Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My glimpse into a simpler life

It all started last night at about 8 pm. The power went out. I knew it was most likely inevitable because the news was reporting high winds and tornado-inducing weather to the west and heading our way. As always (well, not always, but usually) I had my son fill up our huge drink cooler that I think holds 5 gallon with water. You see, I live in the country...for you city folk, that means I have no water when the power goes out. None. Zilch. So I sort of freak out when I know there is a possibility we will be left in the dark...literally....and without water. (I have heard that it's no fun...you know from a friend...) And I should add that the power sort of flicked back on quickly and then back off and then we heard a loud POP...that came from the area of our living room tv. So I am anxiously awaiting the electric coming back on so we can know whether to mourn the loss of our less-than-1-year-old-flat-screen-tv. 

So at 8pm, we became pioneers, or pilgrims, or Amish or whatever term best describes people who live without power. The funny thing is that I have read books about becoming self-sufficient and people who live off-grid and it really intrigues me. But people who live off-grid usually have solar panels and alternatives ways to get water and stay warm and cook food. When you live in a house full of electrical well, everything it takes living off-grid to a whole new level. Once I would prefer not visit all that often.

First of all, it seems that the power always goes out at night...when you need light the most! So once the blackout hit my kids started to freak out a bit until I could get the candles lit. They begged to let them sleep in the living room because they were scared...and finally agreed. Then they were afraid to sleep in the living room without power. I kept a candle lit on the nearby dining room table so they would have some light to be able to see. And thank goodness it was a full moon because that helped too. While they got settled in their make-shift beds, hubby took his flashlight (he always has nice lights that he uses in the garage when doing mechanical work), grabbed a book off the shelf telling about our county's history and retreated to our bed to do some reading. I was clueless as to what to do. So I grabbed our new laptop and decided to play some games. Then we turned out the (flash)light and went to sleep.

And here I am at 6:59 am typing up this blog post on my computer because honestly I don't know what else to do. It's just now starting to get daylight outside, but not enough to really warrant any real productivity here inside. And since I feel like we are getting this off-grid living thing down to a science (well, sort of), I thought I would share what I've learned in the past 10 hours....

1. My husband always seems to have a good working flashlight to use when the rest of us are using candles that barely give off any light.

2. You may think you have batteries for flashlights, however when the power goes off they instantly disappear.

3. 5 gallons of water is not that much. Especially when you have to use that water to drink, wash your hands, brush your teeth, and flush the toilet. Mental note: next time fill up the bath tub too with water to do everything else with but drink and use the 5 gallons for drinking. Brilliant!

4. The house is very quiet when the power is off. At first it's hard to get used to, but now I am sort of enjoying the quiet. Although that's partly because the girls aren't awake yet...the quiet will end soon!

5. When you are taking a nice hot bubble bath, wash your hair! Don't wait until morning! Yep, I did that. Just wet my hair down and thought I would just wash it in the morning. Well, let's just say that I am going to be unrecognizable at my daughter's doctor appointment this morning. I have that just doesn't behave well if wet down and not blow-dried or flat-ironed. I have yet to assess the real damage under a decent amount of light but from the glimpse I've gotten in the mirror this morning, I've got my work cut out for me.

6. Living without power seems to make life more intentional...and simplified. When there aren't all the extra “electrified” distractions, you tend to slow down and stress melts away a bit (unless you haven't filled up your drink cooler with water). This morning I got up and got the milk and cereal, bowls, and spoons out for my hubby and son. I read a newspaper article by candlelight. I folded some laundry by candlelight. And put away some laundry via flashlight. I feel as if I have actually accomplished more this morning than I would have on a normal morning because I have been intentional about getting done what I can.

7. I really need to put together an emergency kit only to be used in emergencies. I want to get an oil lamp. And batteries! Our few little candles aren't really cutting it!

Those are just a few of things I've realized since 8pm last night and I am sure the list will grow as time goes on today and I am faced with new challenges. But honestly, living without electricity isn't about surviving, it's more about adapting. And so far, I think the Snyder Family has done fairly well! With that said, I'm off to tackle my hair! 

UPDATE:  Since this post was written, our power came on at 2pm on Monday.  Our TV didn't get zapped. However our modem/router did...so I had to live without internet all day Monday, Tuesday and most of the day today!  This morning I actually figured out that the surge protector that our modem was plugged into wasn't working properly and if I plugged in the modem at a different outlet it worked...as in lights turned on instead of being completely dead, but couldn't connect to the internet.  When I came home from work today the modem was working perfectly.  This is after hubby ordered a new modem online that should arrive tomorrow.  Such is life.  Oh yeah, and Monday I had the worst hairday of my life.  The End.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What was I thinking??

So my last post filled you in on my commitment to keep my house clean and organized, right?  Well, I started with the kitchen yesterday.  And since it's hasn't been thoroughly (as in get out the toothbrush, mama!) cleaned, I decided to roll up my sleeves and get down and dirty.  I should add that I am reading an ebook that tells you step by step how to clean each room in your house.  As in what order to clean things (from ceiling to floor) and with what products (natural of course!).  So the book said to start with the trash can, so that's what I did.  First of all...ICK!  It's my opinion that the trash can should be last because once you've cleaned and disinfected the trash you are a bit grossed out!  Or maybe it's motivated to keep going since you've seen firsthand how nasty things have become?  Hmmm...it's a toss up, I think. 

So back to cleaning...I then started with removing everything, I mean everything from the cabinets.  Now, I was smart (if I do say so myself) and only did half of the cabinets.  But half of my cabinets is equal to most people's total cabinet space...so it's really like I have to clean 2 kitchens.  Anyways, out everything came and then I cleaned the inside with my Mr. Clean all-purpose cleaner (which I really like, by the way).  That part felt good.  Honestly I didn't really want to put anything back...I was ready to pack it all up and haul it off to Goodwill.  But then I would have empty cabinets so I decided to just save myself some money (from buying things to fill them up again) and keep my stuff.  I did however find a couple of bowl I never use and I'm giving a glass Pyrex dish to a friend who said she would use it.  I forgot to mention that I also cleaned out all the drawers!  A funny thing happens when you start doing that...you realize how much of it belongs somewhere else in your home.  For example I had 2 junk drawers...and one of which is going to be rehomed to the laundry room.  Which freed up a drawer...yippee!  I decided to use it to keep my ever-growing pile of papers that land on the counter and make it look cluttered.  We'll see how well it works...

After I cleaned out all the cabinets, I then put things back.  And moved things around.  So now I giggle when hubby goes to the "snack cupboard" to get a snack and finds our glass leftover containers instead.  It's like a scavenger hunt to find the snacks.  Honestly I still don't know where I put everything, but hopefully it will end up more efficient in the long haul!

Well, I need to get my family up for church this morning so I will end with saying that I was able to get the one side of my kitchen completely clean and I'm really dreading the other half!  lol  However, once you get started, it's a bit addicting to tackle the grime and rid your house of stuff you never use!  Sorry I didn't take any pictures...I will try to remember to next time!  Oh yeah, and I was so exhausted that I went to bed at 8:30pm last night!  Ha!

Happy Cleaning! :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Commitment

First of all, I'm back!  I had been on a blogging hiatus for months because our computer started acting wacky and eventually died so that left me with my hubby's work computer (that was ALL the way in the garage...a uninspiring environment in my opinion...hubby would disagree) and my Kindle Fire where you could only type so much and I had to type with one-finger, which resulted in a normal 5-second Facebook comment or post taking more like 5 minutes!  It was oh so frustrating, but I am happy to report that I now have a laptop and I love it!  So I see lots more blogging in my future! 

I wanted to tell you about my commitment...to myself...and to my family...and to God.  I have taken a good look at my life and noted some areas that needed improvement and I am striving to make some changes in the right direction.

I want to use my time more wisely.  So I am limiting my time online.  The Internet is a great tool but it's sooooo easy to lose track of time and in doing so to lose out on having meaningful experiences with my family, housekeeping, and other things.  I just haven't been a good steward of my time, period. 

I have made a commitment to take better care of myself.  I was running quite a bit, but it's hard work.  I do enjoy a run now and then and it's a great workout, but I'm not sure I will be running any more long distance races anytime soon.  I signed up for my first half-marathon because I honestly didn't think I could do it...and I did...3 times!  So I am proud of my accomplishment, but running is not who I am.  And I really felt like it was taking a toll on my body.  I didn't want to have to worry about injuries and I felt like it was stressing my body to run higher amounts of miles.  I feel like I've let my running buddy down and I often feel left out when I hear about the races my friends have signed up for an are running, but I am sticking with my decision.  Could that change in the future?  Sure!  It's just at this point in my life I am just choosing to not be so engrossed with running.  So I have found joy in walking the dog or catching up with a neighbor while strolling down the road and enjoying God's creation, or working out here at home doing some cardio or strength training. 

I am also making a commitment to take better care of our finances.  I have always spent money haphazardly because we always had enough to cover our bills and I didn't really have to budget much.  But I honestly had no idea how much I was spending on food or gas.  So I set up a spreadsheet and I am tracking our monthly expenses...and it' been an eye opener!  Not only have I realized that what I THOUGHT I was spending on groceries and nowhere near accurate!  And the spreadsheet has made me really think about what I'm spending BEFORE I spend it.  Before spending money I think of other ways to meet that need instead.  I have never really had a plan for saving money and that's something I want to change.  Hubby and I have goals for our family and we can't achieve them if we aren't making a plan to save for them. 

I have also made a commitment to be a faithful servant of Christ.  I went through a period of feeling spiritual dry for the past year or so.  I didn't do my morning devotions.  I didn't read my Bible.  I didn't meditate.  And I prayed off and on, but mainly when the going got tough.  A couple of months ago my family chose to attend a different church and it has made a difference in my whole family.  We had nothing against our previous church of 11 years but it was just time for a change.  My kids now LOVE going to church and want to be involved in the extra activities.  I LOVE going to church and also want to be a part of extra activities.  Honestly it's the highlight of my week!  And I feel like I have grown so much in the short time I've been there.  I have also started getting up at 5:30am to do devotions and study the Bible.  I meditate.  I play worship songs all day long to fill my house with an atmosphere of praise.  I can see improvement in my kids' behavior and when I discipline or correct them I am trying to do it in a spirit of love and out of my desire for them to develop Godly character. 

I am also making the commitment to be a better homemaker.  My house has imploded and its time to take control.  I want to purge what we have, keep what we love and organize what gets kept.  I want to keep it clean on a regular basis...not just when company is coming over!  lol

Well, it's time for me to head to work but I wanted to give you a little update on what's been happening in my life during my hiatus!  I hope it has inspired you to take a look at your own life and make improvements where needed!  :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph

Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph is a great book for any mom.  Ever feel like your life is out of balance?  Or maybe you don't know what honoring your husband looks like on a day-to-day basis?  Or how to set up a daily quiet time to read your Bible, pray or meditate?  Or even how to keep up with all the housekeeping with little ones running around?  Well, then you might want to pick this book up asap!  I was feeling all of those things before reading the book, but I can honestly say that after reading it I feel a renewed sense of motivation to get my life back in balance and strive towards the woman God has created me to be. 

The one thing I really liked about this book is that it is divided into 4 sections.  The first section is all about cultivating our spiritual lives.  The author gives you practical advice on how to set up a quiet time, as well as what one might do during that quiet time.  It gives steps on how to meditate.  One of the greatest pieces of information I received through this section was the Good Morning Girls Bible Studies.  The book directs you to their website (which was founded by Courtney Joseph) and I have found it to be such a great resource in my own life.  After years of struggling with creating a daily devotion time, I have gotten up early and studied the Bible fairly faithfully for the past two weeks!  For me, that is a HUGE accomplishment.  And I am actually learning from my time in the word, which I have also struggled with. 

The second section in the book is geared towards being a Godly wife and what it looks like to honor our husbands.  I found this section also to be helpful.  I did not come from a home where this was modeled for me.  I wanted to rule over my husband (Genesis, anyone?) and in the long run it really causes some wounds in our marriage.  Thankfully we have worked through those wounds and have a stronger marriage than ever, but so many of those wounds could have been avoided had I know what it looked like for a wife to truly honor her husband. 

The third section of the book is regarding parenting.  Again, I needed wisdom in this area also (I told you my life was out of balance!)  This section gives us advice on how to raise children who love God and how to create and atmosphere of love, but also boundaries, when parenting.

The last section of the book talks about Homemaking.  Did you know that moms set the tone of their houses?  If we are cranky then most likely our family will turn cranky too.  There are things we can do to help streamline our lives in this area that will create a haven of peace, love, and rest in our households. 

Are you convinced to the read the book yet?  If not, you should be!  This truly is a great book...and definitely one of the most enlightening books I have reviewed yet!  This one is for sure a keeper. I know there will be times when I will need to take this one back off of the bookshelf and refresh myself with its timeless truth and practicality. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Booksneeze in exchange for this honest review.