Do You Hoard Your Child’s Artwork?

7 signs that you are a hoarder of your child’s artwork….

1.)    You can no longer see your refrigerator. What started off as a couple of drawing being displayed on the refrigerator has escalated and the refrigerator is entirely camouflaged by artwork?

2.)    You can no longer use your kitchen for fear of a fire…all that artwork around appliances is a hazard.

3.)    You dare not throw any away, what if you are raising a little Picasso; just think of how much each and every piece of artwork might be worth.

4.)    When a family member tries to touch or dispose of your child’s art work you will rummage through the trash to retrieve it.

5.)    You would rather cut off your left arm than dare dispose of your child’s artwork.

6.)    You fear breaking your child’s heart.

7.)    There is a weird stretch coming from your home…Fruit Loop and noodle artwork clearly has a shelf life!

What to do with all those art projects?

If your dream is to one day be profiled on hoarders them by all means carry on…you are well on your way! However, if you are looking for a way to reclaim your kitchen, keep your left arm, and not breaking little Picasso’s heart then here is the answer…. 

Have a draw set aside for his art projects and star/sticker quality work that is sent home.  Allow your child to show you their work then ask which ones they would like to keep in their drawer and which ones can be recycled.  Be practical moms, I realize every project your child works on is precious but you need a home, not a shrine to your child’s works.  At the end of the year go through the drawer and select the top 12 projects (or more if you have the wall space but no more than 20 per child per year).  Purchase an inexpensive frame to display your child’s art work as well as scissors and double-sided tape.

Arrange the art work and any additional sentimental memorabilia on the insert (the cheap paper or picture shown with the frame) that is included with the frame.  You may need to cut various projects in order for all to fit accordingly.  Once they are arranged in a visually pleasing display stick double-sided tape on the back of each so that it is affixed to the insert. Place the insert back in the frame and decide where you will display your little artist and scholars work.

This is something that could be done every year. You can purchase a new frame each year and display every year, that is, if you have the wall space.  Or, you could remove the insert each year and replace it with new projects.  My ideal plan is to one day have a finished basement and be able to display each year on the walls with track lighting highlighting each.  A girl can dream!

National Clean Your Room Day: Purging clothes, toys, and books the GREEN Way

This anxious feeling came over me this morning as I gazed into our children’s bedrooms at the tubs, baskets, and piles of books, toys, and clothing, they used to have a floor! I think it was hardwood…or maybe carpeted? It has been so long I don’t remember!

Now, it should be noted that the fact that the floor is no longer visible isn’t due to children not putting away their stuff.  But rather, their stuff overtaking their rooms! We are dealing with a severe case of not enough storage space and way too much stuff!!  And with Christmas right around the corner that means more “stuff” will be coming into those bedrooms. What is a mom to do? PURGE STAT!!!

Since we are not raising a throw-it-away generation whenever possible we try to find a new home for our items so that they do not end up in a landfill but rather bring happiness and fun to a new owner.  I try to share the life-cycle plan for every item the kiddos receive and remind them to be gentle and take good care of their toys, books, puzzles, etc. for the next child who will wear or play with it. (Often times it is their own younger sibling).

Here are some resources that can help you successfully purge and find a new home for toys, books, and clothing at Christmas time and throughout the year. (bonus: you can also find some great deals on items for b-day gifts, holiday gifts, etc.):

 

ThreadUP 

ThredUP is the easiest way to save on great kids clothing brands, and hand down outgrown clothes for cash. They are like a consignment boutique – but simpler. On thredUP you can refresh your child’s entire wardrobe online, without ever leaving your house.

Here’s how it works:

When your child outgrows clothing, simply fill up a ThredUP bag and put it on your doorstep. ThredUP covers the shipping, and pays you for every item we can hand down to other moms.

You can also browse thousands of like-new kids clothing items, which they’ve hand-selected and certified for quality. You’ll find all your favorite brands discounted up to 75% off year-round.

Like this little number, was originally $34.00 and is only $8.99 on ThreadUP!

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ThreadUP’s goal is to make your life just a little bit easier.

They eliminate the stress of deal hunting by offering consistent discounts every day.

They take the hassle out of bringing your kids into a store by allowing you to thredUP online.

They relieve that recycling guilt by helping you lighten your family’s carbon-footprint with every order.

 

Swap.com 

 

Swap.com Valet Service is the first consumer-to-consumer department store. Valet Service combines the convenience and enjoyment of shopping at Amazon with the effortlessness of getting rid of items at a local thrift or consignment store. Items are owned and traded by users, but stored at Swap.com’s logistics center. This provides you with extra safety because Swap.com has pre-checked the items and can guarantee the delivery. Best of all, you can pay the items with either money or your items. On Swap.com, swapping actually works!

You can swap everything, toys, CDs, Video games, sports equipment, clothing, etc.

These Inline skates for kids are only $12!

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BookMooch 

 

BookMooch lets you give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want.

Give & receive: Every time you give someone a book, you earn a point and can get any book you want from anyone else at BookMooch. Once you’ve read a book, you can keep it forever or put it back into BookMooch for someone else, as you wish.

No cost: there is no cost to join or use this website: your only cost is mailing your books to others.

Points for entering books: you receive a tenth-of-a-point for every book you type into our system, and one point each time you give a book away. In order to keep receiving books, you need to give away at least one book for every two you receive.

Added Bonus-Help charities: you can also give your points to charities we work with, such as children’s hospitals (so a sick kid can get a free book delivered to their bed), Library fund, African literacy, or to us to thank us for running this web site.

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The Thrift Shopper.com

 

Also, don’t rule out local Thrift Stores. Local is always a fabulous choice! At The Thrift Shopper you will find a directory of Thrift Stores.  They list only charity-driven thrift stores so rest assured that your purchases and donations will be going to a worthy cause, and each listing in their directory includes the store’s hours, phone number, and address with a map link. Their goal is to provide you with the most comprehensive thrift store directory on the Internet.

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What about the Misfit toys?

Perhaps your toys have already received a second or third life through your kiddos and they are missing too many parts or are simply not in the best conditions.  There is still no need to send them to a landfill grave. Checkout some of these alternatives first:

Recycle Plastic

Earth911.com

Some of those broken or missing parts might be able to be recycled, depending on what type of plastic they’re made from.  Check for the plastic number on the toy or you might be able to contact the manufacturer to find out what it’s made from. Check with your city or Earth911.com to make sure that your municipal recycling accepts that type of plastic.

Another option is to contact a local museum, art affiliate program, your children’s art teacher, a university art program, etc. and see if you could donate the misfit toys and such to them.  These days the young minds come up with extremely creative ways to upcycle and might be in need of toy, puzzle, book, etc. part for projects.

Know of any additional great ways to purge kids items the green way? Please share.

Tuesday’s Tip: Schedule time to serve your Community

Like the little black dress (LBD) is the staple for any wardrobe, gratitude should be the staple attitude.  In this day and age it seems like many would prefer to be self-serving as opposed to serve others. As parents it is important that we break this cycle. How do we break the cycle? As Ghandi said, “be the change that you want to see in the world”.  Model the behavior you would like to instill in your children. In the book Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World the author Jill Rigby suggests a few ways in which unselfishness can be taught:

 •Refusing to overindulge your kids by helping them develop patience and teaching them responsibility

 •Teaching empathy and understanding

 •Helping them understand the importance and necessity of forgiveness and how to ask for it and accept it

 •Cultivating generosity

 •Nurturing gratitude

 •Spending time together as a family

 •Helping out in your community

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I realize that as parents we often have the best intentions of helping out in our community but sometimes it just doesn’t make it on the calendar.  So, we need to make it a priority, just like we place the PTA meetings, soccer games, dance class, piano lessons, etc. on our calendars we need to also include serving the community. It need not be something to time-consuming, you could make brownies with your children and drop them off with a thank you note to your local fire station, have kiddos help you go through the pantry and fill up a bag to donate to a local food shelter, volunteer at a local Ronald McDonald house, etc. You could do something different each month or the same things every month but the key is to schedule it on your calendar as you would any other priority. Make community service and gratitude part of your family’s routine and it will become a part of your children’s life.

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It can also be fun to get friends involved. This also increases your chances of following through with your plans, similar to having a workout buddy, have a family you volunteer with and chances are you will be more accountable.

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This year we started, Sponsor Pizza and Movie Night with our playgroup. Every other month our playgroup donates and serves pizza, pop, juice, dessert, and donates a movie to our local Family Shelter.  The experience has really taught my little ones the virtue of patience and service, to put others before themselves, to serve those residing in the shelter the food and dessert, to make sure others are provided for before themselves. It has also taught them to be thankful for what they have, their home, their bedroom, their toys, etc. It has been a positive experience and I look forward to serving many more meals.

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Please share ways that you have incorporated service into your life and/or family’s life. How did you find the time?

Tuesday’s Tip: Upcycle Underwear Packaging

We are getting ready to potty train our toddler. And I refuse to start the process until we have accumulated at least 30 pair of panties/underwear. This might sound like an abundance of panties/underwear but our method for potty training is cold turkey, or as I prefer to call it 3 days of Hell (when potty training a little girl) and 5 days (when potty training a little boy). So the question is what to do with all those panty/underwear packages?

I always try to repurpose packaging, wrapping, old items etc. and give them a new life and underwear packaging is no exception to this rule. I have found that they are great methods to organizing kids’ small toys and/or accessories, such as Barbie clothes and shoes (I get so sick of stepping on Barbie shoes), small Legos (another item I dread stepping on…those things are vicious), Mrs. Potato head’s accessories (I know they can be stored in the butt, lol! That sounded horrible, let me rephrase, stored in Mrs. Potato head’s butt, but for some reason we are always losing her bottom piece….I really hope you have a clue about what I am referring to otherwise I might sound a little nuts, haha.), and there are so many other ways to get organized with panty/underwear packaging.

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For some more fun ways to upcycle items checkout 50 Creative Ways to Repurpose, Reuse and Upcycle Old Things.

 

What do you upcycle?

Tuesday’s Tip: Choose Joy

 

From a very young age my mother taught me that I have options and choices in life.  Of course there are the very obvious choices like what to wear in the morning, what book to read next, etc. But what she was referring to was how I chose to live my everyday life.  I could choose to be very cynical, I could keep “score” of other’s lives, complain and compare myself to others, etc. or I could find the joy.

I Choose Joy!

Granted my journey to Joy has not always been smooth and there have been a few bumps along the way but I think that is just part of the human process.  Every now and then I do have a moody moment and find myself caught up in cynicism.  It is in those moments that I take a step back and reflect on the situation and evaluate the issues.  I often find that the problem is fleeting and not worth surrendering my joy.  Taking down the Christmas decorations is the perfect example of a task in life where you have the option of complaining, making it a neutral task, or finding the joy.

Truth be told, I had initially planned on taking down the Christmas decorations and tree when the kiddos went to bed.  I figured it would just be easier that way and I could make certain everything was stored away properly.  I started going through a box in our dining room that contained Christmas gifts we had received and in it was a bunch of Gingerbread themed items.  My parents had given us the cutest basket full of nothing but Gingerbread men themed items like, a hot pad, tins, kitchen towels, large cookie pan in the shape of a gingerbread man, gingerbread  books, cups, plates, hot chocolate, and so much more. 

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I figured I would just pack it all away for next year.  Then it dawned on me that I, we, none of us, are guaranteed tomorrow, let alone next year.  And then I repeated the phrase I say to myself every morning after first thanking God for another day…Live today as if it is your first, last, and best day of your life!.

So, instead of making the process of taking down the Christmas tree and decoration a boring and/or tedious task I busted out the gingerbread men basket and I chose Joy!

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First we sat near the Christmas tree and had hot chocolate, chocolate cover gingerbread men, and talked about our favorite memories from Christmas 2012. I asked the kiddos to point out their favorite ornaments and I in turn pointed out mine (the ornaments the kiddos made of course, they are priceless…their little handprints, fingerprints, artistic expression, and I adore those that illustrate all three).

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Then I read two books, The Gingerbread man and Ten Gingerbread Men. We discussed the books then put on some music and started taking down the Christmas decorations.

We had successfully taken something that could have otherwise been meaningless and put some joy into it and possibly came up with a great new family tradition.  

So, no matter what it is you have to get done today. Maybe it is changing the sheets, washing the floors, etc. put on some music and try to remove the idea that it need be a chore, add a little joy. Perhaps you have papers to grade, work that you need to bring home, light an aromatic candle, make your favorite beverage and sip on it while your finish your work, and add a touch of joy.  You have options in your life. Why waste this wonderful life you have been given on cynicism….what is keep you from your Joy?  We are not promised tomorrow, why waste today?

How do you find your Joy?

 

http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/01/the-homeacre-hop-3.html

http://gnowfglins.com/2013/01/09/simple-lives-thursday-129/#

http://www.cornerstoneconfessions.com/search/label/linky%20parties

Tuesday’s Tip: Be Aware of Your Influence

Take a moment to sit back and reflect on your life.  Ask yourself these questions;

Am I a happy person the majority of the time?

Am I a positive influence on others?

Who or what are the positive influences in my life? (Family, friends, media, music)

To be honest I never really even considered a correlation between the people, media, music, etc. in my life and who I am as a person. Or the impact that my media, music, etc. decision had on my children. Shoot, I thought it was cute when my child started singing Poker Face by Lady Gaga and music in that same genre. That is until I had the opportunity to attend a very inspiring presentation, and it was during that presentation that I had an authentic aha moment!

A couple of years ago at a MOPs meeting two DJs from YES FM gave an amazing presentation about the pest, weeds, and chemicals that can harm your psyche.  I am sure you are familiar with the expression, ‘you are what you eat’.  Well this presentation addressed the fact that you are what you listen to, watch, and whom you choose to keep company with, mind-blowing right!?!

As we entered the room there was three different items on a table.  There was a basket full of fruits and vegetables, a box of Twinkies, and a bottle of Roundup.  They began the presentation by explaining that the fruits and vegetables represent the healthy or nutritious media for the soul. 

The examples they listed as good, or positive influences were, Veggie Tales, PBS programs, Christian radio (Matte West/Amy Grant), and a few others. When it comes to relationships, the vegetables and fruit represent those that nourish you, the positive and encouraging individuals and relationships.  Then attention was directed to the box of Twinkies on the table.

 

 
The box of Twinkies represents the media information, music, and relationships that are not necessarily good or positive, but not exactly negative either, but neutral.  The examples given were Sponge Bob and family friendly music (The carpenters/Frank Sinatra) and shows.  With regard to individuals in your life the box of Twinkies represent the relationships you have with individuals who perhaps focus more on the superficial things in life, while not bad, it isn’t positive either. As they moved down the table and focused their attention on the spray bottle of Roundup they indicated that it, without a doubt, represents the negative or toxic influences in the media, music, and the like. 

The examples they gave were MTV, Lady Gaga, violent games, etc. The presentation really struck a nerve with me. I had never realized just how influential even the background music or television shows could be not only to a young child, but me as well.  In terms of relationships this is where those individuals who talk about other’s behind their backs, who feel the need to tear other’s down in order to build themselves up, who attack the person as opposed to the issue, who live by motives, games, and manipulation.  These are the toxic relationships.

After that presentation I made a conscious effort to only listen to positive, uplifting music in the car and at home.  The result was surprising, my mood, as well as the children’s, seemed to be more uplifting.  I illustrated more patience with the children and them with each other.

With regard to relationships I feel it is important that we take each person’s situation into consideration and understand that sometimes we have been placed in a relationship with a Twinkie or a Round-up/toxic individual in order to be the positive and encouraging influence. But this can be a slippery slope, be cautious how much time you spend because they can also be influencing you.

So, from time to time take a moment out of your day and reflect on the influences in your life and consider who you are influencing. And always remember that we all have the potential to be a nourishing component in someone’s life or a toxic one, be the veggie in a world filled with Twinkies!

Tuesday’s Tip:Traveling with Children

With the Holidays vastly approaching travel is inevitable, and along with travel comes the travel torture. We all know it, even if you have been blessed with the best little traveler in the world eventually tormenting repetitive comments cometh.

                              

Some of the classic tormenting chatter we hear in the car:

 •Are we there yet?

 •I have to go potty?

 •How much longer?

 •I am hungry!

 •Done…Done…Done (my husband’s favorite, our son yelled this after only two hours into a 15 hour journey).

 

This is when mommy needs to pull out her fun bags…no, not those fun bags (where is your mind?) – bags filled with fun activities for the kiddos. These will vary depending on the age of your children but it is wise to have a small tub with a lid for each child that contains activities they will enjoy.

 

Items to include in the car for toddlers & preschoolers:

 •Books

 •Coloring books (only 3 crayons & watch them in extreme heat)

 •Quiet toys- doll or action figure

 •Stickers (might end up on car- vinegar & baby oil will get off any adhesive left behind. Sometimes ten minutes silence is worth the clean up later.).

 •Legos

 •Movie (If you have DVD player in car- if not, get one. Movies are perfect for long car rides. Must have strict rules, only watch movies during long trips, that way it is a special treat, and not the norm.).

 •Car bingo

 •Snacks

 •Encourage older children to play additional car games together (20 questions, what animal am I, Name the healthy food- see hybrid time)

You could also make a fun scavenger hunt for the kiddos to occupy their time in the car.  I made one for a trip we took to Cinncinatti and the kiddos had so much fun, click here to read more.

 

 

 

I suggest packing in your luggage new time filling activities for the journey home. This way they are not already bored when they get in the car to go home.

Also, for those of you traveling with toddlers who might be potty training, remember, you can

Travel While You Train (Potty Train)

 

You are now prepared for travel. Happy trails!

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