Friday, February 27, 2015

Our Homeschool Routine [for ages 3 and 4]

Before Rachel turned 4, we had a very casual "pre-school" experience over here. We discussed shapes, letters, numbers, and colors, but it didn't feel official. But with Jemima heading towards K4, and Rachel turning 5 in a few months, we decided it was time to officially begin homeschooling.

For us, that meant ordering textbooks and developing a scheduled routine that we follow every week day morning. Having an hour of structured school time every morning has benefited us so much! Instead of running off to play after breakfast, the girls know that it's school time! And we all honestly look forward to it.

By the way, I'm not at all a creative person. That's why I like textbooks and charts and schedules. I admire those women who can think of all sorts of creative crafts and methods to teach their kids! But for me... this is what I've found works, and I'm excited to share it with you!



K3 [i.e., What Jemima Does]

-Number recognition from 1-10

-Letter sounds


When I was first teaching Rachel, we worked very diligently on the number names, and then we ran into confusion when she started to read. So with Jemima, I'm teaching the letter sounds first!

We use flashcards for both her numbers and letters.

K5 [i.e., What Rachel Does]

-Reading

I found that once Rachel had the letter sounds cemented in her mind, reading was an easy transition. I started off with Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and I liked it, but only up to a certain point. We switched over to A Handbook for Reading (also published by ABeka), and I much prefer it.

Why? Because I feel like the rules for reading are better explained. Here's a sample page:



So basically, after learning the rule (the second vowel is silent, the first vowel is long), there is a whole page of examples of how that rule is used. Rachel will read through each page day after day until she can read the words quickly and confidently, and then we move onto the next page.

As for the other textbooks we use...

-ABeka Textbooks



I grew up using ABeka, so that's what I'm most comfortable with. Just as a warning: I would not recommend ABeka's Social Studies K5 book. It's too simple. I think children have the capacity to learn and memorize so much, and this book feels like a waste of time.

-Number recognition from 1-100

Again, we use flashcards and we review, review, review. We saw huge improvement in this area when we introduced counting by 10s, to 100. Once she was able to recognize the multiples of 10, it made recognizing a specific number (such as 76) easier, because she already knew to say "seventy..."

[What The Girls Learn Together]

One terrific aspect of having children 13 months apart, is that they're close enough in age that they can learn many things together! It takes Jemima a little longer than Rachel to catch on to concepts or to memorize, but she wants to do everything that Rachel does... so there's plenty of motivation there!

-Counting by 10s to 100

I just mentioned this above, but yes, the girls actually learn this together. I printed a chart that we have taped inside our kitchen cabinets, and the girls look at the chart and recite their "10s" every morning.

-Memorizing the 7 Continents

The girls point to the continents on a world map, and recite, "The world has 7 continents: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica."

-Bible verse memorization

Every two weeks, they have a new verse to memorize, and then we're always reviewing their past verses.

-Learning the States and Capitals

We're learning five new states and capitals per week. I'll say, "Montgomery?" And the girls reply, "Montgomery, Alabama," and so on.

-Reciting the US Presidents' names in order

I remember having to recite this in junior high or high school. I'm thrilled about giving my girls a head start on this!

-Memorizing the Preamble

This was one of our first memorization projects, and it inspired me to make memorization and recitation an important part of our morning routine.

As young as our kids are now, I want to encourage them towards being confident in a public speaking setting--to present information in a clear, articulate fashion. So whenever they're reciting anything they've memorized, I always require that they're standing still, making eye contact, and speaking confidently and clearly.

I hope this doesn't sound silly. Yes, I know that I'm talking about a 3 and 4 year old here, but I'm all about instilling good habits and character qualities that hopefully will grow and develop in our children as they grow and mature!

One more question, that I'm sure some of you moms are wondering...

[What Does Matthias Do?]

Yes, what DOES he do, while the girls are working on school? We do a lot of coloring around here, and Matthias is no exception. I bought a small dry erase board (at the dollar store), and he will sit and doodle on that for a while... or he plays with his mini toolset. Sometimes, he'll just sit and watch, especially when I'm practicing the girls' flashcards. Of course, there are times that he wanders around bored, too, which is why we don't always do all of our school activiites in one sitting. Life happens, and I need to take "feed Caroline" breaks or "read to Matthias" breaks or "put chicken in the crockpot" breaks.

I'm sure that our little "routine" will change... but this is what we're doing for now! Thank you for reading!

Friday, February 20, 2015

How I Organize My Kids' Rooms

You all know how I LOVE some organization, right? Well, one of you wonderful readers wrote to me, asking how I organize my kids' rooms--specifically their clothes, shoes, and books. In the past, I've mentioned a few ways I keep the kids' bedrooms organized, but it's been a while (or perhaps never) that I've written an entire post on the subject.

Before I launch into "how I keep my kids' rooms organized," I should mention that our house has three bedrooms. Rachel and Jemima share the "pink room" because almost everything in that room is pink) and Matthias and Caroline share the "owl room" (named for the owl-covered bedspread). Because I generally organize the "owl room" the same way as the older girls' room, I thought I'd just focus on the latter for now.

Here is Rachel and Jemima's shared bedroom.





Now you understand fully why we refer to that bedroom as the "pink room."

As you can see, each girl has a dresser of their own, but honestly, they could share one dresser. Not only are they getting to the point where they are almost the same size, neither one of them has a ton of clothing.

They also have built-in shelving in their closets, but the majority of their clothing is kept in their dresser drawers.

The top drawer holds their pajamas (1-2 pj outfits each) and underwear.

The second drawer holds shirts (7-10 each).



The third drawer contains jeans (2-3 pairs, though they never wear them), skirts (5-7 each), and leggings (4 each).



The fourth drawer is for their "church" items, such as stockings or dressy sweaters.

The girls wear the same basic outfit every single day: shirt, skirt, leggings, and I've tried to buy items for them that they can mix-and-match to make multiple outfits. We also do the laundry every day but Sunday, so they don't need as many items.

I'm a big advocate of boxes or baskets (found at the dollar store or Goodwill) for smaller items such as hairbands (which we keep on top of the dresser), or stockings or underwear (kept in baskets inside the drawer).

Moving on to the girls' closet.



We hang the girls' jackets, play sweaters, and dresses.

The baskets are for the girls' scarves/hats and their shared socks.



This is the girls' shoe basket.



We generally have a no-shoes-in-the-house policy, so as soon as the girls come inside, they must take off their shoes and return them to this basket.

For those of you who are curious as to what types of shoes the girls own, and how many pairs, here's the girls' shoe inventory!

Winter:
one pair of snow boots
one or two pairs of general-play-outside boots
two pairs of church boots: one black (or silver), one brown

spring/summer:
one pair of cute flats
two pairs of flip-flops or sandals
one or two pairs of church sandals

Matthias has a small shoe box in his room, too, but his shoe inventory is VERY simple: one pair of flip-flops, one pair of play shoes, one pair of church shoes.

What about the kids' toys and books?

Generally, the kids don't keep toys in their room. They're allowed to keep a few books on the shelf in their closet, because there are times during the day that they sit and read, but MOST of the books are kept downstairs on a small bookshelf.

I know I'm a bit of a minimalist, and this sort of thing isn't for a lot of you, and that's okay, but honestly... we don't HAVE very many books. All the kids' books are kept in one basket, on the small bookshelf that keeps our DVDs, books, and photo albums.

I'm trying to collect some classic kids' books (like the Little Golden books!), which I'd be happy to read to the kids over and over. But as for the other "just okay" books, we switch them out a lot. I'll buy books at a yard sale, or consignment sale, and then re-sell them a few months later. We also borrow books all the time, so the kids are continually getting to read new stories, while occasionally hearing the classics we keep downstairs!

Which brings me to another aspect of organizing kids' rooms, and that is... clothes storage. I've gone back and forth on how many clothes to store. It was easy to keep all of Rachel's clothes for Jemima, because they were so close in age, but after having a different gender, I began re-thinking how many clothes I really wanted to store.

At this point, I'm only keeping clothes about 6 months-size in advance, and almost all the rest, I'm selling at consignment sales or our annual yard sale. I'm doing this for four main reasons:

1. I don't like storing stuff I'm not using. I had several totes full of clothing all the way through 3T (which Jemima had grown out of), that I wouldn't be opening to dress Caroline, for 3 more years.

2. The clothes I store end up becoming stained. I've read tutorials on how to get rid of stains (especially on baby items), but I haven't been hugely successful.

3. I like dressing my kids in the current styles. I could keep all Matthias's clothes, but what if I didn't have another boy for 5 more years? I'm SURE the styles will have changed by then.

4. I honestly enjoy kids' clothes shopping. It's one of my favorite past-times! And yet, I don't want to lose money by getting rid of the clothes, either.

[To insure that I don't lose money during this buying-and-selling process, I rarely buy any kids' item for more than $5, because the majority of their clothing is second-hand or end-of-season clearance. Then, whenever they've grown out of those items, if they're still in decent shape, I sell them! I'm especially lucky when I buy my kids' clothes at yard sales for 25 or 50 cents, and then re-sell them for several dollars.]

Similar to what I described with the kids' books, I keep the "classics" from the kids' clothing--such as jeans or shoes... items that won't necessarily go out of style and probably won't get stained, either. I keep those items, sorted by size and gender, in bins in Matthias's closet.

And... I think that's about it!

I hope I covered every area of my kids' rooms! Have a great weekend!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

And We Have a Winner!

Congratulations, Brandi Shelnutt!!

Could you please email me at mrandmrsregar@aol.com with your information, and I'll get you in contact with Rebekah!

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Friday, February 13, 2015

My 5 Time Management Tips for Busy Moms

Have you ever gotten to the end of an exhausting day, and thought, "I didn't get anything DONE!"

Or worse, you remember exactly what you did, and you're cringing in embarassment because you felt you wasted your time?

As moms, it is very easy to stay extremely "busy" all day long. Yet just being busy isn't necessarily a good thing, if your time isn't going anywhere--if you don't feel as if you're making a difference, or if progress isn't being made.

Each stage of life is going to look very different. Since Caroline's birth, I have felt physically better than I did for the nine months before. I have more energy, and I want to be more productive! And yet, I'm finding that if I don't channel that energy, or PLAN my productivity, then days go by and nothing's really moved forward in my life, around the house, and so forth.

There are a few tips that I've discovered that have been very helpful for me, and I'm hoping that some of you moms might be encouraged by them as well.

1. With your husband's input, decide on your goals--personal goals, goals for your children, and goals for your house. When I don't have goals, I tend to flounder around, unsure of where I'm going or what I'm doing. I like to separate the goals into "General" (such as "raise well-educated children") and Specific ("Keep the downstairs carpet vacuumed.")

I'd encourage you not only to formulate these goals in your mind, but to write them down and review them periodically to assess how you're doing!

Besides the more general goals, I'm a huge fan of written to-do lists with your daily goals. My to-do list is always written on a dry erase board on our refrigerator, so that I'm reminded of what I need to do, every time I walk into the kitchen!

Do you know what these goals do, whether general or specific or daily? Hopefully, they are the deciding factor in how you spend your time, right? But I'm getting ahead of myself.

2. Spend your time working towards your goals. Let me give you a super practical example in my own life: we are currently working on our hallway. After that, we'll probably start remodeling the master bedroom. Although we need to, we are NOT working on our back porch--probably not for a while, actually. So if I'm going to be researching house remodeling projects, no matter how tempting it might be to look up porch re-dos, it's probably a waste of time right now.

Here's another example: one of our main goals right now is homeschooling Rachel and Jemima. Even though their school work is still relatively simple, it requires probably an hour of our time every day. I find that the longer I wait to begin their school with them every day, the less I'm excited about it. So we changed around our morning routine, so that after breakfast, we are cleaning off the table and the counters and setting out school books to insure that our school assignments for the day are accomplished.

3. On the other side, cut out everything in your schedule and home that does not fit with your goals. Depending on your family's goals, this looks very different for different people. But let's say that someone gives me the opportunity to go sky-diving (a pursuit that I'm not interested in!). I would decline, because sky-diving doesn't fit with my present goals, and thus would be a waste of my time.

Another example: I found that I was "following" numerous people or organizations on social media sites, that weren't "helping" me at all. I enjoy an occasional motherhood or interior design article, but having to scroll through post after post from people-I-didn't-actually-know or companies I didn't wholeheartedly support anyway... this wasn't accomplishing anything.

4. Even if you're not a strict "schedule" person, figure out some sort of routine--especially for your mornings. Recently, I was reading samples from popular time management books, and one of the most common themes was getting up early, and making the most of your mornings. I couldn't agree more. Every night, I try to set out my clothes for the next day, so then when I wake up, I don't have to spend the time to even pick out my outfit. I do the same things every morning, in generally the same order: contacts, shower, get dressed, make-up, feed Caroline, make breakfast.

We've established a night-time routine, too, which we've gotten used to, and (even more importantly!) the kids have gotten used to. It saves so much TIME figuring out what we should do each night, because we already know!

5. And, lastly: Teach your kids to help. How does this fit with time management for moms? Oh believe me, it does. "Help" doesn't always mean helping with chores (though of course that's part of it). Sometimes "help" entails teaching your toddler NOT to throw around the already-folded laundry, or NOT to pull apart your made-up bed, or NOT to dump all the blocks and then refuse to pick them up. Accidents are one thing, and they just happen... but I'm talking about kids purposefully creating messes, which leads to moms spending their time cleaning up after their kids unnecessarily.

If the kids are taught to pick up after themselves, and even to assist with simple tasks around the house, it will free up the mom's time to pursue the bigger goals, whether it's particular character traits, or teaching the 3-year-old how to count to 20!

I hope you found some of these ideas to be helpful! I love the idea of a well-managed, organized, peaceful, clean home--no matter how many kids live there--and I'm hoping to write more blog posts on these subjects in the future! If you have any questions, or any specific topics you'd like me to address, let me know in the comments!


Thank you to everyone who's entered the Flexi-Clip giveaway! I'll be drawing the winner's name tomorrow!! Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I Haven't Written a Post Like This For a While...

Hi, ladies! It seems like I haven't written a "normal life" post about us for a while... so here's a post about one relatively normal evening shopping trip. ;)

But First...

Have you entered to win a Flexi-Clip yet? The giveaway ends Saturday!!

Okaaay. Back to it.

I've mentioned before that I enjoy browsing Pinterest for inspiration photos, and I usually text them to Matt... or I'll just hand him my phone and say, "How about you scroll through that album and tell me what you like?"

But rarely, increasingly so, do we get the opportunity to go browsing/shopping together. In fact, after buckling all the kids into the Tahoe, and starting the drive to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Matt commented how this sort of "family outing" might eventually stop altogether. We'll see. I still like 'em. :)

We're not completely "sold" on everything Bed, Bath, and Beyond sells, nor do we love the [sometimes] high prices, but I visit other "home" stores a lot, so we decided to browse BBAB for something different!



I love when stores have beds that all are made up! This one was our favorite in the bedding section. Because we are in the business of living life--and small children are involved--I am super pumped about bedspreads/quilts/comforters that are EASY TO WASH. As in, throw all your bedding in the washer and dryer! Definitely no dry-cleaning happening around here.





Our shopping buddies!



Rachel is always ready to pose. :)



As soon as the girls saw these curtains, they ran over to them, exclaiming, "We should get these! These sparkly ones are so beautiful!" Little girls, through and through.



Matt and I were kind of picturing curtains more along these lines...





And... that's pretty much all we looked at! We were thinking of going to one or possibly two more stores, but Caroline was hungry--and it was getting late, so the trip came to an end. That's okay! I feel like we established more of what we'll be purchasing in the future, plus we enjoyed a quick family outing, too! Win win.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Flexi Clip Review + Giveaway!

Hey, everyone!

For those of you who already saw this post, YES, there IS a giveaway!! I just forgot to put in that important information! Continue reading... *hides face in embarassment*]


A couple weeks ago, a young lady who reads my blog wrote to me, asking if she could send me a Flexi Clip to try out... in exchange for writing a review! Considering that my girls wear hair clips or bows in their hair ALMOST every day, I was thrilled for the chance to try out another fun clip!

Rebekah asked me to write an honest review of this Flexi-Clip (a product from the Lilla Rose company)--which made me a little nervous, thinking, "What if I don't like it for some reason?"

But, no worries. Both Rachel and I were instantly a big fan of her new Flexi-Clip!



While she was wearing this clip, Rachel was running around and jumping and dancing and doing all the normal sorts of things that a 4-year-old girl does, and that clip did not budge. What I'm getting at is... this Flexi-Clip looks super pretty AND it's made well... which isn't true most of the time with other hair clips!



Before I get into the deal (and the giveaway!!) that Rebekah is offering this month, here's a bit more about the product:

The Flexi-Clip comes in multiple sizes, so there's one for every hair type/thickness!









Every month, Lilla Rose offers a special "Flexi of the Month" that is available just that month. For this month, they came out with two--just in time for Valentine's Day!



Through March 7th, Rebekah is offering a Buy 3, Get 1 Free deal to all first-time customers of Lilla Rose!



If you'd like to make a purchase, or would like more information, please email Rebekah at simplejoysathome@hotmail.com.

OR visit her website or facebook page. :)

But I promised a giveaway, didn't I?!

Rebekah's giving away a FREE product from Lilla Rose up to a $16 value. Go ahead--look through all the lovely options, and then comment below with what you would like to win!


We'll draw the winner's name next Saturday!! Have fun browsing the choices... and don't forget to comment below!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pretty Rooms, First Edition

One of the best aspects of buying a "fixer-upper" is that it needs, of course, to be fixed up.

I'm not naturally a creative person, so I can't just look into the recesses of my "creative mind," and find all sorts of wonderful ideas on how we should renovate and decorate our rooms!

Introducing... Pinterest.

Okay, so it sounds lame, but honestly... it's awesome. Almost daily, I am collecting photos of design and decor ideas--and then I'm continually texting them to Matt for his input. I'm more the "decor" girl, while he's the guy with the nail gun [i.e., the ability/knowledge on how to make these ideas become a reality].

In case any of you are in a similar fixing-up-your-house situation, I thought I'd share some of our inspiration ideas with you! That being said, I present...

[[Pretty Rooms, First Edition]]

[Whether or not there will ever be a Second Edition is all based on the popularity of THIS post. ;)]

[[kitchen]]



[[back porch]]



[[living room]]



[[master bedroom]]



[[play room]]



You're probably getting clued in to what my style is, right? Simple, clean, with pops of blue... everywhere. :)

Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How I Earn $40-50 a Month Using Phone Apps [Part 2]

I know you've been waiting, anxiously waiting, to hear more about how to earn money using your phone. In fact, every time I turned on an app that I hadn't yet told you about, I felt a little guilty. But now, here I am.

But first...If you missed Part 1 (where I talked about Swagbucks, Bing, and Qriket), check it out HERE!

And secondly... for all those of you who one, are skeptical of this whole money-earning app thing (OR, you are a millionare, and would rather sit and count your millions), two, never have any dead time where you'd USE said apps, or THREE, could care less to hear about apps where you have to CLICK buttons to earn a few cents here and there (yikes, that does sound bad!!), I say this to you:

Stay tuned for the grocery store apps, at the bottom of this post. Because there's a chance that you might still buy groceries from time to time. You might even visit clothing stores once in a while. And if you do THOSE things, then you might be interested in the three apps I mention at the bottom. So don't close this post. Not yet.

OH-kay. First up: Feature Points. There are many apps like this, in which you download a free app, try it out for a few seconds, and BAM: you get points. And those points add up, convert to dollars (or gift cards), and you go shopping. ;)

This app MIGHT be the best of all of download-and-try apps, because of the referral system. Not only can you rack up your OWN points, but you receive 50% of all your friends' points, too. . Not a bad deal, huh? If you have friends who have access to phone apps, that is. ;)

As I've mentioned last time, you don't need to use my referral code. You can just search Feature Points, and go from there. But if you want my referral code ('cause you're feeling extra generous), here 'tis: 73EM6K.

My favorite rewards from Feature Points are Amazon gift cards and Paypal (a.k.a. real money!), though there are many other reward options.

Ahh... now. My favorite app for the hours and hours a day when I'm not using my phone. When my phone is just sitting on the counter doing nothing earning gift cards.

It's called Perk TV, and you literally start the trailers running on this app, and walk away. Every hour or so, you have to click "yes" to the question "Are you still watching?" but other than that, the trailers continually run all day long, making this app kinda awesome.

My goal for THIS app is the same as the goal for Swagbucks: one $5 gift card every week, and I always choose a Wal-mart gift card for this one, too (though you could earn gift cards for Applebee's, Children's Place, Target, Lowe's... You name the place. There are gift cards!), because the bulk of my "household products" come from there.

Combining my Perk TV gift cards and Swagbucks gift cards, by the way, is how I earn (or my goal is to earn) $40 in Walmart gift cards every month. That leaves our "ACTUAL" Wal-mart bill very small indeed.

If you're interested, my Perk TV referral code is: 910c32b7.

Next: App Trailers. This is another trailer-watching app. Although you have to actually click for each trailer to start, I still really like this app because I can earn money (Paypal again) while I'm watching TV shows, curling my hair, nursing Caroline, or other activities where my hands are mostly free. I love how EASILY this money transfers to your Paypal account as soon as you reach $0.50 (which is about how much I earn every day).

Every time I purchase anything using Paypal, I always have money already in there (from App Trailers), which gives me a nice discount! As for referral code, I'm honestly not quite sure how this one works. I'd just try mrandmrsregar, and see what happens! ;)

And FINALLY... for those of you grocery-store-shoppers who have been scrolling and scrolling, these are for you.

My Top Fav Store App is Receipt Hog.

I LOVE this app, primarily because it's so FUN. You take pictures of your receipts (from grocery stores, or major retailers), and the "Receipt Hog" eats your receipts, and gives you points. And then sometimes you get to "spin" for more points. And points turn into (guess?)... gift cards or cash. As usual.

You'll love it. (Some of you have already used my referral code, which I posted on Facebook and Instagram. Thank you!! For those of you who haven't yet signed up, my code is: zund7013).

The last two grocery store apps (which are very similar to each other) are: Checkout 51 and Snap. Each week, they post special offers on certain grocery items (some are as non-specific as "grapes" or "loaf of bread.") Once you purchase those items, then you snap a picture of your receipt, and they give you a certain amount BACK for each of the items you bought.

Alrighty! There are many more apps out there, but these are all my favorites. For now. ;) If you have any other favorite apps (which happen to earn you a little cash), please mention them in the comments, and I'll be sure to check them out!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

How I Earn $40-50 a Month Using Phone Apps: Part 1

Hey! I recently asked on my facebook page if anyone was interested in learning about MONEY-EARNING APPS, and a bunch of you responded! I'm super excited to tell you about my favorite apps, and how they all work, but first... a couple things to keep in mind. ;)

1. These apps THRIVE on what I refer to as "dead-time." We all have this, even if you're a busy stay-at-home moms! There are moments throughout every single day when you're waiting for someone to arrive, or for the water to boil. Or you're "Please Hold-ing" on the phone with the insurance company. And let's not forget about commercials!

There are also many moments when you're performing a semi-mindless task, such as folding laundry, curling your hair, or ironing, when you could have your phone next to you, continually earning money.

That brings me to point #2.

Earning money on your phone does not = a part-time job. If you do exactly what I do, you're looking at a nice chunk of "fun money" every month, but don't think you'll be able to start paying your bills using this essentially "free" money. Ha. :) But at the same time, if your phone's just SITTING on the counter, doing nothing, or if YOU'RE just sitting, doing nothing (if only for a minute), wouldn't it be cool to use those moments to slowly earn up some money that you weren't counting on?

The money will come in slowly, but if you use these apps enough, the money will add up--till you look around your house, and realize that half the decor in your kids' rooms, plus your kids' pajamas, plus a pair of shoes, and a new dress for yourself, etc. ALL came from clicking on some phone apps. It's pretty simple, and I hope you enjoy this experience (and the extra cash) as much I have!

Now. I WAS planning to explain about ALL the apps in one killer-long post, but I think it might be better to split them up and explain as I go.

First off, probably the most popular money-earning app. At least the one I've heard the most people talking about, and that is...

SWAGBUCKS

Everyone has a slightly different way of using Swagbucks to make them the most money. My goal is simple: to have a $5 gift card once a week. This is what I do to achieve that goal.

1. Install the Swagbucks toolbar on your computer, and then visit Swagbucks every day. (1 SB per day)

2. Perform the Daily Activities (1-2 SB per activity). You'll find these on the Swagbucks website.

3. Scroll through the homepage, looking for "Earn Easy Swagbucks" activities. Sometimes you can find opportunities for 2 SB (which are usually as simple as clicking a button), and other times, you'll find ones up to 25--or more.

4. Play a few games (up to 10 SB).

The bulk of my SB earnings, though, come from Swagbucks TV. This is both an app, and a button on your Swagbucks toolbar.

5. SB TV on the computer: Every 10 videos watched = 3 SB. That seems like pittance, and that it would take forever, but here's the good thing: you can be doing whatever you want on the computer, and keep that TV running (on the side) the whole time. I've never gotten to this grand total (you'd have to be on your computer all day long!), but supposedly you can earn over 100 SB daily, just by running the TV on your computer.

6. SB TV on your phone app: Pick which set of videos you want to watch, and your phone will run on its own, watching video after video, up to 36 SB. You can literally just press a button, and walk away--and your phone will sit there, earning money! Sometimes your phone might freeze, but I've heard that re-setting your router once a week would fix that problem (??).

7. Enter the available Swagbucks Codes for 3-6 SB daily (depending on the day). I have all SB Codes texted to my phone (if you're in the US, text "follow SwagCodeSpoiler" to 40404), so that I can enter them (either on my phone, or on the computer) before they expire!

8. Install the Bing App, which can stand on its own (as a money-earning app), or it can be SB's BFF (Best Friend Forever ;)). How Bing works: it's basically a search engine like Google. You can perform searches on your phone and computer, and earn up to 27 points per day. The nice thing is, one of the rewards Bing offers is to transfer your Bing points into Swagbucks! You don't have to do that of course, but it definitely increases how many SB you earn per week.

Well, that's HOW you earn Swagbucks (hope some of that made sense--whew!), but here's WHAT you can earn... gift cards for Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks (each one "costs" 450-500 SB)... How's THAT sound, right?!

There are so many more apps to talk about, but I'm going to leave you with a quick bonus app. This one's super easy, and it takes basically no time at all every day. In fact, Rachel and Jemima have gotten into earning money on this app!

It's called "Qriket," and all you do is spin a wheel, with the chance to win a random amount, starting at $0.05. Once you get to $5, you can cash out to Paypal. You can only spin the wheel a few times a day, so I check it in the morning, spin the wheel (if I have free spins), and then wait a few hours till I gather more spins! And that's it.

Let me say one more thing before I go: for almost every app I use, I have a referral code--which means that if you sign up *using* my referral code, I get some kind of bonus. It's small, but it's a fun bonus nevertheless! ;) If you'd rather not use my referral code, then don't click on my links... just head straight to Swagbucks or Bing or wherever you please! :) And for those of you who DO sign up with my codes, here's a thank you in advance!

Okay! If you have questions, let me know! I hope you have fun with these! I'll hopefully be back soon, with more money-earning apps! LOL.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Keeping Up with Six People's Laundry [Without Getting Overwhelmed]

You wanna hear some sarcasm?!

There's nothing better than getting ready to switch the clothes from the washer to the dryer, only to open the dryer and see cold, wrinkled clothes that you'd totally forgotten about.

There aren't too many sights more beautiful-to-the-eyes than your guest bed, covered in piles of unfolded clothes.

Yeah, wow. What about your laundry room floor, strewn with dirty clothes... like, everywhere?

First thing that comes to mind, is to whip out your phone, and start pinning these awe-inspiring images to Pinterest, am I right?!

Ahem.

No. Not a chance.

Here's more the feeling that overwhelms me when I see this: discouragement. Feeling like the laundry is a MONSTER, that I'm JUST TOO TIRED to keep fighting.

I was a little nervous about adding a fourth child's laundry to our "laundry situation"--especially since a baby goes through a good deal of clothing the first few months. It's small clothing, but still... clothing nevertheless that needs washed and put away.

But honestly, it hasn't been too bad. Really. I adopted a system of doing things, that seems to be working nicely. It's pretty simple, too, and the laundry is almost always done for the day by lunch time. At least, that's the goal!

So, here are my favorite tips for keeping the laundry under control...

Dirty laundry everywhere? No. Designated spots where dirty laundry is contained, until washing? HUGE HUGE HUGE YES.

We have two laundry baskets--one in the girls' room, and one in our master bedroom. The girls are pretty much in charge of putting all the KIDS' dirty laundry in their basket. So if I'm changing Matthias's jeans, Caroline's sleeper, you name it... the girls come and get it [immediately], and put it in their hamper. The girls are more than welcome to change their own clothes, or put on their nightgowns, etc., as long as they put their dirty clothes in their hamper right away. We have a strict "no dirty clothes on the floor" policy.

What about dirty towels and sheets? Blankets? This might sound silly, but when we have dirty towels/sheets/blankets, I throw them down the steps towards the laundry room, and then whenever anyone of us (including the girls) are going downstairs, we pick it up and place it right into the washer. That way, they're already there, ready to be washed, along with the clothes.

How much laundry is there? I mean, isn't there, like, a TON, with six people? Okaaay. Maybe there's a lot, but honestly, I think you'd be surprised how LITTLE there is, all things considered. And here's why: We only change clothes if they're actually dirty. Otherwise, we wear them a couple days in a row. If you know me personally, I'm a bit of a clean freak, so don't worry--if the clothes are actually dirty, they're getting changed. It's not like I have dirty kids running around. And this system works VERY well in the winter time (when they're primarily playing inside), as opposed to summer days (when they're getting dirty and sweaty, having fun outside).

As for pajamas, the kids don't wear them every night. It's kind of like a special treat, though the girls are wearing them more often now, since they can dress themselves. But it'll take SEVERAL wearings of pajamas before I proclaim them needing-to-be-laundered.

I don't know how much this ACTUALLY plays into LESS LAUNDRY, but my kids' outfits are pretty simple, meaning they don't have a ton of clothes to begin with. The girls wear shirts, skirts, and leggings every day, Matthias wears a shirt and jeans, and Caroline's favorite outfit is still cuddly sleepers. ;)

The girls can mix-and-match the pieces in their outfits a lot, so that it appears that they're wearing different outfits, but really... we're working with the same basic pieces. :)

Oh! Oh! I want to talk about socks. I'm just a wee bit passinate about socks. ;) I buy ALL the kids' socks from Old Navy--every time. I try to buy cool designs--so Matthias has orange fox socks, gray and black raccoon socks, striped or plaid socks, etc.

Similarly, the girls have pink, polka-dotted, purple, striped, and so on. Not white, which get stained easily (not a fan of stains over here). When the socks are very colorful/specific (who could accidentally match an orange fox sock with a purple polka-dotted one?!), then it's easy to match them up, and tell whose are whose.

And by the way, the girls wear the same size socks, which makes it awesome. Old Navy had a 5 pairs for $5, so I bought five pairs, and the girls share them.

Once they're dirty, they get put in the wash. While folding clothes, all the socks get thrown a pile, where they are then matched up and distributed.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Each day, right after breakfast, the girls dump the two laundry baskets together, and I carry it down the stairs and start the wash. In this season of life, it's all one load, folks. No sorting. (But that's just based on our preference!)

[[our laundry room]]



An hour or so later, I go BACK downstairs, and switch the wash into the dryer. Then an hour after that, the laundry is dried and ready.

Woo-hoo! Excitement, excitement. Clean, warm laundry!!

And then what happens??? The girls open the dryer, pull out all the kids' stuff, and distribute it. We're still working on the folding aspect. Right now, each child has a dresser, with certain drawers designated to hold different pieces of clothing, and the girls deliver the clothes to each drawer accordingly.

Then, whenever I get around to it, I'm "in charge" of the adult clothing--which, considering we're doing a load every day, it isn't that much stuff.

As for towels and rags... I fold them, and the girls put them away.

What about all the bedding? Extra for an extra crib sheet, we don't have any extra sheets. So if I strip the bed (or beds) in the morning, I try to have the bed made up again by the time it's needed for naps/night time.

All this being said, my biggest tip for laundry (especially the distributing part) would be...

Just Do It.

Same with cleaning the bathrooms, wiping the floors, doing the dishes. Sometimes, it'll never seem easy, and you'll never FEEL like folding, even if it's a small pile.

So just start working on it, and little by little, you'll soon see your hard work pay off!

No more piles?! Hurray! Definitely a cause for celebrating.