Friday, October 24, 2014

Day 24: Prayer

(This post is part of the 31 Day Writing Challenge.  For previous posts click HERE)

Prayer is really the number one way for me to get a peaceful home.  I know I've waited until day 24 to share this, but it's really number one on the list.

When I don't take the time to pray, my attitude and my soul reflects that.

I know I don't pray enough.  I know it.  I get so wrapped up in the day and all the things that go on that I forget to talk to God.  I forget to thank him. I forget to ask for help.

Prayer time can be a kind of meditation.  Or it can just be a quick "Give me strength Lord".  Either way it's the one way to bring me back to the present, calm things down, and give me time to remember the reason why I have everything in my life and who I need to be giving glory to for it.

Morning Prayers
The Three O'Clock Prayer
Evening Prayers
The Rosary
Prayers asking for intercession of Saints
Prayers asking for the intercession of Mary
and oh so much more!

I think my favorite prayer time is just me talking with God.

The home is the domestic church and ours does have an alter where we can go to pray.  But most of the time I just pray as I go about my day and even in the car.


For more on prayers and praying see:

Daily Prayers - Specific Prayers plus the who, what, when and how or praying.
Catholic Prayers - from EWTN
Daily Readings  - from the USCCB
Praying With Our Kids - from Catholic Digest

"For me prayer s a surge of the heart, it is a simple look towards Heaven,
it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.
"
- Saint Therese of Lisieux

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 23: Menu Planning And Planning Ahead

(This post is part of the 31 Day Writing Challenge.  For previous posts click HERE)


I'm a planner by nature.  So this is something that I already do.  Oh the stress it saves me.

I menu plan
I try to plan my cleaning (but that is more fluid depending on how things go)
Vacations are planned months in advance
Birthday Parties are planned on Pinterest so I have all my ideas in one location
Christmas present ideas are pinned as I come up with them

I try to plan ahead for things as much as I can.

Menu planning is a big one for me.  Not only does it help me plan my shopping trips by showing me what I need and what I already have on hand, but when dinner time rolls around each day, I'm pretty prepared and not scrambling to find ingredients to throw something together.  It does help to lessen "take out food" too.

I actually just finished my grocery list for this week and next weeks menu plan.  I went through items that I already have on hand and then made a list of what I need from this weeks sale flyer.

My menu plans aren't anything fancy.  And I don't have a special board or template.



As you can see, it's my sloppy handwriting on a piece of paper that I post on my fridge.

It not only helps me to plan ahead but it helps the kids too.  Middle Man wakes up in the morning asking "What's for dinner?" and he can go to the fridge and see the menu plan for himself (that boy is ALWAYS hungry.

I was first introduced to menu planning by Laura @ Orgjunkie.com and her Menu Plan Monday.  I used to do a very loose menu plan but Laura's suggestions helped me organize it better and I still post my menu plans there most weeks.  Searching the tag "Menu Plan Monday" brings up all my past posts.  If there's a week that I don't get a menu plan done, I feel lost.

Resources that I use for menu planning:

allrecipes.com - I like searching recipes by what I have on hand.  I also like to read the reviews because sometimes they add or subtract things from a recipe that makes it even better.  I love that when you click on a recipe, it's got an "On Sale" box next to the ingredients.  If you put in your zip code it will show you what items from that recipe are on sale at your closest grocery stores.

Pinterest - I love searching Pinterest for recipes.  Again you can search by ingredient or for a specific recipe.  I have a BreakfastLunch, and Dinner boards where I pin my recipes.

Menu Plan Monday Link Up - At the end of every MPM there is a link up where almost 100 bloggers share their menu plans and recipes.

Cook Books - I love cook books and I have a ton.  I pull them out and search for things that we love but that I haven't made in a while.  It helps to mix things up a bit.

My menu plans aren't set in stone and need to be fluid.  Most weeks I use them exactly as planned but some weeks I have to switch things around or drop a meal.  Then that meal gets put on next week menu and it's one less meal I have to buy for.

I always try to shop my freezers and pantry first.  This helps to make sure that ingredients I already have don't get expired or old and saves me money on duplicate buying.

I would love to do more freezer cooking but I'm just not there yet.  I'm working on it.  I did it a few times and it really does save time.


Menu planning helps keep dinner time chaos down and also helps to make sure that we are eating healthier, less processed food both of which are very important to me.

"The woman is at the heart of the home. Let us pray that we women realize the reason for our existence: to love and be loved and through this love become instruments of peace in the world".  Mother Teresa

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 22: Managing And Decreasing Screen Time

(This post is part of the 31 Day Writing Challenge.  For previous posts click HERE)



I started this 31 Day Writing Challenge because I fell off of the blogging wagon.  I can tell you exactly when that happened.  I stopped blogging the day I joined Facebook.  There's only so much time in the day.  And I spend a large portion of it on Facebook checking status updates, conversing with Facebook Friends, reading food allergy articles, and just all around wasting time.

I joined Facebook when I worked for WEGO Health and I found Facebook a great way to connect with other food allergy health activists.  But then people I knew from school or in real life started friending me, and it went from being another avenue to research food allergies to an all out social network (that I swore I'd never join).  Now that I'm on Facebook, I guess I can't imagine being without it.  The food allergy friends are invaluable and I love to see what goes on in the lives of school friends that I haven't seen in years or especially family members that live far away.  It is nice to keep in contact with people I otherwise wouldn't be able to.

BUT... I do get sucked in.  A lot.  I've set screen time limits for the kids.  But I don't do it for myself and I need to.  I REALLY REALLY need to.  I've tried to set limits.  But I never follow through.  I'm afraid I'll miss something.  I should probably take the time to set up a special group for my food allergy peeps so that I can check just them so I don't miss important information.

I think "screen time" falls into numbers 8 and 9 for me on the list of 10 Most Important Things To Simplify Your Life.

I really need to limit myself.



1.  I will allow screen time in the AM, but not after 10 AM.
2.  I can check things for 15 minutes during my lunch
3.  I will have a little more screen time in the evening, but not right before bed.

This is going to be hard for me.  But I can do it!!  I need to think of it as organizing my time.


"To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others". Saint John Paul II


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day 21: Simplify


(This post is part of the 31 Day Writing Challenge.  For previous posts click HERE)


I know I'm guilty of it.  I'm guilty of saying "Things are crazy these days.  There's too much".

There's just too much of what?






Frankly there's just too much everything.

Too much food.
Too much work.
Too much activities for kids.
Too much money going out.
Too much selfishness.

While all of these are true, they don't have to be.

We seem to live in a society that reveres excess and shuns minimalism.

I like to watch House Hunters on HGTV and my favorite shows are the ones where people are looking at older houses.  I especially love the century homes, the historic row houses in Massachusetts, or even the post war bungalows of suburbia.  Unless the house has been extensively renovated, the potential buyers always say the same things "Oh the closets are so small" (I'll save my rant on granite counter tops for another post).  People used to only have clothes that they needed.  People didn't have more outfits than can be worn in a month.  A man maybe had two suits (and most middle class men only had 1 suit).  Families had 1 TV (if they were lucky), 1 car (if they were lucky), took one vacation a year (if they were lucky).

(picture found at Beautiful Abodes)


Everything today is inflated and I'm not just talking about prices.  Now you have to have a TV in every room.  Every family member of driving age has to have a car (this can be for practical reasons.  Where we live, NOTHING is in walking distance).  Kids have to have Jordan's in every style and color (we fight this at our house).  Kids have a long weekend due to a day off from school?  You must go on a trip somewhere.  You can't just have a closet, your closet needs to be Real Housewives worthy.

We want more than we need and we think we need more than is necessary to live.

Lately I've been making a conscious effort to buy less.  And if I do bring a new item of clothing into the house, one has to go out of the house.  We are cramming our lives with stuff.  But for what purpose?  Is the stuff making us happier?  Is the stuff making us better people?

The internet makes it easy for me to get stuff.  If there's something I think I need, I can Google it, find the best price, order it and have it shipped directly to my house.  It's easy peasy.  But it's not the best practice.  At least not for things that I don't need.

Less stuff means, less money going out.  It means less clutter.  It means less stress.

I love the blog Becoming Minimalist.  Whenever he posts something I want to shout "YES".  You can find a list of his most popular posts here.  The one that I'm taking to heart right now is The 10 Most Important Things To Simplify In Your Life.  And it starts with simplifying "stuff".  I've got my de-cluttering on.  I need to stop bringing the stuff into my life in the first place.  Less stuff=less stress=more peace.

At mass on Sunday, the priest said in his homily that we all have a God shaped hole in us.  And instead of filling that hole with more God, we are filling it with more stuff.  We are trying to fill it with more clothing, more money, more food, more drink, more anything instead of filling it with what we really need... more God.

I'm going to stop filling mine with stuff.  Starting now.

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.  Mother Teresa


Monday, October 20, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 10/20/14

Happy Monday!  I hope the weekend was good to you.  I feel like I could have used another day off even though we had a 3 day weekend due to a teachers day on Friday.

Saturday night we took the kids to Boo At The Zoo at the Cleveland Metropark Zoo.  We took the older boys when they were little but now it's the Little Monkey's turn.

The zoo does a great job of making it fun and not scary.  We all had a great time.








The Little Monkey was obviously Spider Man and Middle Man was Jake the Dog from Adventure Time.  Older boy would have been something in a purple morph suit but he was at Scout Camp (morph suit idea was the brain child of 7th grade boys for the JR High Halloween Dance...)

We have quite the busy week ahead.  I hope my meal plan doesn't let me down.










Friday:  Baked Salmon and Steamed Veggies

Saturday:  Cowboy Casserole (AKA Tater Tot Casserole)

Sunday:  BBQ Chicken Legs on the grill, Baked Beans, Baked Sweet Potatoes

Monday:  Potato Soup

Tuesday:  Turkey Burgers on the grill, salad, corn

Wednesday:  Cheese Lasagna (using gluten free lasagna noodles), steamed veggie

Thursday:  Chicken Rice Casserole

Breakfast:  Fruit, Pancakes or Potato and Sausage Skillet

Lunch:  Salads, Left Over Chicken Legs, Left Over Potato Soup, Sandwiches

For more MPM, visit Laura @ Orjunkie.com

Have a blessed week ahead!!

Day 20: The Basement Storage

(This post is part of the 31 Day Writing Challenge.  For previous posts click HERE)

The basement storage is my total frustration.  When we finished the basement, we had the contractor build some shelves on the storage side so things could be organized.  Yea, that's a joke.

First of all, I'm the only one that organizes that space.  And no one else even cares to keep it organized.  Taking out games?  After mom yells to "CLEAN UP" 5 million times, the way things get cleaned up is to open the door, chuck it in, and run away like crazy.  And if you send them back in there to pick it up right, they will just shove it in the nearest bin.  So I have dinosaurs, in with Power Rangers, in with race track, in with art supplies.  I label bins.   I explain how things should get put away.  But it never lasts more than a week or two because children in this house refuse to follow directions.  (can you sense my frustration on this one??)

My husband keeps it organized.  It's just that he is a total pack rat and refuses to throw anything out.  So the amount of stuff that accumulates in there is unbearable.

What's in there?

1.  Holiday decorations
2.  Paint, painting supplies
3.  Boxes of tile left over from building the house
4.  Hunting coats, boots and sports stuff
5.  Beach umbrellas, beach chairs, and boogie boards
6.  Weights that we moved from 3 separate dwellings and no one uses
7.  Baby items such as swings, play yards, and jumpers that have all been outgrown
8.  Toys, toys, toys and more toys
9.  Random stuff that I'm not sure what it is or why it's kept

I've asked the people in this house to go through the stuff and get rid of what they don't want.  I've not seen anything leave the house at this point.

So, I'm going to go down there and organize this junk one more time, then I'm throwing my hands in the air and giving up.

Things to get rid of:
1.  The first items on my list are outgrown baby items.  I'm not sure I just want to give those away though.  They are all in good condition so I'm thinking that I might try a local buy/sell/swap site.  We have a consignment store near by so I could check with them too.

2.  Toys.  The hard part with the toys is that the Little Monkey is the 3rd boy.  And we have a lot of boy toys.  I hate to get rid of too much because I don't know what he'll be into.  I'd be sad if I got rid of something just to have to purchase it again down the road.  But I can get in there and throw out broken things, dollar store junk, and then give away baby toys that are outgrown.

3.  Random stuff that I'm not sure what it is.  I can go through all of that and set aside what I don't think we need, ask if we need it and if not, purge.

But I'm serious on having to let this go if they can't keep it neat.  It's just not worth worrying over.  Plus the door has a lock so when we have company, I can always lock it so no one sees the disaster that is in there.

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.    Mother Teresa 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 19: A Day Of Rest

(This post is part of the 31 Day Writing Challenge.  For previous posts click HERE)


(from beliefnet.com)


It's Sunday and I'm resting today.  That will be my "peaceful home" for today.

Have a wonderful, blessed and peaceful day!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Day 18: The Bonus Room

(This post is part of the 31 Day Writing Challenge.  For previous posts click HERE)

All I can say about the Bonus Room is Ugh.  Ugh.

It's a finished attic off of the master bedroom.  It's over the garage so this would have been the unfinished attic that we would have accessed through the garage ceiling.  But it's like another room.

Part of me wishes that it wasn't finished and we accessed it in the garage.  Who would be crazy enough to want that?  Me.

Why?

Well because 1.  We have no other attic/storage space and 2.  Because it's finished and like another room, I don't feel justified in having it be messy or just a storage space.  Is your attic neat and clean?  I doubt it.  It's probably just your storage space.  I get to dust and vacuum mine.

When we first moved in, the heat to the upstairs wasn't what it should be.  The upstairs was freezing and the heat in the bonus room was almost nonexistent even though it has registers.  Cold air would blow out of there like no ones business and we froze our keesters off in the master bedroom during winter.  I have several sets of fleece sheets to prove it!  Because it was so cold in there, things would freeze and the windows would get mold on them from the temperature freezing and thawing so frequently.  We knew something needed done, but we didn't know what.

When we finished our basement, we talked with the HVAC guy about it and decided that the best thing to do to correct it was to install bigger duct work (or actual duct work in the case of Middle Mans "register to no where" in his bedroom) and to do zoned heating.  It was a $10,000 extra that we were not expecting but it needed to be done.  Now the upstairs is nice and toasty in the winter time and the bonus room is warm and doesn't freeze in the winter.  It's actually usable now.  But it's so usable, that it's a disaster.

I do use it for storage.  I have to as I have no other storage space (except a small space in the basement).  We also use it as a semi office space.  I have a filing cabinet in there and a small desk.  It's also where I store a few holiday decorations (although most of those are in the basement) and some furniture we aren't using such as The Little Monkey's bed frame that we purchased when we bought his crib, the cradle that we aren't using now and probably never will again but that I can't get rid of, my full length mirror that has no other home and boxes of outgrown clothing that I'm saving for the Little Monkey.

There's not much I can do about the furniture.  I have no where else to put it so it's staying in there.

The boxes of clothing need to be sorted through and I need to decide what we actually need to keep and what can get donated.  I have all the Little Monkeys baby clothes and up to this point I haven't been able to part with them, but I really can't keep it all.  It's just overwhelming.

I also have some photos that need to be put in albums and I really need to order more photos but I can't do that until I finish what I already started.  These are photos that I printed before the Little Monkey was born so I'm two years behind and the Little Monkey has no actual albums with him in them.  I'm a slacker mom there.

I also need to file paperwork.  I have a big pile of paperwork just waiting to get filed and I keep adding to it.  I was on top of this until about July.  Then I slacked and the pile came back.  I just need to get on top of that and stay on top of it.

So this is my plan for the bonus room that isn't really a bonus right now.

"Who can assure us that we will be alive tomorrow? Let us listen to the voice of our conscience, to the voice of the royal prophet: "Today, if you hear God's voice, harden not your heart." Let us not put off from one moment to another (what we should do) because the (next moment) is not yet ours. " St. Padre Pio