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Five Websites That Keep Me Organized

New year, new goals, new attempts at becoming the uber organized person that is trapped inside me. I have highlighted a few of these websites and apps before and sadly they don’t actually send organizing and cleaning fairies to my house to do the work. They have the audacity to assume I will actually do what they tell me to do. I’m working on it. 2014 is my year. Or not.

Organized

1. Spring Cleaning 365: I’m adequate at keeping up with daily chores around the house, but I get really overwhelmed with clutter. Things pile up and rooms get out of control and I just kind of throw up my hands and assume the fetal position. My friend Christine has come to my rescue. Rather than making spring the time to go crazy cleaning and purging, she takes you through small, very doable tasks every day. And if you get behind during the week, Saturday is a weekly catch up day. Last week we tackled the bedroom and I can not believe how happy it makes me too see some nagging piles tended to.

2. Motivated Moms: I have used this first as eBook and then as an app. It is the only way I can keep the house even close to clean. Every day there are a handful of small tasks to accomplish. While Spring Cleaning 365 tackles one room at a time, Motivated Moms is what keeps me on track with cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming, and dusting. I seriously don’t know where to start without it. Apparently I am cleaning challenged.

3. Cozi: I gave up the paper calendar last year after swearing I would never do so. Cozi is now our family calendar and so much more. I love it because both and Ryan and I can access and amend it from our apps (iOS, Android). But I also use it to menu plan, make shopping lists, and to do lists for the week. I have never been much a to do list kind of person, but since it is part of Spring Cleaning 365, I have enjoyed crossing things off as the week goes on.

4. Pinterest: I am always finding little tricks and tips over on Pinterest for cleaning. I pin them all to my Cleaning and Organizing board. 

5. Blogs: I read a few organizing blogs that inspire me (and sometimes overwhelm and depress me- keeping it real). My faves are: A Slob Comes Clean, I Dream of Clean, and Andrea Dekker.

What resources do you use to keep organized?

 

 

Ten Ways to Stay Sane During a Snow Day

snowday

Are you one of the millions of moms being driven insane by the Christmas break that never ends. I’ll admit that today I was okay with a snow day. We were under the delusion that more family time in pajamas trapped in our house was a good thing. But today the rose colored glasses have officially COME OFF. Now even the kids are begging for the snow days to end. And I think we have all reached total clarity on the fact that people who homeschool are insane (just kidding if you homeschool…… a little……….).

If you like me have completely run out of ideas to keep your kids entertained and yourself sane I have rounded up a few snow day ideas for you. Mostly indoor since it is so cold your face might freeze off if you even go out to get the mail. #polarvortex But I will throw in a few outdoor ones for those of you that are hardcore.

Here are 10 + great ideas for any snow day:

  

1. I have lived in the midwest my whole life and have never made Snow Ice Cream. Rectifying that tomorrow. (recipe and photo courtesy of 4Tunate)

 

2. Make these colored “glass” balloons (photo and tutorial courtesy of hurrayic)

  

3. Make frozen snow bubbles (photo and idea courtesy of 101 Picture Books)

4. Have an indoor snowball fight (love this idea from All For The Boys)

5. Keep this adorable snowman kit handy and build an epic snowman (find a HUGE list of snow day activities in addition to this one over at GR Kids)

6. The SITS girls show you how to easily make Snow Paint. The applications are ENDLESS!

 

7. Make this adorable marshmallow snowman craft (picture and tutorial via No Time For Flash Cards)

8. Water gun + Boiling Water = Awesome (if you don’t have a gun just throw a cup of boiling water and you get a less cool effect)

9. Make up some easy hot chocolate mix (photo and recipe courtesy of I Heart Eating)

10. Here are a bunch more ideas from House of Hills and Deals in the Mitten and GR Kids in case it is noon and you have tried all these already.

 

Or cut yourself some slack, pop in a movie or video game and rest with a magazine while your kid’s brains turn to mush. Fingers crossed tomorrow they’ll be back at school soaking up all sorts of good stuff to make up for it.

 

How do you survive a snow day?

 

 

Keeping Christmas Gifts Simple #FourGifts

Four Gifts

I have been struggling to find my joy the last few Christmases. Everywhere I turn I am just surrounded by stuff and all I see in our future is more stuff piling into our house. My kids get so many presents between all the holiday gatherings and honestly maybe 20% of them get played with. It gives me anxiety. And the last thing the holidays need is more anxiety. AmIRight??

This year when I asked my kids what they wanted for Christmas Silas couldn’t even come up with anything. Hannah listed off a few random things and Lily said she just wanted two things. I would like to think that is a result of our efforts to try and get our kids to be less consumed with things, but I think it is also because they just have too much. This just makes me sad.

Last year, we really changed the way we approached Christmas and it truly made a difference in my attitude, in my kid’s gratitude and in the general enjoyment of Christmas in our house. We limited our presents and made each gift very intentional. I know this idea isn’t revolutionary or invented by me, but I hadn’t heard of it before last year and it was a total game changer.

At Christmas each of our children gets four gifts under the tree. Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

Four presents for each kid might still seem like a lot to some, but really the “want” gift is the main one and the others are much smaller. (Although as Lily nears the teen years, her wants and clothing gifts seem to be overlapping. I could not have been prouder that one of the two things she wanted for Christmas was a leather moto jacket #proudtears).

Santa brings stockings. We have asked the grandparents to all significantly cut back and/ or get “experience gifts” rather than presents. And we are doing several things to make sure we focus on others throughout the holiday season. Suddenly I can breathe again.

How does your family simplify gift giving?

World Sight Day

child glasses

A few years ago Lily began complaining to us that she was struggling to see the board at school. Because one of her friends had recently gotten glasses and I knew Lily thought they were cool, I promptly ignored her. Until she started complaining of headaches as well and then I made her first eye appointment.

Low and behold her vision was quite awful. Mom fail! She had oh so many opinions when it came to her glasses and rocks these super stylish hipster frames like nobody’s business. In fact, glasses are so cool right now that many companies sell them with fake lenses just so the sighted can get in on the trend. Oh how times have changed since the days when I was teased for being “four eyed.”

Thursday, October 10th is World Sight Day and in preparation, I was able to sit in on a very informative conference call with the Vision Council to learn all about vision related issues. Some of the things I learned were quite surprising and I have a feeling we all could do a little bit better job of taking care of this important window to the world (the eyes process 36,000 bits of information every hour!!!!).

eye doctor

Did you know that The American Optometric Association recommends infants receive their first eye exam at 6 months and again at 3 and 5-6 years old. Your school age children should be seen every 2 years. And for children with eyeglasses, it is recommended to be examined annually. For adults, two years is a good rule of thumb. Of course if you notice any issues (like your child complaining daily that they can’t see the board……), you should consult and eye doctor right away.

Did you know that your eyes can get sunburned? And not just in the summer either. Actually snow is incredibly reflective so your whole family should really be wearing sunglasses year round. UV damage is cumulative and can cause permanent vision problems. The big relief is that when it comes to UV protection for our eyes it isn’t about price. It is about glasses that offer UVA/UVB protection. Plus, what is cuter than kids in sunglasses?

baby sunglasses

Did you know that 70% of adults experience eye strain when they are using their digital devices. I can pretend that I don’t let my kids play excessively on digital devices, today would prove otherwise. So outside of limiting time on our devices, we should help our children with the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

I know there are a whole lot of things to worry about and stay on top of as parents. I will admit I have not always stayed on top of eye health. Learning about vision health has reminded me just how important it is. Check out The Vision Council and Think About Your Eyes for more information.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by The Motherhood and The Vision Council. As usual all opinions are mine.

How To Survive a Long Road Trip with Kids

road trip

I am still recovering from an epic road trip to Universal Studios with the family. I cannot wait to share everything with you but it was so full of awesome it might take a week of posts. And considering that the first day of school is tomorrow (yikes!) it ain’t going to happen tonight.

So instead I thought I would share some wisdom I gleamed from our many MANY hours in the minivan.

1. License Plate Game : I am not lying when I say this was probably the most popular thing that we had in the car. And we have had it forever! I bought all these awesome things at the dollar store to wow and surprise the kids. But they loved looking at license plates and bonus of all bonuses, we found Hawaii!!! How does that happen?

2. Quarters: This was a suggestion off Facebook, but it worked brilliantly. I got each child a roll of quarters for the ride. If they whined, complained or beat on a sibling they lost a quarter. They also weren’t allowed to beg for snacks at gas station stops, but could spend their quarters if they wanted something. Whatever quarters they had at the end of the trip they got to spend at the amusement park. The most a kid lost was 3 quarters. They were super motivated to keep their money!

3. Snacks, Snacks and More Snacks: I cannot tell you how much money we saved by packing our own snacks. Usually we fall prey to picking up snacks at every stop and not only are they ridiculously unhealthy, they are pricey. I hit Costco before we left and we loaded up. We also had a few picnic lunches to save money on lunch. It was super fun and the kids got to run around a bit as a bonus.

4. Make It Your Own: When I was growing up we did a lot of road trips in a giant black Oldsmobile. Of course in those days we took naps across the back window and listened to Fleetwood Mac tapes. But one of the things I remember best is that every time we crossed a state line we all lifted our bottoms off our seat to “get over the state line”. I never really passed that tradition on, but this trip we fully embraced it and the kids loved it.

5. Limit Technology: I know the current mentality is that kids can’t road trip without lots of technological entertainment. I am not going to pretend we didn’t have any. But although we borrowed some DVD players for the ride, we found that we could only use one at a time so the kids really couldn’t be constantly plugged in. The surprising part is that they didn’t care one bit. They made their own entertainment which was often the best entertainment their parents could ask for.

Ryan and I both agreed that even if we could have found uber cheap flights we wouldn’t have traded our drive. Our family had so much fun “stuck” in the car. And although I would really like to stay in my current zip code for awhile, I think we have mastered the road trip quite nicely.

What are your tips for a successful road trip?