Apr 212010
 

Last week was standardized testing in our home. The next day I accidentally discovered something that has been very helpful to my younger son (8 years old) who has difficulty concentrating on his assignments.

I had left the stopwatch sitting on the table, and my son picked it up while he was doing his math. He said “Go!’ pressed the start button and proceeded to do the 2 math problems that were in the first box. (He uses Math Mammoth and there are lots of boxes around groups of problems.) When he finished, he said “Stop!” and stopped the time. He sat there for a second, said “Go!” and repeated the process.

I stood there with my mouth hanging open. He was able to complete his math in record time and he only missed 1!

Letting him use the stopwatch definitely Works for Me!

 

Dec 092009
 

A hayride with hot cocoa.

Singing Christmas carols.

Finding the PERFECT tree.

Together.

As one big happy family.

Sounds beautiful doesn’t it? Wait, I should make it a sleigh ride through the snow and why not chop our own tree down?

Let’s face it. This is not reality for most people. Our reality for getting a tree was loading up the kids in the car, driving down to the tree lot and walking through the trees, trying to find one without too many holes and not losing a kid in the process. Plus it’s usually cold. And dark. It’s really hard to tell what a tree looks like. I always have a hard time making up my mind. Often there are tensions between my husband and me while we’re trying to decide. It’s certainly not the thing that holiday memories are made of. (Or not good ones anyway.)

A few years ago, when my 3 year old was just about 6 weeks old, my husband had a BRILLIANT idea. He decided to stop on his way home from work and buy a tree. All..by..himself. At first I was a little nervous. But then really, how hard is it to pick out a tree? So, I agreed. And he picked out the nicest tree we’d ever had. So I let him do it the next year. And the next. It’s our new family tradition. Really, the kids are no less excited seeing Daddy drive home with a tree than if they got it pick it out. It definitely Works for Me!

Visit We are THAT Family to read more Works for Me Wednesday tips.

 

Dec 022009
 

I like salad, but I really hate to make them. All the chopping and slicing tends to keep me from taking the time. Plus there’s the keeping a bunch of different vegetables around to use in the salad without them spoiling. I’m sad to say, I have thrown away way too many vegetables. Last year I got the recipe for my sister-in-laws famous spinach salad. I always thought it must be too hard for me to make, but it’s really very simple. I have served this for a real progressive dinner, taken it to church dinners, and fed it to my family ever since I got the recipe and it gets rave reviews every time!

Spinach

Baby spinach
Feta cheese
Slivered almonds
Salt
Pepper
Oregano
Garlic powder
Balsamic vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

You can also add onion slices, pepper slices, and black olives but I’ve always left them out.

To make the salad I use pre-washed, organic baby spinach which is available at Sam’s for a MUCH better price than any grocery store. Add desired amount of spinach to large bowl. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder (a little goes a long way so unless you really like garlic go light or leave it out entirely), and crushed oregano. Add crumbled feta cheese. (I use about 3/4 cup for my family of 4 salad eaters.) Mix together balsamic vinegar and EVOO at a ratio of about 1 to 2. Pour onto salad and mix well. Serve immediately after dressing.

I wish I had thought to take a picture when I made this on Monday. It really looks good too! This salad is the only salad that Works for Me!

To find more salad and side dishes, or to join in the bloggy progressive dinner, visit The Happy Housewife.
Visit We are THAT Family for more Works for Me Wednesday tips (This week is a theme week on gift tips, which I obviously didn’t follow!)

Oct 212009
 

I should mention that I really don’t like to dust. It’s one of the chores that I try to assign to my kids. My bedroom furniture is particularly difficult because it has grooves that are hard to get to. Here’s a picture of the cabinet on the front of the chest after not dusting it for months, weeks, a few days. I intentionally didn’t dust for the experimental purposes. (I’m not a very good liar.)


(I really can’t believe what I will take pictures of!)

This is after dusting it with a dust cloth.


And here is the final product after using the canned air.

There is still some dust in the corner, but overall a great improvement. And it’s quick and easy too. I’m certainly not going crazy dusting with the canned air every day, but when I actually do dust, I’ve finally found a way that Works for Me!

 

Oct 072009
 

This week is cleaning theme week at Works for Me Wednesday. I have already made a few Works for Me Wednesday posts with some of my cleaning tips. Here’s our Chore Chart, and just last week I posted on Dividing Cleaning Tasks. You may think that I like to clean. But I really don’t. I just like the end results. There are some chores that I am particularly likely to procrastinate. My tip today is for those little chores that you tend to put off because “you don’t have enough time right now.” (I’m not talking about cleaning out the garage!)

Time yourself doing the chore.

Really. See how long it takes. I was amazed one time when I was heating something in the microwave while I was unloading the dishwasher. I finished the entire dishwasher while I was waiting! What about folding a load of laundry? It can be done in 5 minutes!

A way to take this just a step further is to have a race doing a chore. I started having a race with my daughter while putting sheets on my bed. My job is to put all the sheets on while she is putting all 4 pillow cases on. We actually have fun and it is a way to get the chore down even faster! You can even race against the clock if you can’t convince anyone to race with you.

On your mark…Get set…Clean!

Sep 302009
 

When I was a kid, my mother cleaned the whole house once a week. (Not that she didn’t clean up anything in between) I mean all the dusting, vacuuming, bathroom cleaning, floor mopping, EVERYTHING on ONE day. As I got older I was assigned a lot of it. It takes a lot away from a Saturday morning when you have to clean the whole house. Not to mention what happens to the house if you miss your cleaning day.

Well, with homeschooling, that definitely does NOT work for me. I’ve divided up my housecleaning into manageable chores each day. I also have them scheduled a little more often than is absolutely necessary because I’d rather clean a not-so-dirty toilet twice than a nasty toilet once. Overall I think it’s less work too.

So I don’t clean my bathrooms on the same day as I vacuum. (And if I didn’t have kids assigned to clean some of the bathrooms, I wouldn’t even clean them all on the same day.) I don’t mop the kitchen the same day I change sheets. What do I gain from this?

 Cleaning takes smaller chunks of time.

 +

 A  house that is never totally dirty.

(It’s never completely clean either, but I can live with that. How long would it stay completely clean anyway? 5 minutes?) It’s definitely working for me.

Sep 232009
 

This week for Works for Me Wednesday I have another one of those tips that seem so obvious and yet took me a while to think of. We all like to keep various papers and notes handy so that we know where they are. A lot of people have chosen to hang everything on their refrigerator. I do have some things on my refrigerator (I actually need to do a little cleanup of the outside of my fridge currently.), BUT too many papers make the whole room look messy.

I have found that an excellent place to hide some of those papers you need (or maybe just want) is on the INSIDE of the kitchen cabinet doors. It’s an excellent place to post that phone list, sports schedule, grocery list, or whatever else you tend to put on the refrigerator. I’ve even got newspaper clippings of some of my favorite comics hanging in one of my cabinets. I can reread them and get a good chuckle while I’m unloading the dishwasher.

Of course you can’t use magnets on the inside of your cabinets. However, you could fix that by painting with magnetic paint. You could also paint the inside of a cabinet door with chalkboard paint! I haven’t actually tried either of these ideas, so I’m just sticking with tape for now.

Sep 022009
 

It’s Organizing Week on Works for Me Wednesday and I really love to organize! For my contribution, I am sharing how I organize our chores. This is our weekly chore chart for me and the kids. I implemented this format of chore assignments a couple of years ago. It has really worked well for us. I keep a copy hung on the side of the refrigerator so everyone can easily see what their chores are that afternoon.

This school-year, I switched the chores around a little, trying to make a person responsible for cleaning the whole room. At first it didn’t go over that well, but I think the kids are finally getting used to the different chores.


KPH is me, DWH, is 11 year old son, AKH is 9 year old daughter, WJH is 7 year old son, and EGH is almost 3 year old daughter.I also should mention that we have 3-1/2 bathrooms with notations of MBR for Master bath, K Bath for kids’ bath, H bath for Half-bath, and PR bath for Playroom bath (in the basement).

Hope this helps someone plan their own chores. Chore charts definitely Work for Me!

 

Aug 112009
 


For the last year I have been planning my menus a month at a time. For me this has several advantages over weekly meal planning.

  1. I really don’t like menu planning, so I had a tendency to skip a week without planning. With monthly planning I don’t have to plan as often.
  2. It doesn’t take 4 times as long to plan for the month as it does for a week, so it saves time.
  3. I take one major monthly grocery shopping trip per month to buy everything needed for the menus (with the exception of fresh vegetables and fruits.)
  4. Weekly shopping is reduced to milk, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, along with sale items.
  5. Monthly planning has reduced my last minute eating out or picking up from the drive through stops to almost never!

 

Monthly menu planning works for me!

Jul 292009
 


We just got back from a week at the beach. In addition to our clothes, we had to take bed linens and towels for our stay. Our family of six traveled in a Chrysler Town and Country mini van and we didn’t have to use the roof carrier!

My favorite vacation packing tip—-

LAUNDRY BASKETS

I packed all of our clothes and linens into 4 laundry baskets. (I even had extra shoes, diapers, sunscreen, and some of our food in there too. We use the large rectangular ones. They will fit stacked 2 high.


Here’s a picture of the van after one laundry basket and some other stuff (like a Pack n Play) had already been removed. It’s not the best picture, but I, believe it or not, wasn’t thinking about getting a picture for the blog!
Packing in laundry baskets definitely “Works for me” and I hope someone else finds it a useful idea.