Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Visual DNA profile

WFMW - Toy Storage

With three girls in our house and many generous grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc, you can imagine the thrilling (read: obscene) amount of toys in our humble abode.

Other than the usual clearing out of toys they no longer play with, or things that are broken I use several strategies for keeping the toy land in order.

Like things are stored together. Polly Pockets in a labeled clear Rubbermaid container, Fisher Price Dollhouse in another clear Rubbermaid container, Play food in another clear Rubbermaid container... (see a pattern?) This is important because the containers just become glorified junk drawers if the kids are allowed to put anything anywhere.

Seriously, I think clear Rubbermaids or Sterilite boxes are one of the greatest things ever invented. They're lightweight, easy to label (or to change the label when needed) and easy for the kids to see inside if they can't read the label.

I have several other strategies for toy related issues but clear boxes are definitely tops in my book. (I can't give all my strategies in one post lest I run out of things to blog about!) 

Check out other great Works for Me tips at Shannon's place: Rocks in my Dryer.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How Come?

Well, it finally happened. I actually told Polly she had met her "How Come?" limit today. Yes, I know: we're homeschoolers. We prize curiosity, truth-seeking and inquisitiveness. Right.

Goodness knows I don't like to exaggerate, okay, I occasionally remind myself to try not to exaggerate, but I must have heard the dreaded "How come?" 52,000 times today.

She's five so we've progressed from the equally dreaded, "Why?" phase but this "How Come?" phase is jumping on my answering-childish-questions-last-nerve.

Today, as my grandpa stood on my roof (a long story...) and my visiting from out of town sister played with the girls, I told Polly she had reached her "How Come?" limit. She had stepped over the "How Come?" line. She had maxed out her "How Come?" line of get the idea.

Maybe tomorrow will be better. Maybe she'll grow up to be a hard hitting, truth seeking journalist (do those exist any more?) and I'll be proud of the question asking skills she worked so hard to develop.

For now though, I've heard enough of "How Come?" Unless it's to ask: "How come she asks all these questions to me and not her daddy?!"

Friday, May 25, 2007

Frugal Fridays - The Bed

Here's the bed built by my husband for our daughters. The drawers aren't in this picture but they fit perfectly in the space under the lower bed. The other storage units (under the bed and at the end) were purchased on sale from Target.

Frugal Fridays - Kids' Storage Idea

With the addition of our third daughter our little two bedroom home felt quite a bit smaller. The girls' room is very narrow and we formerly had a twin bed and a crib end-to-end on the far wall. Well, the wonderfully talented Prince Charming, along with a friend from our church, built the girls a new loft/captain's bed. The picture is posted here. It solved a lot of our space problem but we still had a storage problem. There just wasn't enough room for a dresser in there.

Solution? Re-purposed dresser drawers! We had an old chest of drawers (4) that didn't fit anywhere. We were considering just throwing it out but instead we decided to use 2 of the drawers under the girls' bed.

Prince Charming fitted each drawer with four wheels (casters). Now the girls keep their play clothes in these drawers which they can easily pull out from under the bed, even Tigger. The best part is they can easily push them back as well, which means that the only person in the house that can't put her own laundry away is Sweet Pea, and since she's only 3 months, we'll cut her some slack in that area!

As for the chest of drawers, Prince Charming turned that into a bookshelf, which is something else we always need! The other two drawers are in the basement, waiting their chance to be transformed into something useful. So something we had considered throwing out or giving away, has solved several problems for us. That's frugal to me!
Find more great tips over at Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

WFMW - Reading Routine

I love to read. I mean I really love to read. I just finished my 65th book for the year. Sharing my love of reading and words with my children is important to me. So in addition to whatever little books I get talked into sharing, we have a reading routine, to be sure we get a variety of literature.

At nap time we read poems. We've read several different versions of Mother GoosesBeatrix Potter Nursery Rhymes, and Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses (our favorite) among others.

At supper Prince Charming reads a Bible story to all of us.

At bedtime we read a picture book or a short picture book and part of a chapter book. We've been through Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, and 4 Little House books.

During the day we occasionally read something else. We've been reading board books to Sweet Pea. The girls like to "pretend read" their favorite stories to their baby sister. Pretty soon Polly will be reading for real and the main reason she's working hard to learn how is so she can read to her sisters. I like to read age appropriate non-fiction to them, too, but not as bedtime stories.

So there you have it: a reading routine works for us! Find more great Works for me Wednesday tips at Rocks in my Dryer, hosted by Shannon!
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Osh-Kosh Girls

One of the joys of parenting 3 girls: dressing them alike. The girls are wearing their new Osh-Kosh jumpers. How long do you think I'll get away with dressing them like this? Still, it's cute while it lasts. And yes, they make silly faces as soon as they see the camera in their dad's hand. ~Sigh~

Did anyone tell me this?

O.k, I've been a mother for awhile now (Polly is 5 1/2) but there is one area of parenting I'm feeling like someone neglected to mention. Why is so much of my life right now focused on the...ahem...nether regions of my children?! Seriously, all of my children seem to be high maintenance in regards to "potty" issues.

Polly is, thankfully, completely trained, day & night. There wouldn't be any reason to worry about her in this area except for the fact that she's really susceptible to infections. We've just learned this in the past year. Our pediatrician finally sent Polly to get an ultrasound (my, that was fun...) but she has no internal physical problems. She's just sensitive, I guess.

Now, Tigger. Oh my word, this child does not want to be potty trained. I guess I'm feeling discouraged because it felt like I was doing nothing but washing small pairs of underwear last week. Which isn't strictly true, but it felt like it. Pull-ups, going free range, wearing "big girl" under-roos, we've tried it all - to little avail. She'll go and she's definitely proud of herself, she'll tell you - sometimes, but next thing you know it's back to washing everything in sight.

And Sweet Pea, darling Sweet Pea. This baby is the sweetest, happiest baby I've ever seen (o.k, since Tigger...). She is the light of our entire family's life right now, I'm not saying she isn't, but you would not believe the diaper I changed yesterday. She had the usual lovely orange mess (she's breastfed) but this time it was up to her arm-pits. I am not kidding. It was the blow out of the century. (I hope - because I sure don't want anything worse!) We actually had to carry her to the kitchen sink to hose her down as there was no way those cute little diaper wipes were going to cut it.

I guess I'm just venting a bit because of the past few days. I'm just wondering why no one told me 82% of my life as a mother would be dealing with bottom issues. So forgive this little whine and please excuse me, Tigger is calling from the bathroom and that is a call that cannot be ignored.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Frugal Fridays - Grocery Budget

I believe the foundation of any frugal life is the family budget. Prince Charming and I do our monthly budget on the first day of the month, together. We've done this since the first month of our marriage and it's great to be on the same page financially.

Groceries are one big area that you can focus on if your finances are limited, like us. We budget a strict amount of money for each week's groceries (I shop once a week). But to be able to buy a bit extra if I see a great deal I also set aside "Stock-up" money. We use the envelope system so regular grocery money has an envelope and stocking up money has its own envelope. That way I know when I'm done stocking up for the month.

My goal is not to have an enormous stockpile, but to have groceries to eat at the best price. So you won't find 15 tubes of toothpaste in my pantry (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) but you will find my freezer full of bargain priced pork loin, cut up and prepared at home.

You can find more frugal living tips at Biblical Womanhood.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

WFMW - A New Attitude

I admit that I am guilty of procrastination. I admit that I sometimes ignore some household chores in the hope that someone else will do them. (Who am I thinking is going to show up - the cleaning fairy?!) The clutter and mess created by 2 adults and 3 children, one who cannot even crawl yet, boggles my mind. But I have a new way of looking at this.

My new attitude is this (thank you Boy Scouts or whoever first said this): "Leave it better than you found it." Yes, that's my breakthrough.

Leave the kitchen better than you found it: put the dishes in the dishwasher.

Leave the bathroom better than you found it: wipe the counter.

Leave the bedroom better than you found it: make the bed.

That's it but it has really made a difference for me. Instead of being overwhelmed by all I have to do, I just try to leave everything better than I found it. So everything doesn't always get cleaned/put away, a lot of things do and it makes me less crazy. Anything that makes my life less crazy, works for me! You can find more great tips at Rocks in my Dryer

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tigger and the "Black Man"

If you know our family you know that we all love our library. Seriously, our library is the best one I've ever seen. There are many branches with a wonderful downtown main branch. And this library is always putting on interesting programs. So at the beginning of May the main branch had a big Star Wars program.

Another thing you should know (and this is painful to admit): Prince Charming is a very, very enthusiastic Star Wars fan. Oh, all right, I admit it: I am too. No we don't make elaborate costumes and go to conventions...yet. So, anyhow, we went to this thing at our library. It combined three of our favorite things: the library, Star Wars, and free. We took the girls and also my younger brother, aka "The Bear".

So after some fun for the girls coloring papers, making masks, etc (oh how we also love crafts!) it was time to head upstairs to the...ahem...costuming forum. (Remember I said we don't make costumes yet) Somehow Prince Charming and The Bear were not with me and the girls at that time. So I'm carrying Sweet Pea in the baby carrier and holding Polly and Tigger by either hand. We walk off the elevator and - this is not exaggeration - right into Darth Vader. A very realistic Darth Vader. A tall Darth Vader. A Darth Vader with realistic voice.

Tigger flipped out right there. Someday she'll go to therapy and I can hear it now, "It all started when my parents took me to Star Wars day at the library..." This was a meltdown of epic proportions. So for the rest of the next two hours she did not let go of me or her daddy. And she kept murmuring, "Don't like that black man". If you'd like photographic proof that we were there, that's Prince Charming and The Bear in the picture at the top. (Note that Tigger is not in the picture!)

So fast forward a week or two. Prince Charming and I are talking about going to the library, our regular branch, just to do our weekly book/music/movie pick up. And Tigger immediately starts yelling about "The black man".

So if you ever run into a short, two year old, bouncy red head screaming about "the black man", I assure you, it is not about race. It's about the danger of being born to geeky parents.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Bird Blues

Well, it's the day after Mother's Day which means... lots of chores to do! Yes, in the celebrating, adoration, and just plain chaos, I mean fun, of yesterday the chores have piled up to my eyebrows.

I actually mean that literally. Yes, we took a very quick trip to visit the in-laws this past week. We hurried to be home in time for bedtime Saturday night (Kingdoms may rise and fall but bedtime must be observed!). We did get the kiddos to bed but there wasn't time for much else. Read: we watched a taped TV program and then fell into bed.

So, thanks to the weekend away and the festivities of yesterday, the laundry is now, quite literally, up to my eyes. And I'm ready to tackle it but for one thing - every time I open the door to our basement (the wonderfully exciting place that our laundry equipment is located) I hear a frantic, persistent chirping. There is a bird in our basement (this is not the same thing as bats in your belfry).

Now I'm no bird hater. They're free to live in my trees, eat the worms in our ground, etc. We even put up a bird house for them to live in on purpose. So I think you'll agree that I'm not just a hater. But I cannot and will not share my laundry space with a bird. It's not happening. And as long as that thing is there we will not have clean clothes.

Of course Prince Charming is being very nonchalant about the whole thing. But laundry is not his chore - it's mine. And I'll be happy to get to that - just as soon as my basement is bird free.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Works for me Wednesday - Bath storage

We have a clawfoot tub in the only bathroom in our house. This has one of those old shower surrounds, that is suspended from the ceiling. In order to reach our necessary soaps, shampoos, water guns, etc. I suspended one of those hanging wirebaskets from a hook in the ceiling.
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It has 3 baskets. The top holds my razors, my husband's soap, and my pumice stone. The bottom (largest basket) holds our shampoos and shower gels. The middle basket holds bath toys. When there are too many bath toys to fit in the basket - something has to go. It's simple but it works for me!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday - Easy Birthday Decorating

My first Works for me Wednesday: easy decorating.

I keep all the streamers, candles, baloons, party hats, napkins, etc. in a clear rubbermaid or sterilite container. This box is easy to access when it's time to decorate for one of my children's birthdays. We generally use pastel colors or brights - after all I have three girls, so birthdays tend to be very princess-y.

Works for me!
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