A Cleaning Schedule

Here is my new plan I thought of out of my own head.  It is working well and I love it, which makes me think some of my brain cells lasted through the summer.

Sometimes when I post my housewifey sort of things like this, I feel (in a paranoid way) like there might be lots of people out there who are making fun of me.  It's OK if you do.  If you say, "That weird Clover Lane lady just has to find something better to do with her time then make cleaning charts for herself."   The thing is, I have made cleaning charts (and all other sorts of lists) for myself since I was 5 and I just can't stop now.  It's a crazy weird addiction.

I wish I had a better picture for you, but I don't.  I spend a little bit of each morning (I will bore you more tomorrow with my daily schedule) doing basic cleaning and straightening.

The DC after each weekday stands for Deep Cleaning (how tricky!) and that means that once a week I have a room to work on where I do more than just the basics, but get down to the nitty gritty like baseboards, windows, cushions off the couch-that sort of nitty gritty.  So if I do what I am supposed to do I won't have to do a huge spring/fall/Christmas cleaning, because it's been done slowly but surely.  I have the whole week for each room, so I can get to it on a slow day, or little by little, instead of tearing it apart and spending hours.

I don't feel so overwhelmed when I break things down into small little areas for the day.



The first day of his last year of high school- as much of a smile as I'm going to get out of him this early in the morning.

Abbey, excited, on her first day of high school.

The boys.

And of course, when this happened:

This happened:

Last year the same thing:

And the year before:

Geez, that's the last thing I needed to do to myself today-chronological photos of my baby.


Learn To Love It, And Let It Go

"What a happy summer this has been, " thought Anne...and then recalled with a little pang something she had heard Aunt Highland Kitty of the Upper Glen say once...."the same summer will never be coming twice."

Never quite the same.  Another summer would come...but the children would be a little older and Rilla would be going to school...."and I'll have no baby left," thought Anne sadly.  Jem was twelve now and and there was already talk of "the Entrance"....Jem who but yesterday had been a wee baby in the old House of Dreams.  Walter was shooting up and that very morning she had heard Nan teasing Di about some "boy" in school: and Di had actually blushed and tossed her red head.  

Well, that was life.

Gladness and pain...hope and fear....and change.  Always change!  You could not help it.  You had to let the old go and take the new to your heart....learn to love it and then let it go in turn.
 Spring, lovely as it was, must yield to summer and summer lose itself in autumn.  The birth...the bridal....the death....
L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Ingleside)

.Isn't that beautiful?  And oh so true.  And dang hard at the same time.

As eager as I am to have the kids out of school for the summer, I am always ready for them to start up again after summer break.  And they, thank goodness, are already to go back too.  I am eager for structure, schedule, organized days, and time to think and talk without interruption (somewhat of course, I still have little Paddy to keep me company).  I think they are ready to learn, to be around friends, for something to fill their days, and honestly, just to learn.

At the same time, I get little panicked feelings-of letting go, of all that change that takes place with a new school year. As my kids have gotten older, oh boy, do I get a sense of nostalgia at this time.

(Isaac and Abbey 6 or 7 years ago)
What I want:
For everything to be the same as it was years and years ago.  Before high school came into the picture, before, by golly, the thought of college came into the picture.

When it was just simple.  When the choices were just peanut butter and jelly, or ham and cheese, not SAT or ACT, not "let's think about the future and make decisions that can alter the course of your life".

When the school supply lists involved a 24 pack of crayons, not an Ipad.

When I worried about whether the crabby lunch lady would be crabby, not would my son make it safely to school driving in construction during crazy rush hour.

Letting the old go and taking the new to heart-but loving the present, without constantly yearning for the past-that's tricky isn't it?  I do trust that the busy-ness of life, the work of  'mother', usually compels me by sure force into the day, moving forward.  The truth is that present will be past soon enough, and if I don't embrace the change, I miss out on the life that I have opening up before me.

Change is hard.  I know that, I tell myself that, but I still allow myself a little time to be sad and miss the days of old.


Ordinary Days

A little bit of life around here:
My parents came up for a visit, bearing gifts of food and other good stuff like they always do. That bag Patrick is holding tight contained 2 new schools outfits for him.  Did I tell you he is going to go to our school's little 3 year old preschool program?  It was a tough decision for me and deserves a post all its own. It is only for a few hours a week, but he thinks he is a big shot and can't wait to go.  He carried that bag with him all day.

A Lego city.  A very much needed late summer project that kept a few boys busy.

I was a terrible cook this summer, but I am now on a mission to try lots of new recipes.  So far, so good.   I have intentions to share them all of course, but you know how intentions go.

My purse filled with popcorn because the movie-theater popcorn has something in it that gives me a migraine, no kidding, every time I eat it, I get one.
I saw The Help.  It is SO good!  I had low expectations-I wasn't thrilled when I saw the trailer.  It was so well done, and very true to the book, and I cried at the end, didn't you?  And in the middle too, at least a few times.

Lovely sunflowers, thanks Mom.

First day of school, new Ipad for Isaac.  It's like Christmas all over again.  I hope these schools know what they are doing, embracing technology and all, because I could rail on against it for hours like the old fogey I am.  

This game is called "Do A Flip Over Patrick".  Oh boy.

We have not had rain for ages.  Mini earthquakes for the ants.

Thank you Aunt Elizabeth for the hand-me-downs.  Someone LOVES them...and I do too.

And last, but certainly not least, Abbey spending time in her room, making all her notebooks, binders, and folders look cute for high school.  High school!  How did that happen?  She is loving it.


My Andrew

Andrew turns eight today.
Where has the time gone?
To my cute, dark haired, sometimes goofy, always sweet little baby:
Happy Birthday Andrew!
We Love You!


A Birthday Pool Party

Andrew and Abbey's birthdays are both coming up, so we did something we always wanted to do: rent out our city pool.  The only hours you can do this are after it is closed to the public, which means a late night, 9-11 p.m.  Which makes it even more fun I think.

That's Aunt Tracy, Jeff's sister, who swam the WHOLE time with the kids.  She even went off the high dive because Andrew begged her, and down the slide 100 times.  She had kids hanging off her all night long.  What a fun aunt!  Thank you Aunt Tracy!


A Typical Day

It's sometimes nice to take pictures of nothing.  So I did.

Andrew reading to Patrick.

Our neighbor who I adore and want to keep as my own because she is so nice, and normal and polite and sweet, and is just ONE more girl around here, which makes everything...perfect.  Andrew and Clare are helping frosting 60 cupcakes for a party later that night.

I am getting Halloween costume magazines in the mail already! Sheez..hold on folks!  But this guy loves them. (He had a haircut the next day, just so you know.)

I picked out this for him.  Isn't this the cutest thing ever?  He said no....

...his mind is set on this.  What????  Maybe it's good we have lots of time before October rolls around to make a decision.

Abbey starts school next week and her uniform pleats were...now don't panic girls!!...STICKING OUT in a terrible fashion!  I didn't notice, but I know by now that everything with Abbey has to be just so...I don't argue (well, not always), I have learned to just help her think of a solution.  I knew these Time-Life Old West books we had growing up were good for something other than looking at gory pictures of captured fugitives and Indian scalpings.

A box came that day from UPS and I had no idea what it was.  The kids all gathered around, and someone said "Maybe it's a bomb!" and then when I saw a little bootie at the end of a chubby leg I spazzed out for the sake of the kids and screamed and ripped the box open and threw the shredded paper everywhere to make them laugh, which really just made more work for me in the end, but was worth it.  I forgot I had ordered...

...my old baby doll I had growing up.  I have been looking for her on Ebay and finally we meet again.  Well, it's not the exact one, obviously, but it is her...Puddin' by Madame Alexander.   Isn't she beautiful?

Here is a little picture of Puddin' and I one day when I stayed home sick (I am sure I was faking it) from school.  When we stayed home sick we stayed in bed-my mom was smart.  She was my favorite doll of all.  I know from the background you might be questioning what sort of house I lived in, but my Dad had just finished building the addition with his own hands, and my yellow and green (hugely) floral wallpaper had not been hung yet.

And one more picture:
Abbey making english muffin pizzas in the background and Andrew, my dear Andrew, acting silly.  Oh boy, this boy.  He is on his 4,568 question of the summer.  I answered them all, mostly with, "Hmmm, I don't know", but nonetheless, they were answered.


Back To School Memories

(my sisters Katie and Elizabeth, I'm on the left...Katie look how tall you look-that didn't last long :)

Have I written this post?  I think I might have and that's the trouble when you've been blogging for awhile.  You don't remember what you've written about 3 years ago.  I could look it up of course, but please don't make me.

I have always loved getting ready to go back to school.  I know for some that was the worst feeling, thinking, "Oh yuck school again!" but for me I just loved  the fresh start, a change, new things.

I went to a private Catholic school so I wore uniforms.  My mom would measure us and then order them from the Schoolbelles catalog, along with Peter Pan-collared blouses, and knee socks.  We would wait till we saw the UPS truck coming down our rural street, which was quite a rare occurrence, and the boxes would be delivered and ripped open.  Everything starched, stiff and itchy but brand new and all ours.

Next we would visit the local Buster Brown shoe store and be fitted for a good pair of school shoes along with a pair of shoes for gym.  I remember the little shoe store had these stamp booklets, and if you earned so many stamps you must have received some sort of discount.

We had oil cloth book bags with little canvas straps...no fancy back packs back then in the olden days.

I don't remember my mom having to buy school supplies, at least while we were in elementary school.  The nuns would open up a big closet I think, on orientation night, and the first week of school, and we bought our supplies from them.  Basically pencils and notebooks and remember Golden Rod tablets?  (What I would do for a Golden Rod tablet right now.  I even searched for them on Ebay to no avail.)  We would take our change up to that closet and buy what we needed.

(my cute little brothers...that's the kind of book bag we carried!)

Things have changed haven't they?  I have long lists for each of my children and it sure doesn't cost mere pennies.  I wonder why these kids need so many things now vs. what we needed back then.  Are they getting a way better education, learning more than I did back then with my pencils and Golden Rod? Oh, to be in an old-fashioned classroom where your mind was supposed to be the thing that was working.

Anyways, we had lunch boxes for awhile...till they weren't cool anymore of course.  I remember one year my mom bought us white lunch boxes and stickers and we decorated our own.  Holly Hobby stickers were my choice.

And that night before school started...I was always a bundle of nerves, filled with excitement and worry...not sleeping a wink.



It has been way too hot and humid here, and we have spent way too many days inside.  The kids have been hooked on Scrabble lately. You know I'm not a big game fan, but I have found that besides Candy Land, I have added Scrabble to my list of "I can play this game without feeling like I'd rather boil myself in oil."  I am not very good, but I never play to win.  I am fond of the easy three letter words.  Except look at that awesome DEVOID.  That's mine.  The  PATED is Andrew's.  I don't know what he was going for there, but I didn't notice till later what he put down was not really a word, and by the time I did notice I certainly wasn't going to crush his little spelling soul.


A Quiet Weekend

Last weekend, Jeff took the older kids white water rafting in West Virginia for 4 days with a big group of aunts, uncles and cousins.  I stayed back with Patrick for an enjoyable quiet (but hot!) weekend filled with playing trains, planes and automobiles...and baseball.  We had lots of one-on-one time, let me tell you.  I took him to the toy store for a very special treat and thought I'd be buying more than a $5 sword and a replacement baseball glove.  That's it-he wasn't interested in anything else.  He falls asleep with both in his arms every night.  He couldn't be cuter if he tried.  He can't say his S's...he replaces them with D's.  The other day I asked him a question and he said, "Dure, Mom."  He tries to sound old like his siblings and instead he sounds so darn adorable.

I also bought two Thomas the Train DVD's because I had a little project going that might take up some of my time, and knew that I needed to buy myself an hour here or there.

I always seem to do projects when Jeff is gone.  I don't know why I do this.  He teases me about it.  I always buy something new too.  I don't know why I do that either, because we don't have the type of relationship where I have to hide shopping bags, or sneak around with secret money.  I think it's just because I feel really motivated, like I have some time crunch, to get this goal (whatever the goal might be) to all completed before he walks in the door.  Or in this case, when they walk in the door...all 5 of them.

This year it was the kitchen. A top to bottom scrub down, complete with a paint job.  That was a snap decision...when I drove by Sherwin Williams they had a big sign out front with a 40% off all paint sale going on just that very weekend.  I ended up giving the walls a fresh coat of paint (after Patrick was asleep-I worked till 1 in the a.m.), using my very favorite living room color.  (By the way, there is this great new paint color blog called Favorite Paint Colors, that shows REAL rooms-not the fake decorating magazine kind-my living room color is on there here.)

I touched up all the trim.  I washed the windows inside and out.  I cleaned the cabinets and made them look like new.  I cleaned out the fridge and freezer so you couldn't tell it had ever been used.  I was a man on a mission except insert woman.

So what did I buy new?  Shiny lovely pots and pans.  Aren't they beautiful?  Nothing fancy.  I think fancy is overrated anymore, don't you?  These are Grandma-old-fashioned Farberware I found at Kohls.  Patrick helped me pick them out.  I love them.  I have opened the cabinets just to make sure they are still there several times.  And to admire their shininess.  Shininess is not overrated.

I also bought new rugs.  I have always wanted nice wool rugs but couldn't bite the bullet knowing it would probably cost me close to $1000.  I found this incredible deal by chance at Overstock.com.  I don't even know how I came upon that site but 3 beautiful thick wool rugs that look just like the one in my foyer that I spent a bundle on, cost me under $200 for all.  All of them together.  Not each.  Together. Sum total.  Jackpot!

I did take a chance that the color wouldn't be accurate, but I got lucky and it works perfect with the walls.  I also wanted them to co-ordinate with our dog Sammy and as you can see below, they were spot on.  (You know I'm kidding right? I just have to make sure.)  Please don't think, "Oh that poor dog, he looks so sad."  I swear to you he looks as pitiful as possible on purpose whenever I take his picture.

Anyways, it was so nice to have a little time with Patrick, to have time to start and complete a project, to feel some accomplishment- to have some of my effort last more than 3 minutes.  You all know how that is, I know you do.   I love that.  I love being home, I love making my home look nice.  I loved having a chance to miss my older kids and husband, and have them miss me.  They had so much fun, and what they say is true-absence makes the heart grow fonder.


Apples and Pot Lucks

1. Thank you so much for your suggestions for books for Andrew.  I ordered several of them, and I think we are off to a good start.  It is sometimes so hard to find books for younger boys isn't it?  Or maybe it's just because I'm a girl and know the go-to girl books.

2. Early apples are out, did you know?  Jersey Mac's are my favorite.  They are crisp and sour-ish and give you a stomach ache if you eat more than six in a day.  How would I know?  Oh, I know.

3. Abbey and her friends had a pot luck at the park the other day.  I think that is the cutest thing ever.  She and her friend built a cake.


Summer Reading Love

I am having a weird book summer.  

I get a dozen from the library, only to start each of them and throw them down in disgust after the first chapter.  

Here are some recommendations of books I've enjoyed.  I have this little thing about not wanting to know much about a book before reading it (which of course contributes to my high "throw down in disgust after one chapter" ratio.)  I will read one sentence of the back cover, and that's it.  I don't want to know more than that, so I assume (like a book snob would) that you feel the same and keep my opinions to a few words.

Vinegar Hill. Very very dark, desperate, but honest circumstances and I couldn't stop reading it. 

Leaving the World. A book with weird twists and turns but very well written.  Something I normally wouldn't have picked up.  

The Birth House. Loved this midwife book that is so much more than just a midwife book.  

Ellis Island. My favorite so far this summer.

Right now I am reading The Yellow House and I picked up the sequel at the same time called The Linen Queen because I just love when books have sequels.  It makes the ending so much better when you know it isn't really an ending.  So far so good.

Right now Jeff is reading one of my favorite books, Unbroken.  I keep asking him what part he is at and reliving the intensity of each chapter.

Isaac is reading 1984 for school.

Abbey had to read The Hunger Games and then was just dying for the next two.  DYING.  I bought her the second, she sped through that, and I told her to order the third from the library.  She is number 53 on the waiting list, and since I just know how it is to want a sequel so desperately you feel like you are close to death, I will be taking her to the bookstore.

Andrew is not reading anything.  He finished his mild obsession with The Diary of the Wimpy Kid, and I just haven't been able to get him into anything else.  (Any suggestions for a soon to be 2nd grader?)  Instead of reading in bed, he insists that one of us play Scrabble with him, so I am not too worried about his lack of reading.

Patrick's favorite book right now?  It's a Little Critter of course called Just a Mess and it's all about the loss of a baseball mitt.  Go figure.  I've read it 2,456 times.