My Real Life cleaning list

I decided I should write a more realist cleaning list after all those Pinterest list shenanigans. Here are some things my Real Life cleaning list would include: 

  • Use a long stick to scoop the stuff out from behind the headboard of the guest bed. (Our guest bed is in our basement/playroom. Daniel loves to drop stuff back there.)
  • Pick up hardened macaroni noodles off the stairs. Try not to think about how long it’s been since we had macaroni. 
  • Rewash the load of clothes in the washer. Hope I don’t forget about it a 2nd (uh, or 3rd) time.
  • Wipe toothpaste off various surfaces in the kids’ bathroom. This is beyond regular bathroom cleaning and includes places like the light switch, the step stool, the baseboards, and the inside or drawers. 
  • Pick up 800 pairs (ish) of shoes from the living room. Wonder how the kids can own SO many shoes but can’t ever find ANY OF THEM.
  • Put a pillowcase on Will’s pillow and/or a sheet on Daniel’s crib. Apparently these boys are anti-bed-linens. 
  • Put 1 million kids cups in the sink. The dishwasher is already running (OF COURSE) and these cups seem to spontaneously generate. 
  • Scrub doorknob/light switch/railing/table edge within reach of the babies high chairs. Consider using a screw driver to chisel that crap off.
  • Move all basement furniture to get to toys underneath. Wonder how the K from the foam alphabet can STILL BE MISSING.
  • Go room to room picking up and throwing away toys that are broken/missing pieces/have bites take out of them.
  • Clear papers off the bookshelves/mantle/windowsill. All stuff I put there to “deal with when I had more time”
  • Create at LEAST one load of laundry from clothing outside of bedrooms. (Forget laundry baskets. Those might as well not exist.)
  • Clear expired coupons out of the coupon drawer. Yay! Empty drawer! 
  • Pick up shreds of paper. It’s like magic indoor snow. Courtesy of Daniel. 

I’m sure there are more, but that’s all I’ve got for now. What’s on your list?

LEGOS! Finally organized

To say we have a lot of Legos is…an understatement. The kids love them, and Brian and I love them, and SOMEHOW we ended up with a lot of them! Such a mystery. Anyway, it got to the point where the kids couldn’t really play with them, because the whole surface of the Lego table (a train table that we use for Legos) was covered, and it was impossible to find anything in our super tidy storage system (giant storage tupperware filled with Legos.) Something had to be done. I looked on Pinterest, (because I never learn) but almost everything on there has Legos organized by COLOR and y’all. DON’T DO THAT. It may look nice, but if you want Legos to be usable to actually BUILD THINGS USING INSTRUCTIONS, you need to sort them by piece type. We made a half hearted attempt to do this once in the past, but we had no system for actually KEEPING them sorted, so they all ended up back in a giant mess of stuff. I was determined this summer to get them sorted for good. (Key point in my plan was the kids being gone for 3 weeks.)

So! I started by ordering one of these.

I knew it would take more than one, but I didn’t really have a good idea how many Legos it would hold, or if I’d want more small drawers or big ones, or what. I figured as I sorted I’d have a better idea what we needed. In the end, I bought 3 of that first cabinet, and one like this, with just the larger size drawers. I started by sorting out smallest pieces first, and I won’t lie, this is a giant pain. Tedious and time consuming, like sorting piece by piece through a 1000 piece puzzle to find the edges. I don’t actually mind doing this kind of stuff, but seriously, HOURS AND HOURS. I worked on this project pretty much daily for the 3 weeks my kids were visiting my parents. But I’m sure you don’t want a blow by blow of the sorting, so how about a look at the end product, eh? (Not my best pictures. Sorry about that.) These 4 cases are probably only about 1/2 of our Legos, volume-wise, but they keep all the teeny tiny pieces sorted and easy to find.IMG_2238IMG_2239

By the way, if it’s at all possible, I recommend keeping Legos in a room with a hard floor. Sweeping them up is far easier than picking them up one by one to keep them out of the vacuum. Also, you can see them on a wood floor, which lowers the chances that you’ll accidentally step on one and want to die.

The labeling system is Brian’s genius idea. I was wondering aloud how to name each individual piece and he said, “just glue one on the front.” BOOM. Brilliant. Especially since my kids have made up ridiculous names for various pieces that only they use. I just used a hot glue gun. Easy and, if it needs to be, reversible. (Hot glue is pretty easy to peel off plastic.)


As you can see, some drawers have more than one piece glued on the front, because the drawer holds more than one type of Lego. Other drawers only have one piece glued on the front even if they have more than that inside (generally if it has the same piece type in varying sizes.) Some drawers aren’t labeled because either they have a whole mess of stuff (drawer with all the rubber-band/string pieces) or because there are only 2 or 3 of a particular piece and I didn’t want to waste one by gluing it on the front. Honestly I was sort of winging it here. I figured I could change things if it wasn’t working. (So far it’s working.)


This is just to give you an idea of the size of the small drawers.


For the bigger pieces I used some bins we already had, because sorting these into drawers would have taken like 2 more of those cabinets. Those bins each have multiple sizes of the same kind. No specialty pieces. Bigger legos are considerably easier to sort through and find what you need. It’s those dang tiny bits that are the trouble makers.


And last, a little spaceship that I built, using the instructions from a set from 1987! (Yes, I have some very old Legos. That spaceship has like 4 different pieces that Lego doesn’t even make anymore.)

We tested the organized system by building some sets. Kalena picked a set that we own, using the paper instruction booklet, Will picked a set from, not one we own, but that we figured we had all the pieces for. I’d guess they took slightly longer than opening a new set and building just with those pieces in front of you, but only slightly! Things were easy to find, the kids didn’t get frustrated, and Will enjoyed being able to pick different colors than the instructions showed. (We did have to sub a couple pieces on his- he picked a star wars set with a couple speciality pieces we don’t have.)




Road tripping

Back at the beginning of June I took all 4 kids and we went to hang out with some friends in Illinois. And I was going to write about it right after we got back, except within hours of our arrival home we got hit with a stomach bug which felled us one by one over the course of two weeks. (It was a LONG TWO WEEKS.)

Anyway, we started out first thing in the morning, and Kalena and Will were SO EXCITED to leave that they got in the car before we’d even finished loading it. I told them to hop back out so they could go to the bathroom before we left, and as they did I noticed that Will didn’t have any shoes on. I said, “Will! You have to wear shoes! Go get your shoes on and go to the bathroom before you get back in the car.” I thought what a good thing it was that I’d made them get out, because GAH. You have to have shoes! (You see where this is going right?)

About an hour in (to a 6 hour drive) Kalena asked if she could take her shoes off. I said sure, and that I was surprised she hadn’t taken them off already. And then Will said, “I don’t have to take my shoes off, because I already wasn’t wearing any!” I said, “What do you mean you weren’t wearing any??” And he responded that he hadn’t been able to find them when he went back in the house. Y’all. There was a lot of yelling. And much internal swearing. And then there was a 40 min detour to the nearest walmart to buy him some flip flops. I wouldn’t have even bothered (since we were staying at a friend’s house) but I KNEW we were going to have to stop and get out on the way there! 4 hours maybe we could have managed, but 6? Nope. (He literally only wore them for our road trip stops. When we were packing up to leave he couldn’t find his shoes (SURPRISE SURPRISE) and I discovered they were STILL IN THE CAR.)

So. Fun trip, but next time I’ll remember to CHECK WILL’S FEET.

The token system

I decided at the end of the school year that I didn’t want the kids time home this summer to turn into all iPads all the time, but I also didn’t want to give them up altogether, because come on. Sometimes that’s the only time they aren’t talking to me. So I came up with a pretty basic system of earning tokens that can be spent for time on the iPads. Here’s how it works:

I use poker chips for tokens, each token is worth 30 min. I didn’t want to get into variations on how much time they were worth.

They can do any of the following things to earn a token:

Reading for 30 min. For Kalena I stipulated that she needs to read out loud. For Will it’s being read to. (He is learning to read, but listening to him for half an hour might kill me. SORRY WILL.)

Weeding in the garden. 1 grocery bag full of weeds earns a token. This one is actually kind of a gimme, because the weeds are super easy to pull, so 5 min could easily get them a full bag.

Spend 30 min working in a workbook. Kalena and Will each have workbooks for math and reading at their grade level. Pretty self explanatory.

30 min practicing flash cards. For Will this can be sight words or math flash cards, for Kalena just math.

Picking up the basement/playroom. Lydia and Daniel pretty much destroy the playroom every day, so picking it up is kind of a big job. For this one, if they both help they each earn a token, if only one of them cleans that earns 2 tokens. The problem with this one is that it really has to be done after the babies go to bed, and most days we put all the kids to bed at the same time.

Miscellaneous cleaning tasks as assigned by me. Pretty much anything I feel like is worth some iPad time. For instance, Kalena cleaned the banister/railing around the kitchen table. The ones the babies can reach from their high chairs and they grab with their grubby, food covered hands. (She got it SO CLEAN you guys, I don’t even know how. That food basically needs a chisel to get it off. (I gave her 2 tokens for this one.))

The other stipulation I have is that they need to get dressed, make their beds, and pick up their bedrooms before they have any iPad time in the morning. I’m hoping that the pick-up-every-day thing will keep their rooms from getting to be the giant disasters they become otherwise. And the get dressed thing is mostly for Will who, for whatever reason, seems to think changing his clothes is torture. He wants to continue wearing WHATEVER HE IS WEARING for as long as I’ll let him.

I also gave them a couple cheats. The first is that if Daniel and Lydia are watching something, Kalena and Will can watch without spending any tokens. The babies only have a handful of things they like, and none of it is the stuff the big kids are most interested in. I mostly left this because it is HELPFUL FOR ME to have Kalena and Will be with the babies. Didn’t want to shoot myself in the foot there. The other cheat is that they are allowed to watch documentaries without spending a token. I figure they’re educational, so why not. So far neither of them have taken me up on this one.

I didn’t put limits on how many tokens they can earn OR SPEND in any given day. Maybe I’ll need to address that at some point? I don’t know. Anyway, I think that about sums it up! Questions?



I’ve always got a story about Will

The other day I was sitting with Will at the kitchen table and he says, “Do you know one reason why someone might rob a bakery?” I’m never sure if he’s looking for me to answer or if he wants to tell me something, so I hesitated and said, “Why?” And he proceeded to tell me that people might rob a bakery to get the money, or so they didn’t have to pay for their food, or maybe just to take food from the bakery. (So you know, actual reasons. I thought maybe this was the beginning of a joke. YOU NEVER KNOW.) After he finished, he was quiet for a minute and I figured the conversation was over, and then he pipes up again with, “But the real targets are the banks.”

I burst out laughing because, WHERE DOES HE GET THIS STUFF? That’s pretty much life with Will.


If you know me at all you know I’m not a neat person. (If you know me well you’re probably snort-laughing and thinking, “THAT’S an understatement.”) So keeping our house clean is something that happens…pretty much never. It’s not that I LIKE the mess. Or that I don’t SEE the mess. I just can’t get it together enough to keep things clean. I wish I had my mom’s super-power of not sitting down until everything is done. (So, never.) ALAS, I do not. The couch calls to me. Anyway. I’ve tried various methods to do better with the upkeep, but so far nothing has worked. Or really helped even. But despite my MANY failures, I thought the other day that maybe I should get on pinterest and find a cleaning schedule that I could follow.

Y’all. What I found is INSANE. I’ve come to the conclusion that none of these people have children. Here’s some of the stuff I came across.

Wiping down all your baseboards as a weekly thing. (Do people DO that?!)

A schedule that included only 2 loads of laundry a week. We generate like 2 loads of laundry A DAY.

Basically every schedule suggests starting the dishwasher after dinner and unloading it in the morning. We run the dishwasher twice a day. AT LEAST. And you know what happens if I don’t? We have no clean dishes to eat off of.

Sweeping the kitchen floor as a weekly chore. We have 2 kids in high chairs. Sweeping in the kitchen is, AGAIN, something that gets done multiple times a day. (And okay, that isn’t the WHOLE kitchen, but STILL. If I only swept once a week there would be literal piles of food on the floor.)

One listed vacuum as a daily chore but then followed that with “as needed” in parentheses. Listen schedule writer. If I were on top of doing stuff “as needed” I WOULDN’T NEED A SCHEDULE.

Washing walls as a weekly chore. I…don’t understand. If something gets on a wall I wipe it off. Are other people wiping down entire random walls? Seems like you’d spend a LOT of time doing that.

One schedule included taking out the garbage “if it’s full.” I don’t need to be reminded of that. If it’s full I take it out. You might as well write “change toilet paper if the roll is empty.” I may be the ONLY person in the house who DOES, but I do.

Sometime it’s the amount of time that makes the schedule seem crazy. For instance: a “15-20 minutes of cleaning a day” includes “vacuum house” as an item. I…how big is your house? It takes me 15 minutes to vacuum our basement. Which is one of FOUR levels. (And our house is not huge!) Also, that doesn’t include time to pick up all the crap off the floor so I CAN ACTUALLY VACUUM.

Anyway. All this to say: cleaning schedules are crap and my house is probably always going to be a mess.


Sick of this

I’m so sick of being sick. About a month ago I got a cold (kids and their germs, man.) And about 2 days into that cold my ear wouldn’t pop. It continued to not pop for about a week. Even when it did, briefly, my ear felt wonky and I still couldn’t hear well. I got over the first cold, but after being well for about two days I caught another cold (SERIOUSLY WITH THE GERMS, CHILDREN.)

I had the pediatrician look at it when I went in for Daniel’s well visit, to make sure it wasn’t infected, because it had been TOO LONG. He said there was definitely fluid in it, but it wasn’t infected and to give it a week. That was Monday, so on Saturday I went to a clinic and found that YES, by this point it was infected. A prescription for antibiotics and stern instructions to take Sudafed religiously for the next 10 days and DONE.

Now. Logically I KNOW that antibiotics don’t work instantaneously. And my ear has had fluid in it for probably almost a month. But UGH, I keep thinking I’ll be completely better any second now! (Spoiler: not so far.) Anyway. I promise not to take my excellent hearing for granted in the future. Not being able to hear is driving me crazy.

Always with the dirt

One of the things we love about this house is the yard. We back up (sort of) to a cul-de-sac, which makes our yard an odd shape, but bigger than other yards in the neighborhood. So we have a nice, fenced, grassy, open backyard for the kids to play in. Except you know where they play? Under our deck, in the dirt. Obviously.


That’s where Daniel gets all his dirt for snacking on.

I’d love to put a swing set out there, but A) dude. Those things cost way more than I expected. and B) Brian worries that the kids would hurt themselves. (Mostly Daniel I think. He’s not so good with the danger-awareness.) It makes me laugh though, because Brian did CRAZY stuff as a kid. For instance: jumped off the roof of his house using a plastic bag as a parachute. His logic was that it worked for those little army-parachute guys. Those crazy choices are also the reason for his worry though. He says he worries because he knows ALL THE BAD IDEAS kids get. I tend not to worry about that stuff, likely because I was a total rule follower and would NEVER have done something like jump off the roof. Anyway. Maybe at some point. For now I’ll just make sure they have some good dirt digging toys.


I have pictures from Easter in 2010 of Kalena dyeing Easter eggs. She would have been almost 2. Why I thought that would be a good idea I DO NOT KNOW. I don’t remember it being terrible, so it can’t have been too bad, but thinking about letting Lydia dye eggs this year makes me laugh. No. Talk to me again when she’s like 5.

It was nice this year, because Kalena and Will are old enough that I just had to set things up, and then they didn’t need help for the actual coloring. (I did have to resist boiling myself a dozen eggs to color because MAN that is fun.) I think I blogged about it, but the kids figured out the Easter bunny like a year and a half ago. That doesn’t dampen their enjoyment though, and they asked us to hide the baskets “extra hard” this year. ALSO, because Kalena is the sweet girl that she is, she made Brian and me each an Easter basket. Anyway. How about some Easter pictures?

Warm enough to dye eggs outside!


Matchy church outfits!


How most pictures of four kids actually turn out.


Talking and other pesky things

I’m just going to complain a little bit today.

Lydia? Still not talking. We started speech therapy weekly, but she still isn’t talking. She plays during therapy and sometimes imitates sounds, but she’s still only saying maybe half a dozen words. And I KNOW it’s not instantaneous. I KNOW therapy takes time and work but UGH. I just want her to start talking already. Also, she has developed a habit of ending therapy sessions with a GIANT tantrum (usually because we won’t let her type on the tablet her therapist uses to write up notes.) She is FAR more tantrum-prone than any of our other kids. The therapist has been reassuring about how I respond. (Ignore. Don’t give in. Remove her from the situation if it gets bad.) Still not fun. She tends to be very quiet during therapy, opting to play by herself rather than engage in whatever we’re trying to get her to engage in. Basically the opposite of her usual MUST BE ATTACHED TO MOM AT ALL TIMES. That’s been frustrating too. We’re still trying to figure out the best way to get her to engage.

And Daniel. Oh, Daniel. He’s started refusing to nap, opting instead to scream from his crib for as long as he’s in there. This leads to cranky overtired Daniel, and by dinner time he’s a mess. I know I can’t MAKE him nap, but good gracious. He still definitely needs the sleep. Also? The eating of non-foods is getting out of hand. Eating crayons at school has been ongoing, and I assume a sensory thing. But the weather has been nice which means playing outside and he has started eating dirt by the handful. Taste is not a deterrent. He literally picks up dirt clumps and EATS THEM. I guess this is a sensory thing too? But GAH. How do I get him to stop?! I discussed with Lydia’s speech therapist today possible substitutes to give the same oral sensory input as crayons or dirt. (DIRT!) If it doesn’t stop I think I’ll have to call the Down syndrome clinic for a consult with the child psychologist. In the meantime it’s super obnoxious. Also messy.

In summary: good thing these kids are cute.