House For Six


Printable Neighborhood Contact Sheet: For The Name Recalling Challenged

Deme Crinion2 Comments
I am terrible with names.  I mean really terrible.  It usually takes me a good three encounters to remember a new name/face.  Since moving to a whole new city this has been an all too frequent and uncomfortable happening. Enter my foot-in-mouth saver...

The weather has finally turned here and the whole neighborhood has emerged from it's winter hibernation seeking out fresh air and other living beings. Turns out one neighbor had a baby...and we never knew the other was pregnant. #longwinterproblems

It's been so nice to get reacquainted with our neighbors, but I was completely embarrassed that I couldn't remember most of their names.  Granted we only moved here a year ago, so we're still meeting new people, but the long winter certainly didn't help my brain with info retention.

With head hung, I had to ask for their names again, but it turns out they didn't quite remember our names either.  After we were mutually embarrassed and reintroduced, I wrote down their names as soon as I got the chance.  It occurred to me that having this info for our neighbors all in one spot instead of dispersed among a zillion post-its might be a good idea.

I've been working on updating our Home Management Binder and now we're adding this Neighborhood Contact Sheet to the mix.  I created a spot for names, children, pets, address or home reference (like "blue house on the corner"), contact info, and notes.

Por ejemplo - we ran into our neighbors Jeff and Cheryl last weekend.  They love to walk with their two little girls and three dogs.  So after we chatted, I drew up this sheet and added the names for everyone in their family, their pets, which house is theirs, and contact info (some of which is obviously not shown here). 

The notes section is great for reminders on whether someone works from home, school info, prefers you don't ring the doorbell, or whatever else you might want to have for future reference.

This sheet has already come in handy as I've not only been writing down the names/info for neighbors we're getting reacquainted with, but I've had a place to record the limited info on our neighbors that I have managed to retain up to now.  Nothing like freeing up brain space.

I think this kind of sheet would also come in handy for the kids in case of emergency or anytime someone came to watch our house or kids for an extended period of when my parents stayed with the kids while we were at the hospital having a baby.

So, if you're also in the name challenged camp, feel free to snag one for yourself right here. Please tell me I'm not the only one who finds herself greeting people with a "Hey! Good to see you guys!" to cover herself.  Is this a dead giveaway?

On a somewhat random note......when it comes to new people whose names I can't recall, I usually initiate an introduction with James (or he with me) to help us out in the name game.  For instance..."Have you met my husband yet?"  Then instead of me having to struggle through an introduction, James will extend his hand with "Hi, I'm James".  The other person then introduces himself as we make a mental note of their name.   We'll also drop each others names in the conversation in case the other party has also forgotten our names and is equally embarrassed to James will say, "The other day Deme was saying she wanted to get the boys over to the trails. Have you been down there yet?".   But "Forgive me, can you remind me of your name?" works just as well.

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Annual Gift Giving Trackers with Free Printables

Deme Crinion2 Comments
I know we are well beyond the Christmas season now, but I made a recent update to some of our holiday Home Management Binder printables and thought you might like them too.

I think we've all seen gift trackers that help keep us on budget and on schedule when it comes to holiday gifting.  I personally used Jen's this year, but the purpose for these is a little different.

We have a lot of cousins/nieces/nephews and sometimes I come across a great gift that I either want to remember to send them another year (because it won't be appropriate until they're a little older), or I can't remember if I've already gifted it to them on a previous occasion.  

So, I came up with this tracker to help me remember the gifts I've given in the past and to keep track of gift ideas for the future.  I write a different recipient's name in each of the blank spots on the top row, then I fill in the gift we sent that year.  If there's a gift I want to send when they're a little older I pencil that in the appropriate year's slot.  Tastes and interests change, so embrace the pencil! 
You can download a copy of the Christmas Gift Tracker HERE.  Print off as many sheets as you need to cover all those special peeps.

I realized this helped me remember how we gave during a given Christmas, but I could have given a gift during a birthday too.  So, I made another gift tracker for that which includes birthdays 1-18 years.  You can grab a copy of the Birthday Gift Tracker HERE(Something funky is going on with the title/header on the PDF version, so you can download the EXCEL document HERE)

Do you have a go-to gift for certain genders or ages?  How do you keep track of all those great gift ideas?  We do a lot of giving through Amazon since all of our family lives out of state, and as I was attempting to update these I was relieved to see that I could track my orders through Amazon pretty far back.  It's a start!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Advent and a Free Printable!

Deme CrinionComment
It's here!  Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent, so let the Christmas preparations commence!  Of course, I don't have nearly as much done and ready as I had planned.....Christmas cards mailed?  Haven't even taken the photo.....Gifts all purchased/made/wrapped?  Not even close.  But you know what?  I'm cutting myself some slack.  We're getting there (little by little) and I'm determined not to let the holiday pressure steal the joy and wonder of the slower movements of this season.

Just because my Advent wreath is still in pieces doesn't mean that we can't light the candles....and just because our family advent calendar is not quite put together yet, doesn't mean we can't start on the activities.  Late is ok.  Imperfect is welcome. 

With that said, my kids were so excited to help work on the wreath and light that first candle marking the beginning of the season.  There's something magical about candlelight anyway, but the single flame was a small reminder that something really special is about to happen. 

One of our family's favorite traditions during this time of year is our Advent Activity Calendar.  I'm still setting it up but the great thing is this can be as simple or as elaborate as you like....just a special activity revealed each day for your family to do together.  Our kids love the anticipation and discovery of each new day's activity. 

When we plan ours out, we look at our calendar and put any scheduled activities (like holiday concerts, plays, etc.) in their respective numbered days.   Then will fill in the other days with the rest.  We've made the mistake of putting all the cards in envelopes (or whatever you decide to use) at once and then having to dig them out to rearrange as the weather or calendar changes.  So this time, we're placing each day's activity in the night before.

Need some ideas for your own family?  I'll be sharing ours here shortly, but in the meantime here's some great ideas from Penny:

I whipped up a few card templates in PicMonkey to write down the activities for our own calendar, but you can download a blank version to jot down your own activities by clicking the links below the images.  It prints 6 cards to one page.

Has everyone else jumped right into Advent and the Christmas prep?  We're already seeing Christmas lights on the houses and trees lighting up the windows around our neighborhood.  What are some of your favorite traditions for this time of year?

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Our Weekly Cleaning Schedule

Deme Crinion4 Comments
That post title makes it sound like we have one.  We don't.  But we need one, so I made one.  And I'm hoping that it's the one.  Know what I mean? 

Part of my Lenten commitment this year is to better serve our family.  We're blessed to be able to have one parent home full-time, and since that happens to be me, it's kind of sad how much I have avoided the everyday cleaning tasks.

James is such a huge help and pulls more than his fair share in the household chore arena.  If he were the one home, I know that he would have this whole maintain-a-decent-house-thing knocked out of the park.  Honestly, it's just something I don't like to do.  Which is odd because I love having a clean house. Go figure.

I think the main reason I don't like doing it is because when the house is out of control or I have major piles to deal with, the task of getting it back in order is so overwhelming it's hard to even start.  I've tried making a cleaning plan before and it was a big fat flop....because I did what I always do - get super motivated to do something, set way too lofty goals that I can never sustain, poop out, and quit.

So, I tried to approach this with simple, easy, and doable in mind.  I've always been inspired by Becky's post on keeping a house clean in just 15-20 min a day.  Now, her cleaning approach works for an already clean house.  Uhhh, not there yet.

BUT. Tis the season for spring cleaning and I thought this year I would use our new weekly cleaning chart to guide us through our spring cleaning routine.  I'll need to spend more time on each task up front since we're not in maintenance mode yet, but hopefully after that, I should be able to knock out each of these in just 15-30min a day, depending on the task.

Here's how the chores fell (with a download for you too!  The Word file can be edited)...

(Download the PDF here and the Word version here)

Mondays - I thought I would start off the week with an easy one: dusting. This just involves going around the entire house with a Swifter duster, wiping down every surface.  This is a great one for the kids to help with, just watch the fragiles! 

Tuesday -  We'll bust out the vacuum and hit all the carpets and area rugs (although there's plenty of little messes to vacuum up throughout the week).  Every once in awhile I'll do the vents, window sills, etc. too.

Wednesday - We have two full bathrooms upstairs.  They'll get a full wipe down, the toilets and showers will get scrubbed, and the glass will be cleaned. 

Thursday - One of my least favorites - mop/clean the hard floors in the kitchen and living areas. Anyone have suggestions on keeping it simple and easy?  Swifter Wet Jet?  Steam cleaner? Help!

Friday - This is laundry day.  We've been trying to figure out the best way to crack the laundry nut for awhile.  Here's what I know.....laundry and I are not friends.  And when we do a load a day, I feel like there is constantly laundry out on the couch needing to be folded or waiting to be put away.  So, doing all our clothes once a week, seems to work best for my sanity and it yeilds the best odds of the clothes actually making it back up to their drawers.  I also didn't like having the laundry waiting for me on the weekends, so knocking it out on Fridays means we go into the weekend and following work/school week set up for success.

There's also a half bath right next to the laundry room that I'll wipe down and give a quick cleaning on those laundry days.

Weekends - One of the main reasons I wanted to do this weekly cleaning sheet is because I didn't like dedicating our entire weekend to chores.  Especially, once the warm weather hits and we have yard work to throw in on top of that.  Taking care of the house during the week, means we have the weekends free to take care of any smaller, less frequent chores and to just have fun!

Daily Tasks:

Beds and toy pickup - This is something that I need to work on with the kids.  Picking up smaller messes as we go along and before we move onto something else is just a good habit for all of us.  And it helps to avoid those overwhelming messes or the frustration that comes with returning to a crazy house. Or that awkward moment your neighbor unexpectedly knocks on your door.

After dinner kitchen clean up -  We've gotten into the habit of cleaning up the kitchen right after dinner lately and it's been great. We clear the table, load up the dish washer, hand wash any big stuff (and dry/put it away) and wipe down the counters before we move on to family time.  This only takes about 15 min and it's so nice to have the kitchen done and ready for the morning.  Because the LAST thing I want to do after the kids go to bed is clean the kitchen.  On days that happens, I usually leave it for the morning...which is not how I love to start the day.

10 min power pickup - We have a split level home, so once we move upstairs to get the kids ready for bed, that's it.  They're not coming back down.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who's kids can switch into nutso mode right before bed.  That's usually when they're overtired and we've missed the calmy-go-upstairs window.  And when that does happen, getting them to stay on task and clean up is a major, drawn out event.  We usually just chuck it up as a loss and attempt to get them upstairs, leaving the wreckage behind. 

So, having the whole family pitch in to do a quick 10 min power pickup about 30 min before we're ready to head upstairs should help to ease the transition to bedtime and leave the house mostly picked up for the next day.


I'm planning to jump on these tasks as soon as I get home from school drop off.  The boys are with me M/W/F and we usually get back to the house just before 9am.   It's so easy for the day to get away from me, so I think making this our very first priority will start the day off on a good note.  It won't take long and doing something productive right off the bat, usually puts me in a mood to do more productive things.  Here's hoping anyway!

For the next couple weeks my focus is going to be on purging and spring cleaning the house.  We're mostly unpacked and have been in the house long enough now to know what things we will and won't use here.  We got through that first phase of unpacking where we set things up, and got things to the right rooms.  Now it's time to deal with all the stuff that we didn't have a place or use for. 

I'm not sure if we'll have a garage sale in the spring or just sell a few things on Craigslist and donate the rest.  For now, I'm going to move everything to be sold/donated to the garage, so that it's not taking up space and adding more clutter to the house.  I'm so ready to have the house in a state where we can actually maintain it! 

Over the years we've tried everything from rigid scheduling to totally flying by the seat of our pants.  We've learned that our kids do best (from babies to now) with a routine.  But I've also learned that we just won't stick to a completely strict schedule.  With kids come a lot of variables.  Some days we'll be able to get to everything and some days we won't.  I'm learning to create schedules that are more realistic and leave margin for those off days.  Is it wrong to say I'm lowering my standards?

Perfection and a spotless house are certainly not the goal here...but we do want to take better care of our home.  In the end, it will give us more time to spend with each other and help us better enjoy the time we're in it. 

How do you approach keeping your house clean?  Or getting it clean? Do you have any tricks for an easy and doable routine?  If you have kids, how do you get them involved?

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to keep in touch!