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. 


links are Amazon Associate links


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?

Links are Amazon Associate Links


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.

Links are Amazon Associate links


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?


Routines, Socks, and Pencils - Back to School!

My kids started school this week. And as with every summer's end, it was bittersweet.

But this year feels a little different. Unlike years past when school was a total mayhem-inducing shock to our system, I feel like I'm in the driver's seat. I'm confronting the school year adult style - with a plan, with our pain points analyzed, and with expectations laid out clearly for my children.

Don't come to breakfast before you're fully dressed.
Don't tell me your life story as you're getting in the car in the carpool line. Save it for the drive home!
Hang up your back pack. 
Tidy your room before bed.

It's my 4th year being the parent of elementary age children, and I finally feel like I know how to run the ship instead of it running me. Sure we will get off course, and that's okay. We'll just get right back on...eventually.

Here's a few ways I've set us up for success this year.

In collaboration with my kids, we wrote down what we thought was a fair and reasonable routine for the morning, afternoon, and evening. This way we are not aimlessly wandering. We have a routine! I can already tell this will be a game changer.

routines posted on fridge

I declared sock bankruptcy, threw away all the old, mismatched socks and bought 4 fresh new packs. That should do it. Finding clean matching socks was such a pain point at the end of last year. It doesn't have to be that way.

Pencils are cheap and I plan to keep an ample supply. Also, I set up a homework table near the backpacks to keep the school stuff off the kitchen table.

My younger two kiddos do not go to school every day, but I'm planning to go ahead and make their lunches anyway. We will have a picnic ready to go and can freely run errands without  getting tripped up by lunch. Also, this keeps me from getting out all the lunch stuff multiple times a day.

So let's do this! Bring it on school year 2018-2019!

What are your tips for living your best school life, for not going crazy with all the coming and going? What are your pain points?
And school lunches?

Jesus, take the wheel.


5 Favorites on Friday

Happy weekend!

My house is oddly quiet at the moment. 3/4 of my kids are with a cousin, out of town, and with their daddy. The 2 year old is asleep.

I'm taking a moment to check in and share 5 of my favorites on the interweb.

School starts next week, and I have a feeling that the peaches are about done for the season. It's that time of year. Bittersweet.


Have a look at Gretchen Rubin's New York apartment. I love it.

How to Cook a Moist & Tender Chicken Breast Every Time
I've now tried this method many times. It totally works.

9 Hard Truths About Clutter You Need to Hear 

Pretty cloth napkins - I have yet to switch to cloth napkins, but these temp me to convert.

Boundaries, Family Rules, & Strong Willed Children...Oh My!
I found this helpful.

Have a good one.

Some links are Amazon Associate links.


Buying Second Hand - Thredup Finds

I'm a long time fan of Thredup. After Caroline was born I bought an entire post-baby wardrobe from there. Then I went through a phase when I sort of forgot about it.

....until early this summer when my girls needed a few things. I was so impressed with what Thredup had to offer!

Here's what I love about Thredup up besides the prices, of course!

 Laurie's dress - Thredup Lands' End

I love having fewer choices! When when one of us needs new clothes, I tend to get lost in all the options, fall down the internet rabbit hole, and still not make a decision and buy the thing that we need. But while shopping Thredup almost exclusively to buy mine and my kids' clothes, I've grown to appreciate how it narrows down the options and helps me get on with it!

The best example of this is when Laurie needed a rashgaurd. I searched "girls size 7-8 rashgaurds" and 30 seconds later the deal was done. There were only 2 that I liked. Narrowed my choices. Zero angst.

 Romper - Thredup (Old Navy)

Also, because of limited options, I feel like I'm really sticking to my style. I'm not bombarded by all the new that we see on online retailers' sites.

The second hand items I really love tend to jump out at me more definitively, and I've notice a more consistent "look" coming together in my closet. It makes for much easier purchasing decisions.

A few tips....

One of the best ways to use Thredup is to take advantage and earn free shipping.

Always do a search for a promo code.

Don't hesitate to send stuff back. The return process is so easy! They will give you credit or charge a return shipping cost (your choice).

This is totally not a sponsored post, but I will gladly share my my referral link. Use it and you can get $10 off your first order and it gives $10 credit to me! Win win.

Thredup (Lands End)

How about you? Have you used Thredup? Do you shop second hand?


Easy Craft - Tissue Paper Lanterns

It's officially HOT. Raise your if you need a screen free, indoor activity! ✋

We have made these tissue paper lanterns several times. It's one of my favorite crafts because they are easy to make and you can actually keep them around and use them. They have a purpose unlike some other crafts that though cute - what the heck do you do with 'em?!

All you need is

a glass jar
some Mod Podge
a paint brush
pieces of tissue paper
and and votive or tea candle, small enough to fit in the jar

I bought my tissue paper squares and Mod Podge at the Dollar Tree, but cutting up some tissue paper yourself is just fine. For the jars, I saved old jam and salsa jars. You could buy some inexpensively if you don't have any on hand.

All you do is paint a little Mod Podge on the glass, then stick your tissue paper on using any colors or pattern you like. The end.

We like to light ours up for dinner time so we can eat by candle light every night, even though it's usually still pretty light outside.

These would make great little gifts for neighbors or grandparents. Our VBS had them for crafts one day this year, and they were a huge hit.

All these pictures are from last summer, last July actually. I've been meaning to blog this forever. With the weather so hot, I'm feeling another round coming on soon.  

P.S. I think you could probably use regular glue instead of the Mod Podge. I've never tried it, but I think it would be fine.


Do You Know Yourself?

After years of babies I find myself in a season of evaluation, figuring out what I love to do, how to best take care of myself, and how to manage my free time in a way that is fulfilling. I'm seeing this as sort of a year long project. I'm getting to know myself!

On my last birthday I turned 35.
And currently, my oldest child is 9, halfway through the years he will be under our roof - Lord willing! These are significant milestones.

In October 2017, I was impulsive and got a haircut not with my usual girl. It was bad, so overly layered. It took me 9 long months to grow it out. I'm too old for this. So I've reflected...what went wrong? How does my hair look its best? Objectively.

Now I know better, and I make regular hair appointments weeks in advance. Know thyself.

 my newest haircut that I'm very happy with

This past school year I had a day each week when all 4 of my kids were in school, the youngest going to preschool on Fridays. This gave me 3 glorious child-free hours. I thought hard...what do I love to do? How can I fill this time with activities that rejuvenate me? Truly. I discovered that I love to go on long walks. I love to eat black bean and guacamole tacos at Chipotle. I also love to meet with friends for coffee. Know thyself.

I know that I don't like to wear clothes that require a camisole underneath. I don't want to wear a shirt under my shirt! Also, I loathe rayon. I've made a deliberate effort to buy mostly 100% cotton clothes, which are difficult to find, but worth it. Know thyself.

Casually, my mom asked me where I would like to go on a trip, a real get-on-an-airplane trip. I had no idea! It's taken me months to answer this question. But after much reflection, I can confidently say I'd like to go to a big city and see Hamilton. I don't care what city. So I'm starting to brain storm a way to make this happen. Know thyself.

It's common for young mothers to lose their way in the child bearing and baby years. The way that went down in my life is that I forgot...or maybe never really had the clarity of mind to discover.....what I really like to do as an adult. But now that my youngest child is almost 3, it's a new day at our house.

This season of evaluating what I love and don't love to do has been therapeutic. And I'm still in the midst of it. Really, it's a life long quest.

To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom. - Socrates

If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.  - Anonymous

Do you know yourself?
What do you love to do?


Five Favorites

My kids and I are visiting my parents this week. I've had time to walk, read, sleep, and now...blog!

I thought I would jump on here and share five recent favorites. I love when other bloggers do posts like these. Because isn't word of mouth is the best way to get more goodness in your life?! I think so.


bugs in ice

My mom froze some toy bugs in a big block of ice for George (5) to excavate. He has had a blast digging his way through the ice with a butter knife to collect the bugs. We have frozen and re-frozen them several times. This is a great activity to burn up a little time during the summer.


Old Navy golden bronze flip flops

What a fabulous, casual, and affordable shoe! I have been wearing the O.N. golden bronze flip flops for years now. Though I mostly only wear them around my house, it feels a little more sophisticated than the other colors.


short hair

I have an upcoming hair appointment. I'm totally feeling a blunt bob. I'm planning to use this picture to show my hair stylist. I have genuinely tried to grow my hair out past my shoulders, but after a while I just can't stand it. Plus, it always ends up in a ponytail.

found image on Pinterest


If you need an epic summer read (or listen) I highly recommend America's First Daughter and/or My Dear Hamilton.

Both are written by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
I have gotten completely caught up in these stories. Riveting! Five Stars!


open face sandwiches

for breakfast...for lunch...I'm all about an open face sandwich! Toast a good piece of bread and then top with...

cream cheese and cucumbers
pimento cheese and tomato
avocado and fried egg or a tomato (or both)

What are your favorite things these days?!
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