pantry to enjoy and only have one main food cupboard in my kitchen. I keep this stocked with food that we normally eat in a high rotation. I keep cereal, cooking supplies, cans of food and other items that we use every day here. I am not going to show you a picture of what that looks like. What I am going to show you is extra to what you might have in your home. So these pictures are of food that we have as a bonus, an extra supply to draw from in time of need.

One of the first places I store food is in my dining room in this buffet. I use glass jars I picked up at Woolworths and at one of those cheap $2 stores to give me this look. In these glass jars I keep items that we use on a high rotation as well as in my kitchen cupboard but I keep them here so that I can store them more in a bulk supply. Some examples of the items I store here are: flour, sugar, coconut, pasta, rice, banana chips, nuts, bean mixes, wheat, bread crumbs and popcorn.

I also store food in a spare cupboard in our rumpus room. Well, I say spare because I made it spare to keep food in. I cleaned out a whole bunch of toys and junk to make this space more practical. It is not a large space but I find it works well for storing cans and jars. In this cupboard I keep an extra storage of tins such as: diced tomatoes, baked beans, spaghetti, peaches, tuna, corn, kidney beans, peas and carrots, tomato paste and beetroot. If I run out of an item in my kitchen cupboard I can restock it from here and then easily see what is running low and needs to be replaced when I next go do the shopping.

The last main place I store food is in a cupboard on the other side of my dining room. You can see what my whole dining room looks like HERE. I have one normal looking cupboard that I use to store extra food in. Since cutting out a lot of sugar from our diet my cupboard looks very different than it used to! In this cupboard I store extra cereal, oats, soup mixes, vegemite, pasta, honey, rice, long life milk, vinegar, flour, coconut, oil, noodles, tortilla wraps, crackers and dried fruit.

I also have other places around my home where I store water, extra cleaning supplies, medical supplies and emergency supplies. I have a vegetable garden to help out as well and I will do a blog post about that in the future. But today, I just want to focus on what I do for food storage. So now that I have shared with you how I organise my food storage supply and you have a picture of what it looks like for our family for three months, let me help you get started if you are interested.

Starting your food storage:
*One of the best ways to work out what food to store in your supply is to write out a list of what food your family actually eats. There is no use storing food that your family will not eat. It is a waste of money and space in your home. Also you want to be able to rotate your storage by using the items. You don't want it to just sit there for years doing nothing.

*Write out a list of the meals you cook and what ingredients you normally use. You don't have to have all of those ingredients in your food supply but it would be an excellent idea to have most of the main ones. 

*Once you start writing out your list of food items you will be able to see that with the meals you cook you will have several items you use a lot more than others. There are the items you want to focus on buying in bulk. For example, I use a lot of diced tomatoes, tuna, flour and pasta sauce so I have more of those items in my storage.

*When you have worked out what items you use regularly as a family it is a great idea to also think about what basic food items you would need if you had to cook from scratch. Think about what would you do if you had no electricity or shops to purchase food items from. Items such as flour, grains, beans, long life milk, pasta, water, sugar, yeast, salt etc. are a great start to add to your supply.

*Once you have worked out what items you want to add to your food storage, then decide how much of that item you think you will need as a family for 3 months. Write out a list of how much you think you need to aim for. Don't feel like you need to reach this target right away. Any extra food you have in storage is a bonus to you as a family!

*Once you have an idea of what items or products would be good to have in your food storage keep an eye out for them on special in the shops. If practical and you are able, buy them in bulk to save money and to help build your supply faster.

*Think about variety with your food storage. No one likes to eat the same food all the time. Feel free to add treats to your food storage as well. If you were ever in a difficult situation and needed to rely on your storage, a few special treats would totally boost your spirits and bring some short term happiness to the family. 

*When starting out with your storage think about mixing things up. Don't spend all of your money on say buying 10Kg of wheat and that is all you can afford and have in your storage. Start off by buying items from a variety of food groups to keep it mixed up. 

*If possible, think about allocating a certain percentage of your food budget to food storage. Even an extra $5 or $10 a week or fortnight will make a huge difference and you will be surprised how quickly you can grow your food storage supply.

How to store food storage in your home:

*If you are just starting out and want to start small, see if you can find a spare shelf, box or any corner of your home to store some food in. It does not have to look lovely, food storage is mainly practical not beautiful, and keep that area as your designated food storage spot.

*If you already have a small supply of food storage look at organising it in a way so you can clearly see what storage you have. Look around for more storage space in your home and see if you can find a place to extend it a little further. Clean out a cupboard, purchase some extra shelves at a second hand shop or on ebay {book shelves are great!}, pick up some boxes or find some clean large plastic containers to store food in. 

*It is also important to consider what food you can store for a short time and what food can store for a longer time. For example: wheat can store for years and years but yeast not so long as it has a used by date to consider. You can store the items that keep for a longer time together in one place and the items that last for a shorter time in another place so you can keep track of the rotation that needs to take place.

*Consider the temperature of the room you are storing food in. It is best to store food in a place that has a cooler temperature and is dark in nature. For example, in a cupboard is much better than sitting out in a plastic container outside in the sun. Just use common sense in what you think will affect what food you are storing. 

*It is worth spending money on good quality containers if you can. Know that there are insects, moisture and other nasty little bugs and creatures who will love to get into your food storage. It is a sad day when you have put a lot of money and work into creating food storage only to have to throw it out because of these issues. Try to keep your food in a way that will protect it the best way you can. These days you can purchase sealing packs to keep your food in and I always put my rice and flour in the freezer for 2 weeks to kill any bugs. 

Links and lists to help you:

{I had a hard time finding any Australian links so if you have written about this topic feel free to leave them in the comments section below}

Now there are many other parts of food storage that I could share with you, such as how important to include your pets in planning your storage, how to rotate your storage, how to involve children etc. but today I just wanted to give you an idea of what my food storage looks like, how I started organising it and to hopefully motivate you to start your own small storage supply. I never thought when I started my blog I would be showing people what food I keep in my house but here I am doing it! Hope you found it helpful and thanks for the encouragement. N xx

Thursday, October 18, 2012

why have food storage

{Source: Here}

Food storage. The idea or thought of it either freaks you out or you get excited and immediately think it is something you want to start. I find people either love or hate the idea. For me, I love it. I am not obsessive about having a food storage supply in my home but I do believe it is of great benefit to have an extra supply available. 

Having food storage helps me keep an organised home and today I want to share why I believe it is important to have in your home and why I think you should consider starting one. It is not as hard as you think and you might be surprised of the benefits that come from having one. I currently have a 3 month food storage supply and find it works very well for us. Here is why I have food storage:

To be self reliant
As a family we believe it is important to be as self reliant as we can be with all area's of our life. We strive to be as socially, spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally and financially reliant as we are able, to support ourselves as a family. I just love the idea of being able to provide for ourselves if there was some kind of emergency and not having to rely upon other people to feed us or clothe us in such a situation. We are a large family and it would be a real strain on another family to help us out. I also want to teach our children to look ahead, to see that by putting aside a few items each week that you can slowly build up a great supply to provide for yourself, whether with food or money or any other type of product. 

To be prepared for emergency or crisis
As I sit and watch the news I see many cases of natural disasters and emergencies taking place around the world. I even remember when the Brisbane Floods were on. People went crazy buying up products at the shops. Our family, we did not need to get much at all. We were prepared. We had a food supply. Of course I am totally aware that if our house burnt down or some other type of disaster happened we would not be able to carry all our food storage with us, but if we were stuck in our home, we would have enough for ourselves and could also help out our neighbours. That to me is worth the effort of creating a food storage supply. 

Peace of mind
As the saying goes, when you are prepared, you shall not fear! Crazy as it may sound, having a food storage supply brings me peace of mind. I know that if something was to happen to our family, we would be alright. Matt could be put off work, we could have a large expense happen in our family and being able to live off our food supply, while it would not be the best food we had ever eaten, it would help us to save money and survive for that period of time. 

To save money on shopping
One of the best ways having a food storage supply is of benefit to our family is when I go food shopping. I am often tempted to purchase unnecessary items for our home and if I am focused on purchasing items that I know we use and keep in our food storage, I often find I spend less. I am not distracted by specials when I know I already have a back up supply at home. The only time I strive to take advantage of those specials is when I know our supplies are running low and need to be replenished. Then I buy a couple more items to refill our storage supply and we are back on track and I have not spent a lot of extra money. It is also helpful for cooking meals, I hardly run out of ingredients!

Most of the guidance and instruction and encouragement to have a food supply in our home has come from my church and they really are brilliant at finding resources and giving us tips on how to establish a good supply in your home. Tomorrow I want to share what I have done in my home and some tips on how to start a supply, how to make sure you have the right items in your storage and how to store all that food!

Monday, October 15, 2012

one on one chats with my children

Louise asked me: I would love to know the sorts of things you talk to your kids about in your one on one time with them.

I love a good one on one chat with my cherubs. I find it is essential to keep a good relationship with them and to stay updated on how they are really going. I have to admit it can be very hard to snatch that moment with them as they are often playing with a brother or sister around the house or on technology. But, I try my best and I think it is a big reason why it often takes me so long to get anything done around my house!

How I find one on one moments
Basically, the way that I make it work is that I look for moments during my day, every single day, to spend one on one time with my children. When I am busy doing jobs around the house, if I see a child in a room by themselves, I stop what I am doing and have a quick chat with them. 

I would prefer to have a long chat to them but often all I have time for is a quick chat and I find that even a quick one on one moment works wonders for our relationship. My quick chat often involves: How are you? Anything you want to tell me? Just want to tell you I love you today moment and a hug. I like to finish it off with the reminder that they can talk to me about anything and I am here for them if they need me.

Also, Matt and I, every Friday night take our children out on date nights. I have shared how we do this previously HERE. We take just one child with both of us together. We arrange a babysitter to come over for 2 hours at the same time every week and during those 2 hours we take out a child. For our date nights we go where that specific child would love to go, we keep it simple and we talk. Really talk to them. For those 2 hours they have our undivided attention. Every child in our family knows that they will get their turn and they look forward to going out with us. So therefore, each child in our family get's a date every seven weeks.

Signs and Signals
Understanding the personality of my children is a real key to successful parenting for me. I find it is valuable to almost study them in a way, to know the signs and signals of when they are upset or need to have a one on one chat with me. I remember one experience where this was a great help to me and one of our children.

One day we all came home from school and went through our normal routine. Unpacking bags, having a quick chat together as a family and eating an after school snack. Whilst this was happening I noticed that one of my children was not themselves. They looked normal to everyone else but I could tell that something was not right. When snack time was finished this child went off by themselves. I made sure everyone else was alright and then decided to follow. As I approached my child, they looked up at me with sad eyes and I knew they needed a one on one chat and a hug.

I simply asked them if everything was alright and they immediately burst into tears. After a long hug and a heartfelt chat, I found out that they had been bullied at school that day and we were able to talk about how to deal with it and put a stop to it right away. If I had not of noticed the signs and signals of my child they could have been bullied at school for a lot longer and it could have had devastating effects upon them mentally and emotionally. 

What I discuss in one on one moments
I talk to my cherubs about a range of topics. I don't hold back when I chat to them either. Although, I try to make sure my conversations are age appropriate as there is nothing worse than a young child who knows too much! I kind of pick a topic and try to get around to talk to all the kids about it. Then I move on to the next one and so forth. 

Here are some examples:
School and bullying
There are natural consequences of making choices in life
The importance of getting a good education
Talents they have and how we can develop them
Changes happening with their body
How too much technology is killing their brain!
Being a peacemaker in our home
The importance of avoiding pornography at a young age
How it is important to chose good friends
Being thankful for what we are blessed with
How I can't stand lying!
Speaking and thinking kindly of others
Serving and helping family members
Choosing wisely what music they listen to
How to avoid pressure at school to do what they don't want to do
It is alright to feel angry at times
The power of prayer
Beauty comes from within 
Thinking good thoughts about yourself
Never tell anyone at school you like someone as they will tell everyone
Saving money
The importance of doing jobs around the house

One day I might write a blog post about how I discuss each of these in our home. Matt and I like to prepare our children for challenges they might face in the real world compared to what they deal with in our home. It is no use pretending that they won't be asked to take drugs, to view pornographic material and even receive horrible text messages. These type of things are happening younger and younger these days and we make sure we talk about them in our home. I would rather that our children heard it from us than from a twisted story from their friends. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

home inspiration: creating zones in your home

One of my favourite ways to keep my home organised is by creating zones with a specific purpose or theme. I find allocating a certain area or space in my home to cater to our needs in this way, not only keeps my home more organised but helps our whole family know exactly where an item should go or where to find a specific item. This therefore saves me time putting stuff away and answering questions of where things are placed.

When talking about zones, I am not talking about rooms in your home. I know a bedroom is a sleeping zone, the kitchen is the food zone and the laundry is the clothes washing zone. I am talking about establishing zones or area's for a specific purpose within those rooms. 

How to create a zone
To achieve this I first had to look at the habits and actions of our family. What did we spend the most time doing and what possessions in our home did we love and use the most? As a family we love to watch DVD's, craft, read books, listen and dance to music, play on the Wii, swim and play with certain toys, like lego.

After spending time assessing what my children are drawn to the most in our home, I then established zones within certain rooms to cater to those needs. As my children love to craft, I created a craft area that was easy for them to use and create with. As my children love to read books, I created a children's book section that was easy for them to access. Doing this has made a real improvement on how organised my home is and created less mess for me to clean up with a large family.

I also worked hard on keeping the zone area's simple looking and child friendly. I use storage products such as shelves, baskets and containers to help create order and to make sure they are functional for everyone in our family to use. I have a very practical theme in our home and with so many young children it has been a real necessity. 

Examples of zones
Here are some examples of zones we have around our home:

The DVD Zone. They are all stored in one place in our home. Yes, I have quite a few DVD's. It is cheaper as a family of nine to buy a DVD than go to the movies. I also acquired quite a few DVD's when I was doing movie reviews here on my blog :)

The Wii remote zone. One thing that drives me crazy is coming into our rumpus room and finding all the Wii remotes scattered all over the floor. They are really an expensive item to replace and I like to keep them in good condition, so I created a basket for all Wii related products to be stored. It has been working well for us so far!

I personally love children's books and to help my children read them more I rearranged our book shelves so that all of the children's books were grouped together in one place on our shelves. I also made sure they were organised by height order. The younger children's books are down lower so they can reach them and the older children's books {which are not shown in this picture} are placed up higher for them to reach. 

For our craft zone I have a large basket placed next to our kitchen table full of craft supplies. This is where I keep newspapers, egg cartons, cereal boxes, buttons, ribbons, scrap coloured paper, material and other fun craft supplies for my children to use. They can get supplies out of the basket and get creative on our kitchen table any time they like {except when we are having dinner of course!} and can easily put the supplies back in the basket when they have finished. 

Our music zone. This is the state that it normally looks in. Flute and music scattered everywhere. I keep music stands and other musical instruments in the corner next to the piano and my children know this is where the music practice happens. They often get together here to have fun bashing out tunes. 

As my children love to colour in we have a colouring in zone. In our rumpus room we have a small desk dedicated to colouring in. There are some books to chose from, paper underneath the desk for drawing and a designated basket for pencils and another one for crayons and markers. 

As we are a large family, I find that for my children it can be hard to feel like they have their own space and personal area or zone. So for each of my children I gave them a special personal zone. Here is an example of Liberty's zone. She has her own shelf on the wall in her room. It is her shelf to decorate however she likes. Everyone knows it is her stuff and her zone. She can change it whenever she likes and I try not to influence what she places on there. 

Benefits of creating zones
I have found creating zones in our home allows our children to easily know where to go to have fun. In our craft zone they know where to find supplies, where they can spread themselves out to create and where to place items when they are finished. It stops the craft activities spreading to the lounge room, the bedrooms and other rooms in the house therefore leaving less mess and stress for me when I am trying to keep track of many kids with a large family. 

At different times and seasons of your family life, zones will need to change and even rotate. For example, I established a doll house zone for several months in my lounge room for my children and after that excitement wore off I replaced it with a lego zone. After that excitement wore off I replaced it with a My Little Pet Shop zone and so forth. I rotate certain toy zones to allow my children to play and use toys that we own and give them the freedom to spread toys out and even leave them there overnight or several days if need be. 

Often when I establish zones like this for a short time, the whole family get's involved and plays with them. It is wonderful to watch all of my children playing together and helping each other be creative in such a way. This to me is what creating zones in your home is all about. Helping to bring your family together by having fun and to find more joy and happiness as a family.

If you enjoyed this blog post you are welcome to check out my other two I have written so far about home organisation: 5 benefits of an organised home and my shoes storage solutions

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

large family shoe storage solutions

{Ikea shoe storage unit. Sadly, not my home}

Having a large family and keeping a home organised requires a plan and consistent work. Today I thought I would share with you how I keep our shoes organised in our home. I am sure you are imagining that as a large family we have shelves and shelves of shoes stored around our home. Well, the cherubs don't, but I do! Haha! No, seriously, I think you will be surprised when I show you how I keep our shoe's under control. 

We have nine people in our home and every person has about five or six pairs of shoes. Except me. I have a few more than that. Each child has a pair of school shoes, sports shoes, church shoes, thongs for the beach, sandals for summer and maybe one extra pair of canvas shoes or dress shoes. So that adds up to about 50-55 pairs of shoes. That is a lot of shoes. 

I really dislike shoes scattered around our home and with so many children coming and going it is hard to get them to neatly place shoes on a shelf every day. There are just way too many shoes for that to happen and my children are more dump and run kind of kids. They are more into having fun and playing than keeping a house of order. I could teach them to neatly place their shoes some where but I think that would equal misery for them and for me. So I have come up with an easier plan to keep us all happy. 

1. We have a shoe dump basket at the front door. 
Our shoes storage basket is kept in the front entrance way of our home. This for me is not the ideal option as far as looks go but it is really helpful when it has been raining outside and I don't want my kids walking all the way through my house with wet shoes. We also don't wear shoes inside of our house so if anyone comes to visit they normally put their shoes in the basket as well. This basket normally get's emptied every Saturday morning. I announce it is time to collect your shoes and my children all come and take out their shoes and put them away in their room and we are ready to go again for the next week. 

2. Storage box in bedroom. 
Each child has a storage box for shoes in the cupboard in their bedroom. As my children are normally in too much of a rush to neatly place shoes together down on the floor or on a shelf I find a box works well for them. They can easily take off their shoes and drop {well, more throw them} shoes into the box in the cupboard and I find this is helpful in avoiding shoes getting lost. Also this limits the places where shoes are when we might be looking for some. They are either in the box in their room or at the front door. So much easier.

3. Book shelves. 
With my shoe storage, Matt and I took some old book shelves we had and put them into our walk in wardrobe to store our shoes on. I like that I can easily see what shoes I want to wear and it keeps them in good condition as well. This also limits me to how many shoes I own and has helped me save money many times. Of course I am always trying to push my way onto Matt's shelves but so far I am doing alright at sticking to my own :)

4. Shoe storage box.
Most of my children wear their shoes until they can't be worn any more. Also because I limit the amount of shoes they have, there really are not that many shoes that are passed down to the next child. On the rare occasion that we do have some shoes that are in good condition or if somebody has given me a pair of shoes, I keep them in a shoe storage box out of the way until a child is the right size to wear them. I normally keep a shoe storage box up in the top cupboard of one of the kids bedrooms and currently we do not have one on the go so no picture of that one for you sorry!

There are many different ways to store shoes to help keep an organised home and it all depends on how many you have, what space you have available in your home, whether you want to keep them inside or outside and what type of look you want to go for. It really is a personal thing. Here are some other shoe storage ideas that I really liked that I found on Pinterest: 

Hope that has inspired you with your shoe storage area.
What do you do in your home? Do you keep them inside or outside?