Friday, March 18, 2011

A Song...

So how was your St. Patrick's Day?  I forgot, completely!  None of us were wearing green, not even a hint of it.  We didn't eat anything green either.  We dined on pizza and cookies from Papa Murphy's!  Oh well.  That's life when you stay home all day with two children ages three and one.

Today I stumbled upon a wonderful song called "I Belong".  It's written by Kathryn Scott of Northern Ireland.  (Hurrah for all things Irish, even if it's a day late.)  In all seriousness, this song is so beautiful and really blessed me.  It's a wonderful reminder that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  I thought I'd share it with all my Mom Thoughts readers in hopes that you too will be uplifted by this peaceful song. I am so grateful that God has gifted some people with the ability to write and sing such lovely music.  When I'm worn out after a long day of trying to be "super mom", I need something like this to restore my soul!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Toy Box Trial

My latest attempt to curb the clutter in our house and encourage our kids
to be more creative in their choice of toys.  So far, it seems to be working.
Part of my daily "mom stress" is all the clutter in my house.  My daughter loves to spread toys everywhere, and my son gets stuff out and then leaves it in piles here and there.  At the end of a long day, the living areas in our house look like a tornado has touched down here.  I find that I don't function very effectively in the midst of the mess.  There are a lot of other piles of stuff- in the kitchen especially- that are made by grown ups that live here too.  Those piles I haven't figured out how to manage yet.  But I did devise a system for the kids' toys.

I created a toy box for each day of the week.  While the kids slept I took out all their toys and put them into piles: puzzles, books, cars & trucks, things that make noise, stuffed animals, sorting & stacking toys, etc...  I got seven large clear plastic bins with lids and labeled them, one for each day of the week.  Then I sorted all the toys, trying to make sure that each box had something from every pile.  I was a bit nervous that the kids would get bored and need more toys.  So I kept some things out and put them up in a high cupboard to use as boredom busters.  Other items were too big to box up, so they are available to play with anytime.  Plus I kept some toys for them to have in their rooms and the computer room.  K has puzzles with small pieces and trucks with breakable parts in his room where his sister can't get to them.  He likes having stuff that's all his.  M has a basket of toys in her room that keeps her busy while I'm tidying her room or changing her brother's diaper.  (Yes, insert eye roll, he's still wearing diapers.  But right now I don't have the energy to potty train!)  I've also created a bin with educational toys and items that K can only play with while he's supervised by an adult ie: markers, white erase board, work books, and so on.

I've implemented this new toy box system for almost two weeks.  So far, it's going really well!  K does sometimes ask for a toy that's in a different box.  But, he's soon engrossed in something else and hasn't really been that upset by the change.  M is easily bored, so having something fresh each day has been super helpful in keeping her content for a while.   I think my son is enjoying the excitement of discovering what's in each day's box.  The last three mornings he went downstairs first thing instead of coming to greet me.  He wanted to see what was available to play with, and probably to have a chance to play with the toys sans sharing.  Some of the boxes are less engaging than others, so I'm figuring out what to switch around, and I've also purchased a few more items to fill out the boxes too.  I'm also pulling out stories on cd to add to the day's activities.  Seems like this experiment is forcing me to be more creative too.

For me, the experiment has also been a stress reducer.  There's definitely less clutter in our house- hallelujah!  At the end of the day, our family room is less like a preschool play area and more like a place to relax.  We can quickly box up the toys, and then tuck the box away in the guest room.  I haven't figured out what to do with the boxes when guests arrive, but we'll tackle that question next week when my parents get here!  Also, the toys with lots of parts don't annoy me anymore.  All the parts go back into the box instead of being spread all over the house, which used to render the toy almost useless since all the parts were missing.  I'm loving it!  The organization of this project has given me energy to tackle other things, like the kitchen clutter.

So moms, give the toy box experiment a try.  You may just have a couple of boxes that rotate out once a week rather than one box for every day.  Whatever works for you...give it a whirl and let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Hair Cut

Last week my son drove his toy car through the back of my hair (unmaliciously) and got the tires tangled up- ouch!  Simultaneously, my daughter stuck her fingers in the front of my hair and gave a good tug to get her hand out of a knot.  At that moment, I decided it was time to cut my hair.  Really, I'd been thinking about it for a long time, so the dual attack by my children was the last straw I guess.  If I had known what a wonderful sense of freedom I'd experience from the loss of ten inches of my long hair, I'd have done it sooner.  Truly, I'm so delighted with my new style and how it doesn't get in the way while I take care of my kiddos.  Plus, it's quicker and easier to maintain.

I've realized that change can be very good.  My hair is just one way I've been implementing changes at home to make life easier and our daily "schedule" flow smoother.   (I still have a lot to learn and more tweaking of our routine to do.  But, I'll share what I've found that is working for us right now.)  I'm excited to pass on an organization tip with you soon concerning toys and reducing clutter.  For now, here are some photos of my hair before and after...

Just another bad hair day.  I rarely had time to style it.

My son wanted to be in the pictures :)

90 minutes later... I feel fantastic and realized my old style
was just weighing me down.

I cut off at least 10 inches with plans to donate
my hair to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths campaign.
They make wigs for women who've lost
their hair from cancer treatments.  

K & Mommy making dinner the following evening.  I am so happy
with my hair cut!