Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kitchen cleanout

A friend of mine began a thread about feeling as if she was drowning in certain areas of her house. I could so relate! I think we discussed these areas: dishes, clothes/laundry, shoes, toys, school books/papers, etc. So, she began by doing a kitchen cleanout. I said I was going to join her but she beat me to it...I'm playing catch up this week. She came up with the idea that in the 'old days' people had one cup, one bowl and one plate, and that she wanted to model that with her children/family. I thought about that for awhile. Good idea...but my first reaction was why I go through all of that cleaning out and packing away/giving away if I could just keep up with dishes at every meal? This is a huge challenge for us. Since moving, we have no dishwasher and our kitchen is a fraction of the size of what we had in AR. While my pal was doing her kitchen redo, I tried to keep up with the dishes at every meal- I failed miserably. As part of daily chores, the kids used to rotate and do all the dishes-when we had a dishwasher. After moving here, daily chores became very overwhelming. Partly because of unpacking and reorganizing and partly because our chore responsibilities were different in a new house. Working all those kinks out always takes us time...lots of time. In the mean time, I felt bad for the smaller kiddos because the dishes always just got so overwhelming. If I had a hard time tackling it, how could I expect them to? So, I started doing the majority of the dishes and when things didn't seem so bad, I'd have them do it.

During this time, I also started thinking about routines, lack of routines and 'old' routines that don't work anymore. I suppose when you have a house full and the kiddos are all younger, any lack of routine or 'old' routines stick out like a sore thumb. That's where we are, especially in kitchen. So, I decided my pal was exactly right- take away the things that overwhelm. I did the same as her and packed away some 'kid' plates, bowls & cups for company/cousin visits. I proceeded to leave each child one plate/tray, one bowl, one 'meal' cup and one water cup. That's it, that's all they have. After cleaning out that cupboard, I tackled my plastics cupboard. That is the one that always has things falling out of it...we don't have that many leftovers to store so why have so many random containers, right? I started chucking...

I reorganized some cabinets and felt great! Then I turned around and looked at all the 'extra'- that didn't feel so good. How could it have gotten so cluttered? How did we get that many 'kid' plates/trays & cups? Unbelievable... So, I went in the basement and hauled up some boxes, in it went. This is just a little of my finished project:

The kids now only have the top shelf! I left their holiday mugs in the back for hot chocolate on our movie nights. We're missing one cup and one bowl in this pic. I took it this morning and baby was still eating...

This is now my plastics cabinet. I even had room for mixing/serving bowls!

And I actually have some counter-space here! Enough so to drag out the bread machine (to help me when I'm in a hurry!).

This is what's getting hauled out today. GOODBYE FOREVER!!! :)

p.s. The children are all washing their own dishes after each meal. If they don't, there's nothing to eat on at the next meal! :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gotcha Day

Today marks 3 years since our African kiddos came home to the U.S. We mark today as our Gotcha Day because it is the first day we were all together as a family- Hubby traveled alone to Africa to bring them home. The past 3 years has been some of the most eventful years of our lives, full of many ups and downs for everyone. But if we've learned anything, we've learned much more about forgiveness and how to love more deeply and unconditionally. Today we celebrate the unification of our family. We celebrate the uniting of our physical family here on earth as well as the beginning of a dream orchestrated by God. We don't know many specifics about this plan/dream, all we know is that it is of Him and we are following Him to carry out THE plan. For those of you who followed us during our journey- you may remember these:

Happy Gotcha Day, Gustafson family!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Our kiddos this Halloween. We had a (good) witch, pirate, ninja, princess (of course) and FiFi the pink poodle. I struggled this year (again) with the concept of Halloween. Our older children questioned me on where Halloween came from and who 'made it up.' I tried to give a short but honest answer and they were quite confused even with that. They asked why people celebrate Halloween. I tried to answer by explaining about culture and traditions and that we'd dress up and enjoy the party put on by our local school instead of going door-to-door...but I think even that left all of us confused and a little uneasy. Our local grade school did an amazing job putting on a party for the kids and spared us all the gross and gory stuff that Halloween tends to bring. I was thankful for that but have also realized we need to think about this a little more for next year and years to come. We teach our kids the motto of practice-what-you-preach so it's only right and 'just' that we address this issue to stay on the right side of our family motto...

I've been reflecting on especially the last year. What a whirlwind! The last few years has really been insanely crazy but I think my memory has a hard time going back more than a handful of months and recalling things accurately! Tomorrow marks the 3 year anniversary since we brought our African kiddos home. It also marks 5 years since we began the adoption process, wow, how time flies. Every year, we celebrate our Gotcha Day by talking about what we remember and how we felt on that day. A special friend of mine (and photographer) took pics for us as my Hubby stepped off the plane with our 4 oldest children, she also made it into DVD form with music. We watch that DVD every year on our Gotcha Day.

So much has happened since then- our bio kids have grown by leaps and bounds (physically, emotionally and spiritually) as have our African children! We've welcomed a new baby in that time and said 'goodbye' to the 2 oldest children as they've gone out on their own in pursuit of their futures. We've moved 1000 miles back to the place we call home. We've said goodbye (for now) to friends, those we consider family, our church as well as a home and business. We've taken the next step in homeschooling as I went from teaching 2 children to 5 (then back down to 4 this year as we helped our 17 yr old African daughter transition into Job Corps this fall).

We've grown spiritually through all these hills and valleys and still have a long way to go. We're trying to 'clean up' any areas in our marriage/parenting/every day living that has gone by the wayside and needs attention or has been neglected. Yea, it gets tiring at times but we're committed to God, our marriage and our family. That alone keeps us trudging along especially during those times it feels like we're wading through mud.

We've returned to extended family, our church home/family as well as the heritage/culture we were raised in. Those things alone bring comfort and a feeling of 'belonging' that is hard to describe unless you've lived a portion of your life without it. We had an amazing summer with grandparents and I enjoyed getting my hands in this nutrient-rich, glacier soil and we had a bountiful harvest of veges and lots of herbs (not to mention lots of pretty flowers!). The fall has kept us running with winterizing (we'd forgotten how much work this is!) and I've been crazy canning yummy foods with our garden bounty (as well as an entire tree's worth of apples!).

We're moving into the holiday season now and are starting our homemade gifts for friends and family (in all our spare time)! :) Last year the holiday season was rushed and chaotic. We're looking forward to enjoying the season more this year...I even think I may decorate early, just because!

I think I'm looking forward to the winter months-I'd like to tackle some projects and crafts that seem impossible in the summer months. Let's see how I feel in February when we're neck deep in snow! We hope you're enjoying the fall season and that you're looking forward to the holiday season as much as we are! Until next time...