Faith, Family, Friends, Fellowship, Food, and Fun

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Organizing My Home-A Daily Struggle

"If my kids were just a little older, my home would be much more organized." How many times have you thought that? And in the next thought, "I shouldn't wish the time away."

It's  funny to think about how many people tell me I am SO organized. I wish! I do have a place for everything (of the kids) and it is labeled, but I haven't found the trick to get them to put their things in said baskets. There are many wonderful quotes that should be painted in huge letters across my walls, "Cleaning the house while your children are young is like shoveling snow in a blizzard!" I struggle y'all! EVERY day. Some days I am okay thinking that time spent with the kids is more important than a tidy house, other days I am near tears wondering where I have failed.

As my kids get older I add a little more responsibility to their chore lists. I now have the 9, 8, and 6 year olds folding/hanging their own laundry. I don't criticize how they fold. I try to have mini-lessons and then I leave the room. What does it look like? When I take all the clean laundry to my room, I have 4 baskets on my bed. I sort the clean laundry into each child's basket and if it needs to be hung up, I make a pile in front of their basket. I also make a separate pile of my husband's clothes that need to be ironed. It works like clockwork!

I decided to have my children take baby-steps every day this summer to try to make the house look a little better every day. They wake up, have breakfast and a little screen time (since they all wake up at different times) and  then I announce that  when the timer rings, it is time to start chores. I also worked in that if chores are done WITHOUT COMPLAINING, we will have a little treat each day. These are treats my kids don't get during the school year like snow cones, 1/2 price shakes at Sonic, an item at the dollar store, etc....

And here are their chores:
Day 1: Make your bed neatly. Fold jammies. All dirty clothes to hamper. Floor cleaned. Laundry folded/hung and put away. All personal belongings out of living room, dining room, and off of stairs. Read ____ minutes.  

Day 2: Same as day 1, add "Dresser cleaned off."

Day 3: Same as day 2, add "Drawers organized…all clothes folded neatly and in the right place."

Day 4: Add "Bookshelf cleared shelf by shelf and items put back neatly."

Day 5: Add " Closet cleaned COMPLETELY."

Day 6: Add "Van cleaned out"

Day 7: Add "All trash out of back yard."

Day 8: Add "Playroom cleaned."

Day : "Playroom odds ands ends put in place."

Day 10: "Change sheets"

Day 11: "Get all your things out of Mommy and daddy's room."

Day 12: "Clean out your backpack."

That's as far as I've gotten. If you have some other trouble spots, let me know so I can add them.

My house still isn't the way I want it, but honestly, will it ever be? I can't compare myself to one of my best friends, Rochelle. Her home IS ALWAYS perfect, She will not go to bed with anything out of place and she wakes up extra early to unload the dishwasher. She is a professional organizer, check out her Facebook page, A Simplified Space. That is her God-given gift and not mine. I can learn a little from her each time we stay at her house, but my home will never be like hers. Her path is not mine!

Just stop beating yourself up and while you are on your path, don't forget to stop and smell the roses.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Don't Believe Everything You Hear

We've all heard that before, right? But it seems lately I've been hearing a lot of false rumors about the public school system. It makes me so sad that one thing someone else has said can turn others away from schools when the statement wasn't even true to begin with.

It is true that schools don't do everything exactly as we would do it, but isn't that true for every organization? Even church?

I was with a group of friends a few weeks ago. All of them have very young children who aren't even in school yet. One of the moms said, "Our schools teach to the test and I don't want that for my child."   What does, "Teach to the Test" even mean? It means that teachers make copies of all the released TAKS/STAAR tests and use those for their daily lessons so that their students will become pros at completing them. Here is the truth: Some schools do teach to the test, but most schools do not. I can guarantee you that CSISD does not. When I worked in very poor schools, they did. Those students came to us at least an entire grade level behind because they started school with NO foundation. They did not know their alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, etc... so instead of focusing on Kindergarten curriculum, the KG teachers had to go backwards and teach Pre-K skills. And when those kids get to 1st, the 1st grade teachers have to catch them up on KG lessons, and so on. I was there, I did that!

As a former teacher in CSISD, I have heard the superintendent say, time and time again, "We do not write our lesson plans to the test. Our goal is to teach our students what they need to know to be successful citizens when they graduate from 12th grade."

Another myth popped up when I posted on Facebook that my Kindergartener asked her teacher if she could bless her food at lunch. My friend asked if Abby got in trouble for that.That saddened me to think that parents believe our kids can't pray in school. On the contrary, they all have a moment of silence in which they can pray if they want to. And honestly, the vast majority of CSISD teachers are practicing Christians, very active in their churches, and you can tell from their posts on Facebook that their love for Christ is present in their classrooms!  My kids come home and tell me their teachers played a song from Peace 107 in their classroom or it was played for the whole school at morning assembly. Our music teacher left the country for a few years to go on a mission. And just to confirm what I already knew, I talked to several principals who were on my retreat team (it's so awesome that at least 4 of CSISD's 14 principals go to my church). All of them said the same thing, the kids are allowed to share their faith, the teachers are not allowed to lead such discussions. AMEN!

So please, don't believe everything you hear, go to the source and find out yourself!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How much is too much?

When I was a working mom, well, we are all working moms, but when I was a teacher, I dreamed of all that I would do if I could be a stay-at-home-mom. My dreams were of a well-managed home with clean sheets on all the beds, scrubbed bathrooms, an empty sink, and so on. A June Cleaver home! And I dreamed of spending time learning more about my faith with my friends, and being a volunteer at the kids' school.

This is my 3rd year to stay home and my life definitely does NOT look like that. Not even close! I have jumped at almost every opportunity to learn more about Catholicism by attending the mom's group, joining another mom's group for moms of school children, attending different studies on Pope John Paul II's letters, being a team member for a marriage enrichment group, attending an ACTS retreat in January and then being on the team for a retreat a few weeks ago, and more.

Stephen has gotten involved at church as well attending the Men's group Thursday mornings at 6, joining the Knights of Columbus, attending an ACTS retreat, and now being on the team for the upcoming retreat in January. He also just became Cub Master for Caleb's scouts pack and that is at church as well.

Doesn't that all sound perfect? It is. Then you throw in dance for the girls on Monday while Caleb is at Scouts, baseball on Tuesday and Thursday, and choir at church on Thursdays. Plus I like going to Mom's Night Out, Bunko and a book study, which each meet once a month. I really want to get to one of the new Children's Holy Hours on the first Friday at church. I really do.

But wait, there's more! I decided it is time to commit to helping at school and Caleb's teacher asked me to be her room mom. That doesn't sound like too much, I have done it once before, but at Greens Prairie, the room moms do more than anywhere else. So I have failed at that already!

In addition, Lauren wanted to join an after school group that promotes friendships (which she needs), and Caleb wants to join a running club afterschool and I have NO IDEA when those begin. That will mean I have to wake Spencer up from his nap to pick them up from school....since I have no idea when, I'll just wait til the day one of them doesn't come home on the bus, then I'll know I'd better go up to the school.

And......I made an agreement with myself to promote Sweet Station once I had 3 kids in school so I have been swamped with making cakes and about 15 dozen cookies in the last 3 weeks.

And just to make it more fun, my children, who NEVER get sick, got sick and Caleb was home for 4 days last week. Just when I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, Spencer broke his foot and is now in a cast! Good times, my friends!

It's no wonder I dressed my kids for school pictures today, only to realize later that picture day is tomorrow! So if you see me in public in my jammies, or maybe even my underwear, you'll know why!

So the million-dollar question is, "How much is too much?"

Monday, September 30, 2013

Aggie Cookies

I made these Aggie cookies for the church's silent and live auctions yesterday. They would be great for tailgating parties, secret pals, care packages to students at A&M, Ring Day, and graduation parties. To see more cookie and cake pictures, go to Sweet Station on Facebook. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sacred Heart of Jesus cookies

In June I ran across a picture of someone else's Sacred Heart of Jesus cookies on Pinterest. They were adorable, but I had no idea when I might need to make them. Little did I know that our ACTS retreat director in San Antonio had chosen this picture to go along with our theme for the retreat scheduled for September 19-22. It was introduced to us at our first meeting in July and I knew I was going to make these cookies for the retreat.

I made 75 of them, wrapped each one individually, and tied them with red and yellow ribbon, the colors of our retreat. I was very pleased with how they turned out.

I have decided it is time to stop dragging my feet and really get my baking business going. To see more pictures of my work, or to follow Sweet Station on Facebook, click here!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Arnold Art Camp Session 4

The Dixons were doing the melted crayon art. It wasn't as easy as it looked. Next time we'll definitely use a taper candle or flame lighting stick.

Tissue Paper Stained Glass Windows-now these turned out great!

Who knew Perler Beads were such hard work?

Sweet Violet made a huge star and then had the patience to complete a smaller heart.

See, I told you they were cute!

Joelie and Benjamin show their precious projects.

Abby and The Dixons

Arnold Art Camp Session 3

This session I set out a variety of beads, sequins, wiggly eyes, glitter, rice, etc..... and the kids used them in unique ways to decorate their names. None of them turned out like the example, but they were all beautiful nonetheless.
Sharpie-Solo Cup Suncatchers

We also did mosaics out of rice, popcorn seeds, split peas, and beans.

The artists

Thursday, July 25, 2013

4th of July

Have I ever mentioned how lucky we are to have Aunt Joanie and Uncle Paul in our lives? Wow, there are no words. Aunt Joanie has been there for me for as long as I can remember. I have letters she wrote me when I was little. I remember going to stay with she, Uncle Paul, and Christy in Silsbee when I was 13. I remember getting to drive to Longview to see them when I was a teenager, all by myself. I remember licking the bowl when she made goodies such as rum balls! And I could go on and on. Well, the legacy continues with my children. Aunt Joanie and Uncle Paul are such patient and loving Godparents, and I can't imagine my life without their influence.
This year was the 3rd year in a row that we spent the 4th of July with them. It is so wonderfully relaxing. They are the most patient people I have ever spent time with.

Watching the Longview fireworks on the 4th.

Abby on the jet ski.

Abby loved swimming in the lake.

Spending some time at the park about 5 houses up the road.

Look at the old fashioned merry-go-round!

Aunt Joanie braves the trip with me at the "wheel."

We are so lucky that Gladewater has their fireworks on a different night than Longview. We put the kids in their jammies, load up the boat, and drift on the water while the fireworks show takes place. Then we pull the boat up to the house and put the kids to bed, no traffic!


I always get excited when friend come to stay with us. It's a compliment, it means that even though we have a small house, friends want to spend time with us. I can't tell you how thrilled I was when my friend of about 31 years said they'd come see us. I've known Kendra since 5th grade. In middle school, we had the same circle of friends, attended lots of slumber parties, and loved Sweet Valley High Books. Kendra had every single one and one of my fondest summer memories is riding my bike to her house DAILY to swap the book I'd read for the next one in the series. It just so happens that her oldest, Abby,  is the same age as Lauren, and her youngest, Livy, is the same age as my Abby.

Abby and Livy bunked together on the top bunk with their matching Bee Pillow Pets.

Lauren and Abby had their own slumber party in the playroom with their matching Ladybug Pillow Pets.

Everyone but the men.

I had a great time and I hope Kendra and Jay bring the girls back next year!

Mom's Night Out #2

Our Mom's Group Ministry is growing! I am so grateful that Lauren A joined our group last December and has taken charge of planning Mom's Night Out. In May we met at Uncorked and this was taken at the Benjamin Knox Art Gallery. Does my heart proud to see these women come together.

Czech Festival with The Eisles

Back in April, Erin, Julia, and I went to have a girls' weekend with Amanda at her family's farmhouse. It was just amazing. I will have to catch up on that post later. She told us about the upcoming Czech Festival, and we put it on our calendar. Stephen had to work, but Amanda rode with me while Bill drove their boys, Caleb, and Abby.

Decorating ginger cookies after a demonstration.

Look at these beautiful eggs! The kids watched a video on Patricia Polacco's story, Rechenka's Eggs. Then they got to design their own.

They also got a cool lesson on how to play these instruments. It really sounded great!

I'm so glad we spent the day with this precious family. I look forward to exposing my kids to more festivals like this one.

Vacation Bible School

This year all my kids were old enough to participate! I really could have gotten a lot done at home if I had just dropped them off every day, but I decided to volunteer in the kitchen. I really enjoyed working with Mary, Susan, and the kids who also volunteered. I just love being a part of this fabulous church family.

The setting was Athens, Greece, and as usual, Lauren wanted to dress that part.
I feel so blessed to raise my kids with all these wonderful families that we've gotten to know better these last 3 years. I can't wait to watch all these kids grow up together...lead each other...encourage each other...and grow in Christ together!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Arnold Art Camp Session 2

Today was session 2 of our Arnold Art Camp. We are having so much fun and of course, I am already planning next year's. Here's what we did today:
Bead Suncatchers

Birdseed Biscuits -going in the oven

Completed Suncatchers- aren't they beautiful?

Completed Birdseed Biscuits

My kids using the leftover seed mixture.