Redefining Home Management

Monthly Archives: August 2013

Back to School, Back to Work

Facebook was flooded with cute kiddos off to their first day of school today.  I loved seeing many of your kids – thanks for posting!  Well, my kids have been in school for a week now – crazy!  I know, pictures should have been on Facebook a full week ago, but I’d rather just share them with you all right here!


I can’t believe my “baby girl” is in kindergarten!  She however is thrilled, and entirely convinced she is old enough.




This young man is less enthusiastic about school than his mom would like, but you’d never guess by this smile!  I think he’s just excited to have so many good buddies in his class.




And Jase really wants to go to school too – poor guy!  He had to have a picture with all of us just like the “big kids”.  I love these three!!!!




I am sad that our lazy summer days together are over, but I’ll admit I was a bit relieved when my kids started their first day of school. I am ready to regain some order to my life!


As soon as my kids were off to their first day of school I had a sense of relief just that we’d made it on time, with no tears.  The only panic was when my son’s friend reminded us that I was supposed to send my third grader with his own individual snack this year.  He had no snack and gave me one of those super sweet – totally innocent – but makes you feel like the worst mom in the world lines… “Mom! you forgot my snack!”.  (We will overlook the fact that he is in 3rd grade and it may not technically be my job at this point)  Luckily we live about 100 yards from school and I ran home, grabbed a granola bar and had it back to him before the line got inside the building – technically it was moving but it wasn’t in the doors yet!


Yes, I was that really cool mom running after her 3rd grade son as he entered the building for his first day of school to give him what I forgot.  I’m sure he was super proud to claim me as his mom when I ran up to him with his granola bar!  And for those of you that are wondering – no I haven’t found a granola bar that complies with the peanut-free policy of our school.  At snack time my son was reminded of the peanut-free policy by his teacher and the fact that his snack was not allowed.  I had messed up on two accounts with the day’s snack. Good start right!


I think we finally have snacks and lunches all figured out – thanks to an overflowing cart at Costco.  I know the rest of you went running to Costco too!  I also decided to invest in a few new things to make lunch packing easier.  I really struggle with what to send my kids – they’d be totally happy with PB&J every day but I’m not supposed to send that.  So, getting creative can be hard.


My kids love when I send them something hot.  We have these little Thermos brand containers (from Target, Walmart…) that keep tons of foods warm until lunch.  We can use them for chicken nuggets (yep, they stay warm and yummy – so I’m told), fish sticks, pasta and other leftovers like sloppy joe’s.  I find it so much easier to pack a lunch if everything isn’t required to taste good cold or at room temp.  I simply fill the thermos with really hot tap water for about five minutes in the morning to get it nice and warm.  I warm their food too, and then seal it up in the thermos until lunch. (after dumping out the water of course)




I also just invested in a Bento box style lunch pack for each of my kids.  I have heard of other moms using them, but always just put together different pieces of tupperware I own with dollar bin sandwich boxes and called it good.  Sometimes it was frustrating trying to fit all of those crazy pieces in one lunch box with a drink and ice pack.  Packing lunch is enough of a chore for me (not one I enjoy) so I decided to make my life easier.  I did a little research and this is what I settled on – so far I love them!  Better yet, they were only $8.97 at Walmart.


So here it is all stacked up and closed.  It is nice and compact, stays tightly locked together and has little “snaps” on the sides that are easy enough for my kindergartner to open.




Here it is with the top off.  It has three small containers that are a great size for fruit, veggies, applesauce, goldfish….




And the features that sold me on this particular box are…  The middle dark blue part is a re-freezable ice pack to keep everything in the top and bottom cold.   You can also remove the ice pack or just leave it out of the freezer if you don’t want your lunch items to be cold.  I also love that the bottom white portion is expandable.  Not only is it more flexible for packing your lunch it takes up less space for storage, and you know this girl loves a smart storage solution!



The last “new find” I picked up for lunch boxes are these little condiment cups from Walmart.  Yes, they are disposable – not good for the environment or wallet.  But probably the thing I dislike most about school lunches are the gross ketchup, BBQ and ranch dressing containers my kids bring home at the end of the day – never mind when they don’t get the lid on tight and it ends up ALL over their lunch box by the time they get home.  At a little over 3 cents a piece I am just fine with telling my kids to trash them daily.




I haven’t spent the entire last week getting food and cool gadgets for our lunch boxes though!  I’ve also gotten to work out several times, run errands with one child (ahhh bliss!), attack some projects around the house, and even do some cutting projects for our teachers.  I feel like I’ve been really productive these last five days.


Why is it then that if I keep up this great level of daily productivity it will be May before my current “to-do” list is complete?  That doesn’t even factor in Christmas, Halloween and all of the projects I’ll come up with between now and then.  I won’t even talk about how long it has been since I’ve REALLY cleaned our bathrooms –  you know more than a couple spray bottles of vinegar water and Lysol.  Yikes!  I could be WAY overwhelmed right now, but you know, I’m not.


Having a huge “to-do” list is actually a blessing for me.  Otherwise I would spend countless hours at Target and TJMaxx everyday and I would find SO many things we absolutely “NEED”.  My long list of things I “have to do” and “want to do” keeps me going every day moving at a steady pace to accomplish as much as I can.  At the end of the day I can look back, and feel a sense of accomplishment about what I’ve done, letting go of what is still “to be completed”.


As the summer has been coming to an end I’ve chatted with a lot of moms that just feel defeated when they evaluate the work that lies ahead now that kids are returning to school.  So, for this post I’d like to chat a little about where I start, how I approach ordering our life for the school year ahead, and how I pick my priorities of what gets accomplished in a day.


I know you hear this all the time and then set it aside because it seems impossible, but do something for yourself!  Take a day and do what will make you refreshed and ready to tackle what lies ahead.  Maybe that means meeting a friend for coffee or getting a pedicure.  For me, that means going to the gym and working out almost every day.  I really do like working out, but in the summer I feel guilty about what my kids are (or aren’t) doing while I’m taking time for me.  But, when I work out I feel better, have more energy and am honestly just a nicer person to be around!  So, regular workouts have returned to the top of my daily “to do” list.


My next priority is attending to the things that are immediate – which is unfortunately usually the things that aren’t fun at all. I couldn’t really justify covering Jase’s lamp shade in the super cute orange fabric sitting next to me in my office this week – even though I soooo want to see it done!  But when I do those types of projects before my life is in order  I tend to get frustrated with myself when the mandatory stuff isn’t done and I’m staying up until 2:00am or yelling at my kids in a panicked rush.


One of my top priorities has been assembling our fall and early winter family schedule for soccer, church, date nights, trips, Dr.’s appointments… as well as completing all of the forms, registrations, etc that come along with these activities.  These are a priority partially because these items are urgent, but it is also because getting these things on my calendar helps me be realistic about what more I can accomplish each week or day.


Having a clear picture of all the running around I will be doing with my kids this fall and all of the commitments I have made helps me keep my hand down as everyone continues to ask for volunteers.  Over the next month I will have more opportunities to volunteer to help our school, friends, churches and community in more genuinely good ways than any person could do in a decade.  Yet, we can feel guilty and keep saying yes, then look at our calendars and melt under the stress of everything we are trying to do.  And then we wonder why our homes are chaotic and lives feel out of control by November.


I would argue that in most cases, people that are frustrated by the lack of order in their homes, offices, lives… don’t lack the ability or motivation to be organized, they simply lack the time.  Because of this I am overprotective of my time and my schedule – especially at this time of the year with so many commitments, so much on my to-do list and so many requests to do more.  I rely heavily on my weekly planner that I shared in this post on time management in my Organizational 101 series.  (click on image to download blank template)



I have also spent some time over the last week establishing order for the school year ahead.  I find that the habits we start the first day of school stick way better than the ones I try to implement half way through the year because I’m frustrated.  I think my kids are so busy adjusting to the new routine, new teacher, new class rules… that adjusting to new house rules and routines feels natural at the start of the year.  A lot of the things we have been doing aren’t new – they are the same old (and totally forgotten!) systems we used last year.  I shared our morning routine with you before, and the printable I have used to help my kids remember everything they need to do. (click on the photo to download a free copy)


Morning Routine Checklist


We have also had to spend some time relearning our school paper system that we used last year.  My kindergartner is taking on new responsibilities with these systems this year!



I have big dreams of all the things I can accomplish between now and the holidays, and I’m sure you will all hear about many of them!  Now that I’ve spent my first week feeling good about our fall schedule, getting our school routine going again and my workouts on track I have many lists of organization and house projects to complete – I hope you stick around to hear about them!  Just a little teaser of what is to come on my project list…


– reorder closets with school/fall clothes in and too small/summer clothes out

– finish up Jase’s big-boy room

– regain control of our garage after a summer of fun

– improve on my meal planning

– take on some old furniture with Annie Sloan paint

– add some “pretty” to some of our spaces that just “function”



Naval Blue Wall Stripes

This has been such a fun summer for me… enjoying lazy days with my kids, baseball games, the beauty of Colorado, late nights, and WAY too much ice cream!   I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that can’t believe summer is almost over.  Maybe the heat will last a little longer, but the carefree days of no school and no schedule are disappearing.  My kids start school next week!


Honestly, I’m a little happy and a little sad.  I have loved my kids being home with me and have thoroughly enjoyed all the fun we’ve had.  I will miss sleeping in and eating breakfast at 10:00am!  However, I am also anxiously awaiting the opportunity to return to a schedule of some kind, and I keep telling myself I will knock off the items on my “to do” list and get everything in order as soon as school starts.


I know some of you have visions in your head of my home being magically in order at all times.  In reality, I let things go a bit in the summer just like every other good mom.  🙂  You know that great system of sorting and storing my kids school work I have told you about, well the papers from the last three months of the last school year are still in the letter files in my laundry room!  I haven’t cleaned out their school files in my office to make room for the flood of paperwork that is soon to come for this year, and I didn’t have my kids do nearly as much “home-school” this summer as I planned twelve weeks ago.  Over the last three months my house hasn’t been “deep-cleaned” once, and my work-out schedule has well, not worked out.


I’m not confessing all of these deficiencies in fear of someone finding these things out during an unannounced visit.  I have talked with many of you, and I hope my reality relieves a little of your guilt and stress.  We all feel at least mildly out of control by the end of summer, that’s why it is so much fun!  Don’t regret it now, enjoy the last days or weeks of summer you have with your kids – happily oblivious to the work that awaits us when they are in the hands of their teachers!


Despite all of the craziness this summer, one of only a few areas that I did make progress on over the last few months was Jase’s room.  So, I’ll return to the topic of my previous post – painting stripes in Jase’s room.


As I explained in my last post, I was a little timid about actually starting this painting project; but I was also REALLY anxious to see it done!


A quick review…  I had decided on using the paint color Naval by Sherwin Williams to paint 12 inch horizontal stripes on one wall.


My basic approach came from information I’d gathered from other blog posts, my friend and other websites.  Upon the recommendation of my friend that had undertaken a very similar project a couple of months before, I decided I would use a laser level to get the lines straight, and Frog tape to hopefully avoid the paint bleeds I was terrified of with my super dark blue color choice.



I began by measuring and marking 12 inches down from the ceiling in four places along the wall.  I wanted a frame of reference when using the laser level, but knew my measurements might not be exactly level – unless the guys that did our framing and drywall were really good!  I decided to measure from the ceiling down, because I knew the trim at the floor would leave me with one stripe a few inches shy of my desired 12 inches.  I wanted that slightly smallest stripe to be the lowest stripe on the wall, to make it the least noticeable.  I continued measuring down every 12 inches to mark where my tape would start and end on the wall.


With Jason’s help, we then stretched a piece of tape across the wall at the measured heights.  This seems like this would give you a good line, but it is im-poss-i-ble!! to pull the tape tight enough and level enough that the line would be anywhere near straight.  We didn’t press the tape firmly against the wall, so I could make adjustments to level it.





You can see the laser lines on the wall – let me just say I would never have finished this project without the laser level.  I would have lost my mind measuring and re-measuring and re-measuring to still not be straight!  With the level I simply started on the left side of the wall and moved the tape up or down to run perfectly along the red level line.


Between each tape line I would measure the distance between each piece of tape as well to keep things on track and ensure my original measurements were accurate.



I also had to alternate my tape sitting above or below the 12 inch measurement to make sure that my blue stripes were all 12 inches wide.  If you only placed your tape above the measured point, or below the measured point you would end up with uneven stripes due to the wall space covered by the tape.




You can see in the picture on the right how the tape ends up in the space of the wall that will remain gray, and is not getting painted.  The wider space in the picture on the right will be painted blue, and when the tape is removed both stripes will be an equal 12 inches wide.



Here is the big picture!  You can see the laser level on a tripod in the bottom left corner of the photo.  The level was yet another perk of having a fabulous and handy Father-in-Law.  He let me use it – for free of course!  You can also see…


1.) The laser lines on the wall that helped keep the tape level, even if our walls and ceiling weren’t exactly square.

2.) The pattern of a thick stripe followed by a thinner looking stripe from the taping pattern I used to keep the stripes equal widths in the end.

3.) How the taped easily lined up along the laser line.

4.)  My process of checking measurements, stretching the tape loosely across the wall, and then adjusting the level and making the tape line precise.

5.)  The vertical tape pieces I used to protect the side wall and make cutting into the corner easier.


Here is an up-close photo of the vertical tape used to protect the side walls that I didn’t want to paint.



After all of the taping was done – yeah!!  (Actually, it really wasn’t that bad with the laser level.) I decided to go ahead and do a first prep coat of gray paint along the edges of the tape.  I questioned the necessity of doing this with the awesome reviews my friend had given me of the Frog tape, but with the crazy dark blue color I was using I decided it was an extra step worth taking.




The idea behind painting over the tape first with the original wall color is this…  If you have a place where your tape is not firmly pressed against the wall and a little paint bleeds under, it will be your first coat of paint that bleeds under.  By using the original wall color first, the paint bleed won’t show – it is the same color you want under the tape anyway.  The new color creating the stripe on top is then protected from bleeding under the tape, because of the barrier created by the first gray (in my case) coat of paint.


I didn’t let the gray paint dry long, maybe 15 minutes longer than the time it had while I was painting other areas.  I figured it was a thin coat of paint, and didn’t need to be perfect.


Next, the fun step – my new “Naval” blue color!





As you can see, and as is true with most dark colors – the first coat didn’t look great.  I had used a foam roller and it was going on really thin.  I decided to go ahead and brush on the next coat.  I was afraid the roller marks weren’t going to fade very well and I was going to be applying 6 coats to get the color I wanted!  I also was seriously questioning the roller recommendation of the “help” at the paint store.


I wasn’t super worried though, and I knew two coats would be required.  I took a little break to help the hubby with the kids (so he didn’t lose his mind!) and then came back to paint another coat with my brush.  I actually like cutting in and brushing on paint better than rolling it anyway, so I was very content to carefully paint the next coat, applying a nice thick coat, without saturating my tape or getting paint where I didn’t want it.


And here is where I about lost my mind!  I stepped back to look at my final product and the stripes looked a little splotchy and I could see my brush strokes.  I couldn’t just see some brush strokes in an OCD way – they were bad!  I told myself the paint just needed to dry and I went to put the kids to bed.


The next morning I went back, cautiously optimistic to check out my stripes – and they looked terrible.  The paint wasn’t even and the brush strokes were super obvious!  I have brushed dark paint on other walls in our house while cutting in and have never had this happen – I was baffled.  As I always do in a home project panic – I called my dad.  His recommendation was to paint one more coat with a new small foam roller.


Sorry I don’t have a picture of this phase to show you all.  I was so flustered by my challenging issues that I forgot to snap a picture – or maybe I was just too mad at the wall to want to give it the honor of a photo!


My biggest fear with this solution was that I had only purchased a quart of paint – assured by the paint store “help” that it would be MORE than enough paint, even if I was painting one whole wall.  I didn’t have anywhere near enough paint, so I would be praying the next batch of paint was a perfect match.  Oh, did I mention that in my optimism that first night I took the tape down!  There was no way I would be able to put the tape back up, so a small line of the first batch of paint would be visible, since I would only be able to paint as close to the edge of the stripe as my cutting in skills would allow without messing up the now gray stripes.


Have I said before that this blog is not just about success – well it’s not.  Projects don’t always go as planned, but I’m persistent. (My husband might call it stubborn!)  So, off to the paint store I went to get more paint and a better foam roller – the little 4″ kind.


After one more coat of paint I was happy (enough) with my stripes and called it good.  In the right light I can still see some lines in the paint that make me grumpy, but I’m pretty sure I am the only one that will notice them.  I know Jase won’t care –  and really it is all about him anyway!


So, what do you think? The big reveal!!




As you can see behind the basket of stuffed animals, that slightly smaller stripe at the bottom of the wall is well hidden.  And from the other side of the room…



I can’t sign off without a little explanation for my misery.  With the whole crazy first night of painting I also forgot to rinse the paint out of my brush before putting the kids to bed and had to throw it away – my favorite Purdy brush!  With all of the mishaps, I was pretty cranky that night!  However, a few weeks later I found my favorite Purdy brush in the laundry room, after my Father-in-Law had used it.  Huh?  Oh rats!  In my rush to get those stripes on the wall in one day with three kids running around I grabbed the wrong brush – the one for oil based stains.  Now I know why my usual painting methods resulted in crazy ugly brush strokes – I used the wrong stinkin’ brush!!


As they say, all is well that ends well – right!  I love the stripes now, especially as I have added his headboard and other finishing touches to his room.  More to come on that very soon!