We got a Roomba

Actually it's an ILIFE V3s PRO Robotic Vacuum. Same difference. It's a robotic vacuum. My mom generously gave it to us because we have 4 kids, 3 pets, and my 9 year loved "playing" with it so much at her house.

I posted this picture on Instagram and received a handful of questions and a request for a blog post.

Since I'm new to the robotic vacuum scene, I can't speak too much on the issues, but I will say I'm considering walking barefoot through my house after years of never doing so. There's a lot less grit and grime on the floor.

It works! Will it fix all my housekeeping woes? No. But it helps.

The most satisfying thing about it is emptying the compartment that traps all the dirt. It will blow your mind! No way a human can sweep all that up. Also, it goes under things - the beds, the sofa, the chairs. It's pretty sophisticated and rarely gets stuck or has an issue getting over a threshold or rug. It's a win-win-win.

If you're considering getting one, I say go for it.

How does the Roomba compare to the one I have? I think it's known for being quieter. But other than that, the ILIFE V3s PRO is treating me just fine. 

This is What Happens When a Roomba Meets a Pile of Dog Poop at 1:30 A.M. 


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Decorating for Christmas - Low Key (Low Cost)

Being completely honest, Christmas blows the budget. Rounding up a few hundred dollars to buy gifts is not such a big deal, but the cumulative effect of decorations, cards, holiday food, babysitters for parties, a December birthday thrown in, and all the unforeseen expenses - it adds up.

Over time we have curated our holiday expenditures and cut the things that are low on the totem pole. BUT if I have the opportunity to dial it back even more, I'm not gonna lie I get a saver's high.

All this to say, I'm pretty proud of my low key (low cost) Christmas decorations this year. It didn't start out that way though. December One I was psyched to go to Target and see what Joanna Gaines had to offer, but when the time came to part with my actual dollars - I thought twice.

I texted my mom and asked if she had any brass candlesticks I could borrow. She did! I had a bee in my bonnet to copy Caroline's mantel with the ivory and gold tones. I love how it turned out!


Along with the decor I already had (kids' art, advent calendar, nativity set), I found a huge Pyracantha bush in an empty lot on my street. It took the clippers to it and made a few Christmasy arrangements.


Besides the tree, a couple strands of lights, and 2 wreaths for $12.99 total - the rest of my decor was free. Either we already owned it, or I borrowed it, or I simply brought the outside in with my clippings and Christmas tree branches.


The hominess of Christmas is my favorite aspect of the season (besides Jesus, of course). It made my heart happy to get resourceful with the decorations instead of swiping my Target card.
Mom life lends itself to a near constant struggle between creating versus consuming. It felt good to create.


What about you? Do you love Christmas decorations?  Do you find joy in restraint and taking the more homemade route?

Reminds me of a favorite quote...

The enemy of art is the absence of limitations 
- Orson Wells

A Christmas post I wrote last year


What are you getting your kids for Christmas?

Lately, my kids have been "playing martial arts" - it's what they call it. They pretend fight in our front yard for large portions of the afternoons after school. They also like to sword fight with sticks (yikes! I can't watch).
It's good, clean fun - the kind I read articles about how kids need to play outside more without adult supervision.

Point being, mostly...they don't play with toys. So I am a little stumped as what to get them for Christmas. Sure they have extensive lists, but really the fun is in the list making not receiving ALL the things that just don't hold up.

So...what are you getting your kids for Christmas?

Here's a few suggestions from Christmases past that have been winners, things in which the glory has lasted more that 12 seconds and I'm not chunking in the trash come January.

We have spent hours on our spider swing, adults too!


The only toy you really ever need. These are worth every penny. Buy as many as you can afford.


Tempera paint sticks
These are so fun. The tempera paint sticks make vivid pictures but without the crazy mess of getting out the paint. Tip: be careful to put the tops back on because they do dry out. 

balance bike
Balance bikes are the best for learning to ride a big bike. Caroline is getting one this year. Shh!

Much to my surprise, this Kidizoom watch was a huge success. My kids received these last Christmas when they were really pushing us for a techy gift. It satisfied their craving for screen time, but it's way less memorizing than an iPad. Way less.
VTech Kidizoom smartwatch

What gifts have been a big win at your house?
What are you getting your kids this year?

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Theme Days + Weekly Routine

A couple months back I was listening to an episode of one of my favorite podcasts. The host, Meg, mentioned that her themed days of the week were really helping her win at this thing we call life. Minute 34:24 if you want to go listen - it's a great conversation. It all started when she made Saturday "prep for rest" day. This set up Sunday to be truly restful. But it took planning and intentionally, really pushing herself on Saturday to get her errands, housework, etc done. She went on to explain the other days...

Monday: weekend recovery, grocery pick up
Tuesday: tackle to-do's
Wednesday: whatever day
Thursday: pray and prep (standing appointment to go to a prayer chapel, prep for podcast)
Friday: work hard/ play hard
Saturday: prep for rest
Sunday: rest

This themed days of the week idea clicked for me. Many things I do naturally fall on certain days. But I experimented and took it a step further, giving each day of the week a theme to guide the day's  activities. And y'all! My weekly routine is my life. I feel as close to caught up as I have ever been as an adult.

It goes like this.

Meal plan Monday: Monday afternoon I make a meal plan and order my groceries (to be picked up Tuesday morning). It is a standing appointment.

To do Tuesday: Tuesday is a day for "to-do's." I clean out my e-mail. I make any needed appointments. I handle bill paying or insurance or budgeting tasks. I think about holidays, birthdays, and gifts. I handle any school or church business. To-do Tuesday!

Catch-All Wednesday: Whatever I didn't get to on Tuesday, falls to Wednesday. Wednesday is a day to catch up on anything that needs catching up on...cooking, cleaning, or administrative type stuff.

Busy Thursday: Thursdays are our busiest day. Busy Thursday means I usually start the day off with a slow cooker meal in the morning and I have low or no expectations for being productive on Thursday...besides getting us where we need to go.

Play Friday: Fridays are for fun. For me this usually means loosening up the screen time rules for my kids and giving myself a little quiet while I read a book. It's crazy, I know.

Prep for Rest Saturday: I adopted from this from Meg. Saturday I try to tie up any loose ends especially surrounding laundry or school related things like making sure I have enough food for lunches, signing Friday folders, and making sure all the school uniforms are clean.

Sunday: REST

This has truly been revolutionary for my stress levels of how (and when?) do I get it all done?!

Two last things -

1. If you do anything, make a standard meal plan and grocery day. It will change your life! Guard that time vigorously and you will be amazed at how much brain space you will get back and how much money you save.

2. Lean in to your natural rhythms. When I made this routine, I basically gave a little more definition to what was naturally already happening. What changed was it gave me permission to really focus on what the theme was for that day and ignore the nagging sense that maybe I should be doing something else.

So how about it?
Do you have a weekly routine?
Do you have theme days?


Lentil Soup

Go ahead and tell your husbands and your kids to thank me because I have a top notch recipe for a meatless, veggie loaded soup that they will request on their birthdays for years to come.

I made a huge pot last week so we would have a meal to welcome us home after our trip to Charleston. It was comforting, coming home to this lentil deliciousness after a 7 hour drive and being jolted back to reality after a romantic getaway.

So... here ya go...

1 large onion diced
3 carrots diced
extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups dry lentils (soak for a few hours if you have time)
enough water to cover lentils, seasoned with beef bullion (I use Better Than Bullion)
1  28 oz. can diced tomatoes
chopped frozen or fresh spinach (several handfuls)
fresh parsley

Coat the bottom of a large soup pot with olive oil, heat, add onions and carrots. Cook until tender and then salt and pepper generously. Lower heat, add garlic and stir. Add lentils. Cover with water/beef bullion. Bring the heat up and allow lentils to simmer until soft (45 minutes to 1 hour). Add tomatoes, spinach, parsley, and more salt and pepper to taste.

Allow to simmer at least an hour before serving with a slice of French bread! Also, if you like a little kick, drizzle some pepper sauce on your serving. It's so good! Bon appetit! You're welcome!

P.S. Soup is forgiving. Add more liquid if your need to or any other veggies that you like.

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Philosophies of my Sorta Clean House

Over time, I've fallen on two philosophies that give me perspective and help guide me in keeping my house (sorta) clean. At the very least, these mindsets take the pressure off and keep me from feeling like I've failed in the house keeping department.

1. I don't have to do it alone. It's not a one woman show. While I am primarily the one responsible for keeping our home clean and tidy, this does not mean I have to be the one doing all the work of it. When I re-frame my role as a manager of cleaning instead of the cleaner, I am significantly less overwhelmed.

What this looks like is delegating jobs to my family. Also, I hire help. With 4 kids, 2 dogs, and a cat (Rodney is so messy, jk) cleaning is just too big a job for one gal.

If I ever decide to forgo the help, I will definitely redistribute the responsibilities between all the family members. I love the idea of a Saturday morning deep clean. Many hands make light work.

2. Give it my all (for a limited time) and then it is done (for now). Getting my house clean (or halfway civil) should not take up all my time, but it does require some time. I used to try to marginalize tidying/cleaning into the tiny corners of my day. But I've learned that if I give it my focused attention, both the quality and the quantity of tidying/cleaning improve and then I can lay it down and be done with it...for a little while.

What this looks like is just setting the timer and doing it! I used to listen to podcast, but recently I've been uni-tasking the cleaning and straightening. It gets done faster, and because housework can be so mindless I've discovered I do some of my best thinking during cleaning sessions. It's like shower time, when we all have our most brilliant ideas.

Giving it my all for a limited time also gives me a stopping point. It's like this..."I cleaned for thirty minutes with focused attention. And now I'm done. I'm going to read my book with a glass of wine. The end."

(Pics below of my sorta clean house this week. Includes rotting pumpkin in a child's bedroom, which reminds me...honorable mention two my 3rd cleaning philosophy - Lower those expectations! ) 

Also on this topic...
Complete the Cycle (I love this)
My Super Simple Daily Housework Routine

What are your cleaning philosophies? Mantras or sayings? How do you fight the overwhelm of it all?


Somehow We Manage BEST OF FALL - link round up

Finally, the temps have dropped, we have hit our stride with school routines, and our Halloween costumes are all planned out. We feel ya, fall! And we love you.

Since my blogging has been nonexistent for weeks, I thought it might be fun to do a little round up of the best of SWM with a nod to fall.

Here we go....

Back to School 2016 - Two Things Making Me Not Crazy

Forever and always the best after school snack - banana bread

My go to fall meals

Use What Ya Got (how I stored our backpacks, lunchboxes, and shoes before our lockers were built)
Tip for Wearing Button-Down Shirts

New Coat + I'm so over buying expensive clothes

Dressing For Fall When It's 80 Degrees

Spending and Saving + Girls Clothes tips for taking summer dresses to fall and winter

Halloween 2015 feels like yesterday

20 bags in 20 days I know de-cluttering is typically a spring thing, but it's not a bad time of year to do a big clean out in anticipation for Christmas, speaking of....Five Great Toys and A Toy Worth Investing In: Magna-Tiles

I snapped this picture on a school holiday, for sure a day we had to push past the boredom.

So what's new with you?
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