Listen to the wind….

Nicole Mehl Photography
This short little quote is what I hear often during the winter months. For those of you Snow Day fans you know what I’m talking about. My hubby and my sister in law thoroughly enjoy this movie and apparently that’s one line of the movie that will forever be carved in their brains. Lucky me! ;)
Winter, ugh. I know, I know…it’s too early to be thinking about winter and all of its lovely attributes (snow, ice, slush, freezing temperatures, shoveling, etc.). However, it’s never too early to be thinking about Christmas, which for those of you who know me; know that I think about Christmas pretty much all year long!!! But alas, this post is not about Christmas. [Insert boos here] This post is about WINTER! [Insert cheering here] Ha!
For us Midwest folk we have a colder winter ahead of us according to The Farmer’s Almanac, with more snow than last year. Last year’s winter was actually enjoyable, but most of us here in the Midwest know that it was an unusual winter.
So, what can we do to prepare for winter? Well, let’s make full use of this warmer fall weather we are having and get outside with our kiddos and prepare for winter. Yay!
If you’re anything like me, you expect your hubby to take care of all that stuff. However, this year I found some easy things that I can do that will contribute and a few of those things I can involve the munchkin in.

Wash the Windows
Yes, it's a tedious job, but washing the windows inside and out twice a year (spring & fall) rewards you with sparkling views, unobstructed light, and the opportunity to check for cracks and damaged caulking. Make your own safe, non-toxic window cleaner by mixing 1/4 cup of white vinegar with 1 gallon of water.
To involve the munchkin you can give him some paper towel and let him “wipe” the windows just like you or if you choose to use a cleaner on the outside windows that involves the hose, let him hose the windows down.

Clean the Gutters
Whether your gutters have become roofline planters or have simply accumulated a season's worth of fallen leaves, get them cleaned out before winter rains and snows arrive.
Obviously, you don’t want to be climbing up a ladder w/o the hubby around, so let him handle that part. You and the munchkin can have fun gathering the leaves as they fall down from the “sky”.

Check Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Experts recommend replacing the batteries in smoke alarms twice a year, and if your smoke alarm is between 5 and 10 years old, replace it with a new one.
Take your munchkin around and as you test the batteries by pushing the test button on the alarm tell your munchkin to yell beep & cover his ears when it’s time to test it. A simple task, but he’s still involved.

Prepare Landscaping
Plant spring flower bulbs and lift bulbs that cannot winter over such as dahlias in areas where the ground freezes. Remove dead vegetation from the garden. Move sensitive plants indoors or to a sheltered area. 
Let the munchkin pulls plants out of the garden or help dig holes to plant the bulbs.

Here are a few more mama friendly things you can do on your own without your munchkin around to take some of the load off the hubby.

Put the Ceiling Fan in Reverse
Check your ceiling fan for a switch that allows you to reverse the direction of blade movement to turn clockwise instead of counter-clockwise. Warm air rises, and the clockwise rotation of the blades forces the warm air down to where people benefit from it.

Rearrange the Furniture
Changing the furniture arrangement is an easy way to give your rooms a new look and feel for the winter. Pull seating pieces close to the fireplace (if you’re lucky to have one) to create a cozier mood, and bring out soft chenille or fleece throws to ward off the chill. 

An Easy Fix
Even though only 2 percent of air leakage is through electrical outlets and switchplates, every little bit counts, and insulating outlets is easy and inexpensive. Check a hardware store for outlet gaskets (also called insulation gaskets). For me, I decided the safety outlet plugs we already have in every outlet to protect Mason will do the trick for us this winter.

The Honey Do List (the list of items that your manly hubby should take care of).

Schedule to have the Furnace Inspected
Call an HVAC professional to check the fan belt that runs the blower, vacuum out dust and debris, and oil the bearings if necessary. Buy enough filters to see you through the winter months and change them monthly--when filters become clogged with dust, the furnace doesn't operate efficiently and your energy bill goes up.

Plug Hidden Leaks
About 30 percent of the cold air that leaks into your home comes through holes where pipes, vents, or electrical conduits run through the walls, ceiling, and floors. Check under sinks in the kitchen and bathroom and in the basement for gaps around pipes, and fill them in with an insulating foam sealant. Small gaps can be effectively sealed with caulk.

Add Insulation
Check the attic to see whether you need to add insulation -- experts recommend a depth of about 12 inches.

Put Up Storm Windows
Install storm windows to reduce air leakage year-round.

Make Windows Airtight
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 10 percent of the air that leaks out of a house exits through the windows. Caulk around window frames and apply weatherstripping between the sash and window frame to eliminate air leakage.

Service Weather-Specific Equipment
Drain gas from lawnmowers, tune-up snow blowers, get out your rakes and snow shovels, and store summer toys and gardening tools.

For more information on preparing your home for winter you can visit Better Homes & Garden.

Happy winterizing! ;)



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