On. Your. Mark.

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that my three kiddos can pile into sleeping bags, race down the stairs over and over and declare it the best day ever, without getting hurt?
But these same children cannot walk into the kitchen without slipping on a drop of water and end up in the Emergency Room in a Cat Scan tube with a concussion?
They take my breath away.

Bed Head

I’ve got beds on the brain.
And unfortunately, it has nothing to do with me getting into one.
(Although I do have an excuse with a killer sinus infection.) Okay, I did type this from bed, so there’s that.
Anyway, here’s the 411. I’ve always wanted to say that:
My toddler is 29 months old. She is fully potty trained (even at night!) and busy. 
And she is still in her crib.
She’s climbed out twice, but I put the fear of God into her, plus she thinks alligators will eat her toes if she does it again.
Her room is the largest room upstairs because it’s a remodeled game room.  We don’t have a guest room and I want to replace the crib with a full size bed. 
Follow me, this is where it gets confusing.
My oldest child has been begging for the larger room with a big bed her entire life (dramatic emphasis, all hers). I promised when her baby sister moved to a big girl bed, I’d switch the rooms.
So, basically, the two year old gets the yellow and pink room with the white twin bed and the 9 year old gets the old toddler nursery.
Got it?
More info: Bedroom furniture is expensive, but I’ve been piecing together some marvelous pieces (we’re going black shabby chic) and my garage is my current workspace.
I’ve just got this piece to paint black, the bed:
The dilemma: I’m unmotivated to finish said bed because I don’t know when to make the switch to a big bed and a new room. And I don’t know how to do it without disturbing my toddler’s sleeping/potty-trained cycle. 
What do y’all think?
I’m afraid.
P.S. I’m linking this to The Inspired Room’s Procrastination Party because I need accountability.
And painters and movers. 
I finished the bed! And I’ve spent the last two days moving furniture around.
But I love the results!
Remember the before (my garage sale find):

And the after:
And tonight, my two year old will be sleeping in her big girl bed (in her sister’s old room).
I’d appreciate you sending happy {sleepy} thoughts her way!
P.S. I’ll be sharing more details of this room makeover in the next couple of weeks in my DIYP series!

WFMW-Favorite Blogging Tools

I’m seriously not the person to answer your blogging questions. 

The few people who’ve asked me technical questions have had low expectations, I’m sure.

They might be beating their heads against the wall right now.

The technical side of blogging has been a slow learning process for me. I think this simple pie chart explains it well:

(That’s also the ratio of women to men who read my blog based on a recent poll I conducted. Hey dudes!)

But there are a few free tools I love using. You’ve probably heard of most of them, but I thought I’d pass the tips along in case your pie chart looks like mine:

Google Alerts   Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.I like to use Google Alerts to see where my blog name and personal name show up. I keep the names of my children private, so I’m alerted if their names are ever published on the Web.

Google Docs   I’m pretty new to Google Docs, but I used their form for my poll and I thought it was very easy and user friendly. 

Pingdom Tools   My favorite feature in Pingdom Tools is a full page test. If my blog is running slow or {panic attack} not loading at all, I can enter my URL and it tells me what widget, picture, etc. is slowing down my blog. Seriously, love this tool!

Website Grader  This is a really cool site that evaluates your blog and grades it accordingly. It details problematic areas. I don’t like tools that compare my blog with others, but I like Website Grader because it offers helpful ideas based on improving your site. (Of course, I don’t know how to make some of the changes it suggests!)

What are some of your favorite tools?

Please make sure you mark calendar for WFMW: Frugal Edition NEXT WEDNESDAY, May 6, the first Wednesday of May. (During these economic times, I thought it would be helpful to share a frugal/money saving tip for any area of your life!)

{Thank you for joining me for WFMW! You can read the guidelines here.}

Have a Works-For-Me Wednesday tip you’d like to share?  I’d love for you to join us!  Please note that the links will close at 8 pm CST tonight, in order to keep away the spammers!

Was your link deleted? Click here.

Links are now closed. Please join us next week!
Works for Me Wednesday Participants

1. It Feels Like Chaos (rid of pests)
2. Living With Lindsay (Got Grimy Grout?)
3. 5intow (using white boards
4. Cents to Get Debt Free (Healthy Snacks)
5. Real Life (Spring Cleaning for the Car)
6. Erin @ Closing Time (fun kids activity)
7. the BLAH BLAH BLAHger (shipping large items for less)
8. Raise Them Up (Gardening Tip)
9. Homemaker Barbi (Protect Against Blog Negativity)
10. Amy @ Finer Things (teacher appreciation week)
11. Katie @ Clean and Classic Interiors(Remedy Binder)
12. Saving Cents with Sense (Buzz Agent!)
13. The Diaper Diaries (Headache help)
14. Many Little Blessings (Repurpose a Ruined Cake)
15. Raising Olives (Better Scheduling)
16. Denise @ Full Nest (fighting Ants)
17. Christy Klein (Sugar & Salt Uses)
18. Kate @ Which Proverbs 14:1 Woman? (Vacuum Bag)
19. Brianna @Heart(h) Management (Yet Another Time Management Tool)
20. the southern mama-FAUX-REAL
21. Upstatemomof3 (sticking by my team)
22. Sunnymama (cocktail stick snacks)
23. Sunnymama (dandelion bouquets)
24. Frugal Girls! {Organizing my Coupons in a Cute Basket!}
25. Lisa@ Elbows (A Sip, A Slurp, A Suit, A Sentiment)
26. Heather @ JustDoingMyBest (Ideas for Leftovers)
27. Mommy\’s Idea Book (Vacation Budgeting)
28. My Frugal Adventures: Quick organization tips- shoes, toys and donations
29. Home School Dad (3 Things This Thursday)
30. Kirsty@Momedy: Make Procrastination Work For You
31. Mrs. Petrie: Fresh Greens
32. A Simple Walk
33. Daiquiri (gingersnaps & dealing with a bully)
34. Smockity Frocks (“How Do You Do It?”: Homeschooling Many)
35. Cooking During Stolen Moments (Creamy Peanut Butter Pie)
36. NerdFamily (water tip)
37. The Happy Housewife ~ No Sibling Rivalry
38. ElizabethG (simplifying birthdays)
39. Chief Family Officer (best high chair mat ever)
40. momstheword (staying connected)
41. Anita (My home is my office)
42. CamianAcademy (Leap Frog Letter Factory)
43. In…Fence (40 Uses For Lemons)
44. Weird, Unsocialized HS\’ers (Cleaning Mini-Blinds)
45. Niki @ Free 2 Be Frugal (earning swagbucks from others\’ searches)
46. Green Baby Guide (Organize your freezer)
47. Penny Raine – Twitter
48. Health Begins With Mom (Avocados!)
49. Lana (Shortcuts)
50. mombrud (wish I\’d done this years ago)
51. Effortless Savings (Garage Sale Success)
52. Nichole @ A Call to Higher Places (Getting ready for Baby!)
53. Scribble Ink Cafe (Old Is Cute, that works for me!)
54. Innkeeper Seely (glass baking pans)
55. Rachel (Simple, happy, frugal– my list)
56. What is it NOW!!! (Memory Foam Mattess Topper)
57. Monica @ DailyDwelling (after dinner help)
58. Tasha @ Hectic Calm (3-D Artwork, cheap)
59. Lisa @ Moore Minutes (Summertime Panini Sandwiches!)
60. The Prudent Homemaker (One dish family dinner for under $2)
61. Julie (Less Fat Cookies, YUM)
62. Beautiful Calling (Rainy Day \’Treats\’)
63. FishMama@LifeasMOM
64. Laryssa @Heaven In The Home (Favorite Books For Chilren)
65. Laryssa @Heaven In The Home (Favorite Books For Children)
66. afamiliarpath
67. Sara @ Learning the Frugal Life (Starting Them Early)
68. Mrs. Querido:: Not Brushing My Kids Teeth
69. Amyswandering (Free Blog Bling)
70. Lori- Simple Life at Home (4 Week Menu Planning, tons of recipes)
71. Abel – Family Travel Tips and Your Best Tips
72. Maren – Target Popcorn
73. momsfrugal (31 Scoop Ice Cream at Bask.Rob)
74. A Beach Cottage Budget Wine Box Table Tutorial
75. Molly Green (guitar storage)
76. Mary Ann (simple recipe holder)
77. exhale. return to center. (bugs garden gloves)
78. Cardamoms Pod (Thrifty Salad Spinner)
79. Cardamoms Pod (Thrifty Salad Spinner)
80. *Michelle* (Chico Bag Giveaway and more Free stuff!)
81. Tracey @ Girls to Grow (Picky Eater)
82. Common Cents Mom (Menu Planning 101)
83. Girls in White Dresses (happiness scavenger hunt)
84. Life with Three (organization for moms)
85. Kate\’s Kitchen: Iced Tea
86. (social justice & children)
87. Pink Licorice:Life (Conditioning Body Wash Use)
88. Becky (photo collage)
89. BusyMom (finding blogging help for the non programmer)
90. se7en (Poetry Resources for Kids)
91. Nicole @ The Graves\’ House
92. Jolanthe (Emergency Binder: Medical Information Sheet)
93. Herb Of Grace (Rainy Day Idea)
94. Multi-Tasking Mommy (frozen relief for teething)
95. Beautiful Calling (SOAPNUTS & a giveaway)
96. The Shabby Chic Cottage (yard sale scores)
97. MC (easy centerpiece ideas)
98. Jen @ What\’s Shakin\’? (displaying kids artwork)
99. Bake at 350 (Royal Icing 101)
100. Sarah Mae (8 Ways To Share Your Opinion Effectively)
101. Beverly (learning something new)
102. Lori (cleaning window blinds)
103. Bailey\’s Leaf (Egg Tips)
104. charlotte (fresh food)
105. charlotte (sex ed)
106. Angela @ Simply Practical – (Starting with baby steps)
107. Stockpiling/Storage in small spaces
108. Stephanie Babetz
109. Simply Practical (Double Duty in the Car)
110. Donna @ Another New Season (This doesn\’t work for me)
111. Stephanie (Talking Spatula)
112. Corrie @ “Cents”able Momma (How to Shop at Rite Aid)
113. Lisa @ JoyousFrugalFamily (yard sell season)
114. Hoosier Homemade(Offie SupplyCanisters)
115. Kari (three little tips)
116. Carol ~ Deoderant, it\’s just a suggestion
117. Lori (drinking water)
118. Christy @ Mercy Every Morning (Easy Homemade Bread)
119. Joyful Johnsons (writing)
120. Melissa @ Frugal Creativity (pizza sauce)
121. QAMOM (Teaching letter recognition)
122. Buffie (tub toy storage)
123. Melonie K. (boxed lunches)
124. PapuaGirl (Cheap Books Online!)
125. Elisa (blogging tools)
126. The Thrifty Mommy (A Unique Way to Display Them)
127. Nancy (Making your own lashing tool)
128. Julie From Inmates (Great Lotion)
129. Fly Away Family (Saving Money on your wedding)
130. Aunt LoLo (Make A Cheap Stamp)
131. Elisa (recycled diaper boxes)
132. First Fridays (Blogger Networking)
133. Kitchen Stewardship (Heathy Meals at Aldi or Sav-A-Lot?)
134. Katie
135. Moneywise Moms (Grocery List Template)
136. Sheila ~ To Love, Honor and Vacuum (unfinished craft projects!)
137. Scott@ Honey I Fed the Kids (Cantaloupe Dump Cake)
138. Bloom Where You\’re Planted! (fabric dilemma)
139. Lazy Mom Amanda
140. LFinn(Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars)
141. Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers (the CREAMIEST Mac and Cheese!)
142. Jennifer (combining sales w/coupons)
143. Jenn
144. Lynn (gardening)
145. Thrifty Jinxy (Frozen Waffle Tip)
146. Organizing Mommy (hospitality)
147. Carol @SheLives (Seam Ripper Tip)
148. ET @ Titus2:3-5 (time management)
149. Michelle(Organized kid\’s stuff!)
150. FamilyMakesCents (planting potatoes)
151. Rookie Mo
m 101 (Pregnancy Comments)

152. Liz @ Frugally Blonde (Rolling over Target Deals)
153. Sharon @ Because I Must (recipe site)
154. BeyondJustMom (Enriched by Motherhood)
155. Lauren (New Recipe)
156. Joy(Refrigerator dough from mashed potatoes!)
157. Amy @ muddy boots (get your 2 year old CLEANING)
158. Stacey (cheap, easy, and good salsa. Try for Cinco do Mayo!
159. Laura @ Bloggin\’ Mama (toddler bedtime)
160. Beth–Online Chores System
161. Lizzie (25 Ideas for Frugal Fun)
162. Sonja (texting)
163. Jackie @ Blessings Overflowing (Otoscope for Home Use)
164. Julie
165. Jeni (Keep track of baby socks!)
166. Elena@My Domestic Church Birthworks
167. pennypinchinmomma(responsible children)
168. Kristen (many recipes from one)
169. This Side of Eternity (Stamp Out Hunger)
170. care-in (fun date night idea)
171. Donielle @ Raising Peanuts (Nursing a Newborn)
172. DarcyLee (Greek Yogurt)
173. Jerri @ Jerri\’s Journey (Kitchen Essentials – Appliances)
174. Kirstin: Electric toothbrush with timer
175. Terri @ Funny Farm (almost Free Family Fun!)
176. Amy @ Tiny Blessings (useful freebies, not clutter)
177. Newlyweds (5th Gen Rice Farmers)
178. kartho (Salad Bar Dinner, first one!)
179. Jendi (TP tip)
180. Rona – Couple Shopping
181. Making This Home
182. Lindsay @ Passionate Homemaking (natural frugal stain & cleaning agent!)
183. Nichole (first chores)
184. Kristin (sorting laundry quickly)
185. Lazy Mom Leslie (jeans)
186. Rina Mama Bear Martha Stewarts BEST THINGS
187. Thoughts by Kim (Skin Care)
188. missy @ missysthrifty (uses for clothes pins)
189. Judy @ Frugal at Home (Coupon Organization)
190. Trixie (Ideas for Bloggers to Earn SwagBucks Referral)
191. Lauren @ Team Giles {Running}
192. Kristin -The Goat (Creative Envelope Labels)
193. Thia (degreasing bacon)
194. Our Nifty Notebook (Singing & Learning)
195. MemeGRL (StubHub)
196. TV Watching Mama (Ticking Nursery Clock)
197. Pam (reeses cup pie)
198. Melissa (hodge-podge)
199. Heather (Simple daily nag reducer)
200. Christine (kid getting sassy?)
201. Better is Little ~ Outside boot storage
202. bahama shores mama (library)
203. Kathryn
204. Melanie (freezer storage)
205. Christine @ becomingp31 (Mocha Meringues)
206. Courtney (how making a grocery list works for me)
207. BRC Banter (Make your own baking stone)
208. tutu (forward tips)
209. Meghan (detangle spray)
210. The Simple Life of the Boreings (Under the Sink Solution!)
211. Angie @ Annies Home (hand sanitizer)
212. Sarah@VintageChicHome(coupon organizing)
213. Heather (7th gr. Science)
214. Jessica @ Who Left The Light On? (Uses for Vinegar)
215. In…Fence (Keeping It Real)
216. Heather Kay (hummingbirds)
217. warillever (staying offline)
218. Michelle
219. Moms by Heart (FUN SUMMER AT HOME IDEAS)
220. Michelle (trying to conceive, part 3)
221. Christy @ One Little Word She Knew (dicing an onion)
222. Lisa @ The Owl\’s Nest (how to never forget birthday cards ever again)
223. mary
224. Shannon (Food Roots: where does your food come from?)
225. GROCERY CART CHALLENGE (homemade PB for $.98)
226. Penny @A Day in the Life at Our House(bloggy stuff)
227. Tanya (easy eggs)
228. cool dad (cool reusable shopping bags)
229. Keeping the Castle – toy organization
230. Kisses of Sunshine: Quick Stain Remover
231. Chic Critique (Choosing a Sunscreen)
232. Kelly @ Fruit of the Womb (teaching 3 yr old to read)
233. Adventures in Mommydom (assign a color)
234. Heather@Journey of Faith (paperback swap)
235. \’Becca (best sippy cups)
236. The 6 O\’Clock Stitch (Indoor Sandbox)
237. Condo Blues (burst water pipe)
238. Colleen – Mommy Always Wins (SEO tips)
239. Sharon-orange marmalade recipe
240. Holly @ A Mommy\’s Blessings (outdoor vinegar uses)
241. Diana @Be Home Happy
242. Em. @ GSF (Back Up Box)
243. Catherine @ Adventures in Domesticity (weighed bookmark)
244. Eden (dry skin remedy)
245. Overwhelmed Working Mom (Easy hot crab dip recipe)
246. angelina
247. Simply Sweet Home (giveaway)
248. Sandra @ A Lot of Savings (Snack Bag)
249. mom2fur (giftie box stuff)
250. Stephanie (Training My Daughters)
251. Wani ($170 giftcards for $13.50!)
252. Linda @ Ramblings of a Southern Belle (Shopping w/ 5 children)
253. Brittani\’s Holding Little Hands (creative birthday gifts)
254. All Things Cherished (new uses for toothpaste)
255. Tara @ Feels like Home (babysitting)
256. BandSP
257. Cheerios Underfoot-Make your own feltboards
258. Saving in Greenville ($1.95 for a $25 TARGET Gift Card!!)

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Setting the Tone of Your Home

Our home is a busy place.
It’s noisy and bustling, sometimes dirty, always lived-in.
It’s not cold, chaotic or controlled.
It’s warm and welcoming and imperfect.
My hubby and I work very hard to set the tone of our home. We have made conscious choices to create a healthy atmosphere for our family.
The other night before bed, we were reading Moments With You: Daily Connections for Couples together. In it, Donna Otto, founder of Homemakers by Choice, writes, “parents are not called to be the thermometers in the home, but the thermostats…Thermostats don’t just read the temperature, they guide. They determine how warm or cool the home environment will be.”
It’s so true! We’ve found when there is tension in our marriage or when we are grumpy and discontent, so are our children. They are taking their cues from us.
We want our home to have purpose and direction. It has been  six months since we took back control of the time we spent in our home. I was stressed about our hectic after-school schedule and TV and video games ruled our home
I cannot tell you how much the tone has changed! The temperature is just right (disclaimer: we do have a 2 year old, so please take that into account).
How we changed the tone of our home:
  • Minimized TV and video games-We cut off the Cable (in the Family Room. Hubby and I still have basic cable in our bedroom) and we limit ALL screen time (TV, Wii, DS, etc.) to 30 minutes a day during the week. This was tough for my kids at first. But they acclimatized to the temperature after awhile and we have seen a complete turn around in their attitudes and even desire to watch TV.
  • Significantly reduced extracurricular activities-My kids are involved in Boy/Girl Scouts monthly and that’s it! We don’t do any sports or lessons, at all! I’m not opposed to these, but for us, it was just too much. Not only was it very expensive, we were constantly rushing from one activity to another after school. We reserve sports for the summer, where my kids can ‘try out’ a sport for six weeks through the YMCA. Around here, we are definitely in the minority since my kids haven’t found their sport (with private lessons), but they are 9 and nearly 7. The have plenty of time to pursue sports they really love in junior high and high school.
  • Family meals-We eat approximately six nights a week around our table, together. We cook and clean and talk, together. I love this time. A couple of nights a week, we use some conversation starters to make sure we’re communicating with our kids about issues they may be having (Here’s a great Character Building book)
  • Utilize our time-Without the distractions of TV and activities, we have a lot of time on our hands. We spend much of it in our backyard, in our new garden, riding bikes, and taking walks.  Baking and crafting have become family affairs. We love family movie night with popcorn and blankets. Without the expense of extracurricular activities, we set money aside to have special family nights at my kid’s favorite spots, monthly.
  • Using a Family calendar-We have a family calendar displayed in a central location. We keep track of our schedule as a whole and we pencil in family nights. This has really helped to alleviate confusion and prevented cramming too much into our schedules. When I see the calendar begin to fill up, I know when we need to say yes or no. A crazy schedule leads to chaos for our family!
  • Encouraging reading-My kids love to read. I love seeing them read. I secretly love catching them reading after hours under their covers with a flashlight. During this time of limited TV, I have seen an amazing love of books come alive in my kids. I’m going to be sharing more about this one in the next few weeks.
  • Enforcing a bedtime routine-One or both of us pray with our kids at bedtime. We snuggle and talk and whisper. We are also consistent with bedtime on weeknights.
  • Flexibility– All of these guidelines just become rules if we don’t have flexibility. We don’t want our home to be controlled and we don’t want to stifle our children’s energy. Everything we do is coupled with a spirit of flexibility. My kids have brightened at unplanned spontaneity and blossomed when we gave them a chance to voice their opinions.
We are not perfect and sometimes even our best laid plans go array. In those moments of chaos, I take a deep breath, think through how we got to that place and try to adjust the temperature in our home.
Because sometimes it’s too hot, other times it’s too cold. And every once in awhile, it’s just right.