Put an End to the Petty Squabbling in Your Home

I used to get so tired of refereeing arguments over little things. Little tiny things. Like who gets to drink out of the blue cup, who gets to sit by the window, who gets the last strawberry, who gets to wash their hands first.

Who cares?

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So years ago, at the suggestion of a friend, we implemented “choosing day” in our home.

The title is not fancy or terribly clever, I know. It doesn’t roll off your tongue easily, but it is descriptive. And it is the solution to all the daily, silly squabbles my kids used to have.

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Here’s how it works. Each person in our family gets 1 choosing day per week. It works out nicely in our family because there are 7 of us (yes, the husband and I each get one too). But before there were 7 of us the kids each got 2 choosing days per week and we got one.

You can figure it out, just make it work somehow.

I assigned a day of the week to each child so they have the same day every week. This makes it very easy to remember. I even started with the oldest on Sunday and went down in age each day of the week to make it really easy for myself. But you can decide any way you like.

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If you are not home on your choosing day someone else fills in for you, there are no make-ups. You can switch with someone if you pre-arrange it. You can give your’s away if you want to be nice and earn points with siblings. But for the most part if you snooze, you lose. And as a default if something goes wrong and you cannot fulfill your choosing day duties for whatever reason, it’s mommy’s choosing day.

Yes! I get to listen to all my favorite tunes in the car.

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So, in our house on your choosing day, you get to:

Wash your hands for dinner in the sink first
Pick the game
Drink from the coolest cup (ours is the marshmallow cup)
Decide what we will have for breakfast
Pick the book at bedtime
Eat the drumsticks if we have chicken
Say the prayer at dinner time
Choose the music in the car
Break any ties

You get the jist. When there is a fight over something inconsequential, and it’s your choosing day, you win.
Pretty powerful stuff.

Now, there is no fanfare about it, we don’t gloat or parade around when it’s our choosing day nor do we get mad when it isn’t our day to choose. Because your turn’s a commin’ and you don’t want to miss it.

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Just a quick side note. Your choosing day does NOT entitle you to anything you want, like all of the Halloween candy you can eat. It is just a means to settle minor arguments.

A Favorite Project of Mine

I am so excited to show you this. This is the one project that I do on a quarterly basis that I just love doing. I make serious sacrifices to do it and I unplug from my life while I work on it. But it is so much fun for those two weeks out of every quarter.

Many of you know already, but I am a graphic designer by trade. It comes with the genes, I love to make things pretty. Over the past few years I have been lucky enough to work with many fun clients, but this one…well it’s special to me.

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I am honored to be the graphic designer for vérité an online magazine catering to women in their 40’s and beyond.

“So, the spirit behind vérité and our tagline, AUTHENTIC AT ANY AGE, is…the idea of recognizing and owning that we are older, yes, but we are also just as relevant, passionate, engaged, inspired and motivated as we ever were. And the belief that the desire to remain authentic in the midst of it all is a worthwhile pursuit.”

In a world where very little is truly authentic, this read is a breath of fresh air. It is written by real women, features real women and will inspire you in many ways.

This e-magazine was started by a colleague of mine, Kelly Holden Allen, who I have been working with for several years on many of her philanthropy projects. She had this dream three years ago and is making it happen in a very big and real way today. I am excited to have been a part of it from it’s inception and look forward to where it will go in the next few years.

It began to get serious traction at the beginning of this year and it has been a pleasure to watch it grow exponentially. Our 6th issue just launched Wednesday and it is a powerful issue. From fashion, beauty, fitness to home, entertaining and travel, it has something for everyone. Please take a look.

Home Tour – The Patio

Our Patio is about to get a makeover. We want to put in a fireplace and new stone. There are some really wonderful aspects to our patio now, however, that I will miss. So here are some pictures of it now and next fall, you can see what we did with the place…DSC_0068 DSC_0005 2 DSC_0022 2 DSC_0020 DSC_0023

Girly Rooms

Today I am going to share a little home tour of our girly rooms. These are from different years and houses along our journey.

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Our first little girl room had a diamond pattern on the walls and an adorable chandelier. I painted the diamonds myself and repurposed the armoire with curtains.

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Our second little girl room had stripes and a very pretty scallop painted by some painters I hired right after we moved in.

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Our third little girl room has built-in character I just need time to make it special.

 

 

 

Just Say NO

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For all of you out there who over commit – this post is for you. If you ever take on more than you can handle, frequently want to do “just this one extra thing”, or feel compelled to help out with yet another “great” cause, repeat after me, “NO“.

Or better yet, just don’t open your mouth to begin with.

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If most of us over-committers were honest we would admit that there aren’t so many people banging down our doors asking us to volunteer for things. No, it’s that we think things sounds like really good ideas, something we would enjoy being a part of, and we can’t stand the silence waiting for someone to volunteer for it. So we shout out, “I could do that”. And even as we speak it we realize what a bad idea it was to yell out like that. But now it’s out there and we don’t think we can take it back.

We aren’t the kind of people who like to let people down, most of all ourselves.

So we say to ourselves, “it’s ok, this really will be fun; I wouldn’t want to miss out on this”. Or, “It’s no big deal, it will only take me a few minutes to do.”

Lies, all lies.

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I’m so bad at this I even volunteer myself to others before they have something to volunteer for. Like, “Hey, if you are ever thinking of starting a youth group, let me know I would love be involved.” This is basically volunteering to start it and lead it.

Or another one I did the other day. “Look and see if you could use another teacher in a Sunday school class.” As if the one I’m teaching already isn’t enough for me, I think I should take on another one. And then they replied, “Oh, you would like to switch from the class you are teaching to a different class?” Ahh, there was my out. But did I take it, no way. I said, “No I can do both.”

I want to slap myself in the face sometimes.

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My inability to curb the giving of my time to things other than my family is a real drain on me and my family. It stresses me out, it shortens the amount of time I get to hang out with friends and family. And, honestly, it lessens the enjoyment I have in life. I really need to get control of this addiction to the word yes.

For all of you with the same problem, let’s say it together:
No
I don’t think I can do that right now.
I wish I could, but I just don’t have time right now.
That sounds great, but I’m busy.
Awe, I already have plans that day.

Or, just keep. your. mouth. shut. And let the silence ring…

Family Theme Dinners

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A good friend of mine who is very creative, and organized, and thoughtful, was talking to me about her summer plans with the kids. She casually mentioned needing to do some family theme nights with the kids “again”. This was mentioned in passing as if everyone did them and she was behind the game.

I immediately stopped her seeking clarification and much more information because this sounded interesting to me. And of course I had no idea what this was, I can barely get food on the table let alone make it fun for people.

Or can I?

As I probed for more ideas out of her I became more and more excited about this idea of making dinner time fun. Maybe this would curb the need to fight and complain at the table. Maybe the distraction would be just what we need to eat instead of walk around the room. Maybe? Could it be?
Probably not, but it might entertain the adults. That’s reason enough for me.

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My friend was more than willing to share her ideas with me. I love sharing mommy tips. People have the best ideas and solutions. I’m sure I have never solved any of my own homemaker problems. My friends solve them for me. They always give me the solutions I need. I love friends.

Back to what I was saying. I know my limitations. I can’t do much outside of the normal business routine of making three meals a day and cleaning up after them. I just don’t have it in me to spent a day coming up with great crafts and decorations, theming out my already hectic dinners with frill and glory. My friend doesn’t do this either, by the way.

But I thought If I could make them simple, no prep or minimal prep necessary I might actually be able to pull one off. I challenged myself to research (in my head and on the web) for easy themes for a spontaneous dinner time. After minutes of research I have come up with a nice little list. But before I share that list please keep in mind these are low prep. No fuss, easy, use-what-you-have, little-thought-needed kind of ideas. These aren’t Pinterest worthy, they aren’t even Instagram worthy. Just you and your family having a little fun kind of ideas.

The only way I can imagine this coming off well, and not lame-o, is to hand it to the kids and let them run with it. They get to decorate, they find their outfits etc.

So, if you do one I would love it to pieces if you would share your idea. That would be so fun. I promise to share mine and because I have no shame I might even dare put some on Instagram. Seriously no one follows me anyway!

OK here it goes:

Oh, I forgot to say, there is no meal coordination here, you eat what you were already planning to eat. Like I said no prep, people, I have to keep the bar really low for myself so I feel accomplished.

Ok here we go now:

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Hawaiian night. I can only do this because I happen to have a garbage bag full of grass skirts and stuff from a party we had once. We also have some old leis in the dress up bin and I’m sure I can scare up some Hawaiian music on the iPod. Plus the girls would love to braid their hair. That’s Hawaiian isn’t it? If not, it is now.

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Breakfast for dinner including Jammie’s. Ok I lied, you could combine the food with the theme on this one! This is the night you don’t have dinner planned and so you scare up some eggs or pancakes to eat. Tell the kiddos to go put their jam jams on while your fixing it! Hey, even bring the stuffed animals and blankets if you don’t mind the extra load of laundry you will have after they wipe their sticky hands on them.

Backwards. See, easy. Announce it is backwards night and everyone can turn their clothes around, eat desert first, walk backwards to the table. The kids can come up with all sorts of spins on this for sure.

Indoor picnic. Grab a blanket, some trash bags to put under if if you are like me and have white rugs in your home, and sit down on the floor of your living room to dine. You may want to use water bottles with tops for this one.

Dinner under the table. Instead of eating on the table eat under it. In my house this will have to happen on a night dad is out of town, he would not like this one.

Color. Pick a color and have everyone wear it to dinner. Or everyone wears their favorite color.

Costume. Everyone comes in some sort of costume and then you go around the table and explain who or what you are.

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Toothpick night
(I just came up with that one now). Eat your entire dinner with toothpicks. Or spoons, or chopsticks, or your HANDS! Oh, that could be fun.

Hollywood Night. This one is for number 4 who got mad at me yesterday for calling her fancy pants. Not sure why that offended her so much, she is fancy and proud of it usually. So this one is for you fancy britches. Dress up and then dress others up. And then re-dress yourself up. It’s going to be so fun and fancy.

That’s all I got. Do you have any you can share? Leave a comment with your ideas.

Have fun with this and remember set the bar low for yourself, the rest of your life its set too high, don’t make this stressful too.

Princess Tea Party

I’m sharing another fun birthday party we threw for one of the girls. If you want my philosophy on birthday parties click here. I probably don’t have to, but I feel like I always need to add a disclosure on our parties.

Theme: Princess Tea Party for a 7-year-old.

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Invitations: These are not actually ours, but they look very similar. We used shinny white paper and rolled them up with a pink bow. The inside was much more simple in our version, but the copy was similar, very formal and royal sounding.

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Decorations: We had so much fun with this one! Doorway curtains were made from pink plastic tablecloths. I hung them above the doorways and tied them back with bows creating a curtain affect. We created pink poms to hang from the ceiling out of tissue paper. These are easy to make, although tedious, and make a big statement. We hung tulle and put flowers on each chair. The place settings were personalized with name cards too.

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Activities: Upon arrival we had nail painting, dressing up and they got to pick a ring and tierra to wear during the party. As a craft we decorated foam crowns with stick on jewels. We played a few “princess” games like learning to walk with a book on your head and “throw the marshmallows in a teacup”. 

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The main event was the tea party. Each attendee was introduced into the royal tea room by our party butler, “Uncle Kevin”.  The curtain was pulled as he announced, “please welcome the lovely, princess #4…” and the little princess walked, ran or sashayed to their seat. Some with more vigor than others! Once seated they where  met by one of our servers to get their drink order. The food was then served on trays for each to choose their own preferences.

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Food: Tea sandwiches, cheese on toothpicks, crackers, mini muffins, and veggies.

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Cake: The cake was so special. I could never have made this, by the way. I don’t believe it comes in a box. But our good friends made this cake for us. It came complete with dry ice to make it “steam”. AMAZING!

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Goodie Bag: We created a candy bar for the girls to pick from including chocolate covered marshmallows, chocolate covered pretzels and all the pink colored candy we could find at the store. Each girl was given a white bag and could go through the candy bar choosing what they would like to take home. We sent enough home for the whole family, no doubt!

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So sweet! And just like all of our parties, none of this would have been possible without the help of our dear friends. We appreciate and love them so much for their love and support of ALL of us. THANK YOU ALL!

 

 

 

The Purging of the Closets

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You may, or may not remember how my small kids were destroying their closet – daily – for months. Hopefully you don’t. I had to barricade their closet so they couldn’t get in.

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This was obviously a temporary fix. I just can’t live with chairs out of place and bad traffic flow patterns in rooms. It’s just not OK with me. I like rooms pretty and functional and right.

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Over the past few weeks I have spent time cleaning out closets. This wasn’t your typical closet clean out where you go through everything, fold or hang it nicely, throw out a handful of items, and walk away feeling “successful”.

This was an all out purge. The purgiest purge you ever saw.

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First, I put all of the winter clothes in bins. Away they went to be stored until Fall. Every long sleeved shirt, long pair of pants, tights, sweaters and jackets. I only left a pullover or sweatshirt for chilly summer evenings.

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Second, I went through their clothes and donated any item I didn’t like seeing on them. Shorts I think are too short, shirts that are ugly, dresses that don’t make me smile. Anything I deemed inappropriate because it had shrunk in areas we wish it hadn’t. All of those items my kids always want to wear that I just don’t care for. You know the outfit, you’ve seen it so many times you want to burn it. Gone.

Don’t worry, they won’t miss them. They haven’t even noticed. They still have more than enough.

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So now our closets have about 1/3 of the clothes they used to have in them. This was a real clean out. The mess they make is only 1/3 of the mess they made before. Thank you. I never have to tell the smalls to go put on something more appropriate for the weather because it isn’t in there to put on in the first place. And I never have to worry about them coming down in an outfit I wish my friends didn’t have to experience on them.

This was time well spent. Really well spent.