Tag Archive | housekeeping

A Bit of Scandinavia, the Little Grandma Who Lives in the Woods and Community

A couple weeks ago I sat Indian style on my grandparents bedroom floor. They both ended their pilgrim journeys this winter. Reaching the gates of “the city who’s builder and maker is God” a mere 60 days or so apart. I miss them so much.

My aunts have put all the linens in their bedroom so there I sit going through them. All of the kids are outside or down stairs, it’s just Blue eyes and me. Suddenly I want to let my heart miss them, there in the dusty quiet. I think how I will never again see them on this earth. I think of how this house has always been a place of belonging for me so far away from my own parents. I remember how through lots of happy times and some very hard times it was here that I could find solace. Whenever we left from a visit with my Grandparents we always felt ministered to and encouraged. I am so thankful that I have had the privilege of living close by them through out my married life. I have seen the fruition of lifelong love and faithfulness. What a wonderful thing for Blue eyes and me to strive for!

My Grandma had so many pretty things to make her house a home. Such a homemaker. Has homemaking become a lost art? I feel inspired to embrace that womanly desire to live in beauty. Table clothes and runners, rugs, bed skirts and doilies, ruffly aprons. Handmade finishing touches.

My little daughter calls this Grandma “the little grandma who lives in the woods” and now she adds, “she went to live in heaven now” . My Grandparents were both second generation Americans. Their parents immigrated here from Finland. My Grandma was very fluent in the Finnish language. They visited Scandinavia and had many friends there.

Just the week prior at our Keepers of the Faith Homeschool Group meeting we decided to take a few months and teach some geography and world culture through ethnic cooking. Each of the five families would choose a region or country and organize and host a cultural dinner.

Of course we had to choose Scandinavia! I was so excited to come away from my Grandparents house with several Scandinavian table linens, some with labels pinned on them saying which friend in Sweden had made them, a Finnish cookbook, and a few pieces of Scandinavian glassware.

That’s one of the things I love about educating our kids at home, I can check out a dozen books about Scandinavia and get really engrossed in them, read them aloud with the kids and in my bed at night and not feel too nerdy! Because, you know, it’s for school!

It was really cool though because I didn’t even realize how deep those roots are woven into my life! So many things I read I thought,”Wow! That’s where that came from!” Blue eyes and I want to travel somewhere after our kids are grown up, no big hurry, we’ve got all the time there is. We’ve thought of South America, then Italy but now……..the Scandinavian countries are calling my name. (I think Blue eyes is just along for the ride, so he doesn’t mind. Well, within reason. Preferably no half naked natives running around.)

So on a Tuesday afternoon all the families come over, about 25 kids plus babies and mamas. I show them that the Scandinavian countries are at the same  latitude as Alaska. Put a finger on Alaska and exactly opposite on the globe lies Scandinavia. I show them that Norway is shaped like a spoon. We talk about the fjords and the hungry, fierce Norse men who sailed down the European coast in open boats. We talk about Eric the Red and his son Leif the Lucky who bravely followed the stepping stones to North America long before Christopher Columbus’s time.

We talk about the Jews being smuggled across the Baltic Sea to Sweden under piles of fish during the second world war. We can almost feel the jubilation of staying up all night long in the land of the midnight sun after the long dark night of winter is passed. Image going to visit your friend at midnight and going for a swim at 3 am with the sun shining brightly? We learn about the funny sheep on the Danish islands who shed their own coats and eat seaweed. We talk about the saunas I took at the neighbors when I was a girl. I tell them about my Grandparents sauna in the woods.

Then we break into groups and start preparing for our Smorgasbord meal. (Just ask one of the kids where that word came from;) We’ve got a brave mom helping the boys make over 100 Swedish meatballs, Kottbullar. The little ones five and under are busy in another area making no bake choclad bullar, chocolate balls. (We make these a lot because they are easy, yummy and gluten free.) I think those guys ate half the dough. Meredith lost her shirt somewhere along the way so in all the pictures she is bare back and chocolaty!  Another group makes frukt suppe (fruit soup). Yummy! It smells delicious with the cinnamon sticks and all. Some of the older girls are writing a menu and making other decorations in the front yard.

All day Friday we are busy. My girls want to set the house up like a Kafe Hus, and so we do. We get creative with seating and tables and make enough seating for everyone to sit together. Except the boys, who want to sit on the deck.

Some of the older girls are dropped off early to help. We make potato salad, cucumber salad, smorbord, rice pudding, and nisu. The kids are excited and pretty much do all the work. My girls want to wear the head scarves and aprons they took home from “little Grandma’s” house.

Finally our smorgasbord is ready and we go out front to wait for our guests to arrive. Since our new character trait is servant-hood, the older kids want to serve their parents. Lucky for us my oldest sister is visiting from North Carolina so she joins us with her little grandson.  We also get two sweet baby goats for the evening.

After everyone is here Blue eyes reads The Word and leads us in prayer, and we enjoy our feast! Everything is very “gud”. We eat it all. The fellowship is wonderful, our house is full of laughter and children and food. What more could we ask for? Surely the Lord is good, good, good!

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House Keeping Gypsy Style

Image…….I am a housewife, I love that word. Whenever I get a chance to tell someone my occupation I say “I am a housewife”. It sounds so quaint and homey. I love Noah Webster but his definition in Websters Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, my favorite dictionary by the way, does not give a satisfactory definition. It just says “a woman in charge of a household esp. she who does all or most of the cleaning and cooking.”  So unromantic~sigh.

But there you have it, house keeping, it is a large part of my job as a housewife. The cooking I like, the cleaning not so much. Mostly because with many children whom we home school our house is very well lived in. Often it feels like I am constantly keeping chaos at bay. Sometimes the chaos takes over and it looks frightful around here.

When we just had a couple of little ones around I liked to keep everything well ordered but as our family has grown and I have more school aged children I have had to reassess my priorities. To keep my sanity I’ve had to learn to let things go a little.

We have three bathrooms in our house and I must say that our master bath gets awfully neglected at times. When my husband starts commenting on it then I know it’s time to get serious. See, the problem is that I notice how bad it looks in the morning when I’m in a hurry to get going on my day and I think, “I’ve got to get back in here later and clean this place!” But, alas, I forget all about it until I’m brushing my teethe before bed. Too tired, I’ll get to it tomorrow…… I hate using chemical cleaner in the tub because I usually just scrub it out while I’m in the shower, easier and less mess. My tub was really looking sad…….. I used about two cups of baking soda and a scrub brush. That’s it! It worked really well. I was so happy and my feet were nice and soft from soaking in the soda water.  Add that to my list of uses for baking soda. It is becoming a staple around here for a lot more than baking.

After our fifth baby was born my husband took over the mopping. Most of our main floor has wood flooring. Every Saturday night for at least a year he would put all the chairs up while I bathed the kids upstairs and wash all of the floors. At that time our oldest was not quite eight years old.  I love how we are able to work as a team to get through the tough seasons. Nowadays my oldest daughter does all the mopping in exchange for postage stamps. Fourteen pen-pals from all over the country, who write back often, we had to think of something!

Another thing I have done is to ask Blue eyes what is important to him as far as the house keeping goes. I think it is a good idea to do this. You may be surprised to hear what your husband has to say.  All that my love asks is that the kitchen sinks be empty and clean in the morning and that he has socks in his drawer.  I make an honest effort to always at least have these two things done.  When I was growing up about a half hour or so before my Dad came home my Mom would have us do a quick pick up, wash the kitchen table, and put a fresh pot of coffee going.  I have endeavored to follow her example in this simple way of ministering to my husband.

Otherwise as long as I have an underlying cleanliness I have grown to not mind the mess so much.  Pretty much at any given time I can tell the kids that we are going to do a “twenty minute cleanup”, where I set the timer for twenty minutes and we all race around and clean, and get the house set back in order and looking nice.  Once a week, usually on Saturday,  we do a deep cleaning.  And when the spring weather comes and the sun shines in the windows I get in the mood for a good old fashioned spring cleaning.  This is where I systematically go through each closet and drawer in my house and get rid of “stuff” and vacuum and scrub all those hidden places.  It’s only once a year but it really helps in the long term to keep things that we are not using from accumulating.  The more “stuff” we have the harder it is to stay clean and organized.

In September before we start our new school year I help each of the children make a morning chore list to put up on their wall.  They must have the things on their list done before they come down for breakfast.  For the little pre- readers we cut out pictures from magazines, an outfit, meaning get dressed, a toothbrush, a hair comb, a pile of toys to be picked up, a bed to make,  they must take care of their dirty laundry and fold up their pajamas. The older kids have a little more, like wipe down the kid’s bathroom or put away a basket full of laundry or pick up the loft/play area etc.  We’ve been doing “morning chores” for a few years now and seldom do I even need to remind anyone. Once a habit is established it is practically effortless to maintain.

 So, if you stop by unannounced, which you are more than welcome to do,  don’t  be surprised to find a well lived in house. A train made out of the kitchen chairs, a hut made out blankets in the living room,  remains of a tea party/picnic in the corner,  the bathroom sink full of soap suds from little hands washing the tea party dishes, golden retriever tracks in the hall, at least a couple  mugs half full of cold coffee, laundry to be folded on the couch, math books and pencils scattered around, some cheerios on the floor……….if all that sounds crazy just call and give us twenty minutes.;)