Category Archives: Household Helps

Summer Schedule Sanity

I don’t like to over schedule the summer, but I do schedule a couple things for the kids. We love town swim lessons at the local pool, library visits, and the imagination station for crafts.

This year I signed up my oldest for a couple extra activities and she completely panicked. The thought of something on her summer agenda was overwhelming to her, especially since she misunderstood her teacher’s instructions on how long to practice math everyday. The thought of all three of my children at home all day long with no scheduled interruptions where they won’t be asking me what to do made ME completely panic too.

The teacher said ten minutes of math iXL a day; Savannah thought she said ten HOURS a day. Plus of course, she needed to practice reading and writing everyday.

How could she possibly complete her school work and participate in a sports camp?

Once I talked her off that ledge I tried to come up with a few visual things that would help her understand that she has LOTS of free play time and LOTS of opportunity to choose what to fill it with.


I repurposed my Silhouette Advent Calendar frame and cut up some Project Life cards to make our Summer Fun board. We listed all the fun things we hope to do and put them all on cards. I even included the days and hours the activity was open for ease of reference. Savannah was happy to see all of these ideas on the board.


I took a couple empty jars and put some washi tape on them to make Media Ticket Jars for each child. I cut up more project life cards (such a versatile product!) to make the tickets and put them all in a little basket by their chore pack hooks.


Only problem is Savannah is now binge working on her workbook to bank up media tickets. I may have to rethink some of this, but hey, at least she is doing schoolwork without any prompting!


The local library has a summer reading contest where you get entries based on the number of books you review. A brief two to four sentence review was all that was required. I have a journal for Savannah and Luke to write their reviews in and then I submit them on the library website. I’d prefer them to write out their reviews as opposed to typing because they are still developing their handwriting skills and learning to communicate via the written word. To throw in “learn to type” too didn’t seem like a great use of time! One book review equals one media ticket too. I’m grateful our kids enjoy reading.

I still need to hang up a book log for easy record keeping somewhere.


I keep our schedules on my phone and on our wall calendar. It’s two months at a time and is dry erase and each person has a designated color. Yes, it’s double work, but Savannah and Luke are old enough to be able to read the calendar and they enjoy having a little knowledge and control over our commitments. It also helps them understand why I may say “no” to an activity when they see we have a prior commitment. The only thing that bugs me about this set up is when, for example, July is on the left of June, but I don’t feel like moving the boards! I have a couple frames underneath that we use for lists, memory verses and my favorite, the #1000 gifts board- a place to write things we are thankful to God for- things big and small.

All that said, I am not very good at scheduling time with friends. Or date nights, because we have yet to put babysitting as a budget line item and freebies are pretty rare for us. I am typically a last minute person with our free time, and it doesn’t always work out to get together with friends, unless they are spontaneous people with an open schedule that day. Maybe I should work on those this summer!



Filed under crafts, DIY, home life, Household Helps, Kids Activities, organization, parenthood, Silhouette Projects

Chore packs- how they work for us

Have you ever struggled with keeping your children engaged and responsible with household chores? Or do your kids have trouble simply remembering all the difficult steps there are to get dressed for school (like, go potty, make bed, get dressed, put dirty clothes in the hamper, etc). Yeah, us too.

What works for us right now is using my own variation of “chore packs.” I made a set for our then four and six year olds several months back and it helps them stay on task.


Our two and a half year old is asking for her own chore pack, so this afternoon Savannah and I are going to assemble one for her.

I found bits and piece of ideas online and asked a graphic designer friend to add a few icons that I wasn’t able to figure out myself. There are icons for all of the basic hygiene things the kids need to do on a daily basis in the morning- go potty, brush teeth, comb hair, wipe counter, make bed, and put dirty clothes in the hamper.


I keep the “morning” set on their chore packs all the time. If I need help with things in the afternoon, I’ll slip on a different split ring onto their lanyard with various chores.

I have icons for set the table, clear the table, wash the dishes, feed the dog, empty the dishwasher, water flowers, pick up toys, fold laundry, put clean laundry away, sweep the floor, mop the floor, wash mirrors and windows, vacuum, take out the garbage and I have a blank mommys-choice card too that I can write on with a dry erase marker.

Granted they never have to do ALL of that at the same time! But they get a chunk of chores to do on Saturdays and they usually are required to help with meal prep and clean ups every day.

The best thing about this system is that I never have to ask “did you do this, this, and this?” They just know they need to complete their chore pack. When they are done, they are done. Free to do as they please. They are responsible for this wearable list, and they won’t be able to forget what they are supposed to do. It’s right around their neck!


We feel using this type of system has improved our relationship with our older kids because there is no more nagging or needing to check up on the three things we sent them to do: they are responsible. They know what to do and we know they can do it. Luke is always so proud to finish his chore pack. Savannah secretly is too, but she thinks she is “too old” for them. Which is partially true, she does an excellent job doing all of the daily tasks without being reminded. Her bed is always made every day, her hair combed and teeth brushed. But having the pack on the weekends is helpful because her tasks change from week to week. There is not a consistent routine other than you-have-chores.

We also like that we are splitting up some household tasks- we say that if we work together then we can play together. While the kids do some light duty work, Keith does that too (and yes, sometimes I leave out the kids chore pack cards for him- much easier than finding paper to write him a list!), and I clean the bathrooms and change all the sheets.

It’s my hope and my heart that our kids will develop habits of discipline and of serving others through this exercise, as well as provide an opportunity to tangibly take care of what God has entrusted us with. It also helps keep our house running more smoothly to have a weekly re-set. Or two. Lord knows our house isn’t the neatest in the world… I am a creative person and us creatives tend to be messy (with seven different projects going on at a time)!

We’ve been off schedule for a while, with traveling and Christmas, so I am re-instituting our Saturday chorepack mornings this weekend. We have a birthday party to attend (the whole family!) at 10 am, so my goal is for everyone to be up and moving, with the house cleaned from top to bottom before we leave. Here goes nothing!

You can download the icons in two different sizes here and here. Just print it on cardstock, cut out the icons and mat them onto some colored scrapbook paper. Hole punch the tops and grab a few binder ring clips. Let your child pick out their ribbon to make the lanyard.  I recommend laminating to prolong the life of the cards.





Filed under crafts, home life, Household Helps, Kids Activities, organization, Silhouette Projects

Corralling the Chaos Overview

Long time, no blog. It’s a long story, but all my crafty stuff is packed away. It stinks but I am hopeful that we will soon find a space in the house in which I can once again be creative!

I was asked to help out with a round table discussion on “Corralling the Chaos” at my local MOPS group a few weeks ago. I thought I’d blog about what I’ve learned so far. Not sure why they asked me!

I think it’s because they all saw the back of my minivan. 🙂

First off, I am no expert. Just a regular ole mom of three. Many days I think I stink at everything and am an utter failure, organization wise and a hundred other ways! Well, at least compared to my Pinterest fantasies. And that’s what we are always up against, our perceptions of realities. Those perceptions will hurt you. Enslave you. Damage you. So take a deep breath and cut yourself some slack. I have to do that all the time. Sometimes I need my friends to remind me of this!

Second, motherhood is NOT A COMPETITION. There is no medal to win for who has the cleanest house, who lost the baby weight the fastest, who contributes to the greater community more.

Third, other moms are a WEALTH of information and knowledge that you can glean from. I do that all the time! My friend Tia coached me through my freak-out-attack about getting my then 4 year old, 2 year old, and newborn up, dressed, fed and out the door by 8:30 am last summer. I’m happy to say that her suggestions worked and I still use them! (She suggested everyone get dressed, beds made & teeth brushed before going downstairs to have breakfast). Ask for ideas and then see if it works in your house.

I have blogged in the past about some of my organizational challenges that I have sort of overcome. You can check out my past posts on:

Systems and labels work really well for me. I like to label everything so I don’t have an excuse of where to put something and just seeing a label reminds me to put my stuff away!

Better Homes and Gardens has free label downloads that I really like. Some of the templates you can personalize (as in no handwriting! because my handwriting stinks!). I used the basket weave template to organize our bathroom closet. I have six canvas bins to hold all of our stuff in categories- Children’s Meds, Adult Meds, Topical/First Aid, Lotions, Hair Products, and Hair/ Nail accessories and have a catch all bin at the bottom for extra stuff. I could probably use more bins, but I don’t have anymore room in the closet!

Bathroom closet 

I have also created labels on my Silhouette as well, for everything from Monday-Friday clothing tags for my kids’ clothes to laundry room labels.

We used one of our old college bookcases to house shoes and laundry necessities in our basement laundry area. I repurposed some vintage flour/sugar canisters for detergent, clothes pins and a lost & found. I also have some baskets for items that need to go to the Salvation Army, items that need to be mended an dryer sheets.


My closet isn’t a fancy California Closet type thing, just regular wire shelving, but adding labels helps me stay on track with putting clothes in the right places. The blue labels for my husband’s items also prevents me from overtaking his space in our shared closet.

What are some chaotic areas you’d like to corral?

I’m out of time today, but next time I’ll share what exactly is IN all those compartments in the back of my minivan!

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Filed under DIY, home life, Household Helps, organization, Silhouette Projects

Family Command Center and Entry Organization Progress

School starts in a few short weeks and we’ve been working on organizing our lives house in hopes of smooth and happy mornings.

Our side entry door is the door we use 95% of the time and it is usually 100% responsible for a sudden negative change in my mood when coming in or out of the house due to its’ tiny-ness and clutter. We also had a need for a family calendar/ command center somewhere in the house and adding a wipe off calendar to the the wall here has seemed to be a good solution.

We worked on shoe organization down in the basement to keep the 3 by 3 foot area clear. We had the hooks on the wall, but they tended to be overrun by everything and our terrible habit of not putting things away.

Adding individual labels for each member of our family (dog included!) has helped keep the chaos at bay and our door can ACTUALLY open all the way! I used photos and images to label so my non-reading preschoolers can put things away. Plus, I like looking at their cute little faces.

The calendar is one part of our in-progress family-calendar project. This is a 4 month at a glance wipe off calendar that I had from my college days. We use color coordinating dry erase markers for each family member’s activities/ appointments. I saw another calendar somewhere that said “Our Busy Family” and I changed it to “Our Purposeful Family” to remind myself to not be just BUSY with things to do, but to try and be purposeful in our schedule.

We’ve been using Google Calendar for a few months now to keep our family calendar. I chose this calendar because I am able to send my husband invites to swim lessons, doctor’s appointments, social events and it works on his work calendar (Lotus) and shows up on his blackberry calendar. This is really helpful for us because I can just send Keith a quick invite to something and get a response right away, instead of trying to remember to talk to him about it after he  is home from work.

What are your calendar ideas? What works? What doesn’t?



Filed under DIY, home decor, home life, Household Helps, organization

Skunk PSA

Our dog got skunked last weekend. I was home alone with the kids as my husband was playing hockey (first time he’s played in over a month, go figure!) and prompty after the little ones were tucked bed, our poor little yapper got sprayed.

It reeeeeeeked. And not just your usual skunk-y smell. When something gets skunked up close, it smells so much worse than what you get a whiff of while driving past skunk-road skill.  It’s almost like a electrical burn type of smell.

Our dog got sprayed once last year and we learned about this Nature’s Miracle Skunk Remover stuff:

Every dog owner should have this on hand! It works on the dog, people, clothes, and anything else the skunk might have gotten. I had to call around to different pet stores to see who had it in stock last year. Thankfully our dog is only 7 pounds, so we had plenty left over for this year’s disaster!

You have to douse the dog in the skunk remover and let them air dry COMPLETELY before washing with regular dog shampoo. I whisked Mercy down to the basement utility sink (she can’t jump out), went back upstairs and closed all the windows, and then went back downstairs to soak Mercy down and then put her wet and wimpering in her crate for the night. Poor thing.

We don’t have central air so several windows were open  and the smell got in a good amount of the house. Add in the fact that I am pregnant and hyper-sensitive to smells and this was a problem. (I was seriously convinced that both of my children and husband had some horrible disease because of their breath in the morning, I sent them to the dentist and  the dentist said they were normal and I was. not. ha! Super sniffer!!!)

I used a bucket of white distilled vinegar to wash down all the floors in our house (hardwood and tile). Then I sprayed febreeze everywhere. I cranked all the window AC units and turned on the bathroom ventilation fan as well as the kitchen exhaust hood. I even popped open a couple of Renuzit air fresheners.

After all that work, my husband came home from hockey. “Whoa did you smell that skunk outside?” he said.

“Outside???? You mean you don’t smell anything in here???” I asked.

“No, why?”

Yes! Victory! A “fresh” nose declared the house skunk-free!

The next morning I woke up with my hyper sensitive nose feeling like I was drowning in a humid sauna of vinegar, so I rewashed all the floors before we went to church. After I washed the dog.

I’ll take my medal, now. 🙂

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Filed under Household Helps