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Author: lizzyj2012

Homemaker Hack: toothbrush jar holder board for small bathroom

Homemaker Hack: toothbrush jar holder board for small bathroom

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Having six kiddos is a blast. But it’s also challenging. One of the challenging aspects is keeping track and organizing everyone’s stuff: shoes, socks, multiple pairs of underwear (I’m always getting “Mom! These aren’t mine! These are ____!” Somehow they always seem to know.) A tough one for us personally is toothbrushes.

Since we began our new and exciting journey with Carrie Ibbetson and her Oral Health Coaching program, each of the kids now have multiple toothbrushes and tools for different purposes that they rotate through. I dutifully wrote names on each brush handle BUT still needed to be sure everyone kept their tools separate to avoid cross contamination. Bleh.

This presented a new challenge though because our bathroom is so small. You know some of those old-style bathrooms where the architect was like, “this room shall serve as few purposes as possible. It shall have a toilet. A sink. And a small bathtub.” Pretty scrunched. At least it encourages shorter bathroom trips, LOL.

ANYWAY, here is what I came up with:

Not bad, huh? It was super easy to make and works so well for all the kids. Here’s how I made it:
Materials:

  • Wooden board (Any scrap wood will work but I didn’t have any and I liked the pallet kind of look so I found this one 50% off at my local JoAnn Fabrics and used a coupon so I got it for about $5)
  • Pint size, wide-mouth mason jars (Already had a ton of these in my basement – Free!)
  • Steel worm gear clamps – like 11″-12″. These were available at a local hardware store for just over a buck a piece.
  • Copper pipe strap with nails – I found a package of like 10 for about $3 at the hardware store. I had the gear clamps with me so I just held them up to choose the size I wanted.
  • Screws – just rummaged in my basement for a few miscellaneous ones
  1. I chose to paint my board. Probably could have painted twice but I get bored with painting quickly.
  2. After it dried, I measured the length and divided it by the number of jars I wanted penciling in my marks.
  3. I nailed in the copper pipe straps. In hindsight, short screws would have been better but I just bent the ends of my nails down in the back. Note: make sure to hold up the jar to where you think it will hang; I almost mounted my clamps too low and my jars would have hung below the board.
  4. Then I screwed the board into the wall where I wanted it.
  5. Next, I inserted the worm gear clamps, adjusting to the size of my jar and tightening.
  6. Finally, I placed the jars into their rings and, voila!

What are some great ways you save on space in your bathroom?

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A Different Green Smoothie

A Different Green Smoothie

After making enough food to satisfy the stomachs of six starving tiny humans I often don’t feel like eating the same thing or don’t feel like investing more time to make food for myself. Smoothies are a simple way for me to pack in nutrients without spending a lot of extra time in the kitchen.

Here’s what I had this morning:

Here’s what was in it:

3/4 cup plain, homemade yogurt
1 tsp maple syrup
Splash of vanilla
1/8 tsp spirulina powder
1 raw egg yolk
1 Tbls coconut oil

I find it helpful to add ingredients while the blender is on (especially when you add the coconut oil).

It is filling, it is healthy, a little tart and it is tasty. I feel a boost of energy after drinking this in the morning. Something I desperately need to continue chasing my children for the rest of the day! Sometimes I add frozen fruit for fun. Give it a try! Note: if you’re going to attempt the raw egg yolk, be sure to research your egg source carefully first. I actually buy a specific brand of egg just for the purpose of eating raw; I wouldn’t do this with just any egg. Hopefully, I’ll be able to use the eggs we get from our new little flock of hens later this year!

What are your fast and healthy breakfast favs?

Real/Grace Moments

Real/Grace Moments


GETTING REAL

Those squeeze fruit pouches for babies: love them and hate them; especially after your foot unknowingly finds a half finished one on the floor.

Kids’ toothpaste seems to be getting low. You find out your son wanted to try it out as hair gel.

Kids down their food like industrial vacuum cleaners and dash away from the table insisting they are “stuffed”. Mom: “Are you SURE?” Kids: “Yes! Yes!” Mom: “You’re going to be hungry in 10 minutes…” Kids: “Nuh-uh! We’re SO FULL!” Ten minutes later: “Moooooom…what can we have to eat?”

You’re in a meal-planning slump so you browse through your old pinterest food pins. “Oh we haven’t done this one in a LONG time! I’ll make that one,” you say as you find something that looks appealing. Note to self: make notes or DELETE those pins you’ve tried; there was a reason you hadn’t made that meal in so long!

Spring has arrived! The moment you construct that new raised bed you’ve been planning one your outdoor cats be like “oh, how thoughtful of the human to give me such a large new toilet.”

You find a cereal bowl and spoon in the trash can. It’s not broken; someone just wasn’t thinking and threw it away. As you’re about to holler to the kids, “ok! Who threw a bowl away?” you recollect it may have been you as you cleaned the kitchen last night in a semi-zombie state.

Sunshine is glorious but now you can see the million sticky handprints on the windows.

Small socks clogging the drum in the washing machine.

RECEIVING GRACE

Glad you put down your phone when the kids yell “mom! Watch me!”

The sight of a small child still unfolding from sleep. Love that she still trails around her blanket. Curr-click. Heart photo to remember.

Giving in and letting the toddler help with dinner because they really want to just spend time with you.

Glancing out the window to see a big brother cheering a little sister as she balances on her bike.

Seeing your children delight in being around each other.

A repentant heart in a child and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Friends who message you to say, “I prayed for you!”

God’s gentle reminder in the middle of my worry-storm of everything little thing I want to accomplish and everything thing I want to teach my kids that all I really need is to know Him and out of that will flow all He has called me to do.

 

Real/Grace Moments

Real/Grace Moments

KEEPING IT REAL

  • Those squeeze fruit pouches for babies: love them and hate them. Especially after your foot unknowingly finds a half finished one on the floor. They sure can shoot.
  • Kids’ toothpaste seems to be getting low. You find out your son has been trying it out as hair-gel.
  • The small humans down their food like industrial vacuum cleaners and dash away from the table insisting they are “stuffed”. Mom: “Are you SURE?” Kids: “Yes! Yes!” Mom: “You’re going to tell me you’re hungry in like 10 minutes…” Kids: “Nuh-uh! We’re SO FULL!” Ten minutes later: “Moooooom…what can we have to eat?”
  • You’re in a meal-planning slump so you browse through your pinterest pages. “Oh we haven’t done this one in a LONG time! I’ll make that one,” you say as you find something that looks appealing. Note to self: DELETE those old pins you’ve tried; there was a reason you hadn’t made that meal in so long!
  • Spring has arrived! The moment you construct that new raised bed one of your cats be like “oh, how thoughtful of the human to give me such a large new toilet.”

GRACE

  • Glad you put down your phone when the kids yell “mom! Watch me!”
  • The sight of a small child still unfolding from sleep: love that she still trails around her favorite blanket. Curr-click. Heart-photo to remember.
  • Giving in and letting the toddler help with dinner because she really wants to just spend time with you.
  • Glancing out the window to see a big brother cheering a little sister as she balances on her bike.
  • God’s gentle reminder that in the middle of my worry-storm of every little thing I want to accomplish and everything I want to teach my kids falls short of just knowing Him. It’s not that complicated.

What were some of your Real/Grace moments this week?

A Sense of Wonder

A Sense of Wonder

A friend and I were talking about Christmas last week. We were remembering what Christmas used to “feel” like when we were younger. I remember. To me as a child, there was a very defined “Christmas feeling”; it was so strong it was almost tangible.

It was a magical feeling.

It was that feeling I got when I woke up in the morning and beheld a new world glistening in white. It was in the smell of pine. It was in the taste of warm, buttered yule kake and hot chocolate. Always it was in the sweet carols I sang around the piano with my mother and sisters. The wrapping of gifts; the shiny red, golds and blues. Stories. Flickering candles. Even the seemingly slow movement of the mouse figure in our advent calendar. A paper snowflake. A raven lighting on a snow-laden branch, dusting the place beneath in soft white. The stillness of a frosty night; dare not step and break that magic with the crunch of my foot.

Wrap up all those memories and feelings together and I would call them my “sense of wonder”. There was a child-like joy resting in the knowledge that something much bigger than me was taking place; I could not fully comprehend it and that was enough.

Now I am old. Wonder isn’t as tangible as it once was. Once in a great while, I will be surprised by the merest scrap of it when I least expect it. It’s like a thread dangling from a garment. I grab at it but if I pull too hard, it unravels and escapes me.

Christmas time and all it’s frenzy hits me as it does most everyone in this part of the world. I’m told almost everywhere I turn that the magic will be found in creating all the right circumstances. I don’t know how to slow down. My inbox is jammed with last-minute deals I can’t pass up and records of orders that probably won’t all arrive in time before the big day. I feel the pressure of making my house festive and succumb to any number of impulse buys while at the mall. I defy logic, bobbing my head in agreement, when the clerk grins at me, jovially announcing, “you saved $82 today!” as I heave my multiple burdens out of the store. Yay me. I’m busy baking and planning menus; too busy and flustered trying to make everything perfect to think of it as a “magical moment”.

I get to about mid-December, right about the time I’ve chosen either to increase my panic and finish “everything” or give up, telling myself that next year things will be different. I start getting the emails from fellow bloggers encouraging everyone to slow down and reflect on the real meaning of the season.

More or less, I guess that’s what I’m saying too…and then some. I know there has to be something more, right? I’ve had the years of post-Christmas blues where I know I’ve missed something. I miss the magic. I miss the sense of wonder.

And it has to be more than a mere feeling. We can conjure up “feelings” given the right environment but they are fleeting and immediately change with our circumstances.

It escapes me where I heard this first…that as we age, it takes more to spark that sense of wonder in our hearts. I agree. Children are so simple and believing; their little hearts have not been calloused by the hard practical ways of understanding the world. As we grow up, the childish beliefs fall away. We realize there is no Santa Claus. Christmas time becomes a thing to survive; to rev up the excitement and get through then let the kids enjoy while you pick up the pieces later wondering if all the effort you put in was worth it.

I’ve floundered all month this year on what it would look like for me to jump off this hamster wheel I annually find myself on; I’m not yet sure what it looks like. I do know though (always known but sometimes we go through hard lessons of reminding) that the only thing that’s big enough to ignite a sense of true wonder is God. Obviously. Over the last few weeks, I’ve read the Christmas story accounts in the Bible again and again. And again. I’ve read them with prayer, purpose and with a desire to grow not just with the regular familiarity as I have in years past.

I was going to copy all my favorite pieces from the first two chapters of Luke here but they are indeed best read from beginning to end. I encourage you all to read it even if you’ve just read it recently. Read it as if for the first time. Unwrap the miracle of the Savior’s birth. Then share it!

“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6

Only God is big enough produce a sense of wonder this season; a wonder that will last throughout the year! Really, I write this for me. Maybe it’s no trouble for you; maybe you’ve always felt the wonder of God humbling himself as a baby for our sakes and can tell me about it. I need to quit this cycle. I’m abandoning this commercial Christmas ship because I want to focus only on remembering the birth of Christ. I’m throwing out my impossible expectations. I don’t want my children to remember Christmas time as “the month mom went crazy” and repeat this pattern in their lives. He is enough.

“And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
Luke 2:17-19

Praise

Praise

The Magnificat

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Luke 1:46-56

As my family and I continue to count down the days before Christmas, I want to continually have a song of praise in my heart and on my lips as I remember the miracle of His birth and what He has done for us.

Real/Grace Moments

Real/Grace Moments

KEEPING IT REAL

  • The Baby grabs your coffee off the table and onto your lap.
  • You make oatmeal for dinner.
  • You buy a Costco pack of paper plates to combat the mass of unwashed dishes cluttering the kitchen. After a week of using paper plates you admit it’s pretty cool…
  • The alarm bleeps in your ear. You are faced with two options: sleeping another 10 minutes or getting up to exercise. Bwahahahaha!!
  • The three year old asks to help setting the table. You hand her the pizza cutter with a caution that it’s a little sharp. She grabs it, turns heel and races into the next room screaming, “watch out! It’s SHARP!”
  • The cool thing about being eternally sleep-deprived is that you can drink caffeine any time to the day and still fall asleep as soon as you hit the pillow.
  • Gathering the kids for a group Bible story is sometimes like trying to rake leaves while the wind is blowing.
  • When you ask the kids to describe what you just read, they stare blankly for a moment then start spouting appropriate-sounding answers like, “God?” “Jesus?”

GRACE MOMENTS

  • God is good. The only reason for grace throughout the day.
  • Friendship is a gift. Friendship that is tested with fire and revives stronger is priceless.
  • Your husband takes two whole days at home so you can attend the church’s women’s retreat.
  • You overhear one of your children encouraging another with a verse from the Bible.
  • No matter how empty the fridge appears, with a little imagination there always seems to be something you can make!
  • Some books are like old friends. You share one such book with your kids and delight to find them as captivated by it as you were.
  • A simple school lesson sparks a question in the children which turns into an opportunity to dive deeper into the subject which ignites a fire in their souls.
  • At the end of the day, it’s not about doing it all, it’s about being faithful to just do the next thing.

What were some of your Real/Grace moments this week?

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A Brief Morning Prayer

A Brief Morning Prayer

In the quiet of this morning, when anything at all seems possible, secure my heart and my thoughts for you, Oh Lord.

My plans, my expectations must fall apart before your sovereign plan; give me open hands and an open heart.

When tiny feet sound on the stair, signaling the end of the stillness (and hot coffee!), give me your love for them. May the fullness of my hands cause my heart to burst with reasons to give you glory.

Let me never cease to pray for the children you have entrusted to me; make them sharpened arrows for your kingdom.

Left-over Oatmeal

Left-over Oatmeal

Coffee in the mornings.

Sweet smell of – (fill in the blank).

Days like this…summer colors in full bloom…the innocence of childhood…wearing sandals on the beach, leggings are my best friend, blah, blah, blah…

You know what? You clicked on this because you were interested in how I used my left-over oatmeal, not to hear how amazing pumpkin spice is or how much I love that my brown leather boots go with EVERYTHING (except that they really do and that’s pretty cool…).

I’ll get to the point.

THE RECIPE

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix together all the following ingredients:

1 cup cooked, left-over oatmeal
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1 mashed banana
¼ cup melted butter
2 cups almond flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbls flax seed
¼ cup chopped walnuts

Grease up a baking sheet or line with parchment paper. Using a ¼ cup, scoop up some batter and plop onto the baking sheet in little mounds. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are looking a tad brownish and the middles do not look wet.

I’m not even going to give you a million photos to drool over. Just these two. BOOM.

Hope you try it!

Real/Grace Moments

Real/Grace Moments

“By the grace of God I am what I am…”

KEEPING IT REAL

  • Your brain is serenaded 24/7 by the strains of the latest favorite animated movie soundtrack.
  • There’s a sticky spot on the table in which you keep setting your book or your hand.
  • Why even bother wearing socks in the house; there are puddles EVERYWHERE.
  • The undone laundry is the towel load. That night, two children throw up…and there are NO towels.
  • Nice weather keeps the kids outside for hours…and hours…even though there is still work they need to do, it’s ok if they don’t come inside quite yet…
  • Motivation strikes: it’s work-out time! Barely a minute in, the toddler decides to literally drape herself over you as you attempt a floor routine.
  • A child spills her smoothie into the shag rug. Just to prove how dumb you are, you clean up the mess then give her more smoothie which she immediately spills again in the same spot.
  • All the matching socks are on a walk-about. There’s nothing for it but to wear mismatching socks and YOU DON’T CARE.

 

GRACE MOMENTS

  • A friend brings you dinner when your husband is out of town.
  • Friends volunteer to watch your herd so you can run errands and get a coffee ALONE.
  • You get to experience real love and support from your church family.
  • Optimism: mountains of laundry equals a well-provided for family with lots of little people to love.
  • Your oldest says, “hey mom, I can watch the smaller kids so you can have some quiet time.”
  • Your kids are sick but still a friend offers to come help out even though she might catch it!
  • Once in a while, your big children still want to snuggle.
  • Remembering Ephesians 2:8-9.

 

What were some of your Real/Grace moments this week?