Friday, May 27, 2011

It's Summer Now, Are You Ready?

It's the last day of school for my kids and so I've got to type fast. I don't have much time. I'm sure many of you know what I mean. I know my recent posts sound bossy, like I'm telling you what to do, but it wasn't intended to be that way. I hope you'll give me the benefit of the doubt. For example, in a frenzied hush, Kacy asked me, "Did you really MEAN you keep one binder per kid PER YEAR of schoolwork?" (It is, afterall, the time of year when we're faced with our kids bringing home a desk full of work they "have to keep" so it's time to make some difficult decisions--and by decisions I mean send them out to play while you throw stuff away in the garage so they won't see) and I explained that it was the amount of work that I keep--about a binder's full, but I don't keep it all in a binder in protective sheets or anything because I think that's a waste of binders (money--I'm super thrifty). But I don't scrapbook or anything like that. It's just a small stack of papers I keep per year. Does everyone feel good about that? I hope that sounds manageable. I do imagine Phoebe, in the future, at about 14 or 15 going through her (one) box and wanting to organize it and scrapbook it all pretty. It seems like something she might want to do.

In the interest of full disclosure, my buddy Cimony told me she was distraught because I had mentioned on my blog months ago that women uh. . hem my age. . . shouldn't wear capri's anymore because they're not flattering. And then she felt weird wearing hers, so she doesn't anymore, and then she saw me wearing my jeans cuffed. I can't remember what I said exactly, but it sounds like some rash judgement I would make in a fit of rage. Well, I'm officially taking that back--or qualifying it. First of all, let's agree not to use the word "capri," "clam digger" or "floods." If we say they're "cuffed pants" or "straight pants" ala Audrey Hepburn, can we live with that? I, for one, am more comfortable with that. And let us never speak of skorts. Ever.

Now that I've said my peace, I feel I can get on with Summer. Oh dear.

Now I'm not being bossy, but I have done some things to get ready for Summer. These are ideas I've stolen and used from other people's experience, so I feel it's my duty to share (as bound by the unspoken mother-bond I feel we should all have to make each others' lives easier):

1. I stocked the fridge, freezer, and pantry so my kids could make their own breakfast and lunch. I posted a list of ideas for what to make for breakfast, lunch, and a snack and taped them on the inside of my pantry door.

2. I put together simple binders of activities (writing prompts, blank paper, new pens/markers, workbooks from the Dollar Store, articles my kids might like, etc) from Kacy. They can pull these out when I tell them to get off the computer/video game and do "something else creative."

3. We made a list of things to do in the Summer and posted them on the inside of the pantry door (my kids spend a lot of time in the pantry). I let the kids lead this, then I added some. So when they ask "what can I do. . . ?" I'm ready. Examples: Make a comic book, go to the Bean Museum (Margaret), make a movie with the neighborhood kids, have a lemon-aid stand (Owen), learn to bake something new, make an obstacle course for some friends, play night games, go swimming, make up a play with your friends (Phoebe), go bowling (Hugh), make a book, read a new book series, make a song on garage band, make a new video game or app (Miles), make homemade popcicles, you get the idea. . .

Good luck. We can make it to August. It's just August, you guys.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I did a presentation for my local church (Relief Society--the Woman's Organization at my church) all about cleaning and organizing and how to hate it a little less. I went through the series "How to Hate Cleaning LESS parts I, II, and III.'' I didn't have time for "Teaching Children to Clean," but it's here, here, and here. I DID have time for a bit about organizing paper and documents and all of that. I thought I would include it on my blog, so here it is:


USE YOUR COMPUTER: Scan and save what you can online and on your computer. Make sure you back it up. This works well for photos, receipts, lesson plans, ideas, family history, recipes, articles, even schoolwork. Pay as many bills online as you can. Don’t subscribe to catalogues—just go to the website.

PHOTOS: I keep digital copies on my hard drive, back up my hard drive, and keep a digital disk for each kid and one “real” copy of each photo. (Because I’m a freak. But it doesn’t take up much space.)

MAIL: Treat your mail with hostility. Do not let it touch the counter, like it’s carrying some sort of disease. Throw away junk mail right away (or set aside to shred later), open bills, file the statement, file the bill with envelope, throw everything else away. Put invitations/announcements in one place. Make this a habit. Shouldn’t take more than 1 ½ minutes. Don’t subscribe to catalogues—just go to the company website.

Schoolwork/Sentimental Cards: Have a predetermined space for each child, each school year. I keep one binder for each child, each school year. I don’t want them to have more than that saved each year, so I’m careful about what I keep. If it’s a large item, take a picture of it, then throw it away. If you’re having a hard time deciding if you should keep it or throw it away, think, “My son will move this project at least 9 times.” Is it worth it?

DOCUMENTS: There are documents you need to keep and get to quickly and save for a long time. Keep them in the same place. They are the information you need when you buy a house, start school, apply for a loan, etc. Birth Certificates, Insurance Policies, Titles, Tax Return Receipts, etc. Keep them in a fireproof container. Keep copies at a different location.


Clean out/replace your heating/air conditioning filters regularly.

Why? Clear filters are inexpensive and save you in utility costs.

Clean out your clothing dryer regularly and REALLY clean out the coil and pipes leading to the outside vent every six months—check every pipe.

Why? This can prevent home fires and increase the productivity and life of your dryer.

Run vinegar through your dishwasher and washing machine every 3 months.

Why? Hard water stains will clog the filters and it will increase the life and productivity of your machines and get rid of the hard water stains.

Keep the area around your water heater, heater, air conditioner (inside and outside) clean and free of clutter.

Why? This can prevent fires and accident (especially during an emergency).


If your house is clean

And everything has a place

And is in that place,

Then all you have to do is MAINTAIN,

Which is different than cleaning. . .