Wednesday, April 25, 2012

40th Birthday Ideas for Dad

Happy 40th Big Papa!
Today is my Dear Hubby's 40th!  And I've been quarantined with a sick little one.  So none of my wonderful plans came to fruition.  Some I won't disclose, because we might surprise him with them later.  I had pinned a few ideas a few months ago, then we realized life was too busy for a big celebration.  He's been leaving at 6am and getting home at 8 or 9pm.  Weekends are wild.  But these are great ideas!

Big Princess took some Rain-X and a Q-tip and wrote a birthday message on the bathroom mirror.  It was awesome!  Of course, the steam had dissipated by the time I went up to take a picture.UGH.  It was kinda ghostly, but the message showed up well in the steam.  I read the idea around April Fools' as a joke, and we saved it for today.

A friend and her daughters went to husband's work and filled his car with black balloons and wrote on his car.  If hubby didn't work an hour away, we would SOOOO be doing this!

Our after school project is going to be making him the MOTHER of all "cards."  I love this idea.  We're doing 40 reasons We Love You!

Hope you get a few ideas here for some quick birthday ideas!

Princess Drama

Germs and snuggles
My little princess has strep.  This is only the second time in her 5 years to be on antibiotics, first time ever for strep.  She usually has 1 or less sick visit a year.  We are blessed that she is so healthy.  I took the last two days off, and we snuggled, a lot.

She's amazing, this little princess of mine.  Even with a fever and a tough case of strep, she never stopped smiling.  She wanted to be held, snuggled, rocked, and sang to like we did when she was a baby.  She wanted to lie in my lap and play with my hair.  She wanted to color in my lap.  She BREATHED on me A LOT!!

I'm not a germaphobe.  Teaching kindergarten, you can't be.  But strep is my nemesis. When I go too hard, too long, strep takes over my throat like a raging ball of fire with thorns.  But as most mothers do, I just snuggled away all the while praying for immunity. It's part of the sacrifice we make for our kids.  But I do have a plan to disinfect the house this weekend!  (The dr. said throw toothbrush away after 5 days, so I am guessing that 5 days is the time frame for killing the germs effectively!

And I did see this great pin awhile back, and thankful that I did.  Great way to keep up with the antibiotics!

NOT ready for this!
I also had to go to our school to begin the registration process for high school for big princess.  We don't have a middle school, our elementary is PK-7 and high school is 8-12.  So many decisions to make about curriculum that will eventually impact her college choices?  WOW.  I mean really, this could be life altering stuff....  We've started the talks about friend choices, class choices, organization and responsibility.  For me, this is a bit like everyone else sending their children to kindergarten, she's been at school with me for 8 years!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Back away from the laptop and get busy cleaning

My posts have been few this week, I apologize.  But see, I got in a cleaning/organizing frenzy.  And no, my house does NOT look THAT much better.  I even banned myself from Pinterest for the last week and a half - GASP!  What did I do instead?  Read about 6,000 blog posts on organizing and cleaning.  (Sitting with a laptop in lap does NOT equal organizing or cleaning!) Yes, I pinned some of my finds. Promise I won't turn this into an organizing or cleaning blog.  There are many out there who do it much better than me. Even if I already posted about Spring Cleaning tips 

Why the frenzy?  Well, Spring Break meant it was time to get my house in order.  I just finished my master's degree in curriculum and instruction in December, and deep cleaning and organizing were two things that I had to let go while I was in school and working full time.  I started by consulting my organizing and cleaning board on Pinterest, because I knew I had some ideas in there I wanted to do.  And yes, I did get a lot done.  But I have a two page list of projects I still want to do.  MANY could have been done already if I had put the laptop DOWN!

I thrive on routine.  I LOVE a list and a schedule.  I love to plan.  I'm not so great at following through, because I end up planning CRAZY stuff that when the time comes to do it, I realize how lofty the plan was, and scrap the plan.  Hello?  How wasteful of my time is that? Like my UP themed Spring Break.  Between the cleaning, the laptop, and the fact that my in-laws wanted to take the girls on a 3 day cabin mini-vacation, that will now be Summer Vacation UP style.  And you know what, it's more suited.  That was a classic example of my lofty planning.   OR, I end up staying on the computer waaayy to long for inspiration and ideas, and don't have the time to do it.

Please tell me that I am not the only one.  Please tell me someone else out there has looked at a blog post they pinned or bookmarked as a reminder of how I wanted to do something, and 1,000 clicks later have only succeeded in adding more to the list, not marking things off?  I mean, did I really need to see how 30 people organized their drawers?  There is not that much deviation there.  Unless a fairy is on my shoulder and sees it and does it for me while I am browsing, that's wasting time.  Such a waste of time, this tendency of mine to obsess on an idea.

To fulfill a shameless need to STOP beating myself up and hope for a better day, I'm going to share the great blogs that inspired me along the way.  So that all my "research" (sounds much better than internet browsing, right?) doesn't go completely to waste. So you can go obsess... You can thank me later.

Armed with a thorough list for spring cleaning from Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking, I started in.

I cleaned out and organized 20 kitchen cabinets and 5 drawers.  Yeah, we have a lot.  5 cabinets still on the to-do list.   I need to buy baskets for others, so I don't really feel like they are done...  A Bowl Full of Lemons has awesome organization in the kitchen.  Her Pantry, spice cabinet, under the kitchen sink and pretty much every other idea are organizational masterpieces.  WARNING - click a link, stay a while.

 Clean Mama (whom I ADORE!) has a checklist to get your kitchen appliances done in an hour. (Which only applies if you don't hang out on her site for 2 hours, like I did.)  I halfway did the dishwasher.  I want hubby here when I take screws out to clean filter, in case something goes wrong. I'm not the most.... mechanically inclined.

I am excited about this find.  This Mama is the go-to for all things laundry.  Stain removal, how to fold stuff, wash stuff, use stuff, organize your laundry room.  Great resource!

I did get a lot done.  I still have a lot to do.  But I'm way more excited than a normal person should be.  After all the hours on Bowl full of Lemons and Clean Mama, I am feeling optimistic.  All this won't go to waste.  Because after I get it all done (who am I kidding??) I'll be able to stay on top of it.  Becky at Clean Mama totally rocked my world with her routine, printables, and helpful hints.

I set up a new organization binder.  I made one several years ago.  But it was stuffed to the gills, and cumbersome.  It's still a great filing and reference system for me.  But I didn't consult it daily.

I set up a new system for weekly stuff.  A new binder that needs to be prettified.  Ordered a few printables from Becky  - her new Fresh Start Kit  is PERFECT if you want to get into a cleaning routine.  Now I have the school papers for the next month, cleaning routine for the week, a calendar of deep cleaning that needs to be done, and weekly-to do list, and menu planning guide (which works better for me to do for 2 weeks at a time) all handy.  And in a pretty little tote on my counter.  Which can also hold the mail that I need to do something with.  Grab the tote bag, and I am ready to get to work!

So now I have the routine.  I have the sites that I want to go to for inspiration to  finish the 43 things still on my to do list.  And now, I have to go unload my dishwasher and fold a load of clothes.  I. will. not. click any more links before work. I. will. not. browse pinterest now that I have opened the site for the first time in a week.  I will be a better manager of my time.  I took a picture.  That should hold me.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tips to make Spring Cleaning Easier

Or, if you are easily distracted - how to stay focused.  Or, what I learned yesterday.  Pick your favorite title!

1.  Arm yourself with supplies.  Before. you. start.  Think about what you want to do, and what you will need. Not just the cleaners.  If you clean with natural products, go ahead and buy an extra gallon of vinegar and a few extra boxes of baking soda.  You'll need them.  I can't tell you how many times yesterday I lamented being out of Q-tips: cleaning slats, cleaning shower door guide, cleaning vents....  Want to go green this Spring?  Check out these recipes for homemade cleaners:

2.  Throw dinner in the crockpot before you start.  You will NOT feel like cooking dinner when you are done!  Thanks to Kelly from Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking for this tip.  Wish I had listened yesterday, but I did today!  I linked to her list, which is very thorough, amazing, and quite possibly exhausting!!!!

3. Gather everything you will need.  Take extra rags/cloths. Think outside the box - q-tips, toothbrushes, scrapers, screwdrivers, etc. If you have a scraper from Pampered Chef for stoneware, it is AMAZING at those little crevices, and the Unidentified Sticky Substances in the fridge!   Fill a bucket with your supplies.

4. FIll a large water bottle with lots of icy water and add it to your bucket!  And then, have caffeine on hand for the mid day slump.  A PowerBar or granola bar comes in handy, too!

5. Make sure your laundry is already done.  Guarantee you will have more soon, and won't want to have to reload so you can start a new load!  Same goes for dishwasher and sink. And oh yeah, vacuum cleaner dust bins. 

6.  Take a basket with you to put items in that belong in other rooms.  How many times did I leave a room to put something away, see something else that needed to be done before I realized this?  Too. stinking. many!

7.  Put a notepad and pen in your supply basket.  You will see things you need to do or buy as you are working - light bulbs, etc.

8.  Go ahead and take a trash bag with you.  I'd recommend 2, one for real trash, one for things you want to donate/sell.

9.  If you want to feel REALLY accomplished, make a to-do list first that is very detailed.  My "clean out closets" left me with no sense of accomplishment.  Writing "clean out my closet, clean out big princess closet, clean out linen closet, clean out little princess closet" revamp was better.  I was able to mark stuff off immediately, which is big for me!

10.  If your kiddos are home, go in with the understanding that they will not be in it for the long haul.  Have things they can do that don't create a lot more messes while you are working.  If they are old enough, I do recommend having them there.  They will learn a lot!

11.  Top down is recommended by everyone for a reason.  DO NOT do a thing in a room until you have tackled the ceiling, ceiling fans, etc.  Dust. will. fall.

12.  Start with the room you most want cleaned.  ESPECIALLY if it is the one you most dread.  You will feel sooo much better about yourself for having that done, and it will be done if you run out of steam after day 1.

13.  If a thorough fridge clean is on your list, don't go grocery shopping, especially for produce, until AFTER you clean it.  Trust me, it will make your life simpler.

Some other links you might find useful that I accessed yesterday:

RosyBluHandmade has a great recipe for Goo/Adhesive residue remover.  You know, in case you find some tape on the walls.... Urgh.

Ask Anna has great tips on how to clean EVERYTHING!  Ask Anna Moseley cleaning tips

Here is a method of spring cleaning your mattresses:

A recipe for carpet stain removal

Have fun, and don't give up.  And don't write a blog post halfway through cleaning the fridge...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Toilet Paper Tube Extravaganza!

Well, we all know "it" happens.  We all have these tp tubes.  Why not reuse them?  There are a blue billion crafty ideas for them.  I've tried many, and pinned even more.  Are you ready?  Start saving those little cylinders of fun, because I guarantee you are going to want to do at least 1 of these!!  Okay, okay, some are paper towel tubes, too.  You caught me.

Make a microphone

Make a roller stamp


Marble run, car ramp


Make a ring toss - original source A Little Learning for Two

Use them for counting practice

Make a bird feeder

Put them in a shoebox and organize your cables and chargers

Keep one in the bathroom for hairbows, clips, and bobby pins

Organize your pencils, pens, markers, paintbrushes

Start some seedlings

*Use them to corral cords when storing appliances. I love to use these for my hair dryer/curling iron.  I don't need the length of the cords in my bathroom.  No, I didn't get all the paper off this one.  Sorry. :)

DIY crafts to make showcased a collection of 40+ artsy uses for tp tubes.

Don't have enough ornaments/jelly beans, whatever to fill your vase?  Grab a tp tube 

Make a Christmas nativity

Make napkin/utensil holders.
This picture inspired me for Christmas, she used cardstock, but I thought it was a tp tube.  Other seasonal ideas:  Halloween- paint them orange, draw or glue jack-o-lantern faces.  Easter - paint pink or white, add bunny faces, pom pom noses, and bunny ears.  Let your creativity take you there!

Turn them into Pilgrim hats by adding bottoms, inspired by this pin

Make some Handprint Turkeys

Make heart stamps for Valentine's Day


8 Winter ideas here

Make party favors!

Letter Q - quick!

One day, maybe, I'll do a post on every letter and the activities, etc.  I cannot believe that it is 5:23 am on the day before Easter, I have all of next week off, and I am working on lesson plans. Insanity for you right there!  (Of course, it was Pinterest inspired.....)

We have Q when we get back.  There's not a lot out there, they always confuse q and g, and I don't exactly have the most stellar plans waiting for me when I return.  While browsing, I got an idea, so here we go.

I KNOW I will play this YouTube song from Have Fun Teaching, they love, love, love these.

I have come up with motions for each of the letters and they do them as they are making the sound.  Q stumps me.  Pretend to put on a tiara?  Curtsy?  Raise hand as if asking a question?  Draw a question mark in the air? Make a confused face? I think I am going to have them pretend to wrap a quilt around their shoulders, and make quilts the main focus of Qq work.

I remember going to my grandmother's house for "quilting days."  She, her sister, sisters-in-law, and church friends would all sit around the quilt that was braced on old wood.  I absolutely loved it then, and the memories now.  Quilting used to be a big thing here, one of the "old ways" that has gone by the wayside.  I'm very big on old ways, and try to keep those memories and traditions alive.  So here is the plan:

We will read The Quilt Story by Tomie De Paola 

I'm also going to check to see if I can find The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco at our local library this week.  I just heard about this and don't have it at school.  I will be buying this before next year, though. The Amazon preview won my heart!

After reading, I will bring out a few quilts.  My grandmother made me 2, one a baby quilt and one for me as a "big girl" just before she died.  I absolutely treasure these, and I will do a little oral tradition storytelling about them.  I will tell them how when I missed her as a child, I would wrap the quilt around my shoulders and it felt like I was still getting a hug from her.  If I don't cry immediately, then I will play our Q song so they have that visual as we are doing our motions for Q.

I had repinned this great idea for displaying artwork - a student quilt.  I think I am going to make one this week and have it all ready to go for Q, and then will use it the rest of the year and hopefully next year.  Unfortunately, the originally pinner didn't link to the site, I would love to give credit where credit is due.  These are gallon Ziploc bags, duct taped together.  You duct tape the fronts together, leaving the word Ziploc on the back.  Once the students' artwork in slid into the back side, you don't see the words.

 After I show images of quilts, I will give the kiddos some markers and white construction paper, and have them make their own quilt square to be placed in our classroom "quilt"

They loved reading Princess and the Pea, so I think we will then talk about how a queen is the mother of a princess.  (Here in our small town USA, my beloved Disney has taught the kids about princesses, but not much about queens!)  Then we will do a shared writing called Queen and the Quilt.  No idea on how this will turn out, totally going with their plot!

We will brainstorm other q words.  To try to minimize the confusion with q, p,and g, I will tell them that q is so quick, sometimes the "hook" is left off completely, and sometimes it gets left dragging behind the circle.  We'll practice that backwards hook a few times in the air, saying quick as we do.  Hopefully, that will help.

One thing I don't like about our Language Arts series is that we introduce Q before U.  It makes the whole concept of u is always after Q tough, because U is tough for them.  I think we will do a personality profile of Q on chart paper:
quiet - I'll use that to remind them to put the line on Q, it's her quiet finger.  I'll glue a quiet Q-tip the written O.  We'll walk with Q-tip feet in the halls (I hope!)
quick - no hook or a dragging behind one.
 shy - thinking I'll use this to talk about u always being with her.  She can't go anywhere without her u.  I'll write q words on the paper to demonstrate
loves quilts - glue fabric scraps on the Qq to represent the quilt.  (Since she's shy, sometimes she hides under a quilt
has a lot of questions - cover the paper with question marks

For stations this week, I think this will be a good time to review some previous concepts.
Q - quarter - I'll pull the play money back out, a veggie tray, and have them sort.
Q - question mark  - Give them some newspapers for a ? search, highlight.  Also have them write a question. 
Q - they might make their artwork for the quilt during a station
Q - Queen - thinking a little card game.  Deck of cards in the middle of the table.  They draw one, repeat it's number or letter  Taking turns, continue until deck is gone.  Person with the most queens "wins"
Q - personality profile.  I'll put the chart we made together in whole group in the art center, along with paper, q-tips, markers, and fabric pieces.  I'll have them make their own to take home.
Q - for a quilt/sewing, we might do a little lacing around a cardboard crown, if I get them made this week!
Q - sensory box.  Thinking about a quiet sensory box! BWAHAHAHAHAHA.  pom-poms, cotton balls,  foam letters and stickers, felt pieces, ribbons, yarn, etc.
Q - quill writing - feathers, tempera, paper.  I think they will totally love this!

I thought about retelling/creative dramatics with crowns, kings, and queens, but nixed this for several reasons:
* My group does not , as a whole, have a lot of vocabulary exposure.  I am afraid they would confuse king/queen and not be able to remember the genders they represent.  Not in any form of gender discrimation, etc. but just for vocabulary development.
* The ones that know are too into relationships already (can't tell you how many hand holding, arms on shoulders I have to break up.  CRAZY!) and don't need to encourage that any more!!!

Hope you get an idea here to help with that elusive letter Qq!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Trash to Treasure (or at least useful!)

I love, love, love to take something old and give it new life.  (Soapbox warning!) We've become a disposable society, and with it not only do we waste money, but we've also lost some of our creativity and critical thinking skills.  I love it when my daughters ask "how can we re-use this mom, instead of throwing it away.  Here's a collection of pins/links that I have for those times, and usually they see them and run with it.

Altoid tins:
*use for holding earbuds in purse!
*hold small office items - rubber bands, staples, paper clips, etc.
*Designsponge  features a post on how to turn into a travel candle!
*Cut out eyes, noses, mouths, magnetize, and then turn into a travel game Funny Face game with built in storage!
*Same idea as above, but glue your child's picture in first

Feeling really, really ambitious?  try this (make a USB charger)
Source: via Taryn on Pinterest

Old cookie sheets  -
* Crate Paper Blog shows you how to paint and turn into magnetic boards!
*cover with contact paper as an alternative
*Spray paint with chalkboard paint for a magnetic chalkboard!

Cereal Boxes -
*There's a hole in my bucket's super quick fix to turn into mail holder for fridge
Organizing Made Fun  has a collection of ideas (cut off the bottoms for drawer organization!)
*Cut off fronts, hole punch, and make into a book for your child to read.  
* stack, glue, cover with contact paper to reinforce.  Paper/mail sorter
*Don't waste that cardboard!  The fronts can be painted on for sturdier masterpieces, cut out letters or numbers for practice, tweens love to decoupage stuff from magazines, let them go for it on these!

Produce/Bakery baskets (clear plastic from store)  -
*Store clothes/accesories for a specific doll, now she has her own trunk!
*Great for small toy storage - squinkies, polly pockets
*Craft storage - markers, crayons, foam stickers, stamps,etc.
*Store puzzle pieces, affix picture to lid of what finished product should look like
* Refill with frozen cookie dough and give to a neighbor!

And those plastic cookie trays make awesome paint pallets.  You know what I mean, the ones that corral those sugary indulgences inside their packages? 

Medicine Bottles
*Organizing Home Life  turned one into a purse trash can!
*Mural Maker turned them (and every box and bottle in sight) into cute crafty storage!

Glue a rock on top, put a spare key in, and bury it! Original source here.

Popcorn tin 
*If you have some hanging around from Christmas, spray paint, label,  and use for dog food!

Source: via Taryn on Pinterest

Turn empty tape dispenser rolls into napkin rings:

Crafting a Green World has  collection of 5 uses for coffee cans

Glass jars
50 (!) uses here by Stephanie Lynn

turn into salt and pepper shakers

Paint and turn into vases

Wrap them with beaded bracelets for a new look!

Decoupage them (just image inspiration, no tutorial)
Source: via Taryn on Pinterest

Save book pages instead of throwing away torn up books, and make them pretty!

Make a lantern

Try your hand at a little etching

Make your own oil lamp with some olive oil and a mop

Tin cans:
50 projects for tin cans compiled by Stephanie Lynn 

Paint those babies!

Make a magnetic play set

*Make some stilts

Cover them with vintage labels

Or let the kiddos make wind chimes

Wine bottles
10 Great uses from Apartment Therapy 
Save the corks  - make a trivet or corkboard

Drink caddy
Condiment/napkin/utensil holder (this one is a six pack box)
Homework station from Roots and Wings Co.
Eighteen 25 has a great gift wrap caddy!

Jar candles
Melt down the bits left and turn into a fabulous layered candle!

Or if you have a Scentsy warmer, you can make the bits into chunks for it!

Pop out the seal from the lid and you have pretty glass bowls!

Pretty storage/organization (I'm thinking cotton balls, q-tips in smaller ones)

If you have a Swiffer Wet Jet, no need to toss the cleaning dispenser.  You can get the lid off, and add your own cleaning solution

Tissue boxes
Store your plastic bags

Rubber band to a new box as a trash can for those runny nose nights or car trips
Source: via Taryn on Pinterest

Make some dinosaur feet

*Cover with contact paper to make a large dice.  Great for educational activities.  (Chalkboard contact paper would rock!!!)

Turn into a shoe to practice tying.  If your house is like mine, it might be the only shoe around your little kids that actually has laces!

Egg carton
Make a drawer organizer

* these are great for all sorts of sorting activities for little ones, too!
* practice numbers - write the number in the bottom, children have to place that many items (goldfish, pennies, pompoms, anything goes!)
*fine motor skills - give children small, age appropriate items like beads, pom-poms and have them pick up with tweezers/tongs and drop into carton

Zipper bags from sheets/pillowcases
Supplies for a project in progress

*Make a car first aid kit (no pic, haven't done it yet!)
* MOM supplies for car - pen, quarters, wipes, tissues, ponytail holders, gum/mints, ibuprofen, saline, notepad, safety pins, feminine products, hand sanitizer
* REAL Emergency kit for car - waterproof matches, protein bars,  flashlight, whistle, space blanket, emergency candles, glow sticks, hand warmers, duct tape, multi-tool
*Busy bag for car - fill with little things to keep kids busy - , crayons, stickers, small toys and games, etc.

Yogurt/Applesauce cups
*water for watercolors
*paint for painting
*mixing bowls for little ones' potions
*water fun - bath, outside, practice pouring into these, punch holes in bottom for extra fun
*holding bobby pins
*sand toys
* serving snacks for portion control - grapes, goldfish, fruit pieces, etc.
*dying Easter eggs
*start seedlings 
*sorting activities

Keep ketchup bottles and pour your pancake batter in them.  Great for making pancake shapes!

And finally, when an electronic item bites the dust, let the kids take it apart and see what's inside.  (If they didn't have a hand in it's demise, that is.  Wouldn't want to encourage breaking just so they can get their hands in it.  Not that my princesses would do that or anything.....)