Sunday, February 23, 2014

{organization} answers.

* I adore posts about how you organize things... the lists, the notebooks.... 
* Your organization stuff! =) 
* How do you meal plan? 

Oh, I do love organization. I love to be organized. I love the look of organization. I try really hard... I do. 
I often fail, though and am not nearly as organized as I would like to be. But I do try. 
So here are some of my favorite attempts at organization. =) 

** Family Calendar: 
I have this calendar hanging on my fridge... Amy Knapp's Big Grid Family Organizer. I love it. This is the third or fourth year I've used it and it's my favorite. 

Plenty of room to write... I love the stickers that come with it... a spot for meal planning... extra space at the top or bottom for random notes and reminders. I often order it around October and get the 17 month option so that I don't have to stop planning in December. It's nice to have the pages that go ahead on in to the next year. 

I did realize, though, (after I recommended it to a friend) that it only works for me to hang on our fridge since we have a bottom freezer. If you have a top freezer, it's not near as convenient to write on. So if you have a regular fridge (or a side by side) you would want to make sure you have a big enough wall space to hang it. 

 ** Personal Calendar/Planner: 
I came really close to ordering an Erin Condren planner this year. My mom was going to pay for it and have it be part of my Christmas present. In the end, though, I just couldn't justify spending $50 on a planner. I had grabbed this planner on a whim at Target at the end of 2012. I ended up using it all the time and it was perfect for me.

I couldn't find them at Target this year, but found the 2014 version at It is made by Orange Circle Studios and it looks like they have several options. (There is even a Mom one!) Mine is the Bold Blossoms Do It All Planner. I like the $12 price tag a whole lot better and it's small enough to fit in my purse. I was worried that the EC one would be too big. 
 {and look how happy it is!} 

I like that it has space with the whole month at a glance, but also pages with a weekly layout. I fill in things for the week at the top and then run my To-Do-List for the week all the way across the bottom. I've never been good at designating specific tasks for certain days. When we were building the house, I used the first box (that says This Week) to list all the things house related that needed to be accomplished that week.

It also has lots of fun stickers, but they make me laugh. Look at all those "Hair and Nails" stickers! And I wish I needed all those "Vacation and Business Trip" stickers. =)

This page makes me laugh, too: Weekend Getaway, Party, Movie, Girls Night, Shopping, Date Night, Lunch Date, Coffee Date. Clearly I need to be going on more dates to really use this planner effectively. =)

There are lots of blank pages in the back where I keep running lists of projects and gift ideas for everyone. The same kind of things I kept in my little green notebook, except since this has a calendar included, I carry it with me almost all the time.

More blank pages in the back (these have perforation so you can tear out those 3 little sections individually. These are handy for shopping lists or just things to remember.

** Christmas Planner: 
I made this a few years ago with a friend and love using it every year. I keep track of gift ideas, gifts that have been purchased, Christmas cards, menus, shopping lists, wrapping paper (I don't put names on the kids presents, but they each have a certain wrapping paper.) We got the idea from eighteen25 and you can download everything you need from their blog. I still have enough pages that I could add another tab for this year (maybe even 2 years!) but I may be ready for a new one. We'll see.

** Meal Planner: 
Several years ago, I went through my cookbooks and recipes and made this little binder of all our favorites.

The main dish is listed, along with the ingredients needed. I didn't include amounts on most things, because usually I am familiar enough with the recipe that I know about how much is needed. When I meal plan, I'll sit down with this, flip through it and jot down 9 or 10 meals that sound good for the next two weeks. Then I can check the pantry quickly and see what we have/what we need and make a quick shopping list.

Then this is my meal plan for the next two weeks. I don't assign specific meals for certain days, I just know we have the ingredients for all these meals. Then, depending on how I'm feeling (or how late I'm starting supper!) I pick one. It's a pretty fancy system. =)
{I just noticed that I apparently can't spell Mostaccioli}

** Kitchen Organization: 
No judgment on the contents of my pantry, please. =) Ignore all the packages of ramen noodles and focus on the oatmeal, okay?

We do encourage healthy breakfast options, I promise.

See that little white tray back there? I've saved that thing for 11 years, never having a real good spot for it. (It was part of a baby gift when Sophie was born.) It was just stuck in a closet, usually. So happy to now have a perfect use for it!

This cabinet is deep, so it's hard to reach things clear in the back. All our cake, brownie and muffin mixes fit on here perfectly and if you take out the jar of chocolate chips and the syrup, it is super easy to slide the little tray out and reach everything. Otherwise I would be standing on a stool and emptying this cabinet every time I needed a muffin or brownie mix. (It may get spray painted this summer, though...)

We might have excessive amounts of sprinkles at our house...

I still love this happy little cart I found on Facebook for $5. It makes me smile. Travel coffee mugs are in one of the red boxes and little containers Corey takes with him to work are in the other. Big bags of cereal (we buy the cheap stuff) and chips (mainly for Corey to take for lunch) are in the tubs on the bottom.

Kids chores and responsibilities: 
We're still using our clipboard method, but I've changed it a bit. And I'm horribly inconsistent. We need to work on that. "Saturday jobs" and "Spot in the van clean" are my favorite clothespins. Gretchen has a clipboard now, too. I really need to step it up in this area, though.

And just a quick picture to brag on my hubby a bit. This is his area and all his doing. =)

But just remember... before you start thinking I'm all crazy organized... appearances can be deceiving...

This is more along the lines of how I feel each day... 

Or... you can just tell yourself this and celebrate your "un-laziness..."

Happy organizing! =)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

valentine's day.

Simple and easy, but happy little Valentine's this year... 

Fun valentine's for the little people I spend my days with... 

Sweet and simple little Valentine's left on the counter for my favorite little people...

Nothing for Corey. Because he's a big scrooge and thinks Valentine's Day is just a made up holiday.
Like Mother's Day.
Good thing I like that guy.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

{kid} answers.

* Having 3 kids... tell me about all the things you love about having 3... :) 
I always thought I wanted 2 kids. (2 girls) It's what I grew up with and what I knew. Corey grew up with 3 and always thought he wanted 3. Then we had Lawson... Corey had a boy and a girl and would have been content to stop. I wasn't sure, though. Honestly, Gretchen was a total surprise. I posted this picture of Lawson in March 2009, saying "we hadn't decided if this little man was ever going to be a big brother. So God decided for us..." 

Absolutely, 100%, the BEST surprise ever. We really can't imagine life without Gretchen. She made our family complete. And really... I think 3 is more fun that 2. More work... yes. More crazy... yes. But just more fun. 

The age difference between the kids was a big help, though, I think. Sophie and Lawson are just 2 1/2 years apart. When Gretchen was born, Sophie had just turned 7 and Lawson was 4 1/2. Big difference. They have always been so good with her and they both play great with her. 

Another bonus to 3 kids... now anytime we just have 2 of them... it feels so calm and quiet! =) 

* How do you discipline your kids? I have two girls who are starting to pick at each other... 
The consequences we use most often now involve electronics (TV, computer, iPad, Wii...) and early bedtimes. All 3 kids are really into the iPad, so getting that taken away is a big deal. We still do timeout with Gretchen occasionally and Sophie and Lawson get sent to their rooms sometimes. One child in particular really has a hard time with a bad attitude when they get overtired. So early bedtimes work well for that child. They don't like it, but it's sometimes what they need. (This kiddo was sent to bed at 7:20 the other night and was asleep before 7:45.) 

{I got a few nasty comments the last time I posted this, so here goes...} but we do still use vinegar in their mouths if they are talking rudely or disrespectfully (telling us no... talking back). I have a little spray bottle that I keep in a kitchen cabinet and they get a spray in their mouths. (We used to just dip our finger in it, or have them dip their finger in, and then swirl it around their mouths.) When we started doing it, it came with a talk about how the things coming out of their mouths need to be sweet and kind, not nasty and yucky. That's why we use it as a consequence for how they are talking, not for how they are acting. We don't do it a lot, but the kids have each had it enough to know that they really don't like it. (Gretchen's only had it once, when she was in a NO! phase a few months ago.)

As far as the kids picking at each other... (um... yeah. We've been there a lot lately.) You've seen that "Get Along shirt" on Pinterest? We don't do that, exactly, but I have told the big kids that if they are having that much trouble getting along, they obviously need some practice. So they have to be practice being together for an hour or two, until they figure out how to get along. I usually tell them that it doesn't matter what room they are in or what they are doing, but they have to be doing it TOGETHER! 

I've also noticed that often times their arguing and fussing at each other has to do with the iPad or computer. Who's turn is it? Who's been on longer? So usually they just lose the privilege. But, every couple months, I'll give the kids a 10 days for $10 challenge. If they can go 10 days straight with no technology (we usually give them a pass for our normal Friday night family movie) then I give them $10. They usually end up spending a lot of time playing together during those days and it helps everyone get along better. 

* Favorite places to shop for and with the kids? 
By far, the majority of my kids' clothes that I buy come from Target or Wal-Mart. (Lawson and Gretchen both get some great hand-me-downs from friends and family and Sophie found several fun things at a Goodwill store this fall.) Sophie was really in to Justice last year and did get a few things from there (gift cards for her birthday) but she figured out pretty quickly that she could get a lot more for her money at Target. Smart girl. =) 

Chances are, anything expensive or "name brand" was a hand-me-down or from a garage sale or consignment sale. I'm sure that will change some day, but for now... it's what works. =) 

All 3 kids love to shop at Target. (They may get that from their momma.) Sophie loves Claire's and any fun, girly store like that. Lawson likes to go to sports and outdoor stores with his daddy. Gretchen loves to go to the pet store downtown, but only if I carry her past the snakes and lizards. =) 

Friday, February 7, 2014

snow play.

{She assured me that the bunny would be okay, since he had his footy pajamas on...}