Hidden Art Friday

Happy Friday, everyone!

Our living room has undergone several changes this year. Our house is an old house, colonial in style, with all the neat hardwood floors and cool old moldings you would expect. My living room style has been similar. Unfortunately, not knowing we would be undergoing dramatic changes this year, I never took a ‘before’ picture. All I can really show you is this:


This was our sofa (after a few years of severe kid beatings). It was flanked by two sets of matching arm chairs. You can imagine, right?

In the fall, I found an amazing sectional on craigslist and, on a whim, went for it. While I knew it would not fit with the character of our house, it seemed like a better seating option for my family in the room which functions as both a living and family room. I sold a couple of my armchairs, but could not sell the couch, which was in pretty bad shape. (Unfortunately, no great picture here, either. I don’t plan very well, do I?)


The sectional was a good trade. The kids loved it, and it was nice to be able to all cuddle up together when watching a movie. But I hated it. It was way too big for the room, the style drove me crazy, and toys were forever getting lost underneath it. (In fact, when we moved it last weekend, I found tons of game pieces and books we hadn’t seen in months.)

So, much to my husband’s chagrin, I decided to give the old couch a second chance. I have spent the last few months slowly reupholstering it. It’s a massive project, and really slow and fiddly going. But, if you read up about techniques (and I recommend Singer’s Upholstery Basics), it’s really not too bad. The couch has been in the basement, undergoing its transformation, until this weekend, when my husband and I switched things out.


It really is funny to me how much a difference furniture makes for my ability to be peaceful in my house. Now, I feel like the room makes sense, and doesn’t have a very large sectional trying to take over. I can see what toys are under the couch (or behind it), and can fish them out. When the kids want to set up a train or game, we just scoot the ottoman to the side. I feel like order has been restored. In the next few weeks, we will be adding a few more bookshelves–short ones, underneath the window on the left. (I actually tried to go buy them this week, but Ikea was out. Are you kidding me??)

I’d love to hear what works in your living room! Happy weekend!

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More on Kids and Chores

We’ve all come down with a humdinger of a cold here–even my parents, who were in town for S’s 4th birthday–so I don’t have the energy to even edit one of the drafts of posts I’ve started.  Instead, I remembered that Leila at Like Mother, Like Daughter had a great post a while back on what children are actually capable of doing at each age and stage.  In lieu of a post here, I suggest you go check her thoughts out as a postscript to our chores theme week from last week:

What can children do?  A guide.

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Hidden Art Friday

Happy Friday, everyone!  I brought a meal to a friend with a new baby this week, and for dessert I pulled out my favorite poppyseed bread recipe from my childhood.  It had been a couple years, inexplicably, since I’d last made it, and the kids were all fans of the “seed bread!”  It’s unabashedly dessert.  No whole wheat flour, tons of white flour, sugar, and oil.  But oh so yummy!

poppyseed2Emily’s Mom’s Poppyseed Bread

Mix together and beat one or two minutes with electric mixer:

3 cups flour

1-1/2 tsp salt

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

2-1/4 cups sugar

1-1/2 T. poppy seed

3 eggs

1-1/2 cups milk

1 cup oil

1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1-1/2 tsp almond extract

1-1/2 tsp butter extract

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour two loaf pans.  Pour batter into loaf pans and bake for an hour or until toothpick comes clean.

(There is a glaze recipe that goes with it, but we’ve never made it.  I think poppy seed bread is yummy enough on its own, and you don’t need any more calories, do you?!)


Elsewhere on the web, the Gospel Coalition was hot in my facebook feed last week, and for good reason–I don’t spend a ton of time reading blog posts, but these were well worth reading.

I have to thank a Chicago friend for drawing my attention to a new album that puts the book of Romans to music.  I bought it, and the kids and I have really enjoyed approaching Romans this way!

And I have to thank a Pennsylvania friend for pointing to me to this great perspective: Did You Mean to Have All These Kids?  With people very dear to me struggling with infertility, this was a really applicable post for me.


Have a wonderful weekend!

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Nope, chore charts don’t work…

Emily mentioned on Monday that I’d be sharing with you our chore system. Well, it’s Thursday night, but I’m only a few days late!

To start with, I’m going to be completely honest. Chore charts have never worked for me. I know there are so many beautiful ones out there in the world, and although I appreciate the efficiency and beauty of them, they have just never worked. I’ve never kept them up-to-date, we lose clothespins, the kids lose their little booklets–you can just imagine.

I am, however, 100% convinced that children should do chores. But I’m a little less of a stickler on when they should do them. I know a lot of internet moms have really young children doing chores, but that also has never worked for us. I think my type-A personality is definitely partially to blame, but I never enjoyed teaching a youngster to do a task that he was only barely ready for, only to have to complete it again once he was done. Just not worth it. In our experience, waiting until the kids are really ready to begin a certain chore makes all the difference in the world. At that point, once I show them a couple times, they are ready to be let loose on it by themselves, without my having to fix things at the end.

In our house, the chore-doing tip that has made the most difference for me is this:

Work together. Your kids will be so much more motivated when they see you working alongside them.

I can’t claim I made it up–I heard it from some very wise lady a long time ago. It has revolutionized my kids’ attitudes toward chores. For example: when the floors need dusting, mopping, and/or vacumming, the kids and I all work on it together. I tell them it’s only going to take us 20 minutes if we all work hard, and we set the timer.  I swiff the kitchen while daughter #2 dusts the stairs. Daughter #1 then swiffs the hardwood floors while son #1 wet-swiffs the kitchen floors and I vacuum. My youngest two girls wander around aimlessly with dust cloths. When we need to clean bathrooms, a similar sort of system happens. I have not trained my oldest to clean the bathrooms yet (I tried, and they clearly were not ready for the responsibility of comet flying out of the can…), but while I clean bathrooms, somebody rounds up towels that need washing. Somebody else takes cups down to the kitchen (Anybody else keep a communal cup in their bathroom? I don’t know how, but somehow we never get sick from it.). Another two or three are tasked with taking Clorox wipes and wiping down doorknobs, light switches, and the banister. I am not usually done cleaning the bathrooms in 20 minutes, but after 20 minutes of them working, they’re ready to go play with the baby and leave me in peace to finish.

The kids have a couple other regular chores that they all do together (I’m off the hook for these ones!). In the morning, right after breakfast, they all have a morning chore to complete. One makes babies’ beds, another takes out the bathroom trash, while a few others vacuum the dining room carpet. While they do this, I finish cleaning up breakfast and make sure the babies are dressed. We usually finish about the same time. My kids are also responsible for putting away clean dishes out of the dishwasher. We’ve broken up the dishwasher into four ‘zones,’ and they all take a section. And when household clutter has gotten completely out of control (which is several times a day), we all work together on fixing it. Sometimes I’ll make them do this on their own, but usually only when I’m trying to make dinner, and it always results in fighting over who’s doing what and who’s not participating.

I do not have a set schedule for chores. I’m pretty sure that if I did, things would be cleaned more consistently, but I have just never stuck to a schedule. Instead, we try to clean as-needed. When I notice the bathrooms are gross, we work on them. When I notice that the floor needs vacuuming, we work on it. In this non-schedule, I never do any kind of general spring-cleaning type items (wash grubby walls, vacuum shutters, anyone?), but I’ve decided that that is not an area I need to feel guilty over. I’ll scrub shutters when I’m old. It helps that I am type-A enough that the main things never get completely out of control.

I would love to hear what’s worked for you! I just reserve the right to not feel guilted into trying it!

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