Mother’s Little Helpers

Though I do make an effort not to over complicate or over schedule our lives, life can still be pretty hectic sometimes.  There’s just a lot to remember and a lot to do to manage a household, parent, work, make it all work.  I’m certainly not the most organized, or the most motivated. Example: yesterday I ate some Oreo Thins and took a nap instead of prepping meals for the week and organizing the toy room (a task that desperately needs to be done – we’re drowning in Matchbox cars and Duplo blocks!).  But I have found some tools and things that help me get stuff done, so I thought I’d share them.

 

Stuff that makes my life easier/more fun/less complicated…

I’ll start with the most obvious: my husband.  He’s amazing.  I’m also very lucky to have supportive family nearby and a kind and moderately flexible employer.  I am so grateful for all of these.

 

A shared calendar: My husband and I use a shared Google calendar.  We use an app called Tiny Calendar on our phones to access it there, too.  I could just use Google Calendar, but it didn’t work on our phones when we needed it 4 years ago, so we ended up with Tiny Calendar.  So I stuck with it.  I like it.  Admission: our calendar is color-coded, but only a little bit.

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A housekeeper:  For the cost of dinner out for 2 (with an adult beverage or two), I can get my house cleaned beautifully.  We hem and haw over this luxury.  Because it IS a luxury.  And it is not something we do all of the time. But it makes a huge difference in my stress level.  I love having my entire house clean at one time.  Someone once told me that when it comes to house upkeep and maintenance, you can pay with your time or you can pay with your money.  At this point in my life, though I am certainly capable and willing to clean my house (and I do!), my time is precious.  I’d rather spend three hours on Sunday with my children picking strawberries, or playing at the park.  So we occasionally pay to have the house cleaned by a professional.  I never feel like it is money wasted.

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Grocery list app:  There are several out there, but we use AnyList.  Mostly we use it for groceries (duh), since we share the shopping and cooking duties but you can make all sorts of lists.  Each week, my husband and I add items to the list from our phones and when one of us shops, we can use the list and cross things off with a touch.  We have a list of favorites that are easy to add to the weekly list, and updates are pretty much made in real time. Often I’m adding things to the list while he’s on the way to the store.  Very handy.  We also share a more general “to do” list using this app.  Very helpful when things get busy, or when we’ve got to pack to go away.

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Shutterfly app: This is a little glitch-y and imperfect in my experience but for the most part is a good way to make sure that the photos I take with my phone actually end up somewhere other than just on my phone.  The app is on my phone and my husband’s, and photos get uploaded to one account, so everything is in the same place.

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Chatbooks: I really love this app.  It links to my Instagram account.  Once I’ve reached 60 new photos, Chatbooks prints them into lovely 6×6 inch books ($8 and free shipping!). My favorite part is that you can set up subscriptions – so the lovely little books ship out automatically to grandparents and special people in your life. There is NO extra work on my behalf.   Win!  I also love that the books are customizable – the photo of my kids painting the walls of the shower au naturale isn’t really Instagram-appropriate, but it IS adorable, and I can add it to my Chatbook before my book goes to print.  I order the slightly more expensive hard cover edition as a keepsake for myself, and let my kids enjoy the soft cover ones.  Use my code to get your first book free: CYKKMXVK.

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Amazon Subscribe & Save: This is useful with small kids and saves on trips to Target (which always cost at least $75 more than planned).  I set up to send diapers and wipes on a monthly basis and there are some other household goods we get less frequently.  It is a time saver for me.  Prices typically end up being comparable to my local Sam’s Club.  I suspect I’d love the Dash Button too, but I’m reluctant to commit. Plus, I’m a little concerned that my kids would find the buttons and we’d end up with 45 packages of paper towels.

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Stuff I’m working on…

Who has advice on the best way to deal with all of their iPhone videos?  I do back up to the Cloud, my computer and an external drive, but I’d love to put them in a format for my family to enjoy. Advice?

I’m going to try to devise a way to keep in better touch with people who are important to me beyond Facebook.  I’ll let you know how I do!

 

PS – No affiliate links, they are just provided for your convenience.

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Magical Moments

I am cuddled in the wing chair with my littlest, he is winding down for bed, begging for just one more book.  We are snuggled in, chatting about our day.  He is 2 and he has a lot to say.  I tell him how much I love him, how proud I am of him, I tickle him a little to hear his gravely little laugh.  He reaches up and touches my nose gently.  “Mama?” he whispers.  “Yes, Pistachio?” I coo back at him, in love with him and the tender moment we are sharing.  “Poopy butt,” he whispers – not because he has one, just because he is 2,  those are funny words and he knows how to say them.  I laugh.

After a long weekend of fun, activities and probably too much sugar, my oldest is weary.  We have brushed, flossed, chatted, read books, and he has had the 4 million after dinner “snacks” he requires.  (Seriously, the nicer and more complete the dinner, the more they feel the need to gorge late night on the contents of the fridge.) “Tomorrow is a school day,” I say, peeling back the duvet on my bed, to lead him to his.  He groans loudly, overtired and forever complaining about the 20 foot walk from my cozy bed to his.  “Let’s go, Sweetie, it is late,” I say, leading the way.  I’m surprised when I feel his thin arms encircle me from the back.  He hugs me – hip level – and sighs “Mama, I love you.”   And the unexpected, nontraditional hug from my grumbling little guy makes my Mother’s Day the best one yet.

I’m perpetually exhausted, but oh what fun it is being mom to these amazing people.  It is tiny moments like these that make my heart pop.

The REAL Holiday Card 2015 Edition

Welcome to the yearly edition of “The REAL Holiday Card”.

Forget the lovely professional photos where everyone is clean, looking at the camera, and wearing coordinated (but not matchy-matchy) outfits.  Real life looks more like this:

Card design is "Jovial Holidays" from Tiny Prints.

Card design is “Jovial Greetings” from Tiny Prints.

 

Key to photos:

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Cards from past years are here:

The REAL Holiday Card 2014

The REAL Holiday Card 2013

Here’s hoping your holiday preparations are proceeding as planned!

With love from, The Tartlets

Resolutions 2013 Revisited

Time for the yearly check-in to see how I am doing with those pesky New Year’s Resolutions.  Remember, I set the bar low this year – and good thing I did.

1. No face or neck tattoos. Not even temporary ones.

SUCCESS!

2. Avoid Diet Coke, monkfish liver and Pitbull concerts.

SUCCESS! Though I admit, I’d probably have a lot of fun at a Pitbull concert.

3. Learn to play an instrument (maracas, kazoo and tambourine count).

FAILURE.  Though we did buy a piano.  Which doesn’t make too much sense, since none of us know how to play.

4. Shower most days.

SUCCESS!  Except some Sundays, but that doesn’t really count.

5. Read one book, and see one movie in a theater.

SUCCESS!  I read the very long 11/23/63 as well as some others, and I saw Silver Linings Playbook in the theater.

6. Figure out how to listen to my podcasts in my car.

FAILURE.  But I’m giving myself a pass, since my house was broken into and my iPod (among other things) was stolen. The good news?  The police found the perps and all of my stuff.  The bad news?  They still have it in evidence.

Crime scene, dusted for fingerprints.

Crime scene, dusted for fingerprints.

7. Avoid reality shows about the Amish, and/or large tumors.

SUCCESS!  I’ve actually avoided most TV (except for Sesame Street and the ever-annoying Caillou), and most reality shows.  I have seen the entire first season of Orange is the New Black (love!) and I’m working on House of Cards now.  I call that a TV win.

8. Sleep. At least some.

SUCCESS! Kind of! We are in that magical place where both kids nap at the same time.  So that means Sunday naps for me. My kids are still up a bit, but that is slowly improving, and I’m up a bit (more on that later), but I’m still going to chalk this one up as a win.

9. Remember every family member’s name, every day.

SUCCESS!  We even lost and then added kitty family members. And I still remembered everyone’s name.

10. Organize the hall closet by April.

SUCCESS!  Done!  Twice this year!  Why this teeny closet get crammed with weird junk I don’t know.

Things to work on for the remainder of 2013 include: more time with friends, better breakfasts, and less clutter.

What are you working on?