November 29, 2011

Top 5 Things for Easy (Easier) Mornings

As a stay at home mother, most days seem to start out the same.
However, some are hectic, some have appointments, and some are easier than others. 

Here are my top 5 ways to make your mornings a little easier.

1.  Say a small prayer before you even get out of bed.  Mine usually goes a little something like this "Dear Lord, help me to have patients, understanding, and endurance to make it gracefully through this day.  Amen."

2.  Get up 10 minutes earlier than usual.  I know, I know!  Sounds insane to rob yourself of 10 more minutes of extra beauty sleep. will be so worth it.
Some moms get up with their kids and somehow take showers while their munchkins are watching morning TV.  I like to get up before my kids so that I can be showered, fueled with coffee, and ready to go before my kids even wake up. 
Setting my alarm 10 minutes earlier than what I really need helps me to not feel rushed, let me do my hair if I feel like not being a ponytail queen for the day (like usual), have an uninterrupted cup of coffee, check my email/facebook, and or do my devotions.  Aaahhhh, love those 10 extra minutes just for myself.

The following are to be done the night before so that you can have an easier morning...

3.  Set your coffee pot on to automatically start right when you are getting up.  I personally love smelling my priceless coffee wafting upstairs while I am getting out of the shower.  Yeah!

4.  Even though you are super tired, put a load of laundry on.  This way it washes while you sleep and all you have to do is put it in the dryer after your morning coffee and you are already one step ahead of the game.

5.  This one goes hand in hand with number 4.  Because you will feel too tired at night.  However, before you go to bed load the dishwasher and turn it on.  This way you wake up to a clean (or semi clean) kitchen without a huge sink full of dirty dishes.  How many times have we come into the kitchen on a busy morning and think "shucks!" because just the dirty sink dishes alone can make a clean kitchen feel cluttered and filthy.

These are my saving graces on some mornings.  I will admit, I do not always do them all myself.  But, when I do, I feel like I can conquer the day.
Happy Brewing!

Encouraging Reading

I am not one of those individuals that makes and keeps New Year's Resolutions. But, if you are, encouraging reading with your kids is a great one!:)


This picture is a little old, but it speaks a timeless truth.  As a parent we are great instruments in opening the world of books to our children.
My son is a true lover of books.  Knowing this, I set him up in his room and created a sheet tent by his bookcase.  I also gave him a little monkey lantern from the dollar store for extra ambiance.  He loved his little reading nook.  It was a great way for me to keep him safe and close by while I was in the other room putting his little sister down for her morning nap.
Once again, tents make everything better...and a love of books was continued.

November 26, 2011

Kids and Hand Washing

Have you ever seen kids more excited about washing their hands?

Well, thanks to the Lysol No-Touch Hand Soap System, my kids fight over washing their hands first.  It's great.  My only problem was they love using it so much, that I have to closely monitor them or I'll hear the soap 'rrrrrr' of dispensing 3 or 4 times before I can stop them.  But hey, whose to complain when the kids are gleefully washing their hands clean of dirt and germs.

However, it is super expensive to purchase the soap refills for the dispensers.  When I made a comment to my hubby about the cost of the refill on this wonderful soap system we LOVE, he simply said..."why don't you just pop the top off and refill it on your own?".  WHAT?!  I knew I married him for a reason...
So, here is how my wonderful husband taught me to refill this soaps for this system.

First, you slide a spoon under the cap and just elevate the spoon by the handle to pop off the top.

Refill with your soap of choice that you have previously purchased.  Pop the top back on and you are good to go.  Just insert it back into the dispenser. 

November 21, 2011

Home Made Calendar

I got tired of looking at my calendar that seemed to take up a ton of room on our wall beside the computer.  The calendar's corners were starting to curve and it wasn't laying flat against the wall anymore. 
So, I went looking online for inspiration.  I found quite a few DIY dry erase calendars that were super cute. 

Here are two of my favorite:

DIY dry erase calendar   &   personalized erasable calendar

Inspired, I went to my local 'Dollar General' store in town and bought myself a $3 black picture frame and some $1 dry erase markers.  I went on Microsoft Word and made a month template and printed it up on light blue card stock (to match my kitchen decor where the calendar is going to hang). 
I started to print up and design monthly headers but then decided to cut some corners to complete the project before the kids woke up from nap time. (Patience is not my virtue).  Instead, I chose some coordinating card stock for a header and left it blank.  I can then write the month in dry erase marker on the header without having to change it out every month.   I may, in the future, make some cute headers for each month.
I love it and it works out great for what I need.  A few years ago my mother gave me a flat backed bucket that I hung beside my new DIY dry erase calendar to hold an appointment book and some pens.  It only cost me $4!

Love my new calendar station and it looks much more nice and neat than my regular hanging paper calendar that started to look cluttered.

November 15, 2011

The outrageous step I took for my sanity

So, today was windy and chilly outside.  Too cold to play outside with a sick little girl.  But, with an energetic 4 year old son, what is a stay at home mom to do to ensure a good nap.  (Frankly, I needed a good nap too from being up the past few nights with my sick little one).

I had previously searched for months for a good sale on small bouncy houses for kids.  I've been looking for a while. Our last winter was so harsh, that I have started to prepare a way to get energy out of my kids with a bit of (not so typical) exercise for this coming up winter.  Some friends gave us this idea when they put up a bouncy house in their garage and surrounded it by those great foam puzzle piece mats. 

November 07, 2011

Pirate Play Date

So, how do you make a playdate on a cold rainy night fun?


O.k., so this took a few minutes of prep before hand but was well worth it.  I had been saving baby wipe containers for a future kids craft...I knew they would come in handy at some point.  They worked out perfectly to transform into pirate treasure chests. 

Here is what you'll need:
Plastic baby wipes containers (one per child)
Black construction paper (you can use any color you want)
Pirate stickers for decorating
Sharpie for writing childrens names on treasure chests
Treasures to put inside the chests
Black cardstock to cut out in the shape of a pirate's eye patch
Black yarn for securing the eye patches on each child
Hole punch for the yarn and cardstock assembly of the eye patch

I cut to size and taped the black construction paper onto the wipes containers to start the treasure chest transformation.  I also wrote each child's name on the chests to complete the prep work before the playdate.  Our treasures consisted of purple feathers, Backyardigans scratch craft, and mini glow sticks (one treasure for each child.)

Each child got a treasure box that already had an eye patch inside it. (I had cut eye patch shapes out of black cardstock, punched holes on either side, and strung through black yarn). They put their eye patches on and went to town decorating their treasure chests with the pirate stickers we had on hand.

After the decorating was over, it was on to the treasure hunt. 

Before the playdate began I had put each treasure in its own plastic baggie.  I  hid them around the kitchen and dining room.  Since the boys are 4 and my daughter is 2, I didn't make it that hard.  I hid the baggies of treasure on the inside of the cubbard and under the counter and dining room chair.  I gave them simple hints to look for the treasure baggies and they found them with no problem. 
It was alot of fun to see them looking and giggeling during their hunt.  Each child got one treasure from each baggie and then the pirate play date was complete. 

We had a ton of fun and I think the pirate treasure chests turned out super cute and it passed the time since we couldn't go outside. 

AARGH Matey!

November 04, 2011

Fall Front Door Decor

(ignore that my front mat is not centered:)

Happy Fall Everyone! 
I absolutely love the crispness in the air and the undeniable urge to light my apple cinnamon candles in the house.

I recently browsed around Pinterest and found alot of inspiration for fall decorating ideas.  Last year I couldn't find my fall wreath and then we had our pumpkins stolen off our front porch for Halloween, so I lacked inspiration last year for decorating for Thanksgiving and such. 

But, ta-da!  This year I was inspired by many of my other blogger friends and pinterest. 

Wanting to save on money while decorating I visited our local 'dollar general' and 'dollar store' in town (yes, I said town...we live in the country and it takes me about 30 minutes to get to town where the main attraction is the super Walmart).  I hit up the after summer decor sale at 'dollar general' and scored on some urns.  Got them for $3 each.  Then I hit up the 'dollar store', which usually has lots more arts and craft items than 'dollar general'.  I purchased some moss (sheets and then bushels) and some super cute green wired ribbon.  All in all, I spent about $10 at both stores. I had just gotten some gourds for $5 a piece at the local grocery store that matched our house perfectly.   I filled the urns with paper grocery bags for filler and then topped with the moss. I made sure that the moss layer was a little below the top edge of the urn so that the wind would not carry away my dollar store moss.  I then placed my gorgeous gourds in the middle.  I found my fall decor box in the garage filled with my fall wreath and some scarecrows from another fall decoration a couple of years ago and vuala!
I loved how it turned out and feel super festive!
Total Cost=$20.

November 02, 2011

Activities for a scrapbooker at heart who has no time

Some weekends, before having children, would be used to document my husband and I's travels and experiences of our life.  Mostly I would scrapbook what we did while we were stationed in Japan.  We were in Northern Japan...Misawa Japan.  Misawa was about 8 hours north of Tokyo.  I loved having vibrant pages to tell our story of visiting surrounding cities for lantern parades, salmon festivals, visits to the open fish market, temples and shrines, etc.  But, as one may find when children come along...there is not too much time for scrapbooking.  And once your little one is at the age where there is a regular nap time scheduled where you may find some quiet time, then who has the space to have all your scrapbooking supplies and materials set out?  In a 1 1/2 hour nap time I would spend 20 minutes getting my supplies out, 20 minutes trying to get the page idea and layout configured and then had to make sure that I left myself enough time to put up the supplies before my little monkey would awake and get into my swiggly scissors.  With baby scrapping paper I bought still not touched from 4 years ago when I dreamed of scrapbooking all of my sons accomplishments and milestones, I have succomed to the realization that I most likely will never get those pages done. 
But, surprise!  my womens bible study at church needed a volunteer to do the small group table labels and name tags for all 60 women.  volunteer?????  hello!  I was all over that!  I went a little overboard but had so much fun breaking out my dusty old tools and paper.  There really was no theme...just for them to look cute.  It felt good to do something with all those supplies that were just sitting there and make them into something useful for these women.  I loved it!

(Sorry it's a little blurry, but I wanted to make it so that the womens names were not totally legible to the public.)

I have also enjoyed making my own cards and gift tags for presents and every day occasions.  I even made my mother a scrapbook cookbook for Christmas last year.  I filled it with favorite recipes along with pictures, old and new, of her 3 grandkids.  Lets just say, she loved it enough to make it a piece of decor on her coffee table.
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