Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Saving dishes

I'm not a fan of dishes. Well, that's not true, I like dishes and all different types too, stoneware, glass, ceramics, china, and whatever else there is. What I should say is I don't like washing dishes. I suppose a dishwasher is supposed to make that chore easier but I'm not sure ours really does that. With the exception of most liquids in a cup or glass, we pretty much have to wash each dish before putting it in the dishwasher because it's not like the machine actually gets food off anything. Which makes me wonder, what's the point? I imagine we could use the cabinet space more than the appliance.

But since I also don't like waste and I have some crunchy tendencies, not to mention the prohibitive cost comparisons, we don't use disposable dishes either. Shoot, we don't even use disposable paper towels or napkins. So I wash dishes. Thankfully, I have helpers.

The Storyteller joyfully does the dishes. Can't you tell? That's joy all over her face.

These helpers help a lot, they know how to load and unload the dishwasher, scrape the plates, wipe down the counters, and put away the silver ware. And they have a magic talent. They know how to make the dishes, specifically glasses, multiply. Hot from playing outside, get a clean glass and a cold drink of water! Enjoying a captivating read? Keep a fresh glass of water close by. Can't sleep? Grab another glass and fill 'er up! Even more sweaty? Yep, more water! Can't find your glass from 5 minutes ago? That's ok, grab another one and drink up! And if you had something other than water in your glass you certainly don't want to rinse it out and re-use the glass that would be gross! So, GET ANOTHER GLASS! Yay!

Not yay.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love that the girls can chug some water and stay well hydrated, really, I do. I'm thrilled that I generally don't have to worry about their fluid intake on any given day. But I can't say that I appreciate being able to count how many glasses of water they'd had before noon just by the number of glasses cluttering up the counter. Particularly the ones that were full with only a few sips of water missing. Though I watered plenty of plants by pouring the contents of abandoned glasses into their pots, I was in desperate need of a solution. And I really didn't like having to wash all those glasses so many times in an effort to have glasses on the shelf.

We tried tape on the counter tops with names so you could get a drink and put your glass back right in front of your name. I attempted to enforce that for 2 weeks but failed miserably. Then it was designated spots, The Piano Man always keeps a glass by the sink so he can fill it up with water and just knows to set it there when he's done so it is ready for the next time. Important fact to keep in mind as to why this works for him and not for his children: He's 20-something years older than the oldest child in the family. That and I'm their mom, my DNA is in the mix too and I have a hard time remembering where I put my purse. The next effort in having the girls use the same glass all day was to label the glasses but the labels got lost, wet, removed, whatever, the point is that didn't work either.

Our glasses and the glass markers.

Finally I decided to try personalized glasses but I wasn't about to order glasses with their names etched on them. Instead, I pulled out the plain glasses we had from IKEA and picked up a set of glass paint markers. For a few days we talked about the idea of creating a custom glass, each of us designing and decorating a glass in our own unique style and the girls got excited. Thinking it was going to be quite the time consuming production, I procrastinated a few days until Lolie couldn't stand the anticipation of creating her very own glass and pestered me to no end. However much work it would be it was worth doing to get her to stop. I shouldn't have worried. The glass paint markers were simple and easy to use once we got the paint flowing into the tip of each marker. I helped the girls get going with theirs and figuring out some of the tricky maneuvering required for some of their designs. The Piano Man joined us and it wasn't long before we had 10 distinctly different glasses full of color, whimsy, energy, individuality and character. Setting all the glasses on a tray to put in the oven to bake the paint I was delighted with our mis-matched matching family glasses.

9 of our set of 10.

We have rainbows, flowers, butterflies, birds, stripes, swirls and polka-dots, hearts, a colorful henna-tattoo inspired glass, our family initials, and people jumping from mountain top to mountain top (I admit, I scratched my head at that one) decorating our glasses and "set" is proudly displayed on a shelf between the kitchen and dinning room. The light shines through them in a colorful display creating our own small stained glass collection. The most amazing thing though is that they are usually at least a few on the shelf at all times with the exception of those that are in use at any given moment.

It was really simple, wash the glasses, prep the surface by wiping them down with vinegar, shaking the paint down to the tips of the markers and getting creative. After they were painted they had to sit for 24 hours to dry and then bake for 40 minutes at 325 degrees. Each of us enjoyed seeing not only our own glasses come to life with color but what everyone else was doing as well. My original plan was to have us each create a cup for ourselves and one for guests and everyone in the family would use their personalized glass. However, we all enjoy the other glasses so much that every morning we pick a new glass. Today I have the purple people jumping on green mountains. A fun family project that has miraculously cut down on the amount of dishes.


  1. love it! I too HATE dishes :)

  2. Love it! My kids have bpa free Auto Seal Contigo cups. We only put water in them, and use one cup each for their almond milk. I LOVE the cups! It's so much easier having one per person, and not multiple ones for multiple people. I have a 32oz cup that I carry around, essential for keeping my milk supply up :)

  3. Love it!! Do you have any issues with the kids using glass? I have one (my 7 yr old) who is a walking demolition crew and the though of him touching glass makes me shudder.

  4. We really have no problems using glass. In fact, since we've been on a slow purge to rid ourselves of all plastic, starting with the stuff we eat and drink off of (particularly warm food) we've had to embrace more glass and ceramic wear in our house for all ages. Even Squiggle Bug, only 2, uses glass and has one decorated just for her. If anyone uses it she doesn't hesitate to inform them that it is hers. We did invest in 2 Safe Sippy cups (if you'd like a link, let me know and I'll share it here) that are stainless steel and what Squiggle Bug usually uses but glass is pretty standard around here now. We've also learned safety in using and cleaning up broken glass if need be. The Montessori pedagogy encourages parents to skip sippy type cups and go straight to small, heavy bottom glasses for toddlers and I have seen that work very well. What I hope to have us eventually go to is kid-safe glass dishes, I have found some that I like but can't afford to replace all of our dishes to that just yet. It is a hope though.

  5. I hate washing dishes too, but I really like drinking out of glass, not plastic, styrofaom, just glass. Our kids have learned to use glass in Montessori (carry it,pouring from it, so they are very good with it now.)
    It breaks once in a great while, but learn they must.

    I am so glad I stopped by your blog, will become a follower.

    Please stop by mine if you have a chance. Fun post this week that all ages can enjoy!