I first came across frozen watermelon on Pinterest, and I immediately wanted to try it with my boys.
As an adult, the frozen watermelon is okay, not my favorite, but not bad. It loses the crunchy, juicy texture I love in fresh watermelon. But, the kids LOVE it. They love watermelon in general and the frozen kind is no different. We took some on our trip the beach, and it made for the perfect snack. You can even rinse sand off of it easily!
It is healthy and easy
It cools the kids down
It stays frozen in the cooler
It acts like an ice pack.
It isn’t as messy as a popsicle
It is an easy way to store watermelon after it has been cut
It’s not really difficult to do, but Cookthestory.com has detailed instructions if you need them and lots of beautiful pictures.
I was never trained in the ways of housekeeping when I was young, and I’m still figuring out how to keep a house clean. My biggest revelation… the rag. I am a rag convert. For years, I was a paper towel girl. I would use them for everything! Napkins, sandwich carriers, spill wiper uppers, window cleaners, and tub scrubbers. I feel pretty stupid now. Who the heck cleans their tub with paper towels? Such a bad idea.
I began using old dish towels about three months ago to help cut back on our spending because paper towels ain’t cheap! It was part of many changes we have made over the past year as we adjust to my being a stay at home mom and as we try to pay off substantial debt.
I started out small and used rags for cleaning up the mess the boys left behind on the table after their meals. At first, I was a little weirded out. I was used to wiping up a mess and throwing it away and not having to deal with it ever again. It seemed kind of dirty to reuse something I cleaned the table with even after it went through the laundry. My negative feelings didn’t last long when I realized how much better my beat up dish towels worked for cleaning our messes! Where paper towel would fall apart, my handy rag proved its worth.
Now I use rags for most of our cleaning. The only time I don’t like to use them is when I’m cleaning the toilet. I stick to wads of paper towels, Lysol wipes, and a toilet brush for that particular job. I also prefer to use a sponge with a scrubber on the bathtub and the kitchen sink.
Along the way, I’ve collected a variety of rags. To my old dish towels, I have added cut up tee shirts, a cut up pillowcase, and some thin terry cloth pot holders that weren’t doing their job properly. When my husband went through his t-shirts to clear space in his closet, I thought I’d hit the jackpot! My favorite are the dish towels though. They are great for scrubbing and they soak up liquid well too. I’ve considered buying some, but so far I’ve made do with about 10 mismatched rags. I have only run out a handful of times, which brought up the same feelings as using the last paper towel… total panic.
The only downside to using rags is that they get stained. The stains don’t bother me much since I’m just going to dirty them up again, but if you think it would bother you, stick to dark colors for the rags and you’ll never know.
We recently made a trip to an outlet mall that isn't too far away from us. I wanted to pick up some clothes for Drake and some clothes for the new baby, but it wasn't all too successful. I did buy some shirts for Drake, but the baby clothes were not the right season! Damian found an outfit, and of course, we ended up buying some toys as well. It was a fun (and hot day), and that is what matters the most.
Since beginning potty training Drake about three weeks ago, we’ve seen small progress almost every day. Drake will now go to the bathroom when he feels the urge. He holds it and tries when I ask him to. He remembers to pull down his undies most of the time. He still has accidents, but he is also independently using the potty or asking to sit on the “big boy” potty.
We still haven’t tried leaving the house in undies. I am considering getting a travel potty that can fit on public restroom seats so he is comfortable when we are out, but we are not ready for that step just yet.
He doesn’t wear undies every day. Most days, for at least half of the day, he wears undies, but the rest of the time he wears a diaper. We are pretty relaxed about it with him. If he is particularly cranky, or having any trouble doing a number 2, we break out the diapers.
Why am I taking a relaxed approach? As I’ve mentioned before, Drake can be stubborn, and I am trying to avoid him digging his heels in against potty training. If I don’t meet him half way, that is what will happen. On top of that, potty training stresses Drake out. It’s one more thing he has to think about in his day and navigate, and some days he just isn’t up for it. As he builds up his potty skills and comfort level, I expect that it will be less stressful.
I am pretty laid back for a type A, so a relaxed approach fits my parenting style overall, but in the coming weeks Drake will need to wear undies more frequently, and making bigger steps towards full potty proficiency. We are hoping by the time he starts school in September, he will be ready to wear his fancy underpants and impress all the other 3 year olds.
Damian is off from work this week. With two tots, we don’t do vacations. Instead, we plan fun day trips and local activities. We went to an outdoor outlet mall, played on playgrounds, visited grandma, and we went to the lake! It’s not that far away from us, but during June the swimming is only open on weekends because most kids are still in school. Damian works weekends, so this was our first visit to the lake this summer. I love the lake. I love being among the trees staring at the calm water, and just existing in the world. Depending on weather, we hope to go at least three more times once they open on weekdays.
The kids had a blast! Both Drake and Devin enjoyed splashing in the water, but Drake is a HUGE sand fanatic. He will be the kid making enormous and detailed sand sculptures one day. We set up our little shade maker (I have no idea what these things are actually called), and we let the boys play under it because it was HOT and poor Drake has his mommy’s skin. I kept trying the lure Drake into the lake, but he insisted, “No. Sand.” So, we brought the lake to him in buckets so he could enjoy both wet and dry sand. Devin also loved the sand, but was much more easily wooed to the water.
We ate a late lunch. I brought peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches and frozen watermelon for the kids because I knew I needed to make lunch good to convince them to put down the shovels and eat.
Before we left, we hit up the playground. Drake had a blast. I stupidly thought I could handle both the boys at the same time while Damian packed up the car. Turns out that’s a bad idea. Drake has a tendency to run away. He’s never achieved it because we trail him when we are outside, but given enough leeway, he’d be gone and we’d never find him or he’d run into traffic, at least that’s my fear. (I have nightmares about it.) They spent a good amount of time on lockdown in the baby swings until Damian saved me.
The best part of the day -- Drake did not have a meltdown when we left! He’s been having them frequently when we have to leave a fun activity, but not this time. Damian wore him out at the playground and finally just said “Drake, I’m leaving. Are you coming?” Drake hesitated, but when he saw Damian walking away, he ran over and asked to be carried. We’ve never pulled the “I’m going to leave” trick because honestly, I didn’t think it would work, but it did, and I am thankful to avoid the meltdown. (Note: We would never tell Drake that we were going to leave him! Just that we are leaving, and then let him make the choice to come with us. Of course, he doesn’t have a choice, but it gives the illusion of one. This might work 3-5 more times before Drake figures us out.)
It was an amazing day! I should have taken more pictures of the lake, but there is always next time!
At the end of the day, I find my to do list half finished and my house still not as clean as I wanted, but I am tired, so I tuck the list away, watch some Golden Girls or YouTube, and relax.
I know there are domestic goddesses out there that do it all. Their houses sparkle and smell like lavender, lemon, and fresh baked bread. But the rest of us must settle with doing the best we can with our time and energy. And besides, cleaning up after small children feels a lot like Einstein's definition of insanity.
Early in my relationship with my husband, it became apparent that I was not a domestic goddess, and so I did what I always do in times of crisis. I made a list. I wrote out what needed to be done every day and then what needed to be done weekly so that our family could function happily and comfortably.
The list doesn’t have to be rigid. It can be vague or specific, written, typed, or in your head. Whatever works for you. My own lists have changed and continue to change as our family grows more numerous and our children get older. At first, I preferred a specific list, and I kept it on my cell phone. I looked at it everyday. Now, my list is general and I rarely look at it. It is ingrained in the way I go about my day. As long as the list helps you to focus on what matters most, it is doing its job.
After much experimentation, the only recommendation I have is that your list should stay focused on the tasks that need to happen every 1-3 days. The weekly list can be helpful, but, at least for me, a week long view widens my focus too much, and I become overwhelmed.
I put together a list of some questions to help get you thinking about tasks that might take priority.
What room of your home does your family spend the most time?
We spend most of our time in our living room which doubles as a playroom. Keeping this room reasonably clean is one of our top cleaning priorities.
What aspects of that room does your family need clean in order to make use of and enjoy it?
The couch needs to be clear of toys, there cannot be anything breakable or dangerous within reach of the children. The floor needs to be vacuumed.
What do you need to be organized to cook, eat, clean, get to work on time and enjoy your children?
I need to have a clean kitchen or I cannot function. Our kitchen is small. It doesn’t take much clutter to clog my counter top. The dinner table needs to be clean.
How often do you need to do laundry?
For most people, laundry has to happen at least every three days so I include it here. We try to do a load or two every 2-3 days, but laundry is something we struggle to keep up with.
What grosses you out? Does your kitchen floor have to be spotless or you cannot even look at it?
Oddly enough, I’m not sure anything random grosses me out, but I know people have pet peeves to take into consideration.
To see how my answers translate into my priorities, check out this post.
Once you answer these questions, you should be able to make a list of the tasks that are important to you. You can use your list every day when it comes time to figure out what task needs to be completed with the most urgency. You don’t have to do everything on the list every day. If your playroom doesn’t need to be vacuumed, don’t do it!
So what does your list look like?
I just annouced my pregnancy on my YouTube Channel. In the video, the boys also play with their train tracks and our latest addition... Cranky the Crane.
I type “How to clean a gas stove top” into my Google search bar, and answers abound. I click on a link, read through the comments, and stop, consumed by an irrational jealous rage. “I just wipe off my stove top right away.” “I scrub mine every night before bed, and it never gets dirty.” And I want to punch something. If only I was half the Mrs. Clean that these women are. How do they do it? I’ll never know. Lucky for me, plenty of people out there have found solutions to the stove top issue.
I don’t enjoy cleaning (who does?), and cleaning with kids in the house is like bailing water out of a sinking ship. I can’t keep up. The problem is part toddlers, part motivation, and part energy issues*. So as much as I love having a neat and tidy home, I rarely get to keep it neat and tidy for long.
That’s not to say we live in a hovel. Overall, I keep our home clean, but not always tidy. Our living room is a playroom and my boys are home most of the day, so the toys are everywhere.
I am moderately organized. I know where everything in our house is except maybe some of our electronics and tools because Damian is handles them. I don’t throw the toys into a toy box and call it a day. I keep similar items together and such. The trains are separated from the cars, the stuffed animals are separated from the little plastic figurines, and the books are separated from the puzzles. The puzzle pieces are a jumble in their drawer because one day mommy got sick and tired of putting kid puzzles together.
I call it an organized mess. It is our home, and we love it just the way it is, especially after I shampoo all this (%*#$) carpet.
So, instead of driving myself insane trying to keep everything clean and neat while maintaining a positive attitude and loving my children, I focus on what is most important to me. I stress to me because above all the priorities we have must be personal. Who wants to live by someone else’s standards? Once the most important cleaning jobs are finished, I fit in the rest as best I can. It is still plenty of work, which helps me be thankful that I live in a smallish space.
My Cleaning Priorities:
I’d love to hear how you all do it! How do you prioritize your cleaning? What is most important to you? Please don’t tell me I’m the only one who can’t keep up with it all.
A blog post on how to create cleaning priorities is coming soon!!
*For those interested, I struggle with energy levels, joint pain, and headaches due to lingering symptoms from Lyme Disease which I've had twice.
I'd like to say I prepared for potty training Drake. I'd like to say I researched effective methodology, bought pull ups and appropriately sized undies, prepared a goodie bag of rewards, and had some kind of plan. Of course, there was no plan. As with many things, I woke up and decided that today Drake would wear undies, I would pull the potty chair out, and we would see where things went. No pressure and no commitment.
I wasn't very optimistic. Drake is not usually the most cooperative and had shown no inclination to use the potty or wear anything but diapers. And despite what everyone says about structure and routine with Autism, it really doesn't work for Drake most of the time. He likes to know what to expect, but too much of a routine irks him and he refuses to take part.
So I put (too small thanks to my poor planning) underwear on him in the morning, popped on Thomas and Friends, and sat him in his potty chair. He sat, and sat, and sat. Nothing happened. We continued. When I wanted him to sit, I gave him a distraction, and he'd happily sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Screen time was at its height in our house. Close to noon he had an accident, but I directed him to the potty even though he had clearly finished what he needed to do on the floor, and he cooperated with me.
A few hours later, with the help of too much watermelon, Drake peed on the potty! Startled, he looked down at himself peeing, then up at me like "what the heck is going on mom!?" I praised him, gave him a cookie, and praised him even more. I was proud, elated, and optimistic. That day he didn't do a number 2 at all, but he used the potty two more times after I directed him to sit (and had a couple of accidents).
The next day was the real kicker. He did number 2 multiple times thanks to all the watermelon he consumed the previous day. I don't think I've ever been so happy about a poop in my life. He even went to the potty himself while I did the dishes although he did forget to pull down his undies, which kind of defeats the purpose. It seems pooping on the potty makes more sense than peeing though as he has never once done that on his own.
Since we started a few days ago, we've had bad days and good days. When we leave the house, I put pull ups on him or a diaper as we are not ready for public restrooms. (Can't they have kid sized toilets?) So if we have a busy errand running day, he doesn't get much practice. If I'm not paying close attention to the time and providing distractions while he sits, accidents happen, but I'm hoping over the next month he will make the connection. I don't expect miracles or an overnight success. That's not Drake's style, but I think we are on the right track.
Here's what I've learned so far:
Both Drake and I have learned a lot these first few days of potty training. Even though I didn’t have a plan, things are going smoothly, and I’m beginning to wonder if his success was helped BECAUSE I didn’t have a plan or expectations.
Since this is our first blog post ever, I'm sure it will fade into obscurity. That being said... it is the FIRST, so I feel compelled to talk about the whats, whens, and whys.
Why do you blog?
I’ve been writing about my life and my discoveries since childhood. This blog is an extension of that passion for writing I was born with. By keeping it real, I also hope I will be light to other parents that may be struggling (and aren't we all from time to time? I am!).
What will the blog be about?
In a word -- everything! Most blogs have a narrow focus, but that’s just not me. I plan to talk about our life, cooking, budgeting, organizing and cleaning, Autism, motherhood, finding motivation, and who knows what else. I will post everything from recipes to mishaps to videos of our kids. It will be a real potpourri.
How often will you post?
I would like to say I will post every day, but I know that's not realistic. Since I'm just starting out, I will try to post every three days or more. As I get more practiced, I plan to increase the frequency.
For more information about our family, check out our About the Family page. I can't wait to share our life with you! If you have any more questions, ask away and I will answer in the comments.
Welcome to the family!
We are a laid back, fun, family of four living on a dime in 700 square feet. Life might not be perfect, but every moment of every day, it is beautiful.