Sunday, March 29, 2009

Silk-Tyed Eggs

Okay, this is an awesome Easter craft so I had to share. Thanks Emily for unknowingly allowing me to stalk blogs through your blog.

My husband complains that his children destroyed all his good ties. I have three children who were all bad spitters as babies, apparently my milk had a bad aftertaste. But with Easter around the corner and this craft idea, I've got plans for those ties he never wears anymore. Way cool! Find out how here.

Saving on Utility Bills

Here's a few ideas for cutting back on those ever-increasing utility bills:

1. Open your windows (including the shades) during the day and let the natural light light your home (and maybe give the windows a good shine first)

2. Use energy saver bulbs. Look for big packs on sale at Sam's Club/Costco. On lights that use multiple bulbs (i.e. fans, bathroom) use the minimum amount of bulbs needed. I find one bulb is sufficient enough to light our bathrooms and most the fans (especially when the blinds are up). I even took some of the long, flourescent bulbs out of the lights in the basement.
3. Run your dishwasher while you do your nightly activities (make sure it's full) without the heat drying option then pull out the racks and let the dishes air dry overnight.
4. Turn off the shower water while lathering shampoo and soap (same with hand-washing in sinks). I admit I don't do this in the winter, too cold without the water.
5. Instead of filling up a dirty pot with water to soak, just stick it in the sink and let it catch the run-off from other things you're rinsing and from hand-washing.

6. I keep some large buckets out by my garden to catch water when it rains and use the water for the garden (of course it rains quite a bit here and the weather's agreeable enough for a garden).
7. Turn off lights you don't need. I'm the light nazi and get on my kids about turing off the light in the bathroom and playroom and hall when they're not there. During the day I pull the light cord on the fan so the kids can't turn on the playroom light because the sunlight through the window gives the room plenty of light. In fact during the day, we really don't use any lights.

8. Unplug toasters and other appliances when not in use.
9. My mom used to airdry our jeans on the chairs out on the patio. Toss them in the dryer at the end of a load to get rid of the stiffness. I live in Georgia where it rains frequently and it's humid, so this method doesn't work for me.
10. Run full loads in your washers. With little kids around, it doens't lake long to fill these.
What do you do to conserve and save on your utility bills?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Organization: Remembering Box

My Mission: Pack 3 children and myself for two separate destinations by next Friday.

Impossible? Each trip I take I have forgotten minor and major items, but I survived. The thing that bothers me is that I am a good list maker, but not always a good list checker, lol.

I came up with an idea I wanted to share. I've used it before in a different setting, but never thought to use it for travel, until now...

I call it The Remembering Box. I'm sure you have already realized what it is. Fantastic!

Step 1 - Find a box, basket, bin, etc. Use the size that will suit your current needs. If you use a collapsible bin, you can bring it with you on your trip. So, when those wonderful mom-caretaker thoughts enter in you can take immediate action knowing there is a home away from home :). Like when you see a stray sock and think, "oh, I need to remember to..." Hah, it's remembered!
Step 2 - Keep your ongoing pack list/remembering list in this box along with a pen.
Step 3 - Each time you remember an item needed for your trip, grab the item and put it in your box. Or if the time is premature, write the item on your list. This would be a great place to hold your travel itinerary and airline tickets, etc.
Step 4 - Before you depart, check your list. Then, take the items out of the bin and move them to your suitcase.

I've used this same idea for moving. Each time I moved, a box was designated to hold essential and needed items like scissors, markers, tape, labels, phone numbers, utility info (turn on/off info.), etc.

Wish me luck on my packing adventure!!! Please share how you prepare for a trip!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gina's Tired and True

I couldn't help but post my own tried and true items. I wrote a comment on Shayla's but I'm a visual person so I wanted to show pics and give a fuller review, because there are downsides I wanted to mention before you get mad after buying for yourself.

1. Grandma Ginger Stories- My mom has been attending Ginger Yule's institute class for years. Ginger has 25 grandchildren that she tells stories to so she made CDs with these stories. She has two CDs with "stories that make you think" and two Bible stories CDs. My five-year-old loves these and quotes them all the time. I'm glad Emma knows her bible stories but of course the bible is a little violent and gets into heavy issues that create weird thoughts in a five-year-olds mind (like playing your drowning babies like the Egyptians). But it also has my daughter reminding that the Lord can interpret dreams (not Joseph of Egypt).
2. Leapfrog's Fridge Words- My mother-in-law gave this to us for Christmas. Emma's spelling list has totally taken off and she is a great reader that loves to find new words she can spell and read. I attribute this largely to this remarkable toy, although she's moved past three-letter-words. The toy has three settings: one that tells you letter names and sounds, one that allows you to make your own words, and one that gives you words to spell (and helps you along the way). So even, my little boys can get something out of it. I also appreciate that they use lower case letters because that's what kids actually use when they read and write. The only downside I can think of is finding the letter magnets on the floor all the time (which is why I keep mine on the metal file cabinet in the corner instead of the fridge). 3.Eureka Optima Leightweight-This vacuum is leightweight but powerful. Small and light, so I am more inclined to pull it out several times a day to clean up after all these kids. I love that it works on my hardwood floors too and the setting is just an extra flip of the power switch at the top of the vacuum (instead of adjusting the wheel at the base). It also has a hose with a couple of attachments. The handle's height is adjustable so it's easier to store and I can make it short enough for the kids to vacuum (and since it's leighweight they can handle it). It's bagless and easy to open but the filter on the top of the canister gets yucky and is a pain to clean. My other issue is that the cord is too short so I have to keep switching outlets, but I guess less cord means less to wind up and more compact. Oh, it is kind of loud too but hey, it's a vacuum. Overall, I like this little machine.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

tried and true

There are some things around my house that have proven to be worth every penny I've spent on them. I know some of these things may not be relevant to some of you with older children, but I thought I'd share some "tried and true" products that I've been ever so grateful to have at my disposal!

1. Aquaphor -- my first son had a pretty good case of eczema the first year or so of his life (he still gets dry scaly patches every now and then). We tried many different lotions, expensive oils, and even prescription steroids. Nothing works as well as a good slathering of greasy Aquaphor.

2. The Boppy Chair -- The Boppy nursing pillow is great, but I wasn't able to put it to use (I can't nurse). But this Boppy chair has gotten so much use from both my boys. They love(d) it. Not only does it cradle them, it can play music and vibrate on demand. If only they made one of these my size!

3. Cloth Diapers -- no, I don't use cloth diapers on my babies' butts. Don't have the stomach for that. I use them as burp rags and they do an exceptional job. So soft and so absorbent and just the right size (the prefolded ones). Can't live without 'em.

4. Munchkin Formula Dispenser -- soooooo much easier to carry around in the diaper bag than a size 10 can of powdered formula! I have the 3 compartment one and it's as handy as mudflaps on a speedboat (sorry, saw that saying on a t-shirt once).

5. Munchkin Inflatable Duck Bath -- I love this as an intermediate bathtub. My son did as well. It's fun, it uses less water, makes duck noises, is cushy, has one of those "too hot" indicators. And it has little suction cups so that you can hang it on the shower wall to dry. Oh, and it only costs $10 at Target! I even used it once as a holder for drinks at a baby shower. Love this thing.

6. Miss Spider Books -- I only have one of these (Miss Spider's New Car) that I was lucky enough to pick up at Deseret Industries. I hadn't heard of Miss Spider before this, but boy was I in for a treat! It has such bold, bright pictures and such fun, rhyming text. My son loves looking at the pictures by himself and I really enjoy reading the funny story to him. I hope to invest in more Miss Spider adventures one day!

7. The Little Series Music CDs -- We have the box set of these that I picked up at a Christian book store. Included are Smile a Little (well-known kid songs like Old McDonald), Dream a Little (lullabies for bedtime), Play a Little (religious songs like This Little Light of Mine), and Laugh a Little (more well-known songs). I really like this particular set because not only are there are a lot of songs on each cd, it's actual kids who sing the songs. We also own a Little Series Christmas cd that is super cool as well.

8. Corn Popper Ride-On -- We gave this to our son on his first birthday. He didn't sit on it right away, but he LOVED pushing it around the house. This is still one of his favorite toys even now that he's two. He loves giving his monkey and various other "friends" rides on it. Mostly he just loves to see how much noise he can make with it. Especially when little brother is sleeping. So it seems anyway...

9. Little People Zoo Train -- Little People are cool. Small chunky people and small chunky animals can occupy my child for minutes at a time (yes, only minutes, but still). His particular favorite is this musical zoo train. Perhaps if he owned a Thomas train or some other wooden variety, he would lose interest in this one. But for now, this is one toy that he goes back to quite often.

10. Swimways 60" Spring Pool -- I love love love this pool. We purchased it last summer and got a lot of use out of it. Can't wait to break it out again in a couple months. What makes it so great is: a) you don't have to inflate the whole thing (just a ring around the top), b) it folds back up and is easily portable (we took it with us on a trip to Idaho), c) my big body can fit in there too.

What are some of your "tried and trues"?