Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A prayer

This morning I felt at my wit's end way too quickly. Just in time, I picked up my copy of The Ascetic Lives of Mothers, glanced through it for the most appropriate prayer for me today, and read this beautiful prayer for a mother of little ones:

"O my God and King, help me to be a peace-bearer in my home. Tending to my little ones takes so much time; help me to focus and order my day in a way that is effective in training and loving them and, most importantly, honoring to You. Help me to use kind words and give loving encouragement. Give me the wisdom to direct these precious little ones to love You. During the trying days, remind me that the investment I make in their lives is worth each sacrifice. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen."

Friday, June 20, 2014

Frugal living...

Yesterday, a friend and I met up at a kids' consignment shop to do some browsing for the little ones. My kids don't need much for the summer season because I got them all they needed already, but I did browse for a few things that we needed, and for next season as well (I like to shop mostly a season in advance).

I always go to these stores (there are a few around here) before I go out to a retail store. I find that most of the items in these shops are always chosen with taste, which leaves me the job of finding tasteful clothing for my kids..and on top of that, if you go to the right area (like a prestigious one), you can get quality name brand clothes for a fraction of the price. Now why would I shop at a real Hanna Andersson store, if I could find my kids Hanna outfits for less than $10, in great condition, at a second-hand store?? Check it out. I got my girls mostly Hanna Andersson clothing, and a dress from an Australian popular store, Pumpkin Patch. All of this (6 articles of clothing) for $27.

My point is, when you're living on a frugal budget (not because you necessarily want to, but rather because you have to), you can still dress your kids in nice, quality clothing if you make a little bit of an extra effort.

My other favorite way to shop is, as I already mentioned, a season ahead of time. What I do usually, is I'll go to stores like GAP, Gymboree, OshKosh B'Gosh (just b/c those are my favorites) and shop their clearance racks for out-of-season clothes, looking for the next size up for each of my kids. Every pair of my son's shorts for this summer were bought last winter for $6 or less a pair. The stores want to get rid of their off-season clothes badly by that point, so they mark them down to just about the lowest price you'll ever be able to get. Usually, you can use a coupon on top of these clearance prices, too! I'll never forget the time I scored my middle daughter a gorgeous Gymboree dress brand new for $2.95! That's even better than you'll find at a second-hand store!

One of the most popular second-hand kids' stores is called Once Upon A Child. They have these all over the country. Other than that, a popular branch out in the Midwest is Kid-to-Kid. You can always check Google for your local consignment shops, too, though.

I have to mention that I've gotten some great deals through the years on EBay, too. I decide if an item is a good deal with the shipping calculated into the cost, because sometimes shipping can really make or break a good deal. If it's equal to or less than what I'd pay for a similar item in a secondhand store, I buy it. If not, I leave it.

I love a good deal!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Wisdom of Elder Thaddeus...

Some motivating quotes I read this morning from Elder Thaddeus:

"It seems that we do not understand one thing: it is not good when we return the love of those who love us, yet hate those who hate us. We are not on the right path if we do this. We are the sons of light and love, the songs of God, his children. As such we must have His qualities and His attributes of love, peace, and kindness toward all."

"The Lord called every one of us into being with a certain goal and plan in mind. Every little blade of grass on this earth has some kind of mission here on earth, and how true this is of human beings! However, we often disturb and interfere in God's plan. We have the freedom either to accept His will or to reject it; God, Who is love, does not wish to take this freedom away from us. We have been given complete freedom, but we, in our foolishness, often have many useless desires."

"Parents always want their children to be happy, content, and thankful to them for all their work and sacrifice. So when they see their children in a bad mood and unthankful, they're saddened. It's the same with our Heavenly Father. He has given us everything, but we are always unsatisfied and gloomy. Instead of thanking and praising God for everything, we only express our thankfulness with our lips, and our hearts remain cold. Joy is thankfulness, and when we are joyful, that is the best expression of thanks we can offer the Lord, Who delivers us from sorrow and sin."

"The fear of God is not the animal-like fear of this world. Our fear is like that, and we must strive to conquer this. Such fear is from hades. Our life is filled with fear. We fear what tomorrow will bring, what the future has in store for us...That is an animal-like fear. The fear of God is when you love Him, when you truly love Him with all your heart and you strive never to offend or sadden Him - not only with your deeds, actions, and words, but also with your thoughts. You try to please Him in everything you do or say. That is the fear of God - the fear of doing anything that might sadden or offend our Parent."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


I spent the day with a good friend today. She came over with her 6-month old baby boy, and spent most of the day with us. It was so nice to let go of our routine for the bulk of the day, and sit and chat and play. Of course, my dishes and laundry got backed up but it was worth the extra work. Mamas need friends more than anyone else, I think. Sometimes it's fun to be "irresponsible" for a few hours!

Another nice thing about today was that this morning, both my hubby and I managed to get up before the kids. I was actually really impressed that he was up before me, because that doesn't happen much these days unless he's serving that day. So I got in my shower while he made coffee, and then we sat and talked for a few minutes while sipping our coffees. Then he went to watch some news while I did some of my daily reading from Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives.

Here's a nice quote I came across the other day.

"Everyone you come across is fighting a silent battle you know nothing about. Be kind, always."

Thursday, June 12, 2014


I just stopped amidst an extremely hectic day to down a cup of coffee, get myself a cup filled to the brim with iced water, and sit down as fast as possible. Finally, one possible minute of quiet while the older kids are napping and the 3rd baby is playing quietly in her bed. Today has been one of those "how do all the mothers out there do it?" kind of days. I'm exhausted, which is no different from any other day, but this time, I feel ready to collapse into a pile on the floor.

It's frustrating when you have endless piles of laundry to wash, fold and put away and dishes that never seem to stop coming on, and these are just minimal household duties that seem to take an entire day to take care of...or in the case of this entire week, a day goes by and they are still not completed. It's at this point that I stop myself and ask, am I doing my best today? If the answer is yes, I take it and accept it. If my answer is no, I try to solve the problem by stepping up my game, stop being distracted by other things, and try again.

If I stop to think in these crazy, hectic moments, as I scoop myself a bowl full of ice cream topped with M&M's, pecans and whipped cream (because finally, all 3 babies are asleep for their naps!) I realize that it's a moment like this in which I need God the most. It's these in-the-trenches moments that are sent to Mamas like myself to remind us that we need God to be a part of absolutely every task we set out to complete. If I just breathe through the Jesus Prayer a few times, everything feels better and I am reminded that it will be ok, and that i'm not a superhuman (nor should I try to be one). For sure, I'm not the first and certainly not the last mama out there who is struggling to just get through her daily routine with her little ones.

Most importantly, I find it hard not to complain on days like today. "It's too hard." "I miss college days." "When will I ever get a break?" I say things like this over and over again...and I really feel guilty each time because yes, it's hard, but it could always be harder. My babies are healthy and so am I, and if it's not hard, I'll never really feel a reward in life.

Speaking of husband loves to remind me that patience pays off and brings unexpected gifts. Well, just a few minutes ago, he texted me that one of his meetings today got cancelled, so he'll be able to come home and spend some time helping me in my difficult day. :) YAY!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Planning Summer Mealtimes...

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous for the last week or so! It's hard to not spend all day outside...I love to be outside because I feel more relaxed as a Mama when I'm sitting in the fresh air sipping something yummy, and the kids seem to always behave better outside, too. Of course though, being outside means I get nothing done in the house during that time. 

I always feel more motivated to get things done in the late spring/early summer...this week, my husband and I have been trying to do different types of organizing...putting away clothes that are too warm for this time of year (that's my project, of course), bringing out summer necessities and making sure the kids have everything they need (which they do thanks to my stocking up on clearance items all winter long). 

Anyway, one of the things I've been really unsettled about lately has been meal planning. I love to meal plan and find it so much easier to get through the day when I know exactly what I am serving. However, now that we live on the monastery grounds (unlike last year at this time...we moved in mid-July of last year), it is camp season for most of the summer (kids come from late June through the first week of August, a different age group each week). Last year when we moved, we were bombarded with leftover food every day (sometimes more than once a day!) from the camp cooks. It was overwhelming to me and really messed with my meal plans and caused a lot of frustration for me. I felt like I was throwing away food that was not even my food to begin with, so it felt really uncomfortable. We couldn't keep up. 

Anyway, this year we are trying to plan better. My husband came up with a good idea which I am choosing to go along with. We are going to buy fruits, vegetables, and necessary staples, such as milk, cheese, and eggs, and only meat such as steak or chicken. For lunch, I'll make very simple things such as soup, grilled cheese, pizza, etc, for the kids and I (my husband usually eats at the monastery hall for meals with the other clergy who work here). I don't want to plan anything fancy for lunches in the event that we are brought food..that way we can eat what we're given for lunch and not worry about wasting the food I have made, and we won't have as much of an overload of food. 

For dinner, we'll keep it really simple - my hubby will grill either chicken or steak (or fish if it is a Lenten day), and I'll make a salad. We're going to cut carbs out of our diet as much as possible this summer to avoid feeling that heavy, gross feeling in our stomachs at the end of the night which we so often get. I'm going to keep pasta for Lenten meals, only, if possible. 

For breakfasts, even though we like ourselves a nice, traditional, yummy breakfast, I've made a new rule. On the days that my husband is off (he's off one day a week), I will make a big, yummy breakfast without letting health play a role (bacon, omelets, crepes with nutella, etc)... On the other days, I'll keep it to something healthy (like oatmeal with a hint of brown sugar and blueberries), simply because I feel better knowing I fed my children and husband a healthy meal to start the day. I grew up eating really healthy (but yummy) food, and since I've become a housewife I have let things go a little bit, mostly because my hubby was used to different types of meals than I was. I have developed an issue with gastritis though, and haven't felt so great in my stomach for a few months now, so I'm trying to make a real effort to cut out junk food and unnecessary fatty foods, too. It will definitely not harm us to be a little more healthy with our meals (and hopefully we can stop getting take out so often). 

Speaking of take-out, who doesn't love themselves some take out?? I am not only a HUGE coffee junkie (as in a drive-through coffee at Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts or anywhere else where you can get a good coffee), but also, I love to eat out. It's a huge weakness of mine. Of course, the added factor for the last few years is that when I get take out or we eat out, I don't have to cook (or clean up!) Of course, not only is this not great for my health, but it's also not great for our budget. I've been trying really hard not to spend any extra money from what I should be spending (this has been another weakness of mine), so take-out has to be cut down, too. I have a great idea that I am really excited to try out, starting this week! I'm going to instill Thursday Date Night with my hubby. I chose Thursday because it's towards the end of the week, when I often feel like I need a pick-me-up, plus it's a non-fasting day (most of the time), so we can eat anything we'd like. I really, really love having date nights with my hubby, but a babysitter is a true luxury these days and we don't have one often unless we are in New York. I am sick of having an excuse for not "dating" anymore, so I thought it'd be nice to try in-home date nights. After we put the kids to bed on these nights, I'll have my husband order and pick up some nice food for us (from a restaurant or sandwich shop) and while he is out getting the food, I'll set up our dining room table with a nice tablecloth, candles, dim lights, music and nice China (and hopefully, some wine!) Basically, I'm aiming to set up a restaurant-like ambiance in our own home. (We usually eat in the kitchen or sun room). On top of having the chance to talk to my hubby without having little voices constantly interrupting us or needing something, I"ll still have the treat of not having to cook for a night (plus, we'll save a few bucks than usual by not paying a tip and by not feeding the whole family but just 2 of us). I'm not sure if we will do this every week or every other week, but this should definitely cut down on our take out amount if I have a set time to look forward to each week/every other week. We have fallen into a big trap of "oh, let's get takeout" because sometimes our weeks do not go as we originally planned, and we end up out late somewhere, or I haven't gotten to the store, or  I feel too exhausted to cook. (In my defense, I've had a newborn the last 4 months, and now that she's in a better routine, I'm hoping to cut out all of the above excuses!) 

I'm excited for our first Thursday Date Night this week - I'll share how it goes and what we get later on this week! I'm thinking we can watch a movie, too...we never do that anymore!