Saturday, August 31, 2013

parentwin: The Day All the Fucks Were Gone - Guest Post

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Love this one!

parentwin: The Day All the Fucks Were Gone - Guest Post: A while back I was having a conversation with some online friends and most of us were complaining (me at the forefront) about how very few f...

Cleaning: How to Clean your Glass Top Stove

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Cleaning a glass top stove is not as scary or difficult as many people think.  In my experience, I found that you do not need the special glass top cleaning agent with the special scrubber sponge that the manufacturer claims is necessary.  (*Disclaimer- Not following the manufacturer's directions may damage your cooktop.)  Again, this is my own experience that no damage has occurred from my cleaning practices.  Any scratches that I have on the surface are from my pots and pans during cooking.  All I use is a regular dish sponge with a scrubber side and Dawn dish soap.  I use this method to clean my stove every time.  Even with the dirtiest messes, including grease splatter from frying, your stove will be clean and shiny.

Step 1:
Wipe all debris off the surface.

*If you have burnt on rings around each burner, you can use a scraper (flat razor tool) to scrape everything up first.  I usually do this once-twice a year.

Step 2:
Using a very wet, soapy sponge, wring out soapy water onto the surface of the stove.

Step 3:
Use the scrubber side of the same sponge to spread the soap on the entire surface and scrub in a circular motion until everything feels nice and smooth.

Step 4:
Either use the same sponge or a new soap free sponge to wipe up suds, rinsing between each wipe.  The purpose of this is to clean the soap off the stove.

Step 5:
Use a dry paper towel to wipe up any excess water and soap so the surface is nice and dry.  If you have any ridges or seams (as I do around the edge), be sure to use your fingernail to get the paper towel in the ridge to get out all residue and soap.

Done!!  That's it!

The Illusion of the Weekend

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I used to get excited for the weekend.  The plan was to get things done that I couldn't do during the week.  Usually because I needed my husband home so he could keep the kids occupied so I could focus on the task at hand.  I'd also plan to run errands on the weekends.  However, this was never the case.  The illusion that I'd get more done during the weekend than during the week.  This is what I refer to as "The Illusion of the Weekend".

It took me about 3 1/2 years to acknowledge and accept this fact.  Because instead of accomplishing XYZ on the weekend, I'd end up worse off than where I started.  I found that when hubby was home, I'd get less accomplished and the house would be messier than it was on Friday afternoon.

Most, if not all of my errands are done on the weekends, when they actually get done.  This is simply because it's just faster and less stressful to me than bringing 2 preschoolers and a toddler to multiple stops with me.  Between getting in and out of the car, strapping them in the car seats, opening and closing the stroller, constantly reminding them to stay near me, telling them "no" every time they insist that we need to buy something stupid, and just being distracted by 3 complaining children, it is just too much headache to bring them with me.  To run errands, I generally leave them home with my husband and I get about 3 hours of freedom to hit as many stops as I can squeeze in.  Although, many times hubby likes to make it a family event and we spend the majority of the day making multiple stops with the entire family.  Sometimes I feel as though my husband is just another kid to control.  Many times I find him dilly-dallying with toys and electronics while I'm trying to hurry up and accomplish something.

Any big projects I plan for the weekend usually get pushed off or only partially done.  Maybe I want to clean out my basement.  Or redo my landscaping.  Maybe I want to clean out my closets and purge all unused clothing.  It could even be as simple as filing away all of my important papers.  It just usually doesn't happen.  Sometimes it's my own laziness and sometimes it's just a lack of time and cooperation.  If I'm lucky, maybe I'll get two of those things done this year.  I have big dreams, but not much time or energy to accomplish them.  Quite frustrating!

I also have to fight with my husband for time for tasks.  He does most yard work, such as mowing the lawn, week control, garbage control, and just general maintenance.  Many times I'll request a few hours for something and he'll fire back with "Well I have to do xyz", so I end up having to push off my needs so he can do his thing.  However, this wouldn't be an issue if he learned a little time management.  He likes to sit around being lazy until 2pm until he decides to start his work.  Meanwhile, all those hours have been wasted.  That is precious time that I could have gotten something done.  I have tried to share the time and suggest that I will do my stuff early while he watches the kids, then he can do his thing later when he's ready.  He doesn't see it as me trying to compromise because I'm met with resistance.  In his mind, somehow, this will prevent or delay him from doing his stuff.  It's so frustrating!!

Don't get me wrong, my husband is wonderful.  He works very hard every day to provide for and take care of his family.  He is also kind enough to get up with the kids so I can sleep in a few hours on the weekends.  He is entitled to a day (or 2) of rest.  I get lazy some days too and don't want to do anything.  However, when his laziness interferes with my job of maintaining our home, it irritates me a bit.  I feel that most times when I try to encourage or motivate him to do something, he just complains and resists.  I feel like I'm pulling teeth sometimes.  Even something like trying to take the kids out for a few hours to do something fun like go to the park or a local fair, I have to really push him.  Oh well, no one is perfect!

Now I'll complain about myself...
I find that I tend to be a little lazier and more lax when he's home.  I get less cleaning done, just because, and the house gets quite messy.  I can't explain it.   Hubby's presence also naturally contributes to the mess and I am less motivated to clean up after one more person.  The kids make a bigger mess, the sink fills with dishes faster, the laundry piles up quicker and it makes me want to do less and less.  My habit of doing a little each day (during the week) completely disappears on the two "S" days.  It's a strange thing.

Then there are of course, those days when we are not home because we have an event with family or friends.  I don't even bother with those days.  It's obvious that I'm gonna be too tired to do anything when we get home.

Now that I've finally accepted all of these facts, I've learned to make the weekend my days of rest too.  If the opportunity presents itself to take on a task, then I will.  However, most times, its a crapshoot!  So  I deal with it and move it.  That's life.  Just go with it!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Cleaning: Controlling Dog Odor

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I have a large dog that I love dearly, but he drives me nuts!  One thing I've always hated and was terrified of having in my own home is DOG ODOR.  I often feel like I'm fighting a never ending battle trying to keep my home smelling as fresh as possible.

My dog is a 5 1/2 year old German Rottweiler named Osiris that is the sweetest monster you could imagine.  We bought him from a breeder in California after tracing his bloodline to a dog that my husband grew up with as a kid.

Osiris looks scary, but he is a big mush.  He is also  a fantastic big brother.  My 3 boys climb on him, beat him up, steal toys from him, and just annoy him and he has always been so patient with them.  He loves to play outside with them and chase them around when they drive their power wheels in circles.  He is very smart and easily trained.  He knows most of the necessary commands visually as well as audibly.  We even taught him a few cute tricks, like holding a treat on his nose, or rolling over for a belly rub.

He is incredibly loyal.  No matter where I am in my house, he is always laying at my feet.  It's actually kind of annoying sometimes, but still cute.  He is very protective of our property and family.  I never have to worry about our safety in our home or yard when he is around.  I take great comfort in his company when I am alone in the house without my husband, especially at night.  It's not often that my husband isn't around, but it does happen from time to time.

Back to the topic...

Having such a large dog is definitely a lot of work.  Besides disciplining him regularly, as you need to do with such a large dog, there is the cleaning.  Sometimes I feel like I can't keep up when he sheds twice a year (for a few weeks each), when he tracks mud into the house, or when he lays in my bed after getting dirty and leaving a big brown spot where he laid.

Dog care:
I try my best to bath my dog at least once a month using an odor controlling shampoo.  Keeping the dog clean is the first major step in the battle of odor control.  When I slip and miss a month, you can definitely smell the difference!

Like any animal with fur, my dog sheds.  He actually doesn't shed as much as some other dogs, which is nice, but there is always some hair that he loses, especially when he sheds twice a year.  Normally, I can get away with vacuuming my house 2 times a week.  I almost never sweep.  I hate it!  Especially when you have a dog and 3 small kids that think the dirt pile is a good place to dance around in.  So, I vacuum my entire house.  Carpet, hardwood floors, ceramic tile, EVERYTHING!  I have a Dyson upright and I love it!  It has incredible suction and doesn't get clogged.  When he is in his shedding weeks, I have to vacuum daily or I will have huge hairballs in every corner of the house.  I guess this can be a good thing because it keeps me on track.

I have hardwood floors throughout most of my house and ceramic tile in my playroom/den and bathrooms.  In each of the main rooms, I have an area rug.  No full carpets.

The oil in his hair is naturally going to leave a residue on everything, and this is where the odor comes from.  To combat this on the rugs, I use a few different things in addition to vacuuming.
-Every so often, as needed, I sprinkle baking soda on my rugs and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes before I vacuum.
-After vacuuming, I spray the rugs and all fabric surfaces with Febreeze (my best friend!).  I usually use the Allergen Reducing formula, but I recently found out there is a specific "carpet" formula.  I will have to try that at some point.  I usually use the Febreeze for a quick fix, especially if I am expecting company.
-I wash the hard floors about once a week with Pinesol, using my Libman Freedom mop.

Couches: I have leather couches, which I feel is necessary with small kids and a dog.  However, you need to carefully clean in between the cushions since crumbs, hair and odor can get trapped there.  I have a few things that I do...
-First I use a pointed (or narrow) nozzle attachment on the hose of my vacuum, use one hand and foot to spread the cushions and vacuum the creases, spaces and seams.  Make sure to get in between the cushions, behind the seat cushions (under back cushions), and under the arm rests.  If there is a strong odor, you can sprinkle some baking soda in the spaces first and let it sit about 15 minutes before vacuuming.
-After vacuuming, I take a fresh dryer sheet and wedge it and my hand into all the space and rub it around to spread the scent around.  Sometimes after I rub the dryer sheet around I'll leave it in the space between the seat cushion and back cushion until I clean them again.
-Then I wipe the whole  leather surface with a wet washcloth and a mild cleaning solution (pinesol or dish soap).

Bed: No matter how much we fight him, my dog loves to sleep in my bed, even though he has a beautiful bed of his own right next to ours.  This is a major problem for me because it causes a strong odor in my room and in my bedding.  He has also stained ever set of sheets and blanket we've owned.  So, besides changing my sheets weekly, I have to wash my bedding (blankets) and mattress liner monthly.  Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that you can't wash most comforters this often without destroying them.  That being said, I just bought a new down comforter with a throw (blanket) over it.  The goal is to keep the nice down comforter nice and clean by keeping it covered with the throw.  This way we can just wash the throw as needed.  I'm not sure how long this will last since it is quite warm to sleep with this arrangement.  I'm pretty sure that at some point soon, we'll have to use a duvet cover instead of a throw to protect the comforter.  I also give my bare mattress a light spritz of Febreeze before I replace the sheets.

The same cleaning routine is also done in each of the other bedrooms- sheets weekly and blankets every other month (since the dog doesn't sleep in their rooms).

Other stuff: 
In addition to the rugs and beds, I also wash all throw blankets (in living room) monthly and curtains every few months.  I dust most surfaces weekly using Pledge.  Keeping dog hair and dust under control is an important step in the process of odor (and allergy) control.  It is also good to open the windows (if the weather permits) and air out the house.  Fresh air is always good.  I have central AC, so my windows are usually closed.  In the spring and fall, I will often open my windows for the day to allow the cool breeze through my house.

I'll admit, I don't ALWAYS stick to this plan, but I try my best.  There are also days that no matter what I do, there is still an odor.  This is usually on very humid days.  On those days, I just suck it up and don't allow any visitors over :-)

Personal Business Recommendation: Interior Designer

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For those of you are planning a renovation in your home, or just looking for a minor improvement, please check out

Meredith Weiss is an incredibly talented interior designer located in Commack, NY.  She has an amazing portfolio that I often look through as I try to imagine my dream kitchen.  I haven't used her yet for my own home, but I would love to if my budget ever permits.  She can work with many budgets and has very reasonable fees and prices!

Her work has been featured on Houzz and she will soon have one of her kitchens featured in a National Design Magazine!

Cleaning: Bathroom (step by step)

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We all have the wonderful task of cleaning the bathroom.  Most of us don't like it!  However, as a family of 5, to which I am the only female, cleaning my two bathrooms often is a requirement.

The pics in this blog are from my main bathroom that is used by everyone including the kids.  It is possible to have a beautiful, clean bathroom, even with preschoolers.  Their bath toys are hidden under the sink in a plastic basket purchased from the dollar store.

My most used chemicals and tools for this job are: Peroxide, Windex, Clorox Bleach wipes, Vinegar, Clorox Toilet Wand, a soap dispensing scrubber (filled with 50/50 Dawn Soap and vinegar), Febreeze and the Libman Freedom Mop with Pinesol.

You can refer to my other blog:
Cleaner Cleaning: Vinegar, peroxide and baking soda

After years of practice, I think I've finally perfected my routine.  Here it is:

1. Cleaning the vanity/sink:
-First I clean all excess items off of the counter.  This usually includes hair accessories, brush, bath toys, and anything else that can usually accumulate.
-I use a Clorox Bleach wipe to wipe the faucet,  handles, counter top and the items I keep on the counter (Q-tip holder, toothbrush holders, wet wipe box).
-I use the Clorox Toilet wand with a fresh cleaning bad to scrub the sink.  *When you are done, don't throw it away.  You will use the same pad to clean the toilet.

2. Clean the toilet:
-First I use a Clorox Bleach wipes to clean all the surfaces of the toilet tank, including the flush handle.
-Next I clean both sides of the toilet lid and seat, paying careful attention to the cracks and seams.  I then wipe of the toilet rim, including the odd space between the seat and tank.
-Use a clean wipe to clean the entire outside of the toilet (below the rim).  This includes the structures on the backside under the toilet and the joint where the toilet meets the floor.
-Lastly, I use the Clorox Toilet wand (with the same pad I used to clean the sink) and clean the inside of the toilet.  Don't forget to clean under the rim where the water comes from.  Discard the pad in the trash when done.  Do Not flush it!

3. Clean the bathtub:
I'll admit that I save this step for when I'm actually in the shower.  For me, it's just easier on my back than leaning in an awkward position trying to scrub everything.  For general cleaning, I use my soap dispensing scrubber filled with a 50/50 mixture of Dawn Dish soap and vinegar.  I make sure to scrub the walls, window sill, plumbing fixtures, bathtub and rim of tub.  Make sure to pay careful attention to tight corners and angles.  For the stubborn, hard to clean "ring around the tub", I use the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser after I've scrubbed and disinfected everything with my soap dispensing scrubber.

Back to the regular cleaning routine:
-I use a clean Clorox Bleach wipe to wipe the edges and outside of the bathtub, including the seam where it meets the floor.
-I finish by spraying the shower curtain with Febreeze to freshen it up a little.

4. Extra stuff:
-At this point, I clean my mirror with Windex, tidy up my towels and magazines, and empty the trash can.  I also like to use a Clorox Bleach wipe to clean all door knobs, light fixtures, light switches, vanity drawer handles, picture frames, and ledges.

5. The floor:
After I've finished everything else, I move on to the floor.  This is done in multiple steps.
-First I take everything off the floor and move them into the hallway.
-Vacuum the entire floor, using the hose and nozzle for getting behind the toilet, in corners and under radiator.  Yes, I vacuum my bathroom.  I find it easier and more thorough than sweeping.
-Next, I spray the base of toilet, floor, and walls under, around and behind the toilet with Vinegar and peroxide.  Use a generous amount and make sure to thoroughly soak the grout lines.  Let it sit a few minutes.  Wipe it up with a used towel or lots of paper towels.
-The last thing I do is use my Libman Freedom mop with Pinesol to wash the floor.  Don't forget the area around the toilet.

*Once you put the trash can and (in my case) step stool and magazine holder back in place, you are done!!  This takes me about 20 minutes to complete.  Nice and easy!

*Additional Bits and Pieces*

-To neatly store shopping bags for the trash can, I keep them in an empty tissue box under the sink.  I have one in each bathroom.

-To neatly and stylishly store magazines and other reading materials, I use a rectangular planter that matches my decor.

-To neatly and easily store Clorox wand refill pads, I keep them in an empty glass jar.  This also allows for hands free dispensing.  I keep one jar with a wand in each bathroom.

-I try to keep the space under my sink as organized and clutter free as possible.  I try to keep cleaning products I use regularly (though this picture has a few extras).  I also try to keep the toilet paper nicely stocked (again, not so much in this pic).

Hopefully this blog has helped to make your bathroom neat and clean, and you learned that it's not that hard to do.

Happy Cleaning!!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Postpartum Practices: An interesting read

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I agree with this article 100%!!  Something needs to change!!


Life with Twins: The beginning

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My twin boys were born in March, 2009 with a very rough start.  After almost a month of strict hospital bed rest, they came exactly three months early.  They were born via c-section at 26 weeks, 6 days.  Baby A weighed 2 lbs, 5 ozs and Baby B weighed 1 lb, 15 ozs.  They spent 77 days in the NICU.   They went through various treatments, medications, blood transfusions, and surgeries while on different levels of life support (breathing tubes).  It was painful for them and us as parents.

There were many ups and downs along the way.  One day we'd make progress, then the next day, we'd take 2 steps back.  The whole experience was a major emotional roller coaster.  It was one of the hardest experiences I've ever been through.  I'm pretty sure my husband and I both have PTSD from the experience.  

Fast forward 4 years later and I have 2 smart, funny, beautiful, loving, healthy, AMAZING boys that I can't imagine living without.  Looking at them now, you'd never realize they started out the way they did.  There are a few minor residual affects that they deal with.  They both wear glasses, but for different reasons.  Logan (Twin A) has a lazy eye which will hopefully resolve itself with the use of glasses.  If not, then he'll have to have surgery.  Lucas (twin B) is nearsighted and will be receiving speech therapy.  They both will probably receive occupational therapy, but for minor issues with writing and posture.  As babies, they received physical therapy and OT to help catch them up to their age since they were 3 months behind.  

Life with twins is definitely a challenge, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.  I don't remember much of the first 2 years, as it was mostly a blur.  Lots of work, lack of sleep, lots of destruction and noise.  It's calmed down a bunch, though there are new challenges as preschoolers.  Sometimes I feel like I'm just trying to survive and keep everyone alive :-)

I also have a 13 month old boy to add to the chaos, so I'm pretty busy.  

I will try to post tips and advice on raising twins, and multiple children in general.  If you have any specific requests or questions, feel free to ask.


Logan 4 days old
Lucas 4 days old

Love and Marriage: Great advice worth sharing

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This is great advice and it applies to both parties involved, not just the husband.


Traveling with Kids

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I don't travel much.  Well actually, I never travel.  Not since having kids.  I've avoided it like the plague.  So when my sister told me she was having a destination wedding in St. Thomas in June and my kids were part of the wedding, I wasn't overly excited.

Since I didn't have a choice now, I had to get serious and start planning for this 5 day vacation with a 3 1/2 hour flight each way.  I did some research and found some helpful advice.  The rest was me just kind of winging it.
There's the usual thing of packing snacks and water.  That's a given.  We also brought the iPads for my 4 year olds.  Yes, they each have their own iPad.  We made sure to download a new game the night before the flight so they'd have something new to focus on, which lasted probably the whole flight.  I also brought a backpack for each of them which had their own snacks, water, headphones (for the iPad) and a coloring book with crayons (which they didn't use).  They also had a change of clothes from comfy plane clothes to hot weather shorts and t-shirt for when we land.  

In addition to their stuff, I brought a nice little gift for the flight attendants (I found this tip online).  I packed a small zip lock back with a handful of candies and wrote the names of my 3 children and our seat numbers on the bag.  When a flight attendant came around after we were in the air, I handed her the bag and told her its for the crew.  She was shocked and surprised.  She asked me why I did this, to which I honestly replied that it was to bribe them for their kindness in case my children act up.  She laughed and thanked me.  A little later during the flight, she brought the other crew members to show them who gave them the candy.  It was a nice little treat that even I was surprised worked as well as it did.  It also earned us a free cookie :-)  Just don't forget to pack one for the way home too!

For the baby (who was 11 months), I packed a bottle of water, some cheerios, a change of clothes, diapers and a few small toys.  He was content most of the time.  I was nursing at the time so I didn't have to worry about formula.  I found that feeding him during the ascent and descent helped with ear pain.  He slept most of the flight anyway so it wasn't too bad.  

While we were away, we just kind of managed everything as it came.  I had the reclinable stroller that came everywhere with us.  We mostly spent time by the pool and at in the buffet room/restaurant.  Luckily the baby napped in his stroller by the pool while we swam. 

When it came to sleeping arrangements, the twins shared a bed and the baby slept in a crib provided by the resort.  It looked like a metal hospital crib, but it did the job.  

There wasn't much private time for my husband and I, but since this was a family event, my sister was nice enough to take the twins for a few hours here and there.  The baby usually napped in his crib during our alone time, so it worked out.  

All in all, the trip was much smoother than I could have ever imagined.  We survived!  I was thoroughly impressed with how well my children behaved and I actually had a good time.  It gave me the courage to maybe travel again, if the opportunity should arise.

Home Improvements: Kitchen Cabinets and Dresser

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I posted a video of my complete kitchen remodel.  Check it out!!

You will eventually see in photos how awful my kitchen is.  It is the only thing we did not redo yet in our house.  It is the original from the 1950's with no counter space and very little cabinet space.  It also had the original appliances which we've already replaced (minus the 10 year old refrigerator).  We hope to completely redo it in the next few years.

That being said, I decided that after 6 years of living here, it was time to do something to improve its appearance since I've completely ignored it since moving in.  The old torn wallpaper was still up and the cabinets and hardware were the original gross colors.  So, last November I decided to at least paint the kitchen to try to improve the appearance a little so it wouldn't be as embarrassing.  Even though it didn't improve the functionality much, at least it looks a little nicer now.

I painted the walls, ceiling, and all the cabinets.  I also spray painted all the hardware.  This is the finished product.

Since the cabinet can counter space is so pathetic, I had to come up with a solution (on a tight budget) for improving this a little.  So, I found an old dresser on craigslist for $30 that I sanded and repainted with matching paint colors from the kitchen.  I also spray painted the hardware on the dresser to match. This definitely helped with space a little.  This is the finished product.

This just goes to show with a little paint and imagination, you can improve just about anything!

Recipe: Parmesan Crusted Potatoes

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Parmesan crusted fried potatoes- Boil potatoes till tender. Cook in frying pan (small batches) in melted butter (about 4 tbsps each batch), breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, adobo. Cook on med/high until golden brown and crispy. Make sure to scrape the breadcrumbs from the pan.  Delicious!!

Parmesan crusted potatoes

Cleaner Cleaning: Vinegar, peroxide and baking soda

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I'm not at all a "green" person by any means.  However, in recent months, I've come to realize that many of the harsh cleaning chemicals that I've used for so many years aren't all necessary.  Ok, nothing beats bleaching a dirty mess, but there are healthier alternatives for everyday messes.  Unlike "green" cleaners, these three actually disinfect, which is a priority to me.  I'm not a "germaphobe", but I definitely am very aware of common bacteria and viruses.

Vinegar!  Peroxide!  Baking soda!

These are my new best friends!  I always have these items in my home in large quantities (always purchased at Costco for next to nothing).  For example, two 32oz bottles of peroxide cost me less than $5 compared to a 26oz spray bottle of commercial cleaner for almost $6.

Vinegar, peroxide and baking soda, used each on their own, or in various combinations together work as effectively at cleaning many messes and they are much safer to the environment and our bodies.  There is a ton of info on the web on how to clean with these three, so start looking and be enlightened!

Vinegar and baking soda: 
I always add a cup of each to my laundry to boost the cleaning power and aid with odor removal.

I also use these two for cleaning my kitchen sink.  After I rinse the sink clean, I spray it with vinegar, then sprinkle it with baking soda.  After is sits about a minute, I scrub with the abrasive side of the sponge.  It gets all the grease, grime and funk out and leaves my stainless steel sink looking pretty good (for a 50 year old sink).  It is also good for cleaning and deodorizing the drain.  Put about 2 tbsps in the drain and pour about half a cup of vinegar inside.  You will probably see it foam up.  This is good!  Let it sit for a few minutes then just run the water to wash it down.

This combination can also be used for cleaning tile grout.

I often use this in place of bleach wipes.  I especially love it to clean and disinfect my son's high chair tray since it doesn't leave a harmful residue of chemicals for him to eat off of.  I also use it to clean and disinfect my kitchen countertops after handling raw meats.

You can also use it to disinfect fruits and veggies and help them to last longer.  Vinegar will work for this purpose too.  I'll either spray peroxide directly on the fruits and veggies or soak them in water with vinegar mixed in.  Just be sure to rinse them all before eating.

I also love to use peroxide and vinegar combined in my bathroom around the toilet.  I have all boys, so as you can imagine, it can get messy and quite smelly around the toilet.  After scrubbing daily with commercial chemicals, I could NOT get rid of the odor so I did some research.  If you spray peroxide, then vinegar and let them sit for a few minutes, they will neutralize the odor.  No more urine stink in my bathroom!!

I still use commercial cleaning products, especially bleach wipes for some jobs, but its nice to know that there are healthy alternatives available that actually work.

Here are some links I found useful:
using Peroxide
cleaning with peroxide

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Preschool at Home

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

Let me start by saying that I'm NOT a teacher.  I also don't plan to "homeschool" my children in the sense that I will replace actual schooling with my teachings.  My plan is simply to try to expose my children to "preschool" learning on my own since actual preschool is out of my budget.  My children are smart and I want to take advantage of their desire and ability to learn.  I also don't want them to be behind when they enter kindergarten because I couldn't pay for preschool.

I decided to make the commitment to teach my children because I feel terrible that I can't put them in preschool.  Where I live, all preschools are paid for by parents.  I feel like I am hurting them or holding them back, so I made the decision to do something about it.

To be fair, I have to admit that I only just started doing this last week.  I'm still feeling it out and making adjustments, but I'm working on it.  I'm not sure if I can keep it up for a whole year, but I will try.

Most of my material and lesson plans come from other "homeschool" websites.  I take bits and pieces from different sources and make my own plan.  I will list some sources at the bottom of this page.  I also use "preschool" workbooks that are a great practice tool for writing.

I've purchased many material at Target (in the $1 section) and at Dollar Tree.  They have a good variety of teacher and student supplies that are very useful.

Youtube is another good resource for teaching.  I've studied videos that have teaching techniques for me.  Youtube also has a wide variety of teaching videos for kids.  I like the "sight words" videos and "alphabet" videos.  I will expand eventually, but we are just beginning so I don't want to overwhelm my 4 year olds.

My children LOVE their iPad and so do I.  At first I was resistant to it, but then I realized that I can download learning apps and the kids will play and not realize they are learning.  I'm ashamed to admit it, but the iPad also buys me hours of peace when necessary, though I do TRY not to abuse it.  Hey, no one is perfect :-).  I've discovered that there is a whole world of learning apps for kids that are all very useful.  I can't begin to tell you how many useful things my boys have learned from these games.  Even the games that don't seem like obvious learning games have a benefit.  For example, Angry Birds, Bad Piggies and Cut the Rope.  I've watched my boys negotiate angles, timing, planning, physics and engineering.  These games really make them think and it amazes me to watch them try over and over again to clear a board and see their little brains working to figure things out.  In addition to these games, we have actual "educational" games that teach them everything from reading and writing, math, cleaning, weather, cooking, emotions, and just about everything else out there.  There are even games that teach them social standards, manners, taking turns, and general appropriate behavior.  Many of these games are free or will allow for free play with locked items that require a payment to unlock the full version.  It is also great that I can buy an app once and share it between both iPads.  I can't list every single game they have because they probably have about 150 games, but I will mention a few.    Games made by: Bamba, Duck Duck Moose, Toca Boca.  Just search for "preschool" games and you'll see and endless supply of suggestions.

If you want to know more about this subject, let me know and I will try to give more details.  


Meal Planning

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

I started meal planning earlier in the year and it has been a huge life saver!  Instead of struggling each day to try to figure out what to cook for dinner, I decided to give it a try.

I started by making a list of my most popular dinners that I make, separated by categories (chicken, beef, pork, other).  I also made a separate list of side dishes.
-Items with a * are slow cooker meals.-

I then printed out monthly calendars for the year using

The hardest and most tedious part is filling in each day.  I try to alternate chicken and beef while sprinkling in some pork and "other" foods.  You can repeat the same schedule for each month or make a new one each month.  I put the finished calendar in a plastic sleeve and hang it inside the door of a kitchen cabinet so it's hidden.  ...just a personal preference.

I keep the meal lists in a binder in plastic sleeves to keep them clean along with each additional blank month.

Some people like to keep weekly meal plans as well which include breakfast and lunch.  I personally find it to be too much work, so I stopped using those.  I find that the monthly plan works just fine for me.

Meal planning is also good for grocery planning.  When I make my grocery list, I look at my meal plan for the next 2 weeks and add anything that will be needed for those meals.  It can also be helpful if you have a strict grocery budget.  It cuts down on random groceries.

*Keep in mind, the meal plan is not written in stone.  At least once a week, I stray from the plan either because I'm just not in the mood for what's on the schedule, I don't have the supplies for the meal, or time does not permit.  That's ok!  That's life.  Just go with it :-)

Cleaning Schedule

**I'm so excited to announce that I've started a youtube channel discussing everything home making. My channel name is Surviving As Mom.  Check it out!!

I love a clean house!  However, like most people in the world, I hate the actual process of cleaning.  I always seemed to be drowning in my to-do list when it comes to cleaning and organizing, so I decided to do some research.  I found that many moms who seem to have their "stuff" together operate on a schedule.  I decided to try it and found that it worked very well.  Not only did it keep me on track, but it made the job easier since it broke everything down each day.  This allows me to spend 15-20 minutes a day maintaining my home in an acceptable condition, rather than spending an entire day cleaning the whole house only to find it a disaster again a few days later.  

I compared many different types of cleaning schedules and took bits and pieces from each that would work for me.  I then sat down and wrote my own schedule.  This is what I came up with.  It is posted on my refrigerator so I can see it every time I go into the kitchen.  

I'll admit, there have been plenty of times when I'd fall of following the schedule, even for weeks at a time.  That's ok.  This schedule has at least taught me that I can spend a short time each day getting my home in an acceptable condition.  I've also learned that a little each day is much easier (and nicer looking) than all at once.  

Feel free to copy my schedule and taylor it to your needs.

Happy Cleaning!!

*I've also attached the link to this document: Cleaning Schedule