Latest Innovations in our Household

by | Jun 25, 2012 | homeschool, housekeeping | 14 comments

Remember how I started drinking coffee? And how suddenly I became productive? I know you want to see what exactly all that coffee has led to. Here are three things, in order of how much coffee it took to complete them.

Provide Cheerios for your boys to throw into the toilet, and they won't pee all over the bathroom. From World of Julie

1. (1 cup of coffee) Who knew it was this simple? For years I’ve been enduring puddles on the floor and gross…well, just grossness on the back of the toilet. But you know, I don’t really understand fully how all the boy equipment works. I thought maybe it was an uncontrollable thing? The all-over spraying? I tried to teach them to clean up after themselves, but that wasn’t really working. Turns out all it takes is a sign and a bowl of Cheerios. Done! (And I’m totally kicking myself for not seeing the possibility of “Peerios” until two days after making the sign.)

A sign on the door tells the neighbor kids when you are homeschooling. From World of Julie

2. (1.5 cups of coffee) We are homeschooling over the summer. Mostly because, this being our first year homeschooling, I kind of did it wrong for the first 11 months, and if we stopped now, we’d all forget any of the things we happened to do right. I didn’t realize, though, that the neighborhood kids would have trouble grasping this concept. Which makes sense, really, since they’re on summer break. But that doesn’t mean they can swing on the swings in our backyard while we’re doing math. Or keep yelling my kids’ names into the front windows.

The extremely helpful community at the Hip Homeschool Moms Facebook page told me to make a sign. And I’m always looking for a reason to use my laminator. This was as astonishingly effective as the bowl of Cheerios on the back of the toilet. Sign went up, and no one bothered us. Done.

Sturdy gate at the end of your driveway keeps your kids in, other kids out. If that's what you want. From World of Julie

3. (4 cups of coffee) I’m trying to figure out how to word this so I don’t sound like I hate everyone in my neighborhood. Because I don’t! Really! I truly, truly love how many kids are in our neighborhood. We used to live on a street where no one left their houses during the day, and it was like living in a sad little ghost town. Where we are now, people are walking around and planting things and chatting on the sidewalk, and it makes me so happy.

I love kids. I wouldn’t have had four of them if I didn’t. But you know what? I have four kids. And sometimes I can barely attend to them. And then they are all miraculously occupied, and I sit down with a cup of coffee and the newspaper and suddenly there’s a kid I’m not sure I’ve seen before, standing in my garden, peering into my dining room window. Hello! Please leave!

Look, I know we have a really smooth driveway and a basketball hoop and an awesome huge playset. But, um: we have that stuff for our kids. And you all can use it, but ask first, ok? It totally stresses me out to be wearing my bathrobe and snipping at my kids about the importance of breakfast, and then turn around to see some kind of scooter gang doing figure 8s in the driveway.

Ok, breathe out. Also let’s not forget that we have wee children who shouldn’t let their newfound tricycling skills propel them into the middle of the street.

We’ve discussed various driveway barriers for years, but nothing really seemed feasible until I saw a picture of a free-standing gate somewhere. The hardware store sold single pickets, so we could build a custom-length fence that matches the fence on the other side of our house. This took us about 2 hours once we had all the materials at home. We still need to paint it, and I think we might put locking casters on the bottom to make it easier to move and get bikes out when we want to (you can still squeeze around the side, technically).

But now we have a nice fence that keeps balls and trikes in, and gives us some privacy. Done.


  1. Robyn

    I’m trying to decide which of these I like the best, but why choose? They all provide peace of mind; they’re all brilliant. You and coffee: what a team. I’m putting peerios in my office bathroom…it’s never too late to teach those who stand up, right?

  2. Julie

    Yes, somehow they are all related. All offering peace of mind. And you should totally put peerios in your office bathroom! They work because it’s kind of funny, and they float, and stander-uppers can’t resist throwing one in to see if they can hit the mark.

    Miss you.

  3. Beth Stilborn

    So clever — I love them all, but I think the gate is my favorite. I can so see the temptation of that driveway and the play equipment. That gate is awesome. I want a driveway so I can have a gate!

  4. Julie

    Beth, the gate makes me so happy. Boundaries!

  5. Robyn

    Rather than put out the peerios, I decided to move offices. I think I should wait a bit before putting them on my new toilets…don’t you think? (though it would be a good test to see if anyone shares my sense of humor)

    What’s next? And how much coffee will it take? (and though I’m usually no fan of flavored Joe, TJs has a Thai Spice thingaroo that is rocking my weekends)

  6. Julie

    Nancy, let me state for the record that my mad skillz were really only used in the first two projects (the peerios and the sign on the door). The driveway gate was 90% Dave building/design, 8% Eli hammering, and 2% me handing them nails.

  7. Julie

    Robyn, the thing I have planned next is so hugely great I can barely contain my excitement. You’ll love it.

    But mostly also we’re still working on the bathroom, which looks pretty much the same way it does in the I-started-drinking-coffee post. There’s a lot of stuff that’s happened behind the scenes, but it still doesn’t have, you know, walls or anything.

  8. Robyn

    Handing nails is vital: that makes you, officially, a Toolie. Wear the badge with pride. I am a skilled flashlight holder (unless something catches my eye, of course, or I have an itch), screw-driver-of-the-appropriate-tip-and-size fisher-outer, and bushing identifier.

    Our house is full of almost-done projects. And the list keeps growing. I prune the list occasionally.

    So do I ever get behind the scenes stuff (and that includes drinking coffee and staring at what’s not done for a while, and then folding laundry.)
    Can’t wait for Rachel’s schedule to move down from 7-12s. Though she’ll need to sleep for a week or two, hmmm.

    Sitting with bated breath for pics of the next adventure project!

  9. Julie

    Not that I doubt your skill and finesse as a flashlight holder, but I will mention that this flashlight is totally awesome. At the very least, it let’s me go look for the appropriate screw driver while the flashlight holds itself.

  10. Robyn

    It’s on my wishlist right now! It’ll let me go make coffee. As ever, you make my life so much better!

  11. Susannah

    You have a laminator?! That makes you my hero, right there.

  12. michelle torres

    Can you tell me how you attached the fence to the post on the ground. id love to steal this idea if thats ok.

    • Julie

      Hi Michelle! We just used giant screws. Wait, no. LAG BOLTS. I think that’s what they’re called. We drilled holes through all the parts, lined them up, and secured them together with lag bolts. Good luck! You should totally steal this idea!


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