Managing a Household

    Goals I am Aiming for This Year

    So remember months ago, back in July, when I mentioned that I wanted to share my goals with you for accountability?  Nope, me either because that was ages ago.  Sometimes I think a better name for this blog would be half baked as in a half baked attempt.

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    Laundry Woes

    Happy Friday everyone!  I firmly believe that using the phrase TGIF constitutes a sincere act of prayer after experiencing this . . . interesting week. Because:

    1. Our dryer broke.  While not an enjoyable experience it wouldn't constitute a major problem except that it occurred during an intestinal bug for the kids.  I will spare you the details.

    While starting a new load, it made a sound like a screaming banshee being subjected to the a poorly oiled rack.  Then came the pops and the smoke and the smell, as I ran to turn it off and unplug it from the wall.

    2. For all of an hour I contemplated trying to fix the thing ourselves, but the reality was driven home once again that such things aren't our strongest suit.  The machine isn't that old from what we can tell (it came with the house), but apparently that type is know to break down after about seven years and the parts are more costly.

    I figured, what the heck, I could try to take it apart myself.  How bad can it be?  What have I got to lose.  An hour later, I emerged covered in lint and grime with parts scattered on the floor, and began googling the best deals for a new dryer.  Clearly, I am not at all technical.

    3.Several hours and many searches later, I had it narrowed down to a few suitable options after consulting consumer reports, home improvement bloggers, and taking an informal poll on facebook.

    Later that night we went to the store, and selected a completely different model than the ones that I was leaning towards.  It met my criteria, though and is only costing us about $100 more than the used ones on craigslist since it was on sale.  Plus we are getting free delivery and set up.  Totally worth it.

    4.  In other laundry room news, I purchased this  sorter:

    Isn't she beautiful?  Between a birthday gift card and amazon rewards points, it cost me $5.  It only took me two years of having laundry on the floor to finally bite the bullet and get it.  I think the following incident may have had something to do with it.

    5.  Earlier in the week I found a slug.  In the washing machine.  It was horrible.  I screamed.  Loudly.  And ran in a panic to find my husband.  Because of my extreme reaction, he thought that something horrible had happened to one of the kids.  He was not amused and made me deal with the slug myself, which I did, albeit with great hesitancy.  It took many tries before its dead body came off of the shirt it had affixed itself to.

    Apparently I have a slug phobia.

    6.  I blame St. Francis for this.  He must have decided that my previous hostile reactions to the slugs meant I didn't have a great enough appreciation for "brother slug" and needed to get to know him better.  It didn't work.

    7.  After we had both calmed down, Nathan decided to try to help me brainstorm a solution to our slug problem.  My idea was to more thoroughly seal the hole that they were coming through.  He on the other hand likes to come up with innovative, non- traditional solutions.  His idea was to introduce a natural predator to their environment.

    N: "What do you think about filling the laundry room up with frogs for a few days?"

    Me: "Are you out of your mind?!  What are we trying to do re-enact the plagues in Egypt?!"


    And thus ends my Friday ramble.  Never again will I take modern appliances for granted.  And never again do I want to see another slug in my life.

    Linking up with Jen at for 7 Quick Takes.

    Anbody else's spouse come up with . . .creative solutions to problems?  Or have irrational phobias?  Have a great weekend!

    *At this time I don't have affiliate links.  Just wanted to share a product I liked.


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    Favorite Catholic Wedding Gifts

    Catholic Wedding Gifts

    Hello all, happy Wednesday.  So I know most people don't have weddings on their mind at this time of year, but in our house it seems like we are invited to a wedding every month or two.

    I guess that is the hazard of having lots of friends and family; also it comes with the territory of having a husband who is a fantastic singer, his musical services are in high demand come wedding season.  One year we attended nine weddings.  Its a good problem to have.

    In light of all of these weddings, I have fallen behind in gifts for all of them, and have been using the past few weeks to get caught up.

    Most of the weddings we go to are Catholic, so I compiled the following list of explicitly Catholic gifts to give:

    1. Papal Blessing

    The most beautiful and unique gift on the list.  Papal blessings are not to difficult to obtain.

    Step One: Get on a plane to Rome . . .just kidding.  Applying in person is one option, but you can also apply by letter or fax ( guidelines can be found here).


    img7732fs Classic Blue Baptism Candle

    2.  Personalized Candle

    These could easily be made from pure beeswax, or bought from a site such as this one.

    Include instructions to burn it every year on the couple's anniversary.



    3. Rosary

    I especially like giving rosaries like this one, where it is actually two rosaries that are united at the crucifix.



    4.  Religious Art

    I especially like giving icons of the holy family.  Or any icon in general, because Eastern art is awesome.




    Wall Hanging Byzantine Cross

    5.  Crucifix

    This is my default gift of choice.  I usually include a note in the card about how marriage is supposed to resemble the sacrificial love between Christ and the Church.  A crucifix is a great examination of conscience in determining how closely one's love has conformed to that of Christ.



    Well there you have it.  Hopefully at some point I can do a post on handmade gifts (for those of all faith backgrounds) that I like to give.  God Bless!

    Linking up with for Five Favorites Wednesday.


    What are your favorite wedding gifts to give?  If you are married, what was your favorite gift that you received?

    *These are not affiliate links.  I have not in any way been compensated for these suggestions.* In fact I have a rather poor relationship with one of the nuns in the Office of Blessings in Rome after she thought I was stealing someone else's blessing.  It all worked out in the end.



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    Stuff Manager vs. Steward

    Sometimes I fear that if I were to be given a job title it would be stuff manager.  Read this link  to see what I mean and as you read picture me as Luke finding out that Darth Vader is his father, "NOOOOOO, it can't be . . .that's impossible . . .  NOOOOOOOO!"

    I hate stuff.  Basically it is like tribbles that breed in the corners of your house when you aren't looking.  See what I did there? I made a reference to Star Wars and Star Trek in the first few sentences, heck yes I'm a nerd.

    Tribbles seem like nice things to have around . . .until they take over your life!

    Tribbles seem like nice things to have around . . .until they take over your life!

    Earlier this year I did a time log, and the results were a bit scary.  I spend an average of four hours a day as stuff manager: cleaning our stuff, preventing the toddler from destroying our stuff, purchasing new stuff (of the babyproofing variety), rearranging our stuff , cleaning the stuff the toddler keeps getting into.  Ugh.

    In the spring we had a flood.  OK I am being melodramatic, it was 1/2 inch over a few hundred square feet of living space.  As a result I had to go through and throw out what amounted to about 12 boxes of stuff.  With very few exceptions I was glad to be rid of it all.  Stuff is burdening mentally, physically and emotionally.

    In our old apartment I would amuse/ drive my husband nuts by going through all of our stuff every three months, and usually take a few boxes of stuff to Good will.  For the most part we had just what we needed, no more, no less.

    Now that we purchased our first house there are so many more things that need to be maintained, and tools necessary to do so.  Now don't get me wrong, we are so grateful for our home. sure Its a bit of a fixer upper, its got a few flaws, (your welcome for getting the troll song from Frozen stuck in your head for the next hour), but it is a good fit for our family.

    Its an unfortunate fact of life that stuff takes time to clean, maintain, organize, etc.  All of that is time I would rather be spending with my family, or reading or writng-- stuff distracts from these things.

    For a while I decided that the answer was to make sure that there were no more unused things taking up mental and physical space.  Reading a book about the necessity of poverty in the life of the lay Christian, only fueled what became a somewhat scrupulous undertaking.

    I began a massive purge with the result that fifty boxes given away or donated so far.  I have no idea how we accumulated that much unnecessary stuff, its really is like tribbles I tell you!

    Throughout the process, I discovered that an overly zealous commitment to getting rid of all unnecessary belongings can be just as dangerous as hoarding.  The point at which you are frustrated with your spouse because they won't let you get rid of all of their stuff, you have a problem.  Spending substantial amounts of time and energy deliberating the merit of keep ing each individual item at great length is time that could have been better spent.

    When used appropriately in an attitude of stewardship, stuff can help foster relationships.  Glancing around my living room, I see many things that aid in developing relationships or personal growth.  Furniture provides a place for guests to sit and comfortably converse, books enrich the mind, and art is displayed to uplift the soul.

    An unhealthy obsession with decluttering in the name of freedom from possessions just tightens the chains all the more.  Whether you are obsessed with accumulating stuff or getting rid of it, you are still focused on your possessions.

    I am striving to be focused on relationships instead.


    How about you, are you a purger or a keeper?  Where do you think the proper balance lies?  Is your stuff like Tribbles?  Please reassure me that you know what tribbles are!  



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    Our Two Year "Housiversary": Lessons Learned

    First off I want to apologize for how quiet things have been around here.  We have had colds, allergies and general feelings of "blahs" going around.  Also I have been hard at work on a special project that I look forward to sharing with you (not the laundry room remodel, progress has temporarily stalled on that front).  Hopefully we will be back to our "not so regularly scheduled programming" sometime next week.  Thanks!

    Houseiversary Lessons Learned

    Two years ago this week my husband and I processed down main street, baby in tow (er, in arm) and bought a house.  We didn't know much about home ownership (we still don't), and while crazy exciting, the prospect of "breaking" the house was more than a little intimidating.  Along the way we have learned a few valuable lessons and I am sure that we will learn many more.

    Because the house was a sixty year old short sale it wasn't in ideal condition.  The previous owner had two dogs, three cats, twelve rabbits and one snake; she wasn't particularly scrupulous about how this affected the cleanliness of the house.

    Fortunately we had lots of awesome friends who very generously helped us get the house in a more clean state, over 100 man power hours later it was move-in ready.  Lesson Learned: We have awesome friends.  

    I still think of my friend Rebecca who cleaned out my pantry (we joked that it looked like a dead cat had exploded in it), Sarah who helped me clean out my cabinets (apparently the previous owner also had some non-domesticated rodent "pets"), and Mary who helped me paint over the pornographic graffiti in what is now my son's room.  I promise we are actually in a decent neighborhood, the house was just really neglected.

    In the month after moving, our house rebelled.  One light fixture shot out sparks, the garbage disposal switch shocked my mom. the heating system sounded like a dying dinosaur, and the sewer lines backed up into our house . . .twice.

    That month we spent the equivalent of a mortgage payment in repairs.  Lesson Learned: emergency savings accounts are awesome and save additional stress when you are already overwhelmed.  

    While we are on the subject of money, I find it hilarious to think that I thought that I would have the entire house fixed up the way I wanted, within two-three months for less than $2K.  Cue big belly laugh here.  Now two years later we are slowly, but surely catching up on all the deferred maintenance and addressing repairs, but aesthetic updates are quite incomplete.

    When we moved in I wanted to repaint EVERYTHING; I figured it would only take a week or two.  Cue another big belly laugh.  Within a month of moving in I became pregnant with our daughter and promptly passed out on the couch for the next few months from pregnancy exhaustion.   Most of the rooms in the house still have not been painted yet.

    This used to bother me to no end, as if the unpainted walls were mocking me.  Now I see it a bit differently.  The walls are not mocking me, they serve as a reminder that I have higher priorities that take precedence, such as my husband and children.

    This house is to serve to foster relationships, to be a refuge for my family and a place of hospitality for friends.  Lesson Learned: To the extent that decorating aids in the aforementioned goals it is a good thing, to the extent that it detracts from them, it ceases to be good.  

    On that related topic, the past two years have shown that DIY projects aren't our strong suit.  As I previously mentioned, we start them at a tortoise's pace.  My husband, for some reason,  doesn't derive the same delight as I do from decorating.  For him, painting walls and hanging curtains is an act of love and sacrifice.  One year he even worked it into his Lenten penances.

    Now I have come to understand that he works many long and hard hours and when he comes home he doesn't want to work more, or be apart from me while I lock myself in a room to paint; he wants to have time as a family.

    I have finally come to realize that our most precious resource is time.  Time spent working on projects is time not spent on family, writing, singing or any of the other activities we enjoy.  If there is a project that we don't particularly like, perhaps our time would be better spent on other pursuits.

    I am finally realizing that it isn't wrong to hire out work that we could do ourselves.  That this allows us to play to our strengths.  Lesson learned: Before attempting a project take time and energy into account as valuable resources, instead of just money.  

    Finally, this house is teaching me the importance of embracing the beauty of everyday life in all its mess and chaos.  Who would want to live in a perfect house any way, a house where there are no toys strewn on the floor, or sewing projects underway, or sheets of music that somehow always seem to escape their neat binders?  Not I.  Our house is full of life, and life isn't always neat and tidy.

    Our house is a place of growth, fellowship and love.  A place where friends (and sometimes strangers) are welcome, even if the dishes aren't done.

    I strive to create beauty and order in my home, not to attain some pristinely clean, impeccably decorated home, perfect in its sterility.  I strive to make it a haven for my family and friends, a place of joy and rest.  Lesson Learned: A perfect house isn't my goal, a happy family is.  


    Has your home taught you any important life lessons?  Do you enjoy decorating or look at it as just another chore?  I would love to hear about it in the comments.  

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