Today I wanted to tell you a few of my household secrets. These are little, insignificant things that add up to make life here "that much easier."
My first secret weapon is ARNICA (see flowers on left). It is an ointment you can find at your grocery or drug store for about $3(it might be in the "Ethnic" section). It is arnica flower extract held in a white petrolatum/paraffin base. It says that it is for dry skin and abrasions.... but it has a magical effect on bruises and bumps. When the kids are learning to walk or ride their bike they tend to get all banged up. When the baby has a big bruise on his forehead for weeks on end, I start to feel like people may worry what his homelife is like! This stuff makes a goose-egg lump flatten really quick. It makes new bruises dissapate within a week. It makes old bruises break up more quickly. Put it on any kind of swelling and it really helps... smashed-in-the-doorjamb fingers, for instance.
Next is something that just originated from necessity. I don't do sippy cups, really... They're great for the car, and my first-born used them... but we didn't for the others. I just pour an inch or so in a plastic cup and they practice, and if they spill, it's just a little. (However, my two-year-old is really deliberate. If he's done with his drink, he carefully pours the rest into the dog's water bowl. $5 a gallon organic milk, orange juice, whatever!) So this secret weapon is called "mess towel." It is old washcloths, beat-up hand towels, ripped dish towels, and an old ugly bath towel that I cut into peices about 10" x 10." I have a bucket under the kitchen sink full of these towels. I've trained my kids that whenever there has been a spill, they run and get a "mess towel" as quick as they can, and we just take care of it. No big deal. Another benefit of this is I always have a clean rag on hand to wash my kitchen counters, and I don't just spread around germs that have been breeding in an old damp one.
-A relatively new trick we have is a milk crate in each of the kid's bedrooms for shoes. They just throw them in there. Our focus has been on putting them in the right place, not lining them up attractively (which also takes up more room).
-In my garage I have an old cooler that doesn't close properly, and its drain has no lid. We store all the loose outdoor toys in it. Now there is one less cooler in the landfill, and all the balls and jumpropes and small things are collected into one spot.
-My son's dress-up was sort of out of control. So I got an inexpensive hanging shoe organizer and he just stuffs each costume into one of the boxes. Awesome!
- The last thing is a set of inexpensive hall coat hooks- in the fall and winter we hang sweaters and coats on it; in the summer we hang damp bathing suits and cover-ups on it.