Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Five Favorites - Organization

Reading Jen's post on organization has inspired me to do a 5 favorites on what I have found that works for our house (read:  I'm not organized enough to do a whole post on it, but I should be able to pick out a few of my favorite tricks).

1.  Sock Basket
Yes, this is an actual picture of ours
We've tried buying socks in different colors for each child, but it just didn't go over well.  This system works well for us simply because we only have two girls in the family (me and Princess).  Almost all of our socks are white, with the exception of Doug's work socks and our soccer socks.  All clean socks get thrown in the sock basket, done.  If I want to wear a pair of mine that are colored they're pretty easy to find because they'll stand out against the white.  Colored socks make me happy, even if I'm the only one who sees them.  Besides, the newest fashion is to wear mixed matched socks anyway...who knew we were ahead of the curve on this one!

2.   My Homeschool Cabinet
Cut me some slack, the school
year hasn't started yet!
This was a gift from my husband's beloved grandmother's estate, and I love, love, love it.  It makes me happy to be using it for all our school books because Grandma Haege was an educator and I think it makes her smile in heaven to know we are putting it to such good use.  Plus, it's big enough to hold pretty much all our stuff.  At least all the homeschool stuff is in one place, when it starts to overflow I know it's time to declutter the artwork and such.

3.  DVD Binder
Why I need one of these...
OK, this one I haven't done yet, but it is a super idea that a friend of mine uses and I think it's genius and I'm planning on implementing it as soon as I have a spare minute (maybe I'll let the older boys work on it instead).  She has a ton of Disney movies and to keep them organized she takes them out of their original cases and sticks them in a binder labeled "Kids Movies" (with the plastic pages that hold multiple CD's per page).  Then she puts the DVD cases in a box in her attic.  Like I said, genius.  The cases stay nice and all of her movies are in one place so when they go on a car trip she just takes the whole binder so the kids aren't fighting over which movie to take.  I would expand on the theme by putting their XBox games in there too.  The only issue I would see with this is making sure you don't leave the binder in a hot car or accidentally leave it in a hotel room on vacation.  It would be tragic to lose your entire movie/game collection at once!

I still think this is a good idea, our DVDs are constantly getting scratched up because the kids are popping them in and out, and then the cases go missing/break/have cover missing from them (you get the picture).  As you can see above, our DVDs are currently stored on a high shelf to keep the little ones from reaching them.  It would be nice to have all of that combined to one or two folders and clean the clutter up.

4.  My Changing Table

We've received this from Doug's folks when Firstborn was born, my MIL said they used it as a changing table when their boys were little, so it's had alot of use.  We've painted it multiple times to match the decor of the nursery.  I keep the diapers and wet wipes in the top drawer, along with Toddler Boy's pajamas.  Then the rest of his clothes go in the bottom two drawers.  We've gathered quite a collection of those thin receiving/swaddling blankets over the years and I use them as the cover to the changing pad on top.  If it gets dirty I just whip it off and throw it in the wash and grab a new one out of the drawers.  It's not in the shot, but I also have a "diaper champ" diaper pail off to the side.  It's wonderful for keeping the smell down in the nursery, I usually only have to empty it on trash day.  We've used cloth diapers on and off over the years, but when we're using disposables this is what works for us.

5.  Shoes in the Van

I'll end with the comment I left over at Jen's organization post and mention the "shoes in the van" trick, which is similar to the "outfit and diapers" in the van trick I used when the kids were really small or working on potty training.  This summer we started leaving Princess' (5) and Toddler Boy's (2) shoes in the van.  It has been a life saver on my sanity and anxiety levels.  Seriously, we would start looking for their shoes 1/2 hour before we were supposed to leave, we'd put them on...only for them to lose them again right before we walked out the door!!  Even if Princess left her shoes by the door, Toddler Boy finds great joy in wearing her shoes around and dropping them wherever so it makes it impossible to find both of them.  It helps to have shoes they can put on and off themselves (or with their brother's help) rather quickly because chances are they will wait until we arrive at our destination before slipping them on.

The down side of this is they are always, always running around barefoot.  Which means I am constantly cleaning their feet off.  It could also entail a trip to the E.R. if they step on something (like, say a large fish hook with a barb that was knocked down by the dog).  The fact is, my two youngest despise shoes and would be running around barefoot whether their shoes were in the car or not.  At least when they're in the car the shoes are not lost.
Stickers from recent E.R. visit
Princess was so, so brave
(Trust me, you absolutely do not want to see a picture of the fish hook embedded in her foot).  It was not pretty, but I sure am proud of how well Princess did in the hospital.  She scored stickers and a McDonald's Happy Meal from the whole ordeal.

Head over to Hallie at Moxie Wife to see more 5 Favorites link ups!!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Park Days

As everyone else in the Midwest United States, we are totally taking advantage of the fall-like temperatures at the end of July and heading to the park...

Loves smiling for the phone/camera!

Hanging out with Jesus

The kids love going to the "Jesus Park" (which is part of a local Catholic Shrine).  They added a water feature a few years back, which is great on hot summer days.  Not so great for today, I spent some of our park visit warning the kids to "stay away from the water"!

"Sliding" photo, static hair and all!
Totally not centered, but not bad considering I took it with my ancient camera phone, which is known for it's blurry action shots.  One of his favorite activities, he probably went up and down it a dozen times.

Fall, 2011

Other favorite activity, the swing.  What a difference two years makes!  The two older boys are at church camp this week, so I just have the "littles" at home (ages 2/5/8).  Doug and I always find the change in the family dynamic fascinating.  Life moves at just a bit slower pace when we only have the younger ones to parent.  I find myself going to the park more often, feeding the ducks, making sure to be home for nap times, etc.  In other words, things I used to do when I just had little ones (3 under 5).  I enjoy the change up, even if it can be a bit more exhausting because I don't have the older ones to help out and entertain the young ones (say, when I'm cooking dinner or taking a shower).  Although, at 8, Game Boy is a help.  He tends to step up to the challenge when his older siblings are gone.  He takes over the helper and protector role and usually becomes more responsible (if only for the week).

Thankful today for the beautiful weather and the time to cherish my three younger children, praying that my older boys are enjoying church camp, and looking forward to seeing extended family this weekend!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

First Five Favorites

This is the first time I'm linking up with Hallie for my Five Favorites this week...

1.  My new swimsuit!  I picked it up at Macy's this week.  I spend alot of time at the pool, we are there pretty much everyday.  I've been wearing my old one but next week we'll be going to a waterpark with our church.  My old suit is fine for swimming or sitting out poolside watching the kids.  However, walking around a waterpark is another matter entirely!

I did some on-line shopping and saw this tankini on their website so I decided to hit the local store and see if I could find it there.  I didn't see any on display but as I was searching the racks I came across a top (which just happened to be in my size).  So I snagged it and as I was browsing another rack I found some bottoms stuck in-between some other stuff (also in my size).  I tried on some other suits just to be sure but this was definitely "the one".  The best part...when I went to check-out the sales clerk mentioned she had never seen this one before in this color.  She said it must have been an internet return.  To top it off, it was on sale and with my 20% off coupon I snagged this $208 swimsuit for $66!  What are the odds?  Jesus had my angels working overtime, I am sure.  I hate swimsuit shopping as much as every other female I know but this trip was the!

"Sinful Colors"
2.  My daugher's nailpolish.  She got them as a birthday gift from her cousin and I've spent lots of time painting her fingers and toes.  Today I took some time to do mine and I love them.  I'm so, so happy God decided to add a girl to our group of boys.  All the testosterone in our home sometimes makes me forget what being a girl is all about.  Princess is more girly than tomboy at this point, and that's good for the whole family.  She generously lets me borrow any color I want except her pink sparkle one (which is fine by me because I don't look all that good in pink anyway).

3.   Reconciliation.  Maybe this one is too serious to be on the list, but right now I'm really thankful for it.  My church's priest is out of town for the next two weeks, I went to confession right before he left but wouldn't you know it...  So Saturday I went hunting for another church for reconciliation.  I went by one who had times listed before their 4:00 Mass but when I got there the place was deserted!  Which was ok, I spent some time praying in the empty church, but I still needed reconciliation.  Lucky for me I live near a shrine that offers it twice daily.  I just didn't appreciate the power and graces behind that sacrament until I became Catholic!  It makes me sad that so few people take advantage of it that the area churches don't have regular set times, usually you have to make an appointment.

4.  My kindle fire.  I love old fashioned books too, but the convenience of an e-reader just can't be beat.  I use mine for reading 99% of the time.  I especially like downloading the daily readings from Mobile Gabriel for my morning devotion time.  I just download it at the beginning of the month and I have all of the readings for that month with a little devotional write up at the end of each one.  Anything to make my frazzled brain a bit more focused and organized, I love starting my day with prayers while the house is still quite in the early morning (why, yes, I am a morning person...why do you ask)?  As an aside, the mornings are pretty much the only time the house is "quiet", even the dogs like sleeping in.

Hanging with my honey in our tent
5.  Last but not least on my list...long weekends with my sweetheart!  Doug was off work July 4th and he took off Friday too, making it a four day weekend.  He works alot of hours so it's nice to have him around for long stretches of time.  We didn't work on any major projects this weekend, just relaxing, hanging out at the pool and playing with the kids.  I've just been on "maintenance mode" with the house over the extended weekend and it's starting to show the strain.  Maybe I'll try to put in an hour Sunday evening so I don't wake up to a disaster Monday morning.

That's my 5...go check out more with Hallie at Moxie Wife.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

7 QT - July 4th Style

We headed  out to the country for a little farm fun to celebrate Independence Day...

1.  Toddler Boy rockin his flag shirt (which already has a hole in it)!  It didn't have that when I put it on him this morning, I swear.  No matter how many times I put them up he always manages to find the kid scissors that his sister uses for her art projects.  (Or, more likely, she gets them down for a project and then doesn't put them back up).  Then he turns them around and snips little holes in his t-shirts.  He is really going thru his older brother's hand me downs, considering he's our fourth boy, that's saying something.  If he's not careful I'm going to start putting him in his sister's hand me downs!  It would be an impressive punishment if he was a bit older but at this age he actually likes putting on Princess' stuff just to annoy her.

 2.  No trip to the farm is complete without a horse ride.  I think Toddler Boy enjoyed this one as much as this one...

Toddler Boy riding Murphy

3.  I'm a terrible horse picture taker.  Murphy walked right up to us and Princess and Toddler Boy were in heaven.  I was just busy freaking out and making sure they didn't get stepped on.  Horses are ALOT bigger when you're standing next to one in a field with three kids and no fences separating you and them.  At one point in the day the older boys left the gate unlatched and Mr. Murphy came walking up the path to the house.  Luckily he was pretty easy going and Doug's mom got him back in the fence.

4.  Here's a better horse picture of Princess riding Joey (at least his head is in the shot).  In my defense, I am taking the picture while holding a squirming Toddler Boy and dodging Murphy, who was trying to eat the grass at my feet.

5.  Doug's parents' farm doesn't just have horses, there are cats and dogs aplenty too!  The younger kids kept the cats busy.

Of course there was fishing!!

Enjoying strawberry shortcake

6.  Then we returned home for the fireworks show in our front yard, thanks to the boys...

Fun with sparklers
Nice lightshow!

7.  Happy to announce that no one was harmed lighting any of the fireworks.  I and the littles had our seats on the porch and watched them do all the fireworks in the street.  Toddler Boy was a bit freaked out by the loud noises and kept ducking for cover behind my lawn chair but by the end he was a bit less jumpy.  Hope everyone had a fun filled Independence Day!!

Go check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary...