Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Large Family Laundry Challenge


We have no shortage of laundry in a family of 9. I remind myself that many of them are still little, and the piles will be taller and wider as they grow. Since they’re growing at lightning speed, I knew I had to prepare myself. Washer capacity, chore assignment and a method to the madness is being established. I hope you find some of these tips helpful!

Laundry Rule #1: Limit the number of clothes each child has.

In theory, it will require him or her to wear something more than once if possible before throwing it in the hamper. If you typically do wash once or twice a week, each child only needs a dozen shirts, a few pants/shorts/skirts, pajamas, a handful of socks and underwear.

Note: Due to an overwhelming amount of hand-me-downs, we are still working on this rule. It also varies on your area’s temps, and we’re in Minnesota. We have multiple “seasons” of clothes.

Laundry Rule #2: Can it be worn again?

If it can be worn again, it can be hung over a chair or end of the bed for the next day. Each child has a laundry basket, a little over 1 cubic foot in size. It sits in their room for them to toss in the “actually dirty” stuff. It shouldn’t ever heap, except possibly in the winter months where clothes are bulkier. All pocket items and stickers MUST be removed before tossing!

Homegrown Catholics: Laundry Baskets Homegrown Catholics: Laundry Baskets

*Use whatever fits your needs or decorating style. You could choose from the Sterilite 1.5 Bushel Basket or the Mainstays Flex Basket we found at Walmart for around $4 each, which we hope will last years of abuse, because we all know, baskets can become rockets, cradles and cars.

Laundry Rule #3: Sort it all out.

This is a simple life skill! This method keeps clothes brighter and fresher in my experience. At the end of the week they are responsible for sorting their clothes into the laundry room hampers for me (or assigned person) to wash. I’ve always divided loads into 5 categories: Whites/Lights, Darks, Reds, Towels, and The Stinkies (undies, socks, cloth diapers). Delicates are rare. Bedding is on its own and washed immediately when we’re in potty training phase, or reserved for Fridays when I wash bedding and towels.

We used to have a 3-compartment cloth hamper. It’s on its way out the door, because it collects smells, it falls apart, and worst of all – my arm cannot reach the bottom. In its place, I’ve selected these flex hampers whereby I can individually dump a load into the washer. It will also serve to carry the clean load for sorting. Use whatever fits your needs or decorating style. (In our dream house, we would have a “family closet” with built in laundry area so there will be no need to relocate the laundry – as pictured at this link.)

Mainstays flexible laundry hamper

Laundry Rule #4: Have a machine and cleaner that can handle the load!

We have a large capacity washer and dryer (LG top loader) which has served us well. Our washer holds a week or so worth of each category.


Line dry the big stuff and cloth diapers. We enjoy our clothes lines!

Homegrown Catholic Laundry Lines

We choose Melaleuca, Inc product for all our cleaning needs since 1995. Our sensitivities are well met with their laundry products that keep our clothes bright, clean and soft without being caustic or expensive. Even my cloth diapers have done very well in the unscented version. I personally trust these products, and have no desire or time to make my own. Let me know if you’re considering these eco/family friendly products.

Laundry Rule #5:  Monday is “Laundry Day.”

While in the midst of reading “Large Family Logistics” by Kim Brenneman, I’ve adjusted my schedule to include themed days such as this.  On Saturday evening, the children are required to round up their dirty bins and sort it. Sunday evening / Monday morning the washing commences.

Mondays will be my seamstress days for mending and sewing. My husband is a carpenter, so I tend to only iron for special occasions.  This theme day extends to evening hobbies of sewing, crocheting, embroidery, etc. It’s a good day to teach the kiddos these life skills.

Laundry Rule #6: Laundry is a chore, not an activity. It will NOT consume my day.

This is where efficiency and cooperation come in. If everyone has done their part, the rest should be a breeze. When all the wash is done and dry, it is tossed or quickly folded into each person’s basket. They are responsible for matching sock pairs, neatly folding items into drawers/shelves, and hanging the rest. In our home, everyone has drawers for socks & undies, shorts/pants/skirts, and pajamas. Shirts, dresses and long skirts are hung. This eliminates a lot of need for ironing.


This must be the most controversial topic amongst mothers of many children. What to do with all those socks!? You could toss socks into each person’s basket as you pull them from the pile, or start with a pile of socks then choose a method:

6. Everyone has their socks and mom just knows what goes to whom. They’re matched, bundled and sent to the sock drawer. Aw.

5. Each person gets a drawstring mesh bag for their socks. They are washed together, therefore no hunting for pairs is needed. However, socks must not be bunched when tossed in.

4. Each child has a color, style, brand sock that is unique to them. (Dad gets black, Mom gets white, Big sister gets striped, Brother gets blue, Sister gets cuffed, Baby socks are undeniably cute.)

3. Children are responsible for sock sorting on laundry day. They learn to sort by size and color/pattern. Children grab the socks they think are theirs. (What’s left is for Mom & Dad)

2. Everyone gets white tube socks. The sock that grows with you  :-)

1. All socks go into one bin. Good luck!

*Note: We wash our socks with “The Stinkies” category. This load is washed in a hot/cold cycle, unscented detergent, no fabric softener. We use the dryer, but you can choose to line dry to prolong their life. If there are no cloth diapers or its not sock season, go ahead and throw it in with the other loads.


Again, I hope that this system we’ve created inspires you in your laundry endeavors. Please share your favorite tips from this post or elsewhere in the comments!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I’m Back

Well, it has certainly been awhile since I’ve been able to really get back into the blogosphere. Our computer died and it was devastating. Fortunately we were able to save and buy a new computer and my cousin, God bless him, volunteered to recover all our files from the deceased PC. What was I most worried about? Pictures. All our family pictures that didn’t back up on our external hard drive as I had hoped it had. As well as my Modest Mommies business files. Hours, Days, Years worth of information and work is finally being restored. The file upload is not complete so I’m not 100% getting excited yet. Worst fear, my daughter’s 1st birthday photos are gone.
So with that mini freak out episode almost past, I’m ready to start sharing again all the wonderful things that we have been up to. I hope you’re ready to pin you’re favorites, starting with my next post about our Cat Chat VBS Wilderness Adventure through the Sacraments Craft Ideas! I made some originals I’m quite proud of.
Something else you may have missed if you are not a part of my Homegrown Catholics Facebook page, is that we have a new baby! I’m looking forward to sharing how being a mother to 7 amazing people has changed everything in our homeschool approach and daily activities.
God Bless you on your journey! Come back to read about ours!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

LENT Pray-Fast-Alms


As Christians, we are asked to humbly give of ourselves to God's will for us. To repent and start anew, accepting his Mercy and sharing His love. We can continue to renew this Christian journey each Lent! For 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday it is tradition to build virtue by Praying, Fasting and Almsgiving.

Pray-Fast-Alms Cards

Some of us may need more specific ideas, or ideas that we can do together as a family for motivation. Each thing we do is a Sacrifice, meaning it isn't meant to be easy. It may be simple, but it is an true offering of our time, talents and treasures. If you don't find it challenging, perhaps you need to go beyond the basic task and give more, read more, volunteer more often, or take a lead role helping others be mindful of these opportunities.

Pray-Fast-Alms Cards

I was inspired by a post on Team Whitaker blog. She gave a great starter idea for presenting these tasks on cards. Most know I am partial to ideas I can hang on Our Forever Tree, and this was right on! I came up with 36 ideas you can print, laminate and display as you'd like. More than enough to choose at least one a week of each category - Prayer, Fasting and Giving Alms. I added a blank page to add your own, and you could make enough to choose one a day for all 40 Days!

Pray-Fast-Alms Cards


Laminate your set to use year after year. You can cross off what you've completed, or have children write on the blank cards.

Pray-Fast-Alms Cards

Cut and pick them randomly from a jar. Punch holes in the tops to bind with a ring/string to flip through or to hang.

Pray-Fast-Alms Cards

We decided to hang them on Our Forever Tree in place of the Jesus Tree Cards. Our call to action this season includes scripture reading, but my kids need to get their hands dirty in the world. They need to interact with people in our community, our church and our extended family in new ways. I think this will be just the motivation they need.

Pray-Fast-Alms Cards

These are FREE for you to print for your family or classroom! I love great quality resources for parents and teachers, and I just want to share my talents with all of you, no charge. I'm making these for my kids and think they're special enough to share with my broader Catholic community! Please do not recreate, print or share this file to sell. Share below in the comments some of the ideas you wrote on your card set!


Have a Blessed Lenten Season!

Mikayla Anna Michalek

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Saint Patricks Day Activities

Homegrown Catholics - St Patricks Day Activities
I am having so much fun searching for ideas for our Saint Patrick's Day Celebration in March. I'm sure many of you have already thought of the typical dress in green, eat Lucky Charms and read a book, BUT take a minute and see if any of these ideas inspire you to make it a day of faith filled learning and fun like never before! These are my plans for our homeschool group's few hour session and for our family.

*NOTE: I will post my own photos instead of the Pinterest images after we've celebrated!

Consider having Celtic music in the background. A specific song you might have is "Christ Before Me" by Margaret Becker.

May the Strength of God guide us.    
May the Power of God preserve us.    
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.    
May the Hand of God protect us.    
May the Way of God direct us.    
May the Shield of God defend us.    
May the Angels of God guard us.    
- Against the snares of the evil one.    
May Christ be with us!    
May Christ be before us!    
May Christ be in us,    
Christ be over all!    
May Thy Grace, Lord,    
Always be ours,    
This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.

*Choose a Book about St. Patrick and/or Irish Saints from your collection or local library.
Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie DePaola
The Story of St. Patrick by James A Janda
The Story of Saint Patrick's Day by Patricia A Pingry
The Life of St. Brigid, Abbess of Kildare by Jane G Meyer
Brigid's Cloak: An Ancient Irish Story by Bryce Milligan

Saint Patricks Day

Cleaning Treasure Hunt @ Home: Hide gold coins amongst the messes in your home. Ask your kids to find the coins by cleaning up, and trade in their coins for a special treat! We used plastic gold coins. Chocolate coin treat in snack suggestions would work for this!
Pin the Shamrock
Pin the Shamrock on St. Patrick - from Under Her Starry Mantle Blog
March Saints and Feast Days Word Search - from CatholicPrintablesOnline.com
Saint Patrick's Day Scavenger Hunt - from My Very Educated Mother

Shamrock Magnet
Shamrock Magnet w  plastic canvas & yarn
Shamrock Pin w plastic canvas & yarn
Irish Cross w plastic canvas & yarn
Shamrock Coaster, crocheted
Catholic Icing - Shamrock Lacing
Shamrock Lacing for younger children
Felt Saint Patrick Doll
Holy Trinity Puzzle

Saint Patrick's Gold Coins - from Catholic Cuisine
Gold Coins
Irish Kisses (also a matching activity - from Studio DIY)
Irish Kisses
Gummy Snakes
Gummy Snakes
Rainbow Gelatin - from The Michalek Kitchen
Rainbow Ribbon Jell-O Salad
Shamrock Cucumber Sandwiches - from Will Cook for Smiles
Cucumber Tea Sandwiches - Shamrocks
Cucumber Slices -Shamrock Platter with dip - from Brit+Co
ALSO CONSIDER: Irish Soda Bread, Corned Beef & Cabbage (on Rye), Irish (Lamb) Stew, Bangers and Mash, Shepherds Pie, Frozen Green Grapes, Avocado or Pistachio Pudding, Spinach & Artichoke Dip w chips veggies or bread, or a Green Smoothie!

*Irish Catholic Movies @ Catholic Video.com
St. Patrick the Irish Legend
Patrick - Brave Shepherd of the Emerald Isle
The Secret of the Kells
Veggie Tales: Story of Saint Patrick
The History of Saint Patrick - A Short Story

The Feast of St. Brigid is Feb 1st, but she is the Patroness of Ireland, my Confirmation saint and our homeschool saint, so I encourage you to learn more about her as well! [St. Brigid's Academy Blog = now Homegrown Catholics]
OLD POST: 2013 St. Patrick and the Holy Trinity
OLD POST: 2011 Happy St. Patrick's Day @ Homegrown Catholics

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Are You Prepared to be Repaired

Mikayla Anna Michalek

Lent, the season of preparing your soul to be renewed in Christ's unconditional love, mercy and forgiveness. It's the 40 days prior to Easter Sunday that encourage us to transform our lives in radical ways to seek God and a desire to honor him with our whole lives. These are some ideas so you can spend the next few weeks preparing activities, crafts, meal plans and places in your home that honor traditions and will help your family reflect on the lessons of Lent.



Mardi Gras or Pancake Tuesday or Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday or Carnival…. is the day before the beginning of Lent. It's "The Feast Before The Fast." It's traditions are easily found online. Our family celebrates with a big pancake meal and crafts including masks, necklaces and glitter!

Halloween 2012 Mardi Gras pancakes


We begin Lent with Ash Wednesday. While it is not a holy day of obligation, it is good practice to use this day and week to begin reflection on dying to ourselves. I recommend taking your whole family to Ash Wednesday service. Everyone is welcome, even non-Catholics. Many people take pride in wearing their ashes throughout the day at work and outings, just like someone might wear their "I Voted" sticker, but in a manner of reminding others that we must die to ourselves (our worldly desires) if we want to be like Christ.


Weeks prior to this day, remember to bring in your old blessed palms from last Palm Sunday. If you forgot, they can be buried, burned or cut apart to be disposed properly.



Shine so Others can see God

A sacrifice made during Lent requires giving up bad habits that keep us from leading holy lives. What sacrifice do you hope to make this season? Many Catholics are noted for giving up foods and basically going on a diet during lent. While that does teach self control, it seems out of context for this religious experience. Whatever you choose, it should be something that is keeping you from becoming a saint. Perhaps it may not be something you give up, rather something you need to start doing! Sacrifice develops a personal change that in turn people see God in you, rather than being boastful of our hardships.

Best Lent Ever

Dynamic Catholic is giving us free tools to have the "Best Lent Ever!" They are encouraging us to stop giving up chocolate and do something that is life-changing! >>Check it out here<<

Sacrifice Bin

For young children, their general innocence can make this hard to understand. This is where it is easiest to focus on giving up material things in our life. Might I suggest Making a Sacrifice Bin. This is a box or bin that everyone in the family adds at least one item that is their favorite, that they would like to offer up for Lent. For adults, this may be a credit card. For children, it may be a favorite toy or game that is often focused on. For this modern day, giving up Minecraft or the Wii system might be in order. But remember to replace the time spent with that item with prayer. If you give up 15 minutes of Minecraft each week, that could be spent saying the rosary. If you give up watching a late night show, you can read a spiritual book or the Bible.


Other families may choose to have a display for their sacrifices. You might have a 'Bean (being) Good Jar or Crown of Thorns. The concept is that you fill the jar with a bean each time to make a sacrifice. On Easter, those beans are replaced by Jelly Beans or a special treat. The Crown of Thorns is a wreath full of toothpicks that are removed for each sacrifice. On Easter, they can be replaced with flowers and be a wreath for your Easter Candle.


Many who are in love with St. Therese will enjoy making Sacrifice Beads. These are a string of beads with a holy medal and crucifix on each end. Beads are moved while praying a decade of the rosary or when making a sacrifice. You can also find a child-level story in your Catholic Children's Treasure Box books. [Craft directions][Kits at Oriental Trading]


Some things that are hard in life, we lovingly call "Our Crosses." These can be offerings to God in a penitential way. To show this to our children, we once had them carry a real wood cross. It got dirty and tattered, and it was never convenient or easy. This might be a daily thing, or on Sundays when we are more relaxed about the things we've given up for Lent. You can read about it at "The Crosses We Bear." On Easter we transformed the cross into a lovely Rosary Holder. It taught our children that God makes things new. That our crosses that may seem like burdens can make us the beautiful people we are meant to be.

"Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me." Luke 9:23


Ash Wednesday and Good Friday during Lent are obligatory fasting days where you eat one larger modest meal and two smaller meals/snacks which do not include meat. All Fridays during Lent follow suit by allowing only fish (a symbol of Christ) to be eaten, no meat. Traditionally this is for ages 14-59, but it is a good practice for children to join in on. It teaches them a lesson in sacrifice and penance. It also makes the transition to adult faith practices easier.

*Catholic.com: Why do Catholics fast and abstain during Lent?

*USCCB: Fast & Abstinence Obligations

*About Religion: Should Children Fast? 

So what should we eat?

Well, it's certainly not an excuse to make a pit stop at a fast food restaurant for a fish sandwich, or a date night at Red Lobster. It's meant to be a mindful change in the week, focusing on your meal prayer and quiet reflection on personal sacrifices you've made during the week. But in an effort to teach young children, you can make that prayer and reflection a group sharing moment. In our family, we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in impromptu/spontaneous prayer in addition to our traditional meal prayers. Our meals primarily consist of Fish and Veggies, Nut Butter sandwiches, or sometimes Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup. Other adults may reduce their two "snacks" to bread and water. This is a personal decision that you can make yourself based mostly on your family's dietary needs and grocery allowance.



It's also a time to drop your saved change in a Rice Bowl , volunteer at a local food bank, or food for the poor service such as Feed My Starving Children or Kids Against Hunger. You can make your own Offering Box from a simple milk carton or jar. There a many ways to give back to your church and community. This is the perfect time of year for Catholics/Christians to volunteer, as the rest of the world seems more mindful about doing this during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Lent Craft Time

Feed My Starving Children trip

Feed My Starving Children trip Feed My Starving Children trip



Confessional copy

God forgives us on so many levels with second chances and even twenty-fourth chances! As a Catholic, this is more complex than just being sorry and being born again in Christ. It is a constant movement within our hearts, asking for forgiveness and expressing it outwardly by attending the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is VERY important that as a family you discuss what the Church teaches regarding making a confession.

Consider using my First Reconciliation Activities to teach young children about being truly sorry. I include a fun sensory project called "A Taste of Confession," a lap book, and other activities.

Taste of Reconciliation

God wipes away all our sins. You can show this with a science experiment or a custom wipe off board!

Wipes away my sins board - fingerprints



1. CREATE A JESUS TREE to reflect on 40 daily scripture readings.

Jesus Tree copy

2. CREATE A PRAYER SPACE or HOME ALTAR for reflection.

Stations of the Cross

This may include a mini Stations of the Cross using this file I created. We simply cut and color the illustrations, then glued them to our popsicle stick crosses mounted in clay. You might add purple in several ways including cloths and ribbon. We often have a Crown of Thorns that is a vine wreath filled with toothpicks that are removed when good deeds are done or sacrifices are made.

Make a Portable Kneeler as guided by Catholic Icing! Make a Prayer Pail where you add written petitions. Have a collection of prayer books and cards, as well as rosaries.

Holy Household Labels[3]

I created some mini posters to hang around the house to inspire a Holy Household. Our favorite is the Soap=Repentence that is placed near our hand soap in the bathroom. Inspirational and Prayer Posters are easy to find on Pinterest and would be valuable whether you tape them up or give them a frame. These are a few of my favorites!

Make Me HolyPetitions Prayer

St Michael Defend UsBecause of Jesus Poster


Our children really like their hands on Montessori Stations of the Cross inspired by Catholic Icing.



Catholic Icing: Passion and Easter Children's Scene

Wee Believers: My Mass Kit

Holy Heroes: Lenten Adventure




For those who are weary, lay your burdens down at the foot of the Cross. God will bear your burdens and give you strength.

Serenity Prayer


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