Hurried Homemaker

- for supermoms short on time -
August 9th, 2013 by Rhiana

Preparing a Child for Surgery

Knowing that your child needs surgery, no matter how major or minor, is gut-wrenching for us parents. And we can’t even imagine what goes through the heads of our precious little ones. Not too long ago, we found out that our youngest needed surgery (a minor one albeit). I’m not going to lie, I’d have rather eaten a worm than tell her. We are quite fortunate that reason works well with her, as her level of intelligence allows for that. Her anxiety, on the other hand, is a whole different ball game. Add to that a medical condition which makes anesthesia complicated, and you have a very freaked-out Mama on your hands.
I have a few simple tips for helping your child prepare for surgery:
  1. Get the facts. Know what is going down so that you can explain it all in a positive, kid-friendly way. 
  2. Use your judgement when talking to your child. (Example – if you know your child is a control freak, you may opt out of telling them that anesthesia will put them to sleep.)
  3. Be sure to talk with your doctor so that everyone is on the same page about the verbiage you wish to be used with your child!
  4. This may seem obvious, but relay EVERY medical condition that you are aware of. A good doctor will be thorough will all info that you provide. (Our anesthesiologist had never heard of our daughter’s condition before, as it is rare. Had I not researched the condition+ anesthesia, I would have never known that receiving Nitrous Oxide could have killed her. Our anesthesiologist was grateful that I shared this and did his own research as well. We spoke nearly every day leading up to surgery to develop a plan that was safe for her and we both felt comfortable with.)
  5. Do a walk-through. If the facility will allow it, take a practice tour of exactly what you’ll do each step. Start in the waiting room, go through the area where they weigh & take temps. Then walk to the surgical room. And on to the recovery room. Seeing it all beforehand makes it much less scary!
  6. Don’t lie! They will likely have some pain or discomfort afterwards – don’t tell them that it won’t hurt.
  7. Practice. People coming at you with blue head coverings. Breathing into a mask. It can all be a very scary thing for kids (and the gas STINKS!). Play a game by putting on your own hair coverings and using a surgical mask (like this one) to breathe in and out of. Take turns being the nurse and the patient. And the masks can be used again for dress-up play later!
  8. Stay calm. When you freak out, your kids notice. Leave the waterworks for the waiting room.
We made it through with lots of preparation and prayer. (You better believe I cried and prayed throughout the entire surgery! I either converted the whole room or they thought I was a lunatic.) But when it came time for recovery, I was calm and ready to help her wake up. She had a great experience, thanks to the wonderful medical staff and their willingness to help make it go as smooth as possible. Now, she wants to be an emergency room doctor!
July 31st, 2013 by Rhiana

Introducing …

I have started 2 other new blogs. I am seriously considering combining them all into 1, but for now I decided to make things complicated. ;)

Below is the sort-of “landing page” for all 3 of my blogs now (click on the image to view in browser). I am still getting started, but hope that you will enjoy them!

June 21st, 2013 by Rhiana

Day of Crazy Parenting (not by me): Part 2 – What Are They Thinking?

We followed up that interesting Costco visit with coming home to find out that the AC went kaput. It wasn’t a shock. Our house was built in the 50′s and it is likely that the AC unit that we have had is from then, as well. We met hubs for dinner before he met up with his bus for the road and I shared the news. Well, he spoils us, so he immediately booked us a room at the Hilton in Downtown Nashville. [They even let us bring our dog!]

We decided to make the most of it! Have a girls’ night out! The kids were thrilled, and honestly I was excited too. So we checked in, showered, turned on the TV. We do not have “regular” TV at home. I mean, we have Netflix and Hulu – so we still can watch stuff – but I am pretty careful about what we spend our time watching. I prefer for it to be educational and/or wholesome entertainement.

So, the kids nodded off and I turned on Lifetime. OMG. I just wasted 10 minutes of my life watching Pretty Wicked Moms. I couldn’t watch any more than 10 minutes. What a horrible show! PLEASE tell me this is scripted! No one is really this dense, stuck-up, and self-absorbed … RIGHT?

In the few minutes I could stomach, this Emily/Queen Bee person (who apparently has a look-alike or twin or something that never leaves her side) admitted to rarely taking her kid to school [so little that she couldn't rememember how to get into the building] and almost never picks the child up on time. And upon drop-off (late, mind you) she begs the staff not to tell her husband that she was late … or that she forgot to bring the kid last week. Stellar.

I couldn’t handle more than a few minutes. I was disgusted. This is what we celebrate? Parents so self-absorbed that they can’t be bothered to be on time to pick up their kids from school? So consumed with whatever is going on in that seemingly empty head that they have no respect for other people’s time? And so mind-numbingly shallow that they aren’t concerned with the example they set for their children? Whoever her husband is must be so [insert eye-roll here] proud. Or he’s also just shallow.

Now, maybe I just caught the worst of the show in the 10 minutes that I watched tonight, but I’m guessing the majority of the show is similar. (And I only saw a few minutes, so I could only comment on one of the “characters’.) I am just sad that in America, we are so proud to celebrate poor-to-mediocre parenting … well, as long as it is done by a semi-attractive-plastic-like woman. What are they thinking by putting this crap on TV?

June 21st, 2013 by Rhiana

Day of Crazy Parenting (not by me): Part 1 – What Would You Do?

So, today was the weirdest day in a while. It was only the second day that the kids and I have felt up to doing anything following the cold we picked up at CMAFest. We headed out this morning about 11am to run some errands. It was exhausting. The kids would rather be at the pool. I’m worried I’m picking up the wrong water for the hub’s bus. Let me tell you a little story about the end of our Costco visit …

There we are, sitting in the food court at Costco. I broke down and let the kids have lunch there since it was, well, lunchtime. We sit and eat. And then I hear, “Well, it isn’t that hard. Just type whatever you need to say right here. You won’t even need to use it. You’ll be fine.” I look to my left to see a mother and her 2 boys (maybe 8 and 4?). She is telling the kids that she is going to do the shopping while they sit there and eat. The oldest is whining “I’m scared, don’t go.” She is getting mad at him. “Mommy, just don’t go. I’m scared!” She gets more upset. She tells him he is worried over nothing. She then follows with quickie instructions on the universal sign for choking, etc. Way to reassure him, Mom! She takes off.

I decided I would sit there and watch over these kids until their mom got back. How scary! The door isn’t far away. Realistically, someone could just come in, grab them, and leave in moments. I won’t let that happen. My kids are even appalled. My 11yo is telling me how not safe it is that this mom has left these kids here. I thought and thought and thought. What could I say to her when she comes back? What can I possibly say that won’t sound judgey? Because honestly – I’m judging. I can’t believe she got mad at the kids for [rightfully] being scared to be left alone in a busy store.

Then, I realize something. Maybe she was just having a bad day. Maybe this isn’t usually how she parents. Maybe something really horrible is going on in her life, and she really just couldn’t wait for these boys to finish their lunch. I decided that she didn’t need any judgement. She needed some grace. And so, when she came back, I got up and left. And said a silent prayer for her and those boys.

What would you have done?

April 3rd, 2013 by Rhiana

Child-led Learning: Animal Journal

As I mentioned in my previous post, we are all about making learning fun around here. Structure, schmucture! My kids are learning and having fun. What a crazy idea, right?
This week, we started a new Journal for the 4yo. She is fascinated with different animals. She recently wanted to learn all about bats and owls. We went online and to the library. She could tell you differnent kinds of bats, and was particularly interested in the ones that actually did drink blood from animals and how it didn’t kill the animal. She went through about four books on owls and loved telling me how she learned that there is are owls that actually are not nocturnal.
Her fascination with different animals is showing no signs of slowing. This week, I thought it would be fun to start keeping track of the animals she studies. And we created this Animal Journal. Like the Wonder Journal, this is a great way for her to practice spelling and writing, while being interested in the subject at hand. She made a list of 12 animals she wants to “investigate” (her words) and we began. We started with the Cheetah. She came up with 5 questions she wanted the answers to, and we read all about cheetahs and then answered her queries. We moved on the next day to Dolphins. I loved her questions: What color are their eyes? Why do they have teeth? How do they stay warm? How are they like humans? Why do their tails go up and down, instead of side to side (like a fish)?
I love that these journals allow for many learning opportunities: reading, writing, research, how to use the internet and library … all while encouraging her to learn what is exciting and interesting to her!
March 16th, 2013 by Rhiana

Child-led Learning: The Wonder Journal

The longer we homeschool, the less structured we get. And that is actually a really good thing! At this point, the kids essentially lead the majority of their learning. My 4yo naturally learned to read and write – because she wanted to. Does she do either perfectly? Um, she’s 4! I think you know the answer. My 11yo is a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) girl. But, one thing they both share is their love of learning.

Several months ago, I noticed two words that are repeated by both girls a lot: “I wonder …”

These two words prompted me to begin what is now, essentially, the basis for our little “school”. Each of the girls has their very own Wonder Journal, created just for them. The idea is simple: write down everything you “I wonder …” about. Then? Get to exploring! We read, watch videos, and Google until their “wonder” is satisfied.

What kinds of things are in our Wonder Journals?

  • 4yo recently wondered how plastic is made. We read about plastic. We watched videos on plastic being made. We made our own plastic. Then? We learned about recylcing plastic.
  • 11yo recently wondered how engines are made. She researched different kinds of engines for three days. She is currently building her own.

The kids write in their Wonder Journal any time of day or night that they experience that “I wonder …” thought. When they get the urge to explore one of their wonders, they do (which is usually daily). Then, they record what they’ve learned. Bonus – this helps with writing, sentence structure, etc.


How to make a Wonder Journal:

  • 1″ white binder
  • notebook paper (I printed practice handwriting lines for the little one, but used regular notebook paper for the oldest)
  • your own little creative cover

It is so easy and fun!

March 8th, 2013 by Rhiana

Real Life Day and the Math Store

Homeschooling is such a blessing to us. Being able to do things at our own pace, on our own schedule is absolutely perfect for us. When all goes according to schedule, we get up and do a chore, school, lunch, finish school, chore, playtime, dinner, etc. I have a cleaning routine in which certain areas get cleaned on certain days. But there are many weeks in which all does not go according to schedule. The kids are learning daily, no matter what. However, we sometimes get behind on regular things, like housework or cooking and loading up the fridge with grab-and-go items. The last 2 weeks were get-behind weeks. We had company in town, then hubby went on the road. You know … life happened.

Solution? Yesterday was what I like to call “Real Life Day”. We occasionally have these, to play catch up. We sat down and the kids made lists of everything we didn’t get done (but should have) over the last 2 weeks. And we set forth a plan to get it all accomplished. While the kids help with housework most of the time, days like this are extra-special because I love seeing them not only work together, but work with me, toward a common goal. There is just something about teamwork that makes my heart smile.

Late in the afternoon (after all our goals were accomplished, but before dinner need to be made), the little one wanted to play “store”. I decided to grab this opportunity for a play-lesson. She brought me about 5 items from her play-kitchen and we gave each item a price tag. When we “checked out” of our store, we added up the items using a small white-board (no calculators in this store!), and voila! Lesson! I wrote in black, she wrote in pink. We used a number line for this particular lesson, but we use lots of different materials for math (but that’s for another post).


These are the moments that I love the most – getting a valuable school lesson in with play. What better way to learn, than through fun?

March 7th, 2013 by Rhiana

Family Game Night

We have never had a dedicated “game night” at our house. We don’t do family time with any kind of schedule … we prefer to just let it flow, naturally. When my husband is out of town over the weekends, the girls and I usually do a Friday night movie. When he is in town, we usually wind up playing a game a few nights a week. We thought it would be hard to find games that both our kids would enjoy, given their age difference (they are 11 and 4). But, we just started trying out games and found success with Uno, Go Fish, Sorry, Rumikub, Chinese Checkers, Monopoly, and Clue.

The other morning, my oldest had the idea of Charades. What a fantastic idea! But we would have to find a way to make it work for everyone. So, the girls and I sat down and came up with a list of shows/movies that they both are familiar with. We developed a list of 8 shows/movies, so that everyone would get 2 turns – seemed like a good idea for the first night.

I realized that there were probably a couple words that my 4yo would not be able to read and included a picture along with the title. This helped keep the game focused on fun, not on reading.


Monday Night: Following dinner, everyone worked together to clear the table. While hubby & I did dishes and caught up from the day, the girls got ready for bed. We all met in the living room for our first family game of charades. After going through all 8 titles, the little one was so jazzed, she asked to do it all again. And so we did. What fun!

So guess what? Tuesday morning, the girls and I decided it was definitely happening again. This time, we chose 16 book titles. Another night of family charades success!

The best part? Yesterday, while I was making dinner, I heard my girls in the other room playing charades! This will definitely be something we add into our game rotation!

January 15th, 2013 by Rhiana

Gold Coin System

Being a home schooling family has its advantages, more free time being one of them. I love that my kids choose much of their free time to play creatively – making up puppet shows, creating their own scenes as characters from their favorite books/shows, creating music videos on their iPads, writing songs using their voices and instruments, and so much more! But there are also all these wonderful technological devices that we so love – the iMac, their own iPads, the Apple TV (can you tell we’re an Apple family?) – that can be distractions from using their creative little minds. We decided that even thouh the kids didn’t watch much TV, they were beginning to spend more time than necessary on their other devices. We found a way to limit that technology-time. Enter … the Gold Coin System!

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  • Gold coins bought in the education section of my local office supply store
  • An old lunchbox/cookie tin-like container
  • 2 candle holders spray-painted with chalkboard paint (each kid’s name is on their jar)


Gold coins are NOT earned for performing their decided-upon home responsibilities (some of you call these “chores”). Why? Because we are a family and we ALL live in this house. Therefore everyone must contribute.

Also, coins cannot be bargained for (“If I do XYZ, can I get 2 coins?”).

Coins ARE earned for  …

  • Going above and beyond the call of duty (ex – instead of just putting books back on shelf, noticing that the shelf is getting messy and straightening it up)
  • Being especially helpful to a sibling, parent, friend, or stranger
  • Doing something positive out of their comfort zone (for our youngest, this is stuff like initiating a conversation with a new person, trying something new, etc)
  • Oftentimes we give coins when we notice excellent teamwork
  • Taking care of their responsibilities without being asked to do so
  • Other times at our discretion

Coins can be spent as follows (all are with permission first):

  • 1 coin/10 mins of technology time (approved games and websites only)
  • 2 coins/show (most shows are 20 mins) *
  • Occasionally coins can be cashed in for stuff – items in the $1 bin at Target, Target gift cards (read about how we started that here)  a sweet treat, or other “want” (new nail polish, etc)
  • Stay up a little later

Coins can be lost! Being nasty to a sibling, disrespectful to a parent or other authority figure, refusing to perform responsibilities, etc. – these are all ways to lose a coin.

* We like to have a family movie night (at home). When we do, we choose a day in which everyone has been well-behaved and no one turns in coins for these family-movies. These are a gift!

It has been really fun and interesting to watch how each of them uses their coins. Our oldest loves to save hers up, while the little one would use them up as fast as she gets them if we’d let her. It has been great for all of us … even more family time, lots of creative play, and less technology time and “I wants”.

Do you try to curb the “I wants” and use of technology at your house? Tell us about it in the comments below!
All items mentioned in this post are things I do/have purchased with our own money. None of the companies mentioned in this post are sponsors.


January 10th, 2013 by Rhiana

Top 10 Reasons I Love My Husband


I was asked to participate in a link-up by the amazing Fawn over at Happy Wives Club, and was honored to be invited. Although I was asked if I would only include a small list of reasons I love my husband at the bottom of a regular post, I just couldn’t do that. I felt like my husband needed his very own post on my blog. Since I rarely talk about our family specifically on here, you know it is kind of a big deal. But you know what? He’s kind of a big deal.

If you follow me on Twitter (@rhianapfaff), you’ve probably seen us tweet SHMILY to one another, or rib each other about something or another. If not, then I will tell you, he is the amazingly talented Gary Ray (shameless promotion). So, without further ado …

I love my husband because …

  1. He is a leader, our leader.
  2. He books our workouts with the trainer at 8:30am (instead if the 7:30 or 8am he would rather do)
  3. He is an amazing father!
  4. He volunteers at our church, and is so awesome with those kids.
  5. He works hard so I can be home with our kids.
  6. When I said I wanted to home school our kids, he supported it fully – and he continues to support and encourage me.
  7. He is a pretty calm person, which I need!
  8. He believes in me and our kids.
  9. He is good with money.
  10. He loves me, even when I don’t deserve it.


Why I Love My Husband


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