Under The Sink –Rethink

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Sometimes you try something and it just doesn’t work out.  The sink under the kitchen seems to be a pain for many people–and I’ve seen the pins to prove it.  A few years ago, I organized under the kitchen sink and even did a spiffing up update in January with the rest of the house.  But, something just wasn’t working right.  Somehow, piles had grown where order once was.  And, every time I reached for something under the sink, something else fell over.  I found myself getting frustrated which led to me getting lazy and stuff was just getting shoved wherever it would fit.  Not cool.  This is what it looked like this morning.

The before...  You can see how if you grab one thing another thing will for sure tumble out too.

The before… You can see how if you grab one thing another thing will for sure tumble out too.

While the above picture is not terrible, it was definitely a space that was giving me grief.  I had a plan, but I will admit that I made an organizing mistake when I was rethinking how I wanted this space to look.  I had seen how someone used stackable bins to organize their under the sink area.  I thought I might give it a shot.  While at the store, I spied a set of 3 stackable bins and knew for sure they wouldn’t stack more than two high under our sink.  But, I was ok with that.  I also knew that I should have measured my space before I went to the store (that was the mistake as you’ll see below), but I decided to wing it.  I could always take the little guys back if they didn’t fit.

It's amazing that all this stuff fit under here!  And, that most of it fit again when I put it back.

It’s amazing that all this stuff fit under here! And, that most of it fit again when I put it back.

I started out by removing everything from under the sink.  I think part of my problem was that I was collecting things under there with the “just in case” mindset–which is a definite way to build clutter and cause chaos.  After removing a few items (glass jars, old cleaners, etc.), I attempted to add the bins to the left side–no dice.  One would fit, but the garbage disposal got in the way to stack the bins.  They did fit on the right side, but the black caddy wouldn’t fit on the left.  After some thinking, I decided the caddy isn’t really necessary.  I never take these items anywhere, so they don’t need to be portable.  The caddy will get resued somewhere else–not sure where yet.  I wiped out the bottom of the cabinet, and put everything I was keeping back.  Everything we use frequently is up front in the white bins.  The other items are located behind and are still easy to access.

Here is the finished product!

So much better!  I did some cleaning in the kitchen after moving everything around and it worked great!

So much better! I did some cleaning in the kitchen after moving everything around and it worked great!

This whole process took about 20 minutes.  Sometimes a quick rethink and refresh is all something needs.  Are there any small places you have organized but have made a big impact?

Why the Public Library is Not Just for Kids

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Courtesy of http://www.ala.org

So, why is the public library such a cool place for adults? There are tons of places where you can get free stuff–but do you know of anywhere you can get all of these in ONE place?  And, for many of them, you don’t even have to leave your house!

1)  Books.  I’m talking strictly about books for adults here.  We all know the public library is  a great source of books for kids, but how about for adults?  Our libraries are a great way to get your hands on the latest books (you can even put a hold on it and they email you when your book is in and ready to pick up!).  Don’t have time to sit down and read a book or prefer your e-reader?  Can’t physically make it to a branch?  No problem.  Download an audio book or an ebook!  I love listening to ebooks during my commute and can easily download books to borrow on my Kindle–and I don’t have to worry about late fees because it is automatically returned on time.

2)  Recipes.  I am not a big fan of cluttering up my kitchen with endless cook books, but I love to be able to find new recipes to try with my family.  Borrowing recipe books from the library is the perfect solution.  I can browse through a book, snap pictures of the recipes I like, and return it without adding another book to the pile.  Plus, this saves me money.  So many times there are only a few recipes I like out of a book, but I don’t know that before I get my hands on it.  This way I don’t waste money on something I might not even like.  (Same is true for novels.  If I don’t like it, I can just return it without worrying about the money spent).

3)  Movies.  Our public library has movie and tv series DVDs to rent…for FREE.  We even get to keep them for two weeks!  A much better deal than trying to squeeze a movie into a 24 hour (or less period) before zooming it back to the Redbox.  I totally need to take better advantage of this for our Friday night movie night and check out what great kids movies they have on hand.

4)  Music.  Just in the last year or so, we are now able to download music for free to Android and Apple devices using Freegal.  You can download up to 3 songs per week–that you get to keep FOREVER!  I have not tried this yet, but I want to soon!

5)  Magazines.  Many public libraries keep current issues of popular magazines on hand.  So, if you won’t want to deal with a paper subscription at your house, you can always stop by your local branch and browse.  We can also access over 100 magazines digitally!

6)  Internet.  Public libraries are a wonderful source of free internet for families who do not have access (which is more than you would think).  If you do not have internet at home, you can generally use a computer at the library.

7)  Classes.  Our public library has an agreement with an online class company that if we log in using our library card numbers, then we can take the class FOR FREE!  You just have to make sure you take the assessment at the end or you may have to pay.  Last year I took a photography and cooking class this way.  It was really simple, and I was able to do it on my own time.  The company also offered classes in things like computer applications, hobbies, and personal growth.  They even have online foreign language classes through Mango Languages!

8)  Programs.  Sure, public libraries provide great programming and activities for kids, but what about adults?  Check out what the branches in your city have to offer.  Ours offers computer skills classes, Yoga and Zumba for adults, crafting sessions, writer workshops, book clubs, genealogy workshops, and much more.  Again, all for FREE.

This list is just a brief peek at all the FREE services a public library can provide for you!  Get out there and use this fabulous resource, and don’t forget to let everyone know how much the library does for you and your family.  Just as our budgets shrink, so do local budgets–which fund libraries–speak up and let your city governments know what the public library has done for you lately.

What is your favorite thing about your public library?

 

Super Cool Kids Video Games–Top 3

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In our house, we play video games as a family.  It is something my husband and I both did as kids, and we enjoy sharing with our daughter.  We do try to keep the amount of time we play in check (which isn’t hard, because life gets busy).  When we do play, we have some tried and true favorites that are always great.  I’m going to highlight a few of these and explain why they are awesome.  For those of you who are not video game aficionados, I will explain some of the terms you may hear thrown around and that are included in this post.

The first thing we do when we look at purchasing a video game is to see what types of reviews it has received.  Just because a game is based on the hottest kids movie this year, does not mean that it is going to be good or easy to play.  Husband’s Note: Many, if not most of the movie-licensed games that are released in conjunction with films are cash grabs, capitalizing on the fact that most kids will see the familiar characters on the front of the box and parents won’t know any better… so be wary of these types of titles!  And, since many video games can cost upwards of $50-60, it pays to do your homework.  This generally falls on my husband’s shoulders as he keeps up on the video game industry more than I do, but you can easily find reviews online.  Many games are also available at places like the Redbox, so you can check them out before committing to buy.

Next, we see what platform (console, hand held, computer) or system (XBOX 360, XBOX ONE, Play Station 3, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Wii, WiiU, 3DS) the game is being released for.  Check and see if the game is available on a system you own or are willing to purchase.  If you do not have a gaming system yet, again, do your homework.  Really consider what you will be using that game system for and who will be using it.  We have experience using a variety of platforms and consoles.  We found that there are quite a few kid friendly games available for both the XBOX 360 and the WiiU.

We tend to purchase games that can be bought for a variety of platforms.  This means that the same game is available for multiple consoles–Xbox, Wii, 3DS, PS, etc.  In fact, we have bought games from franchises (a franchise is when a game has multiple incarnations of itself) for a variety of platforms and consoles.  All of the games discussed below are part of a franchise and we have played many versions of each–and most are available for a variety of platforms and systems.

My Top 3!  (not in ranked order)

Skylanders

The first video game our daughter REALLY got into was Skylanders.  We purchased the first Skylanders game (Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure) for the Xbox.  One thing you need to know about the Skylanders games is that you need a portal and game statues to be able to play the game.  You cannot just get the disc.  The concept behind Skylanders is pretty cool (and certainly lucrative).  The players used in the game are based on small statues you purchase separately from the game (the starter pack comes with a few but there are MANY more).  You place your statue of choice on the portal–which plugs into your console–and that is the character you play as in the game.  But what is really cool is that the little statues keep all the character’s stats inside of them.  Each character can be upgraded through game play to have new powers and to become tougher.  This information is not stored on your game system, it is stored on a chip inside the individual statue.  This means, you can take your statues to a friends house to play Skylanders and they will retain all of the upgrades you did at home and add any you get at your friend’s house.  Pretty cool.

Games:  There are 3 versions of Skylanders available now with a 4th coming out just in time for Christmas 2014.  Each version of the game is similar in nature, but adds a new type of character.  In Game 1, you have your basic Skylanders.  In game 2, they added Giant characters that have special abilities.  In Game 3, Swap Force characters were added.  You can separate the top and bottoms of these characters and swap them with the top or bottom of another character to make “new” characters.  Game 4, you will be able to use special crystals to trap enemies who you can then play with as allies.  In each game, the Skylanders are defending Skylands from the evil Chaos (he is not at all scary) who is trying to take over the world.

Why I like this game:  It is very easy to play.  Our daughter has been playing Skylanders games since she was 5 and was successful from the beginning.  It is a two player game (which means you can play as a family.  My husband and I will often take turns playing levels with her).  There is a LOT to the game play.  Each level has items to collect and achievements to earn in addition to working your way through the general story line.  While there is a monetary investment in the little statues (they range in price and can sometimes be found on sale for B1G1 50% off), you actually get quite a big bang for your buck in game play.  Once you have finished the main story line, there are lots of other ways to enjoy the game.  You can go back to each level and make sure you have found all of the extras, you can do side challenges, you can play through favorite levels to earn experience points or money to upgrade characters.  We finished playing the main story of Swap Force 6 months ago and are still enjoying the game.

Downsides:  The statues do cost money.  True, you do not have to buy a bunch of statues to play the game; in fact, you can finish the game with the few that come with the starter kit.  However, you cannot get into some of the side missions within levels if you don’t have characters from the various elements (earth, fire, water, air, life, tech, magic, undead).  And in addition to the regular versions of the statues, there are also special versions that are only sold at certain retailers (like the Legendary ones at Toys R Us) or times of the year (Santa or Easter egg).  It can get out of hand easily.  Also, with the newest version of the game (Skylanders: Swap Force) you had to get a new portal, so everyone had to get the starter pack.  This worked out for us, because we bought it for a different console, but it’s an added cost to consider.  (One nice thing is that all of the statues we had for the first two games worked for the new game too.  This works going up, but not going down.  Most, if not all, of the newer statues don’t work with the older games.  Still, you get a lot of value for the statues that you have purchased 2, even 3 years ago).

And since I talk about organizing here ALOT, let’s talk about storing all of these little guys.  You really have to consider if you have the space.  We used a small tub and kept it near our tv in our family room.  This worked ok, but we had to dig around to find characters and some sort of got forgotten at the bottom.  When we added new DVD shelves, we designated two small ones to displaying the Skylanders.  This seems to work out a bit better for us, because we can see all the cool little characters.

 

Lego Video Games

 

 

In addition to the genius who thought up having people buy statues as characters, some other smart guy thought it would be a good idea to make Lego video game versions of popular movies.  Seriously, how had nobody thought of this earlier!  We have played Lego games on a multitude of consoles and platforms over the years.  My husband and I started out playing the Lego Star Wars and Indiana Jones games together because it was something I could easily get into–and is not bloody or scary or requires me to walk and point a gun at the same time (this is much harder than it sounds because you use both joysticks on your controller.  Just trust me on this).  We really enjoyed them.  When my daughter was small, we played the Pirates of the Carribbean Lego games, and I felt safe with her watching us play this because the “violence” is very cartoonish and silly.  (i.e.  Chewbacca pulls of the arms of Storm troopers and it makes a popping sound.  When an enemy is defeated, he disappears from the screen).

When she was old enough to start playing games with us, we picked up a few of the Lego games for her to play too.  And just an FYI, the Lego games in the beginning of these franchises are not as forgiving and easy to play as some of the ones released in the past few years or so.  I think Lego Star Wars and Indiana Jones would frustrate her.  She has played Lego Batman (Batman 2 is much harder), Lego Harry Potter, Lego Lord of the Rings, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, and Lego Hobbit.  There is a Lego Movie-based game as well as a Lego Underground title which we haven’t purchased but look really great on the newer consoles.  More on which ones we love the best and why later.

In the Lego games, there are two ways to play each level.  There is the Story mode and Free play mode.  In each level you collect studs (little Lego shaped coins) and must collect a certain amount in and finish the level to unlock Free Play mode.  In Free Play, you can change the character you are playing as which allows you do go into areas and complete tasks that the characters you have to use in the Story mode cannot do.    Because you can do so much more in Free Play mode, we would try and finish the level on our own the first time (when she was younger ) and now we generally try and help her through the level the first time so we could get to the free play.

Another cool thing in each of the later Lego games is a more open world concept (meaning a space you can walk around in and do things outside of a general story line).  The open worlds in Lego Harry Potter, Lego Lord of the Rings, and Lego Marvel Superheroes have definitely added to the value of this game.  In each of these games there is an area where your character can walk around and do mini-missions to unlock gold bricks (which you can use to buy or unlock cool stuff), add new characters, collect studs (the currency in the game), or just explore.  Quite honestly, this is her favorite part.  I think we spent 3 times as much time just walking around Middle Earth as we did finishing the story line of Lego Lord of the Rings.  She likes being able to go where she wants and be who she wants.  And, as a parent, it is much easier to regulate time in this open world area.  You can easily say 20 minutes of the game if you are just wandering around where some levels take longer than that to complete.

One recommendation I have is to go online to find cheats for the codes you need to enter or red bricks you need to find in the story mode to give your characters added benefits.  In most of the games, you can multiply your stud total by certain amounts (which allows you to get to the magic stud total to unlock free play much faster), be invincible (which is totally helpful for little kids), fall protection (which can be totally helpful for moms who fall off stuff alot and have trouble with jumping puzzles), and much more.  I have had good luck with http://www.ign.com and http://www.famefaqs.com to get cheat codes.  They are also a great place to find information on walkthroughs (someone actually writes out what you need to do in each level to find all the stuff!).  I love walkthroughs when we get stuck in a level and can’t figure out what to do next–especially when my husband isn’t there to lend his expertise.  Beware, there are no cheat codes out there for Lego Hobbit that are very helpful and you have to earn the codes in fairly complicated ways which makes the game much more challenging (which for some might be ok, but it is frustrating to the mom and kiddo).

 

Mario Games

 

Mario and Luigi are video game characters that most people have at least heard of if they have not actually ever played a video game.  And, they are exclusively for the Nintendo consoles–the most recent one being the WiiU.  My husband and I grew up playing Mario games, and we love being able to play them with our kiddo.  The Mario game my daughter was most looking forward to was what we lovingly refer to as Cat Mario but is really called Super Mario 3D World.  We call it Cat Mario because one of the powers the characters can take on is a cat costume–total winner for the cat-loving kid.  This is actually something we can all play together, because you can have more than 2 people playing at a time and you can pick which character you want to be (Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, etc.).  There is a main play for this game where you progress through levels and are trying to free fairies captured by Bowser.  In each level, you have extras to earn in addition to finishing the level on time including green stars and stamps.  There are multiple worlds (levels) and within those are multiple sublevels.  There is quite a bit of game play to the main story line.  AND, we discovered that once you beat Bowser, you unlock a number of additional (and very, very challenging) worlds.  Some of your main play worlds and most of your extra worlds need a certain number of green stars to unlock them.  So, if you didn’t get them all the first time, you can go back and replay levels to capture all the green stars.  There really is a lot of game play for the amount of money you spend on the game.

 

Another really fun game we got this year is the newest Mario Kart game.  It is also for the WiiU and is super fun.  Those of us who have played previous versions of the game will appreciate the inclusion of some levels from the past as well as the addition of new levels.  You do not need anything special to play this game beyond the regular controls.  Again, it is something that we can all play together as multiple players are possible.  AND, another super cool thing is that you can play online with friends.  My daughter and her cousin (who is her same age and does not live near enough to just pop over and visit) can play this game together.  They challenge each other to races and can even speak to each other through the microphone in the WiiU pad.  I really like that feature.

 

If you are into being frugal, I highly recommend these games as you get so very, very much game play for your dollar.  One way to save costs is to wait for the game to go on sale or even to wait a few months until the game drops in price in the store or to check out used game stores.  Husband’s Note:  One idea though–when you go to used game stores, consider purchasing the “new” version of the game even if it is $5 more than the “used”.  New purchases put revenue back into game developers’ pockets, while used purchases put money directly in the game store’s hands, leaving nothing for the developer who actually made the game.  That’s something not a lot of people consider when they are trying to save a few bucks.  So, if you like a game, support the developer–that’s the mantra we have in our house, anyway.

A special shout out to my hubby for reading through and adding to this post to make sure I got all my lingo and facts correct!

These are my top 3 choices for Cool Kid Video Games.  What are yours?

Back to School–Helpful Tools

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The first week of school is behind us.  As a household with two educators and one kiddo in school, that first week can be a doozy!  Along the way, I have found a few tools that I find invaluable when getting us ready to face the first day of school and every day after that.  Some of these are new and some are old favorites.  Enjoy! (P.S. I was not paid for any of these reviews, nor given free products to review.  These are just things I happen to like).

1)  Martha Stewart Write On Washable Labels available at Staples.  I LOVE these things.  Basically, you write on them with a permanent marker, let it dry, and stick it to an article of clothing (or perhaps something else).  Then, you can wash said item of clothing and the label does not fall off or rub off!  I have been using these for a few years, and we have washed them many times without incident.  Here’s where I use them: On tags inside coats, inside the lunch bag, inside the backpack (I put it in multiple pockets), and inside of shoes (when we were at daycare).  This way if anything gets lost or someone else at school has the same thing, our items can easily be identified and make it back to us.

image courtesy of Staples

2)  Hole punch for Arc Notebook.  This is really just a way to help me keep better organized–and with all the activities and meetings we have during the school year, I need all the help I can get.  :)  I have been eyeing the hole punch for the ARC system offered by Staples for a while.  I have both a large and small version of this disc bound system.  (If you’ve never heard of these, they are customizable notebooks and planners.  Other companies offer similar items as well).  But, the hole punch made for the ARC planners is over $40 and it is gigantic.  And, to be honest, I wasn’t going to pay that much for a hole puncher.  So, I hemmed and hawed, because I wanted to be able to put some laminated items like my daily activity log in my planner.  I almost went to Staples to see if their copy area would punch it for me.  Then, I stumbled upon this baby on Amazon.  It is made by Levenger and was $19!  Score!  (I also got free shipping, because I was on a trial with Amazon Prime).  It is a portable disc bound notebook punch.  It only does a few sheets at a time, but it handled my one laminated sheet like a champ.  Since the larger punch only does 8 sheets at a time, I didn’t really think I was losing out on much.  You can also lock certain parts of the punch to make it work for the smaller notebooks.  Loving it so far, and it fits easily in my work bag.

 

image courtesy of levenger.com

 

3) To pack lunches, we like to use reusable divided containers.  This way certain foods don’t touch and we aren’t using a bunch of containers or sandwich bags to store everything.  I did learn last year that cleaning them in the dishwasher all the time leads to some troubles with the plastic getting brittle.  This year, I will be hand washing them instead to hopefully help them last longer.  And, the kiddo is packing her own lunches this year!  This little guy seems to help her keep everything sorted.

 

image courtesy of rubbermaid.com This is the divided rectangle–which we are using right now. We’ve also used an off brand and the Ziploc version as well.

 

What are some of the tools you use to get your school year off to a good start?

Homemade Large Dice

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I am one of the leaders for my daughter’s girl scout troop–and we are headed into our second year of Daisy scouts.  I learned quite a bit last year about running meetings and working with younger kids (most of my experience is with high schoolers).  One thing I know is that we needed to get the girls into more of a routine and also up and moving.  We meet right after school, so they need to shake their wiggles out a bit before settling back down.

So, in addition to a caper chart and meeting schedule (which will be an all in one sort of thing–I’m still working on that), I wanted to design some activity dice to use at the beginning of meetings.  My vision was for two different dice–one with song names on it and one with an action related activity.  One of the caper chart chores (for those of you who have never heard of a caper chart–it is basically a way to assign tasks to the girls for the running of the meeting) would be for one girl to roll the song dice and one to roll the action dice–then lead the song or action.  These would help us get our meetings going and give the girls something to actively do.  (I also freely admit I stole this idea from our wonderful former children’s librarian for how she started storytimes).

Now the question was, how to make the dice?  I wanted something easily portable that I could customize and would be fairly cheap to make.  Off I went to search Pinterest for suggestions.  I found many good ideas that included paper mache or  foam cubes or cardboard boxes.  I checked out my local Michael’s and at first could only find wooden blocks (to heavy) and florist Styrofoam (both white and green).  But, each dice would cost me at least $5 each (minus the 40% discount for one)–too pricey.  One of the pins I saw showed how someone used a gold foil gift box shaped like a cube to make her dice (she covered it in craft paper).

The supplies I used to make our dice.

The supplies I used to make our dice.

As a last ditch effort, I searched the small gift bag area, and after a few minutes of scouring I saw tucked low in a corner, small cube shaped gift boxes!  Hooray!  I found a size I liked–4 inch square.  They had both larger and smaller, but I thought this would be small enough to be portable and big enough to be fun.  I picked the craft paper type box, because I thought it would be easier to write on than the slick white option they also offered.  Then, on the way to the cash register, I passed a little shelving area with $1 stationary items and found little 3 inch square cards in solid colors.  On a whim, I grabbed those to put on the sides to give the dice a little color.

The finished product.

The finished product.

Yesterday, I put it all together.  I simply taped the open edges of the boxes down (I could have used a more transparent tape, but I had this on hand.  I don’t think they’ll care).  Then, I cut the little cards in half.  Luckily each side was colored, so I could get two sides out of one card.  I wrote the names of the songs and actions on the cards with a thin sharpie marker.  Next, I rolled pieces of tape for all four corners of a card and stuck it to one side of the cube.  I figured this way we could change the songs or actions fairly easily part way through the year or next year if we wanted without destroying the dice.

These was so super simple, and the best part was it was really inexpensive.  The boxes were $0.79 each and the card packs were $1 each.  And, I only used part of each pack, so I have cards left over for another occasion.  Each of the dice only cost about $1.25!  I am very happy with the result, and I think this will be a fun way for the girls to begin their meetings this year.

Here’s a list of what I included on each one–chosen with input from the kiddo:

Songs:

5 little speckled frogs

Down by the Bay

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old (Girl Scout Song)

I’ve Got Something in my Pocket (Girl Scout Song)

Magalina Hagalina (a song I learned as a Girl Scout.  Very silly.  My daughter loves it!)

Roller’s Choice (just to mix it up, because I wasn’t going to put Let it Go as an option).

 

Actions (some of these are songs, but they are action-y songs!).

Hokey Pokey

Head Shoulders Knees & Toes

Dance (to a song on my phone)

Jumping Jacks, Jump Rope, High Knees (for a little cardio)

Bean Bag Game (I have some home made bean bags and we can play a variety of games with them)

Roller’s Choice

 

How do you think you could use homemade dice in your life?  I can image a bunch of different ways.  Since you can design the sides however you would like, the possibilities are endless!

Simple Kitchen Organization Tips

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Sometimes simple really is better.  Here are a few quick tips for kitchen organization I picked up along the way or that I stumbled upon on my own.  Each of these tips has made organizing one small part of my life in the kitchen a bit simpler and made it easier to put things where they belong.

1)  Clean/Dirty Magnet.  I remember my grandmother having one of these when I was a kid made out of wood that stuck to her olive green and harvest gold dishwasher.  It was a bit clunky, but you knew for sure that it would stick, because you could not mistake the outside of the dishwasher for anything but metal.  I always thought one of these might be helpful (since at times dishes get piled on the counter or in the sink when other family members are not sure), but I had convinced myself that the outside of our dishwasher would not hold a magnet.  I’m not sure why.  So ,when I saw this quick tip on the YouTube channel “Do It on a Dime”, I thought, let’s give it a shot.  And, guess what!  Magnets do stick to our dishwasher.  Here’s hoow to make your own Clean/Dirty magnet.  Start with a freebie flat magnet like businesses sometimes give away.  If you have a label maker, all you do is simply print out one strip that says “Clean” and one that says “Dirty”–I added designs, because, why not?  Then, just cut down the magnet to fit your strips!

This is actually pretty small in size, so it isn't obtrusive--just big enough to do the job.

This is actually pretty small in size, so it isn’t obtrusive–just big enough to do the job.

2) Pantry Storage–Part 1.  Over the door storage has really helped us in our small pantry.  It corrals some of the things we use frequently and that aren’t all that easy to store on wire shelving.  On the very top of the wire shelves (not pictured here) are some cat related supplies like brushes and cat treats.  The next shelf features some rolls like foil and wax paper and  a box of zip close bags.  It’s the bottom shelf, though, that I really want to focus on.  This one handles quite a few jobs.

On the far left there are four “crystal light” or generic version containers (two behind and two in front).  The two in the back hold straws (this is so very very helpful, because they are not constantly falling over).  The two in the front hold things we are keeping for the kiddo’s school.  We found out last year that they collect pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald house, so there is one for those.  The one next to it holds all our “box tops for education” or other such things you can cut off of household items that give money back to the school.  (I tried using baggies for these, but this sounds lazy, but the opening and closing of the bags was a pain.  I like to drop them in the top of these small containers much better).  The little orange basket from Ikea holds the little bag clippies from Ikea (which are awesome!).  And, finally, a few more zip top bag boxes.  Storing them vertically saves a bunch of space and makes it easier to grab a bag when needed.

Super helpful to keep things from falling all over in the pantry.

Super helpful to keep things from falling all over in the pantry.

3)  Pantry Storage–Part 2.  Labels.  To begin, I use black baskets in my pantry to store items as the wire shelving is kind of a pain in the behind.  To make sure items make it in the right place and people don’t eat food that is intended for recipes, I labeled each basket.  My previous labels were pretty specific (Rice, Pasta, Sauce or Mac & Cheese and Soup)–which honestly didn’t work all that well because there were always exceptions.  So, I decided to go the more generic route this time.  When I ran across these chalkboard stickers in the dollar aisle at Target I grabbed them without even really knowing what I wanted to use them for until I thought…hmmm…pantry labels!  I tried the chalkboard marker (also in the $1 aisle) and it was terrible.  I looked high and low for a decent one that wasn’t part of a huge set and struck out (if you know where to buy one let me know!).  Instead, I went with a silver marker I found several weeks later in the dollar bins and was finally able to complete my labels.  To make them, I took some brightly colored card stock, laminated it, and cut the corners with a corner rounder.  Then, I stuck the labels in the middle.  To attach them to the basket, I rolled a piece of duct tape to the back of the label and stuck it to the basket.  Then, I took a flat piece of duct tape and placed it over the holes to cover the duct tape roll.  I did this with the previous labels, and amazingly, it came off pretty easily when needed.

Now the labels are less specific, but still get the point across.  One row has two baskets labeled Meals (which hold items used for recipes) and one basket labeled Meal Prep (which holds items like soy sauce, marinades, cooking oil, etc.).  The shelf below holds a basket for Snacks (crackers, granola bars, etc.), Lunch (mac & cheese, soup, etc.), and Misc (drink mixes, peanut butter, jello, etc.).  So, basically, one row is off limits for general consumption and the other is fair game.  I think the labels turned out pretty cute.  Sometimes a simpler label really is better.

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New, simpler labels.

New, simpler labels.

4)  Olive Oil Dispenser for Dish Soap.  Ok, so I’ve seen quite a few times on Pinterest.  I chose to try this because it would look pretty and take up less space on my sink top.  Overall, I do like the effect, but I notice that the metal top oxidizes quite frequently.  If anyone has any tips or ideas on how to handle that (for right now, I just rub off the rust every now and again), pass it along!  I’m wondering if maybe something with a plastic top would be better…

I really, really want to love this!

I really, really want to love this!

What quick tips do you have for organizing your kitchen?

My Ode to Ikea

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Oh, Ikea…how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  One, your crazy frugal pricing.  Two, your seemingly endless options.  Three, the organization potential in every aisle.  Four, the impossible to pronounce names of your merchandise.  Five, the acrobatic carts that can roll in any direction.

In all seriousness, I LOVE Ikea.  If you are a home or organization blog reader, chances are you’ve heard of this store and how the simple systems can help you organize and decorate your home.  You may have seen the many Pinterest boards and blog posts showing off creative Ikea hacks.  And, if you are anything like me, you can really only drool over the items on virtual display, because there isn’t an Ikea near you…at all.

The first time I visited an Ikea, I was speechless…and so excited.  What a cool store this is!!  I want to come back all the time!  But, sadly, it was almost 3,000 miles away and in another country.  We were visiting relatives and friends, and we were back every few years, but since we were traveling, our ability to bring things home was limited.  Each time we visited, I stuck to things that could be packed flat like plastic tableware and collapsible storage bins.  But, I yearned for more.

Then, recently, when on vacation, I visited my first Ikea in the U.S.  In the parking lot, I asked my daughter for a favor.  I said, can you please be patient for mommy while we are in this store?…It is one of my favorite places.  No lie.  It is.  We spent over an hour and a half wandering the aisles and picking up what could be stuffed into our already overflowing SUV for the six hour drive back home.  (She did pretty well.  She spent a chunk of time giving us tours of the various rooms on the upper floor as if she were a host on HGTV.  Then, she found the fake computers and proceeded to do some “work” while we looked around.  Pretty cute and kept her entertained).

For less than I thought it would cost, I was able to replace some items we bought several years ago from the other Ikea and add a few more items for our kitchen (mostly).  Since we didn’t have a ton of space in the car and I have already put their storage bins and drawer dividers to use, I didn’t buy a whole lot more.  Though I enviously looked at the spice racks that I have used for a multitude uses other than storing spices and the rail system with your choice of hanging doo-dads to organize pretty much anything–I knew I didn’t have a clear purpose for them and didn’t want to buy them just because I was there and other people had done cool things with them.  Though, to be honest, two of the spice racks made it to the cash register with me before I surrendered to logic and told the cashier I didn’t need them.

Here are just a few of our purchases from that day:

For the kiddo.  I adore these plates.  Super easy to store and use.  I replaced the old model oval shaped plates with these new round ones.  Love that these have an edge to them.  I also bought the bowls.

For the kiddo. I adore these plates. Super easy to store and use. I replaced the old model oval shaped plates with these new round ones. Love that these have an edge to them. I also bought the bowls.

Food storage containers.  There are MANY options at Ikea, but we chose these because they are a bit sturdier and have a steam vent.

Food storage containers. There are MANY options at Ikea, but we chose these because they are a bit sturdier and have a steam vent.

We bought a few of the small round plates in this finish a few years ago to replace a few broken ones from our large set (not bought from Ikea).  Looking around for other replacements we stumbled upon these rectangular ones in sets of 4.  After using them a few times, I wish I would have bought another set and just replaced all of our old larger round ones.

We bought a few of the small round plates in this finish a few years ago to replace a few broken ones from our large set (not bought from Ikea). Looking around for other replacements we stumbled upon these rectangular ones and picked up one set of 4. After using them a few times, I wish I would have bought another set and just replaced all of our old larger round ones.

drommar-cake-decorating-set

And something fun for the kiddo and me to play with as we continue our cake baking and decorating adventures.

We got a few other things including a bathroom rug, a metal colander, new round cork trivets, new dish scrubbers (so inexpensive here!), straws, and some other odds and ends.  Nothing too big and mostly replacements or additions to Ikea items we already had.  I told my husband that we’d be in trouble if we lived near an Ikea because I’d spend oodles of time and money there.  He didn’t seem to see the problem with that–which is why I love him.  He tolerates and usually supports my organization habit.  He even found a desk system that he likes that we may have to get a hold of sometime soon.  And, the good news is that I may not have to wait a few years until I step foot inside an Ikea this time.  They are opening one only 3 hours away from us!  (I know that still seems like a crazy distance to drive just to visit an Ikea, but I do have friends that live there to visit as well :) ).  And, I can always order online if I feel like I want to pay the shipping.  But, I really do love to visit the store in person.  There is something about the piles of everything, the bright lights, and the endless possibilities that get me every time.  Oh, Ikea, if only we could have a more permanent relationship.  I guess I will just have to settle for renewing my love for you every so often–unless of course you’d like to come to my home town.

Is there a store that you love to visit, but only have access to at certain times or in certain locations?  Does it make the place more special because you are not able to go as often?

 

There’s a Reason It’s Called Semi-Organized

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Hello All!  Well, everyone that reads or stumbles upon this at least.  I follow an organizational blogger named Jen at I Heart Organizing and have been for a while.  If you haven’t found her on your own yet, be sure to check out her blog.  It is pretty cool.  One of the things I like about her blog is that she keeps it true to life.  While she showcases the beautiful projects and areas she has created in her home, she is never shy about showing us the chaos that sometimes envelopes her house or the projects that have gotten put on the back burner or spaces that she just simply hasn’t had time to tackle yet.  In a brilliant blog post about the difference between every day life and blog posts, Jen tackled a reader’s comment about how the pictures on the I Heart Organizing Blog make her feel “depressed rather than inspired.”  I felt for Jen in that moment, and it seems she really took that comment to heart.  Check out her post linked above to hear her eloquent response.

Reading her post made me think about my own little blog here.  I must confess that when I first started this blog, I didn’t tell anyone I was writing it.  I took a while before I shared it with my husband–then I told my mom about it–and I finally got the courage up to send a link to one of my best friends–who lives in another state.  None of my close friends that are close by (or really anyone I knew) even had a clue that I wrote a blog.   Around my 50th post, my husband gave me a shout out on his Facebook page saying he was proud of what I was doing here (still makes me smile)–and that is the first time folks I knew really got a good look at what I write about–if they happened to be friends with both of us and chose to follow his link.  So, mysemiorganizedlife is still sort of semi-secret.

And, I almost wrote a post about WHY no one knew this little corner of my life existed, but decided against it.  After reading Jen’s post, I feel now is as good a time as any to do so.  So, why the secrecy?  To be honest, I was afraid.  I wasn’t really afraid anyone would judge me harshly for anything that I post about here–because I have really sweet friends.  What I was afraid of was that if they read my posts, they might think I would judge them.  That I would find them lacking, because I write about the things I am trying to do to keep my world in order–emphasis on trying (in case you didn’t catch that).  I didn’t want them to think that every time I entered their home or their car or heard about what they were doing in their classrooms or with their own children that I was assessing them somehow.

And, a comment a good friend of mine made the other day reinforced that uneasiness.  I took my kiddo over to play with her kiddos.  She was worried that she hadn’t had time to clean up the house before our arrival.  I honestly didn’t care.  My kid was super jazzed about playing with her kids (and their guinea pig) and wouldn’t notice if it was “clean” or not.  And, I was simply grateful that the kiddo got the chance to play with other kids–she craves that in the summers.  The state of her living room floor, or whatever, would not phase me or even really register on my radar.  But, she did seem to be worried, at least a little.  She said, “but your house is always so clean and neat.”  I am here to tell you my dear that that is a huge misconception. (The fact that she said this to me as I was shoving things in my trunk and shaking out the towel we keep under the kiddo’s booster seat which was full of who knows what so that the grownups could all pile in my car should have been a little bit of a clue :).

Does my house always look like a Better Homes and Gardens shoot?  Far from it.  Could you quite frequently find baskets of laundry needing to be put away or toys scattered upstairs and down or items lining the counter tops.  Heck yes.  Because we LIVE here.  Is it pretty easy for me to pick things up and have them tidy when I know guests are going to arrive?  Heck yes to that too.  Because I have attempted to put some systems in place and dedicated spaces in our house to make tidying up easier.  It may be a whirlwind of activity for about an hour (sometimes less), but it’s easy.

By that same token, have I misplaced my keys 3 times in the last week?  Yup (totally not following my system of clipping them to my purse.  Seriously, I should know better).  Do I regularly have to go back into the house after heading to the car because I forgot something.  Yes, again (because I didn’t plan ahead like I know I should).  Has my daughter (or myself) gone to bed at her normal time at all this summer?  Um, nope (because it is summer and we’re busy having fun).  Have my carefully crafted habit charts I just wrote about a few weeks ago been ignored a bit more than they should be?  Unfortunately (because with just one kiddo it is easy to fall out of the routine and just pick up and go do stuff.  Plus we’ve had lots of changes to our schedule with visitors, etc.).

So, why even try to put these systems into place and write about them at all?  Because as I have stated on this blog before, this blog is in part just for me.  It is a way for me to record my goals and to help me hold myself more accountable.  These are all things I desperately want to do and to have work (which is why you see me revamp things from time to time), but sometimes I fail. Epically.  And that’s ok too. I learn from my mistakes and try again.  That’s just part of life.  Plus, I love to organize.  It’s something I’ve done since I was small and something I will continue to do the rest of my life.  It just makes me feel happy to see a space that is used well and is tidy.  Whenever I feel life is getting a bit much for me, I know a quick cleaning session of putting a room back in order will brighten my spirits.  Some of us are just weird that way.

I guess my point here is the same one I think Jen was making.  Those of us who blog (from the well known to the little known) try to put our best foot forward in the world.  We want to share our successes with others and learn from each other.  It is a community.  I have never read a homemaking, organization, crafting, etc. type of blog that set out to make people feel bad about themselves.  Most of the time people are just sharing their great ideas with others.  Really, blogs are a way to connect with others, to showcase your talents, and to maybe inspire others (and maybe even yourself)  to try something new.  Plus, she seriously does keep it pretty real.  She is not shy about showing off the not so pretty as well.

I would like to challenge home bloggers out there to do what Jen did and what I am doing here below.  Post a few picks of the chaos behind the scenes.  Show people that it’s not all glamour shots and sunshine.  As a blog reader, I know I appreciate hearing about both the every day as well as the isn’t this the best idea and prettiest thing ever.  Thank you to all of the bloggers out there who have inspired me and to all of the people who have taken the time to read one of my posts.  Have a lovely week all!

And just to share some craziness around my house.  This is what it looked like earlier this week…and a few days after that.  But, knowing I have company coming in a few days, I can easily pick it up and have it back to looking presentable fairly easily.  Enjoy the mess and the success!  Below are just a few of our spaces.  Our kitchen was a disaster for a few days due to cooking and baking projects in preparation for the July 4th holiday.  I’d show you a before and after, but the after got done just as guests were arriving, so no time to even grab a quick pic.  Sometimes it’s down to the wire, but I was so happy with the way our decorations and food turned out–even if I wasn’t able to share with anyone but our holiday guests.

The crazy before picture.  This was mid laundry and mid projects.

The crazy before picture. This was mid laundry and mid projects.

This is a few days later.  All ready for company.

This is a few days later. All ready for company.

Can you tell I just made a few runs to the store for refills of some of our bathroom products?  Honestly, it did look like this for the better part of a day, because I just didn't have time to get stuff put away.  But, that's life!

Honestly, it did look like this for the better part of a day, because I just didn’t have time to get stuff put away. But, that’s life!  We all survived with a little clutter for a few hours.

Shiny and ready to tackle the day!  Everything is back where it belongs.

Shiny and ready to tackle the day! Everything is back where it belongs.

 

 

More Kindness–Being the Example

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Last week I posted about one of the ways I try to help my daughter cultivate a kind heart (which really isn’t hard, because she cares easily.)  I chatted about how we donate gently used items from her stash of clothes, books, and toys to various charities, folks in need, and to special friends.  My heart swelled to share about how my little one is so thoughtful and caring for others, but I didn’t really think about what I do for others at that time.

For moms and caregivers of any kind, this can be tough.  We spend most of our days planning and doing for others–scheduling activities, planning healthy meals, making sure the spouse’s oil gets changed, brushing the cats, cleaning the bathrooms, sending a text to a friend, picking up a little something we know our mom will love just because…  All of these things we do without really thinking about how we are showing kindness and love to the people in our lives–because that is just what we do.

And, sometimes we give so much to the people in our lives every day that we sometimes forget about giving to the people around us.  Knowing that I played a hand in helping people in need by finding donations with my daughter is rewarding.  Participating in our 25 days of giving each December makes me feel connected to others at a time when life is very hectic–and again is something I share with my daughter.  But, what about me.  Just me.  What do I do for strangers?  I, personally, think it is important to give back to “strangers” because we all have an impact in this world–both positive and negative.  And, we can have a hand in making sure there is more that is positive–because what we do has ripple effects.

So what had I done?  The answer was simple.  Not much.  And, with everything else we do all year round to give back and all of the caring acts we do for our friends and family, it may seem overwhelming to add one more thing to the already teetering plate.  Sometimes, though, the simplest answer is the easiest.  And, in the craziness of June, I forgot about a simple goal I had set for myself for the summer.

I had forgotten about the goal until I ran across a blog post (which I will share shortly) to participate in a program I heard about on a TED talk called “LoveLetters2Stangers.”  Take a second and listen to the TED Talk to hear about this movement. 

Love Letters 2 Strangers

Click here to be taken to her website.

Basically, how it works, is you leave a HANDWRITTEN (this is important) letter or note to someone–anyone–a total stranger, and then you leave it somewhere it can be found easily by someone else.  The letters don’t have to be long or fancy or perfect.  They just need to be thoughtful, heartfelt, and positive.  The idea is to lift up someone you don’t even know and brighten their day.  As someone who loves to write, I fell in love with this idea–and I put it down as one of my summer bucket list items (which also includes learning how to french braid my daughter’s hair, figuring out how to make a past post gallery on this blog, and teaching my daughter to tie her shoes).

Life got a little in the way, and I forgot about this goal until I stumbled upon this great blog post from Ashley at Little Blue Boo.  She took mini canvases, painted them bright colors, added inspirational quotes, and then handed them out to strangers for a Random Act of Kindness!  They are adorable!  But, I knew I didn’t really have it in me to recreate this cute little messages–at least not right now.

There is a great free printable on this site too. Click to go to Ashley’s post!

Then the light bulb went off.  What if I paired the quotes from Ashley’s blog with the idea of Love Letters 2 Strangers from Hannah!  So, this morning, I sat down and wrote out note cards to leave in random places during our travels about town.  I just used note cards I had hanging around (with pretty pictures of flowers on the front) and paired this phrase “Though we have never met and probably never well-know that I and countless “strangers” care about you and wish you the best” with a quote from Little Blue Boo’s site.  I varied the marker color more for me than the recipients–I plan to leave one a day in a location we visit around the city (which could be pretty widespread).  About an hour and a few hand cramps later, I have 10 finished cards and envelopes ready to go.

The plan:  I will keep them in my purse or car and take one with me when we go anywhere.  Then, I will find somewhere fun to leave the envelope like a bench or between items on a shelf or anywhere I think it will be found.  I will never know who picked up my note or if it made a difference in someone’s day, but I know the simple act of thinking of others will make  difference in mine.

My notes!  I made sure to add the loveletters2strangers website inside and gave them a fun message on the outside to make sure someone picked it up.

My notes! I made sure to add the loveletters2strangers website inside and gave them a fun message on the outside to  hopefully make sure someone picked them up.

For the future, I plan to purchase some more inexpensive cards (though if you choose to do this, you can use any type of paper) and write up more notes to leave around town.  I am very excited to get started, and I will definitely let my daughter know about my new “kindness campaign.”  She might even help me find cool places to leave the letters.  Why am I sharing this with her if it is supposed to be “just for me”?  I want her to see that I am doing things as well that send kindness out into the world and that our acts of kindness don’t always have to be monumental or “thing” oriented.  Sometimes a kind word is all that you need to brighten up someone’s day.

 

What ways do you send kindness out into the world?

Cultivating a Kind Heart

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I have written about this topic, but in a different way before.  After some events in the last week,  I felt a re-posting and elaboration was needed.

There are so many things that our children need to be successful and thoughtful adults someday–and so many of those things start when they are young.  But, how to you cultivate kindness?  How do you get your children to understand how to be thankful and thoughtful?  How do you get them to understand that there may be people in your community, state, country, or world that do not have the advantages that they do?  One way is to show them.  And, that is what I have chosen to do with my daughter.

What started out as a simple way to get my kiddo to understand that it is ok to give away items that she has outgrown (and to declutter in anticipation of holidays and birthdays) has ended up as a wonderful way to show my daughter what it means to be compassionate and to think of others in need.  Let me start out by saying that my family is by no means well to do–we are definitely in the middle class zone both being educators.  But, our daughter is also an only child and an only grandchild on one side of the family–so she gets more than a family with more kiddos might get.  Plus, we have very generous friends with older girls who have handed down some of their toys and items to us.  All of this means tons of stuff to try and tackle in our moderately sized home.  Which is probably why you see so many posts from me about how to manage the kid clutter.

One of my favorite ways to do this is to spread the love by sharing our gently used items with others.  We could simply take our items to the nearest Goodwill (which we do with some things) or hold a garage sale (which I’ve never done in my adult life and just quite frankly don’t want stuff hanging around all year waiting to be sold for minimal profit).  With our kiddo items, I like to be able to get our daughter involved so she can help decide what to do with these items and see how she can help others first hand.

I wrote about this briefly in a post from way back called Conquering Kid Chaos–and it fell under the “purge” tip of my Top 7 Organizing Tips–in relation to how to keep your house from being overrun by toys.

From previous post:

Purge.  You may remember this from my 7 Organization strategies post.  As with any organization plan, I firmly believe the less you have the easier it is to be organized.  My daughter and I do this very frequently, and since she was about three she has been very involved in the process.  Before Christmas and her birthday we go through the toys in her room (and other areas of the house) and decide what she actually plays with and what can move on to another child that will get more fun from it than she does.  I try to guide her when I can and even give her a choice, like pick one of these to keep and one to give away.  Beginning this at a young age has helped greatly, because she is very used to the process, but you can probably start this at any age—just be sure to involve your kids.  Another reason why toy give aways have been successful for us is that we always have a pre-determined destination for the items.  Sometimes we pick out things to give to specific friends (we even went on a secret adventure one evening and left stuffed animals in several friends’ mailboxes–this has been one of her all time favorite things to do.  She even go to pick which friend received which animal).  Other times, we select items to donate to the local children’s hospital.  Most recently, a friend of ours had a family member experience a fire that destroyed their home, and they lost everything.  We discussed the issue with my daughter and asked her to pick out toys, books, and stuffed animals to give to the two little kids who had lost everything.  She easily agreed and donated an overflowing large milk crate of her belongings to these two little ones she has never met, and probably never will—and didn’t even bat an eye about it.  I am so proud of her for that and happy that our little system has helped her see the importance of giving to others.

While it is hard for a now six-year-old to try and think of the many ways she can help others all of the time, I can see that our practice of giving to those in need or those we love has made a difference in her.  When she realizes she isn’t really playing with something anymore, she asks me if we can give it someone else and usually supplies a friend’s name who likes those kinds of toys.  And, when I come to her with an idea of how to share some of her good fortune with those who need it most, she jumps right on the bandwagon–usually without a second thought.

This year for her birthday, I thought about all of the toys she currently has that she still plays with (many that she got for her birthday the past two years) and all of the items she was sure to get from her family and friends parties and my brain went mushy.  She barely has the time or space to play with what she had!  What were we going to do with all the extra stuff?   So, we had a discussion.  We talked about donating some of the toys from her friends birthday party to kids in need.  We have donated things to the Children’s Hospital in the past, and we talked about finding somewhere new to share this time around.  We settled on a homeless shelter in our town that specializes in working with families and single parents–she remembered it from when we had donated some items like winter coats for our 25 days of giving.

It was a little hard for her to come to terms with the idea of giving all of her presents to others–after all she is six–but she also wanted to help kids who probably didn’t get anything for their birthdays.  We spent some time talking about it and came up with a way for her to be able to keep some items and for her to also be able to donate some items.  (If she wasn’t comfortable with donating any, we would have gone that route too.  It did help though that she had been to a birthday party earlier in the year for a schoolmate who donated his presents).

We came up with a list of inexpensive things for people to buy and asked that they purchase two–one for her and one for the kids at the homeless shelter.  Our list included things you could find in the dollar aisle or would be less than $10 for two–things like sidewalk chalk, coloring books, bubbles, stickers, etc.  I didn’t want to overburden anyone with supplying items for this idea, so we tried to make it as easy and inexpensive as possible.  And, thankfully those who were able to attend were very thoughtful and generous in their gifts.  One afternoon when she was off of school and we were running errands, we stopped by to drop off the gifts.  She got a tour of the main areas for the residents (none were around at the time) including the children’s play area.  She decided while we were there that she wanted to go back sometime this summer to play with some of the kids and to help with serving meals–I am looking forward to setting these up soon!

These are all of the items we were able to share with the homeless shelter!  I sent a picture of the kiddo sitting behind these items out as a thank you card to those who attended the party.

These are all of the items we were able to share with the homeless shelter! I sent a picture of the kiddo sitting behind these items out as a thank you card to those who attended the party.

And, what made me think of sharing these stories with all of you is an incident that happened in our area this week.  We had several tornadoes go through some smaller towns north of here and destroy many homes.  Someone I know in the area said 62 homes were affected.  Businesses and organizations all over the area are pulling together to donate water, gatorade, clean up supplies, and much more to help the families affected.  I knew immediately there was a way we could step up and help.  I went to my daughter and briefly told her about families losing their homes (I didn’t go into too much detail because she is in a stage where she is VERY afraid of tornadoes), and that some kids lost all of their toys and clothes.  She was ready to get to work!  We spent a little time this weekend going through her room and found a garbage bag full of kids bedding and clothing that we no longer needed and two large paper shopping bags full of toys and books.  To be honest, we were running a little short on time (I needed to get the stuff to the person who would be delivering the items), and I was going to skip over going through her books.  She called me back to reality though, and showed me that I needed to make the time.  “Mommy, they’re going to need books too!”  My heart soared.  She was right.  They certainly were.

And that is why I am sharing this post today.  My daughter has a caring heart and knows that one way she can help others is to share what she has with those in need.  This all started as a way to help get rid of some overcrowding of stuffed animals and has become a thoughtful practice and second nature action for my kiddo.  I can only imagine how she will continue to help others as she grows and matures through life, and I feel so honored to be able to help guide her along the way.