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Things To Do When You Can’t Leave the House

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Baby, the weather outside is frightening. Not even exaggerating. The wind chill is dropping to dangerously low temperatures- life threatening, the weather man tells me. Banks and businesses are closing to keep their workers safe.

Speaking of keeping workers safe, farmers still have to go outside to take care of their animals.

Today was cold, but not deathly cold, so the kids still went outside to play. The next couple of days though, nature will be off limits.  What are some things to do when it’s too cold to leave the house?

  1. Bake something. Nothing warms a home like the oven wafting the scent of freshly baked bread or apple crisp. Here is a simple recipe to make alphabet pretzels. 
  2. Snuggle. We have one Lazy-Boy chair we call the Comfy Chair. It’s usually where I sit to read aloud to the kids. Despite the four youngest being 10, 8 6, and 3, we all somehow manage to fit! With a Schnauzer to boot!
  3. Blanket forts. Here’s a super simple idea my then six year old came up with.
  4. Piles of books.
  5. Car ramps. Lean a board or table leaf against the couch and test different kind of rolling vehicles and things that aren’t, like milk lids, balls of different sizes.
  6. Fashion show.
  7. Write letters. Cookbooks- let the kids write their own recipes.  News letters. Comics.
  8. Make newspaper hats.
  9. Do a puzzle together. My son’s favorite puzzles are Ravensburger.
  10. Board games. An easy one we all can play is Tenzis. (plus it strengthens math skills, but SHhhh…keep that on the down low.
  11. Light “Candles”. These are the exact ones we have, and they have worked forever! The flames look real and truly help to bring about that feeling of cozy. Turn off the lights and have a massage circle.
  12. Face paint.  We started with this Klutz Kit because it has great step by step directions and ideas. Then we switched to Snazaroo when the Klutz paint ran out. We still use the book though every time we do it.
  13. Bracelets and necklaces from cereal.
  14. Hot cocoa from a recipe, not a mix. Iowa Girl Eats has an excellent recipe for you to try if you don’t have one of your own.
  15. Watch YouTube videos of “the most dangerous bridges” ,”Most dangerous insects” , “Snake vs some other animal”; many great learning videos out there and the kids don’t even realize they’re doing science, physics, and geography.
  16. Indoor golf with a ball of aluminum  foil and solo cup holes. Pool noodle clubs.
  17. Pool noodle sword fight, (which, at my house the indoor golf invariably becomes).
  18. Have a picnic by just eating the food on the floor. Spread a quilt if you want to, but I guarantee you’ll end up having to wash it.
  19. Turn on the fireplace. If yours isn’t real like mine, you can find a youtube video of crackling fires to add to the ambiance.
  20. Print off one of those time capsule sheets for kids and fill it out. Hide it in a box in your closet. Put in your phone to open it in however many years- and remind yourself where you hid it. I like this printable.
  21. Painting. Or drawing. We love the book series Draw, Write, Now because it makes us feel successful at drawing what we mean to draw.
       We also love the youtube channel “Art  for Kids Hub” 
  22. Practice lettering.
  23. A craft idea from Who Arted?a local mama with lots of great ideas for you to get your crafty on, with and without your kids.
  24. Have everyone put their choice of movie into a bowl and draw one out. Watch it.
  25. Charades. Here is an excellent set of options to print your own set of idea cards.
  26. Table Talk prompts. You can buy a set of cards called “Table Topics”
    or you can find lists of great conversation starters on line. Here’s an excellent place to start.
  27. Do an exercise youtube video together.
  28. Look up trivia questions for kids and give stickers for prizes when someone knows the answer. This set is for the younger kids.
  29. Zentangles.
  30. Watch Joseph’s Machines on YouTube and try to make one tiny part of one of his contraptions.
  31. Raid the recycle bin and see if you can make a marble run. Here’s one we made a few years ago.
  32. Give the kids straws and tape. See what happens. I wouldn’t give them scissors though. I made that mistake.
  33. Make a hammock out of a sheet buy tying it around your dining room table. Knot on top.
  34. Make a puppet show stage by taping a sheet to a doorway (or use a spring release curtain rod) Draw on the kids’s hands, make sock puppets, paper bag puppets, print off puppets from Pinterest and glue them to straws or Popsicle sticks. Have the kids tell a favorite fairy tale. Here’s a great clearing house of patterns. 
  35. Give them marshmallows and toothpicks. Make some pyramids, towers, bridges. Challenge them to a contest.
  36. Let them climb the walls.

When it’s finally bedtime, cuddle up under your favorite blanket, with a heating pad and beverage of your choice. Binge watch something if you want creepy, try You. If you prefer comedy, I just started watching Parks and Rec. If you want some excellent acting, a poignant plot, and some feel good tears, check out Dumplin‘ on Netflix! SO FANTASTIC.

You’ll have to put together your own list if the kids are out of school another day. That’s all I got.  😉

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Bringing Hygge Home

In case you’re not on Pinterest as much as I am, hygge ( pronounced hooga) is the feeling of peace and cozy. Having six kids does not lend itself to much peace or cozy honestly, but I try my best.

how to make your home hygge family momCandles

Obviously, with a three year old getting into literally everything, real candles aren’t usually an option. I’ve been super happy with the tiny tealights you can buy at the Dollar Tree. I also really like Woodwick Candles, which are surprisingly available at Walmart now! I try to having a candle burning/turned on, all the time during the winter.

Blankets

We have about a zillion throw blankets which we store by literally throwing them behind the couch. It’s so very hygge to snuggle up with people you love and share cozy blanket.

Laughter

For me, this is paramount. My chicklets are wonderful and I thoroughly enjoy them. At the same time, they fight, argue, yell, make messes, be loud, interrupt me constantly, interrupt each other, have big feelings, crowd me… all the same things your kids do. I love to be silly and laugh with them. It helps diffuse a lot of the tensions when they arise. Being hggye is about comfort and relationships. I think laughter is component we all need.

Fireplaces

I have a gas fireplace in the living room while it is delightful, it really does use a lot of gas so is impractical to run on a regular basis. The electric one in my room is a good option, but I can only be up there at night. I make do by listening to fireplaces on Youtube. It’s a fantastic discovery for me, because I can get that calming vibe in my ear buds, can still hear the kids, but their happy little (LOUD) cricket voices are dulled.fireplace home hygge winter family mom

Warm Drinks

Warm lemonade made with real lemons and stevia is a simple low carb drink I just love. You could also have hot water and plain lemon, tea, coffee, hot cocoa, a hot toddy, whatever you’re in the mood for.

Fuzzy Slippers

I love to barefoot inside of a pair of cozy fleece slippers. If your six year old picked you out a bright red pair covered with Christmas lights, all the better!

An Attitude of Being in the Moment

A practice I’ve begun this year is to say to myself “I am breathing in.” “I am breathing out.” It sounds a little trite but it is amazing how it helps me stop my racing thoughts and mental to-do list and calm myself.

hygge home family content mom

Hygge is a way of life, not only in the winter, but all year round, of being cozy and content. How are you bringing hygge home?

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Goal Setting

I am new to goal setting. It just never worked with my brain-I felt like a failure when I didn’t make my goal.

Passion planner wish list goal setting planning resolutions how to set goals achieve in 2019 AdHD

I was the same with a planner. If I didn’t fulfill my plan, I felt like a loser.

In 2016, I discovered a love for “planning”. I could make it pretty, I could write down a to do list but I didn’t have to schedule every single half hour increment. I could make it work for me.

It’s been life changing! I’ve kept it up now for 3 years-which if you know me at all, you know is an incredible testimony. Along with loving the ideas and the planner community I discovered on Instagram, I learned more about goal setting. I’m definitely still learning more than doing but I am trying to be intentional about it.

I learned a bit about goal setting that works for me from the Passion Planner. They offer their “Wish List” in a free PDF from their website and it is definitely worth working through that.

I didn’t even take the next steps of writing down HOW to achieve my goals, or actionable steps, and I kind of forgot these pages were even IN my planner.

Passion planner wish list goal setting planning resolutions how to set goals achieve in 2019
Wish List set in February of 2016 for that year
Passion planner wish list goal setting planning resolutions how to set goals achieve in 2019
Goals set at the beginning of December 2016, looking into 2017

Incredibly, I met several of the goals in the Wish List, simply because, I think, I had written them down and they were fermenting in my brain all year.

I didn’t write as much for 2018. I don’t know what happened. Passion planner wish list goal setting planning resolutions how to set goals achieve in 2019

I sort of met two of these. I never looked back at what I’d written.

I took some time today to look at the big picture of what I’d like 2019 to look like. Tonight or tomorrow I plan to break these down into workable steps and what I need to do on the weekly, and daily, to make them happen.

Passion planner wish list goal setting planning resolutions how to set goals achieve in 2019
I only used water colors because I was cleaning the palette. And also it’s pretty.

My big goal this year is to look at my goals every day and write some affirmations which will help me reach them. My word of the year is SOAR- from Isaiah 40:31

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Goals setting will help us to soar!

What’s in your agenda for 2019?

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The Five Minute, Four Product Fresh Face!

I love to wear make up but I hate to spend time on it. I don’t understand how the YouTube vloggers and beauty bloggers can spend an hour on their make up! They look amazing, but then again, so do I.

Here’s what I use:

Fast makeup easy tutorial and   review concealer eyeliner Hard Candy lip gloss mascara NYX Maybelline MACMaybelline Coverstick Corrector Concealer in yellow to balance out the purple under my eyes (even without getting up earlier to spend an hour on my make up, I still don’t get enough sleep!)

This doubles as a concealer if I wanted to tone down the redness of a blemish or my often cold and frequently pink nose.

Fast makeup easy tutorial and   review concealer eyeliner Hard Candy lip gloss mascara NYX Maybelline MACNYX Jumbo Eye Liner in French Fries. This can be used as eyeshadow or liner depending on the look I’m going for. I just smear it on and blend with my finger.

(Autocorrect just changed my misspelled finger to dog, for some reason. I’m tempted to leave it. “blend with my dog”.)

Fast makeup easy tutorial and   review concealer eyeliner Hard Candy lip gloss mascara NYX Maybelline MACMAC lip primer. I have lots of fine lines now that I’m in my forties and any bright color I love bleeds into my upper lip if I skip this. Not the look I want. Bleeding bright red lipstick always reminds me of my sixth grade social studies teacher who reminded me of Miss Hannigan.

Fast makeup easy tutorial and   review concealer eyeliner Hard Candy lip gloss mascara NYX Maybelline MACHard Candy Wet Ever Lip Gloss in Famous

I love this color. It’s glossy and gorgeous even after several cups of coffee.

Fast makeup easy tutorial and   review concealer eyeliner Hard Candy lip gloss mascara NYX Maybelline MACNYX Worth the Hype Mascara. I’ve been happy with every NYX mascara I’ve tried. This, however, is my favorite. They last all day and most importantly don’t stink like a lot of mascaras. The brush is soft and doesn’t scrape my eyelashes and lids as many mascara wands have a tendency to do.

Is it possible to look good and finished in so few minutes with so few products? I think so, but decide for yourself! Fast makeup easy tutorial and   review concealer eyeliner Hard Candy lip gloss mascara NYX Maybelline MAC

How long do you spend on make up usually? What’s your favorite go-to product?

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The Incredibly Easy Way to Put on a Duvet Cover

I have always loved snuggling up in a down comforter, but I, like much of the middle class, want to also have a catalog type bed with too many pillows. This means a duvet cover.

Duvet covers are stupid. I have watched so many videos on the tortilla roll and rolled and rolled and re-rolled attempting the perfect spread of cover to comforter ratio. I have tugged and fluffed the down comforter inside the duvet cover until my arms figuratively fall off. It seems like every time the comforter falls off the bed it gets smooshed up to one side and you have to redo it or deal with a bunched up comforter inside the duvet cover.

How to Easy way to put on a duvet cover

Who can deal with that? Not this girl. I love my bed like I love my mother! I just want to cozily crawl in and have it comfort me. I don’t want to mess around with messed up blankets.

How to Easy way to put on a duvet cover

Finally I hit upon the perfect solution which always works! Always!

Here’s how to put the duvet cover perfectly on the comforter.

Just lay it on top like a sheet. Seriously. Presto change-o. You’re welcome.

How to Easy way to put on a duvet cover

You can either put it on zipped, or tuck up the zipper.

Here’s what it looks like zipped.

How to Easy way to put on a duvet cover

Now go snuggle in your cozy, comfy bed without having to fuss with the duvet cover ever, ever again.

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How to NOT Pack Light

How to (NOT) Pack Light

My Handsome Husband and I recently went to Washington DC without kids! We hadn’t had a trip with just the two of us since 2009, when we came home pregnant with Denton (baby #4). Don’t worry, we didn’t bring home any special surprises this time!

Kevin was representing Scott County in a Farm Bureau of Iowa in a lobbying trip, and was allowed to bring a guest. I’m so glad he chose me! Farm Bureau paid for his expenses and some of mine, so that made the trip even better. Even though they would have been paying for one checked bag, I swore to myself that I would be able to pack for the six day trip with only our carry-ons and one personal item each.

I couldn’t do it.

The morning of Packing Day, Kevin took the middlest (and the most in-the-way) of the kids with him on an outing, so I could concentrate on packing. I had a list. I had been watching “How to Pack for a Week in a Carry On” YouTube videos all week. I knew which outfits I was packing for him to wear to the Capitol, for his talks with our senators and representatives and with officials from the EPA and the Canadian Embassy. I had ordered packing cubes. I had checked out a fully loaded Kindle from the library so I didn’t have to pack any heavy books. I was ready.

The first 10 minutes went well, until I realized half of the Handsome Husband’s shirts had a serious ring around the collar issue and I had to do laundry. After that, I couldn’t settle down and get to work. I couldn’t figure out where to begin again. I felt like I was spinning in circles. I was Marco Poloing with a dear friend and told her jokingly that I needed her to come over and help me. Miracle of Miracles, she did! What a blessing to have a tribe who supports you in tangible ways.

She helped me stay on task, and get completely finished packing. This was key, because I almost always leave something to the last minute, but we were leaving at 4 am the morning of the beginning of daylight savings time, so I couldn’t do that this time!

Thanks to her steadfastness, I finally got packed, but it wasn’t light. I went awry, and if you want to NOT pack lightly too, here’s what to do.

Pack for the Gym

I packed gym shoes and clothes. I didn’t realize I would be walking an average of six miles a day, and not only wouldn’t NEED to work out, but wouldn’t want to work out.

Pack Extra Shoes

I decided I needed to bring my slippers. I didn’t. I also thought I wanted cute boots for the plane ride. I not only didn’t need cute boots, I mistakenly kept them on our first day of touring, which amounted to almost eight miles of walking and multiple blisters. Never choose cute over comfort.

Bring Work Along

I thought I would tour around DC the mornings that Kevin had his meetings, and then head back to the hotel and write, possibly read. That didn’t happen. Not only did I not open my computer or decorate my planner one time, I couldn’t restrain myself from over stimulation of all the wonderful history and museums which DC has to offer. I basically flew my laptop from Iowa to DC and back again, just so it could get out of the house.

Miscount

I packed a different shirt and tie for every day Kevin had meetings, and then some. I accidentally counted to four wrong, and packed too many shirts. Additionally, I realized too late, since he was meeting with different people every day, he could have worn the same outfit (or only had one alternate button down) every day with a different undershirt and been just fine.

Pack Too Many Toiletries

Since I was going to be attending a few of the meetings and going out to dinner, and I had read online that DC was a dressy city, I thought I would need all of my make up (well, a lot of it). My curling wand. Different jewelry.

I did change jewelry, and I did curl my hair, and I did look fabulous, but it would have been fine if I hadn’t.

It’s true. I’m extra. I have a hard time packing light.

We’re going to Seattle in a few weeks for four days. Maybe I’ll be able to go pack for that trip with only a carry-on. But even if I don’t, it will be ok.

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Tips for Finding the Best Thrifting Deals

I am always looking for a bargain and for quicker, easier ways of doing things. If you are too, this thrifting haul example and tips for finding the best deals fast is for you!

Thrift store tips goodwill savings cheap chic style fashion frugal Salvation Army

Hoodies for my 11 year old

I asked her how many she thought she needed, and she vehemently responded, “ALL of them!”

Thrift store tips goodwill savings cheap chic style fashion frugal Salvation Army

Tees for her to wear and also with which to make Pinterest crafts.

Ah! The freedom to use my sewing scissors and cut things with abandon!

Thrift store tips goodwill savings cheap chic style fashion frugal Salvation Army justice old Navy

Pants and leggings. The black ones are to cut off and wear under her skirts. Sometimes the staffers catch a brand which resells well, such as Justice or Pink, and mark it up quite a bit, but often you can find them for the standard price, like I did today.

Thrift store tips goodwill savings cheap chic style fashion frugal Salvation Army

Summer skirts. On Poshmark and ThredUp, all of these go for at least $10. Know the brands you want, and whether or not you’ve found a good deal. If you’re unsure, look it up in store.

Dress for almost 3 year old. It’s actually a 24 month size-don’t be afraid to try things on. And once we tried it on, I couldn’t talk her into taking it off again.

Pro tip: just roll with it. I only bought her this because sometimes it’s easier to fork over $2.88 than listen to the incessant whining.

A few items for me. I’m thinking of making the capris into Bermudas. Only buy things to alter if you’re actually going to do it! The top is actually Motherhood maternity, but for $.44, I don’t really care!

Wear a skirt while you shop and it’s easy to just try something on in right there in the aisle.

A couple of skirts for 13 year old.

I also got a pair of Keens for 9 year old. They were the most expensive item at $8.88.

The total cost: $89 and change!

Total time spent: Under an hour.

Kids along: Three

I discovered thrifting in my 20s, when I went into a store I didn’t realize was consignment, and found my favorite Express sweater for less than 1/3 of what I had paid for it. That was lightbulb moment for me.

Why pay mall prices when you can get the exact same thing second hand and way cheaper?

With some experience under my belt buying for my own wardrobe and some house wares, I found thrifting to be a freeing way of life, especially once I quit teaching and more and more kids came along.

Now, homeschooling six kids on one income, I have to be frugal and fast. Here are some more of my best tips:

Go with as few of kids as possible

The more kids you have along the less able you are to think.

Try to take the kids who you are shopping for with you.

I bought some Keens for Cadrian today which he doesn’t really love because he’d prefer to wear socks and tennis shoes!

Really kid? Are you sure you’re mine?!

If I would have had him with me, I would have known he didn’t like them–and wouldn’t you know, shoes aren’t returnable. I can resell them or save them for Denton.

Keep a running list of needs

On the side of my fridge, I write down the things I’m on the lookout for. This includes when I realize someone has outgrown shoes and what size they need, or that they need a white shirt for this event. Or if I saw a cute DIY on YouTube, I’ll write down the items I want to watch for.

Set a time limit.

I usually go thrifting when my boys are in tutoring. That gives me about 50 minutes to choose items and pay. The time limit makes me make quick decisions and I’m less likely to buy something I only like (versus love) unless it’s $.44.

Go often.

I go to the same Goodwill a couple times a month. Sometimes I buy very little, sometimes I find a lot that will work. The inventory is always changing and different colored items are on sale or clearance.

Know the return policy.

I buy things too for my kids who might not be with me that I can return just in case they don’t love it. (I didn’t realize that shoes weren’t returnable until today! See how important that tip is!!)

It’s sometimes easier to not have them with me, have them try stuff on at home, and return it if it doesn’t work. I’m usually ok with donating it back too if I miss the return deadline, since most kid’s clothes are only $2.88.

Know the deals.

At Goodwill, they have a color of tag that is cheaper that day. Today for instance, anything with pink or yellow tags were 2 for $.88. Sometimes it’s “only” half off, but you still want to pay attention to the signage.

Go early.

I can never do this because of homeschool, but the color of the day is pretty picked over by 2 pm when I can go.

What are some of your favorite tips for getting the best deals?

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Farm Fresh Road Trip

Six kiddlets and one mama heading up to Chicago area for Independence Day weekend.
Minute 1: tan I have a snack now?
Minute 7: it takes a wong time to det to Gigi and Opa’s.  (Repeat every 2-3 minutes) 
Minute 11: pass out multiple “pixie cups” of cheddar popcorn accompanied by threats of being tossed out the window if you spill any
Minute 20: wait for train
Minute 30: Burger King drive through
Minute 36: I’m hungry, tan I have a snack now? 
Minute 49: enter expressway with very minimal exits and much construction and no shoulder
Minute 53: air conditioning starts blasting heat. Even shutting off fans does nothing to stop it. Roll down windows, hope for the best. There is NO WHERE to pull over. 
Minute 58: three year old, red in the face and exquisitely in pain begins scream crying “top on the side of the road to doe peepee and poopoo!!”
Minute 59: thankfully see a sign declaring we are not far from the only exit for another 35 miles because there is no way to pull over in the construction and traffic 
Minutes 59-65: Hold it baby, can you hold it? 
Big brother: just pee in your seat! Hahahaha!!
Minute 60: Nine year old, red in the face and exquisitely in pain begins scream crying, because of a leg cramp
Minute 66: baby wakes up.
Minutes 66-80: Take kids into gas station by turns. Deny requests to buy fireworks, toy cars and snacks. 
Minute 85: return to tollway. 
Minute 86: I’m hungry. May I have a snack? 
Minute 87: is it my turn with the kindle yet? 
Minute 88: miraculously, shutting off Suburban has fixed the heating issue, at least temporarily, and air conditioning works once again and we can roll up the windows.
Minute 88-120: negotiations for Kindle turns, drinks of water, much conversation and laughter and “It take a wong time to det to Gigi and Opa’s house”: arm in backseat stroking baby’s head
Minute 100: Cadrian gave Denton the Kindle so he could play Math V. Zombies, but only after he used up all the bullets so poor five year old had to do too hard of math problems for him in order to get more bullets. For some reason this made me laugh hysterically. Aviana to the rescue–provided him with a well stocked arsenal.
Minute 115: finally stop laughing. Hysteria  may have other sources… 
Minute 121: let boys in third row have popcorn bag
Minute 121:30: uhoh!–the popcorn dropped all over the floor and seat
Minutes 122 continued: feverishly feed baby grapes to keep her quiet. She bites into them, eats their guts,  spits out the outsides. Don’t care. At least she’s not crying.
Minutes 123 continued: everyone gets louder and louder the heavier the traffic gets and the closer we get to our destination. 
Minutes 125 and on: Jokes like: why did the cow cross the road? To get to the other side. Why did the calf cross the road? Because he was nursing his mama
Minutes 126 and on: Brielle texts my friends with video of crying baby. And texts whomever will text her back
Minutes 127 and on: children wave exuberantly at fellow drivers and shout things they thankfully (hopefully) can’t hear like “hey lady! You’re fired!” 
Minute 140: notice phone battery (and therefore GPS directions) is getting dangerously low. Charger in a bag in the way back. Carry on bravely. 
Minute 145 and on: childish jabber noise and intermittent baby fussing accompanied by the constant pinging, baaing, and general noise of Elivette’s Todo Math game 
(Don’t forget the “it takes a Wong time to det to Gigi and Opa’s house!” Every few minutes)
Minute 183: ARRIVE AT DESTINATION 
Now it’s “how wong befowre Uncwle Torydon dets hewre?”
Clean out popcorn, grapes, at least half a pint of blueberries,  and an entire garbage bag of trash. 
Ahh. We’re here. 

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