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A Fun Family Halloween Night

We had a great Halloween last night! My sister came with her fiance and little boy and we noshed on pizza and beer before heading out to trick or treat in our neighborhood. The kids were so excited- it’s so much fun watching them be so into Halloween because I know it’s not going to last forever. Ty even decided to come with us and I’m pretty sure this will be the last year he goes trick or treating with the family. It sad to think about one more tradition ending but I guess it’s all part of them growing up. 










This year we had a pirate princess, a dinosaur, a kitty cat, and a disgruntled businessman. The disgruntled businessman started out as an undead zombie businessman but he didn’t like the make up so he washed it off. Ty’s wearing one of Matt’s old work suits and the fact that it fits him pretty well makes me sniffle.  I took a ton of pictures, some with the good camera and some with my iPhone so prepare yourself for photo overload. 











I must say, it’s getting much easier to take pictures of all of them together now. They’re old enough to stand still and actually look at the camera! Matt and I watched my sister wrestle with their little guy, who will be 2 in December, all night and high-fived each other repeatedly that we are done with that stage! Ha!














We made the same loop around our neighborhood that we’ve made for the last 8 years and most of the homeowners are the same so it’s fun to see them each year. They’ve watched our kids grow up in the neighborhood and it just feels so familiar and homey to us. 
















 And I have to say, it’s so nice going trick or treating with older kids. All 4 of mine were able to walk, follow directions, go up to the houses on their own, carry their own candy buckets…I like this stage. Matt and I watched my sister chase my nephew all night long and exchanged more high-fives along the way. Ha!














It was a long night and we saw a bunch of friends from the neighborhood as we walked through the streets. It’s so fun to see the same families and kids every year and watch them grow up. 













The kids had fun, we had fun, and they got a whole lot of candy! But you can tell it’s time to head for home when one loses his head and the other has a perma-scowl on her face. 








The kids were exhausted and after consuming about 5 pounds of candy, they passed out in sugar comas for the night. Matt and I rounded off the evening with a bottle of wine and Paranormal Activity 4 on Netflix. It was a great Halloween! 



Ghost Bowling Halloween Party Game

 This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Cottonelle, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #CottonelleTarget http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO


I am in charge of planning a game station this year for Mase’s Kindergarten class Halloween festival. Finding a game that will appeal to a bunch of 5 year old’s while also taking into account their limited attention span is always a bit of a challenge. The teacher requested that the game not involve candy and would allow for some physical activity. Clearly she is a very smart lady. 


After discarding all the games from previous year such as Halloween Bingo and Pin the broom on the witch, I nailed down a fun idea that fit the teacher’s criteria. I tested it out on my kids and their friends at our annual neighborhood Fall Festival this weekend. We love our neighborhood Fall Festival, it’s something we look forward to every year and I was excited to be able to contribute this year. Knowing how many kids I would have to entertain I chose a game that was easy enough to be fun for the little kids and inexpensive enough to not bust my limited budget. 






Ghost bowling could not be any easier to set up and the kids had so much fun. All you need to do is grab a 12 or 20-roll pack of Cottonelle Triple Roll toilet paper while shopping at Target. There is even a great coupon you can print out to use at a Target near you for a free box of Kleenex tissues with the purchase of a 12 roll or larger Triple Roll pack of Cottonelle while supplies last. 






I used a black sharpie to draw the ghost faces on 10 of the rolls of toilet paper, stacked them up in a pyramid, and let the kids roll a small sized pumpkin as a bowling ball. You might need to cut the stem off of your pumpkin in order for it to roll in a straight line.  The kids were excited to help me set up the game. A cheap black vinyl tablecloth for the back drop helped contain the game so when the pumpkin crashed through the toilet paper ghost pins I didn’t have to chase any of it down the yard.






Watching the little kids giggle and shriek as they tried their hardest to knock down all of the toilet paper ghosts was hysterical. Zoey went first and I soon discovered the key to keeping everyone engaged and happy was to have the smaller kids line up closer to the pins while the older kids moved further back to roll the pumpkin. 

















The game is so easy to set up that I was able to put the kids in charge of re-stacking the pins after every person took their turn. They took this job very seriously and carefully stacked the toilet paper ghost pins in a perfect pyramid formation. They were having so much fun that they even took turns willingly without being asked. 















Soon even the big kids wanted to get involved.  You know a game must be fun when the 8 and 13 year old are begging for a turn with all their friends!  The 13 year old refused all attempts to be photographed enjoying himself but I managed to catch the 8 year old having fun. Oh and when I say big kids I am totally including the husband in that. He took a few turns and had a great time….even if the 5 year old threw more strikes than he did. Ha!









I can’t wait to see Mase’s little Kindergarten friends playing Ghost Bowling this week! Can you imagine all the cuteness? If you’re having a Halloween party or throwing a fall carnival and need a last minute game to entertain the kids, you should try Ghost Bowling! Cheap to put together, easy to set up, and tons of giggles for everyone. 



5 Habits Of Highly Organized Families




In my quest to become one of these highly organized families I spent the last few months studying families we know who are super organized and always seem to have it together. These families astound me- many kids, homeschooling, active in the community…I want to be one of those families. So I started asking questions and working towards making changes in my own family. I’m sure some of those moms I pestered with questions thought I was off my rocker but they were very gracious and gave me some tips. I’ve already implemented some of them and I’m still working on others.





1. The Family Command Center & Master Calendar. This was the number one thing mentioned by every single mom I talked to. They all have master calendars large enough to keep track of every family member’s activities. Some even color code each person’s activities with colorful sharpie markers- I really should start doing that too. One mom told me “If it’s not on the calendar it does not exist”. They also have family command centers to keep everything organized and easy to find. 


 2. The One-Touch Rule. I’ve heard of this before and always thought it was a good idea but never made a conscious effort to follow it. The One-Touch rule means you only touch an item one time. For example- you see your kid’s jacket lying on the floor. Instead of picking it up and moving it to the couch you take the extra minute to walk it to the front closet to hang it up. Or you see your daughter’s doll on the table. Instead of putting it on the stairs to take up to her room later you walk it up and put it away right then. I always thought it seemed counterproductive and quite frankly, like a lot of work. Since implementing this rule in our house I’ve been amazed at the difference in how picked up and clean the house has remained. 


3. Utilizing a Cleaning Schedule & Kid’s Chore Routine. This was huge for me. By creating a daily cleaning routine the housework never piles up and becomes this albatross around my neck. It makes it easy for me to whip through a room every morning and get the work done quickly. Giving the kids chores not only teaches them responsibility, it also shows them how to work together and function as part of a family unit. Plus, the kids doing the smaller chores frees up mom to take on the bigger projects. 


4. Limit Your Commitments. As one mom told me “there’s a fine line between being involved and being over-involved.” She was right. Lately I’ve found myself tired and stressed out with projects and time constraints pushing on me from all sides. I had to let go of a few projects and committees so I could focus on the ones that really matter to me and focus on my family. Being able to take a walk to the neighborhood playground for half an hour after dinner instead of rushing off to a meeting makes for a happier family and a more connected mom.


5. Break Large Jobs into Small Increments. Putting off bigger jobs because they are time intensive is something I do often but then they never get done. Breaking up the job by setting a timer for 10-15 minutes and doing as much as you can until the timer goes off is a great way to tackle big jobs. I did this with my Magazine Reference Binder– well, I’m still doing this with my magazine binder project. It’s nice to see some progress and I know the job is getting done even if it’s getting done slower than I would like. 


You can see all the posts in my 31 Day Series HERE. New posts are added daily.

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Organize Household Bills The Easy Way

Household Bills. The source of 99.9% of my stress. The most hated of all the chores in the house. The bane of my existence…you get the idea. Every month Matt and I look at each other and wonder why there seem to be more bills than the previous month. Bills come in the mail and get tossed in the drawer immediately because I’m in the middle of something else. Then a couple of times a month Matt will panic and remember the bills stuck in the drawer and scramble to get them all scheduled to pay online. This system we have going on….not so much a system. A couple of months ago we got a final notice from the power company because somehow that bill slipped through the cracks of our “flawless” system- not just once but apparently two months in a row. That vein in Matt’s forehead was throbbing. Something had to give.


Enter my Household Management Binder. I dedicated an entire section to Bill Paying. I knew I needed a simple system that could be done quickly and easily or it would never happen on a regular basis. I took a good look at the problem areas in our bill paying not-really-a system and found the main flaws were tossing the bills in the drawer and forgetting to schedule them. I started planning our new system around fixing those issues.




I found a great monthly bill tracker online for free and printed it out. I love that it’s two side-by-side sheets so nothing is cramped and everything is easy to see. I dug out every bill from the previous three months and listed them all on the bill tracker in order of due date.  Most of our bills have set monthly due dates that never change and the few that do not I listed the earliest date it was due in the previous 6 months. 


Now when a bill comes in the house it gets opened immediately. I double check the due date with what is listed in my on the monthly bill tracker sheet and make a notation if it’s changed. Beside that particular month’s box I write the amount due. Then I file the bill right away in the household file in my Everyday File Box


Matt and I sit down twice a month now- on the 1st and the 15th usually- and schedule every bill for online payment. On the 1st we schedule every bill due before the 15th and on the 15th we schedule every bill due before the last day of that month. We check them off the monthly bill tracker as soon as we schedule them so we can see that every bill has been paid. We’ve been using this system for a few months now and I’m pleased to say we haven’t had one late bill and no utility companies have threatened to turn off our services. I guess that means it’s working!  


I also printed out a bill info sheet and listed every single account we have with all the important information. Now if we have an issue or a question about a bill we can easily see the number to call and our account number. We schedule our bills to pay through our bank’s online payment system but we manage some of our accounts online still so I listed the web address and log in information for those accounts on this sheet. 


It feels so good to get this part of our lives organized once and for all! I feel like a genuine adult now. Ha!


You can see all the posts in my 31 Day Series HERE. New posts are added daily. 



House Tour 2013

We’ve lived in our home for over a decade now. When we first set out to purchase a home in a brand new city several hours away from our extended family, we only had 3 small kids with no intentions on adding anymore. 10 years later we’ve added 2 more kids and 3 dogs to our family. We get asked all the time when we are going to move to a bigger house. Short answer- we’re not. We love our house, we love our neighbors, we love our neighborhood. Our house is just over 2400 SF with 4 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. You can click the links to see more pictures of each room. 
Current House Tour

Previous House Tours: