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Milk and Cookies

with Kristen

I'm a mother of five, a bargain hunter, a recreational comparison shopper, and always trying to make more time - for me and for you, too. On this blog I'm sharing my favorite tools and finds to help make your work-life juggle a bit easier.

You can find my personal blog at Swistle.com.

Life-improving products, part 2

Categories: Electronics, Elementary school kids, House & Home, Kitchen, Life balance, Managing stress, School, School gear, back to school, organization

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Continuing with last week’s theme of life-improving products:

Wahl Haircut Kit (photo from Amazon.com). This was especially life-changing when the boys were younger: I could line up the four of them and save $60 in well under an hour. The first time I cut Toddler Rob’s hair was VERY SCARY, but I thought to myself, “If I make a mess of this, I can take him to the barber and have them fix it—or I can just shave it off and start over.”

Goody Small Claw Clips (photo from Amazon.com). I buy these from Target in a pack that has 5 of each color. I use them for buns or for other twisty styles, and they have revolutionized how I do my hair. My only complaint is that they come in mixed-color packs, when I only like the tortoiseshell ones. I’ve been thinking I should set up a local swap club, because surely there are other women who like the black ones or clear ones best.
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Life-improving products, part 1

Categories: Electronics, House & Home, Kitchen, Managing stress, Time savers, organization

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My parents’ ultimate praise for a new item or system is “It has IMPROVED the QUALITY of our LIVES.” Since this has been a shopping/product blog, I thought I’d devote my final four posts here at Milk and Cookies to products that have improved the quality of our lives.

Wireless freezer alarm (photo from Amazon.com). We bought a freestanding freezer around the time the twins were born. I kept coming downstairs to find the door slightly open, popsicles dripping from the top shelf to the bottom. This set of two alarms (it’s supposed to be one for the fridge and one for the freezer, but we have one in the upstairs freezer and one in the downstairs freezer) lets us know if the temperature is rising, BEFORE we lose the ten packages of meat bought on a good sale.

Taco rack (photo from Amazon.com). When it was just Paul and me, it wasn’t a big deal to balance the shells on a tray in that interlocking way that keeps them from cooking themselves closed. Now that we heat more than an entire package of shells at a meal, this thing saves us a great deal of frustration. It took me a long time to buy it because it seems really overpriced—but it’s been well worth it. AND, the four pieces of metal come apart, so it hardly takes up any storage space at all (I slide ours under the boxes of crackers in the cupboard).
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Tips for Surviving the Work/Summer Combination

Categories: Life balance, Managing stress, organization

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It’s too soon to call it, but I think summer is going to finish me off. Every day I think, “Here are the projects that need to be worked on today.” Every day, I fail: either I put in an insufficient amount of time, or I don’t get to any of them at all. I’m getting that “the water is rising” feeling.

This is WITH my usual techniques: signing up the most difficult child for day-camp; buying a few fun new things; breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.

(Bananagrams ((photo from Amazon.com)) is the biggest hit so far. )

I think there’s a feeling that everyone (especially kids) DESERVES to have a 3-month vacation with tons of fun things every day: beaches! amusement parks! camping! And so it’s easy for parents to feel really bad that they’re not delivering on that—and maybe resentful, too, since they’re not getting it for themselves, either. But sometimes it doesn’t work out to spend a quarter of the year that way, and that’s okay too. School is out for the summer; work is still in session. And “Sleeping in, then playing outside as long as you want, then coming in and having lemonade, then reading comic books and playing video games all afternoon” IS a wonderful fun-fun-fun kind of summer, as is “Going to day-camp.”

Still, so far my work is not getting done, even after dropping the feeling that every day should be packed with summer fun. One trick I’ve had success with lately is imagining if someone else came to me with the same problem I’m having—what would I suggest they try?
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