Friday, April 30, 2010

Plastic placemat ideas

I can't resist buying items that can be used in MANY ways and my plastic placemats are just one example.  I picked up a few placemats about a year ago to use on the table when the girls were coloring, but I have found so many more uses for them.

Here are a few:
  • Cutting Boards - They are so easy to store and clean and they are thick enough to use for cutting.
  • White boards - The mats I have are mostly clear with a little design on them and they can write on them, color, etc, and I can just wipe it off.
  • Craft mats - We do most of our coloring, painting, playdoh, etc. on the mats to reduce the cleanup on the table/counter
  • Actual Placemats - For eating/snacking - there is something that makes using a placemat to eat so much more fun for a young child.
  • Baking mats
  • Play Kitchen/House - The girls use them in their play kitchen as well as when they are playing "babies"

If you are looking for a good disposable placemat for when you are in a public place, my sister has used these and they are really neat.  They adhere on all sides so your toddler won't be able to pull it off.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wall Letters

My sister has a knack for crafts.  When we had our last two daughters she did these WONDERFUL wall letters for in their room.  It was a long process, but what a beautiful end result - we are very grateful.  It makes the whole room!  I am hoping the style and colors will be appropriate and "cool" enough for the girls to want to keep them in their room for a very long time.  I know their Aunt spent quite a few hours on them so they will always be treasured, at least by me if not the girls.

If you like these and are interested in learning how to do them or would like my sister to do some letters for you, just let me know and I will get you her contact information.  They also make a great gift.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Getting away!

As I prepare for a long weekend in Arizona with some great girlfriends, I am thinking about how great it is going to be to get away!  The past few weeks have been crazy busy and our trip couldn't have come at a better time.

I think it is so important to take time away; whether it is with family, your husband or girlfriends.  Being away from your daily tasks and the people that you love really makes you appreciate them on another level.  It is no easy feat getting away having four little ones and a husband to leave behind, but I have wonderful friends and family that are going to help out so that I don't have to worry about a thing.  Sometimes it is easier to just skip these little trips because of all the hassle getting everyone at home settled and prepared, but once you are there and can truly relax thinking about YOUR needs only, it is so worth it!

I get away quite a few weekends a year actually, and I am very grateful that I can.  I normally go on 2 or 3 scrapbook weekends, a mother/daughter weekend with my sisters and Mom, a friend weekend and Mike and I get away 1 or 2 times a year for a whole weekend. I have a wonderful and understanding husband that holds down the fort while I am gone and he gets help from family when he needs it. Don't feel bad for him, he gets away too.  He is a big hunter and often he is gone a few weekends in Sept and Oct and then most of the month of November.  So even though it may seem that I am gone more, I just spread my "me" time throughout the year and be packs it in to one hunting season.

When I come back from my "me" time away, I feel so thankful, refreshed and ready to tackle the tasks of everyday life again. There really is no place like HOME!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Many uses for fishing supplies

I have heard the saying "If you can't get it at Fleet Farm then you don't really need it."  The store does have a lot of stuff, but I don't think I could live on just that store alone.  They do have great items including fishing organizers that can be used for scrapbooking and organizing toys!

Here is a lure organizer being used to seperate all the little beads that the girls have to make their own necklaces.  It works great!

The picture below is of something that is used for fishing and I am embarrassed to say that I don't even know what for!?  Some of my scrapbooking friends introduced it to me and we use them to store our ribbon. I am displaying the bigger size with wider ribbon but they also have a smaller one that works perfect for the narrower ribbon.
Next time you are near a Fleet Farm, stop in, you might be surprised what you find. Things are not always what they seem, you can always find a new use for something.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

So much better than a "normal" pizza cutter

I have been cutting up my kid's food for years but using this kitchen gadget makes it fun!  I am not sure what it is even called but I received it from a local pizzaria and I LOVE it.  I use it to cut up everything, even things that don't need to be cut up.  It is so much easier to use than a normal pizza cutter.  You can grip it better, can apply pressure more evenly and the cutting device is closer to the object so I think it makes the cutting process go a lot smoother.  For me, it is a kitchen must-have!  I haven't seen them in a lot of stores, but I am sure you can find them somewhere.  And when you do, I am sure you will fall in love as well!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Uplifting Christian music

I love Christmas time and one of the best things about that time of year is the wonderful music!  I could listen to Christmas music all year long.  When it is that time of year, I turn our dial to the local Christian music station.  This year when I made the switch I never went back.  I love so many songs on the station and it is great, light music to listen to all day long. 

My husband has been listening to the station for some time now and I always thought, "I am not going to listen to "church" music all day", but it is far from normal church music.  The music is current, upbeat, catching and uplifting.  Listening to it during the day reminds me of my purpose, makes me be a better person, mom and wife and it helps me stay calm and relaxed. If I am ever in a bad mood or having a bad day, I put it on and immediately I feel better. The kids have really taken a liking as well and that is another great plus to the music.  I never have to worry about bad language or commentary that isn't appropriate for them.  It is a family friendly station.

Of course I still like current country, R&B, and current what I like to call "boots with the fur" music (a.k.a. dance club music), but there is a time and place for that.  When I am out and want to dance it up with family and/or friends, I do listen and dance to that type of music.  But when I am home with family and kids, I prefer to listen to music that is good for all of us.

I encourage you to listen to your local station. You may be as surprised as I was to find that it is like therapy for your soul.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Let it Fade.....Jeremy Camp
I Can Only Imagine.....Mercy Me
Somethings Beautiful.....Need to Breathe
All that Matters.....Addison Road
All of Creation.....Mercy Me
Free to be Me....Francesca Battistelli
More Beautiful You.....Jonny Diaz
Born Again.....Third Day
What Faith Can Do....Kutlass
More like Falling in Love.....Jason Gray

Sunday, April 18, 2010

'Tis the season for Garage Sales

I used to think going to garage sales were a waste of time, but the last few times I have taken the time to go I came back with MANY things that I needed!  I think the time and effort to go and look through everyone's stuff always deterred me from going and I thought - I will never find what I am looking for, or I won't find anything that is in good enough shape to buy, etc. But it really is amazing what you can find.  I think of the things that I have put on the few garage sales I have hosted and some of the items were like brand new, so I know other people do the same.

Many cities have city wide garage sales and that is probably the best time to go because you can hit so many at one time.  Last year I think I went to 3 different city wide sales and I was very impressed.  Of course there are always some that disappoint but when you do find something great it totally makes up for it.  Garage sales are often advertised in the paper, church bulletins, city websites, etc.  I am sure at this time of year you can find one or many every weekend somewhere near you. 

As busy as this time of year gets, I highly recommend taking the time to go.  This year I am going to make a list of the items that I NEED and then of course leave room for the "wants" that I find along the way too.  It is a great place to get seasonal/holiday items such as winter boots, coats, dresses, shoes, etc.  Those items aren't worn as much so they are almost always in good shape.  I seem to always have an easier time finding things for the girls more than boys - I guess boys wear out their clothing and toys more :-)  It is also a great place to get kids toys. Most toys kids only play with for small amounts of time, so it is nice to pay a fraction of the price instead of full price in a store.

I wish you luck and Happy Garage Saling!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Free Toddler/Preschooler Menus

I received some Gerber coupons in the mail that also came with some valuable information regarding nutrition, portion size, etc. for toddlers and preschoolers.  I am sure many of us know what we should and shouldn't be putting into our children's mouths and our mouths, but sometimes it is nice to have that reminder as well as some ideas to spark the healthy eating habit again. 

On one of the informationl sheets they had a link to the Gerber website that provides free meal plans for toddlers and preschoolers.  I checked it out and it looks really neat.  Of course they are promoting using the Gerber baby food products to feed you child, but that is more of an example and guide.  If you choose to use their products or not, the meal plans still provide a lot of ideas and variety.  If you like the meal plan, you can print off a shopping list to buy everything you need to fulfill that plan, email or print the plan out.  The overall message is that it gives you many examples of how to feed your toddler or preschooler a well balanced diet. 

Here are a few quides that provide more examples for daily planning as well as daily intake amounts:

Daily intake preschooler guide -

Daily intake toddler guide-

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Save your buttons

Almost every time I buy a new shirt, pants or skirt I also recieve extra buttons.  I guess the buttons would be used in the event that I lose one, but that never seems to happen.  So until recently I had a pile of buttons in those little plastic bags just sitting in my closet. 

About two years ago I starting adding more embellishments to my scrapbooks and buttons were one of the things I would add to my pages.  I bought all kinds of buttons - small, big, bright, neutral, etc. but sometimes I wanted those unique looking buttons to add that special something to the page.  So a few months ago I started gathering and saving all those extra buttons from my clothing and keeping them for my scrapbook pages!  I have a nice collection of unique buttons now and I am sure I will only add to it over time.  I guess I will be out of luck when I do need one of the extra buttons, but I will have to cross that bridge when I get there.  For now, I will admire them on my pages!

If you are in need of actual scrapbook buttons, Oriental Trading is probably the best place to get them.  They sell them in bulk and they are very cheap.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The vicious cycle of cleaning

I spent a better part of the last two days cleaning the house, not even deep cleaning or spring cleaning just "regular cleaning."  And before I am completely done I am certain I will have to start over again.  I just can't seem to keep up these days.  I think this happens every spring when we are outside more, more dirt is coming in the house and things just get left all around the house because we are outside so much longer with the kids. By the time the kids are in bed, it is such a job to start cleaning up! 

I don't mind cleaning.  Actually, I enjoy doing it most of the time.  What I do mind is cleaning only to have it dirty again within a matter of minutes.  This has probably been the hardest thing for me to adjust to since being home. I remember one time when I cleaned the entire house to a sparkle and we sat down to eat dinner and one of the girls spilt their entire cup of milk on the newly scrubbed floor! Oh I was furious inside, but I had to laugh a little.  I asked my husband "Why would God do this to me?" and before he could answer I said "I know, so that I would realize that it is just a dirty floor, it isn't the end of the world.  There are more important things." That incident also taught me another lesson.  After I clean the house and scrub the floors, we eat the next meal downstairs so that I am guaranteed a few hours of complete cleanliness.  I know it is probably a little crazy for me to ask the family to do that, but when you spend so much time on something you have to be able to enjoy all that hard work.  There are times that I do just let things go a little but then it all comes crashing down on me and I have to spend 2 days getting caught up again. 

I had a few people comment on previous blogs asking about cleaning products or what type of cleaning routine I follow.  And now I am asking all of you for input.  When I was working I cleaned the house just about every weekend and cleaned a little deeper about once a month.  Since I have been home full-time I feel like I clean a lot less.  The house is normally picked up and neat but not always "clean".  There are times that I think I almost need a cleaning service more now than when I worked outside of the home.  I think it is just the fact that I do the small cleaning projects all day long over and over again that I seem to forget about the other cleaning tasks I should do.  I do clean the floors, bathrooms, etc. about once a week but I feel like I hardly ever do the "deep" cleaning.

Here are a few questions for any of you that would like to leave input:

What is your cleaining routine? 
What products do you like/not like?
How often do you clean?
Any tips on how to keep things clean longer?
What tasks do you let your kids help with?
How often do you move furniture to clean behind, under, etc.?
Do you use cleaning "rags", wipes or paper towels?
Do you use gloves?
Do you vaccum then dust or the other way around?

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Good" Cartoons we like to watch

Each morning the kids ususally watch a little bit of TV.  Ethan normally watches ESPN Sportcenter before school (and poor Avery puts up with it so well) and then once the big kids are off to school, the little girls normally watch some cartoons as they finish their breakfast.  I don't know about you, but I really miss the "good" cartoons we had when we were kids.  Some of the shows that are on TV for young viewers now can be very disturbing and inappropriate.

Last year we came across a few new cartoons on the PBS Kids Network that we just love!  They are fun, entertaining and they are very educational. They are Sid the Science Kid, Word Girl and Super Why.
(check your local listings for times and availablity)

I know they say that kids under the age of 2 shouldn't watch TV or very minimal, so when I do let the girls watch TV I try to have something on that is as education as a TV show can be.  I think the three cartoons listed below fall into this category.  Don't get me wrong, we do still watch a little Dora and Diego too and of course some Hannah Montana and iCarly when the big kids are around. But during the day, if the TV is on, I don't have a problem with them watching these educational shows:

Sid the Science Kid - is a new educational animated television series using comedy to promote exploration, discovery and science readiness among preschoolers

Word Girl - is a new animated series that follows the every day life and superhero adventures of “WordGirl” as she fights crime and enriches vocabulary usage, all in a day’s work.

Super Why - a breakthrough preschool series designed to help kids ages 3 to 6 with the critical skills that they need to learn to read (and love to read!) as recommended by the National Reading Panel (alphabet skills, word families, spelling, comprehension and vocabulary).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Framed Paper

I posted a similar thing a few weeks ago and forgot to mention this so I thought I would add to it - another cheap home decor idea.  I think I got this idea from people I used to work with. I used to work at a scrapbook company so there was always a lot of paper around.  I can't remember who I actually stole the idea from but it is worth sharing.

Framed Paper - basically you use a picture frame and put paper in the inside where the picture would be.  It can be a great addition to any room.  I bet if you don't tell people, they would never know it is paper. 

This example shows plain paper but I have seen people use a variety of patterned paper to add something to a room.  I think it looks especially neat in kids/baby rooms.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Some of our favorite books

We read many books during the day and I thought I would list out a few of our favorites that we seem to read over and over. 

Here are a few of our favorite books:

All Sandra Boynton Books - Moo Baa LaLaLa, Barnyard Dance, The belly button book, Pajama time, etc.  They are all great books for infants, toddlers and even older.

All Karen Katz Books - No Biting, No Hiting, etc.

Feel free to share your favorite book(s) too!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Kids eat FREE!!!

Kids eating for FREE - doesn't that just sound great!  The kids are on a little break from school so I decided to take them on a little road trip today to do some spring shopping, go out to eat with Daddy, play some games and stop in to see some past co-workers.  We had a great LONG day! 

One of the main reasons we made the trip today was to have some fun while they are on break and to have lunch as a family.  We don't go out to eat often, so when we do, we want to make it worth it without spending too much. We decided to go to a place called Space Aliens.  It is a very fun place for kids and has great food.  We normally take the kids there for their birthdays.  I researched a little before we chose where we were going to eat and it just so happened that Space Aliens has Kids eat FREE on Tuesdays.  I was expecting to get one free kids meal for each adult entree but we received 2 free kids meals for each adult entree AND all the kids got a cup with tokens to play games in their big arcade!  So for all 6 of us to eat it cost us $26.00 and $9.00 of that was for the pop and milk we ordered.  The food was fabulous, the kids were entertained and we didn't have to spend a fortune - YAY! 

I do have to admit that I feel guilty taking advantage of these offers.  I know they advertise and want you to bring your kids but I just feel bad when we walk in with FOUR kids knowing that they are going to eat for free.  But, I guess they are happy that we are there to spend some money.  If they wouldn't have had the Kids eat FREE offer we wouldn't have went there today and they would have lost the money we did spend.  So, as long as they have it, we will take advantage when we can.

Many other places offer this same deal on different days of the week.  I just googled 'Kids Eat Free' and I had many to pick from.  Each area has their own and only certain restaurants participate but I bet you can find at least one in your area!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Packaging can be deceiving!

I have been noticing lately that some items I normally buy are getting smaller and smaller.  The packaging and boxes aren't getting any smaller but the end product is.  Take for example the Market Pantry cereal bar at the top.  The packaging is a good inch to inch and a half longer than the actual bar.  And the cereal bar isn't as wide as it used to be either.  The price stayed the same though??!!!  I took a look at the nutritional information and that is also the same as it used to be but I KNOW that it used to be at least a third bigger than what it is now.  I have been noticing this with other products as well - Sunbelt granola bars, Wal-Mart's Parent's Choice diapers, etc.  I have actually sent a few emails on these products. The diapers I am VERY dissappointed in. I used to think they were better than all the other brands I have tried but now I have stopping using them.  I did get an email back from them and they aplogize and will send me coupons but they really lost my trust and now I am going to try something else.

Moral of the story, pay attention to packaging.  I am sure you can find things in your house that have changed and shrunk but the packaging and price have stayed the same.  I am sure they get away with it because not enough people complain.  Here's to hoping they hear us, see that we notice and try and keep their customers loyal instead of ripping us off!

I will be taking a break for a few days to spent Easter break with the family and celebrate with our families.  Have a great weekend we hope you all have a wonderful and Happy Easter!