Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Chore Chart Revision

We have used the Work Pay system for over 2 months now, and have seen ups and downs. Some weeks the kids are excited to do work pay, and other weeks they do nothing. The wonderful thing has been that the must do portion has helped them learn to flush the toilet, make their bed, and keep their room clean, as well as put their school bags in the right place. It was a great non-nagging way for me to teach them to do these things.

Our seven year old spoke to me this week, and said he had a better it is:
"Mom, we should each have just one chore for the whole week..and no one else gets to do our chore"
Here is our five year old son's response: " I don't like that idea".
So, we are in the middle of change once again.

Here was a chart one of our followers sent shows the task, how much it is worth, and each week one member of the family checks off which one they are going to do for the whole week. Each day, they get a star (same colour as their name) for that day, and at the end of the week, they add up the stars.

Talking to my moms group today, someone also mentioned, giving them the $5.00 (or whatever amount) at the beginning of the week. All this money is theirs if they do their specific chores. They have certain chores to do each day, and if they do not do them, one of the parents takes the money directly from the jar. For ex. Kid A is supposed to empty garbage. Moms says, " The garbage needs to go out." One warning...Kid A does not take out garbage...Mom does it...Mom takes money from the jar.

There are lots of different tactics for chore charts...I will do more research and blog what I come up with. Wow..I am starting to sound like Scott.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tickler File System - Tickle your memory

Scott read about the tickler file system, in Getting Things Done (by David Allen), and has been using it ever since.
It is a simple and effective, and will cost you the price of 43 file folders.
We use this system for anything we need to remember during the month.

tickler file box

Here is a short explanation taken from back to basics:

A long-time standby in the productivity realm, a tickler file is a reminder system intended to act as an adjunct to your regular calendaring and scheduling system. Although there are several different kinds of tickler file, the most well-known (thanks largely to David Allen’s Getting Things Done and Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders) is the 43-folders system, with 31 numbered “day” folders and 12 labeled with the months of the year.
The idea is quite simple: anything you need reminded of on some future date goes into your tickler file. Every morning, that day’s folder is pulled out and the contents placed into your inbox, and whatever you placed there days, weeks, or months earlier is right at hand when you need it.
The 43-folder setup makes it possible – easy, even – to set reminders for up to a year in advance. Each numbered folders stands in for a day of the month. Behind them, all the folders labeled with the months are arrayed, with next month’s folder in front. So, since today is September 5th, you would see folder 5 at the front, followed by 6-31, then October through next September. When I empty today’s folder, I’ll place it at the back of the numbered folders, leaving “6” standing ready to be pulled out tomorrow.
At the end of the month, the October folder is opened and its contents placed into the appropriate numbered days, and the emptied folder is placed at the back of the months. This creates a rolling cycle of folders, presenting each morning the folder with that day’s contents in it.
What goes into the folders is up to you, but clearly anything dated is a good candidate: bills, invoices, dated material to send out, concert and show tickets, travel documents, and so on. Other items you know you’re going to need on a specific day can also be added, such as your passport on the day when you will be flying out of the country, or your checkbook for bill-paying day.
Recurring events you want to remind yourself of – like watering the plants every three days – can be written onto index cards. You empty your folder into your inbox, process the inbox, see the reminder, water the plants, and place the card into whatever the date will be three days later.
Used consistently, a tickler file can become an important part of your “outboard brain”, popping stuff up for you when you need it, and keeping it out of the way when you don’t. In today’s all-high tech all the time world, it’s even a little reassuring: simple, decidedly low-tech, and effective.
Common uses for the tickler file system: birthday cards, church donations, bills, invitations, warranty expirations, event tickets (put them in the folder on the day you will attend, so they do not get lost), phone calls to return, travel itineraries, maintenance reminders, hotel reservations, coupons, appointments, children's get the idea. 
We even use this system for mail. Let's say I get the mail today, and there is a letter for Scott...I do not want to just put it down somewhere, he may not see it for a few days...and I am sure I will forget to tell him about it (Scott knows how forgetful I am). So, I just place it in todays file, and he can open it when he checks the file. The same goes with phone calls for him. 
NOW...if you already have a filing system and family calendar system that works for you, you may not need to create this tickler system...all you need to do is record a reminder on your calendar for the thing you will keep in your filing system. 
Be creative, and have fun getting organized!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fun ways to get the kids involved in cleanup

Penny Pick UP 
For every item that the kids pick up and put away, they get a penny. Every item...even if it is LEGO. Once they have earned their pennies, they can buy things from the mom store (10 pennies for one candy, 1 penny for a chocolate chip, 20 pennies for a small container of get the idea..whatever works for you...). 
My kids all want to participate in this game, and they are 7, 5 and 1.
You can adjust this game to fit your needs...need laundry put away, one penny for each piece put in the right spot!
The purpose is to get the kids to enjoy cleaning up, and have some fun, but if you can throw in learning a few basic math skills, all the better, right? 

Here are some other ways to get the kids involved in cleanup found at

1. Whistle while you work
Snow White's dwarfs had the right idea: My 3-year-old loves to sing the Barney cleanup song or make up tunes to go along with the task at hand. Singing really makes our jobs go faster. — April, mother of one going on two

2. Clean sweep
Here's a fun way to keep hardwood floors free of dust bunnies: My 4-year-old daughter and I put dry, dusting mitts on our feet and skate around the house. — Julie, mother of a 2-year old

3. Scavenger hunt
My son loves to help me clear the clutter around the house when I turn it into a seeking game. For instance, I'll ask him to find everything on the floor that has wheels on it in five minutes and have him put it in the appropriate storage basket. Or we'll go around the house on a dirty dish hunt. — Susan, mother of a 3-year-old

4. Mini me
My kids love to use miniature brooms, mops, and snow shovels to work alongside my husband and me. They have so much fun and we get such a kick out of watching them in action. — Jenn, mother of two

5. Beat the clock
I get my boys excited to pitch in by challenging them to the "ten minute tidy." I set a timer, and we race around the house picking up as much as we can before the buzzer goes off. My kids have so much fun that they don't even realize they're cleaning. — Melissa, mother of two

6. A clean house is in the stars
My son used to hate picking up his toys until we started the "star system." I bought colorful, star-shaped stickers and listed his responsibilities in a notebook. Now he gets a star for every task he accomplishes and exchanges them for ice cream, sweets, little toys, or stickers when we go grocery shopping. — Pauline, mother of a 4-year-old

7. Crank up the tunes and dance
My daughter and I play music and dance around while we're picking up toys and doing other housework. It's a great bonding time and we have so much fun that the chores whiz by. Plus, it's a great workout! — Elizabeth, mother of a 5-year-old

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cloth Christmas Bags...reduce, reuse, recycle!

I love cloth Christmas bags!
  • They eliminate garbage on Christmas morning
  • I never have to buy wrapping paper or tape
  • We reuse them every year
  • There are lots of different colours and patterns under the tree
  • They make great gift ideas for friends and teachers
  • Wrapping gifts takes no time at all...just drop in the gift, and tie it shut!
  • Every gift can fit, and the wrapping looks beautiful.
  • They are easy to make (even for individuals who are sewing challenged, like me!)
  • I feel like I am doing my part to protect the environment.

Here is a shot of what some of ours look like:

My mother in law has used cloth Christmas bags ever since her kids were young. She is the one who gave me the idea. The bags she made are still around..and we continue to use them every year. She has made all sizes...even very small for stocking gifts. Once the gift is put in, and tied up with ribbon, we just attach the tag either to the ribbon or stick it to the bag. It is so fast. It is also great fun to see the material patterns change over the years, and to feel a connection to the past. 

Check out the bags in this video...they do not even use ribbon!

I think I will make some like these this year, and then we can just punch a hole in the tag, and stick it on the ring. So clever.

Go ahead... make your own. 

This ehow video will explain. 

Christmas Advent Calendar - Closer to Christ and Family

Our Advent Calendar
Tis the Season for FAMILY

If anyone thinks for one minute that I am crafty enough to make this..think talents lie in cleaning and organizing, remember? 
I found this at a craft fair and knew it would be perfect. 
The plastic pockets are great for tiny treats, notes, or a small Christmas ornament to move each day.

This year we are trying to be more centered on Jesus Christ, so each day they will remove one of the notes and on the back will be one scripture to read, and one fun thing to do as a family.

 Here are the days, if you wish to use kind of thing for your advent calendar:

Dec 1 - Matthew 1:16     Give to the Elementary School toy drive
Dec 2 - Luke 1:18-20     Put out your favorite Christmas decorations
Dec 3 - Luke 1: 24-25     Attend Christmas Parade
Dec 4 - Luke 1:26-27     Attend a Christmas music concert
Dec 5 - Luke 1:57, 62-62     Make paper snowflakes
Dec 6 - Luke 2:4-5     Watch a Christmas movie
Dec 7 - Luke 2:7     Make cranberry apple cider
Dec 8 - Luke 2:8     Make beaded Christmas ornaments          
Dec 9 - Luke 2:9-11     Kids Christmas Party (work)
Dec 10 - Luke 2:12     Decorate the Christmas Tree
Dec 11 - Luke 2:13-14     Start the 12 Days of Christmas tradition
Dec 12 - Luke 2:15     Tell someone you love them
Dec 13 - Luke 2:16     Give to a sponsor family (work)
Dec 14 - Luke 2:17-19     Kids Choice...what do you want to do today?
Dec 15 - Luke 2:20     Give to the food bank
Dec 16 - Luke 2:25-26, 34-35     Last Day of School...give notes to friends!
Dec 17 - Luke 2:27-29     View the lights at the local park
Dec 18 - Luke 2:36-39     Make Christmas cookies
Dec 19 - Matthew 2:1     Go skating
Dec 20 - Matthew 2:2    Learn your favorite Christmas song on the piano
Dec 21 - Matthew 2:3-10    Give to a family in need (church)
Dec 22 - Matthew 2:11-12     Make/Wrap your gift for your family
Dec 23 - Matthew 2:13-15     Learn to ski
Dec 24 - What gift will you give to Christ?
Dec 25 - Merry Christmas!


Monday, November 7, 2011

To the frustrated wife: Nine ways to get your partner to do his fair share

I found this article on Baby while doing some research on chores, and thought I would share it...for those wives who are still doing all the chores by are the tips they suggest to get your spouse to help out!

Talk to him.
While you may find it hard to believe that he can't see anything's amiss with the layer of dust covering your furniture or the mildew growing on the shower curtain, the truth is if your husband's not complaining, he's probably fine living that way. "The average guy feels like if it ain't broke, don't fix it," says psychologist Coleman, a self-described lazy husband in recovery. Take the time to let him know what you mean by a "clean" house.

Instead of quietly stewing with resentment or complaining to your girlfriends, tell your spouse you need more help keeping your place (relatively) clean. Be firm, but resist nagging. "Nagging isn't very assertive — it's humiliating to the person doing the nagging and annoying to the person being nagged," says Coleman. He suggests a friendly approach: Tell your husband that you've been feeling overwhelmed and that you really need and appreciate his help. Start by creating a short to-do list for him, suggests Coleman, and pick the tasks that have been bugging you the most. You might specify jobs such as cleaning up after dinner, making the bed on the weekends, and taking primary responsibility for the baby at least one weekend morning so you can sleep in.

Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime.
This old adage can hold true for household chores too. "While some men feign incompetence, some genuinely have never learned how to do housework," notes sociologist Coltrane. Before your mate takes on a chore, demonstrate it for him, talking him through it as you go.

Don't be a control freak!
One of the reasons men don't help around the house as much as we'd like is that we can make them feel like they can't do anything right. So once you've shown him how to separate whites and colors, and to dust before running the vacuum, consider that his standards may never meet yours. Decide what you can live with: If the choice is to do every task yourself, or to live with his less-than-perfect housekeeping skills, you may more readily settle for adequate. A little restraint and a heaping of praise can go a long way in his wanting to be involved and useful.

Choose chores he'll want to do.
It's much easier to motivate someone to do something he likes, so if your mate's more inclined to cook than to clean up, ask him if he'll prepare more meals during the week. Of the "big five" household tasks — cooking preparation, meal cleanup, shopping, laundry, and housework — men are more likely to do the first three and least likely to do the last two, says sociologist Scott Coltrane. So strike some new deals with your spouse. If you've been doing all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning, let him troll the market aisles, cut up the vegetables, and toss the salad for dinner. He may even enjoy it. While it may seem unfair that he gets to choose jobs he wants to do, consider that it's better than the alternative — doing everything yourself!

Do a little at a time.
Splitting chores between you and your spouse over several days will keep weekends from turning into nonstop drudgery. "We used to jam all of the housework into Saturdays, but now my husband and I have designated weekdays for certain cleaning jobs," says Kate Richardson, mother of a 2-year-old. "By spreading chores out across the week, keeping a (fairly) clean house seems less overwhelming — plus we've freed up more weekend time for family fun," she says.

Appeal to his charitable side.
Show your husband that getting rid of the toys collecting cobwebs in your living room and the forgotten clothes in your closets is a great way to help a good cause and save your family money. Ask him to oversee a "giveaway box" to which he and the kids can contribute, and then put yourself on a calling list for a couple of charities and thrift stores. "They call every other month to see if we have anything to donate, and we gather up books we've finished, clothes and shoes the kids have outgrown, and toys they're bored with," says Ann Struckman, mother of three children, ages 13, 9, and 2. "The charity picks up the items and leaves a donation slip for tax write-off purposes."

If you can, make some cuts in your budget, and use the money to hire cleaning help. (Cost will vary depending on where you live and the size of your house, but the national average for someone to clean every week or every other week is around $75 to $110 per visit.) "We hired a housecleaning team after our daughter was born, and it's worth every penny, not just in time, but also arguments avoided," says Catherine Holecko, mother to a 3-year-old and a newborn. "Cleaning ranks way below family, work, and personal time in my order of priorities. Also, having cleaners come every two weeks forces us to do a round of picking up and de-cluttering on the day before they come."

And if he still doesn't pitch in...
"If you're still being ignored, it may be time to play hardball and say, 'I'm not going to keep doing all the things I'm doing,'" suggests psychologist Coleman. Take something off your plate that you know your mate relies on you to get done. For instance, if you usually pay the bills and your husband can't stand them to be late, tell him you're no longer paying the bills. Coleman points out that tough-love should be your last resort, but it can be surprisingly effective.

Take time to reconnect.
Finally, if you've been more irritated than usual by dishes collecting in the sink, consider whether it's merely the grimy plates that need attention. "In all my years of working with couples there seems to be this pattern: When men aren't paying attention to their wives, the housework issue becomes more of an issue," says marital therapist Michele Weiner-Davis, author of The Sex-Starved Marriage: Boosting Your Marriage Libido. "It becomes less of an issue if men are making an effort to be closer emotionally." Weiner-Davis frequently sees a vicious cycle: When women aren't getting help, they become less physically affectionate with their spouses, who in turn withdraw more emotionally. "It would ease tension if couples took the time to reconnect on a regular basis," says Weiner-Davis.

So at least once a month, do the things you used to enjoy together before you had children (and a messy house). Send the kids to Grandma's overnight so you can have a romantic evening in. Or hire a babysitter and go out for a relaxing dinner. Besides remembering what made you a good couple, the next-best part is that neither of you has to clean up the dishes afterward.


Friday, November 4, 2011

It's Not the Stork!

Scott and I decided it was time to talk to our boys about sex. 
Yes, to tell them the proper words, and where babies actually come from.Our boys are age 5 and 7, and we want them to hear truthful information from us first. Of course, we were not sure how to start, and exactly what to say now (and what can be said later on!).After much research, Scott found this book at the library, and it was perfect. His efficient way of doing research for everything has a way of irritating me...but in most instances, it pays off.

We read this book to our boys over the course of three nights. We wanted them to process what they heard, and ask questions. The book was very appropriate, and explained things in a simple, but straightforward way. 

We covered Chapters: Girls do this, Boys do that/Same?Different?/Toe to Head/Head to Toe/What Boys Have/What Girls Have/Girls Grow up, Boys Grow up. 

  • These chapters basically covered the anatomy inside and out, and the similarities and differences between males and females. 

So many eggs! So many sperm/It's Not the stork/The BIG swim/The growing womb/Pinpoint to Watermelon

  • These were heavy pages, and there were many more questions. We were honest with them, and stuck to the outline in the book, which put emphasis on things like... "a boys testicles Cannot make sperm until his body has become a man's body..that is why boys bodies cannot make a baby", so when we explained the process, by way of the friendly comic book type stories, they were glad because..."whew! I'm glad I'm too young!"

The Twisty Cord/All day, All night/It's a baby/Happy Birthday/Cuddles and Kisses/All kind of families/Okay touches, Not okay touches/ Girls, boys, friends/growing up. 

  • Many of the things in these chapters they already knew because we had talked about it during the birth of their youngest brother (who is 1), but it was great to have chapters on touching and friends, which is helpful for them at this age.

We listed the book and link under READ WITH US here on our blog..if you are looking for a solution to talking to your kids about sex, it can be as easy as sitting down and reading with them. We chose the book for ages 4 and up, but the same author has a book for ages 7 and up, and for ages 10 and up!

Just because you talk to them once, do not think your job is done!
Puberty is just around the corner. 
GOOD LUCK Parents!

Oh yah..and by parents, I mean both of you. No ducking out, and leaving it all to one person. They need both of you.
Scott and I both sat down and took turns reading and talking with our kids. Sure, I looked at him and giggled when he had to read the part about "When grown ups want to make a baby....". 
And the boys just looked at him, and said, "Do you and mom..." You get the picture. HAHAHAHA!

Challenge ME #5 - Bathroom Drawers

Here is a look at the bathroom drawers in our home, organized in 30 minutes.

Master Drawer 1 - Things we use every morning, quick grab items

 Master Drawer 2 - Everything else organized into areas (nails, face, hair)

Master Drawer 3 - Large, bulky items

 Kids bathroom drawer

The trick to very organized drawers is finding the right containers/bins/holders to keep everything in. You can find containers like these anywhere. I got these at Fields.
Check out the container store for more ideas.

 We find it effective and efficient to keep similar items together, so if someone is looking for the nail clippers, they will be able to find them!

We also keep the kids teeth stuff in the drawer, rather than on the counter, to keep mess to a minimum.

Some other pics of organized bathroom drawers...

bathroom drawers    bathroom drawers
bathroom drawers

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Challenge ME #4 - Under the bathroom sink

Under the bathroom sink at our home, organized in 30 minutes.

Master Bathroom

Left container is for extra soap, toothpaste, lotions, floss, etc.
Right container is our medicine bin. Yes, this is all our medicine/first aid for the whole home.  We keep one extra first aid kit in our basement, with our emergency kits.
In between we keep extra large bottles of lotion, shampoo and conditioner.
This cupboard is kept locked, so little hands never touch it.

The other side...extra set of towels, our travel kits, scale, extra TP and contact solution. This cupboard can stay open and keep our 1 year old distracted, and we can put it all back easily.

Kids Bathroom

Basically, we keep all the kid oriented things under the sink, for them to use. The stool, tub toys they can grab, and the black IKEA potty (for when we start potty training)

The kids bathroom has an extra cupboard we use for laundry (and extra shampoo, soap, etc for visitors). Our laundry is at the top of the stairs in the hallway, and there is no room to keep supplies there. This works well, and is safely tucked away from little hands.

We keep all extra toilet paper out of this bathroom, since our kids love to unroll the stuff..or plug the toilet with it! 

In every situation, you have to do what works for you and your family. 
That is the fun of organizing, because as your family grows, things change, and you can organize all over again. I am sure one day, I will be able to put the toilet paper in this bathroom!

Here is a video on how to organize under your bathroom sink!

Being Frugal

Frugality is the quality of being frugal, sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the use of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance
Frugal living is practiced by those who aim to cut expenses, have more money, and get the most they possibly can from their money..from Wikipedia.

The women of the Great Depression in the 1930's knew frugality. 
One of their battle cries was: 

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without"

We have much to learn in our society about being frugal. 

Scott says... " I am not cheap, I am frugal"
and often will make a game out of how much we can save. 
Because of this wonderful trait, we are able to stay debt free (minus the mortgage).

If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.
Dave Ramsey

Here are a few things we do to stay frugal:
  • Use the library. We rarely buy books. The library has everything.
  • Eat Out Less. We only eat out on special occasions.
  • Pay bills online. No stamps and no late fees.
  • Make your own cleaners. We made our own laundry detergent for a year. It was fun!
  • Use a monthly spending plan. We discuss our budget together, and Scott emails me an ongoing report of how much we are spending during the month.
  • Use public transportation or carpool. We are a one van family.
  • Make your own snacks. 
  • Review your cell phone, telephone, cable and internet plans. We use a pay as you go plan for our cell phones, since we only use them for emergencies. We do not have cable.
  • Cut your own hair. Scott cuts his (and the boys) hair.
  • Meal plan. We save so much by planning out what we will eat each week.
  • Bring your own bags when grocery shopping. I made a few cloth bags for this purpose.Not only are you saving a few cents each time, but you are helping the environment.
Need more ideas: 168 tips to make your dollar stretch

Now a lot of individuals may look at this list, and think ....whoa, they never have any fun.
Who wants to be frugal, when you can't do anything, or go anywhere?

Actually, we can afford to do the things we want, because we are frugal.

When you are not strapped with debt, it is much easier to save.

Check out for some interesting insights to frugality.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Clutter and Christmas

I was pondering this week about Clutter and Christmas.

We love stuff. We fill our lives with stuff, because we think it will bring happiness. We shop and buy more stuff that eventually fades and breaks and is thrown away. Stuff clutters our homes and creates organization problems. Where are we going to store all our stuff?

Christmas is already on the shelves in every shop. You are already thinking about what you are getting for your family. Some of you are preparing for the Black Friday sales coming up next month, or are looking through online stores to find the perfect thing for that perfect someone.

Is it all worth it?

There are a few things that we are going to do differently this year for Christmas, to prevent more clutter (as well as reduce waste) and bring more Christ into our lives.
Giving instead of Getting.
Sharing instead of more Stuff.
I urge you to ponder it for yourself, and share with us any further ideas you may have.

  • We ask the boys to go through the toys they own, and find ones that they no longer play with that can be donated to children in need.
  • We are giving them "experiences". This year we are going to teach them to ski!
  • Creating long lasting memories by taking old VCR tapes and turning them into DVDs to watch together. Our boys love nothing better than to see their dad when he was their age.
  • Each member of the family picks a name and has to make or do something for that person on Christmas day.
  • We use cloth Christmas bags for gifts instead of tape and wrap. 
  • We do an advent...but not with candy...we put in one thing we are going to do that day.
  • Look at the world vision gift guide. You choose the card, and they choose the gift. There are all sorts of amazing ways to help. Buy a goat, chickens, school supplies, soccer balls, toys, medicine...
  • Create an online Christmas card to send out to our family and friends.
  • When I was young, my family would all go out carolling on Christmas eve to our neighbours, it is something I miss, and want to start with my own family this year.
  • Contact your Church Authority, or the local Christmas Bureau and adopt a family for Christmas. You get to have all the fun shopping, but you are buying for someone else.

I have to be honest, I am going to do some Black Friday shopping this year. I have never been before, and I am kind of excited for the adventure of waking up early and seeing what all the craziness is about. And please, don't think that we do not give each other gifts, we do...and Santa still comes of well as grandparents!

I am just trying to make our Christmas more meaningful and searching for a way to have peace instead of stress during the month of December!

If you have any thoughts, please share them.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Meal Planning

Meal Planning will save you time and money.
Decide what your family goals are around meals/food. 
Make a plan and try it out.
Keep track of all the meals that you all love. (Repeat them for less planning)
Create a place to store your recipies. (binder, cookbook, computer)

Our goals for family dinners: 

Eat more veggies, Conserve on food costs, Try new things, and Involve the kids.

Just as the seasons change, our goals and weeknight names change.
The important thing is to have a plan, and use it.
I am not listing all our meals, just giving you a few examples...

Here is our meal plan:

Moms Meaty Monday - You get the idea, the meals have meat.
Salmon, Tilapia, Korean Kalbi, Crabcakes, Steak, Pork chops...

Trim Slim Tuesday - This is our vegetarian night, and time for us to try new things.
Veggie Stirfry, Salads, Quinoa, Eggs (Quiche), Potatoes...

Wacky Pasta Wednesday - The kids love pasta.
Lasange, Alfredo, Spaghetti, Jazzy Ramen...

Tiny Budget Thursday - Use what we have to create a new meal, or keep it simple.
Leftovers, Soup, Casseroles, Perogies...

Family Favorite Friday - The kids night to decide and help cook.
Pizza, Sushi, Hamburgers, Tacos, Breakfast for Dinner...

Scott's Spicy Saturday - Scott loves spicy food. He also loves to cook. This is his night to enjoy both.
Indian, Thai, Fajitas, Enchiladas...

Crockpot Sunday - we go to church on Sunday, and it is a day I feel like doing less cooking. The crockpot makes it easy, throw it all in the crock in the morning and eat later in the day.
Chilli, Soup, Roast, Stroganoff...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Staying organized online

I just joined Pinterest. 
It is an online pinboard, and a fantastic way to keep things organized online.
Whenever you find a site you like, a quote you want to remember, a recipe you want to try, a cool idea for the kids that you want to make, or just something awesome that you want to show your friends...all you have to do is put a pin in it. Pinterest will save that item to your board (and you can have a bunch of boards with different titles). I will never have to retype a google search, or fill up my browser with bookmarks, or even say, "I know I saw it yesterday...where did it go?"

Here are 10 ways to stay organized online, and increase your productivity.

Out of the ideas from this site, we really like Google Docs, Google Calendar and Remember the Milk.

Google Docs
is great to share lists we have made...For ex. Things we want to buy. We each add things to the list, and when the time comes, we talk over which item has a higher priority, and then we research and get it.

Google Calendar
keeps us both informed of our schedules. We can both enter things and the calendar is shared between when I have appointments after school, and Scott wants to fit in a training run, he can see what the family is up to without having to wait until he gets home or phone us. When there is a conflict, we can sort it out before that day comes. Everyone gets their own colour!
There is another neat Family Calendar called Cosi. Same idea...but this one comes with a journal feature, places for pictures, shopping lists, and other cool dodats.

Remember the Milk
is a system that Scott has are his thoughts: I've used Remember The Milk for almost 3 years now.  It is an extremely easy way to keep track of all of your tasks and to-do lists.  Since it's web-based, you can access it from any computer.  It also has a great iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad application and interfaces with popular online tools such as Gmail and Google Calendar.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Overcome Chore Wars Together

In your home, who takes out the garbage? Who cleans the dishes, folds the laundry and cleans the floors? There are many chores to be done each day to keep a home orderly and clean. Making the decision of who does what and when can lead to contention.

Instead of worrying about who does most of the work, and starting a chore war in your family, decide to work together. Here is insight from Dr. Robi Ludwig called, "Time for a truce in chore wars between couples". It is a 4 1/2 min. video clip, along with written suggestions on how to work together. Check it out!

When Scott and I were first married, we were both working and going to school, and chores were easy. I think we did laundry once a week. We are both pretty tidy people so we took care of our own things, we both cooked, and we both cleaned up. But even in this type of relationship, there are still arguments over chores. The one thing we both disliked the most was doing dishes. They would pile up, waiting and taunting us to fight over whose turn it was. We had no dishwasher and had to do everything by hand (I know, how terrible!). Our chore war was solved by insightful parents who bought us a portable dishwasher for Christmas. It saved our marriage!

Now with three kids, chores are much different. They take longer, and there is more to do on an ongoing basis. There are ways to have the whole family involved in keeping the home in order. The idea I liked the best from the clip is something that works for us everytime: cleaning up together and then having a reward together! Key word TOGETHER!

Let's say it is Friday night and the kids want to stay up to watch a movie..sure no problem...clean up the room, help mom finish up dishes, take out the garbage, put away books, etc, etc, etc...NOW we can relax and watch as a family.

How about it is Saturday morning and the boys want to go to the bike park..sure no gets cleaned up, laundry gets folded and put away, carpets get vacuumed and we all go on the outing together.

It really works!

And in the end...#7 from her ideas:  Just do it. As you know, sometimes cleaning won’t be fun, but it is a necessary part of life. A clean home has a better chance at being a happy home … so clean away and make your home sparkle and shine!

Monday, October 24, 2011

What is your clutter personality?

I hate clutter. It takes up needed space. It makes small projects become large projects. It is hard to clean properly with clutter in the way. It makes a space seem smaller. 

If you want a happy and organized home, take a good look at yourself. You may be what is standing in the way of your own goals. Find out your clutter personality, and see if change can begin with you. 

The Hoarder: "This might come in hand someday!"

Hoarding is rooted in insecurity, financial or otherwise. Deep down, Hoarders fear that they'll never have the resources they need if they let go of any possession, no matter how worn, useless or superfluous. This is a common behavior for folks that have gone extremely hard financial times or came from large families where everything belonged to everyone in the family. They never had their very own security blanket when they were young.
If cabinets and closets are crammed with egg cartons, cracked margarine containers, and old magazines, there's likely Hoarding behavior underlying the clutter.
Hoarders need to be remind themselves that resources will always be available. Where can a Hoarder look outside the home for a substitute Hoard?
Reassure yourself! Stuff will be with us always. Find magazines indexed at the library, kitchenware marked down at yard sales, and every small appliance known to man can be found (cheap!)at the thrift store. Think of these off-site treasure troves as attenuated household storage areas. Dare to dump it!

The Procrastinator: "I'll think about that tomorrow!"

Those of the deferral mindset are guilty of the great set-aside. Bills, notices, old newspapers, items that need cleaning or repair, and household projects are all set aside to be dealt with another day. The Procrastinator will leave dinner dishes in the sink, wet laundry in the washer, and a gazillion things that need to be put away, laying out.
Procrastinators need to be reminded that tomorrow has no more time or energy than today--and that deferring decisions drags down each new day with yesterday's unfinished business.
Since this behavior is grounded in procrastination, apply the best remedy: action. For Procrastinators, simply making a start creates the momentum needed to finish the job. Remember, it's easier to keep a rolling stone in motion, than it is to pick it up and start it rolling the first time!

The Rebel: "I don't wanna and you can't make me!"

Somehow, it's all Mom's fault. Rebels were forced to pick up after themselves as children; as adults, they're still expressing the mute and stubborn determination of a four-year-old who refuses to pick up his toys.
Rebel clutter can be anything, but often centers on household activities. No, the Rebel won't put his or her clothes in the hamper, cereal bowl in the dishwasher, or car in the garage--even when the clothing gets wrinkled, the cereal bowl hardens into yellow goop, and the car gets damaged by weather and roadside traffic.
Rebels need to remind themselves that the war is over. They don't live with Mom anymore--and their own family deserves an adult on the job, not a sulky, whiney child.
Tell that inner Rebel, "It's okay--I'm the parent now, and I want a house that's nice to live in. By switching places with the old authority figure, the Rebel can find a way out of "I don't wanna! And, you can't make me. Na, na, na."

The Perfectionist: "Next week, I'll organize everything--perfectly!"

Perfectionists are wonderful people, but they live in an all-or-nothing world. They do wonderful things--when they do them!
Perfectionism forms an inner barrier to cutting clutter because the Perfectionist can't abide doing a less-than-perfect job. Without the time to give 110% to the project, the Perfectionist Clutterer prefers to let matters--and the piles of stuff--slide.
For example, plastic food containers may be overflowing their cabinet, but the Perfectionist Clutterer won't organize them until he or she can purchase the perfect shelf paper, lid holder organizer, and color-coded labels. As a result, the amassed and crowded containers stay put, falling down onto the feet of anyone hapless enough to open the cupboard door.
Perfectionist Clutterers need to remind themselves of the 80-20 rule: 20% of every job takes care of 80% of the problem, while fixing the remaining 20% will gobble 80% of the job. By giving themselves permission to do only 20%, Perfectionist Clutterers get off the dime and get going.
It is perfectly fine to tell the inner Perfectionist, "Today, I'll do the important 20% of that job: sorting, stacking and organizing those food containers. Later, I'll do the other 80%, buying organizers and putting down shelf paper. If later never comes? Well, you've outwitted your inner Perfectionist Clutterer. Congratulations!

The Sentimentalist: "Oh, the little darling!"

Sentimentalists never met a memento they didn't like--or keep. Children's clothing and school papers, faded greeting cards, souvenirs from long-ago trips and jumbled keepsakes crowd the environment of the Sentimental Clutterer.
Problem is, there's so much to remember that the truly endearing items get lost in a flood. Who can find the first grade report card in an attic full of boxes of paper?
The Sentimental Clutterer needs to reduce the mass of mementos to a more portable state, changing mindset from an indiscriminate "Awwww!" to a more selective stance.
For example, a Sentimental Clutterer can corral each child's school papers into a single box by selecting one best drawing, theme or project each month.
Other ideas for reining in rampant Sentimental Clutter include scrapbooking the very best photos and papers, or photographing surplus sentimental clutter before letting it go. Sort it out, choose the best, keep the memories and dump the rest!
And, my favorite way to satisfy the "Awwww" factor is to take a digital photo of the items and make them into a screensaver on my computer.

Sorry that I have no blog or website to link to for this information. There seemed to be no original author, and many individuals use these exact types (some have more). It is hard to show proper blog etiquette when this happens, so I apologize...I will always try to show and link where I get my information from.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

10 reasons to eat as a family

Here is something I found at iTVnetwork, and have added some comments in italics.

It’s good for the body!
1. When families eat together, everyone tends to eat healthier. People who have frequent family meals consume more calcium, fiber, iron, and vitamins B6, B12, C and E. It could be because home-cooked meals are healthier than fast food and restaurant meals. (Source: Archives of Family Medicine)
2. Children tend to eat more fruits and vegetables when they frequently have dinner with their families. They also tend to eat fewer snack foods. (Source: American Dietetic Association). 
3. Children in families who eat dinner together are less likely to be overweight (Source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine). We, as the parents, are trying to eat healthy, and the kids eat what we eat at dinner time.
Good for the brain
4. Children from families who eat meals together get better grades than their peers who don’t have lots of family meal times (Source: Lou Harris-Reader’s Digest National Poll).
5. When families eat together frequently, children have better language skills compared to kids from families who don’t have family mealtimes often. (Source: Harvard University) We have conversations, and talk about our highs and lows from the day.
Good for emotional health
6. Children of families who eat together report feeling happier and are more optimistic about the future, than their peers who have infrequent family meals. (Source: Lou Harris- Reader’s Digest National Poll)
7. Teenagers are less likely to use drugs, smoke, and drink alcoholic drinks, when their families eat together regularly. (Source: Columbia University) Your children will know you care and might be less likely to give in to peer pressure.
8. It may come as a surprise, but among Moms who work outside the home, those who have family mealtimes reported feeling less stress than those who had family dinners less often. (Source: Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal) 
9. The more often teen girls had meals with their families, the less likely they were to have symptoms of depression and suicidal behaviors. (Source: University of Minnesota) 
Good for family bonding
10. Eating together gives family members the chance to communicate and build relationships, something that both adults and children appreciate very much. (Source: Nutrition Education Network of Washington & Oprah Winfrey’s “Family Dinner Experiment”). 
We love to eat together every night. It is a priority in our home. Extracurricular activities can wait, until our 1/2 hour of family time around the kitchen table is finished. 
I grew up in a home with 8 children, all wanting to go in 8 different directions every night. My mom always had dinner ready at a certain time, and we knew we were expected to be there. I do not remember a time that we did not have dinner together as a family. It kept us close to them, as our parents, and to each other, as siblings. 
There are even cool games you can play, to make dinner more adventurous...or if you just want to keep the kids at the table longer...check this out! Family Dinner Games