Dealing with kids' artwork

Schools in and the artwork is rolling in. To be honest, the girls create more art than I know what to do with and I have a strong anti-clutter gene. To deal with their artwork, I sort every piece that comes into the house into 3 categories:

  • Keep: This is the art that I want to keep for years. There has to be something very special about it. I organize this art similar to how I organize the girls' paperwork. Each girl has a 4 inch binder with 50 plastic sheet protectors in it. By my calculations, that's 2-4 special art pieces per school year. So far they each have 3 pieces in there including a foot-print art (so they can look back and see how tiny their feet used to be) and first drawing of the whole family. 

    First family portrait showing daddy, mommy, the twins and some random kids I don't know!
  • Display: This is the nice art that gets to be displayed for a while before it's "retired". It includes mother's day gifts displayed on the TV stand and the art I display on the kitchen wall. I remove them when I have another nice piece to replace them with. The kitchen wall display is space limited to maximum 4 pieces per kid. The girls love seeing their art displayed in this form. I must confess that all the Mothers' Day crafts I get from the girls fall into this category and none have been taken down yet because I'm emotionally attached to those and I may end up having a mommy memory box for these when they become too many to display!
    The current kitchen wall display

    My Mother's day flowers
  • Retire: This is the art work that gets retired into the recycling box that's euphemism for trashed! A lot of pieces go into immediate retirement.
What's your approach to kids' artwork. Do you attach a sentimental value to them and keep everything or do you keep some and lose some?

Family Hotel Sleeping Arrangements

When it comes to vacations, hotel accommodation is always a big ticket item if not staying with family. When you have 2 or more kids to consider, things become extra tricky. 

My objective has always been to find a comfortable sleeping arrangement for our family of 4 without breaking the bank. I've tried a few options in the past and during our recent vacation, I experimented with a few additional sleeping arrangements.


Here's a list of the pros and cons for each arrangement based on my experience of 2 adults and twins.

Bed Sharing. We've tried this a couple of times with mixed results
Best for: Non-mobile infants or kids who are used to sleeping in big beds without tumbling all over the place
Pro: Even the standard hotel room with 2 full beds can work for this. Much more comfortable in rooms with king-sized beds though
Con: Talk about passion-killer!

Peapods or similar travel beds. Did this while relocating and on a couple of vacations
Best for: Crawling to toddler stage. (8 months to 2 years). We stopped using these when the girls were able to flip themselves upside-down while in the peapod for the sheer fun of it.
Pro: Very small footprint so if floor space is tight, this works very well. Plus the pods are mobile and can be setup anywhere meaning any location - beach, porch, living room - can become a nap area
Con: The flipping upside down mentioned earlier means kids outgrow this fast

Pack and plays.  Did this while relocating and on our San Antonio vacation
Best for: all ages up to the height and weight limit of the pack and play
Pro: Most hotels will provide these if you call ahead so it's one less item to pack
Con: Older, vocal kids will not appreciate this. I haven't tried this with my kids once they were over 2 years old. Hotel room needs to be very big, preferably a suite with 2 separate living areas. Depending on hotel, the pack and play you actually get may look a little dingy. I suggest traveling with your own sheets

Sleeping Bags on the floor. Tried this for the first time last week
Best for: Older kids who are used to sleeping in big beds without tumbling all over the place. When we used these, I spent half the nights fishing the girls from random corners of the room to tuck them back into their sleeping bags. It was harrowing for me but they slept right through it
Pro: It easy to fit 2 sleeping bags on the floor of most hotel rooms
Con: Watch your step! 

Sofa beds. Tried this for the first time last week
Best for: Older kids who are used to sleeping in big beds without tumbling all over the place. The sofa arm rests act as mini-bed rails for the peaceful sleepers. Acrobatic sleepers will probably need their positions adjusted several times during the nights
Pro: No additional equipment required from your end
Con: Not all hotels have rooms with sofa beds available. When available, they're usually part of a more expensive room package

A PSA on ebates and online shopping rebates

So I was chatting with my sister a couple of weeks back about some online purchases she made and I commented that "You must have saved quite a bit with your ebates account". To which she replied "What's ebates?"

And this Public Service Announcement post was born.

What is ebates?: Ebates is a website that gives you cashback for shopping certain websites online. 

How does it work?: You open an account (there's a USA ebates and a Canadian ebates and I have accounts in both). Once your account is opened, you click the website you want to shop on from the ebates website and once your transaction is complete, your cashback is posted into your account. The cashback amount is paid out every quarter through various forms. In the past, I've had a check mailed to my home, got an Amazon.com credit and got my Paypal account credited. 


My favorite option is to have my Paypal account credited as that's how I pay for the girls' netflix subscription. I love online shopping so this really works for me. To date, I've got over $200 back for buying the same things I would buy anyway. 

In the past, I used ebates to get cashback from 

  • buying clothes online at Gap, BananaRepublic, LeChateau and Hudson's Bay, 
  • buying a vacuum cleaner from shop.ca and an air conditioner from Amazon
  • booking hotels for our vacations. For our upcoming road-trip, I'm getting 8% back on our hotel bookings


Bonus: They always have a double cashback promotion for current events so right now the double cashback category is full of stores that sell school supplies and vacation themed online retailers. 

Look out for: Black Friday double cashback event. It's super! I've seen stores give up to 20% cash back.

How much did ebates pay me for this enthusiastic post?: Nada! I'm just another happy customer who wants to share BUT if you sign up using the links in this post, I get a Tell-A-Friend bonus paid into my account....you know, for the Netflix ;). 

PS: There are a few other websites that do the rebate thing for shoppers in US and/or Canada but ebates is the only one I've tried. Certainly if the retailer you want to shop is not on ebates, you can check the other cashback people

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

At least TV isn't melting their brains!

Before I had kids aka the time when I was the smartest mom ever, my best friend used to fondly refer to the TV as "electronic babysitter". And I would barely restrain myself from giving her a speech on spending quality time with your kids and doing away with electronics and bla bla bla.                                                                                                                                                                                           
Fast-forward to 5 years later. I have procreated 2 little beings. They love me and demand my utter devotion and attention. Devotion, I can give them in bucket-loads. The attention part? Well I try but let's be honest there have been times when the TV has saved me. 

That Saturday when I desperately needed to sleep  in for at least an additional hour? TV to the rescue
Those critical 20 minutes I need to make dinner and get it on the table before hunger meltdowns strike? TV to the rescue

TV and some guilt. I always question if the girls are watching too much TV and if it's doing them any good because I grew up watching Sesame Street and I can't for the life of me think of anything of import that I learnt from Sesame Street.

Act 1 Scene 1
I had just bought the girls some magnetic letters and numbers for their easel. 2 minutes into putting the numbers up, Spice came to complain to me that the "question" is not staying put. I was a little incredulous so I went to see and sure enough, there was a question mark magnet that wouldn't stick. I looked at her in wonder and asked "who told you that's called a question mark?" She replied rather arrogantly I might add "Super Why"



Act 1 Scene 2
Rolling down the highway and Sugar starts to count 1 - 10; IN SPANISH! And then Spice does the same thing. I was excited. The school is obviously making my girls bilingual. So I asked them 
Me: Did Ms J teach you to count your numbers in Spanish
Sugar: No. 
Me: So how did you learn uno, dos, tres?
Sugar: Dora!
As in Dora the Explorer

Well, I consider myself stunned speechless and feeling a little less guilty. Whatever else the TV is doing, at least it's not melting their brains. 
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