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Saturday Project: Spring Forward

thDon’t forget that this weekend is the time to “Spring Forward” for most of us in the USA. Set your clocks ahead one hour before you go to bed tonight! This is also a great time of year to do some tasks that don’t get done regularly.

Check batteries in all smoke detectors. If you do not have a battery charge tester, replace all the batteries. Also, do a fire and tornado drill with the family. Be sure that everyone knows where to meet, and multiple ways out of the house from every room, especially the kids bedrooms.

Take this time to clean your bathroom vent fans and air returns. The covers often build up dust and grease, which can restrict their performance.

Check all your furnace filters and replace if needed. Make a note in your calendar to do this every month.

Finally, clean out your dryer lint. Even if you are emptying your lint trap every load, there is still lint clogging up your dryer. You can find instructional videos on YouTube for opening your dryer and really cleaning all the lint out. Just google your make and model and how to videos. Also, clean or change the vent hose than runs from your dryer to the wall. Get as much lint as possible out of the piping from the wall to the outside air release. You can do that from both the wall side and from outside your house. You can extend your vacuum hose by securely taping a wrapping paper tube (or several) to the end of the hose. Just make sure you use heavy-duty duct tape so that you don’t lose the hose extension in your wall.

The good news for many of us buried under snow or dealing with colder than normal temperatures is that this clock change means that Spring cannot be too far behind! Enjoy your extra morning vitamin D and sunshine!

 

Mythbusters Series: Answering Common Myths

mythbusters-logo-440-x-118My kids are crazy into the TV series MythBusters. They want to watch it every chance they get and even themed their birthday party this spring around it.

So, inspired by their scientific curiosity, I decided that we would tackle some common myths relating to homes, organization, personal care, kids, cooking, etc. Over the next weeks we will examine myths and either confirm or bust them, and give some of the science behind why it is so.

Juggling It All

daily choresDo you ever feel like the woman in the cartoon? I certainly do, often on a daily basis!

The one question I get asked most often is “How do you do it?” At the heart of this question isn’t really the need for information about how I do something, but the idea of comparing what someone sees as my “perfect” way to their way that looks chaotic, messy, or out-of-control to them.  Comparing yourself, your family, your style to anyone else’s is immediately setting yourself up for failure because you are not them and because what they present to you on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc is only the perfect-looking version of their life that they have decided to release to the public.

Let me start by saying nothing I suggest works perfectly, even in my house. There are days when assignments don’t get finished, chores are left half-complete, people yell, toys get left out, and on and on…

The first key to juggling it all, holding it all together, is to realize I cannot hold it all together. “There but for the grace of God, go I” rings true in our home. If we didn’t base our lives of fundamental guiding Biblical principles and a relationship with Jesus, everything would absolutely fall apart into total chaos and confusion, and even with that it still does some days! But even with these basic principles guiding our family, we still mess up. Systems in place to help us still fail because we are human, and at our core we are imperfect.

The second key to juggling it all is to recognize that your family, your personality, your season of life, is different from anyone else’s. You cannot copy exactly what another family does. Even if you did everything exactly as I have posted, your results will be different from any other person’s because you and your family are unique. Whether chores or homeschooling, finances or cooking, you must pick and choose what works for your family and throw out the rest. Try my suggestions. If they work, great! If they don’t, try something else. If you have found something that works well, share your ideas with the rest of us. The idea is not for you to follow everything I say to do, but for us to work together to come up with ideas that we can all use to help manage our families.

As wives and moms, we are all over-worked, under-paid, and often under-appreciated. Part of that goes with the job, but part of that we bring on ourselves by comparing our worst to the social-media best image of our peers.

Homemade Non-Slip Hangers

DSCN4326My wonderful husband went to a national store on his own and scored me 4 new shirts for $8 each. They are super stylish, nautically striped with a boat neck. I love them and him for getting them for me for no reason at all (not a birthday or anniversary or anything!). But when I started hanging them up, nothing would stay on the hangers. These didn’t come with the clever little hanging straps that somehow always manage to be showing when I wear a top with them. After fidgeting with the shirts and hangers for several minutes I remembered something I saw somewhere about using hot glue to add texture to the hangers to hold wide necked shirts. I really wish I could remember where I saw it to give the truly clever person props, but alas I have no idea. Even if it was on Pinterest, the odds are it wouldn’t take me to the original link anyway, so thank you mystery person.

Here is what you do. Get your cheap plastic hangers out and heat up that glue gun. Starting about the middle of the side of the hanger (mine had handy open hook areas) paint a curvy line with your glue gun. Add a slightly thicker dot of glue at the end. Let them cool. Viola! Non-slip hangers for all those fashionable wide-necked shirts and slippery fabrics.

TIP  – If you did this on plastic hangers, should you get rid of the shirts, you can easily peel the glue off the hanger and return it to its original state.

Things You Should Clean, But Probably Don’t

cleaning crazyMost of us get the basics of cleaning…kitchen, bathrooms, dusting, floors. (For more on organizing your cleaning routine check out the daily chore list or the electronic version.) But, even when you keep these things current in your cleaning routine, you may be missing some of the germiest (that’s a word, right?) places in your home. Here are a few things you should be cleaning regularly and some tips for cleaning.

Tip – Get the kids involved! Race to see who can get finished first. Ask them to come up with things they think need cleaned that you don’t regularly do.

1. Baseboards and trim – Many of us dust the furniture and blinds, but what about the baseboards and trim? Consider using a dryer sheet to pick up the dust and help repel future dust.

2. Phones – Home and cell phones get very germy and dirty. Remove protective cases and clean everything with a disinfectant wipe or a vinegar & water solution (1:1). Do not use a wet cloth, just damp and rung out!

3. Remotes & Game Controllers –  same procedure as phones – wipe them down regularly

4. Light switches,  doorknobs, and locks – these come in contact with a lot of hands. Disinfect them regularly.

5. Drawer pulls – whether on cabinets or dressers, be sure to wipe them down regularly. We often do this in kitchens & bathrooms, but forget about dressers in bedrooms.

6. Vacuum Cleaner – Yes, clean the cleaner. Take the time once a quarter to dust off and clean up your vacuum, including washing the air filter (which can often be done in the dishwasher).

Solving the Case of the Missing Sock

AAAAC9LZF1wAAAAAAYyAYgEveryone has it. A bin or pile of single socks, whose mates somehow disappeared between the hamper and the dryer. Where do all those socks go? Here is a simple solution to the problem. Purchase a small mesh laundry bag (like the one pictures which we got 3 for $1 at the dollar store) for everyone in the house. When socks are put into the laundry hamper, they go in the mesh bag. The bag, socks still inside, goes into the washer and dryer (unless you hang laundry to dry, which means the socks have to come out on the line). When you go to fold laundry all the socks are still in the mesh bag, eliminating the lost sock problem!

Patching Jeans II

Yep, a second post about patching jeans. The way my kiddos seem to tear through knees requires a lot of creative sewing to keep coming up with new ways to make the jeans wearable. Plus they have learned that this is a great way to personalize their clothes, so now they have requests about patterns, shapes, and stitches!

DSCN4006Step 1: Make the basic patch. I cut pieces of off old jeans that are still good and use these as the base for patching the kids clothes. These mostly come from the lower legs of my husband’s old jeans as that is usually the best material left. Cut this good denim into a circle that will cover the entire knee area. Think of the way a suede patch is on the elbow of a jacket. This is what you are going for.

DSCN4005Step 2: Reinforce patch and add a pattern. Using scrap fabric (i.e. “good” parts of a shirt that has been ruined) cut a circle the same size as your denim base. I tend to use blues, reds, and yellows for the boy, and purples, pinks, and teals for the girls as these colors match most things in their wardrobes. Using fabric glue, attach the decorative fabric to the denim base. Allow to dry 24 hours before continuing.

DSCN4004Step 3: Attach the patch to the jeans. I use fabric glue for this. Make sure you get it good around the edges and give the glue 24 hours to dry.

Step 4: Embellish! Depending on if you have boys or girls, the shapes might change but I usually stick with hashes, stars, and twinkles. You can use embroidery thread for this or if you are like me and never have that around, just quadruple up the thread through the needle. Use a pencil to draw on any shapes you DSCN4002don’t feel comfortable doing free-hand with thread. Secure everything well with knots on the back. I also add a dab of fabric glue over the knots to help hold them. The embellishments look cute and also act to hold the patch in place.

Jobs for Hire

kids chores clipartAround our house we have many assigned chores. We use MyJobChart.com to keep track of everyone’s responsibility charts and the kids are expected to do all their work every day. However, there are often some jobs that come up that are not scheduled and don’t have to be done weekly. For example, we don’t need to rake leaves or pick up sticks out of the yard every week. When these jobs come up, some of the time the kids are expected to help without pay simply because they are part of the family. But there are other jobs that we are willing pay the kids to do. For example, the baseboards need to be dusted/wiped down about once a month. I hate doing this chore and am more than willing to pay the kiddos to do it.

Enter Extra Job Cards! These can printed and then the job is posted on the corkboard attached to our family calendar. The first child to claim the job and do it well gets paid.

TIP: If you use MyJobChart.com extra jobs can also be added there. We have found that the cards get more attention. We also add the job to the children’s online profiles and that is how the actual pay is given.

TIP: Print on and laminate! You have an instant dry-erase card that you can use over and over.

Change Your Attitude on Chores

daily choresChores…laundry…cleaning…these words make most of us groan. If we are honest, even if we love a clean and tidy home, the actually work of these things is not our favorite thing. And if we have children, our less than enthusiastic approach to housework and home management can translate down to whiney kids who don’t want to work around the house. So what are we to do? Do we pretend to love the chores and scold our kids when they don’t? While we do not tolerate whining, is grudgingly performing tasks at hand enough obedience? I think not.

My goal is teaching all my kids, and especially my girls, the details of cleaning and home management, as with any teaching that happens in our home,  has always been to create capable, competent adults with the greatest chance for success in the world. We want them to go out, be successful in whatever God calls them to do, and come back to visit, but not to live!

So how can my attitude about chores affect their success as adults? It is simple…If I teach them to dislike work at home, that attitude is contagious and soon they will dislike all work. The Bible is very clear that we are to do all things as though we are serving the Lord. Colossians 3:17 tells us “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” 

We are to work in the name of Jesus, giving thanks as we go. How would your house be different if, instead of complaining that there were dishes to wash or floors to mop, you took the time to pray, out loud and with your kids, thanking God that you have dishes and floors that need to be cleaned and praying for those that don’t?

Changing our attitude in this one area, our chores, can change the whole tone of our homes!

 

Borax and Sugar to Kill Ants

thRecently I posted about using vinegar and chalk to deter ants, but what happens with more aggressive ants who don’t seem to take the hint? A good way to rid your house of ants is to use borax and sugar. In a bowl mix 1 part borax to 3 parts sugar and dissolve fully in water. Soak cotton balls with the solution. Place the borax and sugar soaked cotton ball in the lid of a two-liter or 20 oz. soda in the area where you have seen the ants. Allow the ants to come to the cotton ball and feed. Resist the urge to kill them there. You want the ants to take the solution back to their home. Over 1-2 days you should notice that the ants stop coming. If they re-appear, simply repeat putting the cotton ball out. After 1-2 treatments the ants should be gone.

Extra solution can be stored in a peanut butter jar or other recycled container. Mark it well so people know it is not for eating. Because you are using borax, be sure to store the solution and place the cotton balls away from where kids can get into them.