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Friday, July 25, 2014

10 Ways to Make Your Guest Bathroom More Functional

I am finally getting to a little decorating in our home.  Yeah, we've lived here for over two years... the walls are still white, the carpet I hate is still in place and the bedrooms don't even have pictures on the walls.  We're homey like that.  I decided to take it slow.  I didn't want to scare myself into never taking on another decorating project again.  And the idea of half-painted walls and unfinished projects didn't totally appeal to me either, but I've had a major case of craft A.D.D. recently.  Anyway...

Our house has two bathrooms and three bedrooms.  There's a bathroom in the master bed and one to serve the rest of the house.  Not a big deal until we have guests... because it's also the boys' bathroom.  Ever been in a boy's bathroom?  Eesh, did you just shudder too?  So, how do we make this bathroom suitable for guests as well as our boys?  Well, we try really hard to train them to aim... and a few of these things too:


  
1.  Toilet Paper Storage.  While TP is not particularly pretty, when you're stranded sitting with your pants around your knees, staring at an empty cardboard tube, you aren't really thinking about it's decor value.  Put extra rolls in an easily accessible and obvious location.  Use a large, straight sided vase or a basket to corral the extra and to easily see when you need to restock the stash.  You can find stands for less than $10 pretty easily.  Your guests will thank you.
Via Amazon

2.  A trash can that is obviously a trash can.  This may sound silly, but when I was 15, we were visiting some of my mom's family that I'd never met before.  Their bathroom was nicely decorated, but nothing over the top.  I had some, ahem... girly items... I needed to discard of and I honestly couldn't tell if the trash can actually was a trash can or not.  It was a nice, medium-sized wicker basket with no liner.  For all I knew, it held towels or dirty laundry.  How mortifying would it have been to toss my trash in there and find out it wasn't a trash can?  I opted to carry it tucked in my hand until I could find a more easily identifiable garbage receptacle.  Awkward... and really gross.  If you opt for a basket, at least put a grocery sack in it as a liner... not as classy, but that way you won't end up with feminine hygiene items in your laundry.  EWWW.  A trash can with a lid is also another good idea to help keep the odor down.
Via Amazon

3.  Common toiletries and supplies in easy to see and use containers.  Because who really wants Grandma or Uncle Billy searching their drawers and medicine cabinets for Q-tips?  Q-tips, cotton balls, safety pins and band-aids are a few items to consider storing in an apothecary-style jars on counter tops or on shelves.

4.  Keep the hand soap stocked.  I ran out of hand soap in our main bathroom while hosting a gathering once.  Someone had refilled the bottle with water, in hopes of getting a bit of soap out.  Not the end of the world until my three-year-old used the restroom and used half the bottle of soap-water to wash his hands.  It was so runny, he kept squirting more into his hand, but he could never get it to lather enough to his liking.  It was a huge, bubbly, slimy mess for the next guest and I didn't particularly enjoy cleaning it up either.  So, now I double check the soap levels in the bathroom before we have visitors and refill the bottles.


5.  Appropriately stored cleaners, medicines and any other items you wouldn't want people to discover.  Sometimes, people find themselves in a position where they feel they need to search the drawers or cupboards in your bathroom.  Looking for more toilet paper or a band-aid, for instance.  Kids get into everything and have no sense of privacy... and some people never grow up...  Store your personal items (or cleaning supplies) where they won't be found.  If you have to store personal items in a commonly used bathroom, consider a magnetic child lock that you can remove the key from the room if you need to.  Keep your skeletons - and chemical cleaners - in the closet.  With the magnet locks, no one will even know you have them with the cupboard doors closed.
Via Amazon

6.  Make sure there is something for guests to dry their hands with.  I once read something that said public restrooms that offer paper towels have a 34% higher rate of hand washing than restrooms with just air dryers.  I don't know if that's true, but it's really gross if it is.  But I get it.  The air dryers are time consuming and don't work well even if you do spend 3 minutes trying to use one.  No one likes to walk around with wet hands and no one wants to dry their hands on their clothes... so, let's just skip the washing altogether, right?  Yeah, hang an extra towel.


7.  If you have overnight guests - or kids - install a night light.  LED lights are bright and use very little energy.  If you run into your (for some reason...) half-dressed house guests in a dimly lit hallway at 3am, you'll be glad that you saw just enough to avoid a full-body collision but not so much that breakfast is an incredibly awkward affair the next morning.  And it's nice when the kids scream out in the middle of the night and you jump out of bed without thinking.  You'll have just enough of your senses to not instinctively flick on the light and blind yourself... which probably would have cause you to step on that Lego house your kids left in the middle of the floor... double win.  And night lights don't have to be ugly.  There's a huge variety of designs, with a little looking, you'll probably find something to suit your tastes.

Via Amazon

8.  Bath toy storage.  My kids are still little enough for bath toys.  Most of my house guests, not so much.  While there are days I'd love to lounge in a warm bubble bath with some foam letters and a rubber ducky or two, that's very rarely on my to-do list as a guest in someone else's house.  While I'd have no problems with my guests indulging in a round or two of "Rubby Ducky, you're the one...", they would probably rather not have toys underfoot in a wet shower.  We use a mesh bag to store and dry the toys after our boys' bath time.  The bag can easily be hung over the tub faucet or removed from the shower all together when someone uses the tub for cleansing, rather than pirate adventures.  Again, there are tons of options.  Choose what works best for the space and use you have available.
via Amazon

9.  A functioning door lock.  I am still at the stage where I use the bathroom with an audience.  Hellllloooo, Motherhood!  To be completely honest, during the day when I'm home alone with the kids, I don't usually even shut the door.  I like to hear the calamity and mayhem at full volume, rather than muted through the door.  Glutton for punishment I guess.  However, my guests, more often than not, do shut the door.  Thank goodness.  This is all well and good, except my boys still struggle with the idea of privacy sometimes.  "We hang out with mom in the bathroom, why not Grandma, Uncle Billy and the dinner guests too?"  Our guests like that they can lock them out...  (Side note: We have also had a problem with Little J interrupting Big J in the bathroom.  Because one boy in the bathroom just doesn't make enough of a mess on his own, right...?  Soooo, we have a child lock on the outside of the door to keep Little J out, but the door unlocked while Big J is doing his thing.  If he needs help, I can still get in.)

10.  Disinfectant wipes.  Because it's first and foremost a boys bathroom, there are always puddles of something on the counter tops, the toilet, the floor and I'd bet money there are currently water splashes on the mirror.  To keep from having to do a major clean every week or every few days, I keep disinfectant wipes easily accessible.  I can wipe down the counter tops while I wait for Little J to figure out if he really does need to go or not.  I can wipe up the toilet real quick and drop in a toilet fizzy in before bed and it helps keeps the "boy bathroom" smell down.  I've found the best way to keep this bathroom in presentable condition is to clean a little each day and disinfectant wipes are great for quick little clean ups.  It also encourages guests to clean up any messes they may make.



This post was written by Krista and originally appeared on While He Was Napping.





Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie

I recently found a pie crust recipe that I wanted to try.  And I love pie as much as the next person, but it's not my preferred dessert.  So I used the recipe for chicken pot pie instead.  After all, I didn't think Mr. Napping would be too thrilled if I served the family chocolate cream pie for dinner.  He's of the opinion that if it doesn't have meat, it's not a meal.  I will say that this pie crust is a winner... and might just make an appearance at Big J's birthday dinner coming soon.  It was even still flaky the next day.    

CHICKEN POT PIE

Ingredients:
- 1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup shortening
- 1 tsp salt
- 5 tbsp chilled orange juice
- 1 lb frozen veggie mix (beans, corn, carrots, peas)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup*
- 3 to 4 medium to large chicken breasts, frozen

Directions:
-  Thaw the chicken breasts and dice.  In a large pot on the stove, combine the chicken dices and the cup of chicken broth.  Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mostly cooked.
- Add the flour, shortening, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.  Add the orange juice and mix well until dough is formed.  (I just throw it all in my stand mixer and release the beast to it's own mixing devices while I check the chicken)
- Chill the dough in the fridge while you mix the rest of the filling up.
- When the chicken is mostly cooked, add the cream of chicken soup (don't add milk or water) and the mixed veggies.  Heat until the veggies are no longer frozen together and you can mix the filling.  Stir to mix evenly.  Remove from heat.
- Roll out half of the dough and spread in a 9-inch pie plate.  I am absolutely terrible at rolling pie crusts, completely horrendous.  I almost always end up pressing it into the plate and skipping the whole rolling process completely.  It still tastes yummy and no one knows I cheated.
- Pour filling into the pie plate and spread evenly across the pie crust.
- Roll out the remaining dough to cover the pie.  Cut any decorative vents if that's your thing.  Slits cut after it's on the pie work just as well (and make the transfer to pie plate a little easier). I have no tricks here.  Just do the best you can and use a pancake turner to help lift it off the counter if you have to.
- Use a fork to press the edges down and seal the pie.
- Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes.
- Let set 5-10 minutes.  Serve.

Yields approximately 8 servings.


* You can use this recipe at Buns in My Oven as a substitute for the soup if you'd rather, the comments say it's pretty delicious.




This post was written by Krista and originally appeared on While He Was Napping.





Monday, July 21, 2014

{Printable} Boredom Buster Jar

Have you gotten over the excitement of summer yet?  Sunshine, pool parties, beach trips, family reunions... and bored kids.  My kiddos aren't in school yet (Kindergarten starts next month!  Whaaaaaat?!), but my boys are driving me crazy with their antics.  A big part of the problem is that they are bored.  Now, I am all for letting kids figure out how to entertain themselves, but when they keep falling back on the pastime of fighting and bickering it's time for a little intervention!  For the sake of my sanity, if nothing else.  And I don't want to be the mom that yells all the time...

So, I created our Boredom Buster Jars.  If you were around last week, you saw that I actually made ours from craft sticks... because I have high hopes they will last longer that way and I can add to them as I need to.  But, I also made a printable version.  Because, let's face it, it took me FOREVER to write out all those darn sticks.  Seriously, probably about four hours.  No lie.  So, if you have better things to do with those four hours of your life, maybe a printable version is the way to go, eh?  You've got a paper cutter and a DVR'd show to keep you company and speed the process along, right?  Not necessary, but it may help.

The Sneak Peek version (this freebie I offer here on my blog) has 24 activities.  There are four activities in six different categories.  The label page has labels that will fit both a narrow mouth or a wide mouth canning jar lid.  A clean, plastic peanut butter jar is a great way to go too, and a little more kid-friendly.  Follow this link to download a single PDF with the three pages you'll need to complete your sneak peek jar.

PRINTABLE SUMMER BOREDOM BUSTER JAR
(SNEAK PEEK/FREE VERSION) 

Materials:
- A clean container for your boredom jar
- Scissors or a paper cutter
- The Printable Boredom Buster Jar 3-page PDF
- Tape, glue or string

Directions:
- Download and print out the PDF Boredom Buster Jar Printables.
- Cut the activity cards apart with the scissors or paper cutter.
- Fold them in half or quarters and put them in the container.
- Choose which labels you want to use from the print out.  Cut them out and adhere them to the container with tape, glue or string.

That's it.




This post was written by Krista and originally appeared on While He Was Napping.





Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Letter to My 30-Year-Old Self

I wrote this about two weeks ago as we were driving in the car on a family vacation.  The boys were watching movies in the back and Mr Napping had his earbuds in, so it was a relatively quiet moment.  This letter is for me.  It's not a fancy recipe or an easy tutorial.  You won't read it and think "wish I could mom it up like her.  She's got parenting figured out."  Because I don't.  Not even close.  I didn't get it ready to post like I wanted when I wanted to post it, so I wasn't going to.  You're not missing out on much.  But then I got the group invite on Facebook today for my 10 year High School Reunion and started feeling old (and maybe a little unaccomplished in life) again.

So, I decided to post it anyway.  Maybe I can grab a little moment in time and freeze things for just a few seconds.  I was talking to a friend the other day about how we don't really remember the little things about our babies.  The little sounds, the tiny fingers, the details.  Hopefully, with this, I can take some of the details and remind myself of them in the future.  When I'm senile and I've forgotten everything, you know.  So, read on if you wish.  You won't hurt my feelings if you don't.  This post is for me.

Dear 30-year-old Me,

Tomorrow you turn 27... when did we get so old?  Anyway, I write this hoping that, when you look back in three years, you'll be able to see growth and accomplishment. And maybe a few places you can set new goals and continue growing or make corrections,  if necessary.

Right now, you've got three kids (all boys, you know), ranging in age from 4 months to almost 5 years. Little N hit 4 months just today and he is growing so fast. His gummy smiles and more frequent giggles brighten every day. His gray-blue eyes twinkle like his daddy's and I can already tell he will love mischief and adventure - just like his big brothers, whom he adores by the way. He is such a good baby, sleeping 5-6 hours at night and so happy all day. He puts himself to sleep and even spits out his pacifier before he drifts off.

Little J is talking up a storm. By far, my favorite is when he says, "luh loo, mommy." He is such a tease and loves to laugh. He still climbs as high as his nerves of steel let him (which is TOO high). His laugh is infectious and sometimes I just have to tickle him so I get to hear it. I hope I never forget what it sounds like. He bounces back and forth between wanting to be a big boy and do everything himself and hanging on to his babyhood just a little longer. A common phrase right now is "I did it!" I hope he will be able to keep saying that for many more years.

Big J will be starting kindergarten next month and I'm not sure how I feel about that. Some days, I can't wait to get him back into a routine with other authority figures and more responsibility. He grows so much more when there's a high level of consistency, which with two other needy kids is sometimes hard to provide. But, my baby is growing up and I'm not ready for that. I'm not ready for peer pressure, mean kids, homework, and vacations only during school breaks. I'm not ready to let my chubby little blue-eyed baby turn into a boy. Once he starts this new growth spurt, it's not going to stop. And I don't want to miss anything. I want to keep him snuggled on my lap where I know he's safe. He doesn't always like me, but I have learned to handle his little boy tantrums. I'm not sure I can handle any teenage angst.
So, Momma, I hope you enjoy these next three years. I hope you remember that by the time you read this, that little kindergartner will be almost eight! Don't miss the next three years buried under piles of laundry, mountains of dishes and the pressure to write more blog posts or increase your social media presence. These three little boys are the ones that need your presence. They are your biggest fans and followers. They are the only three numbers that matter. I promise.

Momma, don't forget to keep your marriage burning. In three years, you'll have been married for the last 9.5 years (hopefully!). Remember why you fell for that tall, blue-eyed guy with the dark hair in the first place. Support him and his endeavors and give him reminders of why he is so awesome. Give him time to develop his relationships with the boys (and get yourself a little break). Love him the best you can and never miss a chance to let him know just how much you do.

One more thing, Momma. Don't give up on yourself. Wife and mother are very important roles, but don't lose yourself completely. There will be days, I daresay, that you'll dislike or even hate that these roles take so much time, energy and work. The days you climb into bed frazzled, exhausted and dreading sunrise or the next middle-of-the-night feeding session with the baby are the moments to remember that you're not alone. It's okay to ask for help. You can still be supermom, even if you don't do everything yourself.

Take time for your interests and hobbies. Work them in when you can. Get the family involved. The day will come when you can bake, sew, photograph and blog without interruptions every five minutes. While you may not miss those interruptions, you will miss your babies. So, make your hobbies happen, but don't sacrifice the kids. Stay in the moment. Be there. Listen and play, read stories, paint pictures. Cook and sew with them. Teach them. Love them.

Momma, do your best and never give up. You are awesome. You may not change the world, but contributing three respectful, kind and generous boys to it is no small feat. Good luck! Always remember, tomorrow is another day. Enjoy them as they come, even if sometimes that simply means surviving. You got this.  Happy birthday.

Love,
Me

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