Habits of Tidy People

I am inspired by these tips! The “reset” she describes is what I call my “hotspots.” It does feel better having my sink shining and my flat surfaces cleared!



So Many Toys

We live in a small house, and we can’t afford to let the toys get out of control. Here’s a look at my system. I hope it can help!

It’s easy. It happens behind your back. While you were keeping tabs on family, laundry, and dishes, the toys multiplied, and now your house is eaten by a blob of kiddie clutter.

Instead of scoop-shoveling the toys every night or crisis cleaning every time company comes, pick up all those toys just once.

Preferably perform this task while little ones are napping or hanging out with their grandma.

Set a timer for 15-20 minutes. Sort the toys into these categorical piles:

1. Broken/Trash

2. Unloved/Giveaway

3. Loved/Keeping for Years

If the timer goes off before you’re done, just stop, pour a cup of coffee, and get off your feet for a minute. Enjoy drinking that whole cup while it’s still hot. Then get up!

Set the timer again repeat until you’ve gone through all of the toys.

Pull out those trash bags and empty diaper boxes you have hanging around and fill them up with your sorted toys.

Take the trash out. Bye!

Bag up the giveaway toys and haul them out to the car. The next time you go by a charity shop or thrift store, drop them off.

Fill the diaper boxes with the beloved toys. Keep one or two of these boxes out to play with. Stow the rest of the boxes out of the kids’ sight. If they seem to be bored and think getting into trouble is more fun than their toys, pack those toys up and swap them out with a “new” box out of storage. They love rediscovering their familiar favorites!

I try to keep toys restricted to blocks, books, balls, dolls, and trucks, with only a handful of special toys in the mix.

With a small batch of toys out at a time:

  • Children learn to share, trade, and wait. Instead of everyone constantly distracted, they learn to deal with one another.
  • A few beloved toys will be better cared for than a mountain of mediocre stuff.
  • The few, basic toys leave more room for imagination and creativity.
  • A two-year-old can run around and pick up every toy in a few minutes. Make it a game! Without a monstrosity staring them down, kids don’t feel helpless when it’s time to clean up.
  • Adults gain a foothold of sanity. You still step on Legos, but you don’t have to wade through random knee-deep junk every day.

To maintain this system, you have to be very picky about what comes into your home. Don’t buy a toy unless it can fulfill a particular need. Request books and movies for their birthdays, instead of a floor-full of fancy toys that will be unloved in a month.

When you switch boxes of toys, reassess whether these things are worth the space you’ve relinquished to them. Would someone else love it better? Do we really have room for this? Could it serve a better purpose as profit for charity, rather than clutter in you home? Is this just trash? Or do your kids really love and use it?

I have bought only two toys this past year. The first was a jumpoline for the toddler. With our new life cooped up with premature twins and avoiding the crowds in cold season, she was bouncing off the walls. So I got her something new to bounce on, instead! The little jumpoline is now useful for all three kids, and will be handy during blizzards or other cases of cabin fever. The second toy was a box of second-hand mega blocks. It has been some nine months since I brought those home, and the kids have played with those things every day since. We sure got our money’s worth!

These are all the toys I have loose in the house right now. My big helper loves picking up so I can vacuum. She is capable of handling this moderate pile all by herself! We can be company ready in minutes. The freedom!

Does this post give you any inspiration? Have any ideas or examples of your own? Leave a comment!

Essential Oils For Immunity

Isn’t this flu season insane? My family is not getting out much, all of us are keeping up on vitamins, and some are even sleeping with potatoes in their socks. We’re keeping oiled up, as well.

Here are some essential oil products I use.

Thieves Spray – Comes already formulated in the spritz bottle. A must for grocery carts and grubby boy hands. No longer safe for oral application.

Crowd Spray – In a 2-3 oz bottle: combine 1/2 tsp witch hazel, 20 drops Melrose, 7drops Thyme, 10 drops Geranium, and 5 drops Peppermint. Top off with distilled water. Spray on car seats, bags, covers, blankets, and people.

Immune Boost – In a 10ml bottle: combine 40 drops Lemon, 20 drops Frankincense, 15 drops Thieves, 15 drops Peppermint, 20 drops Tea Tree, and top off with carrier oil. Roll on bottoms of feet. I have dabbed it on perfume points, but be careful. Citrus oils in direct sunlight may burn skin.

If you do catch something, here are a couple of invaluable oils that have given us relief.

Congestion Relief – Equal parts of: Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint. Apply on clothes, blankets, or on feet and chest as can be tolerated. Applying undiluted (neat) on young children may be inadvisable.

Stop Dry Cough – In a 15 ml roller bottle combine: 1 tsp carrier oil, 4 drops Lemon, 4 drops Peppermint, 4 drops Thieves, 2 drops Lavender. Apply to feet, chest, and back. Worked very well on my two-year-old to help her sleep.

Above all?

Crack down on unnecessary stress. Don’t get so wrapped up in a project that your system crash and burns. Get off your feet AND off your phone for 15 minutes a day to do something enjoyable. Music, catnap, face mask, breathing exercises, soak your feet, read for fun, practice guitar – do something to recharge just a bit. A little will go a long way, and if you don’t take time to maintain your body now, it will develop symptoms to make you take time for maintenance!

Many thanks to Safta, for providing us with numerous ways to strengthen and maintain our children’s health.

Meal Preparation

Once we got home from a run to town, I put the fresh vegetables in a bath of water and vinegar to soak. When I threw vegetables straight into the refrigerator, they wouldn’t be seen again until they were beyond use. Putting them directly into the sink is now my first rule to prevent waste of money and food.

Moved them around, soaked, rinsed, drained, etc.

Still gotta eat, even on grocery day. The beef, carrots, and celery had already been prepped last week. All I needed was to dice a potato or two, fry it all in coconut oil, blend in some rice flour and water, and we had a quick stew supper.

Getting things going. Starting a salad while mixing beef with a variety of vegetables and spices into jars for storage.

Beef was already cooked, so I fried up some T-bacon bits to add to the green salad and to the chicken salad. Prepping meat means that I can stretch one or two pounds of beef and a couple of chicken breasts to last all week. This is more important now that we have four households using a beef at once.

Stirring up some potatoes au gratin. Butter, rice flour, half and half, and cheddar cheese will make a sauce to drape over sliced potatoes. Not sure precisely when I’ll serve this, but the seasonings will have a day or two to permeate the whole dish while it refrigerates.

Baking chicken to use in two meals.

Ready to bake when I need potatoes au gratin.

Chili chicken salad and chicken casserole ready and waiting for tortillas, bread, rice, or potatoes. Those decisions are still open to spontaneity.

I seem to have forgotten to get picture of the eggs boiling. (Because a visual of pot of eggs makes any blog post better!) A batch of boiled eggs provides us with to-go breakfasts, snacks, and something extra for salads. Boil in salt water for about 12 minutes (I’m over 4,000 ft elevation), cool, and refrigerate in a separate carton. I can peel a boiled egg fast by cracking one end and then rolling it on the counter under my hand with firm, gentle pressure. The shell slides right off.

A crock pot of rice will be used for breakfasts and adding to prepped meals. Now we need tea for tomorrow.

Sweet tea, chicken salad…

Large green salad, yes my kids go through a lot of milk, beef&rice, pizza toppings, extra potato slices for frying, carrot sticks…

Boiled eggs, veggies for omelettes, T-bacon, eggs…

Chicken casserole starter, hummus, borscht starter, and potatoes au gratin. I’ll have to wait till the avocados are ready to make the guacamole.

“Shine your sink!”

Time to kick back. Goodnight!

The Best Benefits of Meal Prep

  • Save money.
  • Save food; No waste.
  • No running out of an item before I get to use it in particular meals at the end of the week.
  • Overall better management of products I normally only buy once a week. Driving an hour round trip to the store with three littles is not something I do every other day.
  • Flavors have a chance to meld together. You know how some leftovers taste better than the original meal? This method can bring out the best taste the first time.
  • I don’t have strapping, starving, twin boys tugging at me while I’m trying to use a knife before every meal. Most of my cutting is done once a week while they’re asleep.
  • Helps reinforce my meal planning habit.

The Downside

  • I don’t know when to pause to keep from overdoing it. When we go in hung-ho, we tend to burn out. Once in a while I should sit down for two minutes to drink some water and regroup.
  • I am not available to read many bedtime stories. Considering I’ll have more time and less suppertime stress for the rest of the week, it may be a fair trade off.

What is your meal prep rhythm like?

Rachael, My Health Story

At least 32 oz of CocaCola each day, 64 oz without ice on some weeknights. Five cups of coffee a day, three heaping scoops of sugar in each cup. Mac ‘n cheese. Ramen. Hamburger Helper. This diet was “balanced” by breakfast cereal full of sugar and iron shavings (try holding a strong magnet over your bowl after you’ve finished a serving), eggs smothered in margarine, and an evening cup of green tea with plenty of brown sugar. Then perhaps half a glass of chlorinated water topped it all off. My diet seemed alright to me.

No one around me exercised. Why should I have done that?

I was sick, like clockwork. Thinking back on my “well” days, I was feeling miserable even when I wasn’t fighting allergies, colds, viruses, or another ear infection. I wasn’t out of my teens yet and getting regular cases of heartburn.

In college, there wasn’t as much palatable food, but much more walking. So, on the bright side, I lost 15 freshman pounds. On the dark side, I was losing weight to stress and malnutrition, not health. The last flu shot didn’t protect me from a horrible case of flu, so I didn’t bother getting it again. Then I quit pork and shellfish (looong story). You have to read lots of labels when you stop eating those things, so I was becoming more aware of what I was eating. I came across information about MSG, hormones, metal toxicity, dyes, etc.

One summer my sister took me to get TSH tested like she did. My numbers were kind of in the normal range, but I was presenting symptoms of hormonal dysfunction. So in August of 2012 I was diagnosed with “borderline clinical hypothyroidism.” Levothyroxine was supposed to fix everything.

I felt better within a week. Energy levels improved. I was less irritable. After a few months, though, my hair still fell out a lot, menstrual cycles still debilitated me, PMS swung rather hard, my feet rarely felt warm, the brain fog didn’t lift much, constipation and overall pain continued – I was sentenced to buy a medication for the rest of my life, for symptoms I would have to live with, anyway. In five years, the cost quadrupled. What would I be paying when I was 60?

My first baby succumbed to kidney dysfunction and was stillborn in 2013. My doctor was satisfied with my TSH levels throughout that pregnancy. I wonder, though, if I knew then what I know now…. Would it have made any difference…? One of many questions. One of many things the doctors and “specialists” should have known better. One of many reasons I cannot trust every word from the mouth of conventional medicine.

Growing up, I was constantly nervous. My marriage was teaching me to calm down and change my anxious attitude. I got a good husband who always encourages calm and cheerful habits. But since our son died, the panic attacks became severe enough to cause numbness. Thankfully, they were infrequent, and I was slowly learning to change what I could.

The Maker’s Diet helped me heal some more. It has six weeks of restrictions followed by lifelong habits. The first two weeks have no starches or sugars, the next two weeks incorporate some starchy vegetables, and the last two weeks reintroduce limited sugars. Since trying out a modified version of The Maker’s Diet, (I didn’t give up dairy at any point) I am more sensitive to high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and highly processed products. They don’t seem so appealing, and I don’t feel so good after ingesting much of them. Drinking 32 oz of coke in one week sounds horrible. Most days, one square of dark chocolate is good enough for my sweet tooth.

The next baby was a month premature but healthy in 2014. Three months postpartum, my emotions were not stabilizing at all, so I began supporting my nutrition and gut health with a raw vitamin and probiotic. That helped me get a grip and regain some sanity. Eventually, I got fed up with taking a drug that didn’t work and I stopped taking Levothyroxine for a year. I began using Endoflex daily. Following FlyLady Babysteps and habits enabled me to get control over my mental and household clutter. My husband and daughter challenged me to learn better self-control and overcome my everyday anxieties. Our home became a peaceful, safe haven.

After getting pregnant with twins in 2016, I was put back on Levothyroxine. The dose increased as the high risk pregnancy progressed. My twins were born two months premature, but healthy once they learned to support themselves in the outside world.

One month postpartum, I was doing well on 75mg Levothyroxine. Five months later, I was feeling like a wreck. The doctor tested TSH and increased my dose to 100mg. A month later, he was satisfied with my lab result, but I still felt “off.” I didn’t want to crawl out of bed in the mornings even though I loved my everyday activity. The brain fog and fatigue were not letting up. Worst of all, my cesarean incision site was killing me, even nine months post-op. If I lifted children and groceries on a trip to town, it would take a whole day after for the pain to subside. I couldn’t mother the way I wanted in this condition. The doctor told me there was nothing wrong with me, except perhaps low estrogen. He recommended birth control pills. Well, that would have only made matters worse, so I declined.

The only other option in town was to get a zytocompass scan, so I got it done. Sure enough, my numbers were dismal. The scan indicted that I needed some serious thyroid and liver support. Poking around the internet, I found that a compromised liver would throw off bile and thyroid function. I had Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C on hand…I developed a little plan.

For ten days I took 6,000 to 9,000 mg Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C a day. Some other time I may post my notes from the whole experience, but in short, I got some energy back and my cesarean hasn’t bothered me since. There were side effects from this liver detox, so don’t dive into this idea thinking it will only open up happy surprises.

The quest for optimal thyroid health continues.

Now I have almost eliminated using non-stick pans and use cast iron instead. Plastic refrigerated food storage is replaced with glass. Freezer storage I have yet to figure out. I’ve learned of BPA in the lining of canned goods, so I will need to can more vegetables next summer. I needed to increase our garden produce storage, anyway. Anything to avoid further hormonal disruption.

For four or five months I have been trying to eliminate soy, but I keep finding one more thing I am eating with soy in it. My beloved mayonnaise and blue cheese dressing! Nearly every condiment and seasoning? Every candy bar out there seems to have “soy lecithin.” I fell in love with hummus only to find it was hiding soy from me. 😔 It will be cheaper to make my own, anyway.

All over the Internet there are admonitions to ditch gluten and dairy for thyroid support. I don’t know when, how, or if I can do that; but I am taking note of how much gluten and dairy I am consuming, and how I feel after eating it. Sure enough, a day of pizza, cake, ice cream, and bread leaves me miserable compared to a day of eggs, borscht, and hamburger patties. So for now, I am at least moderating dairy and gluten.

My latest adjustment, Thyrovanz, just arrived in the mail. A bovine dessicated thyroid hormone supplement, Thyrovanz seems to achieve whatever Levothyroxine lacks. This will be another experiment of my own making, and, like the liver detox, I am making it up as I go at my own risk. The only listed side effect is overstimulation or jitters from overdose. It sounds like a Red Bull without the caffeine or sugar. So, I assume I am safe gently playing with dosage for a little while before finding the proper dose for my needs. After a month I will type up my notes and the results of trying this supplement.

On and on, I’ll keep learning and adjusting. There is a dream to completely heal my thyroid, get to a healthy weight, and have an active life up until I die with my boots on. There are no guarantees, no knowing what is achievable, no promise of long and healthy life, or even if this society will hold up much longer before the inevitable collapse. Today, I nurse myself along. Today, I am better off than the sick teenager I was. Today, I do what I can to give my family the healthiest and happiest wife and mother I can. The Almighty has a way of giving us what we need as we need it, “our daily bread.”

I look forward to learning form others fighting to assist and heal thyroid function. It is an honor to be a contributor to Judy’s blog project on Dirt Road Essentials.

There’s my health story,