I know that a lot of people have been using this time to be super productive and reorganize their lives and do all these things that they don't normally get to do. But let's face it, if you have little kids at home, you're just staying afloat. For me, not accomplishing tasks I had set out to accomplish has been one of the harder things to deal with. I've learned to manage expectations, but I still try to get a little bit of productivity in.
One of the things that had been driving me crazy for a couple of weeks was the kids' toy corner. We live in an older house - when we bought it, it was a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath, and we did an addition and remodel that made it a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath. Before Chloe was born, Caleb had his room and a playroom, but once Chloe came along, we had to figure out a way to manage the toys somewhere. So now, the kids each have their own room, and their rooms have some of their specific toys in them, but for more neutral toys and for items I don't want them to necessarily be handling on their own (Play-Doh anyone?), I keep them in this small alcove off the living room. It's the end of a hallway that leads to our bedroom, and it helps because it keeps the toys off the floor, accessible for the kids, and uses an otherwise dead space. We created this using two units from IKEA - this one with 8 cubes and this one with four. The bins are also from IKEA, and we chose these specific ones because they looked much nicer than the canvas bins, especially for a common are of the house.
Every few months, I go through the toys, remove toys that are broken, that they no longer play with or have outgrown, and rotate things so that they play with other toys. A couple of weeks ago, I did this, but couldn't get all the shelves to look neat and organized. So I reached out to my friend Jessica at Thoughtfully Organized and she gave me a couple of tips.
The larger wicker bins are great for keeping things out of sight, but they're not always great for keeping things organized, especially when they are overstuffed. Some of the things we have in the bins include larger toys, Mr. Potato Head and all his pieces, figurines, and soft toys. For books and some crafting supplies that are taller, we used these bins from The Container Store. I put Caleb's school related items in one, and then all the coloring books and paper in the other. On a higher shelf, I put craft items and sensory play items.
Jessica also recommended these men's shoe boxes from the container store because they can be stacked and are great for keeping things you want to see. In those, I stored some of Chloe's mini books, the kids' boogie boards, Magnatiles, coloring supplies, and paints and play doh.
The puzzle rack is from Melissa & Doug and I ordered it on Amazon.
Overall, I'm thrilled with how it looks. I can't imagine that the kids will keep it looking quite so nice, but we have a rule where they aren't supposed to take out more than one thing at a time. They don't always comply, but for the most part, they do an okay job.
Hope you're keeping your sanity, friends. I'm keeping mine one task at a time.
*This post is sponsored by SUPERPRETZEL. All opinions are my own.
Whenever I take on a collaboration, I always ask myself, how well does this fit in with my lifestyle? Is it something I can reasonably use or do on a regular basis? If the answer is yes, then I can consider the opportunity. When SUPER PRETZEL first reached out to me, I knew that this fit the bill for our lives perfectly. They are easy to use and are ready in the snap of your fingers. So when they asked me to take part in their campaign for National Soft Pretzel Month and National Pretzel Day this Sunday, I knew it was a no brainer to participate. They sent me several samples of their new products, cheese-filled pretzel bites, and it was everything we love - yummy, quick, and EASY. This past weekend, we were hanging out in the pool and I wanted to bring out a snack that would be filling and that would be a crowd pleaser, so I decided on the SUPERPRETZEL Pub Cheese Bites. I heated them in the toaster oven in 10 minutes (you can also use the microwave), prepared a dip to go with them, and we were ready to go.
I was looking for something that would pair well with the pub cheese bites, and this maple mustard dip seemed like a fun alternative to honey mustard. Plus, we had just a tiny bit of maple syrup left and I though it was perfect for this. It was definitely a crowd pleaser and I would definitely make this again for a quick and easy afternoon snack.
Pub Cheese SUPERPRETZEL Bites with Maple Mustard Dip
2 tbsp Maple Syrup
2 tbsp Yellow Mustard
2 tbsp Whole Grain or Dijon Mustard
SUPERPRETZEL Pub Cheese Bites (prepare according to package instructions)
While the bites are in the oven, you can prepare the mustard dip.
Mix the maple syrup and both mustards in a bowl until well combined.
Serve with the pretzel bites and enjoy!
You can check out where to buy SUPER PRETZEL here.
For so many of us, Lent is a time of prayer, sacrifice, and almsgiving. Going into this Lent, none of us ever imagined that we would be sacrificing so much, especially when it comes to our faith and the practice of it. Last Sunday, as we virtually took part in mass, I was overcome with emotion. All the times I huffed and puffed about going to mass - it was all I wanted to be able to do last Sunday. How often have we taken for granted being able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist? How often have we taken for granted the sign of peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ? How often have we taken for granted the community, the body of Christ that we make up?
The next week will prove to be a Holy Week like none other we have ever imagined, and I for one plan on working hard to make sure my family remembers it is Holy Week. Like never before, we have the time for Christ. Let's use it and find a way to reconnect ourselves to the Church.And when we are all able to return to mass, let us not take that privilege for granted.
Today is Palm Sunday, and Archbishop Wenski of the Archdiocese of Miami has asked us to place palm fronds on our doors in order to help us be connected as we enter into the Holiest of Weeks. He said, "We may be physically isolated, but not separated. We are united as the body of Christ." So we hung a palm frond on our door this morning.
If you would like to watch mass live-streamed, there are SO MANY parishes doing so. You can find a list here of which churches, what times, etc. (I may be partial, but this is my brother.)
But I also would like to extend Holy Week into all our activities this week, and continue to teach Caleb about our faith in the weeks that he is home with us. I've gathered up a few resources - many of which were sent to me by some of you, and I'm putting them all together below. Let me know if you use any of them and how you like them! As always, if you find something you think I could add to this, please let me know!
I hope that this helps some of you to continue to observe Holy Week in the days to come.
We aren't huge schedule people, but I have found that if we have a loose schedule to follow during these days, we all function a little bit better. I know that when the kids are doing free play or quiet time I can get a little work done, and during the other times I can attend to them much more.
Some days we will follow this, and other days we won't. My goal is to get him to complete all his school work in the morning so the afternoon can be filled with more "fun" things. But since he can't work for two or even one hour in a row, I'm breaking up the work for him so it resembles his school schedule a little more. The afternoon hours are typically much more blended together and it's more of a big block of time, but since he will be having class Zoom calls in the afternoon, I still wanted to schedule the hours a little bit.
Chloe follows probably an eighth of this schedule, but they do play together during his breaks and when we go outside. They have their snacks and meals together. I'm really letting them just enjoy one another and play together as much as possible.
At the end of the day, we are all trying our best. If following a schedule like this stresses you out, don't do it. For us, Caleb is up super early every morning, and he tends to do much better if he can anticipate what is coming, especially when it comes to completing his work.
I hope this helps you maintain some semblance of order in your house, too!
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