Friday, April 30, 2010

Some Household and Car Cleaning Tips

I got an email from a good friend asking if I could share any tips to help on keeping a car full of kids clean and keeping up with the house. I often get asked questions like this because the assumption is that if you have only seen my house and car clean, it must be clean all the time. Trust me, it isn't. But I do try very hard to keep up with it and my favorite thing in the world is to have people over so I work hard to keep my house in that condition -- where I am ready as often as possible to have people over.

This morning was the perfect example of how I often operate. It was 9:00. I hadn't showered. The kids were out the door to school. I was sitting in my PJ's on the couch watching Diego with Adam. I knew I had several things I wanted to do, but I really was lacking in motivation. My bed wasn't made, Adam's bed wasn't made, the dishwasher had not yet been emptied, the breakfast dishes were on the table. I knew that by myself it might take me all day to get around to everything. What I really wanted to do today was make homemade granola (I had bought everything for it on Monday), but there was no way I was going to start a project in my current state. So, Looking for motivation I started to call friends. The first one didn't answer. The second one did! I asked Michelle if she wanted to come learn how to make granola. She said she did but wanted to make sure she could get her kids going so she said she would call back. I continued to sit on the couch. Fifteen minutes later at 9:14 she called back to say they were on their way (she lives 10 minutes away). Over the next 10 minutes, I emptied the dishwasher, folded a load of laundry, started another, did the breakfast dishes, took a shower, got dressed, made the beds and she still wasn't here -- she actually didn't get here for 25 minutes so I also found the granola recipe and dug through my food storage to find the oats.

Cleaning your house is all about being motivated to do it. With the right kind of motivation, it just doesn't take long. But I can promise you, that if I had not called a friend, I would barely have gotten any thing done by 3 p.m. (and definately not the yummy granola).

Anyway, here are the tips I emailed back to Andrea. Hope this helps someone out there.

How to keep the car clean??

1. Put a towel underneath the car seats (especially if you have leather seats as our car seats have actually ripped the leather because they are pulled so tight and the car seats edges are not exactly smooth). It is so much easier to take out a towel and shake it off than to vacuum in all the crevices.
2. Keep the dustbuster stored in the garage right by the car -- (then when you know the goldfish have spilled you can take care of it right away)
3. Keep a garbage can close to the car in the garage.
4. Store your plastic grocery bags in the car -- preventing mud is so much easier than cleaning it up -- I try and be aware of the kids shoes after soccer practice and the like -- if they are muddy, I have them take them off and put them into a plastic bag -- I figure this helps a ton keeping my house clean too -- if you are aware of what is on your kids shoes before they get in the car, then all that mud will never get in your house. I have put dirty soccer balls into the bags. I use them for garbage.
5. Add this routine -- while getting gas have everyone search the car for garbage, there is always a garbage can right by the gas tanks and you are doing nothing else -- my kids are great at this -- it is like a big hunt for trash at the gas station and I am not ashamed to admit buying them treats sometime as a reward for finding lots of garbage.
6. When we lived in Texas Trent washed and vacuumed the car each saturday, but here it happens more like once a month -- but even when it was every week it was never a huge task because the car was never that dirty at least on the inside to begin with.

Hope that helps with the car. . .

Now to the hard question, do I ever get worn out and just not clean up.

Yep, and I always, always regret it. I must say it happens less and less because of the reality that it never gets easier and I always want to kick myself when I do it. Especially in our circumstances right now. Trent leaves at 6 in the morning and doesn't get home often until 9:30 at night -- so there literally is no one to bail me out. My mom does not live here, my sisters do not live here. So the burden falls on just me. all the time. I constantly am talking myself into doing the little things. But here are some things I have done to help.

1. Whenever I cook a meal, I cook another meal for the same day at the same time. My goal is to be in the kitchen for only 2 meals a day (and yet eat 3 meals a day at home) -- So . . . while making breakfast and packing the kids lunches, I nearly always pack Adam and me a lunch as well. It is not any more work to pack 3 lunches or 5 lunches, but when I am done cleaning up the breakfast lunch making mess, I know that I do not have to be in the kitchen again until dinner. It also means that every day I am ready to go on an adventure with Adam. We always have our lunch packed and ready to go. It gives me the incentive to find a park or an activity to go and do with him.

2. When the girls buy lunch, which is 1-2 times a week, I always make dinner for everyone while I am making lunch. So again, when I am done with lunch-- dinner is already made. I often even set the table at lunch time for dinner. I do all the dishes and cleanup and just have to heat up dinner when it is time. That means the dinner dishes are not very many.

3. I am not afraid to use paper plates. On days when I know I am going to be tired, I make things as easy as possible.

4. Every dinner is not a big deal. My kids are just as happy with scrambled eggs as they are with shrimp and snow peas (OK, sometimes even more happy). I have sometimes said, "Kids, Mom is tired, let's have cereal." They never complain.

5. I always make a ton of food and freeze ready made plates (so that on cereal days- Trent can find a "real" dinner in the freezer.

6. Reward yourself. I love to be on the computer. So I use computer time as a reward for myself when the laundry is done. If I am posting a lot on my blogs, you can know that I was doing laundry. I also love naps. My goal each day is to be done with everything in the house by 9:30 in the morning so that I can play with friends, take a nap while adam watches max and ruby, and read a book. I am often the most productive in the house when I have a good book to read, because I bribe myself with the book. I guess I feel too guilty to just sit and read for hours on end. So I always say to myself, "I am going to let myself read a chapter for every load of laundry I do. or I am going to do a craft with Adam and then read a chapter. "

7. Become ritualistic. Every night, no matter what, I start the dishwasher. It doesn't matter if the load is small or big. Every morning the first thing we do is empty the dishwasher (all the kids help). That way I am ready to handle all the dishes of the day. As for laundry -- every day I run 2 loads (whites and coloreds). I like the loads the smaller the better. (they seem so much more manageable to deal with) -- When I do the whites and it is a very small load I run and grab some towels to add to it or some sheets. Also I always make myself finish a load before pulling another one out of the dryer. Even if I have gotten behind and have 6-7 loads of laundry waiting, I much prefer to tackle one load at a time, instead of stacking up the clean laundry for one gigantic 2 hour folding session.

8. Use your kids. Mine have become such good helpers lately. When it comes to picking up toys they are really great. I have several "tools" we use sometimes. Occasionally when there is a big mess in the toy room we play bean bag pickup. I toss bean bags at the kids and if they get hit, they have to put something away. The kids love the game and always want to play it. When it is the rest of the house I have them all go find 5 things and bring them to the table. Once on the table we group things as to what room they go in and then each kids is responsible for all the stuff in one room (often there own).

9. I have a place (here in this house it is a barstool) designated for each kid. I put their laundry on it, and all day if I find something that is their's or something they got out, I just put it on their stool. When they come home from school that is the first thing they have to do -- clear the stool, then they get to sit on the stool and have snack. I don't ever put away the kids laundry or their toys. I tell them I have enough of my own mess -- but I will gladly trade, I will do their stool if they make and clean up dinner. None of them have traded yet. They NEVER get snack or get to go to a friend's or go to soccer if their stool is not cleared. They all know this rule very well and it is just a part of their routine. Even Adam does it.

Hope this helps. I certainly learn through trial and error, no day is ever perfect, but I really try and not put off something because I know it just gets worse. I really feel like I only spend a small part of the day working on the house. I always reward myself with having friends over or going out every day to a park or something. And there is nothing like going to bed each night knowing that you are ready for the next day. there is nothing like enjoying a book and not feeling guilty about the things you should be doing. and there is nothing like having a nap and knowing you deserve it.

And if all else fails, chocolate is amazing. A small piece of chocolate is often the motivation I need to get moving!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Adam's name

A long, long time ago I purchased some painted wooden letters to decorate all of the kid's rooms with their names. I did the girls' names in February of 2008 and Adam's letters have sat, undone for over 2 1/2 years. Today, he asked why his room did not belong to him. I couldn't figured out what he meant and questioned him. He said it is because his room doesn't have his name on the wall. He started crying even. So -- I made his letters today. It is such an easy project (you can see the directions on the link to the girl's ones). He loves it! Now his room is his!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spring Soccer

3 kids playing.
4 practices a week.
3 games each Saturday.
. . . and the kids love it!!!!





April 22nd -- Bring your daddy home early from work day!!!

also known as "Take your daughters to work day"

This year both Julianne and Catherine were old enough to attend the program. This year the "official" program started at 9 and ended at noon. So Trent took the girls in to the city on the 7:09 train (later than his usual 6:21 train) took them to work, took them to the "official" program, picked them up at noon, grabbed some lunch, ate at Bryant Park, enjoyed the beautiful spring weather we have been having and were headed home on the 2:07 train.

Catherine even made it to her afternoon soccer practice! We loved having Daddy home early!!!

Their glasses don't match anymore

Eyeglass timeline

Sept 2008 -- Julianne gets glasses for the first time

Oct 2009 -- Julianne gets a new pair of glasses as her prescription has changed

Dec 2009 -- Catherine gets glasses for the first time and her mother inadvertantly lets her select the same frames as Julianne

April 2010 -- Julianne gets another new pair of glasses as her prescription has yet again changed drastically (yes just 6 months later) -- but they no longer are the same frames as Catherines!!!!!


This picture is worth 1000 words!

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I take it all back!!!

Good thing I only posted my Rachael Ray letter on my blog.  Because today . .  . I GOT TICKETS!!!!!  FOR REAL!!!!!  Clearly they don't know what their own emails say -- as it clearly said if I had not heard back by Monday April 19th, then I did not have tickets, but today is Wednesday, April 21 -- and I got my tickets via email.

So yeah for me and 3 of my good friends!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rachael Ray Ticket Gods,

Dear Rachael Ray TV Show Ticket Gods,

I signed up to get tickets to see Rachael Ray's show when I found out that I would soon be moving to the greater NYC area 2 years ago. A lot has happened in those 2 years like the fact that I completely forgot I had signed up to get tickets. So it was with great surprise and excitement that I read the email I recieved from you this past Friday at 3:08 p.m. informing me that my long awaited ticket request had not fallen on deaf ears. The email gave me the choice of 2 dates (May 6 and May7) and requested that I reply back with the following information.

My name
Number of tickets desired (up to 4)
Date I wished to attend
Ages of persons attending
phone numbers
etc. . . .

The email did remind that this was not a "guarantee" of tickets as they would be distributed in a first come first serve fashion and that I would recieve my ticket confirmation by Monday April 19.

I called my friends, told them to start planning and sent my reply at 3:28 p.m. (yes, just 20 minutes later).

Well, Monday came and went with no email confirmation of tickets . . . so it makes me wonder???? Were we too old??? too young??? did you google my profile and decide I was not worthy??? were there only 3 tickets available???? or is this just some sick game you play to get stay at home mom's to watch the show (at least for a day to see what i would have seen had we gotten tickets???)
I guess I'll never know.

Thanks for nothing.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Third times a charm???? (and BIG news)

So. . . after hearing the heartbeat again today and recognizing that I am starting to look pregnant. . . I figured I would announce it to the world! We are (once again) expecting our fifth child!!!

15 weeks along -- due October 9.

So here's to all the remarks and comments in my future

"Is this your first?? Nope, fifth" (followed by nothing but silence)

"(When seeing me with Adam since all the girls are in school) Are you hoping for a girl??? Not really, since I already have 3 girls but I'll take whatever we get!" (again nothing but silence and maybe a "you're crazy look?)

"Wow, you've got your hands full. (often said when I only have 2 or 3 of the kids with me, but I can't wait to go shopping 8 months pregnant with all 4 kids with me -- It ought to be a reality TV special)"

The good news is that I am not househunting like one of the previous fifth pregnancies. That was really fun -- looking at apartments in Manhattan while pregnant and then having to explain over and over again how this was not our first but our fifth. I swear some of the people had small heart attacks right on the spot.

And for any of you out there who may be experiencing or have experienced multiple second trimester miscarriages-- have your doctors test for blood clotting diseases (thrombophilia's). During my last pregnancy, after there was once again a seemingly perfect baby with no heartbeat, the doctor commented that she wondered if I had a blood clotting disorder. I asked her what the treatment would have been and she replied, "it is often just as simple as taking a baby (low dose) aspirin a day."

Since my diagnosis (of Factor V Leiden Thrombophilia) I have met 3 other women (just here in my ward in my small town) with different blood clotting disorders that all manifest themselves through late miscarriages. My treatment is a little more than just a baby aspirin as I get to self-administer a daily subcutaneous injection of Lovenox right in my stomach. But I have seen each of these other women have successful pregnancies with this treatment so we are ever hopeful that everything will continue smoothly.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring Break 2010

After last year's cold, rainy, miserable weather spring break, I was prepared for the worst. However, this year we had sunny blue skies for the whole week. On Wednesday, we even hit 89 degrees.

Mon- played with friends, Julianne had a good friend sleepover (a first at our house)

Tues- took 4 friends with us to the Stamford Nature Center. Saw lots of animals, held ferrots, but mostly played on the playground for a very, very long time.



On Wednesday -- We played outside with the sprinklers on the trampoline and watched our new dishwasher get installed.  (my favorite day)

On Thursday morning we went to a friends to see her chickens and new baby chicks!


On Thursday afternoon we went to Greenwich Point Park. It is a beach about 25 minutes from our house. It was a nice warm day as we left but we were surprised to find the beach a very windy 60 degrees (nearly 20 degrees cooler than our house). So don't let the blue skies and bathings suits fool you, WE WERE FREEZING!!!! We lasted just over an hour and then headed back home to play in the sun and sprinklers!

Easter 2010

The kids were all so anxious Easter morning, but Adam was tired and trying hard to sleep in, so the girls managed to get all bathed and showered before Adam woke up. 

Everyone looked for their baskets first.  Curiosly, Mom and Dad's basket was the easiest to find!


Adam found his next!


Then sweet Madelyn found hers!

Finally Catherine found hers!

and Julianne's was the hardest to find (and in the most obscure place too)  What a crazy Easter bunny!!!

Here is the whole gang in their new clothes! (with Adam saying "Peace, dude!"  -- seriously who taught him that????  it is ruining all my pictures!!!!)



that afternoon we dyed the Easter Eggs!



Mystic, CT

On April 3rd, we went to Mystic, CT for a little day trip. The weather was stunning. We had such a nice time learning all about New England's seaports in the 1800's and early 1900's.

The drive is just at 2 hours from our house. 


And the whole "museum" is outside.  You walk from restored building to boat right on the waterfront. 

We were hungry right when we got there and ate at the little bakery -- New England Clam chowder of course!


Don't you just love Adam?  He is saying "Peace Dude"





Julianne learning to use a sextet at the cartography house.



All the kids on the toy boat . . .


and Adam at the helm.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Going Pro????

So if you ever check out my photography blog this is old news, but my friend Lillian and I hosted a portrait party. . .   and we charged money (not a lot), but still that was a big step for me.  It is one thing to just take someone's pictures and entirely another to get paid to take their pictures.  IT WAS SO FUN!  Here is the cover for the CD's that we made.  (the design came from  The pictures turned out great! 

Visitors from Arizona!

My Aunt Penny and Uncle Dan came to see us this past week. We really had a nice day with them. It is one of the perks to living close to such a fun and happening place like New York City that we occasionally get visitors in their comings and goings.

We drove around our small little towns here in Connecticut and went to Compo Beach and the Norwalk Aquarium.

My kids taught them to play a favorite card game "Blink" and beat Dan and Penny enough times, that we worry they may not come again!

Blog Book

Way back in January of 2008 I printed my blog into a book. I used blurb. You can read about it here.  You downloaded a book software program, selected SLURP and you had a book.  I did not spend any time reformatting it.  I just ordered it and was done.  I love it!!!!  Then came early 2009 and it was time to print out my blog for 2008 --

Blurb was no longer supporting SLURP for bloggers. (although they do now -- it was just a temporary outage)  I tried several different things and after spending lots of time decided it was too much of a headache and time waster to finish it.  Some would not download pictures that were hosted on exterior sites.  Some would only do a couple posts at a time. 

Just a few weeks ago my friend told me about blog2print.  I was pretty sure I had looked at it 2 years ago.  Back then it seemed to struggle downloading more than 3 months at a time.  But not this time around.  It even downloads images hosted elsewhere (like photobucket or flickr).  (Although it will not do slideshows -- so I will probably do fewer slideshows from now on).  

They have definately improved the process.  You simply enter your blog address, tell it what dates you want the book to cover, choose the cover and in 2 minutes it is done.  It lets you choose whether to keep the formatting just like your blog or to condense it a little to save pages.  It looked awesome.  I ordered my 2008 book in under 10 minutes.  Then I ordered my 2009 book.  They came in the mail 4 days later.  I chose the soft cover option and the price includes shipping. 

I love them!!!!  So if you are looking for a great way to print your blog -- here is the link!

And here are my books!!!!