Category Archives: Uncategorized

How I Fixed Our LAUNDRY Situation in 15 Minutes

If you were to ask me what area of my household chores stresses me out the most, I would say “LAUNDRY”.  I feel like our laundry takes over my life and my mood!  Like most people, we have a small laundry room, which also serves as a mudroom next to our garage.  Since I don’t have much room in there, laundry always ends up in our bedroom.  Clean clothes, dirty clothes—you name it—ends up either folded or unfolded on our bed.  By the end of the day, I usually never get around to putting all of it away, so where does it end up?  On the floor!  Yep, we are always so tired at night that the easiest thing to do is throw it on a dresser or make a pile on the floor.

This makes me CRAZY because the very next morning I feel like I have to rewash or dry everything due to unwanted wrinkles or not knowing what is really clean.  What a waste of time, energy, and laundry soap!!

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when we noticed some of our clothes smelling bad, even after being washed.  Since I didn’t have a good laundry system all of our clothes, musty towels and kitchen washcloths would sometimes end up in the same load.  What happens when you don’t do a good job sorting?  Your shirt smells like the onion you made for dinner last night :-/

I couldn’t take it any longer.  One morning, I decided I had to make a major change.  I headed down to the basement and grabbed a couple old card tables and plastic tubs.  I cleared out the corner of my office (which once consisted of a comfy chair and lamp) and I set the tables up.  Sure, I was sad to see my “reading chair” go (which never got used—but “looked” nice!) but I knew this area could be better utilized for something more practical.DSC_0577

I labeled each tub “whites/colors/smelly stuff—washcloths/other” and slid them under the table.  Within 15 minutes I had a functional laundry area and my life has been drastically changed every since!  I now have room to fold and make piles for each person in our family.  I also decided that I needed a place to hang clean clothes, so I took the hanging rod out of one of my kids’ closets and hung in above the card tables!  It only took me about 10 minutes to move from their closet to the new spot, and now it saves me tons of time from walking back and forth to bedrooms to hang clothes!DSC_0571

If I don’t get around to putting clothes away, everyone knows that their clean piles are now in my office.  My entire family has done great making sure they put their dirty laundry in the correct tub (but I even have an “other/don’t know pile” tub in case someone gets confused!) and I am proud to say that we haven’t dealt with any onion-smelly clothes since! YAY!  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!DSC_0572

One more thing I want to add…as you can see, my laundry room does not look “pretty”.  In the past I would have put off making a makeshift laundry room due to feeling like I needed custom cabinets and a reconstructed room in order to have a functional laundry space.  Because I did it this way, I was able to create a better laundry situation within 15 minutes AND it will give me time to try it out before I decide when and if I should ever upgrade to something more permanent.

Is there an area of your daily routine that makes you CrAzY (like my laundry situation)?  If so, I encourage you to think outside the box and find a way to make it less stressful.  Sure, I am sacrificing looking at dirty laundry baskets in my office, but now my master bedroom is ALWAYS clean and laundry free.  I am also saving time this way!  Just remember, even though you want your home to look like something from Pottery Barn, you have to ask yourself, “Would I rather have a magazine-looking house, or eliminate DAILY stresses by making an area more functional?””

Good “looks” don’t always mean a HaPpY HeArt!  Make a change TODAY!!

Lara

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How I am avoiding a stressful Christmas this year…

I know…it is only September…but I already have half of my Christmas shopping DONE!  The motive for starting so early?  I’m tired of stressing out during the holidays!

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The reason I’m starting so early has to do with money.  If I began now, I could spread the cost of gifts over the course of several months, instead of spending a large sum of cash in November and December.  Since we do a monthly budget, I didn’t want to go WAY over in December (and throw the budget out the window), all because of Christmas.  I figure if I SpReAd OuT my spending, I could easily pay $50-$150 in Christmas gifts and it wouldn’t make much of an impact each month.

The last couple of weeks I started searching for a few gifts.  To my surprise, I was able to purchase several of my items half-off, just by shopping on eBay and Amazon!  If I would have purchased those same items in a couple months from now, I’d be bidding against NuMeRouS (stressed) Christmas shoppers, which would make the bidding prices go uP Up UP!!!  I have already saved significant cash on gifts, which allowed me to start working on the items I was planning to purchase next month.  Can’t beat that!

The other obvious advantage is avoiding to shop (and panic) at the last minute.  I feel less rushed doing it this way and can also make sure I get what I really want (since items are IN STOCK in September!  ha!)

Christmas can be the last thing on your mind since we haven’t even hit Halloween, but if your past experiences left you in financial ruins and stress, it might be worth considering!

Happy Shopping!

Lara

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How I Got My Kids To Stop Sucking Their Thumbs

Hi friends!  I missed you all this summer, more than you’ll ever know.  I underestimated how much writing YOU is such good therapy for ME! :)

At the beginning of the summer I decided to work on accomplishing one GoAL with the kids by the end of the summer: to stop their thumb sucking!!  It has been a habit for both of our kiddos ever since birth.

We purchased some (pricey) thumb guards from tguard.com which was recommended by a friend.  This worked well with Leanne, our oldest daughter who is 6.  thumbguardGarrett, our 3 year-old, didn’t respond as well to them.  No matter what I did, he seemed to find a way to get the guards off.  I even bought the next size down, thinking they were too big, but he still found a way.  Truly, I think he got them off because he was willing to put himself through a considerable amount of pain…that’s a BOY for ya!  But my daughter didn’t really fight it, and even if she tried, she wasn’t able to get hers off.  Regardless, I would still highly recommend tguards to anyone wanting to break this habit.  I think they are one of the best options on the market.

The next thing we tried was our ChEApEst and most successful attempt so far.  I took their winter mittens and cut out all the fingers except the thumbs!  Both kids responded well to these because they were more comfortable to wear and much easier to put on.  The issue with mittens: they are SUPER easy to take off, which meant we had to UP the incentives to keep them on.  So…if they took the mittens off during the night, they didn’t get chocolate milk for breakfast and had to choke down regular milk (ha!).  Also, they got points toward a favorite toy which they finally got to cash in at the end of the summer.  The chocolate milk was a good incentive because it is the first thing they look forward to when they wake up, which we always reminded them when putting them to bed.  Sometimes they would come into the kitchen with a frown on their face and mitten-free hands, knowing regular milk would be on the menu:(

DSC_0556It took about a month for Garrett to break the habit of taking his mittens off at night.  And even though I feel they have broken their habit, they still request the mittens at night, just to make sure they don’t suck their thumbs without realizing it while sleeping.  I am so proud of them!

As I re-read this post, the process still sounds so much easier than it really was.  I don’t want to lie and make it sound like it was easy, because it wasn’t.  It was a FigHt, especially with our 3-year-old.  We exhausted all incentives and thumb guard options out there, and by the second half of the summer the mittens seemed to be what was most effective (even though it still took a good month before I felt like they really had it mastered).  It was a roller coaster of a summer, but worth all the hard work!  If your kiddos are dealing with the same struggle, I hope our experience and the mittens/tguards can be new options for you! Don’t lose hope! Hang in there momma!

Good Luck!

Lara

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Honoring Teachers, Nurses, and Mothers!

It just occurred to me that this week we are celebrating three of my favorite professions…NuRsEs, TeAcHeRs, and MotHeRs!  Having been a first grade teacher for the 8 years prior to having my children I know how teaching can sometimes seem like a thankless job.  There are MaNy parents who go out of their way to let you know that they appreciate the difference you are making in their child’s life.  BUT…for every parent that thanks you there are 5 that say nothing and 5 that do nothing but complain about what you are NoT doing for their child!  I saved every card and thank you that was ever given to me by a parent or student and now being a parent myself know how important it is to simply say…ThAnK YoU!

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Next up…Nurses!  I have to say up until my late 20′s I had little experience with nurses.  I never broke a bone or needed surgery and had no reason to visit a hospital.  I guess I saved up my need for nurses for the grueling 2+ year struggle with infertility and then my 2 time bought with postpartum depression.  There is No WaY I would have made it through both of these experiences without the support of the nurses who took care of me during these times.  When going through my 3 IVF cycles, it was truly the nurses, not the doctors who knew my story.  I saw the doctors every morning on a rotating basis, but it was my nurses Mary and Pat who were my true cheerleaders.  They cried with me through the disappointments and were on the phone with me when I found out I was expecting my miracle baby.  It takes a SpEcIaL kind of person to be nurse and share in the highs and lows that come with the fragile life we are given.  To all of you…ThAnK YoU for all you do!

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Finally…a huge thank you to all of the MoThErS, AuNts, and GrAnDmAs!  For years I dreamed of having a baby and being a stay-at-home mom.  I am not sure what exactly I thought I was getting into, but I can remember saying a few times in the very beginning, “Where are the cute baby bunnies and little yellow duckies?!!!”  Baby gifts and baby cards always have cute little animals on them with cheerful little expressions…there have been MaNy a day that our house looks like a bull ran through a china shop and I have yet to see those cute animal faces!  That being said, I believe that being a mother is the hardest JoB in the world.  Every single decision you make directly affects those you hold so dear.  I wish all of you a VeRy HaPpY MoThErS DaY!

!BZQn3U!!2k~$(KGrHgoOKigEjlLm,etkBKl)tRL8Lw~~_12

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Don’t Post Until You Check Snopes!

It seems like I am coming across more and more inaccurate information circling around Facebook.  My news feed has been full of stories and pictures of sick kids with captions like, “If this picture gets 1,000 “likes” so and so will pay for their surgery,” etc.  There has been a Photoshop  image of Bill Gates going around saying something like if you “share” this picture he might give you $5,000.  The other day I saw one with a picture of the gold dollar bill with a false statement about the government printing them with the “In God We Trust” omitted from the coin.

If something comes across your news feed that you are tempted to re-post or share, check its validity out on www.snopes.com.  You can type in a key word and information comes up about whether it is true or false.  It also gives you an explanation for why it is true or false.

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Click to see the Snopes responses to the Bill Gates Facebook scam and the gold dollar coin information that is circulating.

Bill Gates – Facebook Giveaway

Gold Dollar Coins Omitting “In God We Trust”

The bottom line is…YOU CAN’T TRUST EVERYTHING YOU READ…just because someone posts something, doesn’t mean it is TRUE!

If you are questioning something you read, check it out on Snopes Rumor Has It and find out the truth.

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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50 Life Lessons to Live By

My sister shared this list written by Regina Brett on facebook and I was amazed at how many of the lessons we have already written about on The Suede Sofa, but also how many we have yet to learn!  I’ve already gone out and purchased the book that corresponds with this list titled, God Never Blinks, 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours.  I can’t wait to get started!

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You can find lots of great information on her website…

www.reginabrett.com

Regina Brett’s 45 life lessons and 5 to grow on

by Regina Brett, The Plain Dealer

May 28, 2006

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written. My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here’s an update:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Doll Shoe Fix

How many times am I going to have to put these doll shoes back on?!!!  If that is a question you ask yourself daily, here is a quick fix to keep all of those Barbie, Princess, and Fairy shoes on the dolls instead of all over your house!

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I always keep a tube of E-6000 Industrial Strength Adhesive  (purchased at my local craft store) around the house for quick repairs on everything and anything that my kids “accidentally” break.  I decided to try it on the doll shoes and…not as shoe has been lost since I secured them to their feet!

Make sure you let the glue dry for a few days before you let your kids play with them again, and I wouldn’t suggest trying this if you have kids who put toys in their mouth.  My kids are 5 and 3 and have never put strange things in their mouth so I figured I was good to go with this one!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Set Up to Fail

This week my son and I started planting our seeds indoors so that when the weather warms up they will be strong enough to be transplanted outside.  Once we had picked out our seeds we planted them in self-watering containers that we learned how to make on Pinterest.  With the internet and Pinterest available for gardening tips and ideas it is easy to get started even if you have never grown a single thing before.  For some reason as my son and I were working on our self watering containers, I had a flashback to my first year of teaching and a window box planter I painted with my class and attempted to grow flowers in.  That was almost 15 years ago and I didn’t have “how to” information right at my fingertips.  I didn’t even have a computer with the internet in my classroom at that time.  I bought dirt, about 5 different kinds of seeds, and we started planting.  I planted all of the seeds together in the windowbox one on top of the other and to my naivety thought they were going to grow into a beautiful garden for my class to enjoy.  I didn’t check plant size, seed spacing, and I certainly didn’t know anything about starting seeds in starter pots and then transplanting them once they had matured.

One afternoon after the kids had been dismissed for the day I was watering the windowbox and a veteran teacher (and avid gardener) came in to see what I was doing.  I showed her all of the seed packets and told her that I was planting a windowbox garden with the kids.  I remember like it was yesterday her smile and words, “I’m sure it will be beautiful.”  That was all she said and walked out of my classroom.  Looking back, I realize she knew my garden was going to be a disaster and didn’t say anything to me about how to ReAlLy grow a garden.  She had a wealth of knowledge and years of experience and made a conscious decision to leave me in the dark and LeT Me FaiL.  It wouldn’t bother me so much if it was just me who was going to be disappointed, but I had 18 first graders who though they were growing a beautiful garden.  I will never know why she didn’t offer to help, or why she even bothered coming into my classroom to see what I was doing in the first place.  What I DO know is this…I will NEVER knowingly set someone up to fail.

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This is a lesson I will pass on to my children in hopes that the little voice inside their head will say, “Do the right thing” when faced with an opportunity to help a friend or even a stranger.  Life is hard enough when you know what you’re doing…having a little help when trying something new can only raise your chances at success.

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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I Lost My Kids in Disney World

It has taken me months to start this post because of  sheer embarrassment, but if my story can provide insight to someone else…then it is worth sharing.  Last summer we went to Disney World for a family vacation.  My sister had planned the trip from wake-ups to bedtimes and we had the time of our lives.  That would be minus the 15 minutes of terror when I realized I had lost my two kids in the park.

My husband had taken the kids on the train-ride around Magic Kingdom and I was shopping on Main Street.  We were planning to meet at the train stop at the front of the park and continue our day.  When the three of them got to the train stop my husband realized he had left our empty stroller at one of the other train stops and was staying on the train to go back to get it.  The kids came off the train and started walking down the ramp that they thought was going to bring them to me.  As I watched them exit the train I realized that the train exit ramp and the platform I was standing on did not meet in the same location.  Before I could yell to them they were gone.  I ran down a set of stairs hoping it would end where the kids came off the ramp, but the ramp was nowhere in sight and neither were Nicholas and Abby.  I ran around like a maniac trying to find them, but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.  I found a young “cast member” (that is what they call the people who work in Disney) and told him I lost my kids.  He didn’t really seem to jump with any urgency and I immediately knew I needed to find someone else to help me.  The next cast member that I found was a woman who immediately sprung into action.  She got on a radio and asked me what the kids looked like.  She assured me that the kids would be found and that they would not get out of the park.  Like a scene out of a movie I watched all of the cast members leap into action…as I kept saying “My son is 5 and my daughter is 3, they are blonde as blonde can be, she is wearing a red and white polka dot dress and he is wearing and black and red Mickey Mouse shirt.”  My heart raced as I cried picturing how scared my babies must have been.  The woman kept me calm by telling me that she lost her own son in the park a little over a week ago and that an undercover cast  member had found him.  I wish I had gotten her name…she knew how it felt to be a mom who was missing her greatest blessing and hugged me as we watched the scene unfold and wait for what seemed like an eternity.  After about 15 minutes I heard a voice say, “We’ve got them.”  I looked at the top of the train platform and ran to the steps to see my scared little ones walking toward me.  They were holding hands and Nicholas (my mamma’s boy) was crying.  I hugged them and never wanted to let go.

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I am beyond grateful to the cast members who went above and beyond to find my kids and keep me calm.  I wish I could have thanked them all, but the moment was so overwhelming that by the time I got it together everything had gone back to normal in The Magic Kingdom and they were all scattered about doing their jobs.

When I look back on this I really can’t BlAmE this on anyone.  There was no way any of us could have known that the ramp and stairs didn’t meet up.  It wasn’t like my kids had wondered off and weren’t paying attention…they thought they were walking and meeting me after getting off the train.  What I did learn is that there are things I could have done PriOr to this incident that could have made finding them a little easier.

Before our trip we had purchased tattoos for the kids arms that said, “If lost call XXX-XXX-XXXX.”  Did I have the tattoos on the kids arms that day?  NO!  What good were they doing in our hotel room?!!!  My husband and I also realized we had never had a discussion with the kids telling them what to do if they got lost.  We should have pointed out what cast members look like and told them to find one if they were lost.  Someone else gave me a great suggestion to take a picture of my kids each morning on my phone so that if they are lost you can see exactly what they are wearing in case you forget and you can show the picture to anyone who is helping to find them.  I also found a great idea on Pinterest where you make a bracelet with your phone number on it so that if they are lost someone can call you.  Bottom line…if you ever get into the situation that I was in act fast and find someone who you feel can help you.

I hope you never find yourself in this predicament, but just in case here are some ideas to help others get your kids back to you safely.

Take a Picture of Your

Kids Each Morning

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Cell Phone Bracelet

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If Lost Tattoo

Website for Safety Tattoo

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~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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St. Patrick’s Day Handprint Art

I’m at it again!  Here are some pictures of the art that I created using my kid’s handprints and some finger-painting!

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To make this shamrock I used a small canvas that I bought on sale at my local craft store. I let me son paint the background orange and then I used a different green color for each of my kid’s handprints. To add the lettering I used rubber stamps and paint! This one is my favorite!

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I had my son finger-paint the rainbow and color the pot of gold with crayon.  Once the rainbow was dry he glued on his own “gold” coins that I purchased at my local dollar store!

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My son wrote his name with a white crayon and I went over it with gold glitter glue!

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You can do this with the shamrock and leprechaun like I did or do them separate. I had my daughter do the shamrock and son do the leprechaun so they each got to do their own thing. My son used his fingertips to do the hair and pink cheeks. I attached a cute saying and sent these to our family for St. Patrick’s Day!

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Click the links below to see handprint ideas for

Christmas,Valentine’s Day, and Patriotic Holidays!

Christmas Handprint Memories

Valentine’s Day Handprint Crafts

Handprint American Flag

Have fun MaKinG MeMoRiEs!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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