Thursday, August 30, 2018

School year has started!  While I don't homeschool, I do some preschool teaching to my kiddos before they go to school.  (You can see some of my other preschool posts at the bottom of the page.)   With that, we use a lot of construction paper.  When I first started planning and making our projects to do, I realized how much construction paper we were going through, especially when there was a free day of crafting.  So I slowly learned some ways to save on that construction paper.

Have you ever seen a kid cut something out of a piece of construction paper?  They always cut right in the middle leaving a lot of extra paper left over.  This was such a waste to me and I wanted to do something to make sure we could use the construction paper to its full potential.  

One of the ways I've done this is by starting a scrap paper bag, any of the paper scraps that are left over from a craft we put in a designated ziplock bag.  This way we have scraps for them to use for other crafts.  This bag is my go to for when I need to cut out small little eyes, tails, or spots for our letter crafts.  

Another way we use this scrap paper bag is for gluing and cutting small pieces. When the girls were learning to cut I would give them the paper from the scrap paper bag and they could practice cutting it up.  Also, when Peanut was going through a gluing phase she would take the pieces she cut and glue them to another piece of paper.  This saved so much paper, because all she wanted to do was glue over and over and this paper was just paper that was extra. 

A second way I saved on construction paper was by giving them less.  That construction paper is so large and as I said before kids don't do the best at cutting on the edge.  So instead of letting them have the whole paper, I would first cut the paper in half.  This worked great for when my oldest was going through a book phase.  She loved taking books and then making them using construction paper.  She took Brown Bear Brown Bear for instance and then figured out what color each page would be, brown for the bear, red for the bird, yellow for the duck, etc.  I loved how she was learning to put things in order, recognize what color would be represented on each page and so forth, but one full-sized construction paper for a circle to represent the bear just seemed like a waste.  So we cut the paper in half, it made it the perfect size for a book and she could be creative and re-make the books while I could be content that we weren't using to much paper.  Some books we been cut the construction paper into fourths...make it go even further!  


Liked this post, you may also like the following

Preschool: Learning to write.              Preschool: Letter Art.              Preschool: Part 1

PreschooL: Part 2                                Preschool: Part 3                     Preschool: Part 4

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Preschool: Learning to write

My little soon to be kindergartener....wait where did the time go?!  It's crazy to think that my oldest will be starting kindergarten this Fall.  Or as she likes to say in 8 days!  Well anyways, since she started learning to write her letters she has loved to make lists, or write out people's names or just write down letters and try to make words.  Now that Peanut is starting to write too (seriously, they are growing so fast), we go through even more paper.  But, learning to write is HUGE.  I want my girls to be able to write and being able to learn to write on paper is a privilege, really it is.  So I don't want them to be wasting paper and I want them to see the value of using the paper that we have because it's a privilege to have it.

I don't know about you, but my girls love notebooks.  They get it from me I think, there's just something about having a notebook to jot down your thoughts, feelings, ideas etc. I have multiple notebooks.  I'm crazy and like to have a different notebook for each subject area of my life.  Well, my girls love notebooks too.  My oldest is always asking for a notebook to jot things down in or have for her stickers, yep she has a separate one just for stickers, she definitely takes after me.

So two things; first of all right now it's Back to School time and all those notebooks are on sale, whoot whoot!!  That's the best time to buy any of those school supplies that you need to stock up on throughout the year.  You can check out my Savings on office/school supplies here for more tips on that.  Secondly, how many of you use a notebook ALL THE WAY THROUGH?  Be honest, how many times do you have a notebook that you used for awhile for said event and then the rest is just left?  We have lots of notebooks, my husband kept ones from college and high school...yes high school!  But,  going back to teaching out kids not to be wasteful we have that paper instead of just throwing it out.

 We also use those notebooks in two different ways.  First we use them as spare paper, instead of buying loose leaf paper, we just use the extra out of the notebooks.  That way we are using what we have and not spending more money for one and not taking for granted what we have for another.  But the biggest way we reuse them is to let the girls have their own notebook.  They love this! They feel so adult having a notebook that they can write in.  Sometimes they use it to write names, other times to try to spell words, other times they get it out before we go shopping so they can make their grocery list too.  I mean the possibilities are endless and we are reusing something that might not have been used.  Plus they are learning too, I mean they are practicing writing their letters and writing without the sit down and practice.  This is something they enjoy doing and as a mom we are always looking for ways to help them learn as they play right?

So next time you have a notebook that you're done with see if your little preschooler/elementary kiddo would like to have it.  You'll be amazed at what they come up with to use it for.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Swapping Cleaning Supplies and Routines

The following post has amazon links 

A while back a friend of mine suggested writing a post about my cleaning products, what I use and how. I've kept this idea in the back of my mind. I really liked the idea of sharing ways to save money while cleaning your house, but then I realized, what I was using was not the cheapest option. So I've been slowly really looking at what I use to clean with and why. Does it save me money? Is it still getting my house clean? It was great to evaluate what I've been using and what else I Could do. 

Now, first of all, I'm still working at this. When I started I was more concerned about my house still being clean and it being cost friendly. But, now I've started to care about what products I'm using around my girls as well. So while this is what I'm currently doing there are places for improvement, and as I learn more there may be additional things I try. I'll keep you updated and am open to any suggestions! :) 

My main cleaning products include:
1. Baking Soda
2. Vinegar
3. Window cleaner (Amway)
4. Dusting cloths
5. Wash cloth
6. Disinfecting wipes
7. Baby wipes
8. All purpose spray (Amway)
9. Bathroom spray (Amway)
10. Sponges
11. Rainbow Vacuum

I use the first two more often than anything else if possible.  Both are natural and safe for my kids and they both clean really well too. You'll see both disinfecting and baby wipes are on the list. Depending on the project sometimes I prefer a disinfecting wipe, but if it's just to do a quick wipe down of hair, I use a baby wipe and save the other wipes for when I really need them.  This works for me right now because with a baby in diapers we have baby wipes on hand.

Ok so now I'll break down my cleaning routines by rooms.

1. Bathroom 

Toilet: vinegar and disinfecting wipes.
I pour a little vinegar into the toilet and then clean the rest of the toilet with disinfecting wipes while the vinegar sets.  Then later I use a disinfecting wipe on the inside, flush and it's clean.
Sink: disinfecting wipes
Shower:  Baby wipe or disinfecting wipe + baking soda + sponge
I wipe it down with a baby wipe or disinfecting wipe, then sprinkle baking soda all around the base of the shower. I let that sit while I work on the rest of the bathroom.  Scrub the baking soda when ready in circles and then rinse. Baking soda is a great way to get your shower white again just with a little elbow grease; or even little helping hands, my girls love helping to clean the shower. Usually I let them start while I work on the rest of the bathroom and then when they've decided they're done I finish it up.
Bathtub: Bathroom spray + sponge
Spray and sponge wash, then rinse.

2. Kitchen 

Counters: All purpose spray or just a washcloth with soap.
Floor: Sweep + a bowl of warm soapy water and a washcloth.
I hand mop my floor.  My mom used to do this and I remember thinking, No way, when I get older I'm using a mop.  Well I had a mop for many years, but I felt like I was going over the floor with a washcloth anyways.  So now I just use a washcloth with some warm soapy water.
Table: All purpose spray or washcloth with soap.
Stove top: washcloth
Fridge: washcloth. Inside, vinegar + water combo
If you mix 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water, it's a great cleaner for anything tough sticking in your fridge.  I don't clean the inside as often as I should, but when I do it's just soapy water or vinegar + water and washcloth.
Dishwasher: washcloth
For the three above, I learned to wipe them down as I was ending my evening cleaning the kitchen.  This helps so that there's never a lot to clean.  After I wash my dishes for the night, I wipe down the microwave, then the stove, fridge and dishwasher.  I might not get them all each night, but I try to wipe them down as I go.
Microwave: washcloth + vinegar

3. Rest of the house 

Mirrors/windows: Amway window cleaner with a microfiber cloth.
This is one I plan to change once I'm out of my cleaner.  You can clean your windows and mirrors with a vinegar solution.
Dusting: I have some homemade swiffer style dusters + microfiber cloths.
These are awesome to have.  This way I'm not spending money over an over again on the swiffer cloths.
Vacuum: Rainbow vacuum
First off these are not cheap.  A friend told me about them while I was still teaching.  I really liked the idea of how they work and that I don't have to buy bags all the time.  I was able to buy one for more than 1/2 the selling price on our local swap...otherwise I might still be saving for one. But, if you can get a vacuum of any kind that is bag less that's going to help you save.  If you're not having to re buy bags all the time.  Now, the rainbow vacuum does last, we've had ours now for 4 years and it's still holding up.  Plus we use it as a de-duster/air purifier as well.

Oh and I do dust less now :)

These are the ways I try to clean our home without breaking the bank in buying multiple cleaning products.

The microfiber cloths can be purchased almost anywhere. I have some from Amway, as well as from our local Walmart, they're several options on amazon too.


The swiffer style cloths are easy to make.  You can find many different styles on Pinterest.  Sew Much Ado has a great tutorial on the swiffer duster.  And Soap Deli News has a great tutorial on how to make both a dry and wet version of the swiffer cloths.  These are just a couple to get you started.  You can also find them on Etsy to buy if you'd rather. 

What products do you use when cleaning?  I'm always looking for healthier options with less toss away. I think my biggest thing is the toilet, I don't necessary like the idea of re-using something to clean the toilet with, but at the same time it feels a little wasteful.  Any other suggestions other than disinfecting wipes?

This post includes affiliate links, which means if you click on the link I get a portion of any sales at NO COST to you.  See my disclosure page for more details. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Summer Schedules

School schedules, cleaning schedules, baby schedule, summer schedules...schedules. I might be a little odd, but I really like schedules. I'm one who likes to know what I'm doing and when. Either in the morning, before bed or sometimes during the day, I jot down my items I'm doing and write a time down for them as well, even schedule when I have play time with my girls. It may sound over the top, but it helps me to mentally be present with them instead of thinking about my to-do list as I play.  Now, that being said, being someone who likes to have a schedule and follow a schedule, it can be hard for me to diverge from said schedule. And if I need to, well because life happens, it's harder for me to do than I'd like to admit. That is something that I feel God has been helping me to work on. They say when you pray for patience, God gives you opportunities to practice that patience.  Well, He has given me opportunities to practice diverging from my schedule and not getting frustrated and flustered. However, there is definitely still some work to be done.  And my girls have helped me learn to let things go off my schedule many more times than I used to be able to do. Just recently, they woke up way too early, but instead of getting frustrated that MY time was disrupted we took some snuggle time on the couch together instead. 

To all you new moms, one thing I remember a lot of people telling me was the first thing I should do was to get that baby on a schedule, it will really help you out.  And you know what, our first baby did awesome at having a schedule. Which worked great for me. Then came our other 2.  Little J was here and there, as most of you know, I started to stay at home after I had her, so she had a little more freedom with mom always being around.  But with also watching a few other kids, she got on a rough schedule pretty quick.  As for Little S, she has yet to have a schedule. Her schedule consists of waking up at whatever time she decides for the morning and then eating approximately 3-4hours apart, with maybe a few random naps thrown in there here or there. So don't fret if your little one isn't on a schedule right away. Sometimes we can get more stressed trying to put them on a schedule than if we just let them be how they are. One thing that helped me, was to write down when Little S did anything, eat, sleep, poop.  Then I could recognize that she was sleeping about 2 hrs after she ate, even if it wasn't always at a specific time.  This also helped me to know when it was best to do housework and when I could play with baby. Because as the saying goes, dishes will always be there.  But it's also true as a mom of little kids that at some point you HAVE to actually do them as well instead of letting them take over.   

So summer's here and now I'm trying to balance a summer schedule along with a baby schedule (who doesn't follow a set schedule). This was not easy for me to do when I started to write my summer schedule down...see the Lord's still working on me. Anyways, just a couple weeks ago I decided to sit down and put one together. I'm sure you get it, summer just calls for a whole different routine. You might have kids home from school, or those summer projects are calling to you, or you just want to take some time to have at your nearby lake, for us it's the pool.  Since planning in the summer can be way harder to stick to, I decided to use a rough one instead without times blocked, and so far it seems to work well. Ok, so I didn't get rid of all time slots, but it's definitely more flexible! :) 

Pre-Morning (5:00ish-6): devotions, me time, laundry 
Morning(6:00ish-8:20): get ready, breakfast, wash breakfast dishes, hang laundry, play outside 
8:30 Walk with a friend
10:00 park/play outside 
11:30 lunch 
12:00 wash lunch dishes 

45 min - 1hr. playtime with the girls 
30 min. - 45 min. Cleaning agenda
15 min. - 20 min. reading time 
4:30 Make supper 
5:30 Watch for Daddy/walk to meet Daddy 
5:45 Supper 

wash supper dishes
play time 
bath + teeth + bible story + bed 

And as I said before, I have a nursing/napping baby to throw into the mix as well.  But since she's not too scheduled, I've left her off the schedule.  That's also why I went from times to just amounts of times in the afternoon, then I don't get stressed if it gets to that time and then it doesn't work to do that item.  

I will say that having a schedule can also help you save money.  How? 

1. Save on gas

For example, we visit a few different farmers markets in the nearby towns.  One of those towns I do some grocery shopping as well.  So I make sure to try and schedule both our shopping trip to the grocery stores on the day that the farmer's market is open.  That way I'm making one trip to the town instead of two, saving a little on gas.  

2. Save on supplies

For my cleaning schedule, I know if I missed cleaning the bathroom or kitchen, or windows because I have set days to do those items. This way I'm not over cleaning them and then in return using up my supplies more than need be.  Don't get me wrong, in the summer we go through more cleaning supplies even though we go outside a lot, I feel I clean more too...but I'm not cleaning something that's already cleaned. 

3. Only buying what you need 

This kind of goes hand in hand with saving on supplies.  But this comes to play especially in the summer.  It's so easy to look at that summer to-do list, buy everything you need to get those projects done, but then never make enough time to do those projects.  Then more likely than not you forget about them by next summer and are out the money for them.  

4. Prioritize 

This is also summer related.  When summer comes so do all those fun things to take the kids to.  Zoos, amusement parks, aquatic centers, strawberry/raspberry picking centers, town summer festivities and more.  If you don't plan out what you want to do, you may end up spending more than you planned to. Instead take some time in the beginning of the summer and think about what places you want to go to this year.  Don't worry you still have time to do this!  For example, we had a few family vacation trips that we wanted to take this year and so we opted out of going to a big zoo to save on gas. Want some cost-friendly ideas for summer? Check out a previous post I did 10 things to do this summer 

5. Save on water 

Just like with supplies, I have a laundry schedule.  I wash our sheets once a month (maybe that's more often or less often than you do, but that's what works for me).  This way, I know at the end of the month, I change the sheets and then sometime that month wash the dirty ones. (We have a spare set for each bed so I don't have to wash right away.)  So this way I'm not trying to guess when the last time I washed our sheets was.  But I also take that time to wash our washer.  We have a front loader and so need to empty the water regularly, doing this the same time I change our sheets, helps me to not do it too often, but keep up with it so that we keep our washer nice and in return don't have to replace it soon. 

So, schedules they can be helpful as long as you don't let them rule your life.  Just remember to make them work for you.  And if you are a new mom or dad, remember it's ok to take time to do housework, yes it will always be there, but you can make that time together with your little one was well.