Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cleaning in this craziness, one calls a house

We love having people over at our house.  Between my party planner of a daughter and my large family to our friends, our house is normally filled 3 days of the week.  One rule I gave to myself was that I would not clean before guests come over.  Now when I say clean, I mean like a deep clean.  I just don't see the value of vacuuming the carpets just so people can track their dirty feet and shoes through the house.

I do clean, I promise!

I came up with this "Daily Cleaning Schedule" that works really well.  Now I'm the type of person that needs to have a list.  I can check off things off of this "list" when its finished.  So for me, this type of organization works.  For some, they would find this stupid or tedious.  But for my household with 6 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms, this keeps it clean and "presentable" so we can have our family and friends over without thinking I've got mold growing in my toilet and ashamed of its appearance.

So this is what I do:

Daily Cleaning Schedule

Make beds
Wipe bathroom sink and counters
Empty dishwasher
Laundry into washer

Chore of the day
Change laundry/fold/put away

Load dishwasher/run
Wipe down Kitchen counters
Sweep floors
Take care of stair baskets

Chores of the day
Monday:  Kitchen counters and Laundry room
Tuesday:  Clean mirrors and windows
Wednesday:  Toilets and tubs
Thursday:  Mop floors
Friday:  Swing Day

Swing Day Chores
1st - Wipe down cabinets and furniture
2nd - Oven, microwave, and fridge
3rd - Wipe down walls, baseboards, and doors
4th - Spot clean carpets and furniture

Some of these chores are dispersed to my little one as she's three years old going on 15!  Example is the "stair baskets".  These are baskets that I got for FREE when I hosted a Thirty One party with a friend close by.

The system that works in our house is that these baskets sit on my stairs.  Throughout the day if I'm cleaning or picking up clutter that has been left on the main level I put it in the person's basket that it belongs to.  At the end of the day, on our way up to bed, it is one of our chores that we take this basket to our room and take care of the items properly (instead of making a pile to just collect throughout the week).  Then in the morning, we bring our basket down and place it back on the step for that day.  It works for us, and avoids numerous trips up the steps to take care of small items left behind in our main living areas.

So that is how we keep our place looking "decent".  What do you do in your space?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Great poses

The other day a close friend asked me what my favorite poses have been with my kids.  Poses as in picture poses.  You see, one thing people can notice of our family is I really enjoy getting pictures taken of my little ones.
We moved to the West Virginia area almost 2 years ago from Northern Virginia where I lived for most of my life, and since moving here we found one of the sweetest and most kind spirited people when a friend suggested Miss Melanie with Three Turtles Photography.  So since meeting Miss Melanie (who by the way runs her own private pre school) we have done my daughter's 3 year old pictures, maternity pics, and my son's infant shots.  Here is a collection of photos that I have loved the most from her shoots.

The first is the time my son was born, 9:25.  It took some time to find a clock that would actually work.  You know, something big enough but won't break with his weight on it or won't hurt him because of spikey pieces all over it.  We ended up finding this one at Kirkland's and its perfect because we now use it in our living room!

One of the things that I love about her work is that she takes some of the best shots in our natural moments.  Our son had colic for a few weeks (thank goodness only a few weeks) and this was during a challenging moment we had during the shoot.

My husband was raised in Detroit, therefore he's a Detroit Tigers fan.  This was a picture that we our son's name on the baseball (which now sits in his bedroom on a stand) "teamed" with his The Detroit Tiger's hat and my husband's baby blanket (that is now my son's blanket).  We ended up using this one on his birth announcements.

Now this one is one of my favorites!  My big belly and our little bean on her tippy toes reaching to give the belly a kiss.  This one we put onto a canvas and hangs in our front room (I'll have to post a picture one day of that room and the pictures as we get a lot of compliments on the setting).

I used this one on cards I had specially made to send thank you notes to some close friends.  This one just captures the natural beauty of being outdoors and pregnancy.

I spent some time in our driveway with my daughter's chalk and got this done right before she came to the house.  I loved the outcome!  I did try a shot with me laying down "holding" the balloons but I looked like a beached whale, it wasn't cute!  ha ha

 Finally this is a shot of my daughter just being her joyful self laughing, and Miss Melanie always catches great things!

So bottom line, in answering my friend's question, some of my favorite shots are both naturally taken and slightly posed.  The ones I do love the most are ones that Miss Melanie took and that capture the true meaning of each member of our family in our moments.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Learning letters

Sometimes my wonderful husband comes home from work and says "What did you do today?"  And although to some stay at home moms (SAHM) they would find this really demeaning (that has only happened once to me) my husband knows we're always busy with something fun, creative, and a learning opportunity.

Since our oldest is now 3 1/2 we're working on letters, in so many different ways  And with all 3 year olds, my daughter strives for hands on activities.  Manipulatives are much needed in our learning activities!

Today I used one of the Leap Frog's Letter Factory tools to help out.

Two minutes of prep work, and at least 30 - 45 minutes of fun and learning!

**side note**  I reuse old wipee containers, wash them out, and label them with everything from toy cars, My Little Ponies, and obviously our magnetic letters.  It's the best way to keep track of all those pieces without losing a letter or having a disaster all over my house.  I keep them organized on a shelf.  Our system works great as we've taught her how to care for them.  Now the challenge is to teach our visiting friends to learn the same concept so I don't spend an afternoon after a play date reorganizing them.

I taped a piece of construction paper onto a metal cookie sheet.  Writing letters with a sharpie on the construction paper.  Then I opened up the box of magnetic letters to have my little one match the letters to each other.

With this activity, when she was done matching I spent time asking more questions to involve more thinking and learning.  Here are some of the questions I asked my little one.

  1. How many blue letters there did you use?  Red?  Yellow?  Green?
  2. Which color has the most letters on the board?
  3. Can you show me a letter that has a curve in the shape?
  4. Can you find the letter "L" and tell me what color it is?  Trace the letter with your finger.
  5. What kind of pattern can we make with our letters?
  6. Can you spell your name with the letters on our board?  If not, what letters are missing?
There are loads of more activities we do with things like this, what do you do with your little one to teach letters?  Colors?  Etc.?