Chore Board for Kids

Huzzah!  Remember my last post?  How I said I had three items on my Task List that I had begun to ignore, as they had been on there for so long?  Well, guess what?  I did one of them this week!  I was so thrilled with finally accomplishing it that I’m sharing it as my First Friday Find!  A while ago, I saw this idea for a chore board for kids presented in different ways on Pinterest, and I finally got around to completing my version!

Chore Board for Kids

Let me start by saying, I hesitate to give my children money for chores.  Both my husband and I try to instill in our children that they are not entitled to any money by helping around the home.  We want our children to know that some things get done simply out of respect for their living area and things.  So, making any sort of system that created an allowance based on chores was a hard sell for us.  However, I can understand how they might like opportunities to make money.  That is why I created a chore board for them that includes tasks above and beyond the other chores that are expected of them as part of our family.  As their part in sharing the load in our home, my two eldest are responsible for doing the following without rewards: clearing the table, sweeping under the table, emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, cleaning up toys/books/clothes/crafts/etc, bringing laundry down, putting laundry away, and more.  As my boys grows older, their load of responsibilities will increase.  I may ask more or less of my children than most, I don’t know.  But, for now, this is working in our home.

With my daughters getting older though, their abilities to help around the home have increased.  As a result, our chore board for kids is FINALLY going to come to pass.  I have 8 clothespins on our chore board.  The current list of chores include: dusting upstairs ($.50), dusting downstairs ($.50), vacuuming upstairs ($1), vacuuming downstairs ($1), cleaning downstairs bathroom ($1), cleaning upstairs bathroom ($1), washing windows in our TV room ($1), and parent’s choice ($1).  I put cleaning specifications on the chore tags to avoid any shortcuts being taken.  I also noted that on “parent’s choice” it may involve more than one chore to earn $1.  This may not seem like much money, but, again, they have a responsibility to be a contributing part of our family first and foremost.

In an effort to keep some sort of order to this system, I have a few plans in mind.  First, they will need my approval of their work before they receive the money.  Second, I am going to ask that they write their name on the back of the paper so that I can keep track over a longer period of who is doing what in our home.  If it turns out that washing the windows is the coveted chore, I don’t want to find that one of my daughters is always snagging that chore first.  So, to be fair, they can’t do the same chore twice in a row.  Lastly, I plan to refill the money in the chart every two weeks.  This will slow down the rate at which they try to earn money and keep my husband and I from going broke.  I can see my second oldest dusting every single day, if it meant more money.  She actually enjoys that chore.

Chore Board for Kids WIP

As for the making of the chore board for kids, it was really quite simple.  I picked up a decorative piece of wood at Hobby Lobby and used some paint, clothespins, and tacky glue that I had from home and VOILA!  I wanted to come up with a catchy title at the top, as I still regretted not putting “Seeking Sole Mate” at the top of my Lost Socks craft.  So, while many other websites called their system “Work for Hire,” I settled on, “Earn more by doing a chore.”  I love how my eldest questioned where I got the line from, not believing that I was capable of such creativity.  I managed to paint the letters freehand with the printed version as my guide.  You can see by the picture that I had a change of heart during my creation from sizing down on WAY TOO big a font to switching out the word “make” for “earn.”

Chore Board for kids back

Once the craft itself was complete, I picked up Sawtooth Hangers from Hobby Lobby, snack size bags from Target, grabbed some small bills, and typed up the chores on card-stock paper for durability.  Once I finished it, I couldn’t wait to hang it in our laundry room/mudroom over their filing bin.  That hanging filing bin was another lifesaver in our home.  I was so sick of seeing the girls papers and random drawings on scrap papers, that I finally made them in charge of deciding what papers and drawings were worth keeping in their designated space.  That may sound heartless, but my second eldest is notorious for writing made-up song lyrics, menu items, directions for x-y-z, and more.  The clutter adds up fast.

2016-02-03 21.33.50

So, there you have it!  This month’s First Friday Find is a combination of finding a morsel of my mojo and sharing a crafty find I stumbled upon years ago, but only recently made a reality.  I know my kids are especially grateful that the chore board for kids is complete, and not just something I keep promising them will be implemented at an undetermined date.  Here’s to my hired help making my life a little easier.

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Two Natural Remedies That Have Shocked Me

When I was 2, I nearly lost my life to the havoc wreaked on my body from a genetic blood disease.  While I was too young to remember the details, the results of that emergency situation were clear from my earliest memories.  I had a seven-inch scar that stretched across my stomach where my spleen was removed, and I took a teaspoon of penicillin twice a day to fight off infection until I was 12-years-old.  Additional antibiotics were given to me anytime I came down with a cold.  Western medicine has been a blessing in my life for as long as I can remember.  And its role in my life hardly stopped when I was twelve.  I firmly believe my two eldest, who were both preemies, would not be with us today if it were not for Western medicine.  I’m a staunch supporter of vaccines.  And, the surgeries that helped my daughter’s eyes function properly could not have been obtained through natural remedies.  I could go on with countless examples of how Western medicine afforded me a life I would not have had otherwise.  That being said, I am finding more and more that natural remedies have a place in achieving optimum health and well-being.  For January’s First Friday Find, I felt impressed to share the two natural remedies that have shocked me with their effectiveness in treating common discomforts.

Local honey for treating allergies

Thankfully, I have never suffered from allergies.  It wasn’t until I met my husband that I saw firsthand how debilitating it can be when trying to enjoy outdoor activities.  He had managed okay while he lived in Texas, but upon moving out to California he soon found himself loading up on Claritin-D or Zyrtec-D, whatever he could get his hands on first, to help him survive outdoors.  The allergy medicine helped enough to make a noticeable difference, but when we moved to Oregon, we had a new allergy beast on our hands.  Up here, he is allergic to Juniper trees.  Juniper trees that are EVERYWHERE!  We headed to the pharmacy again, only to find that Claritin-D and Zyrtec-D are not sold over the counter.  In Oregon, allergy medicine that has the decongestant portion (-D) requires a prescription.  That seemed like such a pain, so it was a blessing when we learned about how local honey can treat allergies.

Perhaps not a huge blessing for my husband, as he despises honey, but the effectiveness is worth it.  He takes a spoonful of raw local honey everyday and it eliminates his allergy symptoms.  When I did a Google search about local honey treating allergies, I was surprised to find the first two sites detailing how it is a myth.  If it were a myth, I assure you my husband would gladly omit local honey from his diet.  It may be a myth for others, but the fact in our home is that if he skips a few days of local honey, the runny nose and sneezing quickly return.  Plus, he is not our only guinea pig for this natural remedy.  The way we found out about it in the first place was because a friend of ours shared with us how effective it had been in his battle with allergies.  The key is that it HAS to be local.

The raw local honey we pick up is taken from a beehive colony about 25 miles away.  Where we live, there are a couple of vendors that claim to be selling local honey, but we quickly learned that they were considering anything in Oregon as local.  Many of these are taken from Willamette Valley, which is over 100 miles away from where we live.  Our alternate guinea pig friend was clear on how ineffective the less-than-local-honey was for his allergies.  So, if you are an allergy sufferer and have the ability to get your hands on truly local honey, then I suggest hunting down providers in your area.

Two Natural Remedies

Fresh pineapple juice as a cough suppressant

Again, I did a Google search, this time for fresh pineapple juice as a cough suppressant.  And, again, it came up as a myth.  Well, sort of myth.  One of the sources was Snopes.com, which said that a story, claiming pineapple juice was 500% more effective than cough syrup, was false.  According to Snopes, there seemed to be no concrete data supporting this claim.  However, it didn’t say that fresh pineapple juice was not effective, just that it was not verified to be 500% more effective than cough syrup.

While I also cannot provide research claiming it is 500% more effective than cough syrup, I can tell you that it works 100% with my husband.  The results of this natural remedy were amazing.  My husband only recently came across this tidbit and happened to have a cough at the time.  He had coughed all morning and decided to give it a go, as he was chopping up fresh pineapple for us to snack on later.  He took a swig of the leftover juice and his coughing subsided almost immediately.  He went for hours without a single cough or throat clearing.    I suppose you could say it was a fluke that his cough stopped, but the following day provided him with another opportunity to witness its capabilities as a cough suppressant.

He went to bed before me that following evening and I heard him repeatedly enduring coughing fits, as I sat downstairs.  I finally remembered how effective the fresh pineapple juice had been the previous day.  I went to our fridge, pulled out our container of freshly cut pineapple, and poured out the juice that had settled at the bottom.  It was probably no more than 5 teaspoons of juice that I collected.  I took it up to him, he chugged it back, and not a single cough was had for the rest of the night.  It was truly incredible.

As I mentioned, I am a huge supporter of Western medicine.  But, these two natural remedies that have shocked me have opened my mind to the benefits that can come from pure bits of nature.  There may not be concrete studies to support these natural remedies, but these remedies have results that are too tangible to deny in our home.  May the ease, affordability, and purity of these remedies find a place in your medicinal arsenal.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

8 Fun Ways for Kids to Serve!

As Labor Day Weekend has come and gone, it seems so has our Summer.  School starts this week for us and, as a result, we have been busily finishing up our 50 Fabulous Summer Bucket List Items.  We recently completed our “Day of Service” item.  Since I had put a bit of time researching just the right opportunities for my kids (ages 1 through 9) to spread kindness, and it turned out so well, I thought I would share my 8 fun ways for kids to serve!  We didn’t have a chance to do all eight of these ideas, but the ones we did do had some surprising results.

Take cards to the assisted living home.

We have done this a few times now and my kids are getting more comfortable at going up to the residents and delivering their handmade cards.  Sometimes it is difficult for young kids to feel comfortable walking up to strangers, let alone strangers who may have disabilities or ailments that may make children uncomfortable from their lack of understanding.  I admit, when I was a teenager and served in our school Community Service Club, visiting the local retirement home gave me anxiety.  I digress, as this post is not about me and my insecurities.

We usually invite other families to join us so that we can have a card making party and be armed with more cards to give out when we arrive at the assisted living home.  I’ve learned that the best time to arrive is around lunch or dinner time, to deliver cards while they are all gathered for meals.  On times when we have arrived outside of these hours, we have merely placed the cards on the tables for the residents to see when they arrive.  Our cards usually include little notes wishing them a nice day with a drawing and some stickers.  I think it’s fun to include the ages of the kids who are creating the cards, to personalize the experience a little more for the recipient.

Fun ways to serve

Leave “lucky pennies” for children to find.

When I was a little girl, my Mom used to say, “Heads up, pick it up.  Give it away, have luck all day.”  I’ve heard variations on that, but the common thread is that a penny with its head facing up is considered good luck.  But, let’s be honest, a kid doesn’t care what way a penny is facing.  A penny, in their minds, is as good as gold.  My friend and I sent our kids out, with pennies in hand, to go place “lucky pennies” along the pathway where we were eating our lunch picnic during this year’s Day of Service.  As soon as the kids were done eating their lunches, they all ran off to check the status of the pennies they had placed.  Such a fun and simple way to spread joy!

Deliver baked goods to your local fire station.

This one is ALWAYS the highlight of my kids’ Day of Service.  It’s probably because the fire fighters in our town are all too willing to give them a tour of their vehicles, particularly their engine.  What child doesn’t love getting up in a fire engine?  I feel like we’re on the recipient side of this act of service, as they seem to stop everything to teach our children and let them explore.  The best part is, as an adult, I actually learn new stuff about their role in our community every time we go.

 Attach a bag of coins to a vending machine.

After our assisted living home stop, lunch break, and fire station exploration, we headed over to our local hospital to do two more acts of service.  Before heading out for our Day of Service, we had placed a dollar worth of coins into six separate baggies with a note that read, “Spreading random acts of kindness.  Enjoy a treat on us!”  Upon arriving to the hospital, we sought out the vending machines and taped the baggies to the machines with packing tape.  Since we had six bags and there were only two vending machines, we ended up taping four and delivering two to patients waiting in the Emergency Department.

Place coloring books and crayons in hospital waiting areas.

This was our second act of service within the hospital, and the most surprising one to me.  Being that we were two women with eight kids between us, I don’t imagine we appeared dangerous, yet some adults and kids were quick to refuse our offer of crayons and coloring sheets.  I was shocked by a mom who sharply declined our act of kindness and kids who seemed confused by our offer.  In fact, nobody would take any from us.  We ended up placing the items on tables near the waiting families and informing them that they were theirs for the taking, should they change their mind.  Some kids quickly went for the coloring pages once they were laying out.  I suppose many of us have come accustomed to believing that there is always some sort of catch to something being “free.”

The three remaining items for 8 fun ways for kids to serve were not done during our Day of Service, but I had intentions of doing these as well.  Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to do them for one reason or another.

Leave positive messages with sidewalk chalk along walkways.

I really wanted to do this one, but I forgot to buy the sidewalk chalk.  My hope was to have the kids leave smiley faces along sidewalks or perhaps little messages that just said, “Have a good day,” or “You’re beautiful.”  Sidewalk chalk messages and drawings seem to easily catch the attention of others.  How fun would it be to know that others might be lifted up by such a simple message for days to follow?

Return shopping carts to their stalls.

This was another way that I thought my kids would have fun serving.  However, after further thought, I realized that my kids are a bit too young to be gathering shopping carts and pushing them through busy parking lots.  Plus, my kids kept worrying that if we did this task, then we would end up putting the workers who normally do this undertaking out of a job.    I imagine once they’re a little older, they’ll understand that the “shopping cart retrievers” have other responsibilities to ensure job security.  Perhaps then we can give this act of service a go?

Leave a small present or a note of appreciation in your mailbox for your mail carrier.

My Mom used to give the garbage man, the mail carrier, our dry cleaners’ owners, and our gardeners a box of See’s Candies for Christmas, as a sign of our appreciation.  I always thought it such a nice gesture.  While I don’t have the ability to give such generous tokens, I thought it might be nice to drop a note of gratitude or perhaps grab a candy bar and leave it in our mailbox for our mail carrier.

::COMMERCIAL BREAK::  You may notice that I am being very PC in referring to our mail carrier.  This is because I once addressed a card to my BFF that said, “Dear Mailman, Please deliver this card to the best friend in the whole wide world.”  When the card arrived, the mail carrier had left a note on the front of the card, slashing out the word “man” portion of Mailman and putting “woman” instead.  Since then, I’ve tried to be more considerate about the gender of a mail carrier.  Normally, I’m not very PC, but if I’m going to show my appreciation, I certainly want to be sensitive to their feelings.  ::NOW BACK TO YOUR REGULAR PROGRAMMING::

All of these 8 fun ways for kids to serve almost seem too easy.  By the time we had done five of these eight acts of kindness, it seemed like we had hardly done anything at all.  But who is to say how far these acts may go?  They weren’t big at all in the grand scheme of things, but if they changed the outlook of even one person’s day, then I think we’ve had a success.  Heck, I even got a little happy when my daughter delivered a card to an elderly gentleman playing the piano at the assisted living home, and he noticed her name on the card and said that it was also his sister’s name.  Perhaps just triggering the memory of a loved one brought joy to him?  I know remembering my mom can be bittersweet, but each memory is a reminder that she lives on in me.

As parents, we have the responsibility to teach our children so many things; at times it feels overwhelming.  However, teaching my children to look beyond themselves is towards the top of my list.  As a Christian woman, my focus is to teach my children of Jesus Christ.  What better way to teach of Him, than to teach them how to be charitable, which is the pure love of Christ?   I hope they remember these days that we set aside every so often to serve, and seek out their own ways to lift others through their daily activities.

8 Questions to Help Cut Clutter

In case you didn’t notice, I took a week off last week.  It happened to be the same week that I took off last year due to my Stroke of Luck.  So, I decided the anniversary of my stroke will be a Summer vacation for me going forward.  I figure I’ll give myself a week off during Christmas week also.  Not that you guys care, but I thought I would state it ahead of time, so it doesn’t seem like I’m just slacking.  Truth be told, the last thing I’ve done is slack lately.  We finally moved last week and its felt like pure chaos ever since.  Moving a family of six is more overwhelming than I anticipated, especially when the one-year-old and I were both sick with colds.  What it’s taught me, though, is that I have too much stuff.

I couldn’t help but recall a stand-up comedy bit Jerry Seinfeld did on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where he says, “All things on earth only exist in different stages of becoming garbage.  Your home is a garbage processing center, where you buy new things, bring them into your house and slowly crapify them over time.”  You really should check out the link to enjoy the whole bit.  His thoughts on the matter leave me questioning why I hold  on to as much stuff as I do?

Cutting Clutter

Sentimental reasons or “just in case” seem to be the biggest culprits of accumulating unnecessary stuff.  Ironically, my husband came in from the garage the very moment I typed that last sentence and said to himself, “Why do I need another drill, when I already have two?  It’s just more things.”  He had contemplated the need for his third drill that had been lying around, and it sounds like he got his answer.  I’m guessing the third drill was a “just in case” situation.  But, what about the sentimental stuff?  I have so much stuff of my mom’s that I have kept merely because it was hers.  Some have special meaning to me and are worth keeping, others are just taking up space.

I’ve heard mention of this book that’s become popular on this very subject of tidying up the “stuff.”  It’s called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.  I haven’t read it myself, but my BFF told me about it and how she’s #137 on the wait list at the library down in LA.  That’s a good sign of its popularity.  After telling me how far down she was on the wait list, she said, “I see no point in buying a book that talks about getting rid of stuff.”  Touché.  I hear the gist of the book is that you’re supposed to hold an item in your hands and ask yourself if it brings you joy.

I have a pile on my kitchen counter of items that I cannot find a spot for in our new home.  It is a pile of needful things, but it is certainly not bringing me joy at this time.  In fact, I’ve spent time wandering aimlessly in my kitchen area just trying to make sense of the mess.  Mess does not equate to joy in my world, yet the pile remains safe from the fate of the trash.  On the other hand, there is a box of my daughters’ drawings and sketches that they have done on random scraps of papers that brings me no joy.  Don’t get me wrong, I keep some of their art work and special notes, but this box mine as well be considered a trash box.  Here’s the thing though, that box does bring my children joy.  And that’s where I get into a bit of an issue.  I’ve gotta figure out the level of joy for things for six different people with differing views on the value of an item.  Oy vey.  It’s no wonder Marie Kondo is able to be so tidy, she doesn’t have any kids.

I don’t have the perfect answer on this topic.  I wish I did.  For me, it’s been a process of asking myself  the following questions when I stumble upon an item that needs a place, even if that place is the trash.

8 questions to help cut clutter:

1.  Have I used this item in the last year?

A little over a year ago, we got this bread maker for free from one of my husband’s co-workers.  We used it and quickly learned that none of our kids liked the results from said bread maker.  My husband and I would struggle to finish each loaf between the two of us before the bread went bad.  I’m sure we could have given it more tries, but it just didn’t seem worth it to us any longer.  The bread maker has not made the cut.

2.  Is it needful?

Here’s a perfect example of an item from the counter of chaos.  I have trash bags and sandwich bags on that counter.  Sadly, I have no more storage space in my kitchen.  But, guess what?  Those trash bags will not be going inside themselves.  Bags make the cut and I am on the quest to purchase a Storage Dynamics Over door Storage Basket Rack.  Yes, it’s one more thing, but it will help organize other things.

3.  Is it helpful in case of an emergency?

I have a limited amount of food storage and I’m keeping it.  You never know when an emergency might strike.  Flashlights?  Keeping them.  First Aid items?  You betcha!  You get the idea.

4.  Will I remember I have it already, when it comes time to use such an item?

Have you ever had this happen to you where you think you need something, go buy it, and later find out that you had plenty of the item in your home already?  This happens with me with Costco items a lot.  I’ll see that something I use is on sale and snag it in bulk, only to come home and see that I already purchased the same thing recently.  At one point, I think we had enough Life Cereal in our home to feed a small army.

Another way to avoid this from happening, is assigning intuitive spots for items.  For instance, I wanted to pick up some removable hooks that I could hang our family calendar and aprons on.  It was on my list of things to buy, when I stumbled over a box of remaining hooks from a previous purchase.  The hooks were with like items, I had just failed to unpack all of my boxes at that time.  Hooray for intuitive storing!

5.  Does it have sentimental value that continues to be meaningful?

The sentimental stuff is the hardest, don’t you think?  You’ll notice that the question is not just whether an item has sentimental value, but whether it is still meaningful to you as well.  I have this darling little “Girlfriends” book that one of my closest friends from high school had given to me shortly after we graduated.  She had written little inside jokes within the book’s pages.  It was a sweet and touching gift.  I carried it from house to house for years and only glanced in it when considering whether or not to keep it.  Sadly, she and I grew apart over a decade ago, as often is the case with childhood friends.  I haven’t seen her in over four years and though the book made me smile again when I flipped through it, the memories felt emptier knowing where I friendship is now.  Perhaps it’s cold of me to do so, but the book finally went into the trash today after years of being moved from place to place.

6.  Does it tell a story of my family history?

I have LOADS of family albums.  I mean LOADS.  I have photo albums with pictures from the early 1900’s.  Sometimes it feels like so much to store, but it tells a part of my family history and that means something to me.  It’s not even a sentimental thing as much as a desire to have a greater understanding of my ancestry.  I wish the photo albums had more comments about the date and people involved so that I could get a better understanding of it all.

7.  Can I easily get this information elsewhere?

This is a good question for addressing books.  I cut my cookbook collection in half with this move.  I can get almost any recipe I want through Pinterest.  Then it’s just a matter of which recipe really is the BEST ENCHILADAS EVER?  Cookbooks that made the cut are How to Cook Everything and personalized ones bound with friends’ recipes.  These types of cookbooks seem better suited for print or cannot be found on-line.

8.  Can somebody else get better use out of the item than me?

Our new home has a bathroom painted a deep red downstairs.  I had purple mats and towels in our previous guest bath.  Purple and deep red don’t really jive.  I have no other need for the purple mats, despite them being in excellent condition.  So, alas, the mats don’t make the cut.

These questions won’t solve every decision regarding your stuff, but hopefully they will help.  I’m trying to challenge myself to really let go of more stuff, because it just seems so ridiculous how much stuff we have.  Don’t even get me started on toys.  We recently put all of our kids toys into one large bonus room.  Heaven help me, it’s a disaster in there.  I’m hoping my efforts to de-clutter will have a rippling effect in our home.

Wish me luck and feel free to pass along any words of advice on this topic!  I’m still knee-deep in unpacked  boxes and I’ve already run out of storage space in our new home.

First Friday Find: Three Life Hacks & 100th Post Giveaway

Can you believe it?  This marks my 100th post on this blog!  Pretty exciting stuff!  Let’s celebrate by doing a modest giveaway, as I’m a modest girl.  More details about the giveaway later in this post.

For those that are new to the site, I thought I would share a little about what a “First Friday Find” is here on First You Must Begin.  In short, it’s anything I find that is worth sharing.  The criteria I give myself when deciding what I share on the first Friday of each month is simply:  What is something I have discovered recently that is worth sharing in an effort to make other’s lives better or easier?  In the past year, First Friday Finds have ranged from an App I’m passionate about (Chatbooks), to a YouTube series that makes me laugh (True Facts), to a craft that was easy enough for me to pull off (Lost Socks), to a book that has helped me as a parent (The Care and Keeping of You) to a silly toy (Splat!) and beyond!  The best part is knowing that no person or company is paying me to say these things, so you can be at peace knowing that I only share from the heart.

That being said, this month’s First Friday Find is a life hack that I discovered while on vacation.  We recently visited family and friends down in Southern California.  A dear friend of ours was willing to host the shenanigans of a family of six and even convinced us that she was sad to see us go when it was time for us to leave.  Either she is an excellent actress or she really likes us.  I’m opting for the latter.  I digress.

When I was using her shower, I noticed that she had sliced a standard loofah sponge to use as a way of keeping the soap from sliding off of those forever-too-small-and-slippery coves for bathing products to sit on.  It seemed so simple and yet so ingenious to me.  Even better than not having to keep the soap from falling, was realizing that I could utilize the soap remnants that accumulated on the loofah sponge.  At the end of the shower, I took the loofah sponge and gave my feet a good scrub.  Huzzah!  A dual purpose life hack!

This life hack brought to my mind two additional life hacks that my husband has taught me from his experience working in the Emergency Department.

Thinking about giving your child a Popsicle and all you can envision is the sticky mess that will inevitably be all over their hands and the floor?  Try grabbing a paper or Styrofoam cup and slicing a hole in the bottom of it, then slide the Popsicle stick through the hole.  The base of the cup catches the drippings and makes for a quicker clean up process.  Styrofoam cups are best since they can be peeled away as the Popsicle gets smaller.  I had to pre-cut the paper cup shown, which slows down the process a bit.

The last life hack to share will be best appreciated by parents everywhere!  Getting an infant or toddler to successfully take a full dose of liquid medicine, when needed, is near impossible.  Before this trick, I would often be cleaning all the medicine from my baby’s face and neck versus knowing it was safely in his or her system.  Then I witnessed my husband’s technique to get medicine to go down versus coming out.  First, place the medicine dropper in the back corner of either side of their mouth.  I think most parents are aware of this step.  Next, dispense the medicine.  I suggest doing it in smaller portions of the complete dose.  Lastly, here comes the trick, give a quick blow in the the child’s face.  The surprise of the blow causes a reflex reaction for the child to immediately swallow.  TA DA!  Amazing, right?  I’ll be sure to pass along your gratitude to my husband.

Now that I’ve wowed you with these three life hacks, let’s talk about celebrating the fact that this is my 100th post.  Hang on to them hats and glasses, it’s gonna be a stellar giveaway (said in sarcastic voice)!  100 dimes just for you to honor my 100 posts!  That’s right! Ten whole dollars!  Let’s make it a little more personal and make it $10 to Target.  I told you I was modest.  Truthfully, that’s about all I can afford to giveaway this time of year.  I’m a stay-at-home mom with four kids, people!  However, I really am quite excited about reaching 100 posts and it’s been so much fun to develop this website, that I want to share the love!  I hope you’ll want to share the love too by entering the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

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3 Perks to Getting Down

I captured this sweet moment a few months ago when visiting family.  My son looking into the eyes of my Aunt’s resting dog.  Do we take the time like we ought to in giving our undivided attention to others?  Do we get to the same level as them in an effort to connect?  It made me reflect on different instances where getting down can actually have the opposite effect.

1.  Getting Down When Taking Pictures – I don’t consider myself a savvy photographer, though I truly love to take pictures.  Mine are never really that great of quality since I don’t have the proper equipment.  I prefer having a camera that I can slip in my back pocket and pull out for the unsuspecting moments.  That aside, I am well aware of one of the big photography tricks with kids and that is making sure you are down on their level.  The picture above is a perfect example.  How different would this picture look if I had remained standing to take it?  You wouldn’t have been able to see my son’s precious face and the direction of his gaze.  You would have seen the top of his head, which takes out the connection between these two.  The connection is what makes the picture so great.  That same connection is felt when you’re down at the kids level versus taking pictures from up at yours.

2.  Getting Down When Speaking With Your Children – I think many a seasoned parent has learned that they get further with their children when communicating with them at their eye-level.  I know I’ve seen a difference in my disciplining efforts when I’ve done so.  My girls seem to listen more intently when I’ve made an effort to get down to discuss matters with them at their level.  The same goes for the positive affirmation.  My kids respond with a deeper appreciation when I share my heartfelt feelings while we’re side-by-side.  Perhaps shortening the distance increases the seriousness and sincerity of the message being given?
3.  Getting Down On The Dance Floor – Or better yet, bringing your own dance floor wherever you go!  Let’s set aside the fact that the picture quality above is, at best, poor and that I have a scrunchy in my hair that is bigger than my nose, which is saying a lot with the size of my nose.  I share this because my Mom (in front) was an expert at “getting down” on the dance floor and any other place for that matter.  I can’t even tell you how many rock out dance sessions she and I would have in the car together.  My Mom was in her element when she was dancing.  However, I think even for those that don’t have the natural desire to dance, joy is found when we allow our bodies to move with the beat whether real or imagined.  My husband is not a dancer by nature.  But I’ve recently had the good fortune of catching him in the middle of the Running Man Dance Move when playing with the kids.  It always makes me smile.  Getting down and dancing just makes my heart happy.  A large portion of my favorite moments with my children involve us dancing together.  I love how Brene Brown puts it in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, “I measure the spiritual health of our family by how much dancing is happening in our kitchen.”  Getting down and dancing is just good for the soul.
I think the common benefit to each of these ways of “getting down” is a greater connection to the world around us.  Sometimes we get lost in the hustle and bustle of life and forget to embrace the beauty that takes place when we capture moments from the optimal angle, connect with loved ones on their level, and dance our hearts out with unadulterated joy.

 

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Three Quick Tips

When I left you last, I was suffering from cabin fever due to my middle one’s illness.  Her illness led to an ear infection, which led to a ruptured eardrum.  Ouch, right?  The day she started to feel better is the day that I got sick and was down for the count.  Needless to say, our home has not been running on all cylinders.  My brain is only now starting to turn the gears.  As a result, this week’s post is a quick one about some tips I’ve found useful.

1.  SET AN ALARM – I have an alarm on my phone to wake me up, take medicine/vitamins, pick-up the kids from school, a separate alarm to remind me of early release day, and an alarm to remind me of the one morning that my eldest attends Chorus.  These alarms have saved me from panic mode and help keep me on track.  It makes for a smoother transition from one activity to the next.

2.  MAKE A LIST – Better yet, get these two free apps to organize your lists for you: Out of Milk and Task List.  These two gems are the only reason any task was completed upon emerging from my painful fog.

Out of Milk is where I keep my four shopping lists.  I have one for Costco, Groceries, Trader Joe’s, and a Target/Wal-Mart combo.  This makes my shopping trips more efficient, helps with the budgeting process, and makes sure no item gets forgotten.  Just add the item as soon as you think of it.  If you’re like me, you’ll forget it if you don’t write it/type it somewhere.  Another plus of this app is that it shows all the local grocer deals.

I already shared my love for Task List in my previous post Six Ways to Get Motivated, so I won’t bore you with details again.  However, I was reminded this past week how valuable this app is.  My lists were made during my countless hours on the couch and then carried out the moment I started to feel well enough to be up and about.  My day yesterday was immensely productive thanks to my husband and my plan of attack already being laid out before me.

If you want to get really crazy, combine tip one with tip two.  Task List allows you to set reminder alarms for items that need to get done by a particular time.  These apps keep me organized and keep me moving.

3.  ORGANIZE DIGITAL PHOTOS BY DATE – This one is a random tip, but it has been so valuable over the years.  I saw my friend’s digital pictures sorted on her computer one time and I nearly died at how perfectly organized she had them.  She has always been the epitome of an organized person.  She has packing lists for moving a home that will make your brain implode.  Thankfully, the digital picture organizing she does is much simpler.

You start with your basic Pictures folder under Libraries on your computer.  Then create a folder for the year you’re in or the year the pictures were taken.  Inside the year folder, create 12 sub-folders, one for each month. I label these Jan-13, Feb-13, Mar-13, and so on.  Within your monthly sub-folders, name unique folders based on your personal activities.  For instance, in my Dec-12 folder (indicating December of 2012), I have folders named Sledding, Christmas Decorations (this is where I kept pictures of my family decorating the tree), Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

Each of my month sub-folders include two catch-all sub-folders.  One is called Hangin’ Out and the other is called Out and About.  These are the folders for the onesie twosie shots I snap while my kids are either happily playing at the park or snuggling up on the couch.  I don’t want to have 100 folders set aside for each snapshot I take of life nor do I want to omit sub-folders completely as it just makes finding the right picture over-whelming.

This might not seem like an earth-shattering tip, but it’s amazing how much it has helped me over the years.  For instance, I was easily able to grab the three pictures below showing each of my children at approximately 1 year and 3 months old by doing a quick chronological search of my digital pictures.  How fun to see the comparison so quickly!

 

So, there you have it!  Three tips to make your life a little easier.  The whole point of this blog is to help each of us begin moving forward.  Hopefully these tips will make the arduous task of beginning more efficient.

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