Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

Ok, so I just lost my first try at this post.  Thankfully I didn't have that much put into it yet, but still, it's really just been that kind of a day around here.  Sigh.  Anyway, I'm going to keep this fairly short and sweet tonight.  I'm just too fried tonight.

There are quite a few ways that peace is used.  To break it down very simply there is peace with God, peace with others, and peace with yourself.  Also in the new testament peace is used as a greeting, similar to the Hebrew greeting of "shalom".

Beyond that God is a God of peace and peace is a blessing that Israel was anticipating when the Messiah came.

In the New Testament, peace is seen as the present possession of every believer.  Jesus gives us His promise of "peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you" (Jn. 14:27).

Peace is a result of our reconciliation with God.  Yet it is so hard for us to experience at times.  I'll do some more study tomorrow and hopefully have a bit more to share.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 10

Yesterday I spent some time going through some of Spurgeon's thoughts on joy.  Specifically how we need to look after our joy and nurture it.  Today, to continue that thought, I want to see if I can list specific ways that can be done.  It's easy to say "ok, go look after your joy", but it can be quite another to actually do that.  What does it look like to nurture joy in your life?  To a certain extent, this might be a question whose answer varies from person to person, but I'm still going to try to lay out some specifics to help us in this journey.

1.  A true understanding of what it means to be saved.

David prays in the psalms for the Lord to restore to him the joy of his salvation.  We need to remind ourselves of what Christ has done for us.  We need to remember the sacrifice he made and not let that knowledge grow stale, old, and taken for granted.

2.  A true understanding of what we are saved from.

We are saved from our sin, the things that we did to destroy ourselves and others.  More than that, though, we are saved from Hell and eternal separation from God.  Which leads us to 3...

3.  A true understanding of what we are saved for.

(Grammer police, I realize these last two points are probably driving you crazy.  I'm sorry, but not sorry enough to fix it.  I write the way I speak, what can I say?)  Anyway, we need to study the Scriptures and learn what eternity has in store for us now that we are saved.  The wonders of heaven never cease to amaze me when I contemplate them.  They also remind me of Who my focus should be on and Who I'm living for.  A book I once read said that if you make eternity a line going on forever, our lives are a tiny dot in comparison.  For that reason, we should live for the line, not for the dot.  It is hard not to be joyful when you remember the hope of heaven Christ has given us.  A place where "there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying[, and t]here shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Rev. 21:4).

Beyond these, I would be remiss if I did not encourage you to be faithful in Bible study and prayer as a main way of renewing your joy.  These concepts are doctrines that can be found all over the scriptures and the best way to keep our eyes on Christ, and to learn what He wants us to know, is to spend time with him daily.

Tomorrow, I'll see what I can dig out about peace.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 9

Ok, I wanted to do more about joy, but I'm honestly having trouble finding much detailed information.  This kind of surprises me, but for whatever reason, that's the way it is.  Maybe it's because joy is so often linked to suffering and having joy in the midst of trials.  Maybe it's not an easy subject to cover.  I just don't know.

I did finally find some writing on the subject of joy in Kent's collection of Spurgeon's sermons.  I have actually never looked through this series before, and wow I had no idea what I was missing!  I love the old language, it flows so wonderfully off the page and reminds me of Oswald Chambers' writing a bit.

In one of his sermons he digs into 1 John 1:4, "And these things we write to you, that your joy may be full".  I wouldn't think you could write a whole sermon on one little verse like that, but after reading just a bit it amazes me what he is able to pull out of that one short verse.  I don't want to just give you quote after quote, but the ideas a language are so well woven it will be hard to put it into my own clumsy words.  But I'll do my best!

For tonight, let's just look at the first point: Our joy needs looking after.

If joy were easy, if it came naturally, this wouldn't have needed to be written.  Instead, God inspired John to write a whole book with the goal that our joy would be full.  He (God) knew that we would need encouragement.  He knew we would face trials and tribulations that would drag us down and cause us to take our eyes off of Christ and our blessed hope.  So what did God do, in His infinite love for us?  He gave us His Word to encourage us, to give us hope and to help us keep our joy.  Our joy is centered on Him and when we become distracted by the sin and suffering we encounter we need God's Word and God's people to help us refocus on Him.

We must look after our joy and nurture it, help it grow and cause it to flourish because it can so easily be beaten down.

I pray that you and I will take the time we need to tend to our joy and to encourage it to grow that our joy may be full!


So...I dropped the ball.  Yesterday, I totally forgot to post a blog.  Completely slipped my mind.  Friday?  Well, Friday I was just lazy.  So, yeah, I've missed two days.  I'm a little upset about it, but it's also been nice.  I have a lot on my plate and I seem to keep adding to it.  I keep going back and forth on whether or not this blog is actually helpful.  I'm not overly sure that it is, but I can't totally convince myself of that either.  

Whatever that case may be, it's definitely been stretching/stressful to try to post everyday.  I'll do my best to keep up from here (but no promises!).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day Six: Joy

As much as I need to keeping teaching myself about being more loving, there are still eight more characteristics to explore. The next in the list is joy. For me, this is a fun one. Joy is akin to happiness, and it makes me smile just thinking about it. The difference is that happiness depends on our experiences while our joy should be grounded in our knowledge of God and what He has done for us.

Our joy is to present even in the midst of tribulation. James says, "count it all joy brethren, when you fall into various troubles" (Jas. 1:2). The only way we can sustain our joy even in troubles is through God's help.

Our joy is to be full. At a quick glance, I'm counting at least five place where the Bible mentions our joy being full, usually in connection with going through tribulation. Jesus Himself tells us to ask, that we may receive and then our joy will be full (John 16:24). What can fill your heart more than knowing that the God of the universe hears your requests and desires to help you in your time of need? I am thankful to have a God who loves me that much and more.

Here are a few other verses on joy:

"For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
Romans 14:17

"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!"
Phil. 4:4

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 5

I have all kinds of excuses on why I didn't get to this post tonight.  Basically, I let my emotions get the best of me and "just didn't feel like it".  Nice, I know.  I still don't feel like it, but I'm here, and I'm trying.

Part of the problem is that I feel like such a hypocrite tonight trying to write about Biblical love when I have been the worst example of that today.  So, instead of what I was going to write, I'll just let y'all into my heart's prayer tonight.  (If you're curious, I was originally going to reference John 13:35 and how we are known by our love.)

Dear Lord, please forgive me for my short temper today.  I want to be a good mother, but so often that desire is overshadowed by my own faults and failings.  Help me, Lord, to love my children with Your holy love and to be a godly example to them.  Teach me how to build a home that honors You as it directs them.  I pray that You would be at work in their lives, even in spite of my failings.  Please, Lord, more than anything, give me wisdom as I raise these children You have placed in my care.  Thank You for your amazing love and the example that I can never live up to.
In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day 4: Love!

I'm finding this to be more difficult than I thought it would be.  I don't usually post more than twice a week, so really there's no reason I should be surprised that posting everyday has been hard to work in.  It has been good, though.  I've been spending more time thinking about and studying biblical things than I have in a while.  Sadly, Bible Study is something that is easily pushed aside when life gets busy.  

This exercise has already been showing some benefits in my life, though.  Just this morning when my children were screaming I reminded myself of God's love for us and that we should show that love to others.  So instead of getting upset with them, I was able to take a breath, say a quick prayer, and deal with the conflict in a much (much) better way than I would have.  

So, with that intro, let's look at a few things about love...

Because love is the first characteristic listed, I believe it puts a primacy on that characteristic.  It is, after all, only because of God's love for us that we are able to have a relationship with Him.  Then only through that relationship can we truly love others.  It's all connected and it all begins in God's amazing love.  

As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit inside of us, giving us access to His love.  That is why we should love and be known by our love.  As it is God's love that should be shown through us, here is a quick list of a few of the things that God's love is:

~Unmerited (Rom. 5:8)
~Great (Eph. 2:4)
~Transforming (Rom. 5:5)
~Unchanging (Rom. 8:35-39)

As I'm dealing with my children each day, I'm trying to remind myself that my love should have the same attributes.  It is hard for me to remember, but a good challenge to work on.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 3

Due to technical difficulties (and the fact that it's late and I'm tired) I'm going to save my thoughts on love for tomorrow.  For tonight, I'll leave you with God's thoughts on love :).

"Love suffers long and is kind; 
love does not envy; 
love does not parade itself, 
is not puffed up; 
does not behave rudely, 
does not seek it's own, 
is not provoked, 
thinks no evil; 
does not rejoice in iniquity, 
but rejoices in the truth; 
bears all things, 
believes all things, 
hopes all things, 
endures all things. 
 Love never fails.
...And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; 
but the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Goals for the Week

~Up at 6 every day
~Clean all dishes out of the sink after each meal
~Blog each day (for my 31 Day Challenge!)
~Make my bed each morning
~One special activity with the kids each day
~Lay out my clothes each night
~Do a toy cleanup with the kids each night before they go to bed
~64+ oz. of water each day

To Do:
~Spend one night cleaning out my coupons
~Do a full menu plan
~Clean out my recipe folder
~Organizer recipe folder
~Start my Holiday Control Journal

I've been doing really well with my water lately.  Maybe soon I can take it off my reminder list because it will be so ingrained!  Maybe.  We'll see...

I tried to keep my to dos to small, easily accomplished tasks that will help me eventually conquer my bigger goals.  Hopefully I will actually do them this week!  If I can get my recipe binder all set up, then next week I can start working on tweaking our meals.  If I can figure out how to do that and still find things my family will eat.  That is healthy.  And cheap.  Oh dear.

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 2

I have not set out a plan for the month since I just jumped in off the cuff yesterday.  So, we'll have to see how things go (I think I might try to lay out a general plan tonight).

Anyway,  I thought today I'd start by digging into the background, what's going on around the verse and a few of the basic things.  Then tomorrow I can start taking each word one by one.  So here we go...

Galatians was written by Paul with the intent to combat the legalistic teaching that was creeping into the Galatian church at the time.  The church was being taught that they (a church of mostly Gentiles) needed to be circumcised and to follow the law of Moses to be in proper standing with God.  In essence they were being taught that faith in Christ's death on the cross was not enough.  With this in mind, when we look at the fruit of the Spirit we must remember that it is not a list of things we must do to be godly, but instead trust in the Spirit to work these out through us.  This does not mean that we should not cultivate these characteristics, but ultimately that it is the Spirit of God within us who makes it possible to attain them.

The fruit of the Spirit is given by God when one is saved and brought into the family of God.  It is similar to the gifts that the Spirit gives in that they are given at the time of salvation and we spend the rest of our lives cultivating them and watching God grow them in us, but different in that every believer gets all of the fruit of the Spirit.  In fact, as it has been often pointed out, the "fruit of the Spirit" is singular, signifying that they come as a package deal.  Therefore, if you are saved, you have the capability to be all of these things: loving, peaceful, kind, etc.  It's just up to us to surrender to the Spirit's work within us and allow Him to bring them out.

This is quite a challenge for me as I get ready for tomorrow.  I hope to begin to be a better example of the fruit of the Spirit to my children and others around me.

Tomorrow: Love!

*I used the Expositor's Bible Commentary and my Baptist Study Bible for these notes.  I'll try to note each day what I'm using in my study.  I try not to just regurgitate what I've read, but even still, they deserve credit for their information.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fruit of the Spirit: Day 1

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law."
Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

I love these verses.  They challenge me on every level to be more than I naturally am.  More than I could ever be alone.  

Since having children I'm reminded almost daily how far I have to go, and I've learned to cling to these verses more and more.  I love my children dearly and I try to be a godly example to them, but it's rare that I go through a day where I don't fall short in at least one of these areas.  Usually more than one.  Children are a wonderful tool in God's hands to remind us of our own shortcomings and our desperate need for Him to work through us.  

Most of the time I feel like I need these verses posted in every room of the house as a reminder.  Or maybe tattooed to the back of my hand.  

So, this is why I chose these verses out of the many things I could study for the next month.  I want to dig into them and focus on them and use them more actively in my life.  I want my life to be characterized by the fruit of the Spirit.

31 Days of the Fruit of the Spirit

I discovered through one of my current favorite blogs (A Slob Comes Clean...seriously, read her.  She's hilarious!) a 31 day challenge for the month of October.  The challenge is to pick a topic and to write on it everyday for 31 days.  I like the idea because it would give me a better goal for my blogging (not to mention some focus).  I love to do things by the month as well.  It's a nice start-stop type of thing that lets me feel like it's not going to be forever.

I thought about it for a while and while I have many things that I could stand to focus on more, I kept coming back to the idea of something spiritual.  This blog is, after all, Pursuing Godliness.  I know weight loss and housekeeping are not at odds with godliness, in fact I believe taking care of my house and myself is one of the ways that I bless my family and fulfill my role as wife and mother, but I also would like to have more spiritually based things going on around here.  So I decided on studying and posting on the fruit of the Spirit for this month.  Since there are 31 days and only nine characteristics listed this will definitely be interesting.  I'm excited to see where this goes!

The challenge originates at The Nesting Place, and there are many, many others linked up that will be fun to check out.  I will not be linking, for one because I don't know how to do a button (they want either that or a picture) and for another because I'm just not feeling that brave.  Most of the ones I've clicked through seem to be trying for professional blogging, whereas I'm just doing this mostly for me.

Be on the lookout for my first 31 Days post later on!

Tired, but here

It's coming up on two weeks since I last posted.  The time in between has been so hectic and crazy and I'm pretty exhausted even though I'm typing this in the morning after just getting a relatively good night's sleep.

I didn't make a plan this week.  I thought I could do it without one.  I was wrong.  I also weighed myself for the first time in a while and discovered I'd gained back ten of the 20+ pounds I fought so hard to lose.  Again because I gave up on working the plan.

I'm tired, and when I'm tired I want to make excuses about why I don't need to be so strict on things.  Problem is, when I give up on the plan and the daily structured way of doing things nothing works.  I had even planned on giving up blogging for a while because it takes so much time and I didn't think I needed the accountability anyway.  Come to find out, I do.  Even if no one reads it, I still need to make the time to post here because it keeps me on track.  I'm not by nature a writer, and I don't know how good I am at it, but having to get things ready to put up here goes a long way to getting me to do the daily things that I need.

Sigh...a lot of this doesn't come easily or naturally to me, but I just have to remember to keep plugging because the end result is worth it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

New Week, Tweaked Plan

I'm sorry I didn't get this up last night.  :) I was quite honestly being lazy.  Here is my new weekly plan split into habits/routines I want to develop and then weekly to-dos that break my goals into manageable steps.

Routines to work on:

  • Up at 6 everyday (6:15 just wasn't early enough to squeeze even my basics in...sigh...this will be moving even earlier eventually)
  • Exercise for 100 mins (same as last week)
  • Empty sink after each meal (I always have a few knives and misc. things that don't go in the dishwasher and I'm trying to keep these from building up)
  • Have kids helps me with clean up time each night before bed
  • One special (i.e. memorable and fun) activity for kids per day
  • Lay out clothes each night before bed (I wasn't going to add this yet, but I've discovered it's very hard to get dressed in the dark every morning now that I'm up before my family)
  • Drink 64+ oz. of water per day (Another I wasn't going to add yet, but I've been working on this off and on for a while so I figured it wouldn't be too hard to include)

To Do List:
  • Plan an at home date for Saturday
  • Complete a Pantry Inventory Sheet
  • Complete a Freezer Inventory Sheet
  • Clean out Recipes Binder
  • Create a full Menu for next week (we do our shopping on Thurs, so mine run Thurs-Wed)

My main focus is to try to get my meal planning, grocery shopping and anything else food oriented under control.  It's been driving me crazy for the longest time, but it feels like such a big task I keep putting it off.  No more!  This week it begins!  :) I'll keep you updated.

P.S. The printables I use for the inventories are found here, and the menu sheet I use is here (I like this one because it's in list form by category rather than day).  

Friday, September 16, 2011


I love to plan.  LOVE IT.  Working the plan and following through, however is another story.  Oh I usually make some forward progress for a while.  And some of it actually does stick, but usually I end up just sliding back into my old lazy ways.  Over the long run, I can see that I have made progress during my six years of being married.  I've grown spiritually, I'm in much better shape physically, my eating is better (though still needs a lot of work), and my housekeeping skills are improving (to list a few).  I am getting there, but the day to day efforts still don't seem to be doing much.

I had forgotten just how much better I've gotten on my housekeeping especially.  I feel in some ways a little under the microscope here in Orlando where our family drops by at least once a week, usually more.  Before moving back here, the day to day condition of my house wasn't really a big deal.  I kept it clean-ish, but not like I am concerned with now.  Plus, I had fewer mess makers running around.  So, even though I don't feel like I'm currently doing well, looking back I have to admit I have made quite a bit of progress.

Which brings us to today, or more generally, the whole week.  I have accomplished very little, which is really frustrating me, even though I have some very legitimate excuses (the biggest being that my son got sick Wednesday and has kindly shared it with me).  But even with the excuses I'm upset with myself.  I have so many things that I need to change up and then others that I just want to do and it ends up overwhelming me so I just sit and don't do anything.

So here are the things I'll be changing for next week:

  • Split things up into routines/habits and one time to-dos
  • Only add ONE new habit per week
  • Have no more than five one time to-dos (this gives me only one a day to worry about)
  • I have tons of areas that need to be worked on, but I really need to stay focused to be able to ever get anywhere, so I'll pick one and break it down into teeny, tiny, ridiculously small goals.  Hopefully then I'll have no excuse and it will get done.  I'm just not getting anywhere by trying to do it all at once.
  • I may have to add more to my "not right now" list...the list of things I'm just not going to stress over anymore.  
So there it is.  Sigh, I just love the idea of making progress so much that I end up over-reaching.  Hopefully these changes will help next week, if not you'll see another post like this next Friday (if necessary!).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sweetly Broken

The church that we went to on vacation played this song during the worship service.  I hadn't heard it in FOREVER, but I can't get it out of my head now (even two weeks later).  :) I love a song that gives me shivers every time I hear it no matter how many times I play it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday Update

I meant to write a bit more throughout the week to work through my process here a bit more, but...I didn't.   I don't have an excuse other than laziness and putting it off, but I'm also working on it.  :) Maybe next week will be more detailed, and I DO have some time still left in this week after all!

Let's see, so far I've kept up with my wake up times, prayer time, exercise and laundry (well, up until today...just realized that I didn't fold up Nathan's stuff and he's already in bed, so my goal of having it all put away before the end of the day won't happen...opps).

I've also set up a list of activities for the kids, and we've actually been doing them!  I feel so much better just knowing that I've done something special and semi-out-of-the-ordinary with them.  :) And it makes them so happy.  I do have a few activities planned that take some prior set up, so the challenge for me with be to actually set things up before hand for these.  But so far, I've done well.

I got some reading and crocheting done yesterday, but if you've got a good memory you know that means I still have quite a few things left on my list for the week.  I may have been a little over zealous when planning this out on Sunday, so next week I'll try for a few less.  I'll keep working until I find the balance, because I'm convinced this blog-accountability will be good for me.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

This Week's Goals

I tried to limit my goals to around ten for the week.  It keeps it a manageable amount.  I hope :).


  • Get up at 6:15 everyday
  • Do 15 mins. of solid prayer time every morning
  • Exercise for 100 mins. total (ideally 5 days of 20 mins.)


  • Plan two date nights

  • Plan activities for Sept.
  • Read Chapters 5-7 of The Strong Willed Child
Home Management

  • Finish one complete load of laundry Mon-Fri 
  • Complete pantry and freezer inventory
  • Create a menu for next week

  • Write to Rose (our child we sponsor through World Vision)
  • Spend at least one day working on my crochet blanket

Some of these are things that I hope to become habits over time, while some are one time items.  I hope eventually to get everything settled enough to be able to stick with one time projects, but I have to get my maintenance cleaning to be a habit first.  A few of these may pop up next week and for the foreseeable future if I really struggle with them.  Well, we will see how the first week goes :).

Friday, September 9, 2011

What I'm NOT Worried About

Here are the things that I'm not worried about at this point.  We are all human, and our time is limited.  There are only a certain number of things any one person can do in a given week, so something has to give.  Here are the things that I'm not worried about at this point.

1. Cooking from Scratch.  My family is hard enough to please when it comes to food.  I struggle each week simply getting a decent menu plan together.  Until I get better at planning food, I feel it gives me a bit of a break to use cooking helps.

2.  Doing my hair and makeup everyday.  I want to be able to do this, I really do, but I don't want to get up early enough to do this along with my devotional, my exercise, and my daily planning.  So, again, something has to give :).  Until I can discipline myself to get up earlier, a ponytail is just going to have to suffice for some days.

3.  Crafts.  I want to be crafty, I want to make things by hand, but the time is just not there.  I don't have a lot of knowledge in how to do things like this, so I'm learning a lot from the very beginnings and that is time consuming.  So, for now, these will be regulated to a small part of my week.

4.  Gardening.  It might sound like a strange one, but my family is big on gardening, so I really want to try to do this, but it's another thing that I don't have the time to put it it right now.

Those are all that I have come up with so far.  I'm sure I will come up with more as I go along, but this is good for now.  Mostly, my goal with this is to simply give myself permission to NOT do everything.  I'm not SuperMom or Wonder Woman, and I cannot accomplish it all.  And that's okay :).

If you're interested, here's the link to Money Saving Mom's blog on the same topic: here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Focus Areas

I've broken down the things that are important to me (or important that I do) into 6 areas.  I have personal, marriage, mothering, home management, ministry (which for me includes my extended family), and fun.  I got these basically verbatim from Money Saving Mom, if you're interested in what she has said about them.  She also has a printable you can use if you're into that sort of thing :).

To break them down a bit more, here's what they entail:

Personal: spiritual disciplines, my relationship with God, exercise (I consider it not only vital to my health, but also my mood and outlook tend to be much better when I've gotten some exercise in)

Marriage: Don't expect to see too much posted on this as it is a bit private.  I do plan on restarting my goal of weekly at home dates.

Mothering:  Basically anything I can think of to help me be a better mother, anything from activities to Bible verses to help me through my day.

Home Management: Another self-explanitory category.  Will include cleaning, decorating, finances, anything to do with running my house.

Ministry:  I want this one to be ways that I can specifically get myself to find ways to minister to those around me each week.  Too often we are guilty of thinking about doing something and then never getting around to it.  Ideally, this will rid me of that excuse.

Fun: A way for me to still dabble in projects but hopefully get me to finish them at the same time.  I have some serious trouble when it comes to finishing what I start, so maybe that will keep me on track.

As I said, I'm still working on the goals within these categories.  I'll post them in a few days, but first up (hopefully tomorrow) I want to focus on things that are NOT on my list of things to do right now. This is another idea I got from the Money Saving Mom website, and I'll link the specific page in the post.  (Honestly, right now I need to be getting to bed, so goodnight!)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A New Start on an Old Plan

Kent and I spent the last four days on vacation.  It was wonderful and fun and everything a vacation should be, but beyond that it was a time for me to sit and reflect.  The craziness of the summer has really gotten me out of my rhythms and I'm struggling now that summer has ended.  Abigail started preschool a few weeks ago and that has sent my already struggling routines further into the realm of undone things.  Sooo, back to basics it is!  I'm going to start Monday with posting my goals for the week (okay, probably Sunday night, just to be sure).  Hopefully by focusing on a few things at a time I can get things back into shape.  I have a few more long term goals to set down before I can break things down weekly, but I plan on finishing that up this week.  I'll try keep this updated as I go along, but there's so much running through my head that I have trouble knowing how to get it all down in writing!  So, here's the beginning :).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dunlap Love

My friend Kaylyn is super crafty and makes some wonderful and beautiful things.  God has been working on her recently to use her talents in a way to serve those in need around us, specifically orphans.  She recently put together a blogspot for her business, Dunlap Love, and has outlined what she plans to do with her creations and the money she makes.  I'm so amazed by her godly heart and desire to serve, so I wanted to share with all of you.  (You can also find her on Etsy!)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kid's Toys

I promised Brenda over at Unsolicited Advice, that I'd put up some pictures of my toy organizers.  This is one area that I've actually gone and spent the money needed to get things somewhat under control.  I still need to do a few things to get it totally workable (one of which would be to figure out how to get a 3 year old to help me clean up more...) but we're doing pretty well with it.  I did a bit of reorganizing as I was taking these pictures, it was needed and is going pretty well, so I like the set up right now.

We do have a "play room" it's our sunroom/porch, but I have it set up for the kids.  Yes, I was a preschool teacher so the urge to create "centers" runs deep in my blood :).  I didn't actually segment things off, but we do have a general flow to the area that I really like.

Play Room/Porch:

These storage shelves are some of my favorite things.  I LOVE them :), but they do hold a bit too much for my kids at this point.  When all the bins are dumped (which is about 4-5 days a week around here) Abigail gets too over loaded to help clean.  I went through yesterday and cleaned each drawer out about halfway to have fewer toys in general circulation.  Doesn't seem like they've noticed yet ;).  The majority of our toys live out here.

I also have this storage box in the living room:
 It's sort of my catch-all for things that don't fit into a nice category in the bins outside or in the kids' rooms.  We have video game items in a basket on the right, but the left is basically where I dump toys if I don't feel like (or don't have time) to sort them out to their proper areas.  Some of the bigger things do live around the outside.
And, just for perspective, here's how the area flows together.

In the kids' rooms, I don't really keep very many toys (at least, I don't think I do!).  My kids love to be around the action so only rarely do they even want to go play by themselves.  I used to keep more in their rooms, but they would only drag it out to the living room.

Abigail mostly has the toys that are too old for Nathan.  He would either tear them up or choke on them.

And Nathan gets the toys that are really too young for both kids.  :) I just put these in here, though, so he's quite curious and ready to undo my work.

And that's it!  I've tossed a lot of toys, we don't keep ANYTHING broken,  and I sell old stuff and doubles regularly at consignment sales.  We're still working on keeping it all put away (I cleaned for these pics, lol) but we at least have a place for everything even if not everything stays in it's place.  Also, I'm working on tags for the bins so anyone cleaning up will know where things go.  Hopefully that will be the last piece needed for this particular area.  :) It would be nice to have one actually done.

Friday, April 15, 2011

One Down, One to Go

I finished the coupon declutter...sort of.  It's all put away and contained at least, but I really need to take some time to go through and toss the expired ones.  Sigh, another day.  For now, I'm going to TRY to simply focus on the fact that at least the clutter is hidden away a bit.  And I have enough space to put new circulars away, so the clutter should stay away for at least a little bit.  I don't have a ton if extra space, though, so tossing old coupons may quickly become a priority.  Anyway, here are my after pics:

The yellow folder on the left is where I threw all my loose coupons.  Not ideal, but at least if little hands grab it now, they won't scatter all over the floor.  Eventually I'll find homes for the binders and other things that are just sitting there, but for now, this is better than in was!

Oh, and if you were wondering all those coupons went here:
I'm thinking about getting an accordion file to hold them that way I wouldn't be chained to the filing cabinet every Wednesday when I'm clipping for grocery shopping.  It might work, but it's also another thing to buy, and I don't have the money right now.  :) Eventually I'd like to have my home all spiffy and organized in cute ways, but until I can afford that I'm trying to just plain get it organized.  In whatever ugly/functional way I can.

New Nap Time Ideas

I've been doing the same thing day after day during naptime a la "The FlyLady".  Clean kitchen, declutter for 15, daily mission, flip laundry, 15 min computer time, one item from the WHB, etc. (I posted on that here.)  But it has all become kinda boring.  I never feel like I'm getting anywhere and that for me becomes a problem.  So I've decided to consolidate a bit and see if things will work better.  Here's the new plan (just for nap, the rest of my day is pretty much the same right now):

Sunday: Planning
Monday: Yard Work/Car clean out
Tuesday: Cleaning
Wednesday: Menu planning/Office items
Thursday: Free
Friday: Organizing + Mop Kitchen/Dining Room
Saturday: Usually with family, but if I'm home I'll probably add another cleaning or organizing day, whatever needs to be done most.

It's been kind of a rough first week, but I'm going to try this again next week to see how it works.  I like that I'm not doing the same thing everyday, but I did notice I got a bit more sidetracked this week.  Especially Wednesday.  Sitting at the computer for "office work" is never a good idea if you don't have a plan.  Which I didn't.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

OYOL Week 14 and Misc. Thoughts

 I've been working since the year began to declutter my home and get rid of the excess that's just sitting around and over all I think I've been doing pretty well.  I've noticed now that some places are getting cluttered because the organization within them is not working.  For example:

This cabinet isn't bad, but I can't get to the back and it's hard to get new stuff put away.

 So I end up with things here:

 And here.  Especially on grocery days.  I eventually get them put away, but only after a good 45 mins of resorting.

Another area is my couponing.  The files are currently so full they are busting and so I haven't put any more away leaving me with this:
 And this:

I'm hoping to get one or both taken care of tomorrow for my Week 14 OYOL (decluttering).  I'll let you know how it goes!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

OYOL Week 13- After

Well, we were really busy this week, so my "after" generally looks about the same, if not worse, as the "before".  One of my friends was holding a consignment sale this week and I helped out with it a lot.  Sooo, yeah, not much going on at or with the house.

I've found that I like sharing the dirty details of my home with you guys, so I've decided to post a few more.  Partially to make Brenda feel better, too :).  I'll admit that the pictures I took for the before post I tried to really focus in on the spots that give me the most trouble, so here's a view of the full, in action, version ;)...

My kitchen after grocery shopping and cooking dinner:
(Sorry for the crooked picture)
 Good news is after only ohhh, 3 hours or so I finally got it cleaned.  Not straight cleaning though, I got distracted by two little faces that wanted me to play ball with them.

How could I say no?

I've been trying really hard to keep on top of things, though.  My goal is too not let my mess go past the end of one day into the next.  So I do try to get things mostly straightened before I quit for my night and over all I've been pretty successful so far (I also don't beat myself up if it DOESN'T get done).  It's helped that I've started looking at it as just something the needs to be done (as in "it's basic maintenance that helps my house run smoothly"), not as something I have to get done (as in "bleh, I can't believe I have to do this again").  Attitude really does make all the difference.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Bit of an Epiphany

I've realized (again) the importance of discipline in my life. It's amazing the far reaching impacts of a disciplined life. Whether it's gardening, weight loss, or housekeeping, being disciplined is a major component in all of them. I love The Biggest Loser and one of the things I've learned from the show (as well as my own weight loss journey) is that you have to work hard to get the weight off, but then not as hard when you are at the maintenance point. In the same way I'm realizing that I have to suck it up and just DO the extra housework needed to get to excess out of my house before I can get to the maintenance part. Once the habits are in place and the clutter is gone, housework won't take as long. But it still needs to be DONE, it can't be neglected all together. This is where I normally fail at diets. I lose the weight, and then quit weighing myself, neglect the healthier foods, and get lazy about my exercising. So the weight creeps back on. In the same way, I spend hours straightening, decluttering, and cleaning things only to sit back and let it go right back to the state it was in before. What I need to do is to put the hard work in, but then stay disciplined on the basic pieces of maintenance that allow me to keep that lean, clean house. It all ties together in a super simple way that just blows my mind :).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

OYOL Week 13- Before

I seem to have missed a few weeks in here... :) I guess I got sidetracked and distracted, so I'll be going back over those.  I started trying to redo my home management binder, and like a true perfectionist, it's taking a lot of my time right now.  My thought was to redo that binder and separate out the menu planning stuff into a new binder and have it all coordinate and look nice together.  In theory it sounds good, but in actuality it's not coming along very fast.  I probably need to got back to work on just getting the basics of my menu planning down and then work about making it look nice.

I've also discovered many, many new blogs about decluttering, cleaning, organizing, the whole nine yards and I've been spending a lot of time perusing those.  Lot of good ideas, but not a great use of time.  I really need to work on DOING and then pick up maybe just a few ideas at a time.  What can I say, I'm a dreamer :).

I did successfully cook big batches of two dinners.  One was a pork roast, which Kent will eat, and the other was a Black Bean Chili, which only I eat, but they have successfully been frozen and reheated without complaints, so I'm thrilled with that!

Anyway, on to Week 13.  This week we're tackling our main clutter spots.  I can tell you right now what mine are without even walking through the house.  Honestly, right now my entire living room is cluttered because I'm taking a break from tagging some outgrown kid's stuff for a consignment sale that starts Thursday (yikes, only a day and a half left!  I need to get moving!),  but overall I've been doing a fairly good job keeping the our house picked up and straightened.  These are just the spots that I can't seem to get rid of (if you follow FlyLady, these are my "hotspots").

They are:
                                         My counter next to the door we come in and out of.

 My "laundry chair".  The place where all good laundry intentions go to die.  Seriously, it's like once it's on the chair, it's good enough.  :) At least this time I've actually folded it, usually it's just a pile.  Also, you can see another of my projects behind the chair where we're trying to pick a new wall color.

                    Computer desk.  The top but the shelf under it could really be included as well.

And lastly, the laundry basket in my room.  This one just frustrates me, it's been there since we moved in last June and it's really just a catch all that sits there and I never take the time to go through it an MOVE the dern thing.  If I could get this cleared out I could actually have a mostly clear floor.

I have a few other spots that come and go depending on life at the moment, but these four are the most consistent that I deal with.  (Opps, just reread Brenda's blog and we were supposed to only pick our top three.  :) Oh well, I'm close!).  I'll work on decluttering these this week and get some "after" photos.  The tough part is that I really just need to stay on top of these spots so that they don't come back every time I turn around.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

OYOL Week 10

This week for OYOL we're doing Menu Planning.  Oh, how I needed this!  I've been thinking and thinking about this all week because I certainly TRY to do this, but it just hasn't been working for me.  What I've been trying to do is sit down on Wednesday (before my shopping trip Thursday) and plan out for the week.  I have tried doing just dinner as well as doing all meals (including snacks) to try to keep us out of ruts, but nothing seemed to click.  I can do all the planning, get all the food and yet somehow something always happens to distract me.  Either my day goes crazy and we end up eating out, or we don't feel like eating what's on the schedule and we end up eating out, or Kent wants to do something nice and knows cooking is a huge job for me so we end up eating out (noticing a pattern here???).  So, obviously this isn't working and I need to come up with another way to go at this.

So here are the truths that I have to work around:

1.  Kent is super picky.... all casseroles/mixed foods are out, he won't touch them.  Oh, and he doesn't do leftovers very well.

2.  Abigail is picky but doesn't want the same things day after day ... she will eat jelly sandwiches for 4 days straight and then refuse to touch them for a few weeks.

3.  Nathan is still testing new foods for allergic reactions and is also picky ... sigh, what did I do to get all these picky people in my life?? :) Good thing I love them so much!

4.  Cooking is fun from time to time, but not one of my favorite chores (yes, I consider it on the level of mopping, something I HAVE to do) and when I'm doing it for people who are soooo picky it loses even more of it's appeal.

5.  When ever I go into the kitchen to attempt a meal, I have two little locusts swarming me the entire time. One trying to help and wanting to get a lick from everything (My fault, lol, I've let her bake too much...baking I enjoy!) and the other screaming for reasons only known to him.

Soooo, where does that leave us???  I don't know for sure, but I have two ideas that I'm playing with and will probably end up combining.  First is the once a month cooking.  I really like the idea of having everything cooked up at once and minimizing the amount of day-to-day cooking I have to do.  I found this website, Once a Month Mom, that really gives some good info on it.  The other is the idea that was posted on Brenda's Week 10 post by Reagen which is the "30 Meals Plan".  Basically you keep the ingredients on hand for your 30 go-to recipes.  Your 30 includes only those that your family loves so it's a guaranteed winner.  I'm going to start going through meals a few at a time to try to find things that everyone will eat (though, the toddler picky stage where they randomly stop eating things may make this difficult) and try to stick to ones that freeze well.  Kent said he would eat BBQ that has been in the freezer, so that's one of the first that I'll be attempting.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes :).

Oh, and for added fun, I forgot to mention that I'm trying to keep all of this relatively healthy so I don't begin to put back on the weight that I've lost so far.  Just don't tell Kent, because whenever my fried meat and potatoes man hears "healthy", he gets a little nervous :).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

General Updates :)

I'm having a hard time getting around to blogging lately.  It's been on my to-do list the last 3-4 days or so, but I just keep putting it off.  Too many other things have been grabbing my attention when I sit down at the computer.  Oh well, I refuse, refuse to make myself feel bad about it.  This isn't meant to be a professional blog, all spiffy and nice, it's really just for me and who ever else may find something interesting here.  I have no agenda here, not really even a purpose other than a place to work through my thoughts and projects.  In someways this is an online journal, but really I don't even do the super personal thoughts that go into my infrequent journalling here.  Oh well, again I refuse to feel bad about this.

Anyway, here's a few of the projects that have been keeping me so busy lately:

~OYOL: Obvious one, as this has been the majority of my posting lately.  This week is about menu planning which I am TERRIBLE at so I've been doing a lot of researching into better ways to do it.  I'll give more details on it in my next post.

~Wardrobe: I mentioned a few weeks ago that I've been working on revamping my entire wardrobe and I still have a lot of work to do.  Thankfully I'm finally getting some of the lessons I'm learning down, so I'm starting to see some nice outfits come together.  It's hard for me to do, though, because I have to do it in bits and pieces to accommodate our budget and I have yet to do what I'm supposed to in sitting down and making a shopping list to keep with me.  :) Ideally this would keep me on track, I just haven't done it.  Maybe I'll post some more of my journey with this and put up some pictures to help me keep track of the outfits I like and don't like.  An online style file instead of a paper one.  Maybe :).

~Project 52 Dates: Another one from my friend Jackie.  The lady who put this together did this last year and the challenge is done, but it still doesn't make the premise any less important.  The idea is to do a weekly (mostly) at-home date, just to help keep you in touch with your spouse.   You are supposed to take turns planning the dates, but since Kent is super busy I told him I would do it for the time being.  Our first one is tomorrow night :).  

~Potty Training: Abigail is doing pretty well with it, but it's only been three weeks and so we still need to stay on top of her.  She doesn't have big accidents, but she normally will wait until she pees just a bit in her underwear and THEN tells us she needs to go.  It's frustrating, but I'm trying to stay patient with her.  I'm hoping she will get better about it as time goes on.  Until then, I just have to keep reminding her to go about every two hours.  She also wants to wear underwear at night, but just can't make it, poor thing.  We tried for about four nights straight and had accidents ever night before Kent pulled the plug on that one.  She really doesn't want to wear a diaper, but Kent doesn't want to go in and wake her just to go potty, so I really don't know what to do.  My laundry load has been much easier, though, since putting her back in diapers at night!  So there is an upside!

~Exercise:  A few friends of mine and I have put together a fun challenge to compete against each other to eat right and exercise.  It's been a lot of fun and it has definitely gotten me going again :).  I love to compete, so it has really worked out well, but I've been doing Jillian Michael's 30 Shred and it's been kicking my butt!  I love that I'm getting stronger and I'm seeing a difference from when I started, but I totally get worn out and crash at night now.

~Morning Routine:  Along with the general daily routine that we've been setting up through OYOL, I've been working through the Maximize Your Morning Book from Inspired to Action.  My one big focus has been to get my rear end up and moving in the mornings.  I have been entirely too lazy lately about getting up and having my quiet time with God before the kiddos roll out, so my goal last week was to get up at 6 and then this week I moved it back 5 mins.  I plan to keep adding time (slooooowly, I am not by nature a morning person), but this weekend's time change may stall that process for a while.

Umm, I think that's about it, haha!  I know that's like 2 weeks of updates in one post, but I had been putting this off for a while.  I might try to start updating things a bit more regularly, but as always: no promises ;). 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Southern Savers

I figured it was about time to try to add more to my links.  My goal originally was to put all my favorite helpful websites there, but as you can see I've been slacking off.  Well, here's a VERY popular new one.  I don't remember who first got me to go to the Southern Saver website, but it is now a page I visit every day, sometimes more than once :).  It is my one stop shop for all things bargain.  The lady who runs the site, Jenny, posts on pretty much any and every deal that she is alerted to, but her focus is on couponing at grocery stores and drug stores.  She can help you save so much on your grocery bill, it's truly unbelievable.  I've found that it does take some effort to get things straightened to be able to truly save half or more, but when you save that much, it's sooo worth it.  :) I love it!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Knees to the Earth

Came across this song again today.  Kent and I had this played at our wedding, but I hadn't thought about it in probably years.  This version isn't quite what I wanted, but it's the best I could find.  My favorite version of this was on one of the Passion CDs where it's all done slower and is simply beautiful.  :) Just thought I'd share.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Weekly Schedule

I know I promised this for earlier in the week, but we've picked up another head cold around here, so my thought process has been pretty fuzzy. My routine following has been terrible as well, but I'm determined to not beat myself up about that. Hopefully tomorrow I can get back into the swing of things. If I can get the house a bit more under control tomorrow, then Monday it should be easier to dive back into my routine. We'll see...

Anyway, here's my weekly schedule, such as it is: (as always, this is my goal, not what usually ends up happening!)

Sunday- clean out the fridge (trash comes Monday), plan out my week (any lessons for Abigail, personal goals for the week)

Monday- dust, Kent's day off so generally we run errands or just spend time with Daddy

Tuesday- sweep and mop floors

Wednesday- wipe mirrors and then glass on the back doors, make menu for next week and grocery list

Thursday- change out sheets and towels, grocery shopping

Friday- vacuum rugs (our house is all tile, but we do have some area rugs that need to be done from time to time), possibly play date (try to schedule them for Fridays, but it depends on schedules)

Saturday- visit grandparents

Again, for the most part this follows FlyLady's weekly home blessing hour. I'd love to say that this is how all my weeks go, but in truth this is just an idea in my head. I don't think I've ever accomplished everything in one week, but I'm trying. If I make sure that I at least hit different things each week, then at least it will all get covered eventually, right? On the plus side, having done all this OYOL work, I'm at least beginning to get a better idea of WHY I feel like my life is crazy. I actually DO have a lot of work :) even if I am "just" a stay-at-home mom!

Monday, February 21, 2011

OYOL Week 8

Here's my daily routine. I use the FlyLady system for this (though I've put it together in a way that fits my life) so I've linked everything that goes along with her website. I have no set times on this because I just do it as I have time, but I do try to get each section done in it's part of the day. Not sure that really makes sense, but it should once you see the schedule.

Eat a Good Breakfast
Clean up Kitchen (ideally in under 10 mins. I set a timer to try to get it done fast)
Brush Teeth, Hair, Makeup (if I don't do this together, I never come back to it)
Start a Load of Laundry

After Lunch:
Clean Kitchen
Put Laundry in dryer
One item from the Weekly Home Blessing List
Fold Laundry, Put Away

After Dinner:
Clean Kitchen
Shine Sink, Lay out new towels
Clean up Toys (with Abigail)
Exercise (I've been doing this earlier in the day, though, so I might need to move it. Also, this ideally would be an everyday thing...it's not)

Lay out clothes for tomorrow
Brush, Floss, Listerine
In bed (relaxing, not necessarily asleep) by 10

Since I'm already past my 10 o'clock time now I'll just post this and be done. I'll try to post my weekly routine (there's not much to it) tomorrow...hopefully :).

OYOL Progress Report

So, I've gotten behind on my OYOL weeks. I guess part of it is understandable, since one of the reasons I'm trying to get more organized this year is because I get sidetracked and forget/put off important things. I'm a work in progress, what can I say? Brenda and the other ladies have just begun week 8, but here's a quick run down of what I've missed.

~Week 5: Cut, Combine or Delegate (using the list we made from weeks 3 & 4)

~Week 6: Kid's Chores

~Week 7: Get a Routine on Paper

This week- week 8- Report for Duty (DO your routine)

Week 5: I never posted my detailed list, though I do have it written down. Basically I came up with a lot of things that I need to CUT. With my babies being only 3 and soon-to-be one, there's not much I can delegate to them. Hubby is currently working one full time job and volunteering part-time at a ministry, so he doesn't need anything else on his plate, either. So delegate is a no-go. Combine is one that I try to not do too much. For me personally I'm a TERRIBLE multi-tasker so I do much better when I focus on one thing at a time. One thing that I am trying to combine is my "me time" during nap time with some light cleaning. I'm thinking if I can fold laundry while listening to podcasts or music, then I'm (hopefully) refreshing myself while still being productive for my family. So, that leaves cut. Basically, I'm cutting my expectations and my impatience :). God has been teaching me over the past few months that this time of my life, while tiresome and draining, is short. The time I spend where my children rely on my for just about everything is going to be short when viewed from the end of my life, should God grant me a long one. But even if He doesn't, my kids are the job God has given me now and I need to pour everything I have into helping them grow, not rushing them to grow. So, I cutting my desire to have everything perfectly set up for an organized house and instead I'm focusing on my kids and working on organization habits little by little. I'm cutting my desire to be involved in every church ministry/home group/mom's club that comes along, in order to focus on having enough down time to relax with my children at home. I'm cutting my constant struggle to find a way to contribute financially. I know the extra income would be nice, but God has given my husband a job that provides beyond just our needs into a lot of our wants. By trying to find a way to make money from home I'm only distracting myself from my true job and honestly making more work for my overworked husband by leaving the housework undone. And lastly, I'm trying to cut the idea that everything has to happen NOW and instead just enjoying the process.

Week 6: I skipped this one. My three year old helps clean up her toys at night (when I remember to have us do it), so for now that's all I want from her. We are embarking this week upon the potty training journey (again, for like the third time. Think it's finally going to stick!) so until we get that taken care of, I don't want too many other distractions.

Week 7: I have a routine that FlyLady helped me get together and I'm going to really try to stick to it this week (starting tomorrow! Today didn't happen). I'll post it up next.

So that's my OYOL catch-up! Hopefully I can start doing this on time :).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Super Nerd

Those of you who know me know that deep down inside (okay, maybe not so deep) I have this raging mega nerd just dying to get out. Seriously :). The kind of nerdiness that makes you embarrassed to admit it in public. Like Kent and I rented all the old Star Trek movies from Netflix, in order, because we wanted to. Yeah, that kind of nerdiness. And it's sad, but at least my dear, loving husband is just as nerdy. :) We're cool like that...I think.

Anyway, my latest semi-nerdy activity that I've been into is color analysis. I only rate it as semi-nerdy because at least it has to do with fashion and looking my best, but the fact that I'm doing hours of research about it online because I'm too cheap to pay the $80-100 they're asking for a personal analysis is. :) My sisters (who are both quite a bit younger) would be so embarrassed. For whatever reason, though, this just doesn't seem to come naturally to me. Knowing what to wear, how to wear it, what to do about my hair, makeup, etc. is baffling to me, so this is how I make up for it. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, too, so that's how we end up with this taking up all my evenings lately. I think my husband thinks I've gone off the deep end. I've given away about 2/3 of my closet and I'm unsure about the rest. Oh well, time to go get some more! I'm hoping to do this in a more organized fashion this time around. My goal is to end up with a workable wardrobe that consists of things that FIT and actually look good on me. :) We'll see how it goes. Goodwill has become my new best friend because I can try all kinds of colors and styles for very little while I'm working through what works and what doesn't. Hopefully it will all come together at some point (and in the near future!).

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


So, one of my many projects that I've picked up the last week or so is getting the taxes done. Ugh, I've yet to meet anyone who actually ENJOYS working through this process, so let me add myself to the list and say that this is completely not my area. That being said, my husband simply does not have time to do this this year, and so it falls to me. We've also decided to start tracking things better so that next year if we try to itemize (as we are attempting to do this year) it will be easier. Which means more spreadsheets and more documents to keep. Great idea in theory, but finding the time to set this up will be challenging. Hopefully I can talk hubby into doing a lot of the legwork on that since he's better at organizing than I.

I had hoped to get more posted tonight, but unfortunately a teething/possibly sick baby leads to very little extra time. Off to care for the hurting child!

Ack! Where did all these projects come from?

Wow, I am the queen of projects. I never cease to amaze myself at all the projects I can get myself tied up in at one time. No wonder my stress level is constantly through the roof. I am NOT a multi-tasker. I'm just not. Multi-tasking just leads to a stressed out Cassie and a stressed out Cassie is not a happy Cassie. Yet, for some reason I really keep trying to do it and failing. Partly because I feel like I have to get so much done and there are only a few hours in the day where I can actually sit and do "grownup" tasks. I also tend to pile too much on at once and expect change to happen overnight. I'm working on this... but it's not sinking in very quickly. Week 5 of OYOL helps to address this (I'm a little behind, but hope to get caught up tonight) so we'll see what I can do to set some of my projects aside, at least for a little while. Too many hats, I'm afraid. I'm putting off week six for a few months anyway, so not too big of a deal (week six is about delegating chores to our kids, I'm going to wait on Abigail until I can get some of my routines down pat more so I can more easily monitor her as she learns).

For now, though, I need to get back to my cleaning and OFF the computer! Hopefully I'll be back tonight with some more of what's been going on around here :).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

OYOL Week 4

I have so many things that I want to write about, but I'm really having trouble getting motivated to do it. So for now, I'll stick with this :). I might get to more later...but no promises!

Anyway, Week 4 on One Year to a more Organized Life was creating a pie chart (or in my case a list) of your roles and how much time you spend in them. Once you've decided the most important down to the least, and how much time you want to spend doing them, you are to take it and use that to sort through the list from last week.

I'm not good with pie charts, I get too hung up on getting each to be a perfect representative slice, so instead I made a simple chart/list. I put each category of my life across the top and then while thinking through my average day, I put down the general time I spend doing it. We're pretty scheduled around here, so everyday that we are at home looks pretty much the same, making this fairly easy for me. Then I totaled up each column for easy comparison.

Here are the totals:
Spiritual- 0:30
Personal- 1:00
Housecleaning/Homemaking (includes preparing/cleaning meals)- 4:45
Kids- 4:25 (time solely focused on them, though I'm not sure even then it's the best quality of time as it includes diapering, getting dressed, basic hygiene, etc.)
Husband- 0:30 (again, focused solely on him and this might be lower depending on the day...I know, I know, we're working on it)
Exercise- 0:30...ish...maybe...
Time-Stealers- 4:20 to 5:20 (if Kent's not home that night and I don't exercise)

So sad to look at, but very informative. Especially the time stealers. My excuse has been that I do a lot of my TV/computer time while the kids are sleeping (my children go to bed early), but that still doesn't mean that I shouldn't make more of that time. One of the things this doesn't show is our weekend schedule of visiting extended family and going to church, but it's a pretty decent representative of our week. I definitely will be working on redeeming my time more in an attempt cut back on that wasted time.

One other surprising thing was when I split the homemaking category out a bit to see how it was divided. I discovered that I spend roughly four hours per day just making food and cleaning up from meals. No wonder I feel like it's a never ending job! That's a full quarter of my day! I also only spend about 45 minutes doing actual housecleaning as of right now (out side of cleaning the kitchen after meals). Of course, I'm working to change that, but I wanted to take an honest look at my habitual day. No wonder I feel like I can't keep up!

I'm not going to try to put percentages on each area, because, quite honestly, I'm not sure how. I am, however, going to be cutting down on the time stealers and also making sure that I keep my priorities in the proper order. That means, if there's a question of what to do the top priority always happens first. Oh and if you were wondering, here's how I ranked them:

1. God/Spiritual
2. Kent
3. Kids
4. Housecleaning/Homemaking
5. Personal (except showering, which ranks higher, lol)
6. Extended Family (not on list because isn't a daily thing)
7. Exercise
8. Hobbies (again, not daily)

Anyway, definitely want to do some tweaking. I've mentioned some of the changes, but one I failed to mention is increasing my time spent in spiritual pursuits. That one is a big one as well. I try to mix it in with the others (unfortunately, this kind of format doesn't show where things overlap very well) but it's a category that deserves more individual time as well.

Sooooo, to wrap this enormous post up, I hope this is helpful to you, it certainly was to me!

A Bit of Encouragement

I am working on my OYOL Week four assignment (I'll post about that later), but I came across an article that I think is immensely encouraging as we go through this journey. It's called 10 Things NOT Found in Proverbs 31. Hope that gives some encouragement :). I'll catch up with all other items later.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The TRUE Bare Minimum

Last post I put up what I considered to be my bare minimum amount of house work to be done each day/week. This week, my husband and two kids all ended up sick. I now know what the true bare minimum is to keep my house running (though not really presentable, I think that's where the division comes in). So here it is... laundry and keeping the dishes up to speed. That's it. As long as I kept up with those two things my family could survive because we always had plates to eat off of and we always had clean clothes to wear.

So now I'm trying to start that as my bare minimum and adding a few things at a time that would be nice to accomplish. Things that up the "presentable-ness" of my home or that make my day easier through maintenance. We'll see how it goes :).

The challenge this week (#3) was to start a list of anything and everything you'd like to accomplish on a routine basis and to write it down under the headings of weekly, monthly, yearly, etc. (You can find the post here.) I have worked on it sporadically this week and will probably continue it for a while as things pop into my head. Looking forward to what the assignment is for next week now that I can actually focus on something other than pure and basic survival!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Taking the Plunge

My good friend Jackie recently posted about her goal to get more organized this year. As this is my neverending quest I read her post with great interest. The concept is "One Year to a more Organized Life" a weekly challenge/guide directed by Brenda over at her blog Unsolicited Advice. (I realize that's a lot of links in just three sentences, but I wanted to give credit where it's due!) As they are already three weeks in, I'm a little behind, but I'll make it up here.

I hesitated at first to join in with this as I'm already trying to follow FlyLady's system of babysteps and I didn't want to add too much to my plate, but having looked through the ladies who are also doing this, I really felt like this is a group of like minded moms that live in the chaos that I live in. I looked through the links of all the other ladies (lol, stalker much, I know) and if you're looking for someone to understand that you didn't get things done because your kid puked all over the floor (again!) or you baby woke up screaming and kept you up for hours so you're exhausted (for the third-fiftieth night in a row) or you can't find the funky smell because it's coming from your laundry pile (mountain!), then this is the group for you. I've come home :).

With that being said here are the first two week's assignments (I'll do the third next time after I actually do the worksheet):

#1 My Purpose(s):

To get my house running smoothly so that...
~drop in visits won't stress me out
~my children will no longer live in dirt and clutter
~my husband can come home to a tidy house and happy--well, peaceful--wife
~I have time to do things OTHER than barely keeping the house tolerable (including but not limited to: spending more quality time with God, my husband, my kids; reading (wait-what's a book?) or other hobbies; exercising and taking care of myself, etc.)

This a a general list, the main catalyst being, as many of the other ladies mentioned that I have realized that I am just not being a good steward of my time. I spend so much time running around putting out fires and looking for whatever it is we have lost (again!) that I waste precious time that I could be spending with my husband or children or using to minister to those around me. Most days we spend in crisis mode where I run from one HAVE to get done item to the next. I want to be rid of crisis mode. That is my goal. It's hard to be intentional with your day when you're in crisis. This leads us to assignment #2...

#2 The Bare MINIMUM (so hard to just leave it at that!)

Daily Do or Die:
~Fit in some prayer time (so sad to have to include this...I'm good about getting my Bible reading in, but prayer is a different story)
~Laundry! (Wash AND fold AND put away)
~Clean dishes out of sink after each meal (or before bed at the worst)
~Clean up toys before Abigail's bedtime (keeps chaos to a minimum in case of surprise drops ins)
~Not just brush, but floss and Listerine, too (I tend to get cavities otherwise...) oh, and TWICE a day
~Ready for bed (i.e. computer off, teeth/mouth done, clothes ready for tomorrow) by ten (gives me a time limit so I'm then forced to have time to unwind)
~30 mins. of FlyLady cleaning (this is where I'm trying to tie FlyLady in...in case of emergency, this will be the first to be dropped)

Weekly Do or Die:
~Wed: Grocery List

Somewhere on there exercise needs to be fit in. I don't know where yet, but the importance of taking care of my health has been brought home to me the last few years and so it is becoming something that I'm trying to remember is important enough to go on the "do or die" list.

Well, that was a monster post... I apologize for the length, but now that I'm caught up, the next ones should be shorter. If you are searching for a way to get organized I hope you'll join us!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool

That is my question. It's really not one that I'll be able to answer right now, either, which is driving me crazy. I hate not making decisions about as much as Kent hates making them. There are just so many variables and I have yet to get a real feeling for what we should do one way or another. Honestly, I'm wanting more of Kent's input, but he (rightly) wants to put the decision off until Abigail is older. I know this is really the best option because so much can change in the next two and a half years before she can start kindergarten, but it's so hard to wait! In the mean time I can at least busy myself with doing our homeschooling stuff now (I bought some fun 3-5 year old stuff!) and just try to enjoy without worrying about the future. Would be nice if it were that easy, wouldn't it?

Until that time, I'll just continue to document the uncertainty here. If you get tired of my vacillating, just skip that particular post...I'll try to stick more to information than whining about the future, but no promises, lol!

On that note, I'm going to go work on my plan for the new week so I know what activities we'll be doing, which books we'll be reading, and how I'm going to attempt to keep Nathan busy while we do this :). I might try to lay out the different options/websites I'm looking at later, but sometimes the overwhelming amount of info makes me even more frazzled about what to do. On the other hand, it might help me to get things laid out so I can examine and evaluate more clearly. Oh well, thoughts for another time...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I always have the best of intentions...

...yet some how they just don't always work out. Sigh, I'm so bad to start something and then stop only to begin again MONTHS later. God has been showing me lately that I really need to work on my follow through on things that I begin. In a lot of ways it's tied in to my patience struggles. I get impatient with the lack of results, with how long something takes, or any number of other things and I quit or give up or move on, pick the phrase you like but it equates to the same thing. Also, I get busy and side-tracked and then leave projects to sit and sit and sit. Anyway, I'm trying to learn to have more discipline in my daily life, which leads me to my one and only true goal for the year: practice more self-discipline! I have many different areas that I want to be more self-disciplined in, so it's definitely a broad and far-reaching goal. I'm trying to just work on it in babysteps by building good habits over time, to hopefully keep the stress of feeling like I have to do it all (and do it NOW) to a minimum. I love to play at being organized though it doesn't usually last very long, so we'll see how it goes.

If you're interested, here's my plan:

First, I put the areas of my life into general categories. For me this is spiritual, physical(exercise), meal planning, homemaking, homeschooling, kids (as in what we need to work on for them, like schedules) and personal (hobbies, "me time").

Then I sat down and made (or found online) lists of what I wanted to accomplish in these areas. Anything was fair game and I'm adding to the lists as I come up with more. For the most part I'm trying to stick to things that lend themselves to building good habits. I have a separate list for "to do"s that are one time things.

Each Sunday I sit down and pick out a few habits to work on for the week. lol, I say each, but really it's just been last Sunday and today, but this is my plan for the future as well. Today I looked over my list from last week and some I did well on while some I completely missed. I pretty much kept all the same habits from last week, though, because I didn't feel like I was one hundred percent nailing any of them. But you know what, that's OKAY! I didn't make this my list of what I wanted done in a certain timeframe, I just move on as I finish each one. I saw improvements in a lot of my little habits this week and to me that's what matters.

To borrow a phrase from the FlyLady, Marla Cilley, "Progress, not Perfection!".