Give when nothing is given back

+ J. M. J.

Everyone has days that are easy. Other days seem like pulling out your hair. Lately, there have been many more of the “other days” than the easy days in our life. There is a lot of give-and-take change.

My husband and I have been failing to give and take. We have missed opportunities to be Simon of Cyrene to one another, helping carry the other person’s cross. (Love is always for the sake of the Other.) Just the opposite. We have made snide remarks without thinking of what they imply. Or worse, we have said The Thing Which Will Do The Most Damage At This Moment.

It is time for a redo.

And, ah, the children. The disobedience is coming to a head. My patience is wearing thin when it must be at it’s thickest, strongest, boldest. The moment my back is turned they make mischief. What used to be the sound of children laughing gaily as they should is now repulsive to me, as my mind repeats, “Clothes. They need to put on clothes,” as the pressure builds and I let off steam in the worst way.

Where is this coming from? Oh, God, forgive me and grant me the grace to get out of this hole and turn away from this anger (whether passive-aggressive or just plain aggressive).

There is peace in the storm. If I had not gone through this period I would not understand why God called me to the vocation of marriage.

I live one block from the church. I can walk there in less than two minutes when my husband is home. Being there alone with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is more refreshing than anything else. He brings me solace, His faithfulness, His selflessness, and He fills my soul with graces to take back home to my family.

When I’m there, I wonder why it is I am here married and raising children. Is this loud and hectic life really what I am supposed to be doing? If it is, why do I feel an ache that cannot be filled?

The truth is, only Christ can fill the ache. I was not called to the ease of the quiet (though that has its own crosses). My vocation is to love my husband. My vocation is, by extension, to care for our family. It is not easy to love my husband sometimes, as any wife can tell you about her husband sometimes. When we show our vulnerability that is when it is easiest to hurt us. He doesn’t try to hurt me but I take it personally because, “He should have thought ahead. He should have known doing that would have hurt me.”

I can harbor it and allow my husband keep in the same routine. Instead, I heard a homily this past week about carrying with joy The Cross God Has In Mind for Your Salvation.

It is hard not because I was supposed to be doing something else. It is hard because the cross is hard. If it is to be a fruitful cross that will help my husband, our children, our loved ones, and myself to heaven then it must be a difficult cross.

I cannot let everything done and left undone be an offense against my very soul. And so I kiss my tiny cross and carry on. Give when nothing is being given back. Maybe I am in the right place God has in mind for me to save my soul, after all.

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I am realizing (and my husband, too) that bedtime prayers and the Rosary with the kids is not enough to know and love God. It is definitely not enough time to draw grace for all the things that demand time and energy throughout the day. So I have prayerfully made a commitment to waking up early for silent prayer and to pray Lauds. I pray my husband can join me.

Praying with the kids and then praying the Rosary at the foot of their bed is a great family practice. We see the difference in our little kids. Therese is “getting” prayer on the most basic level. At Mass she repeats with me the prayer the Angel taught to the children at Fatima after receiving her blessing at Holy Communion. Her little hands folded in prayer saying these words she doesn’t really understand is such innocent sweetness.

Oh my God,

I believe, I adore,

I hope, and I love You.

And I pray for those

who do not believe,

do not adore, do not hope,

and do not love you. Amen +

 

This past Sunday I asked her, “what does that mean?” She told me, “It means I love you, Jesus!” The right answer. 🙂 We have started praying it together when she wakes up. Elzbieta follows along for about 5.2 seconds. :p

How lovely is y…

How lovely is your dwelling place,
Lord, God of hosts.

My soul is longing and yearning,
is yearning for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my soul ring out their joy
to God, the living God.

The sparrow herself finds a home
and the swallow a nest for her brood;
she lays her young by your altars,
Lord of hosts, my king and my God.

Psalm 84

(from Morning Prayer today)

+ A Prayer for My Husband

+ J. M. J.

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+ O Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit, Divine Lover of my soul,

Please bless my husband, whom You gifted to me, and whom I love so much more than I thought possible.

Make him a saint. Give him Your heart. I beg of Thee to bestow on him every grace.

Bless him, that he may continue to be selfless for others.

Bless him when the pressures of being the provider of our family weigh on him.

Bless him when his job is stressful and co-workers are disingenuous. Help him see these as opportunities to be You to others and sanctify his own soul.

Bless him when life is care-free and the Evil One tells him he doesn’t need to rely on You.

Bless him as my husband, that he may continue to lay down his life for his bride every day in cherishing and serving me. Bless me with the grace to accept this with humility and reciprocate that marital love by honoring and serving him, too. His example of Your love softens my heart to Your mercy.

Bless him as the father of our children. Help him be the image of You our children first know, so that when they learn about God the Father they attach You with the things he is: good, noble, virtuous, firm, gentle, merciful, honest, disciplined, humble, and holy.

Give him the right words to say when You give him opportunities to teach others, especially our children.

Bless my husband, that he be always pure of heart in every way. You said, “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God.” I pray that I always be pure of heart, too, so he and I–and by example our children–may attain everlasting life with You.

Remind him to always rely on Your love and guidance.

Remind him to pray, “Jesus, I trust in You” every moment he can.

Remind him to care for himself so that he may care for others.

Remind him that You love him every moment of every day. And, while you are at it, Jesus, please remind him when I’m not there that I love him, too.

Amen +

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DIY Moneysavers: Cleaning Edition

Pinterest is where most of these were found. PHOTOS ARE LINKS TO THE RECIPES. Enjoy!

Cooking Spray

Canned cooking spray has propane and butane. DIY is safer and saves money. (I know it isn’t a cleaner but it’s just too cool.)

Dishwasher Detergent

100+ loads. We added a container of Lemi Shine to this as we have extra hard water and it worked as well as the store bought.

Homemade Laundry Soap

This lasts our family of four a little under a year. We wash 7 loads a week. We just made our second year batch.

Homemade Fabric Softener

Homemade Febreze

Home Cleaners

DIY Scented Plugin

Simple Shower and Tub Cleaner

Leave in shower and wash 1/4 while you’re there every day. I’ll never stop doing this!

Orange Vinegar Cleaner

Let sit 2 weeks and drain into a spray bottle.

DIY Shaving Lotion

The website this is from is no longer available.

Homemade Toothpaste

Weirded me out at first but I then thought “I guess toothpaste is just mint soap for teeth, who says it has to come out of a tube?”

The Story Behind Our Healthy Living

+ J. M. J.

This year our family has been on a mission to save money while eating healthier. It started when we lost a baby to miscarriage at the end of December. We love that baby so much and we are grateful for the very short time she spent with us. It was an existence between just her and God–we didn’t even know of her beautiful life until it ended.

To cope I needed to do something. Talking with the doctor we came to the conclusion that there might not be anything “wrong” with me to treat–it just happened. The only tangible thing we can control is how we take care of ourselves so that’s what my dear husband and I set out to do.

Well, I take care of menus, shopping, and cooking so whether he wanted to or not he is along for the ride. 🙂 Even though he doesn’t, say, get excited about a sale on vital wheat gluten, he is supportive and tells me he desires to eat as healthy as possible.

10 SWITCHES OUR FAMILY MADE TO EAT HEALTHIER

1. We started by switching fully to whole grains. We cut out all “white” grains that have no fiber or healthy fat and low in nutrients.

We save money by baking our whole wheat bread, which has 8 ingredients. It costs roughly $.60 for a 32oz loaf.

It takes 15 minutes of labor to make it in the bread machine so it was the easiest switch.

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2. Then we started cutting out refined sugars. We still use white sugar, but much less of it, using the “Eat 80% healthy, 20% don’t worry about it as much” rule.

3. Things we say no to:
– completely cut out artificial sweeteners.
– avoid foods with preservatives, chemicals & ingredients with more than 3 syllables. :p
– avoid salt. We don’t add salt to food. When we eat at other homes the food tastes too salty to us, but our taste buds have adjusted to our cooking without it.

4. Lean protein most of the time. (We’d already been doing this.) We eat beef 2-3 times a month.

5. Drink more water & take vitamins.

6. Switch to healthy snacks. This was a challenge as I relied on things like graham crackers for the girls’ snacks. I’m always on the look out for healthier toddler snacks that don’t get messy.

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Blueberries and Homemade Corn Dogs made with non-preservative hot dogs and whole grain flour. Easy switch. (Click for recipe.)

7. Make half of what we eat fruits & veggies. (White potatoes and corn are starchy grains so they’re limited.)

8. Cut a lot of dairy out of my diet, but not the girls’ diet. We do NOT drink skim!!

9. Make food rather than convenience and prepackaged food. If it is a side dish from a box, we don’t buy it. Budget101.com has many DIY recipes.

We make our own:
– Greek yogurt (NOT fat free)
– whole wheat tortillas
– spaghetti sauce
– whole wheat pizza dough, which we freeze in batches
– any “mix” at the grocery store (like scalloped potatoes) we make ourselves
– whole wheat bread (baked twice a week)

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10. The next thing we are working on is eating complex carb, protein and good fat every time we eat.

Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into what we eat!

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My Husband Wins ‘Father of the Year’

+ J. M. J.

My sweet honey comes home from work, hunched over from hard work and lungs filled with dust, and what does he do? He puts the kids in their high chairs, volunteers to clean them up after supper because I “have had them all day and must be exhausted.” He then changes their diapers and then, just before bed, he helps put them in pajamas, brush their teeth and hair and wants to be the one who reads them a bedtime story.

He is a great husband and father.

Daily Routine of a Stay at Home Mom

I was laid off this week. That is okay. I am a full time stay at home mom. Wow, it is an adjustment. But it is the vocation I am 100% convinced I am called to. It’s my life’s dream.

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Before Bed Routine

1. 7:00 Get the children ready for bed (30 min)

  • Walk them through their BBR
  • Pray together as a family, read a book & tuck the children in bed (7:30)

2. Clean up the house before you go to bed (30 min)

  • 5 minute room rescues – living room, bedrooms, bathroom
  • Kitchen – clean it up, shine sink, lay out clean dishcloths
  • 5 minute hot spots – dining table & desk

3. Think about tomorrow before you go to bed (20 min)

  • Check your calendar for appointments
  • Start a to do list for tomorrow
  • Ask myself & hubby: “What can be done that will make tomorrow morning easier?”
  • Gather items you don’t want to forget and place them by the door
  • Start breakfast – set the table & make a mental note for breakfast
  • If you plan to use the slow cooker, get some ingredients ready
  • Lay out your clothes for tomorrow

4. Cool down before going to bed (20 min)

  • Get yourself ready for bed
  • Brush your teeth, wash your face and comb your hair
  • Take vitamins
  • Pray together

5. Spend screen-free time with hubby

  • Make some tea for hubby & myself
  • Chart! Be in bed by 10:00

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First Thing Morning Routine

1. 5:30 Rise and shine!

  • Make your bed
  • Pray!
  • Work out
  • Go into the bathroom; shower and clean it while you’re there
  • Dress to shoes; fix your hair & face
  • Swipe the counter & Swish the toilet
  • Leaving the living room with a load of laundry in hand and go straight to the washer

2. The kitchen

  • (If you BBR) The kitchen is clean and all you need to do is empty the dish drainer!
  • Make coffee and tea and start breakfast
  • Prepare breakfast

3. Think about your day

  • ASK HUBBY BEFORE HIS SHOWER HOW I CAN HELP HIM OUT THE DOOR (fill a travel mug of coffee, etc)
  • Check your calendar
  • Make your to do list
  • Dinner prep
  • Review checking account and bring down the balance
  • Hit the hot spots, if any are messy

4. Now think about yourself

  • Take vitamins
  • Sit down and relax for a moment
  • Reboot the laundry (put it in the dryer)
  • Reward yourself with some computer time

5. Get the children ready for the day

  • Wake them up at 7:00!
  • Walk them through their morning routine
  • Eat breakfast together
  • Set the timer for 10 minutes: Clean up chairs, floor mats,, dishes and kitchen
  • Now you’re free to play until lunchtime and it isn’t even 8am!

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Naptime Tidy Up

  1. 5 minute room rescues – Living room, Bathroom, Bedrooms (15 min)
  2. Fold & put away laundry (15 min)
  3. Put away dishes & wash any that are dirty (15 min)
  4. Get drinks & snacks ready for kids (5 min)

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Supper Routine

1. Set the mood for a peaceful suppertime (start at 4:15)

  • Spend a couple minutes freshening your face
  • Set supper table
  • Start supper. Fill the sink with hot, soapy water and wash dishes as you go
  • Light candles
  • Put on some nice music
  • Pick up a couple hot spots

2. Get supper cleaning out of the way (30 min)

  • Timer 10 min: Wipe down the high chairs, trays, table and floor mats
  • Timer 15 min: Put the food away. Wash those few dishes that are left.
  • Timer 5 minutes: Take out all upstairs trash.

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Without a plan I do not get very much done. That is the way of it. This is how I have been spending my first days as a stay at home mommy. Well, the Morning and Before Bed have happened mostly. I am not used to washing dishes and folding laundry every day. And I fight insomnia. Baby steps in the right direction.

Ora et labora!

How to Purge Toys

The toys in my office have been in one large tote. This doesn’t work well. All the toys are taken out at once. Toys miss their matches so the kids don’t play with them. It’s a mess. 

I read about Decluttering Sticky Clutter today.

1. I challenged myself to fill the trash can with old toys they don’t play with. They’ve already been through several children. I did.

2. I cleared the trash off an unused bookshelf (another clutter-free space!) and moved it to the play area.

3. Then I separated their toys into 6 15-quart totes (they really aren’t as big as they sound) and put them on the bookshelf.

4. Then I got the old and unused ones out of there pronto.

Now they can get out 1 tote at a time. If they want to play with another the tote that is out is put away. And it means Mom isn’t putting away 6 times as many toys at the end of every day. w00t w00t!

And there is 50% less STUFF so they can actually play with what they love.

Kids love simple and clutter-free spaces, too.