Friday, March 26, 2010

Over The Shoulder BABY Holder

We have had a pretty CRAZY two weeks with hosting parties and dealing with sickness. My 9 month old was very sick and wanted to do nothing but be in my arms. “AAWWWHHH, how sweet” says you, but not so easy on the caring of other sick and needy children. Not to mention the cooking, laundry, dishes and just plain keeping our house from burning down. (Which would explain why it has taken me sooooo darn long to blog again)

I have taken a liking to two different baby carrying devices in the last two years and I use them EVERY DAY with both the toddler and baby.

My favorite by a mile is the MOBY WRAP. It can be used from newborn to 36 lbs and has several different ways to tie and utilize it. The wrap holds baby secure, close and keeps them comfortable; all the while freeing up BOTH of your hands! I can bend over and unload the dishwasher without feeling like she is about to slip out and drop on her head.

I have even put two kids in it (only once). It is NOT an official Moby hold and their weight combined was UNDER the 36 lb limit. ALSO, I was NOT running around the house busy doing things, I was JUST stirring dinner on the stove and they both wanted to be held.

If you are pregnant or just had a baby or you have a clingy toddler . . . BUY ONE, you will NOT regret it. I found mine on ebay and got a deal because the owner got it as a gift and didn't want to "figure it out". I has been a Godsend for me!

I tend to use the moby while at home or walking because it takes a minute to tie and adjust and I don’t like it dragging on the ground while tying. Mainly, because my kids tend to bite on it and at least I know when my floors were last mopped; the same cannot be said for the floors in the grocery store or the parking lot of the mall.

With that said, I have discovered (with the help of my SUPER creative and smart friend J) a quick and cheap ring sling.

Since I have NO skills in the sewing department, she introduced me to the NO SEW SLING idea. I purchased online a set of large aluminum rings. Then, I took my old college wall tapestry (dug up out of the basement) and after washing it (of course) I whipped up a sling in 10-15 minutes. The site was really detailed and it had a link to a youtube video as well.

I take it everywhere because it is quick and easy to put on, cinches right up and looks REALLY cool. I used a HotSling for this same purpose with kid three because it was small enough to carry in my purse and quick to slip on. But I really like how the ring sling cinches up so I can feel more secure about using almost both of my arms.

I realize that there have been sad and tragic stories in the news lately involving baby carriers. An important thing to remember when using ANY baby/infant carrier is: if you would not HOLD a baby in that position, then you shouldn’t be using a carrier or fabric to hold them in that position. The toddler hold (sitting on your hip) is only to be used with older children who can hold themselves upright and has complete control of their neck and back. Just use common sense when placing your child in one. There are many informational videos on the proper hold and how to use any baby/infant carrier online. I have always found a TON on Youtube.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Winter Afternoon Clutter & Chaos

When you spend time at home and REALLY having a productive day, you cannot help but feel an amazing BURST of satisfaction, peace and joy. Then. . . 3 PM rolls around and your clean oasis is once again, invaded by the scattering of coats, shoes and a MOUNTAIN of papers from school. UGH, how many papers does one kid have to bring home everyday?

We fell in love with our home for many reasons but the big one was that it is open.You walk in the front door and the living and dining rooms are right there. Ordinarily, you can contain said invasion within an entryway or hall. We, sadly, are without either. I didn’t want to build a wall but I needed SOME separation within our large room so we picked up a large shelf with lots of cubbies. We placed it LIKE a wall between the dining room and front door. Our make-shift entryway of sorts.
Luckily, there are four rows across so, each child has a basket for shoes, bin for scarves, hats and gloves and the big kids have a magazine holder to contain the mountain of school papers.

Does all of this get put away right when they walk in the door?? OF COURSE NOT! But, my second son’s chore everyday is putting away all of the
shoes, coats, and cold weather bulk. So, at least it gets done MOST of the time!

Being a family of 6, we seem to have a LOT of coats and this winter we have needed them ALL! With one coat rack and one closet we have had to make adjustments. I just grabbed an old tension rod (or old shower curtain rod) and stuck it above our single rod inside the closet. Since we have little ones,
the little coats work well on the top rod.

Now, in the winter, when all of our coats are out of storage keeping us toasty, we can actually hang them up instead of tripping on them when we walk through the door.

Well, a mom can dream can’t she?

Kids Room Breakdown

Like many owners of OLD houses, we had to get creative wherever possible when it comes to storage. Our children’s room was no exception. It is a massive space with several nooks and cranny’s perfect for book areas and toy areas which house the HUGE plastic toys I just cannot bare to look at down stairs (& too big for a pretty bin).

Their “closet” was created as time went on (aka the more children we had) and out of what the need was at the time. For me, I am NOT a morning person so the crazy 7 AM rush of getting everyone dressed, (COFFEE MADE), lunches made, breakfast eaten and out the door to school is QUITE the task. (It is always in the morning when I seriously contemplate home schooling!) Whatever makes my mornings easier is always forefront on my mind. The days of the week bins have done that! Ideally, on Sunday, they can be prepared for the week and children can just get up and dress themselves. Realistically, in our house, it is the night before. They can still get up and get dressed and MOST DAYS, no one is missing a sock or pair of underpants. Is it a flawless system, NO, but it works for us and makes my mornings easier.

Luckily in planning the clothes situation, children are small so, between one double dresser for the girls and a dresser for each boy, there is enough storage for every cozy pant, sock and star wars tee shirt. As my boys get older, I have contemplated getting them either a storage bed (with drawers in the base) or something to put at the foot of their beds like a storage bench or small dresser. This is a few years out so for now, I will only plan the ideal in my head, JUST for fun!

If you are just DESPERATE for this EXACT thing in your home . . .

The closet guts themselves are just BILLY bookcases from Ikea, LACK floating shelves from Ikea (from the AS IS department of course!) and the rods you can find at any home improvement store (Lowes or Home Depot). Most importantly, the days of the week bins were from my favorite CHEAP bin Mecca: The Dollar Tree. I got a little crazy fancy and glued foam letters on them but we seem to be loosing the stickiness battle. I would just go with my old friend: Mr. Sharpie!

Organizing Nerd Honor

I am SUCH a organizing (using my many BINS) nerd that I was BEYOND excited in discovering She too, shares my love of all BINS and CONTAINERS! I sent her a few photos of the kids "closets" and low and behold . . . she loved the idea.
So, in true NERD fashion, I am very honored to be mentioned in her blog today!

Motivated Children

My boys are old enough to start really DOING things around the house. The difficult part was finding something that would MOTIVATE them to DO something!

That is when I discovered this GREAT idea:

This was a project not only fun for me, but GREAT for our kids.
Here is a SIMILAR idea from Creative mama:

So, I found another site that let you CREATE your own currency:

Now they earn “MOM BUCKS” for their chores that they can trade in for prizes. It is an all or nothing system, do ALL the chores on the chart and get a mom buck or do nothing and get nothing. There are really only four things a day and a couple of them are just getting dressed or brushing their teeth. I wanted to make sure they felt like they could accomplish them all.

I then let the boys come up with the rewards: for example, my oldest requested he could earn two mom bucks for an extra 30 minutes of wii time.

Now many of the “chores” that I have to do on a daily basis are easier because my boys are doing chores. My oldest is in charge of gathering both laundry baskets (pop up mesh bags with handles), taking them to the basement and sorting them according to color. I have laundry baskets ready for him to sort into in the laundry room. So now, in the morning when I throw in a load of laundry, I don’t have to spend hours sorting, I just throw in a load and run back up stairs.

***Important things to think about if you are going to implement this particular job/chore into your home. I gave this job to my OLDEST because he knows what I am looking for (as far as color and what goes with what), he also knows to put things that are really dirty into a bin that I pre-treat and or soak. He is responsible enough to do this. If your children are just not there yet - never fear, growth is inevitable.

My 2-year-old daughter on the other hand . . . she LOVES to help around the house. As soon as she hears me open the dishwasher she comes running. She puts all of the kids plates, bowls and cups in the lower cabinet and she can use the dust buster around the house to pick up lost cheerios, killer dust bunnies and the various other things that come to rest on the floor after a day with four children running around. Instead of earning “mom bucks” however, she is extremely happy and content with a large marshmallow!

All in all . . . This has SERIOUSLY helped me get done what needs to get done around the house so we all can get fed, FAIRLY clean and the house doesn’t burn down.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

SO . . . HERE I GO

I was recently asked, "do you have a blog?" to which I quickly answered NO. I was thinking about that all the next day - why would I have a blog? who the heck would want to hear what I have to say? what WOULD i say?

Then, a friend of mine shared with me that she really valued my ideas and opinions. To which I wondered - WHY? I have NO idea what I am doing most of the time and I tend to be ALL ideas and no follow through most days.

Well, I figure, if there is someone out there in the same place I am. . . and something that works for our house helps them, then maybe I can share something.

SO . . . HERE I GO . . .

Since giving up Facebook for lent, I have felt a void during my morning coffee and quiet time (which is when I would stalk, I mean check, my facebook). I have always had a bookmark folder full of blogs I have been meaning to get around to so I decided to get to it. WOW, what an eye opener this has been! There are so many amazing links, recipes and self improvement ideas out there - many of which have come from stay at home moms like me.

The stay at home thing (though I am going on 5 years now) is still somewhat new - my mother worked full time. Not that was right or wrong - just different from my current call in life. My parents had two kids 7 1/2 years apart - we have four in 6 years. The gap between my oldest and youngest is LESS than the one between my sister and I.

I have no doubts that this is what I am called to do right now - stay at home and raise our children but - I FEEL LIKE I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING! Hence the reason I use the phrase "ON THE FLY" a lot. That is pretty much how things are done around here!