Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!!

Are you ready for tonight? Big plans or just laid back and relax with family? Dave and I do not have any kids home tonight, but we are just going to go to an early dinner and movie. Hopefully we can stay up until midnight!!
New Year's resolutions are a source of much discussion. Some people say you should never make resolutions because you will never keep them, other people say you should.
I believe that it is a great idea to make goals for the new year. I don't know if I want to say resolutions because it sounds so permanent. "I resolve to do this!!".
But I think the beginning of something new (2009) is a good time to give yourself goals for the new year in what you would like to accomplish financially, mentally, spiritually and physically. So where does organizing come in? It can fit into almost all of the categories. To be organized and know where things are makes things move smoother, makes you feel better and makes your family happier. You ultimately end up saving money because you aren't wasting time looking for things or spending extra money re buying things you can't find.
Take some time tomorrow with pen and paper in hand...find a quiet place to be by yourself and just sit and think what you would like the new year to bring. Is it losing weight (my goal last year and I have lost all but 3 pounds of my 50 pound goal), getting in shape (one of my goals for this year), saving money this year or reorganizing that room that you can't open the door into!
Be realistic! Don't give yourself a goal that you know you can't accomplish (finding the perfect man and having 2 babies before July!)
Organizing your thoughts for the new year can bring things into focus to start off fresh!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Make an Organizing Wish List for 2009



Setting goals for 2009 is something that we should all do. Goals of things we want to and plan to (think positive!) get accomplished. Take the time to sit down with a piece of paper and pencil and make a wish list of all the organizing projects you want to take care of.
Start in each room and look around. What would you like this room to look like?
Just make a list of all your wishes for that room. They may be things that you can't accomplish on your own or can't afford....but this is a wish list!
Take that piece of paper and walk all around your house. Each room..stop and study. Visualize what you would like this room to look like. Write it down.
Put this paper in a place that you will remember! If you have magazine pictures or have found pictures of rooms on the net..put them with your wish list.
Keep this in a notebook or file folder that you will be able to find in a couple of days when you can take that list and make it happen!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Fast and Easy "After Christmas sort".

Christmas is over and you have lots of new memories, presents along with bags of trash, boxes and things out of place!
I think this is one of the reasons that we get the bug to get things cleaned up and organized. It can also add to the sadness that can feel after all the excitement and anticipation is over.

Grab a white trash bag (for donate) and black trash bag (trash). As you are taking the clothes to put away in your drawer, take 3 minutes for each drawer and quickly go through and pick out the things you have not worn in over a year, or that is too tight or too big and load into the white bag. If it's torn then put it in the black bag to throw away. If you are seriously going on a diet and realistically think you can fit back into some clothes within the next 6 months, then make a pile for those clothes to go into a bin. Label that bin with a date for 6 months from now and if in 6 months you are not close to getting into them, donate them.
If you have 6 drawers then you have just gone through your dresser in less than 20 minutes.
One way to get through some sorting without taking all day and being too overwhelming.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Reason for the Season - Merry CHRISTmas

As we put our finishing touches on all we have done. Finish the buckeyes (peanut butter balls for all of you who are not from Ohio), cookie plates ready to hand out, finish any last minute gift wrapping, set the clothes out for church, finish dinner plans and Christmas morning breakfast plans...etc... We need to not forget the whole reason we have Christmas. It is to celebrate the birth of Christ. It's not about Santa and stockings and food. It is about our Savior and his birth.
Dave always reads the Night Before Christmas to his kids on Christmas Eve...but we always read the real Christmas story out of the Bible on Christmas morning.
Enjoy your family, friends and the celebration...just don't forget the real reason for the season..and please don't take give in to saying...Happy Holidays. If you are a believer then be proud to say, Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blending Christmas Traditions

There are so many Christmas traditions and when you put two families together there is going to be some "overlapping" of traditions. If you are remarried and have children when you come into the holidays there is even more to consider. Your kids have done it the way you have brought them up too...your traditions. (of course)
Dave and I found several traditions, some that were completely opposite, and some we agreed on right away.
Stockings..I always hung our stockings on the fireplace mantel and "Santa" filled them and that is where you found them in the morning. That is how I grew up and my boys grew up. Dave on the other hand always had his stockings left on his bedroom door handle. He and his sister could open their stockings and play with what they had for a couple of hours until their parents woke up. Then they could go downstairs. I didn't like that one at all because I want to enjoy every part of Christmas morning with the kids, even opening the stockings. So we compromised. His kids and Tim put their stockings on their door knobs. My older boys leave theirs on the mantel. But the kids come wake us up when they wake up and I come in (with my camera of course) to watch them open their stockings. So it works out for all of us.

The other one is how you open your gifts. Growing up we all just tore into our gifts at the same time and it was utter chaos. Once I had kids I never liked that, I wanted to see the kids open everything. Dave feels the same about this one. We go around and have the kids open their gifts one at a time so we can all enjoy it.
We have breakfast first because the morning takes longer. But I love it this way!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Stockings were hung by the chimney with care....

Just a few stockings hung! The rest of the mantel is not decorated thing I am behind on. We had planned to be in another house by now, so many of our things were packed to move. I have not gotten all the decorations out this year, but will get a few more out to do the mantel.
Things don't have to be perfect. I am not stressing over the fact that I do not have all my decorations out. We have lights outside, the tree up and a few of our favorite Christmas decorations out. You know what...I don't think the kids will notice or even care. We aren't having any big party here this year. My Dad and his wife and my brother will be over and if they have complaints....oh well.
I think we get so concerned with what we think we should do in other people's eye that we can ruin the fun for ourselves.
I worked yesterday on the goodies that I make every year. We have the the gifts bought and wrapped. The Christmas picture and letter went out on time. We will have a wonderful time even without the whole house decorated.
I am going to enjoy my Christmas time with my family and not stress that the decorations aren't perfect. I hope you can do the same this Christmas and we should all remember that Christ is the reason for the season and that this time is to be enjoyed with family, and not ruined because we are stressed.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

One Toy in...One Toy Out.

With all the new toys coming to invade your house (from you, Grandparents, gift exchanges at school etc...) can your house handle them? Do you have the extra room for them to have a place to go? Will you be trying to figure out where to put all the new ones?
Try the "One toy in...One toy out" rule. For each new toy that comes into your house, find one toy that can be donated (or thrown away if its broken) to go out.
This can be done with or without the kids. You know your children. If they are ones who are going to pitch a fit and say they they can't possibly get rid of ANY of their things...then it is better to do it while they are not home. Don't pick out their favorites that they still play with. Find those ones that are underneath a pile that they haven't seen in months (or years) and get rid of those. Chances are they will never miss them. My children never complained or missed a thing that I got rid of over the years. HONEST!!
If you have children who have a heart for helping other children, then it may be good to involve them in the process. (Although it is probably the kids who have the difficulty giving up their things who really should be learning that other kids can really use the toys more than they can.) They will realize they are helping other children and will enjoy it. The triplets are good about this. I usually go through without them, but when they realize what I am giving away they talk about how much the other kids will enjoy using it.
Don't continue to pile on more toys just because YOU have an attachment to them. Kids can only use and play with so many things. Less is so much more in this area.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Personalized Christmas Ornaments

I love personalized Christmas ornaments. I have been purchasing a family ornament every year since my boys were little. I usually find them at Christmas craft bazaars, but the last 2 years I have not found anyone selling them at the ones I have gone to. The malls have a little place you can get them now, so that helps. The one with the fence and snowmen is my new one for this year. Finding one with 8 kids (or characters) is really hard to find (I did last year...the one with all the bear faces on it.) This year I was able to find one with 5, so I just had it made for the 5 kids we have at home.
I almost forgot...the most fun about them is how excited the kids are each year to get them out and find each year and put them up. There are many others they like putting up too, but they always love the dated yearly family ornament the best.
What is your Christmas ornament tradition?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Label Idea - Keep them guessing!!

I don't know about you, but we wrap many of our gifts and put them under the tree before Christmas eve. Then we bring out the rest of them after the kids have gone to bed. How do you keep your kids from being able to figure out what certain give away shape and size gifts are? I have been using a plan that I heard years ago and it works great!
Make up fake names for your kids and label the gifts that way. You have to make a key for yourself (and don't lose it!!) ahead of time. If you have 4 kids I pick out 8 names. I give them each 2 names so they will have no chance on figuring out their gifts. It may look something like this:
1) Joe - Dasher / Mary Poppins
2) Drew - Batman / Spiderman
3) John - Snow White / Elf
4) Tim - Belle / Hulk

Don't make them gender basis either. Give the boys girl characters and the girls boy characters. That will throw them off even more!
My boys have been used to this since they were small. Dave's kids just started it 5 Christmas ago when we were first together. They think it's great and keep asking if we are going to do the "names" again on the presents.
That is my job today, to wrap gifts and come up with the code list. (That's the hardest part for me coming up with 16 fake names)
Happy Wrapping!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gift Cards

I decided to get some gift cards this year to do my own shopping with. Why? Well, our high school has a program for the marching band that if we shop at our grocery Kroger's then 5% of what we spend on our Kroger card (that we refill and use like money) will go towards our own child's account. So that when band comes around next year and we have to spend like $250 on the mandatory summer camp and all the other expenses that add up to over $400 per child (and we have 2 in band), then we will have some money in their accounts. Ok..that was long winded. So I went into Kroger's to get some gift certificates so I could get some credit for our sons. I bought some for Target and Kohl's and another one that I can't say in case one of my kids reads this. I went promptly out to do some shopping. I did go to the unnamed store and had no problems. Then I went into Target and did my shopping. I went to check out and my cards did not work. I explained I had just purchased them and there should be no reason they shouldn't are the receipts! Well, I was told that the Target store has a 24 hour wait time on their cards from when you can buy them and when they can be used. I had no idea...but guess says it right on the cardboard holding the card. Look at that little circle in the upper right hand corner that says $50, well around that $50 in small print it say, "This card will be activated 24 hours after purchase". Yep...says it right there. Did I look at that...nope. Did it tick me it my own fault...yep. (Darn...can't even blame anyone...LOL)
So I thought I would tell you.
We have all heard all the other precautions when buying gift cards. Make sure there are no expiration or percentages off (if not used by a certain time etc..)..but this was a new one to me. So I wanted to pass it on.
Look for deals like this though. If you plan ahead you can save on gas, earn money for causes etc. But it takes some planning. (at least 24 hour ahead for Target).

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Christmas Panic Dance

Are you starting the "Christmas Panic Dance" yet?
Feeling the pressure of having to "get it all done" within the next 10 days?
The cookies to be made, shopping to be done, Christmas cards to go out, dinners to plan, wrapping to be done, etc...
Most of us are feeling some of the pressures. There are know.. for Christmas and it is hard to keep up.
We have to realize that we can only do what we can do. We aren't super human, we aren't all Martha we may not get it all done. We need to prioritize. Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea (or wine) and make a list of the things that HAVE to get done. Usually shopping is one of those. Then concentrate on that first. Decide the next important thing and so on and so forth. So that if something has to go, it is the last few on the list. Decide if there are some ways you can cut down on some things. Maybe you don't have to make all 8 cookie recipes, just make 2 and double them this year. Maybe you don't have to go to all of the Christmas get togethers. Ask for help! Let your husband help you....."gasp"... or your mother or friend.
Don't put so much pressure on yourself! Try to relax a little and enjoy the holiday season yourself! It's ok if we aren't perfect!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Connector Holders

These handy little holders for your connectors are wonderful!
They are simple and work great. I have them on side of my little mini office by my couch. They have sticky backs and stick right on the surface of the cubby. I have a power strip just below on the floor and it has my cell phone charger and PDA charger plugged into it. Then I have these two (most used) power cords hooked up through these little holders and they are right where I need them every evening when I need to plug them in. So convenient! I think I found these at the Container Store but I have also seen them at Target.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Make a Christmas list before you shop!

Christmas list....we all need to make them before we get out into that crazy, sale driven, deal making shopping world!
I guess I would think that everyone would make a list, and I would bet that most of us do. But I do know people who just wing it. They go out to do their shopping and have an idea of what they are going to get the 23 people they have to buy for.
It's just too hard to keep it straight. To remember if you got Johnnie black socks and Rubin an X-box 360 and you need to have about the same amount to give each one.
It's simple...just write down everyone you need to shop for. If you have ideas or know what you plan to get them...write it down under their name. When you find it..mark it off. If you find something different or new...write it in. Very simple and will help you tremendously.
This is Elise with her Christmas list for the dollar store. She had her pencil with her to mark off who she bought for. Cute huh?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Couch organizer!

Here is another thing that I love! I have it on my couch right next to my mini office! It holds my calculator, pens and other odds and ends on one side. On the far side that hangs down I put all my related connector cords. The one for my camera to my computer, my PDA connector and also my camera charger. I have some head phones in there too that I use for my laptop. If I want to listen to a CD about organizing or watch a DVD on my laptop while the tv is on..I just whip out my little headphones and I am off to quiet zone.
I got the red because I have the red leather couch and it seems match real close so you don't really notice it. But I am too practical anyway, so I don't really care. Hee hee It just lifts right off if you want to have company over and want it to look nicer.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mini office

This is my mini work station beside the couch, where I always sit, in the family room.
I have my bills in the right cubby, bills paid and things to be filed in the middle and on the right as you see my stapler and tape. On top I have a notebook I use daily to plan my day and extra paper. There are also some papers in there that I used to track and make sure some things were completed. In the drawer I have my stamps, envelops, return address labels, hand lotion and some other odds and ends. You can kind of see on the left of my work station I have a plastic ...oh wait, I will take a picture of it because I love it too.

I have scissors, pens and pencils. My letter openers, paperclips. Then I have Q-tips and fingernail clippers because I am always seeing dirty ears and long fingernails on the kids and I want to take care of it when I see it!
So I have my little home away from home office. I do have a real office in the house, but I like being out with the family. laptop that I am currently working on sits on top of my workstation when I am not using it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy Housewife Blog

I am a guest contributor on the Happy Housewife Blog. She used my article on storing Christmas decorations. She used a much better picture on her blog than I gave her too...yeah!
Go check it out...

Organizing sizes on the rod in your closet

I am going to be organizing a closet for someone today and I found these closet dividers at The Container Store that I am planning to use.
She has 2 girls and they have plenty of hanging clothes. The baby has many different sizes hanging in her closet and they are all on store plastic hangers. I plan to use the same colored plastic hangers for uniformity and the plastic dividers to divide the different sizes. I think it will improve the look of the closet and the functionality of it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Who's socks are who's?

How do you keep track of who's socks are who's?
I just read about someone else and how they kept track of their socks. I posted a comment on her blog about how I did it, so I thought it makes sense to share that with you!
With 5 children to sort socks for...its not always easy. I try a couple of things. As the other blogger suggested, I try to buy different kinds of socks for the kids. I do try this to an extent. The problem I have with it is that the next time I go to buy them, I can't find the same ones for each child on sale again, or more likely I forget which ones I get for each child if there are several kinds. So the other system I have for clothes and socks in my house is "The dot system". My girlfriend told me about this years ago and it works great.
The oldest living at home gets 1 dot on his clothes. The next oldest gets 2 dots. Next is 3 and so on. Elise is our only girl, so I just make an "E" on hers and that is because I need to keep straight which clothes go back to her mom's house and which stay with us.
With the dots, when your oldest is able to pass them down to the next just add 1 dot and then its the #2 child's clothes. (I DO believe in hand me downs!)
It's an easy way to quickly identify clothing. Our 2 oldest at home right now are 14 and 15 and close to the same size. We also get them some of the same shirts (school t-shirts etc) and so it makes it simple to keep track.
In the picture you can see 3 dots on Zach's sock and 4 dots on Alex's sock. Drew's shirt has 2 dots on it.
It makes life much easier when it comes to sorting the laundry.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Color and function in your laundry room.

Laundry rooms do not have to be dull boring places that we dread having to go in and crawl through the piles of dirty clothes!
We may always have to climb through piles of clothes (but I hope there is some organization there)..but it doesn't have to be dull and boring!
Painting or wall papering is one option. But that can be hard to do because you have to move out your washer and dryer and its hard to do without that room for even a day. Another option is just using fun colorful baskets. You can get all kinds of colors now for baskets. I found these at Target.
I have a very small laundry room and when I first moved into this house my now husband (we were dating then) came in and put these shelves up for me. I at first just had some boring white baskets on them...but spotted these and had to have them!
It just gives enough color to make me feel a little better about going into that place of never ending dirty clothes!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Laundry Cubbies!

Here is another cubbie idea! This is what I use some more cubbies (can you tell I love them!!) for in my house. At the top of the stairs we have this little area that works perfect. By the way before Dave and his kids moved in, I had my scrap booking albums in these..and yes they were full. Anyway...I needed some way to sort the laundry (with 5 kids)and thought this would work. It works great.
I bring up the folded laundry in my laundry baskets and sort it into the proper child's cubbie. (By the way...does anyone know if cubbie should really be spelled cubby? Spell check doesn't tell me! Hee hee) The kids are then responsible for putting their own laundry away in their rooms.
The basket in the middle is for mismatched socks.
The basket on the top left is for my step children's clothes that need to go back to their mom's house.
If you look close you can see that the kids names are on the bottom of their cubbies. I just use scrap booking stickers for this.
I would love to have something like this in my laundry room...but it's not big enough.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Crafty mama of 4 is having her first give away!

I found a fellow twitterer, Kim..who is having her first give away also! It will be over in about 2 hours from now though. So you will have to hurry.
She is giving away a Bratz Kidz Slumber Party Wii game!! Wow.
Follow this link and you can sign up to win it!

Launching my new review site. Pouchee review and give away!

My review site has officially launched!! I am beginning by giving away one of my pouchees!
Be one of the first to comment!
Your chances are good on winning this since it is a new review site.
Go to my review site (tab above) to see it!
Good luck!

Organizing coats and bookbags the easy way.

Another tool you can use to keep things somewhat organized for your kids is to simply hang some hooks on the back of your closet door. You can also use your basement door or laundry room door. I got the double hooks so a book bag goes on one hook and a coat can go on the other. They are labeled with colorful stickers with their names so no one can fight over where theirs goes.
The kids come in and they hand me their school folders and anything else they need me to see and then they hang their book bags and coats up. Easy and no book bags all over the family room floor! When kids are small they need to be able to hang their coats somewhere they can reach easily and just hanging it on a hook is easier (and more likely to be used)than a hanger.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Organizing your family with cubbies

This is the central family zone in our home. We do not have a very large home and I tend to be one who is very practical. Each child has a color and they know their color. There is one cubbie for each child and one for me. My husband has the station on top for his phones and keys etc.
Anytime I find something laying around the house, I throw it in their cubbie. They can put their dry hats and gloves in their cubbies, along with little things they want to keep downstairs. Have them clean them out every couple of weeks (or sooner if needed) and put everything away.
Works great for us. What do you do with all the little things you pick up around the house all day?