Doing the best she can to raise happy, healthy children

Tag Archives: household management

This year, we’ve been introducing some chores into my children’s lives. My oldest just started 1st grade and last year was her first year of some responsibility before school. My son just started pre-school and he too has some things he’s responsible for before school.

Our implementation of chores has been a slow process. My kids have always loved helping me with household duties such as cooking and setting the table. I used their natural desire to help to direct them to appropriate duties. So, I guess one could say, they’ve been informally doing chores for a long time now.

My 1st grader’s before school routine- what she’s responsible for:

1) Getting dressed

2) Brushing her teeth

3) Making her bed and putting her pajama’s on her bed


My Preschooler’s before school routine- What he’s responsible

1) Dressing himself with supervision

2) Brushing his teeth


Saturday morning chores for both children- my preschooler with more supervision

1) Put away all folded clothes

2) Pick-up their room

Our chores are simple. None of them too difficult and some may say too simple. However, implementing chores at this age to me is more about teaching the children to be part of the family and to assist the family. I don’t want chores to have a negative connotation. I want them to think that chores are no big deal, it’s just what we do. Because, really, they will have chores to do all of their lives. No reason to make it a negative experience at such a young age!

Do your children do chores? What age did you start? What was your approach? Was it successful? Leave a comment, let’s talk chores!

My last post was all about how the family dinner seems to be quickly fading into the past. I have memories of eating as a family. Family dinners in my house are a priority. Highschool kids these days, I can’t imagine will have the same types of memories. Instead, they’ll have the grabbing McDonald’s on the way to the ball game or dinner waiting to be warmed up as each person has a moment memories. Dinner tables across the country are looking like this:


Are you one who wants to add more family dinners in but am not really sure how to do it or feel it’s impossible? I’ve come up with some ideas that may make the transition easier.

Prepare for starting the family dinner by: 

1) Ask Why not? Find out the root cause to why you’re currently not having family dinners. Are there too many activities? Do have time issues? What barriers do you have? Once you’ve figured out what’s holding back from having a family meal, you can find ways around those barriers. For example, your child has sport practice right after school until 5:30 with games on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Or, you’re a full-time mom of a toddler who wants to eat right away when he gets home.

2) Get Organized: This will take a bit of work at first but once you’re organized it will be easy going forward. I recommend putting together a family or kitchen binder. Buy or make some dividers with tabs and buy some of those plastic page protectors. Label your tabs: Menu, Recipes, Want to try, Shopping List, Coupons. Add the page protectors behind each tab. Search online or create yourself some templates for Menu, Recipes, Shopping list. You may have some luck here: Pinterest. Consider which days of the week have evening activities that will affect eating times. Consider that toddler’s rumbling tummy and have a small snack handy when you pick him up.

3) Keep it Simple: This is especially true if you’re trying to newly implement this. Every meal doesn’t have to be a fancy 8 course meal. In fact, not every meal has to include home-made dessert. If your family likes chicken nuggets and french fries, do chicken nuggets and french fries. Remember, it’s the experience of the family dinner that’s way more important than a gourmet meal.

4) Plan ahead: This is one of the essential steps to regular family dinners. Well, it at least is one that I feel takes the stress out of the family dinner. I highly recommend menu planning and shopping according to your menu. I always keep a few easily made items for those days that don’t go as planned. For us that is chicken, BBQ sauce and french fries. I also love my crockpot for days I know we’ll be busy in the evening. If you know you’ll be eating later because of an activity, put together snack bags and carry them with you. It will fight off the hunger and decrease the chances of grabbing food on the go.

5) Try and Try again:  If this is a life change for you, it will take time and practice. Don’t worry if this week was a fast food week and not one of menu plans actually worked out. There’s always tomorrow or next week. That’s one of the best things about life, you can make changes slowly and try again when it doesn’t work the first time.

Are there ideas you’d add to my list? Have you found something that works well for you? Please share I’d love to all about your family dinners.

You can read the first of these posts here.

When we bought this house I remember several people told me to not worry about a formal dining room because people find this room to be a waste of space and don’t use them. I was surprised that of all the things on my house wish list, that was the one thing criticized the most. A few years ago, the Today Show was interviewing a woman who was encouraging what she called the “slow down” movement. This “slow down” movement was encouraging families to eat one meal at home a week. One meal? That’s it. At that point in my life we were eating at home practically every night. Now, I’m told that we are entering the stage in life when we’ll be eating less and less at home and more and more on the road. Really? My kids are only 3 and 5. Does it really happen this soon?


Currently, on average we eat as a family 6 out 7 evening meals together around our kitchen table. The only meal we don’t all eat together is Wednesday nights when I and my daughter spend it at church. And on the weekends we eat all of our meals at home minus a 1-2 times a month we eat lunch out following church. Oh, and our meals aren’t from a box. I cook, yes, actually cook every evening meal (minus Wednesday when my husband cooks).

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work planning and preparing food for my family. I work all day and then once my day job is done; I cook dinner. I get it, it’s a lot of work. It’s tedious. It’s not appreciated work. I get it. I’ve felt the pressure of getting a meal on the table. I’ve heard the whining “is it done yet?” just to hear “I don’t like it” at the first glance of the meal. I get it. It’s simpler to run through the drive-through to not hear the groans and moans. It’s more relaxing to grab food to go and eat in front of the television.


But what I also get, is the benefits of eating dinner together as a family at our dining room table. My kids are gaining valuable experiences eating together at home. They are learning to cook and the feeling of achievement from making something delicious. From helping to cook they are learning numerous skills and their knowledge is growing. We, as a family, have time to learn from each other and actually have a conversation about how our days have gone. We get to say Grace and thank God for all he’s given us. We are bonding as a family.

If you’re a family that eats out or grabs fast food several nights a week, I’m not meaning to shake my finger at you while peering over my glasses. Rather, I want to encourage you to consider what you are missing out when you don’t eat as a family. Take some baby steps and start eating all together at the same table and see what you learn about each other.


This post was shared at the Reading list and Graced Simplicity

This year is basically over and a new one starts very soon. It’s amazing how quickly time goes! I’m a believer in my grandmother’s saying, “time moves faster the older you get”. Yes, this is very true. I feel like I literally blink and a new year begins.

As I do every year around this time, I begin to think about what I’ve accomplished. I’ve not reached all of my goals but I’ve made some major steps toward them. I’m not one to feel bad or sorry for myself if I don’t reach all of my goals. I mean, after all, I have a whole new year to continue to make progress, to continue to grow, and to continue to develop. So, why stress about a goal here or there?

I do however, feel its good to look back and evaluate my progress as I look into my goals for next year. So, here’s a quick look at 2013’s New Year’s Resolutions:

2013 word Health: my goal to improve my health and the health of my family. I often thought about how decisions would affect my health or the family’s health and based decisions on this.

Personal Health goals: I didn’t hit the mark on this completely. My actual weight goal was not met, however, for most of the year, I was the lowest I’ve been since having the kiddos. And my goal was to continue to work toward’s losing, and I most certainly did that! I found there were times and seasons where I had lapses in my focus on diet and exercise. My jogging goals were also partially met. I did complete a 10K and multiple 5Ks. I had a time goal of 38 mins for my 5k but unfortunately the one race I think I would’ve met that goal, I forgot to time it.

Household Health: I did put together my cleaning schedule it was much later in the year than I would’ve liked and we’ve now fallen off that schedule. However, it’s easy to get back on board which we will do.

My 2013 Bible verse: Trust in the Lord always with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

I still love that verse. I often went back to it when I was struggling or just needed some reassurance.

How did you do with your resolutions? Are you making any for the new year? I’d love to hear about your successes or learning opportunities!

The book club this month has chosen A Woman after God’s Own Heart. I’ve not completed it, so a full review will be posted later. However, I really want to share with you how wonderful this book is. So far, I would recommend it to any Christian woman getting married or already married. It helps to refocus our thoughts on being a wife and what that means.

Right now I’m reading the part of the book about submission. Oh how I hated that word so many years ago when I was first married. I hated the thought that somehow I’d lose my independence. I even asked for it to be left out of our vows. Afterall, I was n’t going to promise something I had no intention of doing.

As I’ve aged and we’ve grown in our married life, I’ve fallen into a routine that very much seems natural to me. I and my husband work as a team- this is especially important since we both work! I’ve naturally fallen into the role of caregiver for my children and running the household. I enjoy caring for my husband and making sure his needs are met. I feel contentment when I know I’ve done something to help his day go smoother. I truly feel like I am his helper.

I’ve also let him take the lead in most decisions. That has not come easy for me. I was after all, very independent. As I’ve let go of the reins and let him make those big decisions I’ve felt less stress. I know my opinion matters and I have the opportunity to voice an opinion. But ultimately, he makes the final decision. And you know what, he does a great job leading our family. He puts our family’s needs first. He contemplates everything and comes up with plans to get us where we need to be. This job has been so much easier now that I’ve stopped trying to force my way on decisions. I feel confident that he hears my voice. I know he will make the right choice for us.

What I’ve found reading this book is, what I’m doing is submission to my husband. The thing I hated so much as a young person getting married, I am naturally doing. I have been given better understanding of what it truly means to be submissive and was astonished to find out, it came naturally to me. Not only that, but I didn’t lose my independence. As I reflect more on it, I think many of us are submissive and just don’t realize it.

Now, I’m not perfect and the book did show I’ve got some ways to go in regards to submitting to my husband. I know have a much better understanding of what Biblical submission means and have some ways to do it.

Stay tuned for a full review of the book.

Are you submissive to your husband? Do you have a good understanding as to what that really means? What ways did you help your husband today?


This gardening experience has been so much fun. The kids have really enjoyed it. My son every morning and evening goes out to check the progress of our labors. He excitedly exclaims “there’s one!” as he finds the growing cucumbers. My husband checks things over and was the first one to notice the little ones growing on the vine.

Not everything has gone well with our little experimental garden. Here’s a few things that could use some improvement:

1) No herbs grew. Not. One. That was a huge disappointment. I love, love, love cooking with fresh herbs and couldn’t wait to cook with ones I’d grown. It can’t get any fresher than grabbing it out of your very own garden! But, that hasn’t worked out for us.

2) Our volunteer plant. Now, it was great to have a volunteer zucchini plant from our compost pile. Downfall however it not only grew right over our onions but also got the grubs. Yeah, not fun. So, not only did several onions die/not grow but so did the volunteer plant.

3) Organic Seeds were a bust. The first time I went shopping for seeds I was with my sister-in-law. She’d favored organic seed and I didn’t have a preference. So, I purchased organic. I went back several weeks later and purchased a few more seeds. Luckily I did otherwise we’d have nothing in our garden. Yup, the organic seeds never grew.

There are a lot of amazing things going on with our garden. Here’s a few of those.


1) Cucumbers galore! Oh boy did our cucumbers take off! My husband is very much looking forward to some home-made pickles and I’m excited to try out canning this year!

2) Just enough tomatoes. We have 4 tomato plants right now. Two are quite small and are on the verge of the cucumber hostage situation become a complete take-over. The largest plant has a couple of green tomatoes on it. I’m certain the second to largest will have some soon with the smaller plants following shortly after.

3) Watering is relaxing. I love watering the garden in the evenings. The sun is going down and I’m out there alone. The neighbors all retreated into their homes. It’s just me and my little garden.

4) Family enjoyment. As I mentioned above, my kids love the garden. In fact last week when we picked our first few cucumbers, my son was a bit overzealous and picked one early. They squeal with delight as they look for more veggies on the vine. That enjoyment is priceless.

5) Educational opportunities. Growing the garden has helped with educational opportunities. Not only do we talk about the fun of growing our own food but the importance of doing it. We have the chance to add a little science to our life by discussing why worms are important to gardens.


We’ve learned a lot this year so far with our garden. So much it would be hard to narrow it down and make a list. However, the top two things at this moment that I’ve learned is this: 1) it’s not nearly as difficult as I once thought 2) Joy of a garden outweighs any heartache (or body ache).

How’s your gardening going? What challenges have you faced? What benefits have you received? I would love to hear from you!


This entry was linked-up at Graced Simplicity.

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is rich and supplied. Prov 13: 4

I’m having our first family vegetable garden this summer and its been an experience so far! We have a small plot, I’ve added in a few pictures below. I’ve planted carrots, onions, tomatoes, herbs, and cucumbers. I started this little project with a lot of excitement. We’d been putting off gardening because of our plan to move. Well, now that plan has changed and I insisted we not wait any longer to plan the garden. So, we have a family garden.

My definition of a family garden is we all work in it. Now, I’ll admit, since it was my idea I’ve worked the most in it and anticipate I’ll continue to do the most work. And I’m OK with that. However, everyone will eventually get their hands dirty. The kids have already helped me with the digging and planting. My son was so excited and enthusiastic about it. My daughter loved digging and pulling some of the weeds to get started but needed some encouragement to get her hands in the dirt. I’m really looking forward to summer time spent as a family in our garden.

Since it was small plot, I didn’t want to pay to till the ground. So, I bought a hand tiller and tilled it myself. Now that as a lot of work! Despite working out, my muscle felt a bit sore the next morning after tilling. The tilling and preparing the dirt took the longest. I was so gung-ho that the first weekend I managed to till 3/4 of the garden space. My enthusiasm slowed and it took an additional 3 nights and a weekend to complete the last 1/4.

After the tilling was done, the rest of the planting went much easier. Since I tilled the ground over about a 3 week period (it kept raining on me!), I had to go back over most of it to re-loosen-up the soil. After I did that, I spread some of our composit soil over the top and worked it into the ground. Ideally, I wanted to let it sit for a few days, but since time was not on my side. I let it sit for a day and planted the seeds the next day.

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The first picture is my daughter helping to shovel. The second is the garden all tilled- by hand and the third is my son planting flowers. The fourth is the planted garden.

Did you plant a garden this year? How did your planting time go? Is there a part of the process that seems like more work than another?

So we have these shoes.


There’s nothing wrong with them. They are hand-me-downs. My daughter won’t wear them because they’re boys. My son won’t wear them because, well, I don’t know why. I think because his sister won’t.

He had to wear them last week because he urinated in his other shoes. We’re potty training. It was right before leaving for daycare. There was no time to clean and dry them. So, he was forced. Yes, forced, to wear them. He was quite unhappy about it. I told him he couldn’t go outside and to daycare without shoes on his feet. Later that day I spoke with his daycare provider and asked if he’d complained about his shoes.

That’s when I learned how much he disliked those silly, brown shoes. They’d come inside from playing and my Little Guy was walking around without any shoes on. The teacher asked him where they were. He told her he’d thrown them away. And, sure enough, he had. She took them out of the garbage, cleaned them off and put them back on his feet.

Yes, he dislikes those shoes so much he threw them away. Simple as that. He waited until he’d gone outside in the afternoon to play. Then, once the usefulness of the shoes was over, he ditched them.

This got me thinking. Thinking about things in my life that may have reached beyond its usefulness. I should be like my kiddo and toss those things. Yet, I hold on to them. We’ve been slowly cleaning out our house. We’ve been sorting and either tossing items or sending them to Goodwill and consignments. We have a long ways to go before our house will be completely de-cluttered.

I think about taking this a step further. What can I throw-out that I no longer need to do? What’s eating up my time? What activities are still in my life that’s outlived its usefulness? What negative emotions or thoughts are sitting there and need to be recycled? Are there things I could stop doing or throw away? How about you? Do you have “shoes” you can throw away?

We like the mundaneness of routines in this house. It’s good for the kids and good for us. We all know what to expect when we wake-up and when we go to bed. I know some people may be cringing right now thinking our life must be awfully boring. Please don’t! We start and end the day in a routine, we eat our meals routinely but we don’t live a boring life. Our kids are rambunctious. We are spontaneous. However, we need to be able to get the kids up and dressed five days a week for daycare. We must get them in bed at a decent time so we can get them up.


Everyone does their night-time routine differently. I’ve got friends on both sides of the, what I like to call, the night-time misery spectrum. On the left side of the spectrum you’ve got the co-sleeping, baby/child doesn’t have a chance to whimper people and on the right side you’ve got the cry it out for hours people. I know, I’m being a bit exaggerant. I do believe being to extreme either way can be, well, problematic and cause bedtime woes.

I’m somewhere in the middle, probably more left than right. My daughter whose 4 almost 5 has a different routine than her brother whose 2 going on 3. My daughter’s routine is brush teeth, we read a book and then say prayers. She keeps a night-light on after we leave. She listens to Chris Tomlin’s CD and quietly looks at her book until she falls asleep. My son gets his medications, brushes his teeth, we snuggle and read a couple of books and then say prayers. He crawls into bed, I turn on the lullaby CD. I say good-night leaving him with a book. He’ll either lay there for a while and then call me back into his room or he’ll immediately ask this question: Mommy, can you pat my bum? I sit with him until he’s almost asleep and pat his bum.

Now, on occasion if we’ve had an unusually busy day and my daughter can’t quite settle down or if she’s had a nap, she will call me into her room. Her request is simple, Mommy, can you pat my bum? I, without hesitation sit down and pat her bum. I know those on the right are shaking their heads at me.

But, the truth is, it won’t be long before they won’t need their mommy to do such things And, quite frankly, I want to hold on to the sweet moments of watching my babies fall asleep as long as possible. I am also teaching my children they can count on me. They are important to me, they’re requests and needs are important to me. And those lessons will last into their teenage years when I want me kids to come to me with their needs. And so, this little investment of love and time, will pay off in the future.

With everyone giving out their opinions on how a bedtime routine should look, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the spectrum. It can be easy to worry and stress over whether you’re doing it right. I know, my style is very different from most of my friends. And with everyone wanting to give me their opinion on how I put my kids asleep, I could find myself running in circles trying to do everything “just right”.

But, I’ve got a secret for you…It doesn’t matter what other people are doing. It doesn’t matter what works for your friends. What matters is what works for your family and your kids. So as long your kids end up doing this….


And you’re not stressed, you should know, you’re doing it right!


If you’ve been following my blog you know that my word for this year is Health. If you’ve not read the original post and want to, check it out here.

Health defined as  the state of being free from illness; a person’s mental or physical condition. 

So, where am I in regards to my goals I set? I can say I’m not exactly where I wanted to be. OK. That may be an understatement. I was quite certain I’d be further than I am right now. I was certain I would be down several pounds, be jogging at least 2.75 miles, my house would be organized, and my cleaning schedule up and running. Boy did I forget to factor in life! I’ve come quite the distance with my fitness but not so far with my diet or home management health.

So far since the middle of Jan, I’ve drastically improved my tolerance to exercise. I started barely able to continue jogging a mile at less than 3.8 speed on the treadmill. I jogged outside two weeks ago since the weather was nice and we were out-of-town. I was able to jog nonstop for 40 minutes and tackled a very hilly, just shy of 2 miles route in about 23 mins. I was pretty pleased with myself. Since then I’ve returned to the gym. The first time back to the gym I did 1.5 miles at the 4.5 speed. I was completely tired afterward but so proud. Then the last time I jogged 2.25 miles, the furthest I’ve gone so far this year and kept my pace at 4.3 and greater. Very pleased with myself despite knowing that’s a pretty slow pace. I should be working out more. Which is my goal for this month.

What I’ve learned from the fitness: Jogging outside is so much easier for me. I do better outside than inside. I enjoy it more than inside. So come on SPRING!

As alluded to above, my diet has been very poor. Last month we spent more time away from home then home. Or well, at least it seemed that way! Now, I’ve only gained a couple of pounds, I certainly could’ve been doing much better! Despite my plan, I’ve not been counting calories. I’ve been eating whatever I want. Last week its been a lot of sweets. So yeah. Big improvements can be made here!

What I’ve learned from the weight loss: Life happens but I need to find ways to focus on the food I’m eating. I’m setting a small goal for the next 6 weeks to get me moving in the right direction.

Household management health has been at a standstill. Good thing we don’t have to judge my success on just the first two months! I’ve made the cleaning schedule. Unfortunately due to so much traveling in Jan/Feb, we’ve not implemented it. So that’s my goal for March. We have purchased some shelves for the back room in the basement. My husband has organized some and I am planning on going through everything. I want to take a bunch more to Goodwill and make one stack for consignment and another for garage sales. I’m seriously contemplating donating anything that is little baby stuff that doesn’t sell this summer. We have too much baby stuff and we’re not planning on any more little ones.

What I’ve learned from household management: It’s a continual cycle. I know this may seem obvious but it really is! There’s always something to do and we are never completely done. I must be adaptable and I really need to get the cleaning schedule in place so I don’t become complacent.

During my Bible study, I recently read these verses: Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. – Prov 6:6-8

What a great reminder to go get up and get things done! My television shows can wait! Laying on the couch gets me no where! But, hard work now, will pay off later. If God’s smallest creatures realize this, there really is no reason for me to put off today what I’ll hate doing tomorrow.

How’s your New Year’s Resolutions going? Is there room for improvement?