8 Ways to Clean Your House Quickly


Tips for quick cleaning
Don’t you just hate it when you have a huge mess your the home? You live there after all. And you have people come to visit sometimes, right? And then you feel overwhelmed because it’s just too much keeping up with all that cleaning and tidying and stuff. Not because you are lazy. But because there a a gazillion other things you have to do and the list never ends…and the laundry, cleaning, cooking and organizing never ends either!

The good new is there are always shortcuts; things you can do to lessen the load when it comes time to actually cleaning the house. I try to set aside some time each week, usually at the weekend when I’m not working, to focus on the house cleaning, but I am working on making that time much less of a drag, and more of a moment just to finish off things.

Here are some ways to stay on top of all that cleaning a little more. I have been trying them out for a while and I have to say, I’m a lot less crazy by the weekend. I have less to do before I deep clean and that makes it all go by so much faster. Happy Mom!
cleaning time

1. Store dirty dished in the dishwasher, not in the sink so you can wipe down the sink in less than a minute

2. When you shower, wipe down the tiles and squeegee the shower doors

3. Every time you go upstairs, take something with you

4. Make the bed as soon as you get up

5. Hang up your clothes when you take them off or devote 1 minute every morning doing that before dressing

6. Brush teeth, wash face, moisturize then wipe down sink, and toilet….it becomes part of your morning/evening routine!

7. Have cleaning supplies handy on every level of your home. Grab a duster and dust an area as you walk though it. No need for heavy duty cleaning each day, just a light dust will keep things at bay

8. Train the kiddies….okay, this one is always a work in progress but if everyone helps for 5 minutes a day, things will improve. I ask my boys to pick everything up and put it away before bed. No excuses…or no games at the weekend!
we can do it

What do you do to stay on top of the cleaning?

Breakfast Sandwiches – Mediterranean Style!


Simple meze of feta cheese and olives: charact...

 

Today is the last day of summer vacation for the boys.  We are about to head off on a family day out….not sure where..we like to just go and see where we end up ūüôā    To set us up for the adventure,  I made a delicious breakfast for the family.

My boys are beginning to appreciate stacking and building food, burger-style.  Peanut tends to add more variety than does Button, but adapting the presentation of the food, a la family style, helps encourage them to experiment.  Scouring the fridge for ingredients my boys might eat, I pulled together the following hearty and protein-packed breakfast. Continue reading

Breakfast Sandwiches – Mediterranean Style!


I am off work this week! ¬†The joys of teaching come with a perk. ¬†I admit I am very lucky to have school vacations off. ¬†I finally get to do all the things I wish I could do while I’m busy working. ¬†Today I got to make a delicious breakfast for the boys and myself (Hubby is recuperating after neck surgery so is on a more liquid diet – BellyFULL pops to the rescue). Continue reading

Protein Breakfast


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! I’m a firm believer, having seen the effects having no breakfast has on my students. ¬†But I also see ¬†the effects of different types of breakfasts too. ¬†Not being an expert on the subject, I was delighted to find this post which helped me understand more about how powerful food is in terms of fueling our bodies the right way.

The Following is taken from ADDitude, an online magazine/blog for people with ADD and ADHD

Research suggests that a good breakfast helps a child do better in school. A 1998 study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, showed that children who ate breakfast regularly had higher reading and math scores, lower levels ofdepression, anxiety, and hyperactivity, better school attendance, improved attention spans, and fewer behavior problems.

For children with ADHD, the menu matters, too. In a 1983 study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, researchers at George Washington University tested three breakfast types (high-carbohydrate, high-protein, and no breakfast at all) on 39 children with ADHD and 44 kids without the condition.

For the hyperactive children, performance on several tests, including a test for attention, was significantly worse with the high-carbohydrate breakfast, as compared with the scores of the children who ate the high-protein breakfast.

Maryanne discussed Steve’s breakfast problems with her doctor, and they developed some strategies. He suggested that Maryanne and Steve get up 15 minutes earlier, to give her more time to prepare breakfast, and advised that Steve take his medication with his meal rather than just after waking up, to delay the appetite suppression.

Finally, they discussed how to get more high-protein foods into her son’s diet. Their list included lean meats and poultry, eggs, unprocessed nuts and seeds, and low-fat milk or milk products, as well as complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grain cereals and bread and fresh fruits.

Here are some easy breakfasts that Maryanne put on Steve’s menu. Most can be eaten in the car on the way to school.

  • Natural peanut butter on whole-grain bread, with a dab of all-fruit jam.
  • Eggs; glass of orange juice. To save time, make hard-boiled or deviled eggs the night before.
  • Slice of whole-grain bread with a little whipped butter or margarine and a dab of all-fruit jam; low-fat milk.
  • Whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk; lean meat from last night‚Äôs dinner (pork chop, chicken); orange sections.
  • Plain yogurt with fresh fruit.
  • Grilled-cheese sandwich made with whole-grain bread and two-percent cheese; glass of orange juice.
  • Homemade instant breakfast shake or sausage patties (see recipes, left sidebar).
  • Mixed nuts; fruit; glass of low-fat milk.
I do not have children with ADHD. ¬†Yet I do try to provide protein as much as possible. ¬†The school mornings are difficult as we already get up at 5:30 in order to commute to school on time. ¬†Cereal is easy and the kids can get it themselves. ¬†Thankfully there are healthier cereal choices that let me feel a little less guilty as I count all the good things the kids are getting through the milk and grains with some fruit added, when I remind the kids to do so. ¬†(They don’t leap to include fruit by choice at breakfast, but thankfully eat plenty of it through the day.)
Weekends are much more relaxed and this working mom can enjoy a family breakfast packed with protein and a sense of smugness! ¬†Today we enjoyed eggs. ¬†My kids love eggs, but are fussy about how they are presented. ¬†Scrambled is the choice du jour and I got ‘cracking’ on a fun favorite. ¬†(Pun intended – sorry folks.)

My eggs: ¬†Please note, I don’t measure anything so I can’t give you specifics.

6 Organic eggs

Organic 2% milk

Coconut oil

Organic ham (Nature’s Promise from Stop and Shop)

Green onions

Organic kale or baby spinach (just a little kale as the kids hate it, but I can get away with more spinach)

Whole wheat toast with butter

I pre-chopped the ham, onions and kale or baby spinach. ¬†I often steam the kale/spinach¬†a little before hand so my kids don’t go all “icky on me”. ¬†Cooking eggs is one of the few times I use my non-stick pan. I add a little coconut oil to the pan. ¬†I beat the eggs and milk together, add to the pan and cook on low, stirring carefully and evenly. ¬† ¬†Adding all the chopped ingredients before the eggs ‘scramble’ helps them integrate into the mix better. ¬†Serve with whole wheat toast and butter.

Hubby also cooks eggs and he has his own version…variety is the spice of life. ¬†We then sit down together to eat, serving orange juice or water and my much needed coffee. ¬†The whole breakfast takes about ten minutes to make, is delicious, and nutritious and brings us together for some quality family time. ¬†Perfect!

Snow Day Activity – Terrarium


The snow has finally arrived in our town. ¬†Peanut and Button were chomping at the bit to go sledding, I had been scrambling to find where I “safely put away” the snow gear, and the kids got bored! ¬†While the snow was really heavy, and given Button has only recently been cleared for snow play by his doctors, I decided to give them an activity to do to take their mind off the excitement of going outside to hurl themselves down hills.

Today became Terrarium Day! ¬†I had been planning on creating one with the children eventually, and now was the perfect time. ¬†A terrarium is a container, usually glass or plastic that recreates an environment or habitat for plants or small creatures. ¬†We made a closed terrarium today, and we began by posing a question to the boys: “Do you think a plant will survive if we close up the container and never water it? ¬†This caused a prolonged debate over what was going to happen to the plant, including Button’s argument that it was cruel to kill a plant just to see what will happen. ¬†I was rather proud that he cared!

We finally formed a hypothesis. ¬†The plant needed water to survive. ¬†Peanut, having already studied the water cycle did think that condensation might lead to some kind of precipitation, but he didn’t quite know why it would happen without water being added. ¬†So I guess the hypothesis was that the plant was going to live…somehow, but no one knew why.

How to build the terrarium:

1.  Select a plastic or glass container Рwe used a plastic tub with a lid that sealed tight.  The container should be transparent.

2. Place pebbles at the bottom of the container Рthis helps drainage.  Course sand could be used too but we had a nice collection of pebbles from the beach that we could use.  Keep pebbles fairly small.

3. Place soil on top Рwe used potting soil that I had in the garage.  We are not going fancy, but there are some special soils if you are growing plants like cactus.

4. Carefully add the plant – you may want to use seeds but we started with a small plant. We used Golden Pothos which is easy to pick up in any garden store. ¬†It is supposed to be pretty hardy too…a bonus!

5. Arrangement and Ornaments – given more time, we might have had a variety of plants, a bigger container and some ornaments to adorn our terrarium. ¬†Given that I threw this activity together in a flash, we had what was on hand (the plant came from a neighbor who was growing the plant in her house), we were going more for the science experiment look then a display. ¬†(That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)

Some, more advanced and less thrown together terrariums also include a layer of activated charcoal (available from any store selling aquarium supplies, as it helps filter the air.  Also a layer of Spaghnum Moss prevents the soil sinking down into the pebbles.  We had neither but, based on my attempt at this in my classroom, it should still work.
The final result was a sealed container, a little plant looking hopefully up at the boys, almost pleading to make it all work, and two kids just jumping to find out what was going to happen.  We created a quick data collection chart so we can observe the plant and the conditions inside the terrarium over the next week.  We then decided on a good location for our experiment:  the family room windowsill.  Now we just watch and wait.
What kind of learning experiences have you thrown together in a snap which have worked out successfully? ¬†Are there any projects you loved which may take more planning but are totally worth it? ¬†Let’s share some sanity savers for these cold months ahead!

Weekend Activities for the Kids


Working all week, I often felt frustrated by the activities for children offered on weekdays but not on the weekends. ¬†For nine years I have seen wonderful learning opportunities, cleverly disguised as fun and playtime, at museums, sports centers and libraries. ¬†My town has a wonderful Mommy group, but they meet during the week and I am not a part of it …I work!

Of course this issue has lessened as my children have grown and moved into grade school.  I have a whole new host of things I have to work around, but I certainly do not feel the loneliness I used to of mothering without peers meeting up with me at this session, or that session, to talk about the woes and joys of diapering!

Having peers with whom to share things is a part of a healthy life-style.  It helps one reason out those moments when nothing you do seems right.  A quick chat with another mom of a toddler and, voila, you realize it is very normal and your self-esteem is given the boost it so badly needs.

So I have been on the hunt for activities held on the weekends.  As it is very cold here in the Northeast, I have been focusing on indoor pastimes.  Here is a great idea for those in close proximity to Stamford, CT.  Get out and get together girls!  It is good for the mind and soul, even if we just want to collapse at the weekend and not drag our butts out in the cold!

Winter Storycraft @ Ferguson Library Main Branch

Ages 31/2 -8

Saturday, January 21 at 11am -12pm

FREE

Winter Storycraft

Contact:    203 351-8242

Saturday, January 21 at 11 a.m.

Main Library Third Floor Auditorium

Cozy winter stories and a snow measuring stick craft. Ages 3 ¬Ĺ to 8.

 

This is a Blog Hop post for Company Girl Coffee.  Click on the button to read about more Company Girls at Home Sanctuary

Working Mom = Need for help!


Working Mom’s Tip:

Crazy day got the better of your dinner plans?  You have the fresh pasta with four cheeses, the tomato sauce (gravy to non-English folks I believe) is ready, and then you realize the sweet potatoes just did not make it into your grocery cart yesterday. No problem!  I used organic baby sweet potato tubs (which had been necessary for a while with Button during his illness), and they made a very quick and easy substitution for the pureed baked sweet potato I usually add to the tomato sauce for this dish.  Easy!

Going back to work after the holidays has certainly dented my schedule in terms of blogging, cooking, organizing, project making, exercising, and spending quality time with my family.   There have been so many studies both promoting the benefits working moms have on their families and blaming women in the workplace for a decrease in valuable parenting…yada, yada, yada.

I have no choice, I have to work or we will have to bring our kids up at my in-laws; I love them but we prefer to own our own house.  We would also have to curtail all the activities the kids do, and I may no longer have the option to buy organic food any longer.  So, I work in order to have these choices, I also lose out on many other things.  Thankfully, I love my job.

Let’s take cooking, for example.  You already know I am very happy to cheat my way through quick and easy dinners, providing they are nutritious and healthy.  Yet, even then, our shopping bill is through the roof.  I do intend to work harder at couponing in the near future, once I have mastered other things on my to do list.

Keeping up with the housework is another matter.  I mean well and make a plan, but I already get up at 5:30am, work all day, commute home, do homework, feed the family, walk the dog, and then have to work some more. (As a teacher I am lucky to have the flexibility to bring work home), but sometimes I find myself dragging my butt to the desk to work on lessons, reports, grading, or administrative stuff at 10 o’clock at night.  What dusting?  Cleaning the bathroom…when?  I know the laundry has been sitting there for three days, but there is only so much time in the day!!!

In order to work on getting the family back to normalcy after my son’s illness, I am now creating chores and a family philosophy: Helping out is part of family life.  With trepidation, I began this movement by asking the boys to take charge of the waste paper basket emptying.  This is to be their daily activity, along with a short dog-walk,  and they immediately set to work around the house.  In order to ensure all was carried out correctly,  I offered to give a demo lesson, but Peanut insisted he knew how to do it (why the #^!*@ didn’t he do it before then?) and so I sat back and listened.  It was like a scene from an old Laurel and Hardy movie.  Peanut was directing Button. Button was revolting against the dictatorship. Peanut was struggling with the need to have it done right and the desire to avoid beating up his brother, and I sat in merry amusement as the two finally worked out a system and then got the ball rolling.  They were very quick and successful around rest of the house.

English: Silhouettes of Stan Laurel and Oliver...

Image via Wikipedia

Then came the ten-minute pick-up.  The idea is to have a ten-minute session each day where the boys pick up all their stuff and put it in the correct location.  The problem today, however, was that there was so much junk and unwanted stuff cramming cubbies and closets, that ten minutes was not going to cut it.

I still told the boys that they had to work for ten minutes but could continue for longer if they wanted to, as we were really beginning an organization project rather than just tidying up.  I was so proud of them as, over an hour later, they had sorted out the entire family room, tossed broken toys, placed unwanted items in a donation pile, and created peace and harmony on the shelves.  I let them decide how to do it apart from the odd guiding word when a Pez candy machine took all attention away from the job at hand.

Tomorrow we are going to do the same thing with the bedrooms.  One of the biggest jobs will be to sort through the gazillion books lining not only bookcases, but also stacked high in baskets, under beds, inside drawers, and overflowing into the bathroom; we love to read!  Many of these books need a new home: they are too young for the boys, although I know they want to keep some beloved early childhood books.

Monday, we will move on to the Legos.¬† My, what a task that will be!¬† I think I will save that for another time.¬† I know you only have so many hours in your day too ūüôā

I feel good about enlisting my ‚ÄúPeeps‚ÄĚ and getting some sense of organization and scheduling accomplished.¬† Baby steps allow a busy working mom to feel less overwhelmed with the myriad tasks facing her.¬† Adding a workforce is also key.¬† The boys are going to finally start receiving an allowance, as they will be earning it through additional chores as they come up; the bottom-line chores do not earn anything.

How old were your children when you started chores?  Do you give an allowance regardless of chores?  Do you have any other suggestions to help a busy working mom establish a great routine with her family? 

 

Healthy, Lazy Dinner


From Happy Healthy Mama

After a long day at work and the commute home, it is hard to muster up the energy or enthusiasm to cook.  On days when my oomph has deserted me, I like to open a bottle of red and make up a new recipe.  The adventure lies in the fact that I have absolutely no idea about the outcome…will it be edible?  Will I like it?  Will the kids eat it?

I always know it will be healthy, but edible is another matter.  I am typing as I am waiting for the concoction to cook, so I really don’t know the answer!  Here is what I decided to put together:

4 organic boneless/skinless chicken breasts saut√©ed in coconut oil, garlic, organic tinned tomatoes and a good dose of wine ‚Äď all simmered down to a mush (my technical term) and I cut up the chicken into strips. I also sprinkled sesame seeds on¬†the chicken as it cooked‚Ķyummy!

1 cup of quinoa most of which I add to the concoction, leaving some plain for fussy kids.

Steamed green beans

So simple to throw together…no measuring (except the quinoa) and it smells delicious!  Now I’m off to serve the meal.  I’ll report back in a few.  Oh!  I forgot to grab the camera so I’m adding pictures more for the sake of interest than to actually show my handiwork.

Okay, I’m back and we all survived.  I think the meal was pretty successful all in all.  I think the following tips helped that happen:

  • I served everything family style so the boys could be in charge of what they chose and how much they put on their plates – I’ve always done this but was reminded how helpful it can be over at Blog for Family Dinner
  • I served the concoction in one dish (chicken, quinoa, and tomato sauce) but also served plain chicken and plain quinoa (the boys were expected to try the concoction – three bites – but could then opt for the plain versions if preferred)
  • As the boys finished their chosen portion of green beans, I gently guided them to help themselves to more, which they happily did!

We enjoyed a nice family dinner with conversation guided away from the food and towards our daily evening chat:  What was the best and worst thing about the day?  We always have that talk, as I like to catch up with things going on in my boys’ lives, but also so they have the opportunity to share anything that is not so great.   I believe in creating a safe environment to talk about the stuff that might be on their minds.  My plan is to ensure that conversation is part of our family life  now, so communication is open when we hit the dreaded teenage years.

Children


Welcome to Company Coffee Girl Blog Hop.  I am getting to meet some wonderful bloggers through this blog and this is a great way to meet more.  Posts have been about all sorts of things so I decided to spend a moment (the time it takes to have a nice cup of coffee) to think about children.

Children are the greatest people on Earth. They speak from the heart, make no judgment about a person based on physical features, and have a knack of making me smile even at my darkest times.
Children don’t come with a handbook, which can lead to a number of issues with their upbringing and dealings in general. Despite every attempt at reading the Mommy Handbook, Parents Guide to Babies, How to Raise Kids who Love Themselves, etc…you could never find one book that actually gave you an answer to the particular question you had at the time….and there have been many questions!
Children grow and change.  Again…no handbook for this!  Children have their own point of view and you have NO idea where it came from….surely you made YOUR point of view very clear about respecting others and their differing opinions?  Why isn’t the message getting across like YOU want it to?  Why does your child insist on thinking and doing the opposite of what you want?  Oh yes, because you are trying to raise them  to think for themselves!  Now, where is that handbook?
Children are exhausting!  They can run faster and longer and with a much higher pitched squeal than you ever did.  They can function on minimal intake of nutritious food and need less sleep than those books we now store in the garage say they MUST have in order to be human!
Children also love to REALLY need to have the latest and greatest gadgety thingy that has just been advertised, just like all the others that now lay broken in the garage along with the handbooks!
But what children REALLY are cannot be put into words. ¬†The first smile, gummy and drool filled. ¬†The hand that fits so snuggly into yours as you walk along the beach collecting shells. ¬†The excitement of Christmas, the Tooth Fairy, the night before their birthday. ¬†The scraped knee and the knowledge that only YOU can really make it better. ¬†The kiss goodnight, sleep tight, mind the bedbugs don‚Äôt bite! ¬†The words that come from the person who loves you most in the world‚Ķ‚ÄĚI love you Mommy.‚ÄĚ ¬†And the knowledge that this little person means more to you than anything in the world as you utter, ‚ÄúI love you too!‚ÄĚ
Visit other posts on this blog hop by clicking on the button:

Organizing For the New Year


Source: google.com via Gems113  on Pininterst.

Thinking about the New Year, I am plotting a redesign of my entryway. I have a relatively large space which gets overrun with bags, shoes and jackets. ¬†Then, to add to the mayhem, I have random toys, mail and keys to deal with. ¬†I do have a lovely Pottery Barn pin-board with hooks…but it just doesn’t cut it. ¬†There is mess everywhere. ¬†Okay, I admit I do have to train the troops better…they are all slobs!

I rather like the idea pictured above. ¬†The backpack issue would be resolved, and there are baskets for all the junk that accumulates on my tiny table near the door. ¬†Some adaptations to the bench would mean I could have a station for shoes also. ¬†The height is perfect for Peanut and Button….no excuses about not being able to reach! ¬†To top it off (sorry for the pun) the shelf on top is perfect for me to add a little¬†of my taste with a display for the season (I do like to change things up between summer and winter).

Of course I have the hardest job to do first – getting Hubby to change the paint color as I really dislike the one we just put on…you know, the one I chose…wish me luck!