Things I Said I’d Never Do Saturday: Family Housework Day

The older I get the more I realize that I am doing nearly all of the things I vowed I’d never do when I became a mom. Until I get tired of it, I’ll share one of those things a week with you. On Saturday.

Growing up, Saturdays were housework days. I hated it. Turns out my mom grew up with the same Saturday routine. She hated it too. I’m not entirely sure why she continued the tradition then, except that the house needed cleaning and we were all home on Saturday. (I contend that a housekeeper would have been simpler, more efficient, and save many years of preteen and teen angst…

Fast forward to October 29, 2011. The vile words slipped out of my mouth as my youngsters scooped up their last bits of egg. “Nobody is going anywhere near the TV or the video game system. We’re cleaning the house this morning.” Ack! Where did that come from? Since when is it easier to direct uncooperative minions to do mundane household tasks in three hours when I could just lock them all in the basement with snacks and Wii controllers and get it all done in 45 minutes? What possessed me to insist that they help?

Yes, Mom. I know you are reading this. Yes, I know that I should ask for more obedience from the minions. Yes, I know they should help around the house. However, none one of my happiest household memories is of a Saturday morning spent scrubbing floors. And yes, I know how to scrub a floor now. But I still hate it. And I almost never do it the “right” way.

So why do I do this? Is there a better way? (the weekly or biweekly housekeeper looks like a better option daily) I know that all of the family members should contribute since we are a community. But, the boys already do dishes after dinner (my most hated task), and while they may not do a great job… .our kitchen is mostly sanitary. They take out the trash, and they mostly keep their rooms picked up. I’m just not seeing a “Whistle While You Work” mentality going on here on the weekends.

The cleaning has to be done. A visiting child (who will remain nameless) spotted some dust and perhaps a cobweb on a table lamp a week or so ago. He asked if I ever dusted and that my house looked like a haunted house. I resisted temptation and did not chuck a dustcloth at him and tell him to “have at it”, but I did make a mental note to not bother to bake cookies next time he comes over on a playdate.

For the record, I DID dust later that day. We have an old house. Dust happens. Get over it people. AND for the record, I DID tell one of the minions to dust earlier that day. And I DID see him walking around my living room with a dustcloth absentmindedly flicking it about. Should I have followed him around, pointing out the dust he missed? Nah, trust me, that does breed a negative view toward housework.

So, I don’t think I’ll be rounding up the troops next Saturday. I WILL expect them not to trash the house. I WILL expect them to clean up after themselves, but I’m not going to expect some sitcom-worthy team effort.  I’m the mom. I don’t work for money outside the home, and this house IS kind of my job (whether I like that or not), so I will try and get more done during the week (I need to put the stay at home back in stay at home mom!) so that we can enjoy some real memory making time as a family!

Oh, and if anyone really does like to clean and wants to take a gander at my place…feel free, I’ll pay you in coffee!

Chime in! How do you handle household chores? Is it similar or strikingly different to how you grew up? Is it working for you? Want to share? You know I’d love to hear from you!

The Trouble With Twindom

twins
At the end of the day, they are sweethearts.

The trouble with twins is that while we have two times the fun, and two times the snuggles; here at 20 months of age, we also have two times the tantrums. There are challenges with raising twins.

I’m not going to sugar coat this. I’m not going to lie. Some days I feel like I have a twin crying All.Day. Long.

Combine the tantrums with our family tendency for late talking, we have tantruming toddlers who cannot talk to me. Not that I really want to know what they think anyway. I’m fairly certain they would just tell me that I am mean for not allowing one more cookie, or insisting on a nap or not putting the shoes back on for the fiftieth time in a day.

Going out in public is getting tougher. Neither girl is fond of sitting in a shopping cart. However, neither girl really wants to walk  nicely next to the cart either. Have you ever read Llama Llama Mad at Mama? In the middle of the story, the climax, if you will, the little llama throws a tantrum of epic proportions in the middle of the store. Groceries, shoes, toys, and clothing go flying. This is but a wee insight into what happens when I shop with the twins.

This would all not be so disturbing, except that I am an experienced mother! This is not my first rodeo! I have four other kids who I stayed home with, and took grocery shopping, and took them in fitting rooms with me so I could buy jeans that fit. And while the boys may have whined and complained; none of them threw fits that caused fellow shoppers to stare at me as if I were the one throwing a fit.

So what is a mom to do? For now, I stick pretty close to home. A cop-out perhaps, but sanity is important too. I can wait until after school when I have older brother assistants, but they are not fond of spending their free time running errands either.

I was sharing my toddler twin woes during a playdate on Friday. All of the moms of singletons clucked politely and said silent prayers of thanks that they had but one baby at a time. However, sweet Mae, mom of two sets of twins, two years apart, laughed. She said, “I wish I had some great Mom of Multiples wisdom for you, but I’ve got nothing.” And then I realized that we are all wallowing through this motherhood thing.

Advice from other moms may or may not work. . .we are all a product of our current and past environments. Some days I even dream of the freedoms something like a live in housekeeper or nanny would give me. And yet, I wonder if extra help could even complicate things further.

What I do know is that no matter how difficult these days are, I would not trade them for life without my crazy, moody, sweet, beautiful twins. They are a blessing beyond words, and a lesson in patience for me as well.

Chime in! What are your kids teaching you? Patience? Acceptance? Unconditional love? You know I’d love to hear from you!

Do you have twins, are expecting twins or know someone who is? Make sure you click on over to my “Got Twins?” page and learn more about the wonders of twindom! Lots of advice and experience from pregnancy, breast feeding and beyond!

The Once a Week Lunchbox

Once aweek lunchbox

 

Once  aweek lunchbox

Once upon a time, when I had just one or two children, I was a big fan of Once a Month Cooking. Now that I have six kids, I should be a bigger fan, but to be honest, it is the daily and weekly meal planning that helps keep me sane. I love to cook dinner, so I actually did not enjoy having that task removed.

What I hate making is lunches! I don’t like feeding lunch for my kids during the summer. I’m not a huge fan of coming up with lunch ideas for the babies. I’m glad that the Rev. likes to pack leftovers for his lunch. (That is, when we have leftovers).

So, after the girls were born, I took a vacation from lunches. I had the boys all buy hot lunch from school. Our mornings were happy, the kids were happy. However, hot lunch expenses add up.

When I saw these great lunch ideas on 5Dinners in One Hour. (She also sells a lunch plan). I knew that this would be what would work for our family! I bought two restaurant quality bins to set on a shelf in our refrigerator, and I have one dishpan that I keep in the pantry for dry goods.

I sat the little boys down and asked them what kind of things they would want to pack in their lunches. Then I set out on Sunday night and made the food! (It took a while, probably two hours, but the kids prefer large carrot sticks to baby carrots, so that took time).

I made 18 ham and turkey subs. (I bought 18 Bollilo buns from the Bakery section of Sam’s Club for under $4. . .they are delicious!). I cut up an entire two pound bag of carrots. (I packed them in snack sized bags, one cut up carrot per bag.) I sliced apples and dipped in lemon juice. Half an apple per bag. I also have small portion cups with caramel sauce for dipping. (about a teaspoon). In the pantry bin there are pretzels (with peanut butter for dipping), Cheerios with raisins (one of Ethan’s favorite snacks), granola bars, and dried fruit strips.

In the morning the boys pick out what they want in their lunch and pack it themselves and top it off with a water bottle!

They are happy, I am happy, and we are saving money!

 

Chime in! What are some of your time saving lunch tips? What are your kids’ healthy favorites? You know I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Mothers’ Day!

family photo
Three generations of mothers. (I'm the one with bad bangs)
It is kind of nice to have a special day, isn’t it?

Do all of us moms deserve a special day? Who knows? Sometimes I wonder if my kids deserve a special reward for having to put up with me as their mom.

And yet, they still love me.

Because, when it comes down to it, Mom is always there. She may be late, or too early, or she may yell too loudly from the sidelines, or forget that you prefer no special sauces on your food. Sometimes she gives you a school shirt for your birthday, when a few more Legos would have been more fun.

I’ve been working this mom job for longer than I’ve held any other job outside the home. I’ve been working this job for 15 years!  I have at least 17 more years of hands-on care! We know that motherhood does not end when the chicks leave the nest either, my mom has been on the job for almost 40 years now. (yes, I’m THAT old.)

With motherhood there are no raises, or promotions. There are no real vacations (and if you have ever taken a family vacation, you know what a misnomer that is). With motherhood the hours are really long. There is no union backing. A mother has only on the job training, and the training is inconsistent at best.

I’m blessed to have a willing co-worker, AKA the Rev. He has my back. He senses my fear. He does not hold my many failings as a wife and mother against me. He teaches our children to do the same.

I have a mother and mother-in-law and wonderful aunts and local mentors that I can turn to in times of confusion, or stress, or even just to share some joy, and I’m so thankful for those connections.

Motherhood is something that bonds us as women. Even women who are not mothers themselves have had a mother. I think often on my dear Aunt Elizabeth. She was my grandma’s sister, and the woman that we named our Elizabeth after. She had no children of her own, but she loved my grandmother’s children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren as if we were hers. She passed on wisdom, and recipes, and laughter.

I often wonder if someday I will be that same sort of woman who is remembered for being such a special and dear mother. Do I want our children to remember that every night after dinner was a battle of the dishes, or do I want them to remember that they always got to pick the menus on their birthdays and special days. Do I want them to remember me yelling at them to tuck in their shirts on Sunday mornings, or do i want them to remember how nice it was to sit and worship together as a family every week?

So, I hug my children tighter. I try to fill their memory banks with good things. I pray that God would grant me the wisdom and strength to be a memorable mother.

Chime in! What has blessed you the most in your career as a mother? How do you try and support other mothers? You know I’d love to hear from you!

No Whine With Dinner Review and Raspberry Breakfast Cake Recipe

Raspberry cake
Raspberry cake
Used Under Creative Commons License. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mealmakeovermoms/8550325114

This past Sunday I was scheduled to bring treats to church. I usually end up bringing donuts when it is my turn. However, I am also the Sunday School teacher and I see firsthand what effects donuts have on my students. (I also do a lot of the post-church clean up, and donuts can be messy!)

Saturday brought us what I hope is our last blizzard of this season, so I was not even able to run to the store for easy snacks. I had to turn to baking. In my kitchen. By myself.

Thankfully I have a tried and true resource to turn to when baking–The Meal Makeover Moms! I was introduced to Janice Newell Bissex and Liz Weiss several years ago shortly after their first book, The Moms’ Guide to Meal Makeoverswas released. I was looking for ways to improve our family’s nutritional bottom line without having to go to extremes or hiding food in brownie batter. I became a very regular listener to their podcast and I was super excited when they announced that they were working on a second cookbook, in which every recipe would be tested by moms, like me. The new cookbook, No Whine with Dinner was released late last year, and I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve cooked so far. The ingredients are easy to find, are healthful, and most of all, very kid friendly. There is also a list of 50 moms’ secrets to getting picky eaters to try new foods. (I’m tip number 19!)

Since I hate to bake, it is surprising that I enjoy baking many of the recipes found in No Whine with Dinner. The trick for me is the fact that the recipes are easy! As a matter of fact, I don’t even have to pull my mixer out. . .which makes dishwashing a snap!

So, back to Sunday. I made a big pan of Chocolaty Pumpkin Bars and two Raspberry Breakfast Cakes. I knew that the raspberry cakes would be tasty, as I’ve made them before. However, the pumpkin bars were a new recipe for me, and some of my Sunday School students can smell health food a mile away. . .

I should never have feared. The bars were gone in a snap, and I even caught one of my own sons piling three at a time on his plate. The breakfast cake was a hit with the women. When I told them that it was not only tasty but really quite healthy as well, they demanded the recipe. So here you go!

Raspberry Breakfast Cake

A moist, delicious addition to your breakfast table!

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (divided)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (I used frozen!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil or coat a 9 inch round baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, 1/2 cup of the sugar and oil until well blended. Whisk in the milk, lemon juice and vanilla.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Arrange the raspberries over the top and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake 20-22 minutes or until the cake is golden and toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Try and share this cake!


 

I think this would be a great cake to make for a Mother’s Day breakfast. I’m guessing that if I can bake it, most older children can as well!

Chime in! What is your go-to treat to bring to events? Is it easy, quick, or healthy? You know I’d love to hear from you!