Slacker post!

We’ve been so busy with school/birthdays/moving/baby growing that I forgot about this poor ol’ blog.  So for the few readers (who are mostly my family) here are a few pictures for you…Image





So we have pictures of Matthew turning 4, Max turning 2 and Matilda turning 6.  Whew! 

Thankfully, we’re wrapping up school for this year, but then we’re moving (just to a neighborhood closer to the city for those family members thinking it’s some cross country move. :))!!!  And the same weekend we’re moving, Jack is having his First Communion!!  So it’ll be busy here for the next 3 weeks.  I’ll try to remember to keep my camera out.  Meanwhile, I’m @elainemariej on Instagram, which is where I post most of our daily pictures, so follow me there!

Saint coins, chore charts and a family store

saint coins 005I’ve been asked by enough people about our family store reward system, that I figured it warranted a post.  I’ve tried many variations of chore charts, sticker charts, reward systems, etc, but this by far is the one that has worked best.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m more consistent or the kids just respond really well to it.

I just started with a simple laminated “task chart.”  I had 3 for each kid (morning, afternoon, evening) but it was too much.  I made it extra simple and this seems to work.  The circle is for when it’s her night to set the table and once or twice a week they each have one household chore like take out the trash, vacuum, clean windows, etc.

saint coins 001At the end of the day, my husband looks at their chart.  If they have done all that they should, they get 3 saint coins. (more on how I made them later)  He doles out the coins so he can talk with them about the day they had and what they accomplished and because I will forget every single night if it were up to me.  I give them extra coins throughout the day if I catch them doing a good deed or they were extra attentive in class.  One of my children was having trouble completing his work in a timely manner.  So I now set a timer and if he beats the timer, he gets an extra coin.  He’s starting to beat the timer most days. :)

saint coins 002To make the coins, I printed out badges from Happy Saints ebooks at 50% their size.  If you don’t have a Happy Saints ebook, get one!!  We use them for greeting cards, homeschool religion classes, service projects, just tons of stuff.  So I printed out the badges on label paper.  I was able to get about 20 on a page printing them at 50%.  I then cut them out and stuck them on little wooden discs you can get at the craft store.  I forgot the diameter of mine, but it was around 2 inches I think.  Then I sealed the coins with spray modge podge.

saint coins 003A friend asked me to make some for her, and this time I used printable shrinky dink paper.  I printed the badges at 100% size, but I set the color to the lowest intensity so they would be too dark after being cooked. (control p; main tab; under color/intensity, click manual; set intensity all the way to light).  The shrinky dink coin is smaller, but turned out great!  And it saved me a lot more time doing the shrinky dink way!  I was able to make 30 coins with one pack of shrinky dink paper.

saint coins 004Then the kids decorated little boxes for their coins!

saint coins 006Finally, every Friday night, they get to shop in the family store.  The 5 box has small candy, trips the the coffee shop with mom or dad or to a bookstore.  The 10 box has plastic bracelets, bigger candy, and the big hit…microwave popcorn for Friday night movie night.  The 15 box has slinkys, lego minifigures, fancy pencils, and various things found in the Target dollar section.  And extra coins the kids have, they can roll them over to the next week, but they usually spend them all. :)


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We make this Advent Wreath every year.

Wreath blessing (from USCCB):

Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.
Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen.

The blessing may conclude with a verse from
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:

O come, desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of humankind;
bid ev’ry sad division cease
and be thyself our Prince of peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.


It’s been a while!  We’ve had our heads so buried in school that I just looked up and realized I left this little blog all alone.  I’ll try to remedy that over the next few weeks because I love Advent and want to spread the love!!!  The candles, the Jesse Tree, the anticipation, the readying of our hearts…I love it all.  Stay tuned…

Shop closing sale!

I’m closing my Etsy shop, Sunshine & Mud.  Turns out homeschooling 5 kids and taking care of various pets added with general housework doesn’t leave me much time for an Etsy shop…especially if I want a least a little bit of downtime!

So if you’d like some awesome fabric for 40% off, use the coupon code CLOSE13 at checkout for your discount!


I am a sinner

Yes, little ol’ me.  I am a sinner.  I would sit here and list all my sins, but honestly there’s not enough room on the internet and my priest would be out of a job.

I will, however, tell a few sins from the past couple of days.  Anger.  Judgement.  Hate.  That last one is pretty heavy and it’s been making me not a fun person to be around.  That darn abortion issue gets me every single time.

But we all sin, right?  We all make poor decisions at one point or another.  And sometimes those decisions have some huge consequences…consequences that we aren’t quite sure if we can handle.  I know I’ve been there more than once.

There are some things going down in Texas right now.  This is, of course, causing both the pro-life groups and pro-choice groups to froth at the mouth.  I’ve noticed a couple of things from both camps.

1. Not one person that I’ve talked to during the past two days is pro-abortion.  Not one.  And I have some super liberal friends.  Yes, I know this can spiral into a whole birth control debate, but I’m not going there…yet.

2. Not one person, to my knowledge, has talked to a pregnant teen or person with an unwanted pregnancy.  Well, there may be one exception to that, but that person runs a pregnancy help center. Pro-lifers know it is wrong, but we need to give these women help; let them know there are other options.

It’s as if we all want to cross the river into No Abortion land, but we can’t get started on building the bridge because we’re all arguing on how it should be built.  We are all sinners casting stones at each other instead of using them to build our bridge.

I’d like help get that bridge started.  I’d like to talk to the women considering abortion and the women who have had one.  There are thousands of people out there who want to help.  There are thousands who will help without judging.  There is no shame in a poor decision.  There is no shame in pregnancy or being a pregnant teen.  And for those victims out there, there is absolutely no shame in being raped!  None at all!  There are people who want to help no questions asked.  The Gabriel Project is a place to get started. Lifecall is also a great resource.

So I’m sorry to all the women out there with unwanted pregnancies.  We all got caught up in our football game.  We all got caught up cheering for our team.  We were yelling in the bleachers and forgot to look at you all alone on the field.  You poor thing, standing there not knowing which way to throw the ball.  So please, don’t be afraid to ask someone to help you carry the ball.