Thursday, October 25, 2012

Q&A Thursday: Weekly Cleaning Schedule? Three MOMs respond

We have three guest authors today responding to the question, "What is your weekly cleaning schedule?"

First, from Aimee, a mother of seven, ages 13 to 2 months. She blogs at

This is my sort of schedule; in all honestly I am just getting back to where I am following it most of the time. There are weeks when other things come up, or baby has a bad day or night and we kick into survival mode. So here goes:

Monday: I call catch up day, I generally pick up the house and get things in order from the weekend, and I don't usually plan anything big that day.

Tuesday: laundry. I hurry and get the daily stuff done in the morning so I can wash all day. If I am really on top of it I will fold as the laundry comes out, so by the time the kids get home they can put stuff away and do their folding (socks, panties, dish towels), if not (which is most of the time now with the baby) I will save the folding until that evening and do it when the kids are to bed and I watch TV. If I can focus in the evening it takes about an hour and a half to get the folding done.

Wednesday: Kitchen day, I do any extra cooking for the week. I look at the meal plan and see what needs to be done. If we are having beans in a meal, I will cook those. I will cook whole chickens if we are having something with chicken in it, and start broth. I will bake bread; make yogurt and granola for the week. I also try to pick an area in the kitchen to deep clean, like a cupboard and I clean out the fridge. (I did this much better before baby, now I pick and choose what needs to be done the most, and if baby didn't sleep well the night before, I will skip it all and opt for a nap ;-))

Thursday: Office day (this is the one I tend to put off the most.) I attend to papers that accumulate on my desk; I recycle and clean things up. Ideally I would like to use this day for menu planning and budgeting, I have never done it though.

Friday: Cleaning day. I deep clean the house. The kids each have a stewardship to clean (these are the rooms they have been in charge of for the week, on Friday they deep clean it) So really I only end up deep cleaning the kitchen and my bathroom and bed room and I do a lot of supervising. We can usually get the whole house done in a few hours after school. If the kids do a good job without fighting they can have a late night together, they stay up late with a movie and some kind of treat. This is the day I wash sheets (have the kids strip their beds before school), bath towels and rugs.

Saturday: project day, during the warm months it is usually yard work, in the winter something inside in the mornings, in the afternoon I like to plan some family activity if I can.

Sunday: rest (ha!)

Next we'll hear from Jenifer Moss, also a mother of seven. Two boys and five girls. She blogs at After graduating with a Bachelors in Human Development at BYU, Jenifer entered into her field studies. As a stay at home mother and homemaker for the past 15 years she is learning the HOW, WHEN and WHYs of motherhood and housework. She knows this is a difficult yet divine work. Jenifer believes that the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ teach us how to create a house of order so that we can be temporally and spiritually self reliant. David O. McKay said, “A true Mormon’s home is one in which, if Christ would chance to enter he would be pleased to linger and to rest.”

Monday- Pick up and vacuum. This is my hardest day, but the most important.

Tuesday- Clean. Bathrooms, floors, windows. (Gather laundry.)

Wednesday- Wash, Dry and Fold. ALL LAUNDRY! (I love one day laundry. I don’t end up with loads of half finished laundry everywhere.)

Thursday- Food. This is my errands day. Shopping, meal planning, making bread if I am home. Doctors. Piano lessons, etc.

Friday- Beasts in all their variety. This is the day we have friends over or do projects. We always have -homemade pizza and watch a movie or invite another family over for games.

Saturday- Man. A day for my husband. We have Saturday date night. We go together to games. We do family work projects.

Sunday- Holy Sabbath. (We have our spiritual part of family home evening on Sunday night.)
I wrote an extended version of this schedule on my blog recently-- look for creating a house of order. Or, read about my original plan on the side under Creation Cleaning.

Finally, Diane Robertson is the highly-organized mom of nine:

Here is how I try to manage cleaning mayhem in a large family. I have three categories.

1. Laundry: I do laundry daily and fold straight out of the dryer. I don't like big piles of clean laundry sitting around so I found a way to fold onto shelves into plastic milk crate boxes. Most of my kids keep their clothes in the laundry room. That helps reduce putting away laundry since a lot of it belongs in the laundry room.

2. Deep Cleaning: I do one deep cleaning or large chore each weekday. Monday I scrub the kitchen floor, wash the kitchen cupboards, and clean under appliances on the counters. Tuesday is currently a preschool co-op, and I do not have time for a large chore. Wednesday I pick up and vacuum the upstairs. Thursday I deep clean all of the bathrooms. The older kids help with the bathrooms. Friday is project day. I do things like clean the fridge, or the garage. Sometimes I move furniture, or wash walls and baseboards. Saturday I like to keep open so we have extra time to spend having fun with Dad.

3. Daily chores: dishes, dusting, picking up and vacuuming the downstairs, washing counters and tables, sweeping, and wiping bathroom sinks and toilet seats. The kids help a lot with the daily chores. I do the daily bathroom todo while I use the bathroom so I don't have to schedule in the time.

Our house is never perfectly cleaned but it is maintained. I have nine children and I do not feel like I am buried alive in housework. I also try not to collect a lot of stuff. I like the open spaces more than a whole bunch of toys, crafts, and furniture.

How do you manage your weekly chores?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Meet a M.O.M. Tuesday: Jenifer Moss

I'm thrilled to be introducing you today to one of my favorite inspirations -- Jenifer Moss and I have been friends for only about 8 months, but I feel like I've learned so much from her writings and her faith.  She has a great gift for writing and has included links to some of her blog posts below.  I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.

Let's start by talking about your family right now. What are the ages and genders of your children? Do you think your family is complete?

I have seven children, two boys and then five girls.  My oldest is 13 and my youngest just turned 18 months.  I believe that children are a blessing from the Lord.  Usually during my pregnancy or right after the birth of a child, I have been given a special knowledge that this is not the end.  I know that someone else was waiting to come to our family.  I felt this so strongly at the ultrasound for our last baby.  I believe there will come a day when I hold my last child in my arms and feel the confirming peace that I am finished.  But, until then, I marvel at the gifts God has given me.  As I rock my seventh child to sleep I can’t help but think, if I didn’t have seven, I wouldn’t have HER.  I love being a mother.

From what you've said, I understand you didn't have a childhood filled with sunshine and lollipops. In fact, I think it's safe to say you had a pretty rough start to life. How have those early experiences prepared you to be a mother of many? What do you do differently in your mothering because of what you've experienced?

Great question!  We each have our own path to walk in life.  I had a beautiful childhood although it was not ideal.  For much of my life I was raised by a single mother with one sister, my mother eventually remarried and had more children with my stepfather.  My mother joined the church when I was young and, although I was baptized at age eight, it wasn’t until I was in high school that we were ever really active.  I remember laying on my bed as a young child singing to myself the song, “I am a child of God.”  I remember crying and asking God why He didn’t bless me with parents kind and dear.  I was enveloped in a great, warm hug and my Heavenly Father whispered in my ear that He was my Father.  That I would never want because He would compensate. 

Knowing that we are all children of a Heavenly Father who loves us, has given me peace as a mother.  It drives me CRAZY when good parents beat themselves up about their small imperfections.  I know that children from horrendous circumstances of abuse and neglect CAN succeed in life and find joy—because they are loved, taught and watched over by Heavenly Parents.  I also believe that God’s grace and mercy can apply to our own children.  We do not need to be perfect—because HE is.  This overarching faith in God is the foundation for all I do as a mother.  I picked a great Earthly father for my children.  If I do nothing else right in life, I have still given them one of the greatest gifts.  

Stumbling Block or Stepping Stone- You Choose

You stay home with seven children. Are there parts of the routine of having lots of children that are getting old? What chores would you gladly do away with? And on the reverse, what parts of raising children do you cherish?

Consistency is my hardest thing.  I don’t mind chores, I just mind that they are so constant.  What I wouldn’t give for a month off!!  For me, the mental is harder than the physical.  Oh that I were naturally happy and cheerful all the time!! I would give anything (perhaps I already am) for a soul full of love all the time.  Especially as I navigate early morning crankiness or late night tiredness.  I also think the hardest part about staying at home is feeling like I am really doing A GREAT WORK.  How I resonate with the leper Naaman in the Bible who is told he must wash in the murky river Jordan (the same river where Christ himself was later baptized to fulfill all righteousness) seven times to be cleansed.  Although the RESULT of washing, and washing, and washing, and washing, and washing, and washing, and washing would be a MIRACULOUS transformation... he was reluctant.  I LOVE the scripture where he young servant asks, “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” (2 Kings 5:13).  Like Naaman, I am made clean as I wash and serve.  

What parts do I cherish today?  Fingerprints on my windows, open-mouthed baby kisses, little girl dress-up clothes, tiny toes, older siblings teaching younger siblings with more love and kindness than I have at the time, responsible and organized teenagers, picture books, creative ‘do-it-yourself’ hairstyles, shoes on the wrong feet, singing in the car, Christmas morning, the third time a toddler sneaks out of bed at night just to give me another hug (don’t tell them I love that please), crayon drawings, naked babies, helpers in the kitchen, deacon humor, 3rd grade drama, listening to laughter, always having a hand to hold when I walk.  My life is FULL of goodness and joy.  I have a sign in my kitchen that says, “God grant me the patience to deal with my blessings!”

You and your husband have a wonderful, strong relationship. What are the daily, weekly and other regular habits that you've developed with him that keep your marriage strong?
Having a strong marriage is a lot of WORK.  Is that ok to admit? When we were just home from our honeymoon, my husband and I had our first argument about whose job it was to empty the trash (his, of course).  He sat down on his bed, put his head in his hands and explained, “Oh Man, What have I gotten myself into?”  Ha!  Poor fella... That was only the beginning!!

I did not grow up in a strong home, I still struggle to know what a good marriage looks like.  God commands us to BE ONE.  Emotional and physical closeness is essential for a strong marriage.  We try to have our kids to bed fairly early so that we have time to spend together each night.  Frequent time together strengthens our marriage.  I believe that marital intimacy is a SACRAMENT.  This sacred, physical act actually cleanses and empowers you.  Our marriage has not been easy—we have both learned to forgive and love an imperfect person.  Satan works to destroy our bond, but through the atonement of Christ we are given the ENABLING power.  Charity, the pure love of Christ, is God’s greatest gift!  We talk, we date and socialize with friends, we go to the temple, we pray together, we apologize, we laugh, we focus on our intimate life and enjoy our time together.  Marital bliss is not a state we have arrived at—it is a fruit that we have to CHOOSE to partake of often. 

Often, the hardest thing for me is letting my husband love ME when I know I am imperfect (physically and spiritually). In this day and age of pornography, high fashion, excessive exercise, plastic surgery, and Barbie, we have a mental image of what our naked body should look like in order to make our husband happy.  I was talking to a friend the other day, she has had many physical challenges that has left her body scarred and many children who have left her body sagging.  She told me that her husband still looks at her and loves her.  “In a way, my body is OUR body.”  She said,  “We have travelled this journey together.”  I love that. 

I don’t believe true happiness in marriage comes from finding a perfect husband or from being the perfect spouse. True marital unity comes from cleaving unto each other in our imperfect, mortal, “naked” state and calling down the blessings of GRACE to help us on our journey.  I am grateful to have been given a good, humble, imperfect man to learn to love.  I am grateful that he sees me at my best and worst and chooses to love me still.  Marriage is an incredible marathon and I’m yoked to a good ox!
Like Beans and Cornbread
The Act of Marriage
On Forgiveness in Marriage

What do you do to maintain an appropriate balance in your family's life? What do you say no to and what do you say yes to? What are your favorite things to do when you're not raising children or keeping house and how do you find time to do them?
Balance—blah!!  I have this idea that there is a beautiful field I will someday arrive at—in the meantime I am the Billy Goat Gruff that is stuck on the bridge trying to convince the troll to let me pass.  My life is not balanced—it is a continual waxing and waning, faster and slower, stricter and kinder, structured and creative.  My home cycles and has seasons.  There are times when I pull back and focus more on my home and my family, and times when I am serving more in my community.  My children have seasons where they are more involved and less involved.  Our life is busy— with older kids and younger kids, this is a busy season of life.  Although I have often wished for a living prophet to walk me through my day telling me what I should do and what I shouldn’t, I am content to walk daily with a still small voice that whispers “slow down” or “get up and work”, “turn that off” or “listen to her”.  I am grateful for the voice that reminds me to reach out and keeps my feet planted firmly at home.  I have no advice on balance—I’m not sure it is achievable in this teeter-totter time of life.  Perhaps there is someone else out there that has achieved it and can give me some pointers!! 

I do not often seek out or volunteer for opportunities.  I try to focus on loving and serving in my home, in my extended family, doing my family history, serving at church, knowing and loving my neighbors, and being a friend to those I visit teach.  That keeps me pretty busy.  I do try to say YES, however, when someone asks me for something.  I often think of Christ saying, “Give to them that asketh.”  And, I have found that I have enough to share with most people who come to me asking for something they need or want.  I LOVE the scripture in D&C 61:3 that says, “It is not needful for . . . mine [mothers] to be moving swiftly... whilst the inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief.”  I have found that I can do much good if I just slow down and serve as I am moving through my day.  

I am ALWAYS raising children and keeping house and everything I do is part of that!  When I look for ways to escape my calling in life, I find an unquenchable thirst.  “Me time” just leads to more “poor me time” at home.  Instead, I am happiest when I find JOY in the doing!!  The great JOY of being at home with my children is that I can plan my day!   I am the queen of my castle and I can make my castle just what I want it to be!!  My favorite things?  I love to be outside and see the beauty of the earth.  We take our children ‘sightseeing’ often, I love road trips!  I love a clean, organized home.  I love to eat healthy, colorful food.  I love to read good books!  I love to make things.  I love to sing and to talk about ideas.  I love produce and gardening and animals (most of the time).  I love holidays and having lots of people over to my house.  Pretty much all of my favorite things I can do as I mother and homemaker!  I LOVE my job!
I Cycle
The Mundane Tasks of Life
What advice do you have for moms who want more but don't know if they can handle it?
Pray about it.  Talk to your husband.  Have faith.  You are given the strength that you need in MOMENTS, line upon line as you grow.  You do not have children because you can handle it.  You have children and you BECOME what you need to be as you learn to love and serve.  This life is not meant to be an easy, vacation.  Having children takes work and effort—but it is a divine, holy, sanctifying, GOOD work.  Life will be hard with or without children, that is part of the plan.  Don’t waste your TRIP imagining it was supposed to be a VACATION.  Men and women will be SAVED and SANCTIFIED as we toil together in FAMILIES through this mortal journey.  It is a good plan!!

As Ma said, in Little Town on the Prairie, “This earthly life is a battle.  If it isn’t one thing to contend with, it’s another.  It always has been so, and it always will be.  The sooner you make up your mind to that, the better off you are, and the more thankful for your pleasures.”  She was a wise woman!

You have a wonderful poetic talent that I envy. Can you share a few of your favorite posts on your blog with us?
I added links to some posts on the bottom of my answers...

Summer Ideas- Chore Charts and Non-Consistency  (this is by far my most read blog post)


Friday, October 12, 2012

Love is hard work (Friday Favorites)

This one's a bit long, but so worth the read:

What Love Is and How it Saved My Marriage

The author, Melody Ross, shares what she learned about real love after her husband was brain-damaged in an accident.  Just a glimpse of her wisdom:

"Before all of this happened, I had fallen into the myth that marriage is a 50/50 proposition, if you give 50%, then I’ll give 50%, and then we’ll always be happy. Well, what happens if one partner or another cannot, for whatever reason, give 50%? What happens if your partner is TAKING 50%, leaving a deficit? That’s when you have to decide whether or not you are willing to give 150% to keep your marriage at 100%."

"So I remembered my wedding day, like my sister had asked me to…I think that’s one of the biggest things that got me through this… I was reminded that when I got married, I made a promise to my husband, but also to God. When it got so difficult to keep the promise of my marriage because I was only getting pain in return, I decided to keep the promise to God. I remember going to God, with bitter tears, telling him that I promised to give all that I had to my marriage and that my husband did not love me anymore. I told God that I would keep trying, because I promised that I would. I told Him that even if my promise did not mean anything to Marq at this time, that I knew that it meant something to Him."
* * *
Another (much shorter) helpful view of marriage and the commitment it takes is this

Covenant Marriage

Just one part:

Another bride sighed blissfully on her wedding day, “Mom, I’m at the end of all my troubles!” “Yes,” replied her mother, “but at which end?” When troubles come, the parties to a contractual marriage seek happiness by walking away. They marry to obtain benefits and will stay only as long as they’re receiving what they bargained for. But when troubles come to a covenant marriage, the husband and wife work them through. They marry to give and to grow, bound by covenants to each other, to the community, and to God. Contract companions each give 50 percent; covenant companions each give 100 percent.
Marriage is by nature a covenant, not just a private contract one may cancel at will. Jesus taught about contractual attitudes when he described the “hireling,” who performs his conditional promise of care only when he receives something in return. When the hireling “seeth the wolf coming,” he “leaveth the sheep, and fleeth … because he … careth not for the sheep.” By contrast, the Savior said, “I am the good shepherd, … and I lay down my life for the sheep.” Many people today marry as hirelings. And when the wolf comes, they flee. This idea is wrong. It curses the earth, turning parents’ hearts away from their children and from each other.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

South Dakota Quick Trip (Wordless Wednesday)

 Two weeks ago, my husband needed to go to South Dakota for business reasons.  Rather than fly in and fly out, he made a trip of it.  Five kids, ten hours each way, and four days together.  DH says the fall colors were lovely and there was plenty of wildlife to enjoy -- donkeys, buffalo, antelope, and prarie dogs.

 On the way back, they visited Martin's Cove and some other pioneer sites.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Meet a M.O.M. Tuesday: Laura Vosika

Today's interview features Laura Vosika, a musician, author, and mother of nine.  I've known her since I was pregnant with my twins and I'm grateful for the chance to introduce her to you.  In addition to being a mother of nine, she is also a musician and author.  You can learn more about her on her website --  or her facebook author page,
So tell us about your kids -- what are their ages and gender? 
I have 7 boys and 2 girls, from ages 23 down to 7.  The girls are among the oldest four, being 21 and 17.

You have kids who are entering adulthood. For many of us, that's foreign territory. What do you hope that you've taught your kids as they leave your home?
I hope I've taught them to be kind to others and the value of following their faith, of having something larger than themselves in their lives, of thinking about and giving to others.

Many mothers of large families get asked, "So are you Mormon or Catholic?" In your case and mine, the answer is "yes." How does your faith as a Catholic influence your mothering? What part did your faith play in deciding to have a large family?
Yes, I'd love to defy the stereotype, but, in this case, the shoe fits.  I'm Catholic.  I decided to live by the teaching of my faith, which by the way, is to be open to children, not to 'have as many children as you can,' as I've heard some people express.  Voila!  Nine children.  It's not what I'd planned, but I've often told my children I'm glad things went according to God's plan, not mine, as I am very happy with my children and feel God's plan was far better than what I'd imagined.  I'm humbled and grateful for my younger children, who would not exist had my dear friend Micki not talked to me about living the faith I claimed to follow.
How does my faith influence my mothering?  Partly in trust.  Faith grows when you trust, and see the results over and over.  There have been times I had no idea how I'd get through something...and an answer always sprang up. 
I'd also say in that I see each child, not as 'mine,' but as a child of God, entrusted to my care.  I stress the word 'entrusted.'  This is God's child, whom He loves dearly.  It is easy, as a parent, to fall into wanting our children to reflect well on us.  Let's face it, when they do great things, people praise us.  When they act up, people criticize us and talk behind our backs.  It makes it easy to fall into the trap of being critical and angry, rather than teaching with love, rather than seeing the whole life of this child instead of just this one frustrating moment.  It makes it easy to forget that our words can be deeply cutting to a young child and impact them, sometimes, long past when we ourselves remember even saying them.  

What are your favorite parts about having a large family?
Just about everything, really.  I like the laughter; I like seeing how the kids interact, how they form friendships, how the older ones take the younger ones under their wing and the younger ones blossom in the love of the older ones.  I like the energy.  I love seeing how different each child is--even the 'identical' twins.  I get a kick out of people's reactions when they learn about my family, not only how many there are, but how many boys.  I like seeing them grow up and fly out on their own with confidence.  I really like the fact that, having experienced how fast the older ones grew up, I'm able to appreciate and savor the sometimes difficult moments of the younger years, with my younger children, in a way I don't believe would otherwise have been possible.

What are your least favorite things about having a large family?
It's hard to stay on top of cleaning and organization.

In addition to mothering your family, you are an accomplished musician, music teacher, and author. How have you fit in the time for your own pursuits? How do you balance your own needs with those of your family?
I think my answer is much like your own, on your website: we make time for what really matters.  But to do that, I multi-task--for instance, I get a lot of picking up done while I'm on the phone.  I listen to language CDs while I drive.  I use the small pieces of time throughout the day, meaning I'll use the three minutes my coffee is heating in the microwave to wash some dishes or throw in a load of laundry.  I use the few minutes my laptop is booting up in the morning to run through scales on piano.  While water is boiling for dinner, I help the kids with homework or go back and forth between the stove and harp (which is in the dining room right next to the kitchen), running through a hard passage a few times, stirring, and back to running through the passage.
The kids help out with chores, and I've learned that it's okay to let some things slide.  The house won't be perfect while it's full of young children.  That's okay.  As a mother, I think we need to remember our children come first, but there's also that idea of putting on our own oxygen mask first.  If we're worn out and miserable with serving everyone hand and foot for years on will our children remember their childhood?  Have we really served them if all they remember is unhappiness?

 If you could go back ten to twenty years and whisper encouragement to yourself at a younger age and different stage of life, what would you say to that young mom?

I'd probably say, Enjoy them while they're young, and This, too, shall pass.  It's hard to know, as a young mother, that you really will get to sleep through the night again...some day.  It feels like it'll never happen.  I'd tell myself to write down more of the stories.  I love it now when my kids tell me things they remember, things they did that got me angry--yes, they're usually laughing about it!  Things they did that make us laugh now.  Funny things they said.  But I wonder how many wonderful moments I've forgotten.  Write the stories down.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Old enough to choose

Allison and Sarah are identical twins, which means that they look alike and share identical genes. They are, essentially, natural clones. But that doesn't stop them from being very different in spirit,and I delight in watching both their similarities and their differences develop. I believe that we lived as spirit children of our Heavenly Father before we came to earth and that long, long time with their Father and Mother gave Allison and Sarah distinct personalities and purposes for their earth life. I believe God sent them together for a purpose and one of my concerns with raising twins has always been to help those outside our family to recognize them as distinct and separate individuals, even while acknowledging that they are "the twins."

In their first few weeks of life, we painted their toenails purple and pink so we wouldn't mix them up, but honestly, after a few days, we could all see the slight differences and there was no confusion in our own family. That trend is only magnified years later. Among family, Sarah and Allison are not a matched set; they're two very different eight-year-old members of this family.

But friends and acquaintances often see them as a unit and don't take the time to distinguish one from another. Sometimes that bothers me and sometimes I take it as one of those things that go along with having twins. "Which one are you?" is going to be the question of the week for my girls just as my choice to have a large family means I'm fielding "Don't you know what causes that?" all the time.

In an effort to make it easier for others to tell the twins apart, particularly school friends, we grew out Allison's hair when she turned four years old. She had longer hair than Sarah and then had no bangs while Sarah had bangs for the last four years of her life. I'd tell people to remember "S" for short hair and it seemed to help.

Recently, things have changed, though, and Allison has been asking to have a haircut that matches Sarah's.  Sarah, too, was caught up in the idea of the fun it would be to REALLY look alike and she's been begging me for the same haircut as Allison's.

So, probably to the annoyance of our neighbors and the girls' teachers and friends, when our friend Debi came to do haircuts yesterday, it was identical cuts. The girls are in separate classes for their third grade year but more than that, I feel they are old enough to choose how they want their hair.

They were delighted with the results.  They also asked me if they can switch classes and see if the teacher notices and I won't tell you what answer I gave them.  I hope they do have fun with the new haircuts and feel the delight of being mistaken for one another.  After all, if you're lucky enough to have an identical twin, why not have some fun with it?


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