Recently in Homekeeping Category

Pansy's Seven Quick Takes

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1. I sewed 40 yarmulkes for my cousin's wedding! OK, not all this week, but I finished the order. I learned how as I went along. I found a tutorial, but it was little more than a pattern, so there was a lot of trial and error. Here is my Ian modeling the first one.
One hot kippah
The bride and groom have a love of New Orleans culture and the groom is a chef. They wanted a fabric to reflect their personal interests that as opposed to the standard black suede or velvet.

2. I got through another week of simultaneous football/tennis/cross country/karate. We did do McDonald's one day.

3. My husband and I want to thank you for all the kind responses to my update post . They were amazing and strengthening for both of us.

4. Uh oh, running out of quick takes...I think I folded 22 loads of laundry since Sunday? Can I include that even though it's standard???

5. Moving ahead in our home school. Since I put the older ones in school a few years back, the youngers have been lagging a bit at the "start". Totally my fault and my lack of organization skills. I have finally realized that the scenario I had that worked with my older ones does not work with the batch I'm teaching now, so I feel like I'm stating from scratch.

I also decided I can't continue home schooling anymore. I will continue with the ones now until they reach eighth grade, but the ones from here on out who start school will go into school. I'm getting too old.

6. Almost completely fell off the wagon with the diet and exercise routine, but came back again. I'm at the point where time after time, I go back to my old lazy ways, but I'm keeping up with it.

7. Um, I'm out of ideas. That laundry thing again? Mass amounts of dishes I wash?

The Beltway Mosses are happily settling into our new home (which needs a nickname, I suppose). My husband's after me to hang pictures, but there are two rooms I want to paint before I hang pictures.

So it's off to Lowe's this morning, coupons and paint chips in hand. Here's my question: I have about half a can of primer left from a previous project. I need primer for this project, but much more than half a can. Do I...

a. mix this primer with the new primer (which will be of a different brand)?

b. paint one wall with this primer and the rest with the new primer?

c. Stop anguishing over half a can of three-year-old primer, toss it, and start fresh?

Now that I write it all out... I think I'm going to go with c.

Now: should I prime the ceiling?

Peony's seven quick takes

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Pansy's computer is broken and that's why we haven't been hearing from her. She is taking things day by day, and greatly appreciates your prayers.


This weekend, we'll be celebrating the seventh anniversary of the blog! Any nominations for favorite posts from the past to reprint?

Look what I am having for a snack this afternoon:>


That's Royal Rum coffee from the Mystic Monks and cookies from my oven, using a recipe I learned from my mom. Jealous yet?


In our eternal quest to Get It Together, Pansy and I are buddying up and using some of the suggestions in this book:

These ladies are Flylady's mentors. The premise is to set up a sort of tickler file to keep track of cleaning routines and keep from getting sidetracked (something I'm very prone to.) In this book, they also have suggestions for getting kids involved in keeping up the house (one suggestion involves blaze-orange stickers and the possibility of docking points from siblings.)

So far, I've set up a little system of index cards to help me with meal planning. Pansy went straight to first principles and used her first batch of index cards to plan out daily prayers and devotions.


Oh, all right: Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe


Plug time! Check out Faith on the High Wire (and not just because Kathy links back to here.) I see she has a post up that mentions Pansy's bishop....


Boy, did I feel smug reading the Washington Post after the March for Life: In the Metro section, Robert McCartney's column began....

Iwent [sic] to the March for Life rally Friday on the Mall expecting to write about its irrelevance. Isn't it quaint, I thought, that these abortion protesters show up each year on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, even though the decision still stands after 37 years.

Quaint? Quaint? You saw it first here in 2005:

(snarkily imitating a Washington Post writer) Imagine! After 32 years, there are still benighted souls out there who think abortion is... wrong! Doesn't it remind you of those Japanese soldiers who fought in the jungles for 50 years after the peace treaty? It would be so... quaint, if it didn't hit so close to home and if they weren't messing up Monday's traffic so. Good thing this was on the first page of the Metro section, even though this is an issue of national interest drawing protesters from around the country. And that praying thing, it's just so creepy.

I've decided

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I can either clean my home really well or have a really good school day, but not both in the same day. When I try to, I just end up doing both mediocre.

Peony needs a new pot

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I looked in my little saucepan and noticed that the non-stick coating long ago ceased to stick to the pot (hopefully it's not sticking to our innards either).

So it's time to go pot shopping. I think I'm done with non-stick (too fragile -- I want to use a whisk, darn it) and I'm growing leery of aluminum (reactivity?)

I was looking at this and liking it -- the price is right --

but it's almost certainly made in China, which doesn't have a great reputation for food safety these days.

Of course, there's always All-Clad, but... $100 for a pot? I'm not there yet.

I came across this one...

but when I take another look, it's non-stick.


Small Success Thursday

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OK, so I haven't blogged since last Thursday. Been sort of busy with the new life caused by the New Life (even as I type, he's looking for me. Shhhhh.) I actually do have a lot to say about many of the current events, but I feel it's redundant: "OctoMom-nuts; Chimp Lady-nuts; Obama's economic policy-nuts." I almost wonder what's the point of restating the obvious?

So without much ado, here are my past week small successes.


1. I made a care package for my brother in Iraq and mailed it to him. Normally I would just pick up stuff, put it in the pantry and say "that's for the care package I will send Thomas...eventually." But I bought stuff. And I bought a box. And plastic bubble stiff to put in the box. And I even got out my postal scale and the plug and prepaid for a Click 'n' Ship label and taped it on the box. (You'd think that if I took the time out to buy and spend money on a cool postal scale, I would be clicking and shipping all the time. But I store it on the back pantry shelf. That would mean going to the back of the pantry and getting it.)

2. I have been getting as much as I can ready the night before. Loading the coffee pot, showering the night before...I haven't been laying my clothes out, that's next (speaking of which, I am back into non-maternity jeans-yay!). I have been up and dressed, breakfast and a load of laundry done by 8 (which has enabled me to get all the day's laundry done each day.I am a bit OCD about not having any dirty laundry. Just don't ask, go with it.) Let's see how long I can keep this up. Because it's making me tired.

3.Yesterday was a horrible, horrible day. I had about 5 meltdowns before I gave in and called my husband crying that I was losing it. You see I try not to call my husband when I am losing it because he just gets frustrated because he is at work, and I get annoyed with him for just getting frustrated. And I get annoyed with myself for not being able to handle it all on my own. So the fact that I didn't call my husband until late in the afternoon is a small success. And the fact that I still cooked supper instead of hitting the local bar scene and didn't leave them all to their own devices scrounging for food after my very bad day is a success as well.

Yesterday the kids totally took full advantage of the fact that new baby care left me not on top of them at all times. Each time I had to go to the bathroom, or nurse Septimus, the school books would be abandoned and the boys would be locked in their room...screaming. Why screaming? Why? Why? Why? I don't know. I just...don't...know! It's not as if they scream anything coherent and meaningful like "IN HOC SIGNO VINCES", just "aaaahhhhhhh". Then a random toddler would come out the room naked-well not totally, usually with one sock on. And I would say (stupid me) "Why are they naked" and the older kids would reply "I don't know". Or they took it upon themselves to raid the freezer for ice cream treats. Or spill cups of cran-apple juice. Or finish the chocolate cake I made the night before, with their hands. On the kitchen floor, or oh gosh, it just occurred to me, under their beds...

It was a bad day. I hope never to relive it again. Ever.

I Think My Children Saved Me

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Many members of my family have "issues" (like every other family), and of course gossip stems from these various issues (although I guarantee these days I am the source of plenty of fodder-actually I know I am as I stumbled in a conversation about me and "all those kids", but that's another story).

One common complaint was of a family member who at one point in her life discovered QVC and before she knew it was deep in credit card debt. She later remedied the problem and cut up her cards, but the topic comes up every now and then in family circles. When I think about my relative, and where she was in her life, I could easily see how she made such a mistake. I said so last time the topic came up: "you know, if I didn't have a bunch of kids and I had time to watch QVC, and had disposable income, I could see myself doing the same thing." Of course my family's reaction was simply "oh yeah, of course you would!" as opposed to putting themselves in our relative's shoes.

But it's true. I think there are a ton of really stupid things I would do if I didn't have children to force me to be more responsible and gain perspective. Or be healthy. Another trait that runs in my family is perfectionism and OCD. I will not at all claim I am not OCD, not by a long shot. But having a bunch of littles, four of which are boys in a row, and the various pets, germs, spills, and diapers will cure you quickly. Before I freaked when everything wasn't clean and spotless. I kew we'd get bugs, or diseases or a random social worker would stop by and say "You have children here? In this house with two spots on the white area rug?!?" Today I just tell them make sure they don't use the couch cushions to build their forts when company comes, so no one sees the crunched up Goldfish crackers underneath them.

Although dirt is not limited to little boys. Yesterday I had my daughter in a white t-shirt and pink capris. The second she got out, she hopped and giggled, and rolled on the ground. Back and forth and proceeded to roll under the van. My three year decided to help her by doing what any three-year old would do, he started prodding her with a stick under the van (I think the giggles coming from under the van were too much for him). My neighbors came home from Dollar General or Wal-Mart or where ever it is they go to look on in horror as my toddler rolled and giggled. I had the sudden urge to say "neighbor's kid" but I knew that wouldn't hold water since they were my neighbors. I was a responsible Mommy. I sat on the porch and yelled (quite forcefully, mind you) "Hey You, Fredegar! Stop poking your sister with a stick when she is rolling around under the van!" Actually my husband was only two feet away and he retrieved her right away, so I was really not as neglectful as I sounded.

When she emerged she was blackened with dirt, her little white t-shirt and her little pink pants. Another time, i would have required some sort of tranquilizer. These days "oh well, that's why God gave us pre-treater,"

I think everyday there is another reason having children gives me a better sense of perspective.

Warning: Don't Try This At Home

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Trying to be fun and creative while pregnant. I am almost sure my morning sickness is starting to abate...finally! I no longer experience sea sickness from trying to concentrate on things like books, or sewing. I have been able to do my daily minimum of three loads each day. Although don't ask me to plan a decent meal just yet that doesn't involve something frozen. Let's not push it.

But the absent mindedness-this is ridiculous! I tried to sew the simplest top for my daughter today, and what a fiasco I got myself into! It was going to be a nice Sunday project and a surprise for my daughter. I think the stupid thing had like 7 steps total or something like that. First I couldn't thread my serger. I just sat there staring at the dang thing looking at the arrows wondering what to do next. Then the instructions might as well have been in Greek or upside down. I kept getting the steps wrong. Normally, I have been sewing long enough that I've seen the steps so many times before, so they need not be scrutinized too carefully. For example, I don't have to read how to hem a skirt, or even need the instructions to tell me that is the last step. But I made the dumbest mistakes. I kept sewing the wrong pieces together when I totally knew better and wonder "why on earth did I do that?" Then I went to press the interfacing onto a piece of fabric, but had it upside down, so I only succeeded in getting it stuck to the ironing board. I was like in this perpetual state of dysfunction.

At the time it was frustrating, now it is almost comical.Today I learned a valuable lesson: if I am going to sew for fun these days, realize that is all it is going to amount to: fun , but don't expect anything to be worn...unless it is out of revenge.

You know it's funny, 15 years ago, after I had my first, I would have considered myself the go-to person for advice. I loved going to Mom's groups and talking shop, being able to share my tidbits of information that I have learned with other new Moms in exchange for their pieces of knowledge describing things like how to get a shower each day. We would commiserate over the prospects of never seeing a movie again or what to do with a toddler in a restaurant (of course you pack a cooler full of healthy finger-foods and you walk around with them instead of sitting any enjoying your meal). Or we would offer opinions about the latest study that suggested you should never put footwear on a pre-walking baby, even in winter else you stunt their development due to sensory deprivation. Or how tofu was one of the best first finger foods to give. Ohmygosh, I don't think I could have stood to be around me. I can't imagine sitting around talking boring baby/toddler crap for more than 5 minutes, let alone picking up another issue Parenting Magazine to find out what I might have missed. You know, the rules are so simple: don't give them raw meat (especially before they get teeth), get some vegetables into them, keep them clean, try to deter them from eating dirt and garbage and I don't know, hug them as much as possible (seriously, that's the most important).

In retrospect, I get it. Changing from not having children to having children is huge. People have no idea until they each do it themselves. Your life is totally turned upside-down and inside-out. With your first, if you were a person who dressed nicely and wore earrings, now you wear sweats because you never leave the house, are covered in spit up and earrings are gone because the baby pulls on them. Who knew? So it makes sense to think you learned a thing or two by undergoing this complete transformation.

Here's the weird part: while I would have stepped forward with advice on how to get baby to sleep 14 years ago, today and 6 or 7 (I lost count) kids later, I'd be the first to admit I don't know what the heck I'm doing. After 14 years of reading ,Dr. Sears, Dr. Brazelton, Dr. Mendelsohn, and Dr. Spock; subscriptions to Parents, Child, and Parenting Magazines (the last I have not renewed a subscription to in 6 years, yet I keep getting it with "This is your last issue" notices), you think I would have picked something up. (With the periodicals, the same advice gets recycled over and over again, much of it contradictory One month it will be "Well Baby Visits: Are They Necessary" and an article condemning parents who miss them as neglectful and 4 months later it will be "Well Baby Visits: How Necessary Are They?" stating that being late for one or two when a child is obviously healthy is not going to hurt anyone. 8 months later, it's back to the original "a child's life depends on well baby visits" article.) Seriously, of course I have, but every new child has both given me confidence and thrown my confidence for a loop. Every child is so different and some of the experience you gained from child #2, you might as well ball it up and throw it out because you will never need what you learned there again.

So here I am with pregnancy number 7 wondering if anyone would like to offer their 2 cents on how to survive morning sickness. People are probably thinking "Hey Lady, if you don't know, who does?", but I don't think I have ever been this sick and dysfunctional before. Maybe I have been, and was so grateful when it was over that I never looked back. But this is hard! i have so much crap to do and I can only get one or two things out of twenty done before my body shuts down. I try hard to one more task, and I am paying for it big time with ten times the nausea. But for example, I have never been this sick with 6 kids, 3 of which eat adult value meals at McDonald's and gas nearly $5 a gallon, therefore making blowing off cooking supper for one a financial impossibility. So you see, the rules are constantly changing.

And my kids, ohmygosh, what annoying little buggers! It never occurred to me how much I have to keep on their little behinds (and how much physical energy that exerted) to do their chores. Now I haven't got the energy to do anything more than "Posco, clean the kitty litter, Posco, clean the kitty litter..." and of course that isn't enough to ensure it gets done. And requesting for help beyond their regular chore roster only incites yelling at the younger one under them for doing nothing to help...yet nothing still gets done. One rule is no video games during the day, no TV until chores are done (during the school year, no games during the week period and TV for evening shows). Every time I turn around, these buggers are turning on games and the fight starts "No games until... (insert what needs to be done)" which elicits one of two responses: "Oh, ok, I didn't know" or "Why not? That's not fair!" Yet, after I yell a few times they win out because I am too queasy to keep yelling, I have a constant migraine, and my thoughts are constantly occupied with finding new ways of breathing without smelling anything in the world.

So any advice on dealing with morning sickness, tying up kids, getting boosts of energy with pregnancy fatigue, bending the wills of little people to do your bidding (mwoo ha ha ha), telling teenagers to just get dressed already, keeping a house running clean and smooth when you can't get up and do anything, would be most appreciated.

The Lord truly loves me, you know how I know? The opportunity he sends daily for me to offer up my woes to the souls in purgatory: 4 boys who have to use the bathroom. One day I want to throw up my arms and say "I give up! I am not cleaning that!" Actually, one day I want to throw up my arms and just not have any reason to walk into the bathroom at all.

I have actually considered hiring Merry Maids or something just to do my bathroom floor around the toilet with some industrial cleaners in a more efficient manner than I do it...everyday, sometimes a few times a day...

More on the Freezer Meal Experiment

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I now have 23 suppers in the freezer. All are labeled, wrapped, and bagged with dates and directions on top.

It was not that bad work wise. I think because my husband saw this as a worthwhile effort and helped out a bit with the kids. I also enlisted the help of Posco. He helped me roll meatballs, stirred things that needed stirring on the stove while I did other stuff, and kept an eye on meat that was browning.

Again, I spread it out in three morning sessions instead of one day-long session. I am not sure if it is easier this way or not, but it what I could get done.

I have a freezer inventory chart taped above my freezer with the current inventory. From that I made a menu for each day with "What's for Dinner" (if my kids want to make me crazy, they start the "Mom, what's for dinner," chant.). The Fridays are blank for now. We do not eat meat, and I did not prepare any fish meals yet, but I think I may make some salmon or crab cakes and add those in. Veggie meals are usually not too much effort that they need much advance preparation. (Or, if Eric can provide me with a recipe for a nice, spicy ceviche, that may be on the menu one Friday. I am dying for some ceviche.)

Now what's left to see is how smoothly the whole process goes with thawing and preparing. If it is the same amount of work as the old method, or if life is a bit easier. I will report in a couple of weeks.

I So Needed This!

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Mr. Breakfast!

I was in desperate need for new breakfast ideas!

HT:Trinity Acres

...the kind of people who like to sand and patch and prime and tape and put down dropcloths and lovingly wash the brushes, and those who think painting is nothing more than opening the paint can and going to it.

If you are a type 2 painter and are married to a type 1, may I offer a piece of advice? Just indulge her. Don't surprise her by starting the project while she's out doing another errand and had counted on having the entire weekend to do laundry and scrapbooking. Let her plan the date, and buy the primer, and do the taping and the dropcloth and the priming, particularly if you are painting the foyer Derby Red. You'll save time -- no scrubbing Derby Red off the trim and carpet, no listening to her sighs and complaints and shrieks of frustration when she discovers that her second coat isn't adhering properly. You'll save money -- no buying of dinners and chocolate and other peace offerings and new paintbrushes because the old ones have turned into hardened paddles of latex.

Just a tip.

Di Fattura Caslinga: Pansy's Etsy Shop
The Sleepy Mommy Shoppe: Stuff we Like
(Disclaimer: We aren't being compensated to like this stuff.
Any loose change in referral fees goes to the Feed Pansy's Ravenous Teens Fund.)

Pansy and Peony: The Two Sleepy Mommies