About Amy

Amy is the homeschooling mother of 7 living children and 1 precious little girl playing at the feet of Jesus. Raising Arrows is where you find years of homeschooling and home management knowledge, as well as grief support for those who have lost a loved one. You can find Amy on

The Perfect Housewife

Are you the perfect housewife? | RaisingArrows.netMost women have an ideal of what their home should look like. It tends to resemble something out of the pages of a magazine or off my Home Decorating Ideas & Inspiration Pinterest board.

Does your idea of a perfect home resemble a Pinterest board?  Think again! | RaisingArrows.netSome are able to achieve this, but a vast majority of women are quite dissatisfied with the state of their homes.  This is particularly true of women who have purposefully chosen the title of “homemaker”.  They rarely seem to keep a home that meets the standard they envision in their minds as “the way it should be”.  This is even more evident when children are thrown into the mix…and doubly so when those children are homeschooled.

Titus 2 presents a picture of what young married women are to be doing (much more so than Proverbs 31 which presents an ideal), and when you look at the ESV version, you see,

“working at home”

as one of the things older women are to be teaching the younger women.  Nowhere in those verses does it say you are to be keeping a perfect home.  It doesn’t speak to perfectly organized shelves or immaculate kitchens.  It says “working.”

Working (or “keeping”) is a process and does not imply perfection, or that if you do it right, it will be perfect.  You are simply to be doing it rather than avoiding it.

The passage also speaks of loving your husband and children.  If God chooses to bless you with children, your home will forever be changed.  As a Christian mother, it’s your job to adjust to the changes with grace – toward yourself AND your children (and yes, even your husband).  Your house will be a different sort of clean, and your “working at home” will take on a new flair.  And again, it isn’t going to be perfect.

I recently watched a BBC documentary entitled Time Warp Wives.  At first, I was intrigued as the women on the show gave tours of their homes and lifestyles, some 1930s, but most 1950s.  I found myself wondering where the children were, and musing about how insane it would be to try keep up that kind of lifestyle with kids in tow.  Toward the end of the documentary, I learned where the children were.

There weren’t any.

Most of the couples had chosen to forgo having any children in order to keep up their lifestyle.  Their immaculate homes, crisply ironed clothing, perfect hair and nails, and ultimately fake sense of reality, were more important than the real (and often raw) beauty of bringing children into the world and raising them.

It was a sad commentary on the price of “perfection.”

As followers of the Lord, Jesus Christ, we seek Him with all our being, but perfect we are not.  We are made perfect in Him.  The translation of that for the housewife is a woman who is constantly striving to do her best within her realm of responsibility out of love for those God has placed in her life and out of reverence for the God she serves.  It has nothing to do with looking just so or meeting some arbitrary standard.  It has everything to do with surrender, grace, and a desire to be a living sacrifice.

Look around your home…does it speak to the love you have for your family?  Does it glorify the Lord?  Remember, “perfect” isn’t the goal!

Table Chores

Table Chores {our newest version since the move and new baby} | RaisingArrows.net

A couple of days ago, Ty’s mom was down for a visit, so Ty and I took the opportunity to go out for dinner with Miss Aspen.  When we arrived home, things were in utter chaos because the kids had left my mother-in-law to do all the meal clean up alone.

It was time for a new Table Chores list!

For the past several weeks, we’d been winging it.  Mommy or Daddy would throw out random chores to random children until everything got finished.  It was nowhere near the autopilot we were used to, but it was what we could manage.

When I asked the kids why they didn’t help Grammy with the after meal chores, they all exclaimed they had no idea who was supposed to do which chores.  (Well, all but my 16 year old son who has gotten to the point where he automatically does whatever chores he sees needing to be done.  He had helped Grammy to an extent, but had gotten sidetracked by the time I walked in the door.)

A new house always means a new list because every house has a unique dynamic and a unique set of chores that needs to be accomplished.  With the new baby and the holidays, I hadn’t gotten around to putting together a new list.  Seeing the chaos that night prompted me to immediately sit down at the computer and revamp the old list.  (It took me about 10 minutes, including multiple interruptions.)

Before I share our new list, I want to mention that there are other things that change Table Chores besides moving.  You might have a baby graduate to eating at the table or a toddler graduate out of the high chair.  Perhaps you have a child who is now old enough to help out and you need to add them to the rotation.  Or maybe you’ve had a child grow out of Table Chores.  There are a number of changes in a household that will subsequently change the Table Chores (and most everything else as well!).

For us, there was a toddler moving out of the high chair and a newly turned 6 year old being added in that needed to be taken into account.  I also decided it was time to switch out a few of the harder chores, giving them to a different child for a while.

Obviously, Table Chores are going to be unique to your family.  You will need to consider ages and abilities as well as priorities.  You can see from my 2010 Table Chores post that back then I didn’t have many children with abilities, and my priorities and standards were much lower than they are now that I have 5 children working at a time.

I’d encourage you to start by writing down everything you think needs to be done after a meal.  Assign those chores by ability (with mom and dad taking any chores that are too “big” for your children).

Next, look through the list and order it.  For instance, don’t have one child’s first chore as “Sweep floors” when you have his siblings still bussing the table and before anyone has wiped down the table.  That’s asking for a traffic jam and a floor that doesn’t look like it’s been swept.

I always work through the list in my mind child by child and then put it through a trial run before setting the Table Chores in stone.  There is almost always something that I missed or a chore or two that don’t fit correctly in the mix.  These things can be tweaked and the list printed and posted.

And now for our 2015 Table Chores:

16 (almost 17) year old son:
Unload dishwasher
Sweep floors
Mop floors (may just require spot mop)
Take out trash (as needed)
Wash stove, microwave, refrigerator

14 year old daughter:
Rinse dishes
Load dishwasher
Wash extras
Clean out sink
Wipe down sink area & dry

10 year old daughter:
Bus table
Put away food
Tidy counters
Wash island, bar, counters

9 year old son:
Bus table
Wipe down table & chairs
Help put away food

6 year old son:
Bus table

Yay!  No more after meal chaos!

If you’d like more tips on keeping your kitchen neat and tidy, check out this post – How to Keep The Kitchen Clean.

The Shape I’m In

I’m 4 weeks postpartum.  I gained more weight this pregnancy than I ever have.  I am down over 30 pounds, but when you’ve gained 60, that feels like a drop in the bucket.  I’m actually below my pre-pregnancy weight from my last baby, but I had high hopes this time I would get a lot of the weight off quickly.

But, if I was being honest with myself and all of you, I would have to say that I always feel this way about this time postpartum.

When Your Postpartum Shape is Discouraging | RaisingArrows.net

I start thinking I need a whole new wardrobe because I have nothing to wear; or better yet, I need to drop 30 pounds overnight so I can wear all my old clothes.  Then I think maybe some new makeup or a brand new hairdo would make me feel better.  I start reading diet books, cut my hair way too short, buy a bunch of clothes I really don’t like (because I don’t want to spend money on clothes that won’t fit me after I’ve slimmed down), and cry myself a river every time I have to leave the house because I’m just not satisfied with anything.

But guess what…

No diet book, new wardrobe, or new hairdo will fix what I’m feeling.

It’s a little bit of head, a little bit of heart, and a whole lot of hormones telling me that the shape I’m in is something to cry over.

Now, I can tell myself a million times over that it took 9 months to get this way, so why in the world would I think a few weeks would be sufficient to get back to the way I looked before, but I’m one of those people who needs more than some overused adage to feel better.  I’m a practical, give-me-something-I-can-hang-onto kind of person.

Here is what I’ve finally learned that is worth hanging on to…

Learn to see weight loss (especially postpartum weight loss) as a journey | RaisingArrows.net

For years, I saw a healthy weight as an end point.  I would journey until I got there and then forget the journey and do something else.  And during those years when I couldn’t seem to reach the end point, I begrudged every step on the path because I never seemed to be getting anywhere.  That was because I wanted the journey to end.  I didn’t want to be on this diet-focused path forever.

I also saw pregnancy as a time to completely turn tail and run head long into my obsession with food.  When you consider I’ve been pregnant 13 times and birthed 9 full-term babies, some of those with barely a year between, you can imagine how discouraged I became after every baby, wondering if I would ever reach my goal, my end point.

It’s taking me some time to wrap my brain around HEALTHY being a way of life, but now that my husband and my son have maintained their weight losses for over a year, I have a better grasp of what healthy looks like in the long term sense of the word.

Reaching a healthy weight is sort of like birthing a baby.  There is a long journey to get to the place where you hold that precious little one in your arms, but the journey doesn’t end there.  You keep taking steps on down the path of motherhood.

I won’t be at my pre-pregnancy weight by my 6 week checkup, but that’s because I started a lot lower than most of my other pregnancies.  I know I have a lot to learn, and I’m going to need a lot of determination and motivation to stay focused and make this journey part of my life and not just something I do for a little while.

The shape I’m in isn’t something to be discouraged by because it’s just part of my journey.  It’s the place I am now.  I am choosing to be a fit mama even when the shape I’m in feels far from it because I am choosing to live healthy!

Homemaking Podcasts

Need encouragement?  Need motivation?  Need a fresh perspective?  Here are some great FREE podcasts and mp3 downloads just for the homemaker! | RaisingArrows.net

A lot of women consider homekeeping drudgery.  It is something that must be done over and over.  It’s not like a project that has a beginning and ending point.  It isn’t something that earns you accolades or gets you published.  You aren’t going to become famous keeping a home, and most of the time no one is even going to notice what you’ve done throughout the day.

I’ve written before about the monotony of homemaking as well as homemaker burnout, but this post isn’t about breaking up the day or even how to be a good homemaker.  It’s about being encouraged a little bit at a time.

One of the best ways I’ve found to be encouraged in my homemaking endeavors is to listen to audios that are specific to homemakers.  I may not have time to sit down with a book, but I can put on a podcast and keep going with my day.  Even now, as I’m recovering from having baby #9, I’m finding great encouragement in listening as I nurse my little one.  In fact, last night I sat on the floor outside my toddler’s door and listened to a podcast as I kept watch over his nighttime escape attempts.  (He is almost 2 and naps and bedtime have become a struggle because he’s too busy to sleep!)

I thought you might be interested in what is currently in my podcast queue as well as some free downloads I’ve found online that are specifically geared toward the homemaker.

Virtuous Woman

I was only able to find 16 of Melissa Ringstaff’s podcasts on iTunes, but after searching a bit, I found 65 Days worth of her From Calm to Chaos podcast series on her blog, AVirtuousWoman.org.

Heavenly Homemakers Podcasts

Laura’s podcasts cover everything from homeschooling to freezer cooking to teaching Scripture to your children!  She currently has 11 podcasts available for download on her website.

Biblical Womanhood free mp3 downloads

The link above goes to all the free downloads from Sovereign Grace Ministries on the topic of Biblical Womanhood.  I love Carolyn Mahaney’s down to earth practical speaking style!

Homemakers By Choice

Donna Otto currently has 301 podcasts available with topics on everything from Scripture to communication in marriage.  The link above (and all following) are iTunes links.  You can listen via the Podcasts app on your Apple device or download the iTunes app to your computer or other device.  Many of these podcasts are also available on Stitcher.

A Happy Home

I heard so many good things about Keri Mae’s podcasts, I couldn’t wait to add her to my queue.  I am currently listening to the Downsizing Our Home series.

FLYlady Tools

Years and years ago, I took the information on FLYlady and ran with it, transforming my home in the process.  As our family grew, many of FLYlady’s tactics didn’t work as well as they once had, but still today, I use things I learned from her to keep my home running smoothly.

Organize 365

Lisa has some great information on organizing.  I enjoy reading her blog, but it’s especially nice to be able to listen to her organizing tips when I don’t have the time to read.

 Making Our Home a Haven

Topics on organizing your closet to finding the time to cook!  The audio quality isn’t the best, and there are only 10 very short episodes, but they were very good.

Domestic CEO

Over a hundred episodes, all nice and short, so you don’t have to carve out a lot of time to listen.  Topics range from how to clean a washing machine to how to make your home smell good.

A Slob Comes Clean

I know Dana (aka Nony the Slob) personally, and just love her!  She has been blogging through her personal deslobification (as she calls it), and encourages other women to learn to keep a decluttered and “clean enough” home with practical real-life tips.

By the way, Nony’s 2 ebook set (affiliate link) is on sale all of January for $5 total (usually $5 a piece!) – no coupon code needed.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!

Cleaning & Declutter ebook sale

Who knows, maybe someday I’ll make a podcast!  Until then, I hope you enjoy the ones I’ve listed!

Did I miss one of your favorite homemaking podcasts?  Know of any free mp3 downloads that would encourage the homemaker?  Let me know!

Garlic Oil for Earaches {How this little remedy saved us hundreds!}

On Monday, I told you how I was dealing with the setback of major illness during postpartum recovery.  As I was treating my aching ears with garlic oil this past weekend, my husband said, “You need to tell your readers about how we started using garlic oil for earaches!”  So, despite the pain, I took photos with his iPhone so all of you could read the story with visual aids.  Consider yourselves special!

Using garlic oil for earaches has saved us hundreds of dollars - here's the story and the resources to buy or make your own! | RaisingArrows

Disclaimer:  I’m not a doctor, but you already knew that.  I’m not against modern medicine, but you already knew that too.  Use caution and seek the medical attention your family needs.  Yeah, I know…you already knew that too.

When my oldest child was about 4, he started having lots and lots of ear infections.  Antibiotics wouldn’t even come close to healing them (I later learned antibiotics only work on ear infections a fraction of the time and about 70% of ear infections resolve on their own).  Our family doctor finally told us he thought our son needed ear tubes.

I was not happy.

Ear tubes are not a true “fix” for ear infections.  They drain what’s there, but they do not stop ear infections from happening again.  I was sure there had to be another way to handle this.  So, I started researching…and we got a second opinion.

We went to see our “old-school” pediatrician who suggested we try a round of decongestants instead of immediately jumping to ear tubes.  While I do think this helped, it was what I learned from an online forum for moms that really made the difference and has continued to be our go-to remedy to this day.

In my research, I found that a lot of naturally-minded moms used garlic oil in ears for everything from earaches to full-blown ear infections.  The natural antibiotic powers of garlic coupled with a carrier oil seemed to work wonders.  So, in my little kitchen, I hesitantly whipped up a batch of garlic oil on my stove top.  I say hesitantly because while I wanted to be a “granola mom”, I was scared of not taking the traditional route of antibiotics and such.  I was afraid I’d ruin his ears.  I was afraid his dad would completely freak out when he saw me putting oil in our son’s ears.  But, I was desperate to help my little guy.  His constant ear aches spurred me on as I stirred my garlic and olive oil.

{affiliate links included}

Garlic Oil for earaches - you can make your own! | RaisingArrows.net

Homemade Garlic Oil Recipe

1 clove of garlic, minced, or equivalent of fresh minced garlic in a jar
1 Tbsp of carrier oil (we use olive oil)

Bring to a boil in a small saucepan.  Stir well and remove from heat.  Continue to stir and let cool.  Fill a glass eye dropper with just the oil from the pan, and with head tilted (and a tissue to catch any drips), squeeze 3-4 drops into one ear.  Keep head tilted for 15 minutes, and repeat on the other ear if it is aching as well.

The next morning, my son was pain free.  At his next appointment, the ear infection was no where in sight!  So, every time he started to hurt, we immediately whipped up some garlic oil and nipped it in the bud.  Eventually, I started buying garlic oil.  (Below is the one I used to purchase.)

I stopped buying garlic oil because Blake outgrew all the ear aches and I found we weren’t using it very often anymore, so it made more sense to just make it when we needed it.  (You do have to make sure you keep garlic on hand.)

When my ears started hurting with this latest sickness, I remembered we had minced garlic in a jar (this is NOT the dried kind, but rather the kind you keep in the refrigerator – and yes, actual garlic bulbs are more potent, so I’d recommend those if you have them).  And that’s where this post started…me making garlic oil, taking photos for you!

Perhaps you are wondering how my ear ache turned out?

Prior to putting the garlic oil in my ears (because I totally forgot we had garlic and I suffered through a couple of days with nothing), my ears hurt almost non-stop and was contributing to me not sleeping well.  The garlic oil offered immediate relief.  I had to put it in my ears every night for 3 nights, but my ears no longer hurt during the day and the pain the next two nights was not nearly as intense as it had been.

Another great thing about this remedy is the fact that it is breastfeeding-mama friendly.  Being able to treat my symptoms with something I knew was 100% safe eased my mind.

So, there you have it…no ear tubes, no antibiotics, no trips to the doctor – just a little olive oil and some garlic!