Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Spring Cleaning 101 (Or Pretend to Sell This House)

Thought I'd repost this since I started my spring cleaning method this week!

Here's how I spring clean:
1. I buy a notebook.
I make a heading for each room. Even closets.
I imagine that I'm a potential buyer of this house. You know...PRETEND!...and see the room through someone else's eyes.
I stand in each room and look around and see all the imperfections.

2. Then I write down what needs to be done if I were to put it up for sale. Every single thing.
Yes, this is scary.
But it works.

For example, in my master bath, the shower really needs to be recaulked because some of it is peeling off and it looks messy. One of the towel bars is coming out of the walls. (Hmmm, someone swinging perhaps?) And I think the closet in my bath needs to have some reorganization...bigger plastic bins for medicine and so forth are in order. It looks messy.

I write that all down. Numbered.

And proceed to the next room.
No matter how small OR big, I write down what needs to be done.
That's my Master List for the year.
I go through it once or twice a year, and sometimes it doesn't get all done, but that's OK.
Because when it's written down I know it will be, eventually.

I came up with this method when I had to show our past two houses in order to move. I learned this: It's super super annoying to have to do all those little things you procrastinated for years, for SOMEONE ELSE! My houses never looked so good as when they were ready to be put on the market. This really annoyed me.

But this way, I don't feel overwhelmed about all the little repairs and improvements that need to be done, because I know I'm working on them-they are accounted for and on a list.

3. When my list in my handy dandy notebook is done, I carry it with me to the first room, when I'm ready to get to the "cleaning" part. This way, I can write down what I need, the measurements, and so forth, and put all that on a separate sheet in the notebook. I can go to the store with my list, maybe 3 rooms out, and get everything I need, without making constant errand runs. If I need a new curtain, or organization bins, I have the measurements right there.

4. Then I scrub like I'm showing the place.

Sometimes, I know I will get just one room done a day. Or maybe even one a week. I set a realistic goal for myself so I won't burn out and I can still keep up with my daily happenings.

I relegate to a separate page, those BIG projects...painting a leaky ceiling, finding a new chair for the den, so I don't get too slowed down. This list can also serve as a "to-do list" through out the year if I can't get it all done right away.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

What We Are Reading Now

Image result for the sign of the beaver
I am reading this to Patrick again.  We both love this book.  
Set in the 1700's a little boy (13), is left to guard the family cabin, while his father ventures back to their hometown and brings back his mother.  THIRTEEN!  He befriends a Native American boy and his tribe, but counts the days until his family returns.  Imagine that?  That is exactly what I want Patrick to do-to imagine that!

I know Blaire is a modern day American Girl but this book is sort of painful and trite.  I guess my love for a historical tale is too strong to embrace all the LOL, texting, and drama.  Almost finished.  

This is up next, just a little bit at a time.

Do you have any good suggestions for a captivating book I could read to both Patrick (12) and Janey (7) at the same time before bed?

I am reading this and it's excellent.  A group of Mennonite women meet in secret to the discuss the rapes in the night that they are told to have happened by demons.  They find they are being drugged and attacked by a group of men in their community, and decide whether they should leave the community or go.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Encouragement For The Week

Children are not a distraction from the more important work.
They are the most important work.
C.S. Lewis

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Catch Up

This is Janey helping my wrist feel better.  And it HAS thankfully greatly improved.  I went and had it checked and the doctor said I was doing great but needed to be patient.  I was thinking a week or two and it is really 4 or 5 months, but he promised me I could type without pain and do everything I want soon.  He PROMISED.  :)

This piece just went to Texas in a snowstorm.  I think it's my favorite so far, but I might say that every time, so don't pay to close attention.  It's this beautiful silky smooth greenish-bluish color with light aging.  

My oldest Isaac started his own Kendama company and I seem to have a collection of these things used as a centerpiece on the coffee table.  I find them everywhere.  I'm so proud of him.  I helped him ship a bunch when I visited and it was exciting-he is selling out left and right and having fun doing it all.  What a hard worker and enterprising guy.  

Best buds or not...depends on the time of day.

Christmas show.  Thanks Aunt Karen for the necklace.

After work dinner.  (Thank you Aunt Julie.)

I asked him to blow up a few balloons for Patricks birthday.  Funny guy.

12!!!  I started blogging when he was ONE!

First blog post.

This guy is one special son and has the tenderest heart and works so hard and I just adore him.  He takes care of Janey always and worries a little too much about everything.  He loves the outdoors and fishing and hunting and trapping and his best friend, and all sports.

Class party.

Birthday guy.

Love these two-Isaac and his girlfriend who we all adore.  We were able to get away for a quick weekend trip to Chicago right before Christmas thanks to a very generous niece and her husband who have an apartment downtown.  We ate deep dish pizza twice.  And shopped and sometimes just hung out and had really good conversations about anything and everything.

Christmas prep.

Sibling gift exchange.  SO cute.  No one ever keeps it a secret even though they say they will.   They all try so hard to get the right gift and it is so awesome to see.

So nice having Matt home from college.  We were all excited for him to walk in that door and we all miss him when he's gone.  He's one funny and very very smart guy and I always love good conversations with him.  I'm so proud of who he is and what nice friends he has and what a great brother he is to his little siblings.     

Doesn't this pic scream "Christmas Eve"?

Andrew's driving everywhere and such a help to me as long as I buy him or make him food. (That's a 16 year old right?)
He's pretty much given up on taming his wild hair and has just embraced the awesomeness of it.  After all...what did we expect?  He was born with just about the same amount.

Isaac was visiting and we ran down together to see the sun set on the river.

Isn't it gorgeous?  Calms the soul.

Stopped into church alone one day and just had to take a pic of it's beauty.

Cookies.  Janey is always up for making cookies and everyone else is up to eating them.

A friend sent me this pic of her high schooler and my high schooler one night.  They still play with toys!  If you make them.  

Another project.  Still for sale if anyone is interested.  I don't have it up on Etsy-just didn't have the time.

Working on this one.

Love notes I adore.

One of her favorite gifts that I bought new at a second hand shop-a coloring book with pencils included.  She loves it.

My booth for the winter months.

I brought some porch furniture down to Isaac and Cecilia in DC.  Drove 7 hours by myself and I was proud!  They have the sweetest apartment in Adams Morgan district and we had so much fun riding bikes around to see the lovely homes and embassies and walking around and eating and hanging out and setting up this great porch they have.  They have made their apartment so lovely.

Ending on:
More cookies.

That's all my wrist with allow.  Don't give up on me, I'll be back.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Darned Wrist

Mary and Baby Jesus

Dearest Readers-
I miss writing on this blog badly and I miss painting-if I do either-painting or typing, my wrist hurts so badly that I want to chew my arm off.  And never have I felt the urge to do more of those two things, which figures.

So I'm saying early,

MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of you!  I hope you each have wonderful days with your families, and when all is said and done, I hope you find an afternoon to hide in the bedroom or the bath or anywhere, and eat some chocolate and read a really good book quietly.

Because I KNOW you deserve it. 

And besides, I bet you anything, Mary kicked all those men and smelly animals out of the stable eventually, and said "enough is enough, the star, the gifts, the mooing, I get it, but give me some space and some peace and quiet so I can just BE."

Here's to more time to be!

Love, Sarah

Friday, December 6, 2019

Our Favorite Toys By Age

For the little girl who loves babies:
These books are Janey's favorites:
Little Mommy
The New Baby
Baby Listens
This is a good little baby doll for very little girls (I bought this for Janey when she was two) as it is small:
Corolle Calin Baby Doll

Bigger girls:
I can't resist the packaging and quality...
...but I don't really think a little girl gives a hoot what "brand" a doll is, there are many affordable options like these for under $35.
Melissa & Doug 12" Jenna Doll
Berenguer 15" Baby Doll with Gift Set

Set of four flannel receiving blankets (only $8)  Janey uses these all the time for her babies.
A front pack carrier.
A stroller: Patrick and Janey both loved to push a little stroller for our walks.

For the little girl or boy who loves crafts:

Play dough recipe found here (can be packaged up cute in air tight containers.)
A large bucket of cookie cutters.
Real rolling pin.
Pink Roses / Flowers - Childs / Kids / Mini -  PVC / Oilcloth Apron - Wipe clean - Childs apron - waterproof apron

A child size apron (these oil cloth Etsy ones are so cute!)


For basic art supplies we use:
Pip-Squeek Markers
Colored Pencils
Drawing Books-  (These are great-Usborne Drawing Books.)
Paper Cutter: This is a favorite item for all kids-obviously be careful as the blade is super sharp but covered-I started letting my kids play with this around 3 when I knew they would be careful.
Construction Paper
Tracing Paper  (So good for learning to draw and hand/eye coordination.)
Clipboard for tracing paper. (Don't forget to show them how to tape down tracing paper so it doesn't slip, or if tracing from a book use clips.)
Washable paints.
Set of real brushes. (they need decent brushes!)

Activity books:
Usborne sticker books are very nice.
Melissa and Doug sticker books are big hits here, particularly this one and this one.

A homework box is a great idea! Some of the art supplies above, with a notebook and paper in a clear box.  Also these stencils are used here often, (these stencils are super neat for kids!) and envelopes and stickers from the dollar store for notes.

Crafts for older kids:
We loved Shrinky Dinks jewelry, or this kit. 
And this paper fashion set-Abbey LOVED this.
A super cute clay charms kit.
String art for boys or girls-someone is getting this, this year.
Friendship bracelet kit-a classic.
The boys LOVED their rubber band kits.

I think this is SO cute, I remember making these as a kid:
Pom pom pets.

For pretend play around the house:
This grocery cart.
Janey loves this cash register.
This kitchen. (warning: lots of pieces to put together!!! but so cute and sturdy when finished)
We have this food and kitchen set: Hape - Playfully Delicious - Gourmet Kitchen Starter Play Set
We love this cute tea set.
Cutting food and the sandwich maker are a favorite also.
I also found that the reusable kid's gift bags are great pretend grocery bags.

She also might need a purse and a wallet, the more pockets the better!

Janey sets up a "store" all over the family room and I sit at the register, she shops and I ring and put in the bag and repeat, repeat, repeat.

This Fisher Price dollhouse has been a HUGE HUGE hit for Janey this year.  This dollhouse and so many accessories were borrowed from some cousins who have outgrown them and she has played, and played, and played hours with this set.  

For the boy who loves football and soccer and every other sport:
This basketball hoop is a huge hit and takes your living room decor to the next level (a trade off for burned off boy energy, so worth it!  And ours is still going strong with teenage boys playing on it.)
These gloves.
This football.
Kicking tee.
This play white board.
These football guys (or soccer guys and baseball guys and hockey guys).

Favorite sports magazine and books:
Sports Illustrated for Kids. (my boys love the cards that come with every issue.)
Big Book of Who All-Stars.
Sports Illustrated What Are The Chances?
Childhood of Famous Americans Sports Guys books,

For the builder:
All Lego building sets.  My boys have loved anything Lego, especially Lego City building sets. If you start with a big basic box, I would suggest this Lego idea book and one or two base plates.

For little guys the Duplos are great.  We have a huge basic set, than a Thomas Train set, which is discontinued, but they do still have a "generic" train set and track.
Also for little guys, the Build A Road has been a favorite.
Kapla blocks are awesome for ALL ages. 

For the mom who loves outside toys:)
All time favorite is a basic scooter. (Ours has gone through so many boys and jumps and crashes and still is as good as new.)  This three wheel scooter is super fun and is used often.
These rip riders are huge hits and still are played with consistently-they have been crashed into, and once I ran one over that was left in the driveway-miraculously they survive.
For littler guys this plasma car is great.

For the reader:
A headlamp for reading at night.
I agonized over getting this Kindle for Andrew when he was in 5th grade but I love it-he uses it a lot (but still reads "real" books also.  It allowed him to keep up the pace of his ferocious book appetite without driving me mad with library visits-we've never paid for a book either-all rented downloads through the library.)
All of our favorite books are in the sidebar.
Have you read Where the Red Fern Grows to your children?  Or they can read it if old enough, it's our favorite.
Also there is a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid out they've been begging me to get.

For the teenage boy who offers up no gift suggestions ever:
A long board.
Jansport back packs have a lifetime guarantee (I know this because I sent one back and they reimbursed me!)
Gym bags.
These head phones work as well as the expensive ones, or so I've heard.
These maze puzzles appeal to all ages, and are irresistible for bored kids (and adults)...we have four of them!

For the teenage girl who loves makeup:
This eye shadow.
Or even more eyeshadow.
Brush set.
Remember caboodles?  If you were a teen in the 80's you do.  We couldn't find them but this art organizer works just as well. (Abbey bought this for college.)
This nail polish.

College kids:
Coffee cups (Anthro always has cute ones, but Janey and I found one just as cute at the Dollar Store. :) or travel cup.
A phone sticker that holds cards.
I love this Mary necklace-I have one and Abbey will also.
A super soft blanket (this one comes in tons of colors) for their dorm.
Nice warm socks (boy and girls).
A soft fluffy robe for girls.  (Aerie also has good ones but wait for a sale!)
Slippers for guys.  (Isaac wore these as shoes in college-also Land's End has great sales.)

Let me know if you have questions or if I missed an age group and you need help.

Tons more ideas all updated this year and for all ages here.
21 Years of Our Best-Loved, Most-Used Quality Toys!