30 September 2013

How we organize schoolwork

We aren't homeschooling but I feel like our little guy needs a little direction in the morning while the bigger kids are getting ready for school. And I like to make sure there is always something the kids can be doing IF we have a few spare moments.
I have a little folder for him that I am prepping (usually) on Sundays. Nothing too serious, just a couple pages for each day, and 1 or 2 activities a week.

I keep his work with the big kids Homework/School work stuff.

We have a notebook for each big kid, a pencil pouch with a few sharpened pencils, eraser and a set of toddler colored pencils.
They each have a folder with pages and activities for the week in it and flash cards. Sometimes there is enough time while I am finishing dinner to do a little work and chatting. I know some people would fill this down time with T.V. but we haven't made T.V. important for our kids, we don't have cable and I just feel like we could just as easily fill that time with something constructive. Our kids love the work books, I can usually bribe them with the chance to do an extra page.

During the week the kids real homework folders go there, that way we know where stuff is, easy to get to in the kitchen and homework time isn't drama. There is not a minute or 4 to spare looking for homework folders in the morning and no extra time to hunt down a pencil or lined paper for homework in the evening.
I also put a little snack in there. It's not usually snack time when we do homework but we all have those days when dinner is longer than expected.

We keep this in the drawer closest to the table and island area where we do homework. I think homework can already be a stressful thing for some kids, making it just a little easier by being prepared and having everything right there, easy to grab.

Who wants to share their homework area? Home school or not. However you make school work easier, I want to see!

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29 September 2013

Colgate Slim Soft

I got my first Voxbox and I was a little hesitant to try a new toothbrush, I really liked the one I had.
I received a free complimentary Colgate Slim Soft toothbrush, some toothpaste and mouthwash to try out and share my thoughts on.
While it doesn't LOOK that special, and really it kind of felt pretty flimsy, I actually love it! I have been using it just over a week now. I can tell a major difference, it feels like it pre flosses with the longer very very tiny bristles.  Makes flossing a breeze and I feel like I might even get a minute of my morning back!
I didn't toss my old brush right away, I can say for sure I won't be going back and I need to stock up on the slimsoft for the rest of our crew!

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23 September 2013

Starbucks Birthday Party

Today is our little Finnley's 4th Birthday but we celebrated yesterday!
First I want to say Starbucks had nothing to do with Finn's party, but our local store was nice enough to donate some supplies.
Second.. pictures are totally lame. We had a slight disposal issue 20 minutes before party time... so I didn't really take much for pictures. Real life, what can ya do?
Many months ago Finnley started saying he wanted a Starbucks birthday with a pink cake. I was thinking... okaaaaay tiny nutter. But he never wavered, even when we talked about a farm party, baseball.. nope he wouldn't have anything to do with it. So Starbucks it was.  I know WHY he loves it. Tuesday used to be our in town day, we would always go to Target and Starbucks. Boy loves his banana bread and white hot chocolate, every Tuesday. I got him hooked on Target Tuesday so I have no one to blame but myself. What kind of  4 year old kid wants a coffee birthday party? A super cute one, so charming, it's hard to say no to him.
I didn't know HOW I was going to make this happen. Not like I could get a bunch of tots all caffeinated up to send home. So while I did some coffee themed stuff. I mostly went for colors.
First I found these little color your own coffee cups at Hobby Lobby
I just printed off little names instead of the inserts they came with.
These cups were the first thing that made me feel like I could make this thing happen.
Focusing on greens and browns. I made a banner and used the hot sleeves as the spacers between Happy and Birthday.
I emailed Starbucks but they don't sell party kits or anything, they said just to ask and the store could hook us up with some supplies. And they did!
Sticking with the theme, I tried to plan some green and brown food ideas.
Green Jello, in sample cups of course,
Green grapes
Banana Bread.. Finn's very favorite from Starbucks
And some cupcakes
Brown Coffee Filter Poms.. no way was I spending $4 on a small but not tiny Styrofoam ball. I used a Styrofoam apple from dollar tree instead. Still lightweight and round. Good enough!

Finding green snacks is hard!
We made a snack mix of
yogurt pretzels
green sundrops
pb chips
chocolate almonds
and some green animal cookies
Some little tea lights in coffee beans, vanilla meringues and some mocha wafers rounded out the over load of sugar.
ohh and cake
Had a little malfunction with the cake topper.. but he was still happy so it works!

Getting a little help blowing out some candles
And a PINK cake.. might be light pink but it counts!
Also not pictured.
Pin the logo on the latte cup. No outrageous drawing skills here but the kids all got plenty dizzy and gave it a try.
My favoring part is probably the favors
The little cups, a little bag of cookies to go, just some F's and 4's in the Starbucks logo bags with a cd.
I got the pack of recycled cd cases to match the colors, cutesy'd them up with some washi tape and made a mix cd of Finn's 12 favorite songs. You know, cause Starbucks always has their little cd selection by the register, and Finn has good taste in music. He gets it from me ;) Put this all together in a Starbucks bag, we used the hot sleeve as a tag.

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18 September 2013

Little Closet Update

After moving some stuff around in our closet and getting Summer clothes put away, I decided I need to clean out my jewelry. I have too much and don't wear it often because it's hard to see what I have or untangle it.

during the purge
 After (for now)

I just picked up some clearance and sale items, I needed somewhere to hang scarves, necklaces and bracelets. A spot for sunglasses and extra buttons and a couple little mirrors. I didn't expect anything to look too perfect, it's in our closet so it doesn't matter much. Just has to hold everything and be reasonably priced. For around $20 I put this all together and I think it will save me a few minutes and a little sanity.

I need to see some other jewelry organization! Who else has a little area?

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11 September 2013

Busy.. not a fan of the word

Anyone else just feel like "busy" is a cop out these days?
Don't we all have the same 24 hours in everyday?

How many times a day do you hear or say I just haven't had time!

If we are being honest with ourselves and the people around us, shouldn't we be saying I haven't MADE time for insertwhateveryouhavebeenputtingoff?
Isn't it really about prioritizing and CHOOSING what we spend our time on?
Important (to us) things are what we make time for.
How many of the things we HAVE to do (I know we all say " I have to _______") are REALLY a necessity to make it through the day? I know I say this often and those HAVE To's are not really have To's at all, we are all just ok with saying it about nearly everything anymore that we don't question what we really should be doing instead of those Have To's, it's not easy or fun but for me it's doing the right thing.

I've been working hard on not saying "busy" in reference to my time and being true to
my priorities and not just what is easy.
For me, other than taking care of our family, taking care of our home is a close 2nd. Being gone from our home 10 hours a day does not make that an easy task, but it's still pretty high up there in priority we don't get to prioritize by what is easiest.

 Constant comments from women about how they don't have time to organize, or mop, even doing the dishes is dramatic, and how they are too BUSY to keep up on it and then they turn around and are on Facebook or Instagram with multiple posts a day, followed up by shopping online for clothes they won't have time to wash.

These are just killing me, I just want to say "hellllllo, you just said you haven't had time to clean your kitchen but you managed to squeeze in 12 Instagram videos, 4 pictures, 2 complaints about your kids behavior and 3 dog pictures?" 
Complaints about how much laundry they have to do and how it takes all their time, but no effort to do anything about it, just continuing to add to the problem.

Same thing with the gym 5 days a week, the multiple moms groups, the just for fun gym class you teach and the blogger meet-ups and online friend swaps for seasonal items. I'm not saying anyone should skip out on any of these things if someone enjoys them.
But please stop saying you are so BUSY when you are CHOOSING to make yourself busy.
We can all see your priorities, they are clear in your comments about not having time for this or that and the pictures of laundry.

I'm not perfect, I still expect too much of myself and put too much on our schedule.
I do spend a little time on Facebook and it's SO frustrating having to sort through friends posts and complaints and pity parties. I feel bad that I have just flat out hidden friends entirely because I am not willing to spend what little time I allow myself for browsing to be taken up by this, whatever it is, a contest? Whoever makes the most work for themselves wins? Whoever has some seriously crazy priorities (to me anyway) gets a prize? When did being BUSY turn into a good thing and why are people expecting praise for it?

I really do try to keep things light, sorry for the heavy but I thought I might explode if I didn't get it out there!

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07 September 2013

Little ways we save big

I've been hunting for more ways to save money and it seems like there are a number of people sharing on Pinterest and blogs. I love to read these, even if I just pick up 1 tip, it's worth it. Thought I would share ours all in one place, just in case it helps a couple people. Most of these are not going to be new but might be different.
1. Homemade Cleaning Products/Laundry Soap
We use the Homemade Laundry soap
~Inexpensive bathroom cleaner, amazing on soap scum
(equal parts blue Dawn and vinegar in a spray bottle)
~I clean everything with vinegar or baking soda

I think I probably spend a total of $5 a month on cleaning products. Vinegar in bulk one month, Swiffer pack a few months later and some magic erasers in between.
2. Buying in Bulk. We don't buy everything in bulk, just stuff we know we will for sure use and if it's a good deal.
~ We buy our chicken and hamburger from Zaycon Foods. Feels weird to pickup food out of the back of a truck in a random parking lot but the deal is great and we have been happy with the quality.
~We are taking advantage of our Costco Card for fruits/veggies and cheese a little more often, especially now that our Costco card is a work benefit.
 3. No prepackaged snacks.
~We just buy a big bag and make our own snack size, I try to get the kids to keep their snack bags so I can refill them.
Paying $4.00 for 16 bags of crackers seems insane to me when a box is $2.00 and it has 16 servings.
I don't mind buying an extra box of snack bags, although I would love to score a deal on reusable ones.
~And rarely drinks. The exception is from Grocery Outlet, no way will I turn down shelf stable organic individual milk for $0.20!
4. We skip the disposable stuff! No paper towels, napkins (unless they are leftover from a party)
Paper plates and cups are just expensive garbage.
5. We don't buy bottled water (very often) but we do have some filtered water bottles and drink from the tap, scored the kids filtered bottles on clearance, even better.
6. I always check the clearance section and marked down meat to see if I can make a couple meals.
It might not save much but that 30-50% difference in 1 meal will still add up over time.
7. Don't turn on the air/heater
It has to be really hot or really cold for me to use the paid for air.
~We use blankets and sweatshirts (and quick dance parties) to warm up when it's cool.
~To help warm things up, I do dishes in the dishwasher, and put the stuff in the dryer first thing in the morning. Since I need to use those anyway it's not using any additional energy.
 ~I open the house up at 4:45 when I get up to let the cool air in, ceiling fans help keep it cool when it's hot.

8. Less Driving
OK, I admit, this is the one I struggle with the most!
I TRY to make just 1 trip into town to work and do all my errands during the week so we don't have to go into town on the weekends. Rarely does that happen. Still working on it though. I know for sure 2 days a week we will be driving to town twice for football practice and every Saturday for the next 8 weeks. So I should be able to manage all our errands and in town stuff around those, that is my goal for Sept/October  NO more extra trips to town!

Anyone else have their own list, or a list they have seen and loved?

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06 September 2013

Thoughts on being a "working" mom

I hate to call it a working mom, cause really all moms are working moms, for this I am referring to working out of the home.

I was probably a HORRIBLE friend to my mom friends that went back to work after baby, when kids were in school, when their husbands lost their job. Whatever the path was that lead them back to work while I was still a Stay At Home Mom, I wish I could go back and not be a crappy friend.

Hindsight is 20/20, and I can tell you being on the other end of this friendship where I am away from home has been SO hurtful in some aspects. Things I wish I knew before, or that I wish my friends knew but that I feel like a whiner for bringing up. But I am sure I can't be the only one feeling these things either.

~We are STILL  moms, our kids are still the same age, going through many of the same things. We can still chat 4 year old attitude, learning to count, non napping, new favorite things to do, first day of school outfits.

~We don't work away from home 24 hours a day, really it's only 8 hours and not even everyday.

~We can take time off for play dates or mom dates but now that we haven't been invited for weeks/months we aren't going to initiate it.

~ It feels REALLY high school clique like when women stop talking to you because you have a job. And if that's not why you haven't initiated a conversation in weeks with that friend that is working away from home, please speak up and tell them what the hold up is, chances are your friend is stewing inside over it.

~I don't live and breathe work, I am the same as I was before with just a little less free time, and more on my plate.

~We don't think any less of you for NOT working out of the home, not even a little bit

~We still have dishes, vacuuming, laundry and those other home things and we still want to hear about ways to make it easier and cheer you on for overcoming Mt.Laundry for 3 hours whole before there is more dirty clothes.

~We still make cookies and snuggle our babies, and read bedtime stories. We don't turn off being a mom as soon as we get a paycheck.

I have never been one of those people to pursue a friendship that seems one way, or try to be in the clique, this whole thing feels weird. I do have a lot more on my plate these days but all those things that were important before are still important and it's hard to figure out this balance AND deal with mom drama, so I just don't. Maybe you have a friend who is back to work, don't think they don't have lots in common with you still.
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05 September 2013

Car Organization

With school, football and work all going on at the same times I knew we would be in the car a little more and be in a rush a little too often. I want to make sure we have everything we need accessible in the car but not in the way.
I ordered this handy dandy back of the seat organizer

Aaaaaand it doesn't fit on my seats, oh well. I will see if I can use it some other way.
So instead, we moved all the kids to the middle row, and now I have the whole back to take advantage of.  I have everything I was going to put in the organizer in a basket. Not as easy to access but still available and not all over the floor of the car. It just has snacks, a change of clothes, some waters, blanket, a couple of books, diapers and wipes. Mini first aid kit and throw up cups (we use them often unfortunately) and a couple of bags from a recent closet clean out for a friend!

I have a garbage container for the kids in the backseat, NOTHING is more annoying to me in the car than garbage all over. It's not fancy but if it keeps stuff off the floor I will take it.
 I also have a little bag for stray little toys/hairbows/legos. For some reason Finn can't go in the car without something in his hands, we find so many toys behind his seat, I am hoping this will help wrangle them.

I keep real emergency stuff (extra clothes, food, extra inhalers, water, flashlights etc.) in the roof box on top so it's not in the way.
And for good measure, my car will probably NEVER look this clean again
No snack crumbs on the floor, no flash cards, no pennies NOTHING.. enjoying the brief tidiness.
And I love all the ideas on Pinterest, check out my car organization board ( and I hope, future projects) HERE

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03 September 2013

September Update

With the end of August we had a whole lot of changes!
Ryan got a job! He will be working close to where I work and is excited. But that changes our life a little bit, we don't know when we will get to start carpooling but soon I hope!
August was just strange, I purged a whole lot of stuff, went a little crazy on a couple sales. Overall things were just weird weird weird, but a good weird.
 We made it to the state fair and all pitched in on some stuff around here, couple of parades, audio books and a whole lot of swimming lessons
Paid off 2 more credit cards, just a couple more to go before we start paying on student loans!
Stuck to my Starbucks limit
Did horrible at grocery shopping, I am not a fan of limited time to grocery shop 
 I am so behind on so much. I think as moms we tend to put ourselves last. I'm guilty of that. Haven't been to the gym all month. Our office at work moved and I haven't even looked at other gyms close to us. On my to do list for September!

Still using those Target bags to purge
Went through every one's clothes again
Pretty sure I can park in the garage again!
My planner is about ready for the crazy schedule we are about to start, should be ready by the end of the week!

September Quick Goals
~Don't eat out, get/stay in habit of eating at home, even though it is going to be really hard with our schedules. Picked up a crock pot with a timer on it to help out.

~Find a gym, even if I don't join right now, find one that will work for us close to work.

~Work in the spare bedroom and call the realtor.

~Plan fall activities- football games, apple picking and we have family pictures coming up!
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01 September 2013

What's for Breakfast?

When I meal plan I usually just think about dinner,
but breakfast is going to be a little bit rushed for us. So I thought I would make a plan, at least for the first week of school!

Mini bagel with Greek yogurt cream cheese, blue berries and Kefir (kids are addicted!)

Oatmeal with fruit, I mix some protein powder in their oatmeal. I don't even know if they notice.

Scrambled eggs, applesauce and toast, Kefir

Yogurt with fruit and granola

I have a few other staple breakfasts
Waffles with PB, or nutella
Cereal and fruit
Sausage and Little Pancakes
Cream of Wheat
Smoothie and toast

I figure if I have a plan I can have some of it prepped the night before and make mornings a little easier!

I could always use some more ideas, has to be fast and fill them up!
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