When Clutter Sends You Running For Cover

When Clutter Sends You Running For Cover | EverydaySmallThings.com

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When Clutter Sends You Running For Cover | EverydaySmallThings.comWhen it comes to home organization, are you an Innie or an Outie? And no, I’m not referring to your belly button.

Innies appear very organized because most of their stuff is “in” something. They tend to have files, not piles. Their kitchen counter is practically naked. An innie’s mantra might be, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

Outies often have to deal with clutter. That’s because their mantra might be “Out of sight, out of mind!” Outies might love sticky notes and use them everywhere. They tend to be pilers rather than filers, because if they file something they might forget about it.

As my mom and I talk about in our book Better Together, (releases March 2016 Woohoo!!!) we are both outies. If I don’t see it, I forget about it. My mom has learned some great innie practices to use in her home. However, I am still working on how to make my “outie” more “innie.” I have cute files ready to be used for all of my paperwork; I just don’t think to use them…you can find them in one of my piles.

Being an outie with a home daycare has proven chaotic at times, especially when a parent comes to pick up their child and we are searching for a lost shoe for the umpteenth time. “You need a locker system for each kid!” suggested one of my daycare parents.

Coloring On the Wall | EverydaySmallThings.com
The artwork on our walls

Lockers would be ideal for a daycare setting, but this is my home first and foremost so I wanted to find a solution that worked for both. Another daycare parent had suggested a bench with baskets underneath. This cabinet was the best of both worlds. However it was so…white. White and little ones don’t mix. Just ask my walls.

Storage Cabinet with Custom Wood Top | EverydaySmallThings.com The white bookshelf was a blank canvas calling for some wood accents. My dad gave me a ton of furring strip a few months ago as I’ve been wanting to redo a few tables and a wall (yes…a wall). However, those projects just haven’t happened. I’m the type of person who, when inspiration strikes, wants to get to work right away. So, true to my nature, I did. I LOVE how it turned out! Adds the right amount of warmth and character to an otherwise cold and plain bookshelf.

Now, each daycare kid has their own basket that their stuff can go in and my family each has a bin to put their shoes in. Who knows, I might change things up a bit, but right now I’m loving the new storage!
Cabinet with Wood Top | EverydaySmallThings.comPossibly more exciting than my new piece of furniture in my entryway is that it could be in yours! My Etsy shop is now open for business and I can’t wait to make custom creations that reflect YOU! So head on over to my Etsy Shop!

The Unconventional Guide to Finding Mom Friends

An Unconventional Guide to Finding Mom Friends2 years ago, my family moved to a new city and I knew absolutely no one.  This was a first for me.  The only other time I had moved to a new city was when I got married, but my husband had already been living there for a year, so I had a ‘head start’ of sorts.  In college, at least where I attended, they provided ample opportunities to meet your peers.  Plus, if you had a roommate you at least went in knowing one person’s name.

Find out more about mom friendships in our book releasing in March 2016. You can preorder now!
Find out more about mom friendships in our book releasing in March 2016. You can preorder now!

Finding new relationships can be daunting, even paralyzing for some.  Maybe it’s not finding friends in a new city, but you’re in a new season of life and want to make similarly seasoned (Is that a thing?  going with it…) friends.   Which brings me to 5 Ways to Meet Mom Friends.  But honestly, these pertain to any friendship, so if you don’t have little fingers wiggling under the bathroom door when you’re trying to use it in peace, you can still utilize these!  If you’ve ever had a toddler permanently attached to your hip, then settle in for a brief moment of girl time.

Be Brave
If you’re anything like my introverted self, hearing “Go make friends” makes me immediately relate to the Wicked Witch of the West where she screeches “I’m melting! I’m melting!”.  Not the wicked part, the screeching and melting part.  Putting myself out there and meeting new people is incredibly intimidating and draining to me.  What I’ve learned about myself is that because of this, I choose to avoid these situations at all cost.  I would rather stay in my house.  But this is unrealistic.  We were built and wired for relationships.  We need them.

So the next time you are at a park and there’s another mom there, start chatting with her.  Begin with a common experience. “How old is your daughter?   Mine too!  We are looking into local preschools, have any suggestions?”  You may not walk away with a friend, but you’ve been brave and that’s certainly worth being proud of!  And consider this, what if she is looking for friends too?  You may be what she’s been looking for!

Be Approachable
Did you know that it can take just 20 seconds to detect whether a stranger is inclined to being trustworthy, kind or compassionate?  It’s true!  Backed by science.  So that means you have 20 seconds to make the best first impression to your future BFF.  And let’s be honest, it’s not going to happen if you have Angry Resting Face (yes, it’s a thing and you know what I’m talking about if you’ve been diagnosed with ARF) or you’re buried in whatever is way more interesting in your phone.  So make a habit of smiling and putting away your phone when you’re out in public (it’s a good practice for home too).

Be Creative
There are many different ways of meeting others from joining a group or signing up for a class. Here are a few places to begin your search:

Be Open
Remember how it takes 20 seconds to size up a person?  Take this opportunity to put your judgement aside when you see that she has different parenting techniques than you.  Or maybe she’s actually dressed in real clothes (not sweats) and you instantly think you know she has it all together. There is no way to know someone’s insides by the look of their outside.  We have an incredible chance to learn from one another and our differences.  Who knows, she may have a great tip on how to transform last night’s leftovers!

Be a Coordinator
Don’t be afraid to start your own group!  Put something out on Facebook or start a group on Meetup.com.  Being a coordinator means setting the place and time.  Don’t put pressure on yourself to put on an event, just a casual time of meeting other moms.  Maybe that’s setting the place and time for a park playdate or a kid-free coffee time.

Do you have any other suggestions for meeting new mom friends? I’d love to hear them!

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A Twist on the Clean-Up Game

“Clean up, clean up
Everybody, everywhere
Clean up, clean up
Everybody do your share”

If you have a little one you may be familiar with that little jingle made famous by a purple dinosaur.  It’s a little song that you sing when it’s time to clean up with children.  It worked great…until my kids turned 3.  Then they realized they had an opinion.

I hate to clean and picking up is the last thing I want to do at the end of a day.  I owe a huge apology to all of my college roommates because, looking back, I was a very messy roommate.  Unfortunately, I have passed this on to my children…as you can see in this video below.

Our clutter finally was more than we could handle so today we went into clean up mode.  It was like pulling teeth to get the kids to help clean up their rooms.  I get it! I didn’t want to be doing that either. And it’s very overwhelming to look at a messy room and think you have to start working on it. After telling Rilyn for the umpteenth time that she needed to start picking stuff up, I finally had a lightbulb moment.

A Twist On the Clean Up GameI downloaded the Random Number Generator + app.  The reason I chose this app was because it does random generations of numbers, dice and colors.  But there are several out there to choose from.  So, I gave Rilyn my phone and told her to choose either numbers or colors and she had to pick up whatever the phone told her to.  If the app generated a 3, she would pick up three items.  If the app generated the color purple, then she would have to find a purple item to pick up.

This transformed clean up time for us!  She became engaged in the process and excited to see what number or color would come up.

It was also a homeschooling win-win because we worked on counting, adding (there is a dice feature – so she had to add the dice up) and organizing (home ec!).

Do you have a clean-up time trick with your kids?  Or a tip for someone with messy tendencies like me?  Comment below!

Managing Mommy Melancholy

Managing Mommy Melancholy | EverydaySmallThings.com

10 Questions Moms Can Ask As the weather has become cooler and it is getting darker earlier, my children have become moody and whiney.  It’s been a long week of managing fights over toys and whether or not a sibling is looking at the other one.  Towards the end of the week, I realized my children’s attitudes weren’t necessarily reflecting the weather…they were reflecting me.

Often, moms find ourselves on the back burner.  It’s not necessarily on purpose, but we find it easiest to take care of everyone else before we realize that we are on empty and ready to throw in the towel.  To quote an amazing woman (my mom), “Taking care of ourselves, IS taking care of our families.”

Adapted from this post.

Managing Mommy Melancholy

Watermelon “Popsicle”

I have a hard time reconciling the idea of giving my kids free reign of sugar and other junk when they are sick, but limiting it when they are well.One of my children has come down with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease…again.  This thing is awful!!  She is literally sitting on the couch with her tongue hanging out of her mouth because it hurts so bad.  “It feels like a bee stung my tongue!” she cried this morning.  Ugh!  Breaks my heart!

HFM is something you just have to wait out.  There’s no medication one can give to combat it (although I am pumping her with Vitamin C and slathering with Essential Oils).  Making them comfortable is the main objective.  The doctor recommended popsicles and ice cream.  That doesn’t exactly sit well with me after the last year of discovering how to eat well and being conscious about what is put into our bodies. I have a hard time reconciling the idea of giving my kids free reign of sugar and other junk when they are sick, but limiting it when they are well.

Watermelon Popsicle | EverydaySmallThings.com

Enter in Watermelon “Popsicles”.  These are the best of both worlds!  It’s like eating a popsicle but without all of the added sugar and dyes.  I have my freezer loaded with these things and I have absolutely no problem giving them to her one after another if she asks.

It is so easy!

-Cut up your watermelon

-Put a stick in it (make sure the stick goes in enough to support the weight of the watermelon)

-Lay out one layer at a time on a pan with parchment paper

-Once frozen, stick them all into a freezer bag.

Next time, I’ll use popsicle sticks because the cake pop sticks just don’t hold the bigger ones well.

This food-conscious momma is very happy.

Have any other ideas for fruit popsicles?

 

It’s {not} the thought that counts.

It's Not The Thought That Counts | EverydaySmallThings.comDo you ever have those moments where someone pops into your head randomly?  Or you know a friend who is struggling and you continually think about and, if you’re a person of faith, pray for them?  But here’s the thing…

How do they know they’ve been thought of?
How do they know they’ve been prayed for?

Life’s struggles are often accompanied by loneliness, discouragement and/or anxiety.  We aren’t meant to carry these loads alone.  We are built for relationship.  Yet, in the midst of trials, it is often the last thing on our mind to seek out friendship and encouragement.

So this is what I’ve come to realize…it’s not the thought that counts.

There have been countless times where people will randomly come to mind or I just can’t stop thinking about them.  As a person of faith, I’ve begun to recognize, many times, this is God laying them on my heart for the purpose of praying for or encouraging them.  Therefore, it’s a call to action.

Relationships can be hard.  Especially for an introvert, like myself, who values depth in friendships.  Because of this, I find it doesn’t come naturally to casually “check in” to see how someone is doing or let them know I was thinking about them.  I know some people who are incredibly gifted in this skill in relationships.  And this is what I’ve come to identify.  This is a skill.  And skills can be mastered with practice.

My neighbor is a wonderful example of someone who utilizes this skill well.  On several occasions, she has brought by little gifts for the kids or overstock from her pantry.  To me, it says, “I was thinking about you.”  

When my parents separated, the outpouring of love I experienced was incredible.  And while I may have not responded to every single message or text, the fact that someone took a moment to let me know they were thinking about me was appreciated.  I felt like I had a community around me…that I wasn’t alone.

So, I am challenging myself to intentionally exercise this skill.  How about you?  Not even sure what to call it.   The skill of “letting someone know I was thinking about them” is a little lengthy.

Some everyday small things to keep in mind…
The next time you interact with a young mom and think “She’s a good mom!”…tell her.

The next time you are baking cookies and think “I should double this recipe and take some to the neighbors.”…go for it.

The next time you can’t get an old friend off your mind…let them know.

The next time you see someone with fabulous hair…be bold and tell her!

The next time a friend going through a difficult time comes to mind…pray for them and let them know.

The next time you think “I would love to do coffee with her.”…text her and make a date.

You never know what that person is going through or experiencing in that moment.  Your text or quick encouragement may be exactly what they need.  And they’ll never know…unless you tell them.

How have you engaged the moments people pop into your head?  If you’ve been on the receiving end, what imprint did it leave?

Operation Veggie Camouflage

As a kid, I remember loving a big glass of 2% milk and flooding my cereal bowl with it.  At some point, my mom decided to make the switch to skim milk.  Ick!  It tasted like water! None of us wanted to change.

Imagine our surprise when a week later my mom announced that we were all drinking skim milk and none of us had realized it.  What?!  How did that happen?! My mom shared that she had been slowly adding skim milk to our 2% milk until that was all we were drinking.  What can I say…she’s one smart lady!

I learned early in my marriage that if my husband knew there was a vegetable in the meal or something he didn’t like, he wouldn’t eat it.  I once made a meatloaf and he had four helpings before I happened to mention it contained stuffing (which he hates).  I’m dead serious…the man refused another bite.  He had FOUR helpings before he found out.  So imagine the reaction when he found out his favorite soup had split peas in it. I soon banned him from the kitchen while I was cooking dinner and began figuring out ways to hide the veggies.

This was pre-paleo days, so veggies were a sporadic part of our diet at best.  When we started Whole30, my kids [and husband] were not a fan of all the new vegetables on their plates.  So once again, I started stepping up my mom ninja skills, channeling my mom’s tactic and began figuring out more ways to get veggies into our meal without altering the taste.

Veggie Camouflage // EverydaySmallThings.comHere are 5 Everyday Small Things I’ve discovered to increase veggies in a meal:

1. Add shredded/pureed carrots to taco meat.

2. Add diced mushrooms into hamburgers or meatloaf.

3. In a blender, blend together any veggies you have with eggs.  Scramble. Top with cheese if that is a part of your diet.  I typically have peppers, squash, mushrooms and/or carrots on hand.

4. Add chopped spinach to meat sauces.

5. Add broccoli, carrots and/or spinach to a fruit smoothie.

6.  Make zucchini or pumpkin pancakes or muffins.

Need more ideas? Check out The Sneaky Chef!

I feel like it’s worth mentioning that if asked, I never lie and say there aren’t vegetables in the meal.  It’s important to me that my kids learn to at least try foods they don’t necessarily enjoy.  If my husband asks, I typically say “You don’t want to know.” which satisfies his curiosity.  However I am rarely asked because they blend right in and honestly, my family has become greater veggie lovers with our diet change.  My kids have no idea that carrots don’t normally end up in taco meat 😉

Does your family enjoy vegetables?  Do you have any ways that you increase veggie or fruits in a meal without a family uprising?  Share your tips in the comments below!

 

DIY :: $38 Painted Curtains

DIY Painted Curtains :: EverydaySmallThings.comOne of my favorite features about our house is our large windows.  For the first 5 years of our marriage, we lived in a wonderful basement apartment.  But we missed windows.  We had one escape window and three glass block “windows”.  Needless to say, we rarely saw daylight when we were home.  So I absolutely love windows now.  Windows are good for the soul.  However, covering up said windows can become quite costly.  I fell in love with these curtains from West Elm, but the $100+ price tag was way beyond my budget.  So I began scouring DIY curtains on Pinterest and loved these curtains but had no interest in sewing and the fabric was still more than I wanted to spend.  I soon discovered this tutorial on painting curtains.  But that still meant I had to buy large white curtains which was more than I was willing to spend (especially if I ended up hating them).

Enter in my painted queen size bed sheets that have turned out ridiculously amazing (in my humble opinion).  That’s right, bed sheets!  I love how they turned out!  And I only paid $38 out of pocket for this project, paint and all.

Materials:
-2 Flat Bed Sheets (Measure your window to determine which size best fits your area) – $12 each at Walmart
– Plastic or drop cloths (already had on hand)
– Paint (I used just under 1 quart regular wall paint) -$10
– painters tape (already had on hand)
– Textile Medium (makes curtains washable once paint is dried and ironed) – $4 after 40% coupon at Hobby Lobby

Begin your project by measuring your window and figuring out what size of bed sheet you need.  Queen sheets worked out perfectly for me.  Painting such large sheets proved a little daunting.  All the tutorials I had found had people laying them out on the floor or garage and I just didn’t have that kind of space.

Painting Curtains :: EverydaySmallThings.comSo I decided to nail them to the wall.  It worked out perfectly!  It was easy to see and my curtains weren’t moving on me.  Make sure to put plastic underneath your curtains no matter where you paint them.  It definitely seeps through.

I liked the look of the West Elm curtains with smaller stripes and I wasn’t sure I’d like the large stripes in my living room.  So I happened to grab a post card sitting on my table and used the length of that as my guide.  I put little marks all down each side and then my husband and I would attach each end of tape at the same time so it would be even.

Painting Curtains :: EverydaySmallThings.comI mixed up my paint and textile medium and began rolling two coats (the color is called Mac and Cheese…appetizing isn’t it?).  I pulled the tape off while it was wet and let it dry overnight.  I had some sticking to the plastic on the back but I just peeled it right off.

I then used curtain clips to hang them up (make sure to buy the correct size as you may end up sorely disappointed that you have to wait until morning to return to the store and get the correct size…not that I know anything about that).

In all honesty, this project took me about 4 days.  Two days on each panel.  Mostly because I wasn’t about to paint these while my children were awake, so my working time was limited.

Painted Curtains :: EverydaySmallThings.comI’ve had them up for 1 1/2 years and they still look great. (Side note…I’ve raised the curtain rod so now they just hit barely hit the floor)  I get lots of questions about the back.  It looks a little weird up close because of the bleeding, but when you’re outside looking in, you don’t even notice.  Most of the time, people don’t even realize they are painted and are even more surprised when they find out they are bed sheets.

So, there you have it!  Cheap, easy (a little labor intensive), washable, awesome curtains for $38.

Painted Curtains :: EverydaySmallThings.com

 

Fire Escape Plan :: You Should Have One

FireEscapeI never understood the importance of having, implementing and practicing a fire escape plan with your children until recently.  I run a home daycare and one requirement is a monthly fire escape plan practice.  I have to admit that inwardly I rolled my eyes and dragged my feet as my thought was, “If a fire were to start I would be in the same room as the kids and obviously they would try to escape it.”  So I halfheartedly came up with a meeting place thinking that was the most important piece.  I talked to the kids about if a fire happened we were to get outside and meet at our front tree.  However, I knew that we needed to actually practice it.

Gathering the children together near the front door, I talked through what we were going to do and told them when the fire alarm sounded we were to quickly exit the front door and meet at the front tree.  I pushed the button just to give them an idea of what sound we were listening for.  Everyone covered their ears and started giggling.

“Ok guys, this is going to be the real practice!  When the fire alarm sound happens, let’s go out the front door!”  I pressed the button and my 5 year old daughter led the pack out to the tree.  I began counting all of my heads and came up with one missing.  Surely not!  We were steps away from the door, where could they have gone?  So I look again and realize my three year old son is missing.  I glance around the yard thinking maybe he thought it would be funny to go elsewhere.  Nope, nowhere in sight.

I head inside calling “Landon!” Nothing.  I begin checking the rest of the house when I catch a glimpse of two little feet sticking out behind our big rocking chair in the basement.  There was my little guy, face down on the floor covering his ears.

My son had been afraid of the loud noise of the alarm and his first instinct, despite the fact that I was standing right next to him, was to run to the basement and hide behind a chair.

I could only imagine how this scenario could have ended horrifically if this had been the real thing.

If you’re anything like me, the idea of a fire escape plan has flitted through your mind as something that would be great to do if you had the time.  In my own head, I had hastily evaluated exits but never a strategy and I most certainly hadn’t communicated anything to my kids.

So how does one even begin?

Fire Escape Plan :: Everyday Small Things
Who needs fancy drawing skills?!

Here are 5 everyday small things you could do to prepare for a fire escape.
1. Make a simple drawing of your house and draw out a route.  Include your kids in this process!

2. Choose an outdoor meeting place (i.e. neighbor’s house, tree, mailbox, etc.) a safe distance in front of your house where everyone can meet.  Remember to include this location on your escape plan.

3. Talk through what the fire alarm sound means and what you should do if you hear it.

4. Practice. Practice. Practice.  With the alarm.  Every few months, press the alarm without telling your kids so they can practice how to process the situation.  One daycare provider shared that she cut out large pictures of fire and puts them in different exits so the kids have to practice going different directions if one way is blocked.

5. Once a year, do a practice drill during the night.  NFPA suggests preparing children by telling them that a practice alarm will be happening when they sleep as this helps them master the drill and not fear it.  Did you know that children tend to sleep through a fire alarm?  Check out this video.  Eye opening!

Fire Escape Plan :: Everyday Small ThingsEarlier this week, our dishwasher lost all power which made it a sad day in our household.  The electrician came to check it out and he found a corroded wire in the back that had completely melted the cap and could have caused more damage.  Seriously scary!  Just another reminder that you never know what could happen and being prepared is important.

Do you have an emergency plan in place?  Comment below sharing what your family does.

My Alter Ego: Ninja Mom

I tiptoed ever so quietly. Putting my big toe down gently, I knew the floor could squeak with any sudden movements and my light-sleeping son would wake up. I leaned up against the wall, hoping it would somehow aid me in my mission. And suddenly I caught a glimpse of my target…Landon’s blanket (or Night-Night as we call it).

This thing was nasty. I could practically feel the ickiness from the doorway. It had been snuggled and dragged all over the place. I had tried, to no avail, to wash Night-Night earlier that day. His grip just got tighter and tighter every time I asked. This was one of those “Choose Your Battle” moments and it wasn’t worth it.

I looked down at my sleeping boy, Night-Night was finally within my reach. I tested the waters with a small cough to see if he would wake up. Nope, he was out. Carefully, I extracted it from his arms and began my tiptoe journey back. Success! I threw that sucker in the washing machine.

When it was finally clean, I tiptoed back in and snuggled Night-Night back into his arms. I have to admit, I was incredibly proud of myself and began bragging about it to my husband. “I had some pretty stealthy moves up there! I felt like a ninja!” To which he just shook his head and laughed at my dramatic flair.

Cunning Mom Ninja Skills || EverydaySmallThings.orgThat got me thinking. There are a ton of things I do around the house and for my family that make life easier or healthier or just all-around better and they have no idea it even happens. I’m not talking about how clean laundry mysteriously shows up in their rooms (Let’s be honest, it rarely makes it into their drawers. I’m doing good just getting a load of laundry done.)

I’m talking about the cunning moves or hacks we employ, such as washing Night-Night while they’re sleeping or sneaking veggies into their food. I thought it would be fun to share some of our mad ninja skills so that we can learn from one another. I’ll be sharing some of mine over the next few weeks and I’d love to hear from you! You might be doing something that would be an awesome skill to utilize on my own secret missions. 😉

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