Friday, August 22, 2014

5 Secrets to Get Kids to Help With Housework

If your kids are anything like mine, the prospect of a Saturday morning filled with doing chores does not cause them to jump for joy. And if you are anything like me, the prospect of trying to convince your children to spend their Saturday morning doing chores does not cause you to jump for joy, either.

But, whether or not you're happy about it, housework must go on. As a mother, I consider it a huge responsibility to teach my children how to do it so that when they go out into the world they aren't driving their college roommates or spouses insane. And, you know, so that they are living in a clean and healthy environment.

Now, I don't know if I can teach them to love cleaning (I don't love cleaning), but I can teach them that it's not so bad. Here are some things that have helped me at my house:

1. Make it fun. 

Whenever I tell the girls it's their turn to do the dishes, there's a collective groan. But then I put on their favorite music and the cleaning suddenly becomes fun. They dance and sing to One Direction and R5 and whatever other music it is they love, the dishes get clean, and everyone is happy (mind you--if we were cleaning to MY favorite music, it would be very different)(I think it's pretty fun to sing to a rousing Rossini opera aria, don't you?).

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Two-Minute Marriage Project

The Maestro and I celebrated 15 years of marriage in June. In that fifteen years, we have lived in five homes in three states, had three children, seen The Maestro graduate with two advanced degrees, acquired a dog, gained and lost weight and then gained it again, and held down more jobs than I can count.

We've gone from this:

To this (the most recent photo of us together--camping last week):

Oh, and we both turned 40 this summer, too. Which means we might have a little more grey in our hair than we did when we were 25. In fact, we've recently been watching a lot of old family movies from when we were first married and I can't even believe how YOUNG we look. We were babies. (For the record, I still feel like I'm about 26.)

Fifteen years. It hasn't all been a walk in the park, either. Sometimes, being married doesn't feel much like the fairy tale so many girls hope for. It's more like a lot of work you didn't know it would be and half the time you feel like you're just roommates who say hello if you happen to bump into one another in all of your comings and goings with work and school and kids and church and everything else.

So how do you keep the romance alive when life keeps getting in the way?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

7 Tips for Better Beach Photography

So, I haven't done a photography type post in a really long time! Since I've been spending so much time at the beaches of Lake Superior this summer, I thought I'd talk about some tips for better beach photos.

Even though it's a little bit of a pain, I really like to take my big camera with me to the beach (I have a very old Canon Rebel, which I am longing to upgrade). As much as I like to take photos with my iPhone, I'm never quite as happy with the beach photos I take with my phone. Besides, it's really hard for me to keep all the sand out of my phone, no matter how careful I am.

So that's actually my first tip--a freebie that isn't part of the other seven--use a real camera! Even a point-and-shoot will take better photos than your phone will in beach conditions.

A lot of people will tell you that you should only photograph the beach around sunrise or sunset, and definitely not when the sun is high in the sky. Well, guess what? I don't go to the beach at sunrise because it's way too cold to be on the water that early unless you're fishing, and I don't go to the lake to fish. I also rarely stick around until sunset because in the prime of summer, the sun doesn't even go down until 10:30 around here. Also, the bugs like to come out in the early evening, and as soon as they do the beach empties itself of people almost immediately. Believe me, you don't want to be carried off by black flies and you just might be if you stay too long.

If I'm going to be at the beach when it's warm enough and bug-free, I am going to be there when the sun is high in the sky and at its worst possible position for good photography. Oh well! Maybe I won't get the most photographically perfect photos, but I do manage to get some good photos of my family having a wonderful time, and that's what I'm after.

Without further ado, here are my best tips for getting great photos at the beach:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back-to-School Uses for Essential Oils

I have recently started learning more about essential oils. It's something I've wanted to do for a really long time, but haven't given it enough priority. So I was very excited when, last month, I was given a starter kit of DoTerra oils to review on my blog.

We've been using the lemon, peppermint, and lavender trio all summer long and I love how versatile just these three oils can be. With back-to-school looming ahead of us in just two weeks, I thought I would highlight some great ways you can use these three oils while breaking out the books again.


Sleep Aid:  If your kids are anything like mine, they have NOT been going to bed very early during the summer. The first few weeks of school are always really difficult, simply because they are not used to going to bed early. You can use lavender essential oil to help with this.

1. Before bed, rub 2 or 3 drops of lavender in your hands. Bring your hands to your face and inhale the scent, then rub the oil from your hands on the bottoms of your feet, temples, and wrists.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Printable Cleaning Checklists

I don't know what happens at your house, but at mine, keeping it clean and organized is a daily struggle.

Printable cleaning checklists for the main rooms in the house. Helpful to break it down for kids when they aren't sure what cleaning a specific room entails.

One of my biggest frustrations as a mother has been teaching my children to clean properly. Properly, meaning they don't just shuffle a few things around and call it good. Properly, meaning they don't do a half job. Properly, meaning they clean it almost as well as I would clean it myself.

I don't expect a perfect job out of them. I really don't. But I do expect them to do their best--and that best only gets better the older they get. At this point, when Bria cleans the bathroom she does a spectacular job. Sophia's bathroom cleaning isn't quite as good yet, but she has a few years, and that's okay.

One of the things that I do to help the girls clean without feeling overwhelmed is to break the jobs down into smaller bits. Instead of "clean the bathroom" they get a detailed list of exactly what cleaning the bathroom entails: change the towels, wipe down the counters, clean the sink, clean the toilet, etc. They do a much better job this way, and they don't usually forget any of the steps.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Squeezing Out Every Drop of Sunshine

Sunday Photo 8_17_2014.2 web

I'm not gonna lie, we haven't had much of a summer, weather-wise. This past week, on my birthday, it was downright cold and I needed a jacket to go on our evening walk with the dog. The evenings are usually cool enough to need a light sweater, but I needed an actual fall jacket to stay warm. My birthday is in August, for crying out loud, and I have NEVER needed to wear fleece pajamas to bed on my birthday!

There's a first time for everything, I guess.

It is only 61 degrees as I write this. Too cold!

That's why, when it hit 80 degrees on Friday, we all took off to the beach. It was the most gloriously HOT beach day we've had this summer (we've had a couple hotter days, but they have always come when it was inconvenient for us to run to the beach). Living up here, I sometimes wish I weren't so darn solar-powered. But I am, so I have vowed that in the two weeks we have left before school starts for the girls, we will drop everything if it's warm enough for the beach.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Beauty Box Five Review: August 2014

"Radiant and Remembered" is the theme for the August 2014 Beauty Box Five.  Summer is coming to a close, but you can still shine--embrace beaming skin, dazzling lips, and lustrous locks to keep your glow going!

Pur-lisse Pur-protect SPF 30 facial moisturizer (sample size, value $16.00): This is nice stuff. I'm always happy for a lightweight moisturizer that doubles as a sunscreen. The SPF 30 is more than enough to keep my face protected from the sun without having to worry about adding something heavier.

La Fresh Travel Lite Makeup Remover Wipes (sample size, value $.41): I'm always a fan of makeup remover wipes, and I'm an even bigger fan of having them in a handy package. These don't dry my skin out, or muck it up with extra oils (they're oil-free) and I love having travel-sized packets that I can throw into my purse or cosmetic bag so they're always with me when I need them.

Nanacoco Lip Gloss in Secret Crush (full size, retail $6.49): I am not a lip gloss girl and will always choose lipstick first because lip gloss is too sticky and doesn't provide enough coverage for me. Well, Nanacoco proved me totally wrong. This stuff is luxurious! It goes on thick and has absolutely no stickiness to it. I get a lip gloss look with a lipstick feel, and I love that.