Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Biggest Secret to a ‘Magically’ Clean House!!

My mother always seemed to have a magically clean house.

I don’t remember her ever saying to us (the phrases that I’ve used umpteen times on my kids – )

“Okay guys! Let’s get this place cleaned up!!”

or

“Daddy’s coming home in 5 minutes and EVERYTHING is a mess. Ready…set…Go! Go! GO!”

or

(This one accompanied by aa threatening – every so slightly hysterical tone – ) DON’T MOVE the couch/ chest/ dresser! We don’t have time to clean out under it before our guests come!!

Growing up our house was just always clean.

Now that I ‘get’ cleaning and housekeeping a little more, random phrases she’d say every so often make a lot more sense and hold the key to my mother’s effortlessly clean house.

I thought I’d share today some of those magical phrases.

“Leave every room a little better then when you entered it”

 I’ve been trying hard to implement this. When I remember to do this, it is SO effective!

Our room

My childhood room – looking much more sophisticated. :-)

The living room can be a NIGHTMARE, but if I just straighten, toss or de-clutter two things each time I walk through – not even stopping in my steps – just straightening and grabbing as I go – it may only take a dozen walk-throughs, and it’s clean! (Well – cleanish anyway – this is my toddler-zoned house we’re talking about here!!)

“As you walk through a room, just glance around and see if you can take anything with you.”

Along those same lines, this works so well. When I remember to do this, my house is much more put together at the end of the day!

If I’m headed to the kids’ room by way of the spare room, I [should] scan for toys on the floor that belong in their room.

“Just do a little more each time you do something”

We never had sticky rings left on shelves in our frig. If Mom saw a little residue left on the refrigerator shelf, she’d grab a paper towel and wipe that spot – and around the other shelves too.

It took an extra 10 seconds tops.

It saved her from having to clean the refrigerator very often.

(I on the hand,  have to do a complete overhaul ever month or so.)

”Just keep your hands moving”

 Mom was just always moving – calm – very rarely stressed – but always moving.

Now that I’ve matured, I see tmy mothers’ secret.  SHE was the secret.

If there was chaos, she’d grab every 3 second window to calm it.

If there was mess, she’d take a 5 second walk-through to clean it.

Every task she did ‘a little’ more instead of ‘just enough.’

Her attitude and care came out in everything – even if it was as simple as walking through a room, listening to her two VERY TALKATIVE twin girls, or helping  us with a project.

She wasn’t looking to take ‘a break’ from housekeeping. Just because she cleaned yesterday, didn’t mean she would not wipe ‘a little extra’ today.

Making her home ‘a little’ nicer for us was her lifestyle and heart.

Thanks Mom! :-)

mom and I

Mom and I at Lyd’s wedding

- Verity

Organizing Patterns

5 years ago I was given a book that opened my eyes to organizing patterns.

It was Julie Morgenstern’s “Organizing from the Inside Out” that showed me organizing systems need to be based on our life patterns.

At the time I had the CUTEST little hamper – but it only fit in my son’s nursery on the OPPOSITE wall from the changing table. Consequently, I was always tossing his dirty clothes unto the floor and needing to pick them up later.

I thought the problem was me – that I wasn’t organized, but the problem was that I had not set up the room based on what would be easiest for me to maintain within my system.

(And let’s be honest, if it’s not easy to do within our systems and organizing patterns, we don’t do it!)

So I decided to post a couple things that work within my system and with my personality right now.

Organizing Right After Shopping

photo photo-2

For some reason I really enjoy putting away groceries, but when I cook, I’m in a HURRY because I have a deadline. For this reason, I put my spices in cute containers at my FAVORITE time to organize in order to make it easier for my LEAST FAVORITE time to pull things in and out. For the same reason, I put baking supplies in super cute, labeled mason jars. :-)

Limiting Organizing When Kids are Up

A month ago, I learned that I am an introvert, and as a visual learner, I can think BEST in silence. This means that I organize POORLY with interruptions and ANYONE talking to me. (And since one of my children CANNOT not talk [until we get that trained], this means that I need to limit my organizing when that child is awake.)

Organizing During a Whole Nap Time

So Once a week I clear out all my clutter baskets (which I will write about in a future post), clear all clutter from the house, and organize. I can clean, cook, fold clothes, do dishes, or even paint when my kids are up. I simply cannot organize. Recognizing this about myself has helped me stay a lot more sane!!!

When works for you to organize?

When does NOT work for you to organize?

-Verity

Check out how I put more of Julie’s awesome techniques into action HERE

Redecorate a room for FREE–tips and ideas!

The paint that provides the proper atmosphere, the pictures that elicit memories and direction to a room’s theme, the furniture that blends in as not to distract from a particular look, the knick knacks strategically chosen to enhance and not take over a room, and the throw pillows carefully selected to add just the right pop of color.  A lot of work goes in to decorating each room of our homes. But what do you do when you realize you want to drastically change the look of a room and have little or no money to do it?

 

I recently faced this conundrum. After having my 3rd child in the dead of a frigid winter and spending months sitting in my living room chair staring at the room around me, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore! I’ve never been gifted in the world of decorating. In fact, on a scale of 1 to 10 in great decorators I am admittedly a 0, so after perusing Pinterest for hours (I could do that since I spent all day every day in my big comfy chair feeding my newborn) and a visit to my Mom’s house to discuss the reality of my findings, I came up with a way to redecorate my entire living room for FREE! I’ve been SO happy with it; I’m excited to share some ideas with you today.

 

I should mention that I realize not everyone is going to have the same needs or will have the same items just sitting around their house, but I hope this will encourage you to look and see what you can use to freshen up a room or make some desired changes in your home. We spend so many hours in our homes; it’s where our children play, our family talks, where friends and strangers alike have the opportunity to see us. Our home is a testimony and place where we can be a blessing to each other and to others. The decorations matter.

 

 

Here is what our living room looked like before. Basically it was a Tuscan theme gone VERY badly. We sold our brown couch when our 2nd child was born so we could move the futon out of the kids’ room. The electric blue color entering my Tuscan living room certainly didn’t help an already struggling theme. Between crazy furniture and my attempt at curtains we ended up with some sort of weird patriotic theme with orange and brown stripes. Embarrassing, I know.

 

I knew I couldn’t change the furniture. I had to think in terms of little things that would work together to change the direction of the room. I used the items that had to stay as my backdrop. For me, this meant my staple colors became blue and brown: wooden and electric blue futon, brown cedar chest, brown chair, and blue chair with brown legs. Once I looked at it that way, I realized my furniture kind of coordinated. Amazing!

 

Next, I needed to find a focal point of the room. This is always important. What item are you going to use to focus the colors of the room around? For me, it was this large, inexpensive picture my husband and I had purchased while engaged. It’s nothing special for sure, but it incorporates the blues and offers the freshness I was hoping my room would render. It also contains various other colors to give me option in my endeavor to redecorate for free.

 

I then moved to the next biggest item I thought would affect the room: the curtains as we have 3 living room windows. I’m a TERRIBLE seamstress, so I knew whatever I chose had to be no sew—or at least VERY little sew. Thankfully, there are many great options out there for no sew curtains. But they require fabric. I explored the idea of using table cloths, tiny little window skirts that could be done inexpensively, strips of fabric hanging down from my curtain rods to create panels, hot glue gunned curtains, using shower curtains, and even no curtains at all. These are all fine options. Miraculously for me, I remembered that a couple years ago my older sister had given me some curtains she no longer needed. They were a light blue. At the time, I was all about burgundy, so I gladly handed them off to my other sister and forgot about them. In God’s provision, he brought this faint memory to mind, and my sister who had the curtains lives only 15 minutes away. She still had them and wasn’t really using them! I got FREE curtains—and there were 3 of them!

 

Then I moved to the couch—my throw pillows had to leave the scene, but I couldn’t buy new ones, and our large futon needed something to break up the electric blue. I could have made simple pillows, but I would have had to stuff them—read this as BUY stuffing. Then I found ideas on Pinterest for no sew pillow covers! I liked THIS one (#31 )the most, but I needed fabric. What were my options? I remembered an old sheet set where the fitted sheet had holes worn into it. My husband had told me years ago to save it, so I did. The top sheet was completely fine and it was a $200 set of sheets that had been given to us as a wedding present. I love pima!! I simply cut it in half, did the correct fold on our existing pillows, and viola; I had FREE new pillow covers in about 10 minutes! It’s also really nice because I can just pull the covers off to wash them when needed—and they’re SUPER soft! I didn’t hem the raw edge, though it would be a nice idea.

 

I needed a corresponding blanket on the back of the couch to break things up, pull the room together, and give us a blanket with which to get cozy when the kids and I read together. We had been given one as wedding present that had various purples and blue in it. It actually worked great with the blues on the furniture and with the picture!

 

Lastly, I pulled out a special table runner my husband had bought for me in Germany to use on the cedar chest. It is delicate and has the right colors. I had never before envisioned it for the cedar chest, but it has worked wonderfully—we’ve even managed to keep it clean!

 

There you have it: My newly redecorated living room for FREE!! And I love it!

 

 

I hope this helps to give you idea on ways you could redecorate a room for free. Clearly, every person will have different items just sitting around their home (or a sister’s home), but it’s about thinking outside the box. Figuring out what you are capable of, what your goals are, and what can be used to accomplish those goals.

 

Happy decorating! (And I’d love to hear what you’ve used or repurposed to decorate your home!)

 

-Lydia

photo-4

The Biggest Danger of the Mommy Blogs

8:15 last night:

Our house was a disaster. (Like every room – including food and garbage- type of disaster.)

Supper was drying on the uncleared dishes.

Half the groceries were still on the counter from earlier. (I had managed to put most of the refrigerated items away.

Errands went long. (Like the door greeter at Walmart laughed when he saw me leave and said “You’re STILL here?” type long.)

Nap time was given up after an hour of trying to get my 4 little bouncing beans to keep their heads ON THEIR PILLOWS. (Seriously, it was like one of those groundhog bonking games where you are supposed to keep them all in their holes with a padded mallet – and you bonk one, and then another pops up…)

And the kids FINALLY went to bed …45 minutes late.

It was at this low moment (when I should have stopped to pray for strength and focus) that I did what I have done far too many times.

I raced to my beloved laptop to check favorite blogs and to ‘connect.’

To ‘socialize.’

To ‘like’ and ‘be liked.’

I’m not the only mom who does this.

Surrounded by dishes and tantrums, I too often find myself, at the first moment of reprieve, reaching out – hoping for someone to understand – to put into words the discouragement, the hopes, the fears and the joys of my messy, lonely life.

I think this is why stay at home moms make up one of the biggest group of blog readers on the internet.

We are lonely.

We are really longing for someone to relate to.

(And we are too tired to drag the kids off every week to join a MOPS group, and too poor to hire a babysitter more then a couple times a year.)

But there is danger in the Mommy Blogs. I’d never thought about it until I started writing my own blog. But now I have to voice it, and I’d really love to get your thoughts on it.

We always hear about how the mommy blogs can cause envy - of the woman who has the Martha Stewart-type house, cooks 100% from scratch and runs a thriving home business while raising 6 children (who always look like models and never sin.)

We also hear about how these blogs can cause discouragement because no one really has it altogether. It’s just easier to make it look like you do when your blog only records carefully selected pictures and stories.

However, I think the BIGGEST danger of blogs (and all social media) is much closer to the heart.

We Use Blogs to Fill Heart Needs That They are NOT Meant to Fill.

Tired and lonely, we head to the computer when we are spiritually struggling or needing fellowship.

1. We use blogs to fill our spiritual needs.

Rather than retreat to our Bible and reach up toward the One Who will fill our longing souls with His grace, we turn first to our computers.

We do find something in the Christian blogs, but it is like a crumb of food in comparison with the meat of His Word that would fill our starving souls.

These blogs are convicting and spiritually encouraging, but our first moments should be spent filling up on Him, and our later moments could be given to the words of wise Christian sisters.

(To be honest, in my lowest moments as a mom, I have the hardest time picking up my Bible. I may have just yelled at my kids; I may have let the house slip and be struggling with guilt and discouragement. I don’t feel holy enough for God. I would much rather find a blogger mom who I can relate to and yet keep a safe distance from. It is these darkest times though, that I need His pure words the most.)

2. We use blogs to fill our friendship needs.

Rather than reach for the phone and call a friend with whom we can share deep and meaningful conversation, we start surfing through posts.

Rather than looking for friends in our community who will come into our home and know us for who we really are and with whom we can share experiences, we use technology to make ‘connections’ digitally.

But cyber friends can often be smoke and mirrors. Someone with a thousand ‘friends’ can be one of the loneliest.

We become very attached to our favorite bloggers – even though they barely know us. We send our comments out to them with all the love and care of our bestie.

(I’ve completely done this. I checked one of my favorite blogs routinely when her baby was due last year, and when a different favorite blogger failed to respond to a personal message, I was deeply hurt.)

And virtual medias can even distance us from our real friends. We feel like we’re keeping up with our friends because we check up on how their children are growing on Facebook, but we haven’t had a worthwhile conversation with them in 3 years.

And there is a difference. A former roommate on the other end of the phone, knows your struggles and can call you on it if you are wallowing in self-pity. A blog can often convict and encourage us, but it cannot do what a friend does. It’s not meant to.

Blogs DO have their purpose.

As long as we don’t depend on them to fill unprecedented positions, blogs can be a great blessing – adding to our days worthwhile thoughts and encouraging conversations!

My blog has helped me connect with sweet sisters from my past and also make some new friends. I do hope for future conversations and friendships!

So in their place and fulfilling their purpose, blogs (and all social media), are useful and fun!

The main thing is to use blogs as blogs.

Our relationship needs must be filled by relationships!

So as I walk away from this post, I want  to commit myself to go to God when I am filled with loneliness rather than surfing aimlessly through Mommy blogs, and then I hope to call or email a friends who will encourage me, instead of quick checking Facebook statuses.

And dear sister may I encourage you also, when you find yourself with a rare moment of silence, to pause BEFORE reaching for the computer. Instead, pick up your Bible and fill your need tank from the friendship that will be forever – and then maybe reach for the phone to call the old friend you’ve been meaning to call.

 

-Verity

image

No sew baby doll sling in 5 minutes!

Has anyone else noticed the rising trend of mothers who wear their babies? We have worn all three of our children and I love it, but I’m amazed by how many people tell me “I wish they’d had something like that when I was raising my children,” or “they sure do come up with great ideas these days.” In reality, baby wearing has been around for many, many years, but I think Americans are just reclaiming it in the last decade or so. That said, our daughters see us (and many other mamas) wearing our babies and they want to wear their babies as well. I looked up no sew baby slings for some ideas and found the concept HERE. I felt pretty silly that I hadn’t come up with it myself! It’s so easy and I was able to do it for both my kids using items I had around the house, so the best part was (drum roll please!) it was FREE and only took FIVE minutes!! :-)

 

Here’s how you can do it too!

 

  • Strip of fabric that will wrap around your child from one should to under the other arm and have enough space to stick a doll or stuffed animal in it. (Maybe 1 ½ yards??)

image

I actually used an old skirt I didn’t need anymore; cut in half and cut the waistband off. I then cut down the side seam so it would just be a strip of fabric. Unless the fabric frays really easily, it should be fine.

  • Fabric Scissors
  • 3 rings. I used those plastic connecting rings found in the baby toy section of stores for like $2. They come in packages of about 36 I think.image

This picture shows the portion I cut out of the skirt and then you can see where I cut down the side seam.

 

Next, I put the strip of fabric on my son with all three rings near one end of the fabric. I brought the fabric up from the other end and thread it through the rings from the bottom to the top. (So you have fabric going both directions through the 3 rings.) Then, I pushed that same section of fabric (the one that came from the bottom) back through the bottom ring only to hold it in place.image

 

A few adjustments and a baby, and my kiddos now have ring slings to carry their babies in just like me! :-)

 

I tell ya’ the things they come with these days! :-)

image-Lydia

 

Annual stepping stone footprints

image“They grow so fast.” How many times have you heard a thoughtful grandmother share this precious truth with you? I even find myself saying it now. We have baby books, first pieces of hair, mementos, and billions of pictures of our children as we desperately try to savor each valuable moment of their childhood before it slips away into the past. It’s easy to get caught up in clutter as we try to save things from our child’s childhood, so today I’m hoping to share a useful idea with you that will still be precious and meaningful for years to come—you don’t even have to keep it in your house! :-)

 

imageThis is the third year my children and I have made salt dough footprints in the hopes of making a stepping stone path someday when we live in a house long term. At first I thought I probably wouldn’t stick with it or I’d forget each year, but it has been so easy and fun that I don’t forget! We do it about the 3rd week of August since that seems to be a good time for us as the summer winds down and we get ready for another school year.

I use basic salt dough. Nothing special. Depending on the size of your stone, it’s roughly 1 recipe per stone.

 

The first 2 years I used this recipe:

1 cup salt

1 cup white flour

½ cup warm water

Mix or knead until dough forms. Bake at 200 for several hours until hardened.

This year I used this recipe:

1 cup white flour

½ cup salt

½ cup water

1 tablespoon oil

Mix or knead until dough forms. Bake at 200 for several hours until hardened.

Just to give you a heads up: It took us 8 hours to bake ours this year!

Both recipes are fine (and there are many others out there) but I really liked working with the recipe that includes the oil. They, by far, turned out to be our best stones yet. That said, they are a bit darker than in the past.

This year I put parchment paper on the cookie sheet before baking, and other than a slightly reveled affect on the back of the stones, I LOVED the result. No sticking and perfect stones! I write each of the kids’ first initial and the month and year so we can keep track easily without it taking away from the footprint.

The size is up to you. When we first started, my son was 22 months and my daughter was only 5 months, so my stones were very small. I guess the growth factor didn’t occur to me. Last year, I made the same “mistake,” so this year I’ve decided that my stones will just grow each year with my son’s feet, and I’m okay with that. I actually think it’s kind of cool to have growing stones!

It has become a special tradition to pull the stones out each year and look back at how much each of the child’s feet has grown and remember their year. Someday, when I’m old and gray and my children are grown, I will be able to look back at many years of footprints and remember the years they were so small.

 

-Lydia

image

Easy Castle Ice Cream Cake

Is there anything better then a castle cake?

A castle ICE CREAM cake!

And this one is super easy!

I saw the picture of this cake online (though I don’t know where the original source was. There were many websites with the basic design.) But my son had requested an ice-cream cake.

So my mom suggested this super easy stacking ice-cream cake.

It was easy, fool-proof, and FUN to assemble. The kids even helped with most of it!

Ingredients:

- 12-18 Hershey’s Bars (Buy 3 six packs to be safe)

- Oreos or Oreo-like cookies

- 9X13 Cake Mix

- Half Gallon Ice Cream

- Frosting

(Optional) Sprinkles

(Optional) Toy

- I’ve also seen this where they used a Kit Kat bar for a drawbridge

(Admittedly, the one thing this cake is NOT is cheap. It costs between $15 – $25!)

image

 

9X13 cake cut in half

 

image

 

Level the cake off

image

 

Cut ice-cream in half and stack between the cake and then stack the other cake piece on top.

 

image

Put cake in freezer (I had to put it in several times so the ice-cream would not melt.)

image

 

Make a sugar and milk paste

image

 

Stack oreo-like cookies to make columns sandwiching the paste in-between the cookies.

image

 

Enlist kids to help (They are really good at breaking apart all the Hershey bricks.)

Have lots of fun snitching chocolate with kids until everyone is sick.

 image

 

Assemble cake!

(I forgot to take pictures of actually assembling it. :-/ )

You frost the cake part. (The frosting will NOT stick to the ice-cream,but the Hersheys bricks stick just fine!)

Then line up the Hershey’s pieces as pictured.

Add the columns.

(Optional) Sprinkle

(Optional) Add Toy

Voila!

 

image

 

 

 

image

This tastes really, really good too.

image

It was a big hit! :-)

-Verity

photo-23

What is Our God?

A friend recently posted an article about a girl who renounced Christianity because, having been a part of the purity movement, she felt she could not have sex with her husband and still be a Christian.

It’s a very sad article, but it’s also very good for those of us who profess Christ to work through and consider because the article touches on something much deeper than just virginity at marriage.

It touches on what I think is one of the main reasons that young Christians are leaving the church today in droves.

(Here is a link to the article)

She repeatedly mentioned two things:

-Unnecessary Guilt

-Her Identity Being Based on her Outward Acts of Spirituality.

I think her church and family were trying to help her by encouraging a good standard (even a Biblical standard on her) but the problem happened when:

1. THE STANDARD BECAME THE FOCUS INSTEAD OF CHRIST’S LOVE

2. HER IDENTITY BECAME FOUND IN THE STANDARD INSTEAD OF CHRIST

Whether it is virginity or any other standard, even good and Biblical standards can be turned into idols. And when she had to reject the standard, she had no choice but to reject Christ.

This is very sad, but the problem started many years before when she placed her LOVE on the standard rather then on Christ. She explains in depth her relationship to the standard and never mentions (in the article anyway) a relationship with Christ.

The ONLY thing that will keep people in true, Christianity is a love for Christ.

Then – as an act of love to Him, they will obey from their hearts BECAUSE THEY LOVE HIM. (John 14:15) We obey him only because we love Him.

But, if we OBEY to OBEY then we ONLY find emptiness and guilt.

Throughout the centuries well meaning Christians have lifted up standards – genuinely trying to help their children and disciples to succeed.

Unfortunately, when one’s focus and love are not on Christ, depending on His grace, standing in awe of His incredible person, and rejoicing that He is working His perfect will in us, one cannot succeed.

My heart goes out to this poor woman who wrote this article, and I hope that she can learn what true Christianity is – to love Christ because He first loved us and while we were yet sinners showed His amazing love toward us by offering Himself for us.

-Verity

Letting Them Help – Part 2

House 1Well, 3 weeks ago, I glibly promised that I’d post the following week on how we do chores in our house.

Of course after promising that we had a couple messy days  (followed by a couple naughty days) which made me feel unsure of writing about something in which I’ve not yet arrived.

However, it’s been a helpful couple weeks for me – nothing like promising all my digital friends that I’d share about our chore systems, to help me reevaluate!

So I’m going to share what works for us, areas we are working on, and areas we need work – and then I’d love for my readers to share suggestions and thoughts!

What is Working for Us:

1. Having a Cleaning SYSTEM

My Mom is the best housekeeper ever. She is a natural, and she always made cleaning look SO EASY.

I am not a natural – and even though I KNEW how to do everything (since she had taught me), I NEVER knew where to start. I wasted so much time the first couple years of marriage just standing in the middle of clutter-filled rooms staring blankly around and feeling defeated.

I finally realized that I needed a system – (I think it barely even matters what the system is – just to have one. It is a starting point, a map, and the oil that helps you move faster down the track to your day and sweet productivity.)

Here are our systems. If you ask my 3 or 5 year olds. They will (hopefully) be able to recite it to you.

It is my heartfelt goal that they not get overwhelmed but always know where to start. (On anything – but we’re talking about cleaning today.  

Our system when cleaning is always in this order:

(Left to Right)

(Top to Bottom)

1. Clear Big Items

2. Clear Garbage

3. Put Away In-Room Clutter

4. Put Away Out-of-Room Clutter

Example of Dining Room Table after Breakfast Using This System:

image

I clear the big items (Crockpot or Gallon of Milk)image

Kids clear the garbage (Napkins)

I grab the in-room clutter (My husband’s iPad)

(I wasn’t fast enough – they cleared other stuff too for this pic)

image

Kids Carry out-of-room clutter to the kitchen table to be put away. (Small food items and dirty dishes.)

image

Wipe off High Chair on Left then Table then Bumbo Seat and Tray on Right (Left to Right)

Sweep Floor (Top to Bottom)

imageThis System works really well for us in any room. We use it daily in the living room and their bedroom as well. (So at least three times a day you’ll hear me say “what do we look for first?” and hear my son say “garbage!”)

 2. Having a Cleaning Routine

Again, it doesn’t matter the order, but it helps to do the same tasks in the same order.

Less decisions – more productivity!

As soon as my husband leaves in the morning we clear the table, straighten up the living room, get dressed, straighten the bedroom, clean the bathroom (If we have time), get the laundry and feed the dog.

A routine helps us start each day strong. (Of course things may be messy 10 minutes into the day… but oh well! LOL!

3. Each child has their own chores first thing in the morning – before we start our day.

If we are doing well, we are dressed and have everything cleaned up half an hour after my husband leaves for work. (About 8:30) But that can range. (9:00 is our average.) 9:30 is a bad day. 10:00 is a really bad day. :-/

I wrote about their chores here.

4. Each Child responsible for their own basket of toys

A year ago, I got rid of the big toy box and each child has their own basket of toys to take responsibility for.

(We also have a play room downstairs in the basement that I will eventually write an article about. )

I wrote about their separate upstairs toys here.

5. Children Allowed to Earn Money

imageSince my oldest was 3, I’ve allowed the kids to do extra jobs for money. They each save up for items.

This has helped them understand the value of a dollar, and they know that while I rarely buy them new toys, they always have the option of working for something themselves.

(The pic is ash. It’s messy, but I let him clear it because he LOVES to help clean the fireplace. It’s not smoke.)

Areas I’ve tweaked that last couple weeks:

1. We Clean Each Room TOGETHERimage

As mentioned in my previous chore article, the kids have picture chore lists.  This way they could refer to their lists and complete their chores themselves. Lately we’d had problems with them not staying on task so I’ve we now do our chores together.

- We ALL clear the table

- We ALL clean up the clutter in the living room

- We ALL sweep (they move chairs) and I do most of the sweeping while they help with their little brooms

- They ALL change at the same time. (Jedidiah sometimes takes to the bathroom. He has days when he’s suddenly obsessed with modesty and days when he’s …not.)

-  We ALL wipe down the bathroom,

- Jedidiah usually finishes getting the laundry and feeding the dog while I get school books.

This way I help stay on task

It also became more essential to have their toy baskets stay on their shelves to help them stay on task.

2. Toy Baskets that actually FIT on the Shelves in their room!!!

It also became more essential to have their toy baskets stay on their shelves to help them stay on task.

(Out of mind and out of sight!!)

Before they each had their own baskets, but I let them leave them on the floor or in their beds because they did not fit on the shelves.

Since we are moving the baby, (CHILD NUMBER 4 into their 10X10 room) in a couple weeks, we needed to rethink their closet system.

(I wrote about having the 3 kids in a 10X10 room here.)

(Thank you, sweet husband for the $125 worth of [super-cute, Container Store,  hyacinth, I promise this was an important purchase, complete life-saver] baskets.)

Old baskets were traded in, and now (Exciting music), they each have their own toy basket (and will soon have their own basket to put away their play clothes.)

(Pictures of their new closet system coming soon!)

Areas We Need Work: (Suggestions Welcome!)

1. Breastfeeding Baby

We have a 10 month old, and (though neither Lyd nor I have written about it) breastfeeding is not a 10 minute thing for us. On growth-spurt days, everything else falls apart because Mama is attached to baby.

Such is life. :-I

2. Getting up Before Them

My husband is a night owl, and I choose to stay up with him. I used to rise before the house. Now I grudgingly roll out when I hear the first child’s steps in the hall.

image

I even set my alarm early a few times a week thinking I’ll get things pulled together before the house wakes, but I rarely do. (Except Sundays – no choice)

3. Just Being with Them

Digital friend Jeanne commented last week that “What helped me a lot to enjoy it is when I decided I would just not care about the mess WHILE doing activities together and just deal with it later on. Then, I could relax and enjoy.”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot the last weeks.

This is probably the biggest area that needs work – MY ATTITUDE! I need to enjoy the time with them even when our ‘morning routine’ fell apart or when the clutter takes over. Pray for me here friends!

There is what is working, is a work in progress, and what needs work!

Any thoughts? What works in your routines?

-Verity

Kid’s Sun Craft

At the height of the summer heat, what better craft project than for the kids to make their own

personal sun? My kids loved this—it may have been the fact it was a sun, or the fact they got covered in sticky glue—regardless, I’m excited to share this idea with you today. :-)

image

 

What you need:

 1 paper plate per child

1 bottle of glue per child

A couple sheets of tissue paper in yellow, red, etc.

A couple sheets of construction paper in yellow, red, etc.

A pair of scissors

Tape or 1 glue stick for each child

Cut out the center of each paper plate to make a circle

Cut out the tissue paper in squares

Give each child a paper plate circle and a small stack of tissue paper squares.

Have the kids glue the squares to the plate. I’m big on kids gluing things since they seem to be able to start doing it when they are about a year old and enjoy it through childhood. I love bringing multiple ages together for a project! :-)

Let the gluey tissue papery paper plate circle suns dry for several hours.

Cut the construction paper in strips. You may just want to use one color (like yellow) for this.

Show the kids how to tape or glue (with glue sticks) the strips, folded in loops, to the back of their suns. If the kids are younger, you could just staple it too.

THEN, the kids can hang up their suns using the loops–or wear them as a bracelet as my daughter did–or carry them around on a stick… The loops were a huge hit!! :-)

Happy Summer!!

-Lydia