How to Entertain Small Kids in Hotel When Raining

Greetings from Lexington, KY!! We’re here waiting to cheer on our Fighting Tiger baseball team in the state semifinals. We were supposed to play tonight, however, Mother Nature had other plans. So, we cancelled tonight due to rain and will hopefully be able to play in the morning.

Which means……. I have 2 small kiddos to entertain in a tiny hotel room for the entire day. And I don’t know what it is, but you confine our kids to a small space and they go stir crazy quickly. I guess even they have their limits on how many episodes of Paw Patrol they can watch.

So, here are some tips we’ve learned throughout our stay to hopefully help out someone getting ready to be in our shoes.

Tip #1 Find a hotel with an indoor pool

Luckily, our hotel has a heated indoor pool. I hadn’t done any research on where to stay, just booked where my husband and his team were staying. This was a huge life saver.

Our kids love the water and we were able to spend a few hours letting them expel lots of energy. Plus ol’ Mom here got to relax on a lounge chair for awhile. And it also served as a bargaining chip for good behavior when the whining started up. Win win.

We are also fortunate to have an arcade and indoor half basketball court here. Truth be told, I just turned the kids loose and let them play the demos on all the games. Obviously, older kids would figure that out and it wouldn’t be as cheap, but my kids thought they were at Disney World.

Tip #2) Actually let your 4 year old daughter pack all the toys she wants

When we were packing throwing stuff in a suitcase last night, my daughter kept tossing in all kinds of toys. After a few rounds of me telling her we didn’t need to bring all that and her sneaking it back in, I gave up.

But once we got here and realized there were no baseball games to be played, I was so glad. It kept her and her brother entertained for a few hours this morning. Don’t tell her she was right. She loves proving me wrong and she’s only 4. Heaven help me!

Tip #3) Kids love movie theaters! And popcorn!

This really is nothing earth shattering. I mean, what kid doesn’t love a movie theater. I just forgot how much! Something about sitting in their own big reclining seat with a big ol’ bucket of greasy, buttery popcorn and kids get all giddy!

Bonus points if it’s 3-D. Maybe it’s just us? Our kids are finally at the age where going to the movies is a feasible- dare I say- almost enjoyable option.

Of course, there are other honorable mentions that we didn’t attempt today such as shopping, or an indoor trampoline park. We just tried to keep it low key and relatively affordable. Plus, we’ve been so on the go lately that it was nice to have a little downtime too.

We also made a quick Walmart run this morning to grab some essentials for the room, like snacks and juice, since we have a little mini fridge and microwave in our room. Also had to pick up some puddle jumpers for the kids because that is the one thing I forgot.

Any tips I left out or anything you have to add?

How To Organize Your Fridge

Ok, first of all, I’m really not that big of a loser that I have to organize my fridge. Or, maybe I am. I was just so tired of not being able to find anything, or more importantly, my husband kids, even after a trip to the grocery store.

I spend way too much time on Amazon (Amazon Prime- you are the devil), and one day I stumbled upon these fridge organizers. You wouldn’t think these little acrylic bins would make that big of a difference, but it has been a game changer for us.

They come in both narrow and wider sizes. There is also a can dispenser and a holder for eggs. You may notice I don’t use the egg holder, just a weird OCD tick where I have to know the expiration date. Haha!

I’m now able to store all of my daughter’s preschool lunches in one, yogurt in another, string cheese in another, and so on. My kids quickly learned which bins hold their snacks, what their lunch options are, even breakfast options sometimes.

Sometimes the seemingly small things I organize turn out to be the biggest time savers. I’m just a fan of anything that streamlines our life and makes things a little easier. Picture me pushing that big red easy button from Staples right now!

Here she is in all her beauty!

This pic is a little hard to see, I realize. The shelves in my fridge are clear, as are the bins. I drew some arrows in the next pic to help you see a little better.

I know the 1990’s called and want their fridge back. It’s definitely on the never-ending list. I’m debating between a side by side or the french door type. In our first home, we had a side by side that worked just fine for us. But, I also think it would be nice to have the extra room up top for bigger things like a pizza box or something.

If you have either of these types of fridges, weigh in below and let me know what kind you have and if you like it! Maybe tell me the brand also! Or, if you have any organizing tips for me, I’m all ears!

How To Organize Your Hall Closet!

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It wasn’t until my youngest child turned 1 that I even started feeling like I could tackle life organizing our home. When we moved in our current home in 2015, things just kind of got thrown in drawers and closets, with the intention of eventually going back and sorting it properly.

Several years later, and I guess the time had finally come.

Jeremy and I couldn’t stand the disarray of our hall closet any longer. And riding on the coattails of Marie Kondo, I marched into our local Walmart for supplies. Now, you’ll find all kinds of advice for how to organize on Google and Pinterest. Most of them say to avoid purchasing things to organize until after you see what all you have.

My Organizing Philosophy

I disagree. If I don’t have what I need while I’m working on my project, then all of my “piles” will get messed up before I can go out to purchase what I need. My kids will drag my meticulously organized items all over every inch of the house and I’m left with a bigger mess than what I started with.

My Favorite Supplies

So needless to say, I like to have some basic organizational supplies on hand. My very, very, very favorite organizers ever are those clear shoe boxes. I’ll link somehere, if you’re not familiar. I like them for several reasons, they’re cheap, like $1 a box. They’re clear so you can see what’s in them. I loooove them for small toys for that reason. And, they’re stackable.

It may not be my first choice for a place where it would be visible, like a bookcase, but when using in concealed storage, like a closet or ottoman, they are perfect. I also like that you can get matching bins/ totes in larger sizes for your bigger things and they can still stack and fit together nicely.

One of my other must haves are these cute chalkboard labels that are self adhesive. I love that you can write on them with chalk markers and then wipe off if you change out what is in the bins. (I find I do this a lot for toys.) Labeling is a must for me. I’ve found it helps everyone be on the same page about what goes where, and now that my daughter is learning to read, she gets to help too.

I also like these 3 drawer Sterilite organizers for smaller items. (I linked them to Amazon, but they’re much cheaper at Walmart for whatever reason. ) I’ve actually got two in my closet. One houses different kinds of batteries and lightbulbs and the other is more of a miscellaneous organizer that I can adapt as needed.

My system is by no means the only way to go and I’m sure there are much more efficient ways to do this. I’m just offering up my tips, and things I learned along the way, in hopes it may be of some help to you.

Tip #1) Have a Brainstorming Session

This is by far the most important piece of the puzzle, and also, the most boring. Your instinct is to jump right in and strike while the iron’s hot! Your kids are finally napping, you had an extra cup of coffee, and are feeling extra ambitious. I get it. Believe me, I am usually the first to dive right in without a game plan.

However, with organizing, you have to really sit and plan. Think about the big picture of how your family operates. Go grab you a cup of coffee and a notepad and pen. Enjoy the sunshine out on your porch and think about the clutter problems in your home. Then, try to brainstorm ways to fix them.

For instance, maybe you’re a sports family. Every day your kids are coming in the mudroom or back door by the kitchen and your floors stay littered with sports equipment, balls, cleats, bat bags etc. In that case, you probably need to implement some kind of system for how to corral all that clutter, and make finding said items a lot easier in the morning rush.

Maybe it’s a closet that overflows as soon as you open the door. Or the junk drawers in the kitchen. Or the paper clutter on the counter in the kitchen. Whatever. You get the picture. Just try to visualize how to organize it all so it makes sense. And bonus points if the method you come up with makes your space look more inviting as well.

Tip #2) Empty out that closet or drawer

It’s much easier, in my opinion, to start with a completely blank space. The first thing I always do is clear the entire area out. Once all the belongings are out, give the area a quick spruce up. Maybe just wipe the shelves down with some cleaner and vacuum out the corners.

Tip #3) Now Group Like Objects Together

Now, it’s time to turn your attention to all the “stuff”. Whatever that may be. This is the most frustrating part for me and it’s usually the time where I start getting overwhelmed, wondering why I did this to myself. The most helpful tip I have for this process is to start off by grouping like objects together.

Let’s take my hall closet for example. This is basically one big ol’ junk drawer. When you start grouping like objects, patterns start to emerge that are more easily recognizable. Once I got to this step, I then realized, ok. We’ve got batteries, lightbulbs, throw blankets, extra paper towel rolls, extra toilet paper, picture hanging hardware, etc.

I then turned to my handy clear shoe boxes and began filling them with each “category” I had sorted. I then stacked the boxes on the closet shelves according to how often each item got used. Most used things went on the first shelf, the next most used things on the second, and so on.

It’s important to note that Jeremy and I are not fans of the typical hall closet, also known as a coat closet. They usually consist of a closet rod with a shelf above it. We just don’t use these closets as they are intended. Instead we choose to remove the rod and add shelving all the way to the top. We did it in our old house and it worked so well for us that it was one of the first projects we did in this house.

Tip #4) Find a home for all the leftovers

I’ve found that there are always some kind of miscellaneous things left over that don’t really fit with anything else. So I did what made sense to me. I made a miscellaneous box and listed what all was in it.

You could also add a larger basket for those things but again, what works for us is to have every spare inch of our closet micromanaged so that the clutter can’t sneak back in. This is also where I make a list of what other size bins and totes I need. For instance, my camera and portable DVD player have their own separate larger box and we keep all related cords, chargers, and owner manuals in there as well.

We have made it almost a full year since I organized that closet and I’m happy to report it is still functioning just as well for us.

And this is what it looks like now.

It is sooo much nicer to open that door and be able to find what I need, right when I need it. It’s literally been a game changer for us and motivated me to do more organizing in our home, especially since it looks the exact same as it did a year ago.

How to Keep a Tidy Home During Busy Seasons (Hint- You Don’t!)

We are in the thick of baseball season over here, which is why I’ve been M.I.A. this past week. 6 of the past 7 days have consisted of putting in a full day’s work and then driving an hour to watch regional baseball games. The earliest I have gotten home all week is 11. Mama is tired. My kids are monsters. And my house is dirty.

I’ve kept the house pretty together through baseball season this year, but this past week has done me in. Our fridge is bare, our laundry piles plentiful, and our floor littered with shoes, discarded socks, and other on the go paraphernalia.

This week they made school history by winning the regional tournament and are now advancing to the elite 8 in state. I am so proud of my husband and our “baseball boys” (as my daughter calls them), and I hope they go all the way. This team is so special and talented and just all around cool kids.

But…

I can’t wait to have my husband back again. Can’t wait for home projects to start back up and to actually eat home cooked meals again. And last but not least, I can’t wait to get my life house back to normal and my routines back in place.

That being said, I do have some tips for how to keep your sanity during these busy seasons of life. What works for me may not work for you. You may require a lot more or maybe even less than I do. It’s all about just finding that balance and discovering what your nonnegotiables are. By that, I mean the things that absolutely, positively have to get done each night to keep you from losing your mind:)

1.) Lower your standards. Now, lower again.

This is just something that I have to do. There is no feasible way I can maintain my home, work full time, support my husband coaching, and take care of my children. Something has to give and unfortunately that is always my home. It makes it easier that I know it’s just for a few months, and then life will resume to normal. After 2 pregnancies, I can do anything for a few months.

At the beginning of baseball season, I still try to do too much. I think, well, this new me is sooo much better than last year’s me. I can totally do a lot more this season. Then, reality sets in. I run out of steam about mid April realizing this year’s me is no better than last year’s me, and that’s when my standards get lowered, again. This is the time where if it’s not a necessity, it just ain’t happening.

Which leads me to my next point.

Know What It Takes To Keep Your Sanity

There are 3 unnegotiables for me. I know, for a fact, if these 3 things aren’t done on a daily basis, I will lose my mind. If I can manage to just do these things, I feel somewhat still in control and on top of things.

1.) The sink must be empty.

I have 2 small kids and our dishwasher is usually run at least once a day. If I haven’t been cooking much, it sometimes can be stretched to every other day. So at some point during the day, I know that the dishwasher has to be unloaded and reloaded and that my sink needs to be wiped down. I firmly believe this is the number one thing to focus on. It literally takes 5 minutes to do and then my mind can rest at ease.

2.) Pick up the clutter

In case I didn’t say it earlier, I have 2 small kids. They can wreak more havoc in the five minutes it takes me to unload the dishwasher than a tornado in Oklahoma. I usually take this on after my youngest is in bed for the night. I’ll usually spend around 15-30 minutes doing this, depending on the amount of time we’ve been home. Obviously, if we haven’t been home much all day it may not take this long.

Once the main living areas are straightened, the calm is restored to our house. Yeah, sure, there are still dust bunnies on the floor and the house could use a good mopping. But, remember, this isn’t a quest to make your house perfect. Just livable. Just clean enough to keep your kids if CPS came knocking kind of stuff.

3.) Wipe the countertops down and sweep the kitchen floor.

This takes 2 minutes tops. I’ve got my handy cleaning spray located on the counter for easy access. A quick wipe down and then a quick sweep of the floors and I’m done here.

4.) Laundry

I know, I know, I said 3 things. But really #4 isn’t even an option. Your family has to have clean clothes to wear. As much as I hate it, this has to be done. I have to do at least one load a day to keep our family functioning. It looks a little different for me every day depending on what we’ve got going on. Sometimes I may switch the loads out first thing in the morning, sometimes I’m starting a load once I get home from work before I dash back out the door. You do you and what works for your fam.

I also try to put away one clean load a night after kids are in bed but sometimes this just doesn’t happen. More often than not, I pick a time when I’m home for the majority of the night and just have a major laundry sorting session.

So, these are my must haves for keeping my sanity during these busy times. These aren’t the times to be focused on perfection. Do what you can, when you can. It is completely okay to lessen your loads during these times. Whether you’re a fellow coach’s wife or have one child or multiple kids involved in all the sports or extracurriculars. Maybe you’re a military wife trying to survive while your husband is deployed. You’re not superwoman and neither am I. Believe me, I am not even close.

Just breathe and survive and love those babies. The rest will still be there. What are your tips for keeping your sanity?

How To Save Money Decorating Your Home

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So, my usual Target adventure goes like this. I walk into said store with a few things on my list and a clear idea on what it is that I’m wanting. 3 hours and a full red cart later, I’m chewing on my fingernails and debating what all I need to put back because I may have gone a bit overboard.

It’s so easy to get swept up in all the pretty things and all the latest trends. And I cannot be the only one whose mouth drops open at the price of some of these items. I mean, it’s a candle for crying out loud! Don’t even get me started on throw pillows.

That’s why I came up with this list of how you can save money decorating your home. Sometimes all it takes is a little effort and creativity and you can still have that beautiful home you want. And, dare I say, a much more unique home that speaks more to your family than any items from a box store ever could.

1.) Use baskets, cake stands, and decorative boxes to group objects.

One of my favorite tricks for pulling together a space is to use a nice woven basket to corral all the smaller scale decor objects. My console table in my living room has a oval textured basket on it that I filled with some cute items from Target’s spring dollar section. Those items looked cute enough on their own, but putting them all in that basket made them seem more substantial and special. I think I spent a total of like 12 bucks on those “filler” items but they don’t seem cheap when displayed like that. And you just cannot beat Target’s dollar aisle!

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