Friday, December 21, 2012


I have tried many many chore charts and angles through the years for my kiddos.  They usually work for a little bit but fizzle out.  

Last year we just had Tuesday's as our "Life Skill" day and that was  my fancy word for cleaning lol  The children were not fooled.  I did make it more fun and give out fake money to Snuggle Bug and old checks to  Sissy and Bubba . I had a list of what each chore was worth and then they had to use their money to "buy" their lunch(a dry erase board that listed with lots of different options and prices).  They also had to be sure to tithe 10% and put 10% in savings.  They also had set costs for electric and water.

 Oh and I would occasionally throw in those unexpected things that happen.  Like I threw water on the floor and said the pipe bursts in Bubba's house or I dumped out some clothes in Snuggle Bug's room and positioned a monkey to look like it was eating them.  They had to pay up to replace or fix things.

I also gave them 3 choices of fake cars  and 3 houses that they had to pay rent on each week. From a car with no radio to a luxury vehicle and so on.  Bubba realized real quick he was living outside his means lol

BUT anyhow, cleaning one day a week with a family of 7 is a lot to do.  So we adopted a system from ( LOVE this blog!!!!!!).  Here is what we do now and it works wonderfully!!  For anyone that has been over during our winter break, please know that we fell of track with our routine  I would hate for anyone to think that's what the house looks like with this system lol

This system allows for the house to be cleaned daily and everyone rotating jobs.  It also allows the littler ones to team up with mom so we can TRAIN the kids how to clean.  Responsibility focus is for that whole day in addition to their daily chore.  I love it because I am not freaking out that my kitchen is a mess because I know that Weds. I will get to it! 

 I even have a day to declutter!!!  LOVE THIS!  I have organized cabinets, cleaned out the pantry, all that stuff there never seems to be time for, but now there is!!  My kids also throw their own laundry in the washer and put away their own clothes.  Snuggle Bug  just puts his away but he does help me with the bathroom laundry and my laundry.  Again, training him up!

If it is your day to do dishes( by hand), then you do them after lunch and after dinner.  It helps to lighten the load.  I have had to train up the older 2 kids to do dishes since this is not a system we have had since they were little.  

I also have checklists for each room that the kids grab out to be sure they do everything that is supposed to be done.  This saves that aggravating question,"What now?"  "What next?"  that gets asked 20 times.

I simply put each of the checklists and the schedule in a 3 ring binder and inside page protectors!  They can use a dry erase marker to check things off as they go.

We schedule an hour a day to do the assigned tasks( but the responsibility focus is through out the entire day), usually from 3-4pm.

My kids do not get an allowance.  We think that some things should just be expected in life.  Their reward is a house that they can move through with out stuff everywhere.  They also get a happy mommy. 

 I feel so much more at peace when my house is in order.  

With 5 kids, it is never perfect but that's ok.  I will settle for 'manageable'. 
Especially seeing as how the kids are home all day for homeschooling and continually adding to the mess.

Just a little glimpse in how we keep our house running!!

Have a blessed Christmas!!!!

The Mama

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Life as Usual(CRAZY!)

So we have been CRAZY busy around here!!  My house is an absolute disaster.  Which we had finally found a cleaning system and schedule that was working really well(post to come soon  about this).  But we have found some land that we would like in a neighboring town and are trying to find the house we want to build on it.  The bank wants the plans plus a cost to build report before they even will consider giving approval for any amount.  I think it is insane how many hoops you have to jump through to get a new construction loan.  So we have been finding plans, altering them, getting quotes from builders, crunching numbers etc etc.

If that wasn't enough to deal with on top of regular life and  homeschooling, we also have a house we will have to sell!!  The one thing I have learned is that kids have this innate need to pull at wall paper if there is even the slightest corner up.  So needless to say we have wallpaper that needs stripped and then walls that need painted.

As you know I already have gotten the dining room and living room done since God had placed it upon my heart earlier in the year to use our tax money to fix up our house.  I was just trusting him that he would lead us to buying another one.
Dining Room Before


usa theme going on

in the midst of stripping off 2 layers of paper

love the edge painter i bought


Living Room Before

purple trim and wallpaper

nothing dramatic, just a neutral color

So this week we have taken a hiatus from school and we have painted the bathroom, the boys room, took down all the wallpaper from the girls room, started tearing wall paper off the stairway and the kitchen.  The last 2 areas mentioned still need steamed though.

I have to patch the girls room( 112 year old walls remember) and then paint and i have to finish trim in the boys room.

We still have a slew of other things to get done too not even including straightening up and decluttering our house.

Maybe  I don't want to move!  (;

Little Miss had her 4 month check up yesterday too.  She is 13.5 lbs and 26 1/4" long.  That puts her in the 90th percentile for height and the 25th for weight.  Just like her sissy-tall and skinny.  The Dr. upped her reflux meds too.  So we'll see if that will help any.  She also gets to start cereal.  I'll definitely have pictures of that (;

Ok so got to get off of here and start on some of the projects!

Many Blessings,
The Mama

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Little Miss 0-4 Month Progression

My how quickly newborn's grow in just 4 short months!  Every month we do a picture of Little Miss in the same rocker to show how big she is getting.  I thought I would share.

1 week old

1 month

2 months old

Her onesie says "This is my little black dress" (=

Many Blessings,
the Mama

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Life with no TV

So we have been with out cable or satellite since around January of 2010 now.  And thanks to the gov't regulating everything under the sun now a days, we have been with even the basic channels since they imposed the Digital TV(you have to have a really good outside antenna to get the basic channels which is a couple hundred bucks).

We cut our TV as a sacrifice to save money for the adoption of our Princess.  It was really hard at first.  I felt like I was missing out on everything.  So many great shows.  HGTV and TLC were among my faves.  Oh and the Food Network.

Bubba was 9 when we broke the news to the kids that we wouldn't have TV anymore.  I remember him asking from the back seat of the van in a faltering voice, "Are we becoming Amish, mom??" lol

But we quickly realized life seemed much more productive without TV and who cared if Bonnie Sue got kicked out of her tribe anyway.  We realized how many COUNTLESS hours we spent glued to the TV.  How irritable we'd get with the kids for interrupting or being too loud while we tried to watch our *important* show.

Now I will admit, we were/are able to watch a couple of our shows via hulu like the Biggest Loser.

And now I can't fathom giving all that money to the cable companies.  There are so many other things that our hard earned dough could go for. You also won't find any droids or whatever else is the latest technology in this house either and for the same reasons.  Remember my last post?  Need vs Want

People always feel bad for us that we don't have TV but there has only been one time in the past 2 1/2 years that I have missed it and that was for this past Olympics.  I love the Olympics.  But we just imposed ourselves on others and stayed to midnight at their place watching the coverage for the 1st week of the games. Thank you mom, SIL and BIL!

I am so busy that I don't know how I ever found time to watch TV.  I spend more time with the kids now  and to be honest they don't seem so annoying bothersome because my focus is on them not the boob tube.

*Pondering where that term ever came from...*

So what do we do with out TV to watch?  Well, foremost I read to all of them at night(sometimes during the day too if they beg me enough or if it's a really good book).  We have gone through about 20 books since we started a year ago.  We have finished the Harry Potter series, Narnia books, The Adventures of Huck and Tom, and many more.

We enjoy reading by candle light and having hot cocoa, even in the summer.  It has been the best tradition.  It really started when the kids decided to see what it would be like to give up electricity for a week( inspired by our visit to Conner Prairie).

Here are some other things my kids do with out any TV to zone out to:

Bubba made a bug habitat

He cut a water bottle in half so he could pour water in more easily and used the lid to add insects

They made a table out of misc. stuff in the garage.  Those legs are pieces of cardboard.

We get invites often to special shows.  They had a bunch of performances planned out and there was even a raffle.  There raffle tumbler was awesome but I didn't get a pic of it unfortunately. 

Sissy cut these out of cardboard and painted them to hang up in her room.

Painted pots from Sissy and Snuggle Bug for me.

Tin Can Stiltz.  This was a planned project I helped them with.
They had a kind of course for their bikes.  This was their homemade stop sign.

The kids also have made a homey place in one of our trees complete with some creative features, they have made a business up in their room to help people(The Hubby and I) with whatever needs done.  The even have forms we have to fill out and sign and have little desk ares set up and everything.  They have had 2 different meeting places for a club they started.  Oh my fave was our family newsletter.  Sissy was the editor and would post a new edition of happenings and things to come on our mantel.  It was really funny. 
 It had interviews with people too. 

All of this is at their prompting, totally self motivated(beside the stiltz).  When you shut off the TV something happens I discovered:

They have to use their brains.  

Now at first there was a lot of "I'm bored!" kind of stuff but I squashed that real fast.  I told them there was too much to do in this house to be bored.  If they say it then I have lots of jobs to keep them busy. (I also use this tactic for fighting because if they have that much energy they can put it to good use)

  Amazing how they were never bored again (;

Now they can watch movies and we do have a wii.  But I am one of those awful parents who limits the use of electronics altogether( that includes their DS, or in Snuggle Bug's case an Explorer, and also playing on the computer).  Our rule is you can only use electronics after 4pm on the weekdays and only for an hour total.  And sometimes I just say no electronics at all for the day, except what we will use for school.  

At this point I never see myself wanting to go back to having cable/satellite( though the Hubby wouldn't mind it truth be known).  I keep up on what's happening in the world via the internet.  And even at that I can spend way too much time on here.  Though it is usually to do work for homeschool or our scout group. 

So I hope this inspires you to go unplugged for a week or two.  See what happens.  

Who knows, you might actually like it.  

The Mama

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Longing for Less

Have you ever wanted to just run away from everything and pack up your family and move to an serene, quiet place?  Have you ever yearned for a less hectic life? A simpler life?  I have for quite some time and still do.

Over the past couple years I have had a longing for less, but in turn less would mean more.  I am so sick of being dependent on the ever rising costs of oil and food costs and so on and so forth.  And after traveling to the Philippines to bring our daughter home, I realized how much we really have, how much excess. Especially after just watching an episode of that show were chefs are hired by people in Beverly Hills.  Yeah that one where they had to make a four course meal for dogs and then there was the botox party. The only part that got me through the episode was seeing how the chefs thought these things were absolutely absurd also.

But I digress.  The point is we can really get by with so much less but us Americans have become so entitled that we can't separate need from want.  It has really become a pet peeve of mine.

We just returned from a vacation in Florida where we stayed in a smaller 2 bedroom home, probably around 1000 sq feet or so and we loved it.  Even though our house is bigger here at home, I somehow felt more overwhelmed by it when I returned.  My 3000 sq foot home seemed smaller to me than the 1000 sq foot home-how can that be I asked myself?

Things.  Things is the answer.  STUFF.   Things are suppose to make our lives easier  but often it seems they just complicate our lives.  The answer is to strip down.  Not our clothes, but in the bare minimum sort of way. Strip. It. Down.

There is sooooo much crap and stuff in this house.  I felt a strong need just to chuck everything when I got home and I did some stuff then I got bogged down by all the STUFF everywhere I looked and was paralyzed by it all. And not necessarily junk, just lots of stuff, ya know?

And STUFF and THINGS moves our focus away from what is really important in life- each other, our family, God.

Maybe what we need is not a bigger house to fill with more stuff ( and more rooms to clean and more hours to work so we can afford said house), but a smaller house.  That thought has just blown my mind.  It is so opposite of the American way of thinking.

I still think we need more bedrooms, but maybe not a ginormous living space.  Our family is one that is always in the same area anyhow.  We are not a family where everyone is in a different room watching TV, of course we don't even have TV( well cable or satellite I mean).  We just like to be together. Most days.

The Hubby said to me the other night that we need some time together and how since we got home from vacation he just feels off.  I could not have agreed more.  I said I think we need to pack up,  find a spot out in the country with a little cabin and move.  We could have a big garden, grow our own food, live more independently(Wow I feel like a hippy.  Minus the drugs.  And the sex.)

Hubby was all for it(not the minus sex part,just the more independent living part), but likely more just in spirit
( he's not a very outdoors kind of guy). As in, "Oh that would be nice, but just in my head, not for real real."

I, on the other hand, am about 90%  serious.

I long for a simpler life.  I swear I could even do with out electricity, even though I would miss my fridge and microwave. My hair would look like crap with out my blow dryer too, but I could manage. It would be really hard to live with out the internet too, but I suppose I did it for the 1st half of my life, I could likely do it again.


 I would even be ok going totally old school with having a fireplace in the kitchen to cook with.  I do well cooking over the fire.

Yeah that's right.  I am talking little house on the prairie here people.

 It use to be more about big gov't as to why I wanted to live more independently, but now it's about simplicity and what really matters.  Instead of the more, more, more, mentality try thinking less, less, less.

This all might surprise those that know me.  I may seem a bit high maintenance as I try to always have my make-up on and hair looking decent etc.  But I love the outdoors and nature.  I always feel closest to God in the woods or gazing at a meadow.  I see God's hand everywhere in the beauty and intricate work of nature.

The meadows are clothed with flocks, the valleys also are covered with grain; they shout for joy and sing together.

And think if we actually did down size-no scraping by each month and stressing out.  1/2 of our monthly income now goes to our house payment.  You know as well as I do that stressing about money leads to a very unhappy home for everyone.  It's why most people get divorced.

So I encourage you too really evaluate what you truly NEED in life.  What are the things that you could strip away to help simplify your life?

I leave you with these words of wisdom:

 Remember, less crap, not more crap.  

When you see that quote on a shirt someday, remember-it all started here people.

The Mama

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Carnival Party

So Snuggle Bug turned 7 in May and he wanted a carnival themed party.  

Here is what we did:

This all was suppose to be outside at stations but of course we had gale force winds that day so we had to move it inside the garage last minute.

What you see is many plastic table cloths hung on a clothes line. They were 98 cents each at walmart.  I did not originally want them all touching but we had to squeeze them all in(plus they had to hide the junk in  our garage!).  You could also hang the table cloths on a fence.

Then we stenciled signs(construction paper) for each of the games. 
In the above picture you see Squirt 'em Down and Can U Hit 'Em.  

Squirt them down we had foam blocks we stuck golf tees in and then put ping pong balls on the tees.  The kids then had a squirt gun and they would try to shoot off the balls.  Be sure to have a bucket near the guns to refill them.  

The other game we simply wrapped cans of veggies with construction paper.  The kids would get a tennis ball to try and knock them down.  We started off having some foam board(we use it for a target for shooting a bow) behind the cans to stop the ball but that that didn't stay well so we had a toddler bed mattress behind the table cloths in our junk(see, junk CAN come in handy sometimes) that we just set up against the back of the hanging table cloth.

Here we have a face painting station and a Penny Pitch which proved to be the most challenging game!  To make the penny pitch board we took  a poster board and then dipped the bottom of a water bottle in some very light colored paint and stamped circle shapes evenly onto the poster.  Then we took brighter colors and filled in the stamped areas.  We put just one red circle in the middle that was worth 5 tickets(we'll talk about tickets more later) and then a few gold circles worth 3 and the rest were worth 1.  They got like 5-6 pennies each and had to try to toss them onto the circles. I made a sign that told how many tickets for each color. The tricky part  was the pennies bounced with the cement floor!

Then there was bowling(we had a set but can be done with filled water bottles too) and a ball toss game.  I had foam balls( they usually come 6 to a pack) that they tried to pitch into the buckets.

We also had this one.  You had to toss a stuffed lion through the 'flaming' hoop.  It's just a hoola hoop with red and yellow streamers taped on.  I wanted orange streamers too but they were all out.  I hung it on a shepherds hook(one that you usually hang plants on).

We had an adult at each game manning the booth. Every game had a strip of painters tape(or duct tape) on the floor to stand behind.  I also bought a roll of raffle tickets(told you we would come back to this) to hand out to the kids and here is what we did.  For the ball toss game we said a ticket for whatever # that bucket was.  So if they got a ball in bucket #1 and bucket #2 they would get 1 ticket for the first bucket PLUS 2 more for the second bucket.  But you do whatever you want.

For the squirt em game they got  a ticket for each ball they shot off.  1 ticket for getting the lion through the flaming hoop, a ticket for every pin you knocked down for bowling and same for the can game.  1 ticket for each can that was knocked down after 2 throws.  And then we already discussed the penny pitch.

You could also give the kids a certain # of tickets that they have to had in to play the games.  But we chose to to award them tickets which they loved.  I also bought some little chinese containers that I wrote each of the guests names on and that is what they put their tickets in as they collected them.

Snuggle Bug is holding his here.  I got them at Walmart for around 1.98.  
There were 4 or 5 boxes to a pack.

So what did they do with their tickets you ask?  Great question! 
They turned them in for prizes of course:

I just got some fun dips, giant pixie sticks, suckers, sour punch straws and so forth at the dollar store( those are mostly 8 for $1 candies).  The I bought a pinata pack at walmart of some toys.  There were a lot of different packs  to choose from but I tried to get a pack that seemed to go with the carnival theme.  It had the funny glasses you saw Snuggle Bug wearing in the earlier picture( they were a HUGE hit BTW), little flutes, some flying disc shooters, kaleidoscopes, round ball mazes and such.

Then I gathered some clear containers, jars, bowls and vases and put the prizes in them.  I also added some iridescent stones to the bottom of some of the containers.  We just had the stones at the house already and I thought they added some flare to the containers.

Now you could put a value on each of the prizes.  Like, flutes are 5 tickets and suckers are 7.  But I had no idea how many tickets the kids would earn and I didn't want the first customer to wipe out the prize table if they had a ton of tickets.  So I just improvised.

I would make a big deal out of counting their tickets and the say,"You can get 3 candies and 2 toys" or something like that.  They then put their prizes back in their chinese boxes to take home.  Smart huh?

The guests could turn in their tickets whenever they were done playing games.  

We also had a photo op:

I found a picture of lion online then free handed this, painted it and cut the circle out so it looks like the person is inside the lion.  They do have some like this online to buy too, but I was going for cheap. I taped the poster board lion onto a rolling clothes rack so that way the kids could get behind it.  
A doorway(with the door OPEN) could work too or a clothesline.

Here is our sign for the party

I drew the swagged part on top and painted everything under it yellow(actually Bubba painted it).  Then we colored every other swag red and just painted on the words.  Stenciling would have looked better but our letters wouldn't have fit on there.

And you certainly can't have a carnival without food!

We let the kids grab food whenever they wanted to make it feel more carnival-ish.  
We had hot dogs( the cute plastic holders I got a the dollar store the other year), doritos(ok they are generic), bags of popcorn, pizza slices, pop and cotton candy.  Ok we were SUPPOSE to have cotton candy but we forgot.  Sissy has a cotton candy machine and we had made up some extra paper cones to spin the cotton on but in the chaos of it all, it got forgotten somehow.  

Here is the hot dog holder (=

Some more pictures of the day's events

The tables that some of the games are on are just random things like coolers stacked on one another, a plastic shelving unit, a side table.  Whatever works and that you have handy!  It will be covered up anyhow.

And that is a VERY pregnant me attempting to paint a helicopter on a guest.  I didn't do too bad really.
I had wanted to do up a sheet with pictures they could choose from( pictures I could paint for sure) but I ran out of time. I am a decent artist so it wasn't a big deal.  The kids just told me what they wanted.  I did a butterfly and a snake too.  Pretty easy.

We also did bingo for a little bit.  I had a long table set up outside with a Bingo sign.  We also used this table to open presents.  The prize for Bingo was just something off the prize table( they picked).  I really wanted some circus music playing too but that didn't happen.  I also had red, yellow and white balloons and red and yellow streamers to decorate with but we ran out of time to stick them up! Oh well.

So how the party schedule went was something like this:

4:30pm Helpers arrive(for games).  Explain game and what they will be doing.
5pm Guests arrive/Explain games, tickets, prize redemption and food
5:00-6:00 Play games/eat/prizes
6:00-6:30 Bingo
6:30-7pm Presents/Cake/Ice Cream/GO HOME!

Everyone had a blast and the age span for guests was from 4 yrs old to 11 yrs old.  
And boys and girls alike had fun.    

But come on...who doesn't like a carnival??

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Got to talk to Bubba this morning!!!  Woo-hoo!!  I feel so much better.  He got to run the Art Museum steps yesterday( the ones 'Rocky' ran).  He had never seen the Rocky movies so we showed him a clip online of the stair running scene so he'd have some idea of  the importance of it.

The kids went by the Liberty Bell( not sure that they actually stopped).  I had Bubba read a book we had about he Liberty Bell and it's history and significance before he left.  We also felt compelled to watch National Treasure again since most of it takes place in Philly and they plot line has to do with Ben Franklin and the Liberty Bell.  Did you know there are 13 signers of the declaration and constitution buried in Philly including Ben Franklin.  So cool.

Anyway...Bubba tried an authentic Philly steak and cheese sandwich which he liked( I think he said he ate it with onions even! Whose child is this??).  The group bought 2 lunches and gave them out to a couple of homeless people and then prayed with them.

The kids Bubba was with in the picture on the last post were from a kids camp the center is doing.  So he said they were heading out to pick up those kids again today.

He also said it was HOT.  They all ran through...a fire hydrant I think he said, or something of that nature.

He only had a few minutes to talk so that's all we got from him.  Can't wait to get all the details when we see Bubba tomorrow night!!

Many Blessings,
The Mama

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Missed the Call

I missed Bubba's call tonight.  There are not enough unhappy faces to put on here that would express my sadness in this.

We were waiting for his call and Sissy and I went upstairs to lie on my bed and read through the new family fun( a little tradition of ours) and he called while we were up there. We were only upstairs about 15 minutes and he called 3 times during that period and left messages.  Messages that didn't say much in words but spoke volumes in tone.

This Mama's heart broke into a million pieces listening to the sadness in my boy's voice.

Even writing about it gives me that icky hollow feeling inside.

Neither Sissy or I heard the faint beeps on the answering machine when we came back downstairs.  We even have a phone up in our room!  But I took the handset downstairs last night when Bubba called so the Hubby and I could talk with him at the same time.  The main base(in the living room) rings even if the handset isn't on it, but obviously the secondary one in our room does not do that unless we would have heard it while looking through our magazine.

I feel sooooooooooooo horrible. And yes, I cried.  He sounded sooooo disappointed.  And there are only a few kids there whose parents aren't with them which makes it even worse to me.

We tried to quick text the adult's phone that Bubba always uses to call to see if maybe we could still talk to Jordan but it was almost an hour after he said he would have to be in bed.  And we never received a call back.

Did I mention how horrible I feel for missing his call?


The children's pastor that is with Bubba and the kids has been posting some pics.  We spotted Jordan in one from today.  The caption said Bubba and another boy from the missions group were leading prayer with some inner city kids-

Bubba has the Bengals hat on.  Can't see his face though.

I soooo wanted to hear about his day today. 


You can bet I will be carrying that phone around with me EVERYWHERE tomorrow.  I am praying that the adult whose phone we texted will allow Jordan to call tomorrow morning but I don't know.  I understand if they don't let him call though.  Rules are rules.

Well off to bed to further berate myself.