Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words may be encouragement to them. Ephesians 4:29b

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Project: Kid-Capable

**UPDATE**  I just made an awesome upgrade to our kid-accessible beverages!  See below.

My kiddos are four and six in a few weeks.  Recently the hubby and I began the process of letting them take on some of their daily activities on their own.  For example, my son is showering by himself - I remember dreaming of that day a few years ago!  My daughter can now choose, match up and put on a complete outfit, including headband, shoes and socks - Heaven forbid!  Yes, the growing up phase has begun...

I came up with a few changes at home for my kids, giving them a little more independence and responsibility around the house.  I am proud to say that they are doing great with them!  Yes, we've faced few messes, but as with any learning process, we parents have had to practice patience.  I've already said a little prayer for those slightly, obsessively, tidy moms like me that might be encouraged to try some of these.  You'll need to say a few, too. In the end it will all be worth it.  I thought Project: Kid-Capable was an appropriate name for this little "Candoozy." :)

A Kid-Capable Kitchen

Big Kid Cups (You CAN do it and so can they!)
I came to a breaking point with cups and lids.  I was SO READY to get rid of all those parts and no stacking ability (aka: clutter). Lids also come with the mandatory requirement of a parent for filling, capping, uncapping, refilling....yup.  This change was hard for a mom like me who HATES spills, but just remember: They've got to learn sometime! ;)  I think my kids were at the right age to start. My daughter was just three.  We still use cups with lids at school and upstairs for special occasions, but downstairs, in the kitchen only, my kids are using these cups with no problems:

Recognize them?  They're hard plastic party favor cups from the party aisle at your nearby WalMart, Target, H-E-B, Party City, etc.  The kids enjoy choosing them, they are durable in the dishwasher (top rack) and they have large bases to reduce tipping.  We learned that last lesson the hard way with skinny cups.  Ikea's kid cups are also decent, but my son refilled them multiple times per meal.  It might help to start out with a low level of drink until the kids get the hang of not having lids.  I'd also advise reminding them to always put their cup behind their plate.  All our spills are "elbow spills" knocking the cup over due to not putting it behind the plate.

The Kid Cabinet
The main part of our "Kid-Capable Kitchen" was dedicating our kids their own kitchen cabinet for them to access their plastic cups, plates, bowls, snack cups and water bottles.  I used a lower cabinet closest to the refrigerator and under the silverware drawer, so that everything was easily accessible and close together.  I also used a couple of cheap lazy susans (Ikea and Walmart) to make finding/grabbing things easier.

I was quite surprised at how much they love having things at their fingertips to do it themselves!  It's very handy, especially at breakfast and snack time.

Kid-Accessible Beverages
Next topic: Drinks.  How many times a day does your child ask for a drink? Too many.  Smart moms always have a cup on hand everywhere they go.  It never failed that as soon as I sit down for a second or get a phone call, "Mommy, I'm thirsty" would commence. :) 

With the help of our handy-dandy cups and kid cabinet, the kids now have access to getting a drink of water with ease using fridge water and ice dispenser.  Drips and overflows happen, but with time they learned and got the hang of it. If you don't have a water dispenser a stool at the sink might be handy for your kiddos, or......

This?  When I was shopping for some kitchen organization tools, I stumbled upon these babies...

....and the gears started turning!  Check it:

Now my kiddos have access to their own juice and milk!  They LOVE this one!  Plus, no more round gallon containers taking up space - Bonus!  As I rearranged to make room for the dispensers at kid level, I also made their other drinks and snacks accessible. 

Beverage Dispenser Tips:
  • You might let the kids practice using these using water first to gauge overflow/dripping.
  • I use a dry erase marker to write the expiration date on the white lid on top.
  • I always rinse out containers between filling.  At a minimum, I clean the milk container between fills with Dawn and rinse thoroughly with hot water.  I never combine milks of different expiration dates, as I don't want soured milk and bacteria forming in the container. 
  • I also showed my kids how to pull the container out some and lean down when the container is low.  Sometimes squeezing the container pushes air bubbles out and helps flow.  My son can handle the pull-out pour, but my daughter needs assistance.
I have upgraded my kid-accessible beverage dispensing!  Anyone seen these on TV?

Well, the Magic Tap has brought peace to this mom who is tired of cleaning out dispensers and drips inside refrigerator!  So far, I'm loving these advantages:
  • No need for dispensers taking up shelf space!  Just tapped the bottles in the door!
  • Cleaning the taps is WAY easier and faster than cleaning those dispensers!
  • The tap has great, steady pressure (so far), versus the varied up & down liquid pressure of the dispensers.
  • Easy 1-handed dispensing with almost no drips versus the 2-handed dispensing and frequent dripping.
They each require 2 AA batteries.   We'll see how long the batteries last, and since these are brand new, I don't have long-term input...yet!  I'm hoping they hold up well.  If you want to try them with me, you can find them at your local Wal-Mart and Bed Bath & Beyond for $10-$12ea, which is less than ordering them online (+shipping). Happy dispensing! :)

A Kid-Accessible Pantry
If your kids are old enough to access the pantry with your permission, try putting their snacks and food at their level.  My son can make PB&J's, so I also keep the peanut butter and bread accessible to him, as well as the jelly in the fridge.  I also purchased these items for my pantry:

The baskets hold snacks and save shelf space. The item on the right is a sugar/flour dispenser that I got for the kids' cereals.  In addition to the handle and large mouth lid option, I liked that it had another purpose, in case I need it.  With those, here are our kid-capable shelves in our (very tiny) pantry:

Peanut butter - check. Cereal - check. Chips/pretzels - check. Snacks - check. Bread - check.  Cereal was a bonus because now they can pour their cereal AND their milk on top! Mornings run much more smoothly for this slow-moving mom. :)
Pantry Tips: 
  • I cut a tab from the cereal box and taped it it to the container. 
  • I would practice pouring cereal with your child to gauge flow/angle.  My daughter needs her bowl on a lower surface (a chair) to pour, since the counter is too high an angle for her.
  • Throw away boxes and put individual snack packs in baskets to save space. 
  • Three is also a good age to begin showing your child how to open snacks, yogurt, applesauce, juice box straws, etc.  PS: patience is also helpful here. :)

A Kid-Capable Entry/Exit Space

You may have seen my recent laundry room makeover and last year's shoe storage solution, both being kid-capable entry/exit solutions. If not, click on over to Happy Feet and Laundry Room Limbo.  I just added these to make entry and exit time a bit smoother.  Ta-da!

I added a metal wall file found at TJ Maxx with name cards for each of us.  It is now a handy mail/school folder drop upon entry/exit.  I also moved the key rack next to the door and added some simple suction cup hooks to the door for school bags.  This gives more space for coats/purses on the wall and easier to get into the shoe/sock storage bin.

I have no doubt that Project: Kid-Capable will be a continuous one for me.  Those gears never stop turning! :) I pray that some of these solutions and ideas might help you and your family in some way.  It would be a blessing to know that making my family's life easier did the same for yours.

Do even small things like this make you think about your kids' future independence? As sad as it is to see my babies growing up too fast, I do feel that teaching them independence and responsibility is important, and more important than my sacrifice of time and patience.  They become more confident and able.  No, I don't like recalling the Biblical Truth of them leaving me one day.  {Insert fingers in ears and hum}  When I do, I must strive for peace in knowing that God will be with them always.  I also have to remember that it's my job to teach them and prepare them for world.  Besides, what kind of future would they have if they never learned to drink out of a cup, or make a sandwich...or take a shower?  OK, yup - my job's important.  Knuckles to all you fellow moms out there.  We rock.

Keeping Him in mind,

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Diaper Cake Pick-Me-Up

With the busy schedule last year, I didn't try and promote my diaper cakes, so I had little expectation of making any, unless it were a gift or a shower donation from me.  Well, much to my surprise, I received a few requests resulting in a little green in 2011.  This unpaid SAHM could definitely get used to that. :)

As for pics, my Sweet Cakes Blogspot got deleted. :( I'm sure it was somehow my fault, but it was rarely used, anyway, so Clearly Candace now has a new page!  Notice that the CC menu bar above now has two tabs to choose from.  This page will be a new place dedicated to diaper cake hobby and any other gifts I make for mommies and new babes.  Posts will feed into the CC news feed, as well as on the CC Facebook page, so be sure to "Like" the Clearly Candace page and share with your friends! :)

With that, here are a few 2011 sneak peaks...

You should see a party post in the near future on this last pic.  A new level for the Sweet Cakes portfolio. :)  You can find the rest of my latest cakes via the Sweet Cakes by Candace page!  Thanks for visiting.

Have a blessed day!