kids’ chores and responsibilities

photo credit: Eva L. Kirkpatrick

We had a couple over for dinner last week, and after the meal, us ladies came into the kitchen to see how the meal clean-up was going. Just then, she noticed the “responsibilities list” on the wall next to the slate chalk board. She quickly took a picture of it and seemed equally amused and intrigued by our little list. It’s a humble note paper cut to a square and taped to the wall with washi tape (I love washi tape – I can finally display all the children’s drawings!). I’ve seen many a fancy bordered chart ,or better yet, chalk-art-decorated board for displaying the assignments. Ours is simple, folks!

I have a friend who makes a very valid case for calling the children’s job’s for the family home assignments, because chores has the connotation of burden or drudgery. Whatever the semantics, our family’s been trying to clean up messes for 15 years : ) The mess is not peaceful for me. I feel calmer, happier and can think much clearer when the spaces are orderly and tidy. I think it is this way even for children.

Our family’s chore list is for the year. At the beginning of the school year, we sit down and discuss all the old chores and how they are changing hands. Everyone is usaually happy to switch it up and understands, so the only purpose of the paper chore list is mostly for reference (in the case that Nathan or I forget or there’s a need to switch it up for a day). The children don’t really look at it, because they’re doing it all the time.

I read a quote years ago from an older mom who said, “Life is messy, so clean it up.” I couldn’t agree more. Have grace to allow the mess, and be adamant about cleaning it up. Even though tidying up is agreeably necessary, each household has a cleaning routine. If it is part of the family’s regular rhythm, it hardly is much effort to have visitors. This has proven true for us many, many times! When the children were younger and schooling was less rigorous, we cleaned before the weekend in efforts to enjoy all the time with Daddy when he was home. I always knew I’d have to forgo this little luxury when schooldays grew longer and our days got fuller. So here we are, a few years into the routine of cleaning a little everyday and a little more on Saturday morning : )

Cleaning the family home for us is divided into two categories: Daily and Weekly Responsibilities

photo credit: Eva L. Kirkpatrick


  • collect laundry and wash (first thing in the morning), flip, fold, and put away (by dinnertime)
  • wipe bathrooms, change hand towel (morning)
  • empty trash bins (morning)
  • feed the animals (morning and evening)
  • wash dishes, dry and put away, wipe counters (after each meal)
  • wipe table/chairs, vacuum kitchen and dinning room (after each meal)


  • vacuum stairs
  • clean mirrors and spot clean windows
  • dust
  • vacuum all floors
  • mop all floors
  • scrub bathtub, sinks and toilets
photo credit: Eva L. Kirkpatrick

A few things that we try to remember:

  • Involving the children in cleaning and taking care of the family home takes time and patience both for the children and the parents.
  • Always look for age-appropriate tasks.
  • Try to find a home for everything. It is too overwhelming for a child to tidy up if there is no specific place for things.
  • Remind little ones to clean up one activity before moving on to the next activity. Small habits make a big difference!
  • Set a regular tidy-up time. Before lunch or naps, before supper and before bedtime may be a natural rhythm.
  • Work along side them even if it isn’t on the same assignment.
  • Take a break and then keep going.
  • Encourage and praise them profusely during the task and when they’re done. Celebrate small victories together. A little reward like a high-five and reading aloud one picture book can feel special.
photo credit: Eva L. Kirkpatrick

It is a joy to take responsibility in the care of the possessions God has entrusted us with. We all enjoy the sense of accomplishment and equally appreciate the reward for our efforts when we can use the tidied up spaces.

 with love, Damaris

Third Trimester: Researching Water Birth

The third trimester comes with lots of decisions! It’s not the nursery colors, travel systems, or baby monitor model that I’ve been attempting to decide on this time around. Although I have picked up a few small precious items for this baby which I’ll be sharing with you soon, a couple of things needed to be decided within the next couple of weeks. I’m referring to questions like: Epidural or unmedicated labor? Should we go to a birthing center this time or deliver at the hospital? What should we name the baby?

Today, I wanted to share with you what we’re thinking and how I have been preparing. By this point you know that we’re planning on having a water birth. This choice surprises me a little too (I’m not a water person), but my midwife does lots of water births which gave me confidence. Why we picked a water birth?

  • Pushing stage is easier and shorter.

  • The water also reduces the feeling of pressure.

  • Provides privacy which means more calm and quiet.

  • Encourages a gentler arrival and transition for baby.

  • Warm water is soothing, comforting, relaxing.

  • In the later stages of labor, the water has been shown to increase the woman’s energy.

  • The effect of buoyancy lessens a mother’s body weight, allowing free movement and new positioning.

  • Buoyancy promotes more efficient uterine contractions and improved blood circulation resulting in better oxygenation of the uterine muscles, less pain for the mother, and more oxygen for the baby.

  • Immersion in water often helps lower high blood pressure caused by anxiety.

  • The water seems to reduce stress-related hormones, allowing the mother’s body to produce endorphins which serve as pain-inhibitors.

Sources American Pregnancy Association,,

How have I been preparing?

As you can see, we’re slowly addressing all the big third trimester decisions. But the baby’s name…well, that might just be a delivery day surprise!

with love, Damaris

20 Weeks and Ultrasound

I had my midwife appointment this morning, and it was so relaxing I just had to share : )

I had fresh banana muffins so Nathan would give the children breakfast and start the day. Since I’d left with a few minutes to spare, I sat in a silent car in the parking lot, did my make-up, called my mom (it’s her birthday today!), and had enough time for one more visit to the bathroom – huh.

The appointment went great. Hearing the baby’s heartbeat is as exciting as it was 14 years ago when I heard it coming from my belly for the first time. I so wish I could hear it again tomorrow, and the next day, and when I’m lying in bed praying for the baby! My midwife reviewed the ultrasound, and everything is beautiful. God’s mercies overwhelm me.

I had seen signs for a Starbucks in the building, so today when the appointment was over, I went on a hunt for it. A Dulce de Leche Skinny Cappuccino never tasted so sweet. Ah, now I’m home and about to prepare lunch, but I just had to share with you my splendid morning and the latest update on week 20 and our ultrasound.

Sleep is great these days, although I can’t break the habit of having a cup of tea at bedtime. I’m sure you know that’s an unavoidable 3 o’clock trip to the bathroom. I’m so grateful to fall right back to sleep, though.

According to Nathan, I am craving hot sauce and vinegar. Nothing too epicurean, but certainly goes great on everything. I have them both in bulk-size in the pantry – ha! I’ve noticed that I’m hungry for real food as in hot meals not really sandwiches, or cereal, or crackers. Yesterday I had a bowl of lentils for breakfast! No more leftovers in this house! I’m very happy to not have any sweet cravings…yet. Other than today’s grande cappuccino.

You don’t know how incredible grateful I am to have you here sharing this journey. I can’t believe it’s Baby Number 8! It seems natural and crazy all at the same time : )

with love, Damaris

Have You Heard the News?

Photo Credits: Maria Wild

We’ve lingered for weeks into months holding this secret.

My body is slowly, conspicuously telling what’s been growing inside.

During a slow winter Saturday morning, Nathan read a Scripture passage in Exodus after pancakes. It was the story of Moses’ birth and how his mother kept him because he was beautiful. Nathan explained that there was nothing extraordinary and charming about baby Moses – he wasn’t especially handsome, but that she saw God’s creation. “She knew the little baby was made in the image of God – he was a fingerprint of the Creator. Life is beautiful.” I almost cried both hormonal tears and tears of joy.

Never before have I not told Nathan the news of a positive pregnancy test as soon as I find out. But this time, I felt that I had the courage of cupping my hands around this secret. Since Valentine’s Day was only three or four days away, it would be special to share on that morning. In the excitement (and my usual lack of control over secrets), I celebrated Valentine’s Day a day early. Nobody said anything until I was all done with my gifting and sharing The News! If you follow us on Instagram, we posted a little video of the unveiling of the secret. The children were at the breakfast table when Nathan opened his card which read, ‘Lots of Poop and a Whole Lot of Love.’ He knew instantly, but the children wanted to get a clear interpretation : ). So much excitement on that early morning! We were all so giddy that we wanted to take the day off to celebrate.

We chose to tell my parents on Father’s Day, which in Spain is on March 19th. We were all on speaker phone, and the children announced it so loudly that it took several attempts until my parents understood. To Nathan’s parents, we shared the news the day before Easter. Providence (still 3) asked Nathan’s mom if she was having a baby. Upon her glancing at me, and I blushing, Providence finished by saying that we were. Lots of joy and congratulations brought relief that the secret wasn’t mine to keep any longer.

God is so good!

We have a lifetime of blessings still growing inside, and I’m so glad that it’s no longer a silent family affair. It feels great to know that all of you know and care. Thank you!

with love, Damaris

Spring-Cleaning our Hearts

I love me a clean house!

I admittedly confess my house is clean enough, but not the kind of clean my mom taught me. Those were the good ol’ clean days! Ahhh. We would empty all the cupboards regularly and wipe the shelves, sides, and doors. We also washed everything we’d taken out before filling the cupboards back up. Every Saturday morning, mom would open the balcony and the bedroom windows to let the fresh air crisp everything out. Floors were mopped and every surface polished. The house felt bright and the air smelled lemony. As a little girl, it seemed like it sparkled, and I pretended to be the princess of the palace. Cleaning was expected, but not the purging. We never de-junked. Then we moved, after 10 years. Imagine how difficult the job was after all those years of accumulation?!

Our homes aren’t the only things that need a good deep spring cleaning. Just like we only polished and let the air in on Saturdays, we often just make superfluous confessions in daily prayer, but seldom purge. I am reminded of this every time we share in The Lord’s Supper. Communion is a time for quiet reflection and allowing God to call to mind all that resides in our hearts that is far deeper than just beneath the surface. Why don’t I make this effort more often?

Our hearts don’t particularly look forward to the dreaded task, but repentance isn’t optional. Let’s make an effort to regularly bring our hearts to God for deep-purge cleansing.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

John 1:9

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right[a] spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22

with love, Damaris

The Bedroom: Peace and Calm

Over the last few months, I’ve received several comments about our bedroom, specifically how peaceful the space looks. So I wanted to give it some thought and share with you what might help to make your bedroom a more restful room.

First of all, is your bedroom the dumping grounds in your house? Oftentimes, the bedroom is out of sight and get’s all the mismatched socks on the chair, library books on the dresser, mail on the nightstand. Get better sleep and reduce stress? Would a special haven and safe place from the busy demands feel soothing to you? Our bedrooms can be more than just a soft place for us to lay our head. Spending time in our bedroom should inspire rest and rejuvenation everyday.

Let’s consider ways that your own bedroom could bring calm and melt the pressures of the day away. To achieve serenity in the bedroom, less is more. Eliminating clutter will instantly help you feel relaxed when you enter your room. Anything that is stimulating needs to stay in the kitchen or the office! TV and work desks are not conducive to calm and tranquility. Cleared surfaces in the bedroom and minimal décor will welcome you with comfort and relaxation.

Here are a few ideas to help you create a peaceful bedroom:

  • Paint a light neutral color

  • Keep only the necessary things in the bedroom: bed, nightstands, dresser or vanity, maybe a stool/bench/chair and a mirror

  • Sconces or bedside lamps

  • A larger rug or two bedside rugs

  • Oil diffuser helps relax and clear the air

  • A scented candle open on the dresser will give your bedroom a soft fragrance

  • Soft sheets in a neutral and tiny pattern

  • Natural textiles (cotton, linen, knit or wool throws) add comfort

  • Display favorite things – only those that are useful and beautiful

  • Down comforter and a few extra pillow that you can use to prop up and read or relax before sleep.

  • Add texture for a cozy feeling

  • Add plants for an organic feel

What you see when you first wake up will set the tone for the rest of your day.

with love. Damaris

Make a List of All the Things

When we first got married, Nathan would often say to me “Crisis averted.” Like almost everyday. I preface this post with that so you can see I have a long history of weighty undertakings that lead to catastrophic desperations – at least in my mind : )

This is one of those times. I can’t bear the lead weight of the tasks looming over my head. They clog my brain and cloud my thinking. Tell me this happens to you! The emotional drain is priceless energy I desperately need but is being stolen. What can I do?? Nathan quickly intervenes in my paralysis and tells me to make a list. I complain that making this said endless list will take For-Ever! But I make a list of everything on which I am behind. I write all the things down to get a handle on the unnamed, undesignated, unspecified tasks. Each item is instantly clear and concise.

Now that they are on paper, I usually show it to Nathan and ask for his input. He points out the ridiculousness of my plans, calms my worries, and immediately my anxieties fade away. Some tasks are unnecessary (like ironing the tablecloth – what?!), some can be delegated (make a return to Walmart, pick up the boots from the shoe cobbler), and most can be accomplished in minutes. I could do two in the morning and two in the afternoon. I could do two more tomorrow. At worst, some of the unfinished tasks were overdue responsibilities that bring frustration, and crossing them off the list today would bring instant euphoria.

The heavy requirements that overwhelm and trap me, begin to shrink, and my brain is unbelievably grateful. You see, getting a handle on chaos can be a real struggle, but adding one more thing to the simple task list, declutters my disorganized mind immediately!

When we’ve had a newborn, I do this with regularity until days are more consistent and life formalizes. I thrive on systems and structure, but I usually lack the drive to keep them up. The simple practice of making a list of all the things, keeps my barometer balanced.

Remember that no one can weigh you down like yourself. Start that list!

with love. Damaris

Are you Fun?

Why don’t you laugh as much as my friend’s mom? I was stunned. Next, I was hurt. But really, I was disappointed in myself. On a very rare occasion, my kids had been in the car with another mom. When the kids came back, they were retelling me all the fun they had on the car ride. Walter’s mom laughed when they told funny stories.

There were many demands with six little ones. The oldest was 9, and he wasn’t very in tune with serving his siblings. This left me with a mission- all day – to get the work done. I was obviously wearing the seriousness of the stress of mothering and the busyness. I moved from one task to another so quickly, that anything requiring more than 30 seconds of my time had to be stopped. I interrupted because I had to move on. My mantra was moving on, moving on, which I often said out loud. The lists did get shorter, but my temper did too, and my face grew longer. Usually wearing a stern face, the last thought on my mind was to add fun and laughter to my day!

My girl’s question was a convicting reminder that my countenance affects my kids. They need clean clothes, nutritious meals, and orderly surroundings, but they also need my joy. I’ve often thought since then, what would my girl say now? Am I more lighthearted? Do I listen to the children’s “knock, knock” jokes and laugh? Is our atmosphere fun? Can we sing sillies, and dance deliriously? Our days are short, and I want to fill their lives with joy.

A joyful heart is good medicine.

Proverbs 7:22

with love, Damaris

4 Easy Steps to Drastically Change A Room

Outer order contributes to inner calm. -Gretchen Rubin

Having spent more time at home during the cold winter months, we’ve accumulated and now feel overwhelmed by the “extra stuff”. Maybe simplifying was one of your new year’s goals too, and January and February were trial months : )

Though ideally you may want to purge all drawers and closets, when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the mess, I’d suggest to start by clearing off just one surface! Clearing off surfaces can drastically change the entire room. Cluttered tables and counters feel disorganized, and it affects how you use that space. Streamlining surfaces is a manageable and tangible goal that can give you a sense of accomplishment right away. I always aim to maintain an atmosphere of peace and hospitality in our home, and with cleared surfaces, our home most often looks clean. Less stuff means less mess- always.

The first step to streamlining surfaces is to communicate with your family how the problem affects everyone, and how the solution will improve the flow and use of the surface and really the whole room. Identify your clutter-free zones and state it as that. Remember that it’s a work in progress because each family member needs to learn to manage their own things and their own habits.

The second step to clearing surfaces is to find/create a home for things. Over the years, I’ve noticed that I usually keep more papers than I will ever do something with (the orthodontist’s card, the window replacement ad, department store sale flyer). If you’re hesitant about the excess paper, put it away for now. Add them all to a paper bag, a shoe box, a folder and look through it while you’re watching a show. Sometimes putting it away for a couple of weeks allows me to be more subjective and realistic about the clutter (mailers/catalogs/flyers/ads).

The third step to decluttering surfaces is to take a look at your most problematic area (kitchen island, dinning room table, etc.) and identify the things that don’t belong: bills to pay, incoming mail, magazines, homework that’s waiting to be graded. Paper-clutter bogs us down like no other kind of clutter, so group the same things and find them a home!

The fourth step is to use what you have for storage or organization. Going to the store and buying an all new storage system maybe counter-productive. Sometimes decluttering and purging opens up bins or storage boxes that can now find a new use. A huge clutter problem for most readers that I hear from is kids’ papers/crafts/art. This hanging line has been a life-saver for all of the art that the children wish to see displayed. It gets it off the table and provides a perfect spot for everyone to enjoy. When they make new pictures and paintings, we have this sturdy container where I file only the favorites. Each child has a folder, and the papers all have name and date on the backside, which simplifies the filing and brings us all so much joy when we pull them out years later.

Less stuff means less mess, but understanding that there is an amount of material belongings that are bottom-line necessary when having a large family and schooling in the home is something Nathan reminds me of often. Be encouraged and embrace this season of life! We’re always creating new ways and systems to make our homes comfortable, welcoming, and peaceful.

I’ve experienced that streamlining one surface often gets the ball rolling for more decluttering. Even so, if one surface is enough for the day, then at least you’ll be pleased to have one spot where your eyes can rest.

Better blogs for simplifying and organizing:

with love. Damaris

Do Something that is Permanent

It’s the endless cycle.

Always wet clothes that need to go in the dryer and enormous piles of clothes that need to be folded. Not only do our people want clean clothes, they like to eat a lot. So there are bowls tipping in the sink, and no more clean forks, and the deli drawer in the fridge is empty again. Most of the things we do everyday are on repeat and constantly need redone. You never reach the end of the dishes or clean the last crumb or put in place the very last toy.

I’m struggling with it today. It’s hard. A part of me loves the little years, but today’s part of me is over it. Having fun generates lots of work – the snacks and the mess…again. Can you relate to this feeling? I can’t make headway.

What can I do about it? I read a long time ago a tip on parenting little ones: do one thing every day that is permanent. Make something, write a note to someone, call a friend, sew something, start a diy project. Anything of permanence will bring fulfilment and satisfaction of a job completed or at least in-progress. For me, writing this post today is my one thing that can’t get undone : )

So, how’s this: I’m extending a little challenge for you. If this daily doing and redoing sounds all too familiar, try this secret. Think of something that can’t be undone. Do it as soon as you can. Revel in the moment! There will still be laundry, dishes, meals, and homework, and laundry, dishes, meals, and homework; but I promise this small tip will give you some sanity. We all pine for improvement, progress, and completion. This will give you the gift of DONE.

What can you do today that can’t be undone? What are you going to do tomorrow?

with love, Damaris