Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Okay readers... you know that I have a deep love for aprons! I think they make the day in and day out housekeeping more fun...

So go check out these sites to have your very own shot at winning!

First up we have the "spring has sprung" giveaway over at Amy Quarry's shop. Enter and win TWO pieces from her store!

Next up is a fabulous vintage apron giveaway at the Polka Dot Barn! This little number is FULLY AWESOME in all its wonderful pinkness!

Oh, oh, oh... then head over here... to Aunt Daisy's Shoppe for another great 1930's style apron.

Have I ever mentioned my affinity for pink and brown? Well check this out: It's pink and brown paisley, that to me just seems "simply cottage chic", and can be won by me (or you) :-) over at Country Mom's Blog.

Now in the previous post I mentioned doing something special for your husband, and showing him your affections. Well, what would happen if you greet him at the door in one of these numbers from Carolyn's Kitchen? Want a chance to win one? Check out the Girly Giveaway Extravaganza! (My personal favorite is the pink cupcakes, but I think my dear hubby might pick a different one :-).

Around the barnyard #7

Our bridegrooms!

This particular post has been a long time in the making in my head... I hope I am able to do it the justice it deserves!

When you get down to the basics of what we do as housewives... ultimately we don't work for the MAN, we work for the much more forgiving higher power, our Heavenly Father. Our husbands, on the other hand, are not so lucky in the day to day activities of working! Right now with the economy the way it is, and all the frustrations of unpleasant work environments... our husbands are feeling the burden! I'm sure most of you ladies are seeing that beaten down look when your dear husband arrives home in the evenings, and as the nurturing beings we are... we desperately want to ease that load in any way we can... and my friends, I believe we CAN do that very thing! How?

Take a few minutes and think about what your husbands like. Think about those things that cause undo frustration to your spouse within your home... maybe it is laundry piled up, clutter on a counter top, dirty dishes in the sink. Consider tasks around that house that are usually on his 'honey-do' list that you are capable of doing. Picture what it can be like, having a rough day at the office and then coming home to a house in chaos. Does that give you a sense of relief, does your home sound like a refuge where you can recharge your batteries for another day of battle? No, it sounds just as crappy as the office full of inconsiderate workers, inconsiderate customers, and bosses who don't have your best interest at heart!

Now set about making a plan for the remaining days of this week.

Two very important parts to this little challenge.
--First, don't say a word about what you are doing!
--Second, don't expect a single thing to be said in return for how hard you are working (remember you are doing this for him, not for praise of your own deeds)!

Now for the first half of your mission!
As I mentioned above, consider some of his pet peeves if you will. Do your best to remedies those first. Next look for things you can do that will give him more time to unwind in the evenings or over the weekend (just a few ideas off the top of my head...you know more about your own homes to come up with a good working list)...

  • mow the yard (it's that time of year again)
  • clean out the car (wash it or get it washed if possible)
  • take out the trash
  • sweep out the garage (if you have a blower... this works well for that little task :-)

Okay... so that is the working portion of the task, now for the second half of the job! If you haven't gone grocery shopping yet or done your meal planning, come up with several of his favorite meals to be included for the week. Consider having them ready (or nearly ready) when he walks in the door in the evening. Greet him when he arrives... and do so dressed. Okay that sounds weird, but how often does our husband come home and we are in our frumpy cleaning/working clothes (maybe that's just me)? Put on something that doesn't include knit or elastic :-), brush the hair out a little, maybe even throw on some lipstick (or coloredy chap stick, my personal preference). Trust me, this says, "I'm so glad you are home, I've been waiting for your return all day!" What an amazing ego boost to give our husbands, to show them that we love them not because they can fix things or because they can reach things off tall shelves (although for us little 5 footers, this is a big one)... but because we love them for who they are to us, and that we are here to support them in the burden of providing for our family.

I know, I know, you already have a ton on your own plate. You, too, are frustrate and annoyed and burdened... but this week... heck till the end of Lent if you are up for it, put your husband FIRST! They need it! Remember that their frustration level rubs off on us (and our children)... if we can help lower their stress, in turn ours will also come down!

Offer up every single act for the suffering of your husband this week, for his strength to persevere, and that he finds refuge in your home and in your arms!

Alright... there are your marching orders, as it were... let's get crackin'!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Around the barnyard #6

Nooks and Crannies!

Have you checked behind your stove, or beside your refrigerator lately? These are easily forgotten spots in our cleaning routine, but important in the grand cleaning scheme!

I have a challenge for you... sometime this week, the easiest day for this is mopping day since you will already have the supplies out, pull out stove and mop back there! If you can pull out the fridge, do this area as well. If you can't pull out the fridge go ahead and see if you can sweep beside it (you would be surprised what will get pulled out from these areas)! These areas often get overlooked, but have the potential to be quite yucky!

Trust me, once you've done this you will feel like you are in a brand new kitchen!

Since we are hitting the forgotten areas, go ahead and clean off all the cabinet fronts. Check out the rag after this little job... you never realize just how dirty those get. And go ahead and hit them with a wood duster, this will help their conditioning and shine!

The cleaner we keep things, the better they look and the longer they will last!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Minor setback...

Well, I was really hoping to be in tip top shape by now... unfortunately I suffered somewhat of a setback having an allergic reaction to the antibiotic that they gave me back on Tuesday... and had to go back to the clinic and try and find something else that might work for me. It took some time and research (apparently because they left me in the room for over an hour by myself hacking out my lungs) because I can only take antibiotics from one family of medicines now... due to the fact that I'm also allergic to penicillin (which we found out, I think two years ago, when I went to the doctor for exactly the same thing as I have now, thankfully this recent reaction only affected my skin... not vomiting for 15 hours like the last time).

Hopefully by Monday I will be back on track, and feeling better!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Around the barnyard #6

Get the kids involved!

The boys each have their own jobs that they do every day to help out around the house. This makes a big difference in my work load, and gives them each a responsibility... making them contributing members of the household!

Here is a list of all the chores or duties the boys have daily...

1. Empty the waste baskets into the garage trash can.

2. The dogs -- let them out of their kennels and into the back yard, let them back in, put away their food bowls.

3. Dirty laundry basket from my bathroom brought to the laundry room.

4. Bobcat gets every ones tooth brushes ready after they finish breakfast.

That's just the morning routine. Through out the day they have jobs they are asked to do...

1. Move laundry from one machine to the other. Take the dry stuff to designated spot for folding. Put away their own clean clothes. I'm in the early stages of teaching them folding, it's a work in progress!

2. Let the dogs in or out depending on the situation... also getting in or out of kennels depending on the situation.

3. Putting their own dishes away... either in the sink or dishwasher.

4. Take kitchen trash or recycling out to the bins in the backyard (for some reason they all fight over who's turn it is to take this stuff out... I think it is because they get to use Daddio's flip flops to walk down there).

When working out your daily routine and housekeeping schedule, take a look at your children and think about all the things they can do to pitch in around the house. Sometimes its hard to see our little ones as capable... but you would surprised at how much they can actually do if called upon! Give them the opportunity to shine in a new responsibility... and take some of the stress off yourself!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why are you whispering?

Leading up to today I had planned some very lovely things for the Feast of the Annunciation... unfortunately I will be spending my down time in bed with a glass of water. I'm under strict orders to get lots of fluids and lots of rest for the next 4-7 days. When Daddio got home from work last night (by that point I had completely lost my voice), he went online and made an appointment for CareNow, and an hour and half later I was being seen by a doctor who had some interesting words for me:

"Oh man, that looks terrible (gee thanks), no wonder you've lost your voice! Can you swallow anything right now?"

"Has this sort of thing happened before? Lesions the last time... yep you are definitely headed in that direction again if we don't nip this in the bud now."

"Thank goodness there's no ear infection at the moment, but there is
definitely congestion in the canal, and left untreated and you would have had a double infection there too!"

"The nurse will be right in with a large pointy object!"

Wow... and to think I wanted to just take a nap and hope that all was well in the morning. Turns out (as usual) I have bronchitis (upper/lower respiratory infection), sinusitis, and a pretty unpleasant infection in my throat (the drainage tracks are in bad shape apparently). How did this happen... allergies! The doctor said that for some people (ME), normal allergy troubles have a way of going out of control... and it can be considered a chronic problem this time of year (and every spring for me)!

For my send off from CareNow, I received a lovely steroid shot because the doctor felt that I needed relief sooner rather than later (waiting for the meds to finally kick in)! Then I was off to the pharmacy for more drugs... and now I have to be quiet, rest and drinks lots! Oh fun.

So the grand plans have been paired down to a lovely stained glass drawing I did of the above shown image for the boys to color. And as soon as school is finished... I'm off to bed. The boys... well because I keep whispering (because that is literally all I can muster), reply to me in whisper...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Around the barnyard #5

I've found that music is a great motivator in the cleaning process... usually fairly loud! Fortunately for me the boys love having music on in the house, and don't mind when we turn it up and really get to rockin'! (During nap time I switch over to my iPod and earbuds to continue working.)

Putting something on that is upbeat, and even fun to sing to (I have several worship CD's I like to choose from that really get the job done) can really elevate your mood while you're working away your day. Music really has the ability to change the way you do things... especially as you watch the kids skip down the hall as they're putting away their clothes... or entertain them with your best Fred Astaire moves as you're mopping the floor.

So head over to your stereo, find something fun and upbeat and hit that pile of laundry!

**Side note**
One of the great joys of keeping a clean home has to do with the benefits it provides when you are under the weather... which is where I've found myself the last several days. All my energy has been zapped... and yet my house is still clean. I knew I wasn't feeling well this weekend and that is probably going to get worse, so I took some time on Saturday (while Daddio was at his class in the morning) and did a few loads of laundry and cleaned the bathrooms. Stuff that I would typically wait to do on Monday and Tuesday. Yesterday and today it was simple maintenance... dishes and only one load of laundry.

Monday, March 23, 2009

By request... more shots of the tulips.

In a previous post showing some of the different varieties of tulips we have growing this year, Nicole asked to see them in bunches... here are two of the beds in our front yard that have tulips. We have a total of three beds with tulips, but I was having a difficult time photographing them due to the very high winds we are having today... these were the best two shots before I gave up.

There are probably 20 buds that are just emerging from the ground and another 15-20 that will be opening with in the next few days... by my estimate. Along with the tulip foliage, there are irises that have lovely green frowns that are up. They too will be blooming around Easter. Once those get going then will come the gladiolas!

Straight talk with Bubba

"Grown ups know a lot of things!"

"God knows everything. He even made US!"

This has been Deep Thoughts with Bubba!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Training wheels???

We don't need no stinkin' training wheels!

Nice helmet hair!

We were not sure when this day would come. I finally decided to give it another go. You all remember what happened the last time we tried this, right????

Well, it's been two years now. I figured since they are old enough to reach the ground, they could probably try again and catch their falls. And we'd really like them to learn on these bikes before they've outgrown them! Snookie has a cough today (and I'm just not sure I'm ready to assist three at a time), so Bubba and Bobcat and I went out to face our fears. Bubba is getting there. And Bobcat has got it down. Not so great at turning and stopping just yet, but pretty amazing progress for one day! And no broken limbs! Not even a single tear. He was brave and rarin' to go. So, hooray for us!

In the garden

One time, some friends were coming to visit, and we told them to find our house, just turn left on our street and stop at the best lawn. We weren't kidding! Our little flower garden isn't the most impressive thing, but we are getting some great results from the bulbs we planted last fall. Here are some photos of what we have growing out front.

These hyacinths smell amazing. They're in containers on either side of the walkway up to the door.

We bought a variety of different tulip bulbs and planted them randomly, rather than a single color.

Around the barnyard #5

Budgets, groceries, and meal planning... oh my...

I admit that the stuff I am about to type my sound a little odd (although I said it out loud before)... there is something about the challenge of keeping on budget and buying my groceries that brings out an interesting side in me... competitiveness.

First I should point out that I'm not a real competitive person, and second I would never maul down anyone in a store for any reason. It is competing with myself more than anything!

It all starts with my little notebook. Keeping track of what I need from the store has been an evolving process. There were little pieces of paper with notes here and there, there were the FREQUENT trips back and forth to the store because I never had a list when I needed it, and there were sticky notes that would inevitably lose their stickiness before they wound up where they needed to be! I even would type up my lists on the computer so that I could easily arrange (or rearrange) them depending on what store I went to. I sometimes (ALWAYS) have a sick compulsion to arrange my list based on the layout of the store (I feel more efficient that way). Ultimately what I figured out was that I needed a small notebook (steno sized) to keep track of what I needed throughout the week. If I had my notebook on hand always, then more than likely I wouldn't miss something that I needed! I mentioned in a previous barnyard about marking down what you've run out of during a cleaning of the bathroom. If you have this notebook handy, then you have a safe place to keep track of odds and ends that come up during the week.

Just as a side note, I decorated the cover... I just used a piece of scrapbook paper that I liked and some stickers. First it made it distinct among the other pads in the house, made it easier to notice, and makes me happy every time I use it (let's face it, this can be a big thing to help us continue using something, right?!)

Meal Planning and Circulars
It's no surprise that constant trips to the store isn't saving you any money. A well made plan for a weekly shop is much more efficient in both time and money. For my family and budget, I generally shop on Fridays. First, because we don't school on Friday's; I have the time to be out of the house to take care of this errand. Second, Bubba has his allergy shots on Friday... which causes us to be out of the house... and let's face it, with gas prices as they are, combining trips is very important in order to cut down on the driving cost! Third, payday is on Fridays for our household. Okay, so I (generally) shop on Fridays... but how do I get from my odds and ends to full weekly meal planning and then to the store?

One reason I really like my steno pad is because it is set up in a two column format. On the left side of the sheet is where I keep track of the groceries, and on the right side is where I plan my meals. It's as simple as simply writing out the days of the week, and sticking the name of the meal beside it! Before I plan all of my meals I rummage through my freezer, fridge, and pantry to see what I have and what needs to be used soon. I come up with as many meals as I can from that first. No need to spend money on more than what you need! Next I pull out the circulars.

I guess I should back up just a little bit here... I usually get the circulars in the mail on Wednesday (sometimes on Thursday). When they come in, I will browse through them making mental notes of what I've seen, and check dates of extra great sales that may or may not include Friday. For some reason around here Albertsons will do 2 day sales that only include Saturday and Sunday... on a rare occasion it will include a Friday, and this will impact my shopping schedule depending on how good the sale is! Thursday, throughout the day, is when I actually formalize my list.

Alright, so it is Thursday now, I have my notebook with the odds and ends I need and the meals that I already have the makings for (or most of the makings for)... now I take a much closer look at the circulars to see what they have to offer (and/or any coupons I have). I start with looking at the meat. Depending on what is on sale, I finish out my meal plans. This is also the time I go ahead and print out any recipes I might need for the week that I don't have memorized! Next up I check to see who has the best prices for the stuff I NEED. After I've gone through those (and I usually mark the price down or the deal like buy one get one free kind of thing next to my item on the list), next I decide if any of the specials they are running are better than normal and if I should stock up on a few things while the price is so low even though I may not need them at this very moment. This is one step that is a little tricky for me. We have limited storage space, so before I buy any substantial quantity I first have to decide whether or not I have a place to keep it... or should I wait till I need that item and by then will it have gone through the cycle and be back on super sale?! I have one other mantra that goes for all types of shopping...

Just because it's on sale, doesn't mean it's a good deal for me or something that we need!

And I mentioned the notion of a competition... knowing I have a budget, and working at coming in right on budget or under... well I always find great satisfaction with that. I suppose I look at it kind of like a goal or requirement for a job. Do I meet target (sadly, fallen short), or have I in some way beaten the target for my job description?! Plus, working so hard on this type of thing really gives me a sense of contributing to the family... while I don't contribute financially... I contribute by being fiscally responsible with the purchases made for our family!

There you have it friends... happy planning and shopping to each of you!

Friday, March 20, 2009


I spontaneously made it a long weekend. It's just too perfect outside. We went to the Ft. Worth Botanic Garden for a picnic. Here are some photos. (MommaLlama took the first three - she has a good eye for composition, don't you think?)

I considered bringing nice clothes for the boys and posing them for some portraits, but decided against it. I preferred to just lay on the blanket and do some reading while they played. (They sometimes get tired of modeling for me and would rather just run around.) But that place sure is full of color so early in the season. We'll have to go back again in a couple weeks and do nice photos.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Good St. Joseph

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Around the barnyard #4

I mentioned in my first post about our barnyard, that in order to find success within your vocation of keeping house... you must find the joy in it. If you can't, then I would say that it will be next to impossible to maintain a clean - clutter free - happy home.

So how do you find that joy? Well, there are lots of places and ways. There are countless books out there that can help you, that can teach you, and that will encourage you! You can always find blogs and websites that help focus you on your tasks.

For me it comes down to prayer. Let's face it, our days are busy... filled with enumerable things that need to happen, and the one thing we should be doing more than all other things is the one thing that we shuffle to the back of the list and never actually get to. PRAYER!

Instead of 'whistle while you work'... pray while you work!
--Pray for your kids with every set of socks you pair up, and every shirt you hang. Think of it like blessing each of those items.
--For every shirt you iron for your husband, pray that his work environment will be stress-free... or that he can better deal with those stressful times.
--As you cook the meals, pray that this meal will help nurture your family and provide them with the healthy bodies they need in order to be successful.
--While working on bathrooms, give thanks for your childrens safety... thank their guardian angels for all the effort they make each and every day to keep our littles one safe and in our arms.
--Pray the rosary... it is easy to keep track when you are vacuuming or mopping... and there's no harm in losing track :-).
--In all things, ask the Holy Spirit to help you be a joyful homemaker! Ask and ye shall receive... right?!

I enjoy pondering the life of Mother Mary as I work. In my mind's eye I can see her doing the same kinds of chores that I do daily. When I'm baking bread, I think of our little Lord Jesus and how excited He must have gotten to get a nice warm slice... just like my boys. I unite my chores with the work she did for her little one, and what she does for us each and every day to make our lives more clean when we allow her to work within us!

And on top of all of that, I've found certain things within my day that actually please me (this will definitely be different for everyone). My most favorite thing is a made bed. Every morning I get up and make the bed (on the weekends sometimes this includes making it while my dear spouse is still in it :-).

There is just something about a made bed that says... "I'm ready to go for the day!" This morning was a prime example of how much I like my bed made. I woke up feeling AWFUL. I could hardly speak, or swallow... my throat seemed completely closed up. While Daddio got ready for work, I made the bed, got a cup of coffee, and then back to our room to relax for a little while. While my throat didn't feel any better, my perspective on the day had completely changed. I went from... "I have no idea how I'm going to school the children or do anything else"... to... "I feel crappy, but hey, I can get through this!"

I encourage you to look around your home and find the thing that pleases you the most, and helps you go through your day!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Around the barnyard #3

Clutter... let's have a discussion about clutter!

I am of the opinion that the majority of problems that moms have when keeping up a home is clutter! Sometimes clutter gets out of hand... and can even lead to hoarding (you've all seen those shows on Oprah or Dr. Phil, right?)! This is a slippery slope to go down, and one that is hard to return from. This type of room is not healthy... for you or your family!

So what can you do? Well, when things get this bad... the experts recommend literally removing everything from the home and putting it in the front/back yard... clean... then only bring back in what is necessary to live. Everything else ... CHUNK!

Maybe your home isn't this bad, but you know that your situation is more cluttered than you wish it to be... what do you do?

---Go around your home and identify everything you have out that you either don't need or hardly ever use...

---Next look around at all the spaces in your home that are poorly organized and have wasted space. Now you need to get down to business. You need to decide how you can re-evaluate those closets, pantries, and/or garages (or if you're really lucky and have a basement).

---The next step may take money, but based on how our home is built... most homes in the last 10 years, there is tons of wasted space, and sometimes the only way to make things more usable is to drop some cash at your local organizational store!

---Once you have the space the way you want it, it is time to fill it. As you put each item in, spend a few minutes really thinking about if you should REALLY keep it. Could you find a better home for it (someone else maybe that would benefit from it, or maybe donate it to a local charity, or is it just junk that should be thrown away)?

Most common areas for wasted space... tops of closets, and pantries. Look at different options to maximize what is there!

Start with one room. Once it's done move on to the next room/closet. Remember not to try an accomplish it all at once. This a big and important job, and you don't want to neglect the steps just because you are in a hurry to be done with it!

Reason to Home School #5,279

It's 73 degrees and breezy outside, but it's a school day. Ordinarily that would be a bummer, but not for us! We went to the park to have a picnic and play catch on my lunch break. (They even have superhero lunch boxes like regular kids.)

Around the barnyard #2

Top o' the mornin', and Happy St. Pat's day to ya all!

So here's another round of what happens in the Llama barnyard. And once again let me re-iterate the notion of 'what works for me'... meaning, it works for me, but it might not work for you. You should experiment and come up with what works for you... but feel free to use this as a springboard for your process!

Remember to take the meat out for the evening... or as is the case for me today... start the roast in the crock! (Done)

Dedicates. Also, if for some reason you didn't finish up anything from yesterday... you know that pile that didn't reach its home... now is the time to jump on that! Once the dedicates are done, strip the beds and get those sheets in there. If you work quickly on this process, then you won't need to fold... simply clean and replace (work smarter not harder!).

Tubs. If you do this on a weekly basis than you will notice that the process doesn't take long at all! And while your at it, wipe down those vanities one more time... nothin says clean like a sparkling sink and mirror!

Yes, I generally vacuum every day. Carpet vacuum lines make me happy. Plus we have two dogs who have a slight shed... and while I might not be able to see the hair... I know it's there! Plus it seems to cut down on the general dust in the house. If you are not a big vacuumer, today is the day to hit your dusting in its place.
Now for a recipe:

Crockpot Java Roast
--3 lb chuck roast, trimmed of fat
--3/4 cup brewed coffee
--1 yellow onion, chopped
--1 red bell pepper, chopped
--8 oz sliced mushrooms
--1 t garlic powder, or 4-5 chopped cloves
--1/2 tsp salt
--1/4 black pepper
--1 T Worcestershire sauce
--3 T red wine vinegar
--4 oz cream cheese (to add at the end)

The Directions.

Use a 4 quart or larger crockpot.

I opted to not brown the meat and onions, and instead plopped everything in to the crockpot. I put the vegetables on the bottom, and then the meat.

Add the coffee, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, and spices.

Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 4-5. I cooked our meat on low for exactly 8 hours, and then it was on warm for another 3.

Carefully remove the meat from the pot, and stir in the cream cheese. I'd cut the cream cheese in slices and add it one at a time, if you can, to help it from separating in little white dots the way mine did. I got impatient. If you do get a bunch of little white dots, they will taste fine, but annoy you.

Monday, March 16, 2009


So, I have been trying to stay calm and rational lately. A lot of people making dire predictions with Obama and the tanking economy. I tell myself that every generation has its challenges, and this is only the kingdom of man. I can maintain hope in the face of political turmoil and societal breakdown. If we face tough economic times, job loss, hyperinflation, etc. we will be alright. I expect to be persecuted for my faith at some point. Socialism, communism, etc. Take your best shot.

But when evil acts are carried out on innocent children, I just have to wonder how long it can be until God is provoked into action. Check out Erin Manning's recent post on the latest in artificial embryology and parenting for lesbians.

How do you remain hopeful in these times?

And just now, Nicole C Mullen's "Redeemer" played on my iPod.

Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?
Who told the ocean, "You can only come this far"?
Who showed the moon where to hide 'til evening?
Whose words alone can catch a falling star?

Well I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
All of creation testify
This life within me cries
I know my Redeemer lives

I suppose the answer, as always, is to remember Easter Sunday.

Around the barnyard #1

Over the last few years, I've had different moms and/or friends ask me how I manage my own home. Some have been to our little home, while others have seen pictures of different areas... and are curious about my routine for housewifery! So I've decided to do a series of posts (I don't know how many or how often at this moment) that talk about how I keep house and how it works for me and my family.

First, my home is hardly perfect in its cleanlyness... but it is well ordered and I do my best to keep it up. Now, there are definitely those out there that are smarter than me and have helped others with their style...

just to name a few...

Second, keeping a clean and well ordered home is hard work. It takes daily effort, not only from you - the primary keeper of the home, but also your children (especially if they are home all day creating their own piles of this, that and the other). YES, your children must be involved. Remember you are training them up... not their maid! You should be both modeling a healthy behavior about your home... but also teaching them how to do it! I truly feel this goes for both boys and girls. Plus once you have a good system with them helping... some of your work will be eliminated! At least that is my plan!

Third, (and quite personally) I believe that keeping up this sort of home, we must take up a joyful heart about our vocation in the home. Maybe this concept should go first, because if you can't find the joy in your daily life then you will not be able to maintain the home you so desire. How can you find that joy... well, we will talk about that a little later.

I've felt it in my own heart and mind, and I've seen it in others... feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. For me, pick one thing! Don't try to plan an entire cleaning schedule at the get go... there is a much higher chance of failure, and once again you are in the pit and don't know how to get out. So pick a corner... or one pile, or one surface and focus on that until it is completed then move on.

Need a place to start?

Dinner. While you are preparing breakfast, go ahead and pull anything out of the freezer you will need for dinner (meat). This way it will be ready to prepare later in the day!

Laundry (my least favorite chore). After breakfast, Bubba goes to the master bath and collects the laundry basket and brings it to the laundry room for me. Now all the dirty laundry is in one place (the boys room is right next to the laundry room, so every evening they deposited their dirties directly there). Once I have them working on the first assignments for school, I start a load of whites/lights (at the moment that is what I'm always short on... white socks for the boys, so white are needing to be cleaned most often around here). These are usually moved while the boys are still working on school... and then I start a load of darks (jeans are the second most needed items, especially after a busy weekend... and I don't do laundry over the weekend).
After darks I work on my sanitary wash pile (towels/rags and underpants). I save the sanitary wash for last because by then I've worked on my bathrooms and so that rag can be thrown in with that load. Also this category takes longer to cycle and is the perfect thing to start before you need to start working on lunch and won't be available for a while. Now if your laundry situation is beyond 3 loads (one of each), only pick one category and work it until its done, then the next day tackle the next category.
Important things to note about folding and putting it away:
  • Fold somewhere uncomfortable and that will need to be used for its intended purpose SOON! If sitting in the living room is comfy, sometimes it is easy to allow the unfolded laundry piles to just sit there and never be finished (finished is the desired effect... completely put away)! Try folding on a bed that someone will have to sleep in sometime that day. Stand to do it (if you can), you are much more likely to get through it quickly and move on to something else! If you are schooling- bring it to that area, and fold while you are watching over their work.
  • Get the kids involved. Depending on their size, they might be able to move laundry from one machine to the other, or from the dryer to the folding location (my boys love this project... I haven't figured out why yet). If they are old enough to fold or hang, let them be involved. Have them put away their own clothes. This saves you a step of the process, and gives them responsibility in the current laundry arrangement... it's their clothes after all.
  • The toilets are always on Monday! Usually in between laundry shifts I go to the two bathrooms and administer the toilet cleaner. A clean toilet (and surrounding floor) will keep your bathrooms smelling fresh and clean! A helpful hint is to keep cleaning supplies in each bathroom so you don't have to constantly bring them from one place to the next!
  • Clean up the sink/vanity area (this is the sink, counters and mirrors). Mondays I actually use a cleaning solution, and scrub them. I do this again on Thursday or Friday. On the in between days I use Clorox wipes to wipe everything down. This is also a good time to check supplies you might need to add to your grocery list. Take stock of tooth paste, makeup, shaving cream, hair products... as well as put away any clutter that might have shown up over the weekend (like leaving brushes, hair products, makeup or what not just laying around... I like to keep things put away as much as possible)!
Vacuuming. I'm a stickler for vacuuming during the week, but let it go on the weekends (usually). So Monday is a big day to get everything back in shape for the week. I spend some time going around the house sweeping the hard surfaces into the carpeted areas (this way you don't need a dust pan... work smarter not harder :-). Then I wait to vacuum until right before my husband comes home (the timing is also somewhat dependent on the dinner I'm making and if I can break away to do the whole house. If I know that isn't possible I will vacuum the whole house at some other point of the day, leaving the livingroom for the end of the day). This is just our thing so you can fit it in at any time... but I know how much we both enjoy coming home to a freshly vacuumed house... well, that is something that is within my power to do for him.

This is how my Mondays are usually spent when it comes to the housekeeping part of my vocation!

You Must Not Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're traveling seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow;
You may succeed with yet another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are;
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit.
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

~author unknown~

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My eyes have been opened...

Isn't it interesting the things our Dear Lord brings to us... in the events, the people, and the timing!

Yesterday I went and helped a friend with her home. She called earlier in the week asking for help to prepare for the arrival of family, and she knew alone she couldn't make any headway. She tried to prepare me... warn me... about the disarray, in her voice you could tell that she was desperate but at the same time giving me a way out if, just by her description, I felt it too overwhelming.

In our phone conversation a few things occurred to me... (and also the conversation with Daddio before I agreed to anything that takes me away from our home for an entire day with the boys)... what does our Blessed Lord tell us? Ask, and you shall receive... knock and the door shall be open... She called me, she was asking me, she came in all her insecurity and vulnerability and reached out. How can I refuse? If Our Lord commands us to do that with Him, shouldn't we also do that for our friends?

Needless to say, I agreed... she's a friend, she asked for help... I went!

I was prepared for what I was going to see and what was needing to be done... but at the same time I was unprepared for what I was going to be shown! I know, cryptic!

Overwhelmed, I think this term is used too often, even by myself. Overwhelmed is when, alone, you can't see your way out... my opinion is that to be truly overwhelmed is one step away from despair (which is a sin... because you have lost your love of God... learned that in confession by a wonderful priest who also said that the term despair is also used far to often and people have forgotten its meaning). For my friend, her home had truly become overwhelming for her... crippling in thought, and she had no idea where or how to start or if they should just bulldoze and start over. So I did what I could, I helped her form a game plan, and we put it into action. We didn't finish, which I am so sad about... but never fear my friend we will work an arrangement out, I'm not going to leave you hanging!

While cleaning, I looked around and had some very interesting thoughts.

--I wonder if God looks down on us, and thinks to Himself... I've given you this nice home, and what have you chosen to do with it? You let trash pile up, clutter is in every nook and cranny, sin is EVERYWHERE... every tool and good I've given you is lost among the piles.

--I saw in my own spiritual formation the same notion... Here, I've read tons of great works (working in a Catholic Bookstore affords you the time to read copious amounts of material), the knowledge from those much smarter than I is in my brain... but not being utilized... it is simply among the clutter of all the other things I have to get done in a day. What an absolute waste, dare I say a sinful waste of what I've been given in the way of spiritual food...

--What I saw in her home, is sometimes how my brain feels in general. There is simply too much there and it isn't organized, and there is so much trash up there that I've never chosen to deal with. How many times have I said to myself, I won't be like my parents were with me... and then turned around and done the very thing I promised I wouldn't do? Another great priest reminded me during spiritual direction that all our hurts from our past childhood can be healed, if we choose to heal them by using the Light of Christ to parent our own children. I've been told how to... but have I truly done it? Or is it just one more tool I have that I stuck in a box?

How fortuitous it was for this to happen in Lent... isn't this exactly what we should be doing? Examining our own lives... every nook and cranny. Taking everything out, and only bringing back in what is necessary! Owning up to our sinful ways, confessing (remember, this is a big one... check the catechism if you don't believe me), and being reunited in complete LOVE with our Heavenly Father as His own Son pays for those sins?!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A little religious ed. update

Bubba is preparing for his first holy communion. We are using this little old-fashioned catechism, which is very easy for him to read, but not too dumbed-down, and certainly not hippy dippy. Solid stuff, but kid friendly. I find myself impressed at the profoundness of the simple questions and answers.

Anyway, to make an impression that first communion is a special and important thing, I decided to do catechism lessons in the evenings, after regular bed time. Last year, Bobcat was the only one who got to stay up late after the little brothers had gone to bed. This year, Bubba is the student, and Bobcat gets to stay up too, and listen in and review. Poor Snookie still has to go to bed on time, and he's bummed because he knows that everyone is up without him. But I think that is actually a good thing because it will make him desire the sacrament and take it seriously when his turn comes. There's something very exciting about staying up late. Both boys have had one lesson terminated by me and sent to bed because they weren't paying attention. Bobcat in, I believe week three last year, and Bubba in week six this year. That really makes an impression. I try not to associate punishment with something that should be joyful, but I do want them to take it seriously and feel that it is a privilege. I think it's working because they both snapped right out of it, and Bubba is just plugging right along now. One more reason why I prefer to do this preparation at home rather than in a group setting. We as parents get to decide if they are truly mature enough and adequately prepared, and we can adjust the pace to suit the individual child. Bobcat was actually done by early Feb. last year, and so Bubba to keep on pace would have finished this January, but things just haven't progressed as quickly. And that's fine. We're getting there, and he'll be so well prepared when the day finally comes.

Bobcat is enjoying his observer status this year. He is a little older and wiser, and some of the more abstract concepts are starting to sink in. In the second lesson, "God Is Great", it says that "God had no beginning. He always was. God was never born." Let me tell you, that is blowing Bobcat's mind! I believe his exact words were, "woah... that is so cool." Indeed, son!

Bubba is doing very well, too. He is such a good reader, probably better than Bobcat was at this age, so he is understanding the material a little better because he isn't struggling with the act of reading the words. The book has some very nice illustrations. No illustration adequately captures the mysteries of our faith, but it helps to show some imagery. Bubba takes those images pretty literally. I am still trying to explain how they are just "imagery", not literal representations. For example, one of last week's review questions was, "What kept the gates of heaven closed?" Bubba, remembering the picture answered, "The big piece of wood that says SIN on it." Again, we talked about how there was not an actual huge piece of wood blocking actual heavenly gates. Nor was there actual fire coming out of Jesus' heart and burning it up. Imagery is lost on the boy...

Another example, tonight's review question asked, "Where did Jesus go after He rose from the dead?" The correct answer being heaven, of course. Bubba answers, "To the house where the apostles were locked up." I was actually kind of proud of that answer, since this booklet doesn't mention that. He remembered details from the gospel itself, not just regurgitating the simple answer written on the page he just read!...

Anyway, we are only two lessons away from his first confession. He's actually looking forward to it. Apparently he doesn't know you're supposed to be nervous, and Bobcat has never given him any reason to worry about it. We should all be so joyful as this little Bubba when we go to repent!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Ever Quotable

Fulton Sheen, on Modern Politics...

"What economics was to the days of Liberalism, politics is to the Modern Man. So important has politics become, that now men judge religion by its attitude toward politics, rather than politics by its attitude toward religion."

on Pride...
"Every proud person takes himself too seriously."

(Sounds an awful lot like our particular ruling body...)

on The State (Modern)

"It is illuminating to observe that in every State in the modern world where there has been universal conscription to the exclusion of God, there has been erected a slave state."



Dr. Alice von Hildebrand was a guest 0n Catholic Answers Live a couple weeks ago, and had this to say:

"Personal charity has infinitely more value than social agreements which simply… eliminate the question of gratitude. Charity … this is something which is individual and is never accomplished by the state."

Something for our elected officials to keep in mind these days...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Another Snookie moment...

The boys were looking at one of our books. In the inside cover of whatever they were looking at, it was sign by the author... to me!

Snookie looks right at me and asks if 'Stephanie' is my middle name... um, no son, that's my first name.
"Oh, so Mommy is your middle name?"

Okay... I know we've had this conversation before, about names and what our names are and what the boys call us... and what all kids call their parents... but clearly all Snookie hears is what he wants to hear and all other things are just white noise to him!

Seriously, this is what my life is like living with three little boys!

Spring is starting to show itself!

Spring is starting to make its presence known around here. Our spring bulbs are opening and sharing with us the lovely colors and fragrances.

I just love it... we have mini daffodils, tons of tulips, and hyacinth in two pots as you approach our front door. What better way for guests to be greeted... by the lovely smells of fresh hyacinth!

I hope where ever you are, my dear reader... that the weather is starting to warm, the breeze is gently moving the freshly budding trees... and flowers are blooming!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Field Trip

Who ever decided to call us Stay At Home Moms clearly had no idea what a mom, who doesn't have a real job, does in a day!

Yesterday was one of those days... Field Trip day to the local zoo... it was Homeschool Day and all the animals were on their best behavior! As part of the activities, they had handlers at several locations teaching the children about the different animals.

Meet Pepito, he's a jaguar! One of his favorite pass times is threatening the coyotes next door to him. He's good at it, too. He can get them to howl, bark, and go down right balistic when he goes over to the fence and bats at them! This is one of the boys favorites when we go to the zoo!

Next up, Precious and her lion cubs (she has a total of four from this litter, 3 girls and one boy). She was brought over from Africa when she was 6 weeks old... she was an orphan. The handler said that this will most like be her last set of cubs since she is 13 years old now. The zoo is considering keeping some or all of the cubs because of this (the other 3 litters have been given to other zoos).
Oh, and this little guy... do you know what he is? This is a 2 week old flamingo! So cute, right? So far they have 7 hatchlings, with 3 more eggs waiting.

So our field was a lot of fun (and a lot of walking). I do have to give a big shout out to my dear husband who had to take one for the team as it were. A friend of ours had a few extra kids with her, and just as we were about to enter the park one of the extra kiddos wasn't feeling well. Daddio swooped in and took the little boy to the bathroom... and unfortunately got puked on! Poor guy, he had to buy a new shirt from the gift shop and then waited for the mom to come and get the little guy. And, with all of that, my husband met up with us a little later on and never did his smile leave his face... I appreciate that more than anything!

One last picture that I think is just TOO CUTE!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Homeschooling Continuing Ed

Okay, so those who are employed by THE MAN usually have continuing ed they have to attend for career development...

Homeschooling moms have things similar to this... homeschool conferences where we can go and hear speakers, browse the latest curriculum, and chat with other homeschooling families... problem is they usually only happen in the summer and as luck would have it, never in your area or you won't be around when they are in your area because that's when you're on vacation... such is life, right?!

Well, some friends of ours have created a product, if you will, that brings homeschooling continuing ed right to your computer. They have lined up Maureen Wittman for several webinars, along with Mary Kay Clark (Seton Home Study), and Danielle Bean (author and blogger)... with many plethora of names in the future.

So what is it exactly... well fellow homeschoolers, no need to slip on the smock... you can stay in the comfort of your own home, at your own desk, sign in and have a live webinar in which you can actually interact with the presenter and other attendees via the live chatting. But it doesn't end with just webinars for information purposes... Walter and Emily have also put together Mom's Night Out While In... meaning you can connect in a social manner with other homeschooling moms across the country a few times a month (and it's free) without having to find a sitter.

At the moment all of their webinars are FREE! That's right, any homeschooling mom's favorite phrase! This is a limited time offer... eventually they will be charging (a nominal fee) for the webinars... so friends, please go check them out at:

Ummm, well that's one way to go into it...

Straight from Bobcat

"I'm going to homeschool my kids when I have them. I think they will like having days off, not like the kids who have to go away to school who have to go every day. I will have my wife make my kids homeschool, because it is the best."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

30 Somethings

Today's post is a meme of sorts... one that I'm doing on my own, not one that has been circulating (but is similar to all the other meme's out there).

So, since today is my special 30 something birthday... here are 30 somethings about me (they will be quite random...)!

  1. I'm 30 today... March 3 1979 was the start of this llama's life!

  2. I was born in a small hospital, in a small town in Louisiana.

  3. Had I been a boy, my parents planned to saddle me with the name - Walter Craig (they are both family names... but seriously, I'm glad I'm a girl)... the name the did choose for me came from a dream my father had before I was born (thank goodness he wasn't ON anything at the time, otherwise I might be Rainbow Moon or something).

  4. My favorite color (someone actually asked me about this today) is PINK! Although I never realized just how much I liked pink until I had boys and was suddenly surrounded by blue.

  5. I love driving cars with manual transmissions! That's right, this lady likes the stick shift!

  6. My favorite car that we've owned... 2001 Red Mustang (5 speed manual... of course)!

  7. What cars have we owned... oh how the list has grown... my first car was a Geo Metro, then right before we got married Daddio got a 1999 Saturn coupe (5 speed), then the Mustang, then a Mitsu Lancer, Mitsu Outlander, Nissan Quest (YUCK), and now we have the Yukon XL and a Mazda 3 (5 speed). We like cars!

  8. Here's a weird one... my eyes are green and blue... green in the center and fading out to a blue ring out the outside... when I get upset the blue grows and overtakes the green!

  9. I like stickers... actually I hoard stickers. I have a box that has stickers from when I was in grade school that I still haven't used (a few really great scratch and sniffs). I'm much better about using them with the boys now compared to 4 years ago, but it is still a work in progress.

  10. I'm weird about certain food combinations. I like nuts, but I don't like them on my sundae. I like lemonade, but can't stand any lemon flavored desserts. I like grapes, but I don't like grape drinks (oh, but I do like wine, it just doesn't always like me). Hmmm, I can't think of all of them... Daddio can elaborate, he thinks a lot of my preferences are strange while I find them normal!

  11. I like working hard... manual labor. I don't mind breaking my back all day long because I know that there will be success at the end... and I like knowing that I put the effort in!

  12. I love camping!

  13. I love the beach!

  14. I love road trips!

  15. I could eat ice cream every single day if it were available to me (or milk shakes).

  16. My favorite drink is Dr Pepper... and my second favorite... Root Beer Float (note- it has ice cream).

  17. I like floating around in my bathtub. Seriously, I fill that huge garden tub up and get my float on. Daddio thinks it's pretty funny that someone can actually do such a thing... but hey I'm 5'2"... I fit!

  18. I don't particularly care for cats... I'm a dog person... but I really only like my dogs (I know, that's weird, and I accept that).

  19. I have very small hands that made playing piano a little more difficult, and I don't have the finger reach for the bass flute... which sucks because I would love to actually be able to play one, they sound cool.

  20. I used to be totally cool with snakes. Our AP bio teacher had a boa that we always had out during class... now... I HATE SNAKES... I don't know when it changed for me, but I have a hard time in the reptile house at the zoo!

  21. If I had a swimming pool, I would swim every day... I love the water!

  22. I never thought I would choose homeschooling, but now I could never see myself putting the boys in an institutional school on purpose.

  23. I'm not a huge fan of skirts (or dresses). I have a few for church and nice occasions... but give me shorts or jeans and I'm a much happier girl!

  24. I'm SHY... and I'm nervous... and I stutter if I'm asked to read in front of a group. I really don't like being the center of attention, I much prefer to go unnoticed. But if you've see me in public within the last few years, you will see a different person all together... I've been able to put my passions in front of my nerves and at time manage to overcome my fear.

  25. I'm a terrible speller! Uggghhhh, and I have a bad habit of leaving out words when I write. Generally I'm okay when I type because I can type as quickly as my brain is spitting things out... but actually pen to paper is a whole other ball game!

  26. I enjoy sewing... well all sorts of crafting really. During Lent I plan to spend more time doing crafty things! Maybe some of those things will show up here :-).

  27. I love a clean house. I even enjoy the process of cleaning the house... freshly vacuumed carpet, shiney mopped floors, and clean bathrooms... aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh.

  28. I have 6 boys apparently... 3 that behave for me, then they switch over and become a different 3 who don't behave for sitters.

  29. I have amazing friends! You know who you are... and I love you all.

  30. I have an even more amazing husband... for all the normal things, and for going to an amazing amount of work to pull of the best (surprise) birthday party I've ever had!

And for those who are wondering, I did in fact where the tiara the entire evening!