Being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done, but it has brought me so much joy! I want to encourage other moms on their journey, I'll share motherhood tricks, spotlight tips I've learned from friends, and I hope you will share your ideas. I will focus on secrets that help families stay balanced, healthy, frugal, creative, and closely knit. I will also share favorite fiction and nonfiction books that I have enjoyed. Many blessings to you on your mothering journey!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I just read "Don't Make Me Count to Three!" by Ginger Plowman. I loved it! It's full of practical suggestions and scenarios that help parents think through discipline that affects a child's heart, not just his behavior. If you've seen Ted Tripp's book, "Shepherding a Child's Heart", it's similar, but it gives more ideas for execution, instead of just theories. It's a quick & easy read, that I'll refer to for many years. I even laughed aloud at some of her stories.

Best take-home points:
**Tons of scripture to reinforce teaching points with children - very convicting for the parents, in that we need to be absorbing God's word!
**The cycle of discipline
  1. ask questions to help your child see the error of his heart/behavior
  2. share scripture that tells us it's wrong to do xyz
  3. educate your child on the proper behavior (inlcuding role playing, scripture...)
  4. discipline/spank
  5. comfort and forgive
  6. make retribution

**She includes a great chart with typical behavior patterns and corresponding verses.

She included a verse (Gal 6:9?) that encouraged me - "Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up!"

Wishing you strength in parenting!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Dear Marmee, The Interview
Posted by Jenna under Homemaking , Reviews (
(I LOVED reading this interview from a down-to-earth mom who raised 9 children!)

* * *
Jenna: When was it, in your life, that you decided that caring for your family and managing your household was going to be a top priority in your life?

Marmee: I met my husband-to-be when I was 14 - he was 24. It was a very *unique* situation with my older sister being engaged to marry his younger brother. Of course I was still in high school but my whole desire was just to be a wife and homemaker. So I used those highschool years to take advantage of every home economics course the school offered (it was a Christian private school so offered much more than a public school would). I even took college home-ec courses my senior year in high school as I had already taken everything offered at the high school level.

I married my *sweetie* at 18 after I graduated. He had very strong convictions on a woman’s calling to her home and so it made it easy for me to be HOME. Our home was (is) my life. I didn’t have anything else to do as a new bride, home each day as he went off to work M-F, no vehicle to gad about in since we only had 1 car and he had it at work, no babies, in our home way out in the country so my days were filled with making a comfortable haven for my husband, cooking his meals and keeping his house. I loved it and I will say that I am so thankful for my husband’s guidance in my life in supporting me to be a full time homekeeper. He never has ever put any pressure on me to help supply money for the family bills and has always supported us faithfully even though he makes a very modest salary.

I remember my sister telling me once (she is married to my husband’s brother) “my husband said he would never send me to *work* outside our home if we only had 1 potato left in the house.” and that has been my husband’s firm conviction too that the man is the provider and the woman the keeper of the home. So I’ve been very blessed to be able to fill the days of my married life with everything that home encompasses. Many women would of course in these modern, feministic times think that was so pathetic….so dull. But to me it is an honor, a high-calling, a privilege and I love being “home.”

Jenna: How has your relationship with God affected how you manage your time within your home?

Marmee: Well, I know God has given us his Word to follow and there is much in there about our days, our time, our lives…oh they are so short! I try to fill every day with accomplishments…that might not last know as soon as we clean up the kitchen…shortly it will be messy again and we start cleaning it up all over again…but we are ministering to our children, our husband with the things we accomplish at home. When we do it as unto the Lord, even if it is for the least of these, it is as if we were doing it for Christ.

I have had some sort of home business nearly all our married life. Either sewing for money, or catering and now my small publishing company and MarmeeDear & Co. So my days are full. We have homeschooled our 11 children since the mid 1980’s or really from their births as every single day….all day…we are teaching our children by our words, our example, our life. Just because you don’t have the Math workbook open to page 10, with your child doing addition, doesn’t mean you are not homeschooling.

For us, homeschooing is just adding academics to our every day life. Homeschooling is something that is not easy for me. I am not a gifted teacher but I love having my children at home with us all day every day. We have 5 that have graduated from our homeschool and they encourage me everytime I feel like I might not be getting it all done with the 6 we have left at home. The older 5 are all successful, mature adults and know the Lord as their Savior. So when I get discouraged that there just isn’t enough time in each day to get it all done, and feel like I might be missing something in our schooling that we didnt’ get to that day….I remember that the older ones are happy well adjusted, adults and they went thru our family’s school and are doing just great and it encourages me that everything will be all right if I just keep being faithful to teach them one day at a time. I like to keep things *moving* in my home….so if we are dusting and straightening up the living room - I like to be playing scripture being read aloud on a tape. or if we are all together on the deck snapping beans from the garden - I’ll have them practice their memory work or multiplication tables to me. If I am making our daily bread, I’ll have a couple of them at the island in the kitchen doing workbook pages where I can keep them working and answer questions as I make out loaves. I also love to fill our home with good, old-fashioned hymns and spiritual songs. It makes me feel like the Lord is right with us (He always is!) but it reminds us of some beautiful promises as the words to the songs play over and over.
Jenna: What are some of the homemaking skills that you believe are most important for young women to know?

Marmee: I would say basic cooking skills, organizational skills and some sewing skills. Ha! That is too much? I don’t think so. If a wife has not learned these by the time she marries, she certainly may begin to learn anytime…but I would say they NEED to be acquired. Now if you’ve married a fellow that loves to cook..then you might not need your cooking skills as much as the rest of us…but certainly your husband won’t always be able to manage all the food prep that is required in most famlies. My older boys who are of marrying age keep their eyes peeled for a girl that can cook like their momma. I am not such a great cook…it is simple if you have a recipe. If you can read you can follow a recipe. I feel cooking and baking are skills that are learned. The more you practice the better you get! Same with most any game! I also find that many women absolutely have no clue about organization so their houses are a shambles. You should have a place for everything and everything should be in its own little home unless you are using it!
Now with a houseful that can be a trick and I would never have you believe that everything in my home is always in its own little place…we are always into some sort of project and so things are out and about and being well-used most of the time…but when we are done it is nice to know they have a place where they can be put until next time and then of course you can find it when you need it again. Houses are full of cupboards, shelves, and closets…so I would say knowing how to organize is a must to keep your home in good order.

And then there is sewing! Allergic to needles? I have had so much joy in my life from my sewing skills and I wasn’t born with them! I learned them. I have been able to make money for some extra goodies, I have been able to supply my children with lovely garments, I make nearly all my own clothes and I make all my husband’s pants and winter outergarments. With thrift stores abounding I know you can many times do things much less expensively but I wouldn’t give away my ability to sew for anything. I was able to design and make my daughter’s wedding dress and all the garments for the wedding party, make curtains for our home, and on the list goes. I have made countless gifts for friends for literally next to nothing because of knowing how to sew. If you just despise to sew then I would say the minimum you should know is how to mend and repair. I have done alterations for money and it just seems ridiculous to me that a full-grown woman would pay me to sew on one small button and take 4 or 5 stitches in a tear in a garment. Each and every woman should be able to do that for her own family.
A few months ago I was able to see a dream fulfilled when my publication, TREASURY of VINTAGE HOMEKEEPING SKILLS came back from the press. It is filled with chapters on cooking & baking, sewing, quilting, crocheting, housekeeping and much much more. It is everything in 1 book that I would share with a young wife - sort of everything I would teach her if I had her at my home over a period of time. And I was so blessed to be able to wrap it all up in one lovely package (a book) so I can share it with many many more women than I would ever be able to reach in my small circle.

Jenna: What are some ways that older women can support the younger generations of homemakers, and fulfill their Titus 2 calling?

Marmee: I think mostly just being there for them - being close by for help, questions. If there is one near you that you can watch for an example and to have her give you regular encouragement that is wonderful. But many do not have that privilege. As mothers we must take that responsibility ourselves and teach our own daughters. I gladly gave my daughter up to her own home when she married as I KNEW she was ready to manage her own home! I had taught her by my side for those 22 years and she was perfectly capable of managing a home of her own. Of course we still chat almost daily and she is still learning, well, for that matter so am I!! I hope I never stop learning but for those of us older that have already “been there” - we can encourage and give help to those who are coming along behind us.

Jenna: Do you have any last words of encouragement for women who are new to “choosing home”, and are feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities of home?

Marmee: I would say to be faithful - home is your calling - It is the best place you can be. It is your place of protection. If you feel inadequate to do your job - then learn how to do it better. If you had just taken a new job at the local court house as a secretary you would be learning all you needed to know to do your job well, right? So if you feel you need to learn more to do a GOOD job as a homekeeper then by all means - get to it. Do you need to learn how to cook a hearty, delicious meal? Then find a good recipe book at the library and try out something simple to surprise your family. If it doesn’t turn out so great, try again and see if you can correct your mistake. Have confidence in your ability as a homekeeper. Since God has put you there as the manager of your home He WILL give you the ability to do a good job at it. Ask Him for help, for guidance and do the best you can.

One thing that helped me thru the years when I had many, many small children at home and was pregnant with another every other year, and some days felt like I couldn’t handle one more day…This help came from an older (much older) godly lady. She had borne 11 children in 12 years, they were now all grown, married and she was recently widowed. She pulled me said at church one Sunday, I was heavy with a baby that was overdue and had 8 little ones round me and she asked me how I was. I unloaded on her all my woes and was lamenting that I felt like the baby would never come…and she just quietly said to me…I want you to remember — whatever you are going thru today — “THIS TOO SHALL PASS”. She said just tell yourself when it seems really tough and you don’t think you can make it..say it out-loud to yourself. THIS TOO SHALL PASS. And I have never forgotten it…I’ve said it to myself many, many times and you is true. It has been 7 years since I’ve borne a child…all those heavy, difficult, tiring days of pregnancy are passed….and now I’m being blessed with grandbabies. Whatever you are going through…it will soon pass…and you will have something else to face…it may be may be difficult..but in each and every situation we need to keep our minds and hearts on eternity…If the toast burns, if the toddler spills the whole gallon of milk, if your 9 year old can’t seem to memorize the multiplication tables..stop and think..should I lose it over this?

Will this really matter in eternity — if not - take it calmly and remember it will pass and just be faithful for the moment. You know when our lives are over and they are fleeting, we are told in the Bible that we came into this world with nothing and we will take nothing with us…but there is something that will matter in eternity - our children’s souls - that is something you CAN take with you to eternity - what kind of example are you being to those precious souls that have been entrusted to your care? Do they see any Christ-likeness in their mother?

“O give us Homes, built firm upon the Savior. Where Christ is head and . A home where love is…..”

Friday, March 17, 2006

With two children, I don't have time to bounce around to a lot of different grocery stores to get the best deals. I have to admit that I'm totally addicted to Publix's penny items on Sundays & Mondays, so I often sneak in there to get their deal of the week. While I'm there, I stock up on their buy-one-get-one-free items (which are usually a steal!).

Other than this shopping splurge, I've found two stores that consistently offer the best deals: Wal-mart grocery and Aldi. Wal-mart's bonus is that they price match other stores' sales, so if Publix is offering Ragu spaghetti sauce for .99, then Wal-mart will give you the same deal. They do not, however, match the buy-one-get-one-free items, because no specific price is listed in the store flyer. All you have to do is take your grocery flyers, and show the cashier the store ads. As appealing as this sounds, however, Wal-mart's prices are usually as low, or almost as low, as the competitor's sales prices, so I've quit comparing. Wal-mart, even though they are sometimes called an evil empire, is great for frugal moms!

Aldi is another great find for thrifty shoppers. They offer only store brand items, with a limited selection, but I've found 95% of their items to be great quality. I'm not crazy about their corned beef or their american cheese, and their milk seems to spoil quickly. Their yogurt is a fantastic deal at 35 cents for 8oz containers! I also stock up on their fruits & vegetables, which are great deals. They don't say fresh as long as Publix's produce, but I buy whatever my family will eat in a 4-day period. Another great Aldi find is the monthly menus that Amy Clark put together for $150. Check this out - and Aldi's does a few peculiar things to keep their prices down - you 'rent' a cart for a quarter (which you get back at the cart return), you bag your own groceries, and you buy grocery bags for a nickel/dime. The savings are still worth the extra effort!

That's all the shopping time I have for today. We're off to work a "Thomas the Train" puzzle!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Don't you wish there was an instructions manual for becoming a mom? I hope to use this forum as a way to collect tricks of the trade for moms. I'll share my secrets, spotlight secrets I've learned from friends, and I hope you will share what works for your family. I will focus on tips that help families stay balanced, healthy, frugal, creative, and closely knit. Who knows - maybe one day we'll turn our collection into a real handbook to help moms do their job fantastically!