Emily has started adding, “it makes the difference” to various statements. For example, when referring to using two different fingernail polishes, “You need to paint the sparkly one first, and then the purple one. It makes the difference.”
Her phrase has popped in my head numerous times this week. Here a few little things that “make the difference”:
Nathan really hates it when we interfere with his play. I’ve tried to bake with him like I do with Emily, but he does not like being told what to do. The challenge is finding ways to let him be close but also have 100% control. I’m only starting to make headway. Our first kitchen success was a rice tray, which Emily quickly joined in on, and I was able to bake alone (for about 5 minutes).
For about a year we’ve been slowly reducing the amount of toys we own as well as the amount of toys the kids have access to. Lately I’ve been pulling out one toy for the day. We play with it for special time in the morning (15 minutes of my undivided attention) and it stays out the rest of the day. Nathan and Emily have been playing side-by-side well and there are glimpses of playing together.
We tried making black bean mint brownies, highly recommended by my friend Faith (check out her instagram account for simple, fast, delicious whole food, plant based meals and treats!!!). It called for peppermint essential oil. After some deliberation about whether we could use mint extract instead, I remembered that we have a teeny tiny bottle of peppermint essential oil a friend sent to mask kitchen smells while I was in the throws of morning sickness. There was enough left to add to the brownies, and it definitely made the difference.
During Christmas break we played games almost every evening once the kids were in bed. We decided we want our family to make slowing down and playing games a nightly thing (or a few nights a week at least). Emily and I have been setting up and playing the first half of busytown while Nathan gets ready for bed. Then I put Nathan to bed while Andrew plays the second half. It helps us all unwind and it is refreshing to engage with Emily in a different way.
After reading Sink Reflections last year, I committed to following Flylady’s system this year. Each Monday we do Home Blessing Hour (Emily says, “I love home blessing hour!” every time I announce it). We vacuum, dust, wash mirrors and doors, take out the trash, look through magazines, and mop for 10 minutes each. Some weeks we only make it through vacuuming and dusting before the kids are done. Usually we manage to get through most of the jobs. Emily sets the timer, we pass rags around, turn music on, and move! The level of cleanliness in our house has skyrocketed without taking time to clean on the weekend!
We also keep the kitchen sink clean, Flylady’s first habit. I found this under the sink wire storage at goodwill a few weeks ago for $1. It makes the difference! I’ve been looking for over a year for one but haven’t been able to fork out the $10+. I love going to bed with a sparkly clean sink with cleaning supplies stored (which leads to the entire kitchen being cleaned) and waking up with a fresh start to the day.
Last year Emily and I started a lemon tree and avocado tree from seed/pit. They are thriving, now that I know to look to the avocado tree for signs of thirst and water them both at that time. I love having their company washing dishes. I also recently discovered the overhead light above our kitchen sink. It almost feels like a candle overhead, so cozy, and I love the mood it sets for our cold winter nights and mornings.
I’ve been spending 15 minutes each day cleaning in the zone for the week. I look ahead on Sunday night at the zone missions, write them down, and check them off as we go. I usually get 3-4 of the 5 tasks accomplished, which is way more than ZERO. After living here for two years I’ve actually accomplished things that have been bothering me for well over eighteen months: cleaning out cobwebs, the ceiling fan, scrubbing cupboards, and getting the food off the ceiling that’s been here since before we lived here. I feel so empowered by following the plan and doing a fun activity with the kids. We are seeing progress, the house is feeling cleaner, and we are learning skills together.