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Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

My Childhood Home

A post over at Lifenut’s gave me a fun idea for a meme. I’d like you all to consider writing about your childhood home. It doesn’t matter how big or small it was. All the memories don’t have to be picture-perfect. If you moved a lot, it’s fine to pick one favorite house. What I want to hear are details that were important to you as a child: your secret hideout under the stairs, the single-paned picture window you licked and froze your tongue to one winter morning, the backyard tree you climbed, the way your mother washed your hair in the kitchen sink every Saturday night, or any other strong indelible memory you have.

On Friday, July 20th, put your post up on your blog. I’ll put a Mr. Linkie up on my blog so that you can sign in with the address of your post. If you don’t have a blog (Marian!!), you can leave your story in my comments section on the 20th. Then you can go to visit others who are sharing their own memories. I think that reading each other’s childhood memories of ‘home’ will help us as parents get a better feel for the types of things that make childhood memorable for children.

I’d love it if you’d mention this writing prompt on your blog. Email me (owlhaven at aol dotcom) if you’d like a button to put in your post. I hope to read memories from many!

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Yesterday I told you all about my dresser-painting/nesting habit. Another staple of nesting for a new child is my ritual of filling the freezer with casseroles before the child arrives. Yesterday, after shopping for a good long time, I came home and proceeded to put together three lasagnas and three tater tot casseroles. I also cooked enough chicken to make a couple of enchilada casseroles today to freeze. Feels great to have all that food ready and waiting.

Of course it remains to be seen if our new girls will appreciate that effort. Ethiopian kids, I’ve heard, often think cheese is vile. And as we all know, cheese is the staple binding ingredient of any good casserole. Ah, well. SOME of the family will have an easy meal. That’ll free me up to work on finally mastering injera— the new girls have promised they’ll teach me how to do it properly.

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John and I got pregnant with our first child less than a year after we got married, while both of us were still in college. That didn’t exactly leave lots of money for expensive baby furnishings. So when we found a sweet little white dresser for $40 at a used furniture store, we snatched it up. That, along with my husband’s childhood crib and a rocking chair from my grandmother, comprised our nursery set.

The crib has gone by the wayside– it doesn’t meet the safety standards these days anyway. The rocking chair now sits in the corner of my little girls’ room– I’ve painted it a couple different colors over the years.

And that little dresser? Well, over the years it has graced every baby room we’ve owned. It lived for a while as a white dresser. Then I got bored and covered the drawers with blue floral contact paper. After that got old, I painted the drawers peach. It went back to white for awhile in the nursery of my big boys. For my little boys I painted the body red and the drawers white.

We were given a couple dressers for our new daughters. But those ended up looking a little too boyish to me. I moved them into one of the boys’ rooms, and once again appropriated the little old white dresser into my ‘nesting’ for these new girls. it seems I can’t nest properly without painting that old dresser one more time.

Our new daughter’s room is a warm, lively pink. It seemed only appropriate that the dresser go pink in this reincarnation. I repainted the drawers white, and blopped little speckles of hot pink, orange, and green (the bedroom’s accent colors) all over the drawer faces. The whole fix was only a couple afternoon’s work, and I was so pleased with how it looks.

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Works for Me: Play-doh

This tip is actually from a friend of mine who has 7 kids. I was telling her how much I despise playdough, and how I hardly ever got it out for my kids because I couldn’t stand the mess. She had the easiest solution: only let the kids play with it outside.

We have done this quite a few times lately. I discovered that when all it takes is a couple swipes with a broom to clean up, I like playdough just fine.

Playdough outside on the picnic table instead of ground into my carpet or tracked through my house: Works for Me!

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Well, somehow the week got away from me and I forgot to declare a winner for last week’s opinion question. The Golden Keyboard this week goes to Jane, who shared some great ways their family helped their kids prepare for new siblings. Thanks, Jane!

This week’s question has to do with organizing kids’ bedrooms. What have you done to tame the clutter monster in your kids’ rooms? You have until Wednesday evening to share your best tips!

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Planning to go on a trip and need a jump start on your packing list?

Check out this handy-dandy Universal Packing List. Answer a few simple questions about your trip, and this website will generate a personalized packing list. You’ll still want to customize for your particular needs. But this cool tool will give you a decent starting point — fast!

Works for me!

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Works for Me: Yard Work

There was a fortunate collision of two happenings at our house this week. First of all, the weeds in the flower bed seem to be exploding. Second, my 8 and 9 year olds are wanting to earn some money. I hit the bank today for some nice crisp $1 bills, and tomorrow the boys plan to see how many of those dollars they can make their own.

In the past I have paid kids $3/hour. But I’ve found through trial and error that the best way to get the most done is to pay by the bucketfull. Tomorrow I’ll be handing my guys empty gallon-sized ice cream buckets, and they’ll be getting 50 cents for every bucket full of weeds they bring me. I may end up paying more than $3 an hour, but I’ll be getting a lot more weeds gone too.

Works for me

(PS– Shannon’s doing a birthday theme this week, which I forgot about. But hey, my tip COULD help get your yard shaped up for the party, right?)

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There are two types of people in the world.

There are those who move into a house, place their furnishings around neatly, and barring the occasional tornado or vacuuming session (after which all furniture is carefully replaced precisely into the exact divots it created) there the furniture stays until the Second Coming.

Then there are the restless souls, people like me who rearrange more often than they dust. Furniture, pictures, lamps, curtains, bedspreads… it’s all fair game. Nothing is sacred.

When we first got married, my constant shuffling bothered my husband. Not only did I cause him to stub his toes in the night on the every-shifting constellation of furniture in our house, I also swiss-cheesed the walls with my constant picture rearranging. He resigned himself to toe-stubbing. But he felt pain each time he’d discovered I’d rehung the pictures, again, and made more holes in the wall. (It made perfect sense to me that moving the couch also necessitated moving the picture above the couch, but that connection was not so clear to him. )

Finally we found a solution for the pictures that pleased us both– well, in our bedroom at least. My husband built a narrow shelf 2/3 of the way up our bedroom wall. It’s really only a ledge, just big enough to rest pictures on. The ledge wraps around three walls in our room. Now when I want to rearrange the photos in our bedroom, all I do is take them off the shelf and put some new ones up. No new holes in the bedroom wall! It looks lovely and gives me the versatility I crave.

Works for me!

Oh, and I’d love to hear which kind of person you are– a furniture leaver or a furniture mover?

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Shannon is asking for our favorite kitchen tips. I have two major tools that help me in the kitchen: a wok and a rice cooker. The rice cooker makes it possible to cook either rice or oatmeal without having another pot on the stove to watch. And thanks to the wok, I can get all sorts of stir-fry meat and veggie meals to the table in half an hour or less. I can live without an electric can-opener and a KitchenAid. But I’d never be without my wok or my rice-cooker. Works for me!

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Musical…everything

(Updated** Note: Entries for the ‘I Am’ Contest need to be posted by Saturday at noon, Pacific time. Scroll down for more info)

Today I embarked on a mission. For quite awhile we’ve had three– THREE!–dressers in our bedroom. One is a tall one, and the other two are big wide things, which makes the room feel more like hallways around the king-sized bed instead of actual space.

I’m craving elbow room. I decided to dejunk, and thought I’d see if through some judicious juggling I could also move one big dresser to a different room. First I dug in and organized my walk-in closet better and got rid of some books that I had stacked in there. That freed up my clothing cubbies for clothes, allowing me to empty out a dresser.

Once I figured out where I was going to move the furniture, I decided I really needed a couple of new lamps. Oh, and shelves. I wanted shelves. I headed for Target with my 16-year-old and 4-year-old, where we had fun cruising the aisles. Well, the 16-year-old and I had fun. Mostly the four year old just whined, ‘This is boring…..’ over and over, except for the thirty seconds it took her to choose a bag of Dove chocolate (which we would try very hard not to eat all of on the way home– I blame the railroad crossing for the disappearance of at least 6 pieces).

Anyway, I found a nice affordable shoe shelf for $30, and some cute little lamps for $25 apiece. But the bookshelves were disappointing. I was hoping they’d have this little number in stock. $30 didn’t seem too bad to me. But, no. All they had was this for $80. I just couldn’t do it. Couldn’t. (Sucks to be a tightwad some days.)

But once we got home, the lamps looked great and the room arrangement worked lots better than the old one. My big kids hauled the one dresser upstairs to the family room– I’m going to use it to organize the game corner tomorrow. I also plan to get a couple old ugly shelves out of the family room.

My bedroom looked soooo much better when we got it all done, that in an inspired moment, we found a big ol bow and decorated the door and then when my hubby got home from work, I presented him our ‘new’ bedroom as a Valentines Day gift. Amazing what a little de-junking and rearranging and cleaning and a few little purchases can do….

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