Friday, May 11, 2012

Gradys Fun!

We have been enjoying the weather.  We took the kids to Gradys last saturday to eat pizza and play.  They had fun!

 Brody was sad that he wasn't old enough to ride the go-karts with daddy.  He had to sit and watch with me.

 Cotton Candy sure helped him forget about the go-karts...that thing was bigger than him!  Don't worry he had to share with his sister.

Getting Dirty

All this talk about getting clean and organized but it was time to get DIRTY!  My kids begged me to get outside and play in the rain and I let them.  Not without rules of course...once you get out there and get dirty, you can't come inside until you are at least clean enough to get in the tub!  They had an absolute ball and I have a great time capturing their moments in the mud!

It totally looks "staged" (so my husband says" but this mud was put on her face by her own hand when she was trying to get her hair out of her face.

Happy Homeschooling

Since my last post on this subject, we have seen God moving.  We set a budget for this years home school costs and as of yesterday have purchased all of our home school materials for Kindergarten next year!  I can't believe we have come to this point after 3 months of praying and researching!  I have gone from dreading this to not being able to wait until fall to start!  I am truly excited and can't see it any other way for next year.  

I wanted to share an interesting story.  When thinking about all the materials we were going to be getting for home school, I knew I needed something to organize all of it (no...not me:).  I really liked those cube/shelf organizers that I saw at IKEA and that many of my friends have.  I knew at this point it was probably out of our budget to get one. So I was planning on settling for either a shelving unit we had a home that I could use (by shuffling around some other things) or by buying a cheaper/smaller version from Target and spending a little less money.  During this time, God also allowed me to receive a couple of as a Doula having a client due in the fall and two watching the neighbor's 8 year old this summer.  

I went to a garage sale last Friday.  At the garage sale the lady was selling the very shelving unit I wanted from IKEA.  I saw she had $85 on it.  She also had a kindergarten/pre-school chair for $1 so I snagged that (even though I don't have the table yet, I knew the chair would be great).  I went home and thought about the unit.  I went to IKEA online and saw that brand new it was $199 so I knew it was a deal.  The next afternoon, I stopped by the sale again to see that she still had the unit.  I asked her what the story was with it.  She told me that she had bought two of the units and discovered that she only had room for one of them.  It was all put together but not glued or screwed tight.   I told her I really wanted it because I was homeschooling next year and need a place to organize things in our school room.  She was very encouraging and thought it was wonderful and that I was a good mommy for wanting to make that kind of sacrifice for my kids.  She said one of her neighbors up the street does it and that if her kids were little she would consider it at this point.  We had a very nice conversation while many others were listening and nodding their heads.  

I told her I would think about the cabinet and that I didn't have the money on me or a truck with me.  She said no one else had inquired and she really wanted to pass it along to me even coming down on price.  I told her I would get back to her after I talked to my husband.  She gave me a business card and told me to give her a call.  

I left and ran several errands including grocery shopping.  I went home and told my husband about the cabinet and he told me to go for it.  I hopped in the truck and headed for the bank to get the cash.  I decided I better call her before I got all the way there.  When I called her she said that there was someone there right now wanting to buy it but she would save it for me if I was on my way - and that she would give it to me for $5 cheaper.  

When I got there she told me that the cabinet just had to be meant for me.  She said the other lady was willing to pay full price for it.  She also said that she never answers the phone during a garage sale especially when she doesn't recognize the caller on caller id.  So I feel it was truly meant for us.  Now...we just need to find a good table to do our work on.

We got it home and it is set up and organized with the curriculum that came in the mail yesterday!  When we drove down the street yesterday we could see a box on the front porch and I had a feeling that is was.  When I told Reece she was so excited and said she wanted to open it herself.  The rest of it should come next week.  I spent $27 less than our budget for curriculum when I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to get what I needed with the budget we set!  With the help of Ebay, good friends, and the grace of God, we pulled it off and are looking forward to a great 1st year of homeschooling.  I can hardly wait to get started!

Reece opening her package of goodies!  (Not a great picture but I was trying hurry and capture the moment and didn't have all the right settings on the camera).

The shelving unit from the garage sale...craft stuff on top, curriculum on first level, toys and stuff will go on the rest.  Need to get some nicer, bigger baskets.

Left to right: Science/history/character building (first box), math (2nd box), language arts/writing (3rd box), reading/bible stuff (4th box)


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Organizing/Cleaning Issue 4 - the Kitchen

Today, we are diving into the kitchen - the heart of the home.  Each month (week 2) I take a good look at my kitchen and do a 15 minute (or so) job (or two) each day to keep up on things in the kitchen.  This is of course in addition to my weekly cleaning plan and things that are included in the morning and night time routines that we discussed in Issue 1.  Let's review those:

Daily - Empty Dishwasher (if needed), check calendar, prepare dinner plans, clean hot spot, shine sink (or at least empty out sink), wipe down counter as needed (middles only).

Weekly - Vacuum/Mop and empty trash

Below are my "jobs" that I look at on a monthly basis.  I sort of rotate these based on date last completed or just  how I am feeling at the moment.  You would do one or more of these a day in week two (M-F) to take up 15 minutes a day of focusing on detailed cleaning in the kitchen.  Below is my list of things that I think need cleaned in the kitchen.  You are welcome to copy and paste it into a word document and print it off. I put mine in a sheet protector and date it as I complete them.  Then I never have to wonder when the last time was that I cleaned/organized it.  You can add things (as I usually do each month as I find things) and make it your own. The ones with smiley faces next to them are ones I have my kids help me with :)These are in no particular order:

Kitchen Counters (wiping them all down and under things)
Trash Can (put in the shower or hose down inside and out) :)
Sink Faucet (with toothbrush)
Large Appliances (dishwasher, stove, fridge - wiping down)
Detailed Floor scrub (hands and knees kind) :)
Cabinets/knobs (wipe down outside) :)
Look up--cob webs, lights, above cabinets
Light switch plates/door knobs (wipe) :)
Baseboards/look down :)
Small appliances (toaster, microwave, can opener - wipe down)
Rubbermaid/Tupperware drawer - organizing, wipe down, throw away
Pantry - wipe down, organize, throw away (look for expired things)
Lazy Susan/spice rack - wipe down, organize, throw away, refill (look for expired things)
Clean out Fridge - wipe down, organize, throw away (look for expired things)
Clean out under sink - wipe down, organize, throw away :)
Wipe down walls :)
Clean blinds
Clean underneath microwave
De-clutter/go through cabinets (open them, look to see what you can get rid of, wipe down rearrange as necessary)

Here are some ideas for organizing in the kitchen: (note:  I try to organize with stuff I have at can spend a lot of money trying to get organized or you can use stuff that you have at home...I have a little of both in my home)

Tupperware bowls and lids drawer
We all try to stack what fits, right? But what about all those lids? I put mine in a zip lock bag and throw it in the drawer. They can’t spill and they are easy to flip through.  If you have two different shapes, say circle and square, put circle in one and label it circle.  Easy to flip through when you are looking for one, and easy to downsize when you are getting rid of things.  When you get rid of things, be sure to match the bowls and lids so you don't have extra ones with missing items.  
Bulk Cooking/cutting 
I do a lot of cooking in bulk to cut down on meals I have to cook. I have a family of 4 so any recipe that calls for a 9X13 I always split in half and put into two smaller square pans, quart dishes or freezer bags. I freeze one and eat the other. If you freeze flat, you can then file in your deep freeze like a file in a filing cabinet. If I am going to cut an onion, I might as well cut the whole bag and then I freeze the rest in zip lock sandwich bags. I do this onions, carrots, green peppers, etc.  I do mashed potatos in bulk and freeze them…If I buy a 10lb bag I just do the whole thing…one mess and its done.
This is just an example of some of the stuff I have.  I have all my green peppers in individual sandwich bags but then I put all those little bags in one big gallon ziploc to cut down on the scent mixing with the other foods.  Pictured here is green peppers, chopped broccoli (I add this in with sauces to sneak in an extra vegetable - I do this with spinach, sweet potato and carrot as well), chopped carrots, home made chicken broth, and a couple of meals to the right stacked on top of each other.
 How I file my flat as I can.

Dishwasher loading
This one might cause all of you to stop reading the blog…there were a few organizational tips that I do that I was scared to share as then I would be confessing my OCD organizing problem. This was one of them. When I load my dishwasher, I always put the forks all in one basket, spoons in one, knives in one, etc. That way when I unload it, I just have to pull them out and put them in the right place…no sorting. So I have a slot assigned to each utensil.
top left - bigger spoons (soup/Tbs), knives, back one is kid utensils and other. 
Bottom left - smaller spoons, forks

Restaurant coupons
This is what I use for sorting restaurant coupons (steak n shake, olive garden, etc). I store this file in one of my kitchen drawers. On the lables, I just put what month the coupons expire, that way when the month is over, I just pull all of them out and throw them away. No sorting or leaving them in a drawer for a year, and they are pretty easy to go through and find the one we want when its the rare occasion that we eat out.  I also included menus in the front and back of the file.

Random Recipes
What do you do with recipes you find in magazines or that someone give you? I just made a binder and put clear sheets in there, and just put them in there with sheet protectors. If they are smaller recipes, I tape them on to sheets of paper to fit multiple ones on. I have it organized by appetizers, breakfasts, lunch/sides, dinner, and desserts.
Cheap, cute binder from Wal-mart
 multiple recipes taped onto a sheet of paper and put inside of a sheet protector
 Divided by tabs

Junk Drawer
It may seem strange to some people that I have 3 different utensil holders in my house when I only have one drawer for utensils (forks, spoons, knives).  I use the other 2 for things other than utensils.  One I use in the kitchen in the "junk" drawer to store pens, pencils, and markers.  The other one I use in my craft for that same kind of thing.  You can organize lots of things with utensil holder!

And again I leave my counters pretty bare…fly lady has a rule that if you don’t use something more than 4 days a week, to put it away and off the counters…so I have my coffee maker, knife set, and blender out for smoothies and that is about it. I even put my sugar and flour containers in a cabinet. Easier to wipe down counters this way!
(*of course my spice rack is in alphabetical order because it's easier to locate one when I need it, but I didn't want to go there.)  
I am sure there are many more ideas out there for kitchens but that is the basic stuff for my kitchen!  The key is getting rid of stuff and having a place for everything so that there is less on your counter.  You know what they say...LESS is more!
My challenge to you this week is to clean out your fridge!  I just did mine and it feels great.  Also, clean out and organize that rubbermaid/tupperware drawer!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Organizing/Cleaning Issue 3 - Getting Ready Part 2

Our challenge from a few days ago was getting up earlier.  I hope you have been enjoying the benefits and blessings of getting up early. It's never too late to start!
Today we are going to look at our morning routines - how we get ready in the morning and get out the door on time.  First, lets review our morning routines (a combo of my plan and Fly ladys) and then lets look at some ways to help us accomplishing those.

Daily morning routine (pinned on my fridge in a sheet protector, marked off with dry erase marker - can use a cute picture frame because you can use dry erase markers on glass too)

~Get dressed to shoes including Hair/Face, brush teeth (she recommends a lace up shoe so that you are not tempted to take them off and sit back down)
~Make Bed
~Swish and Swipe (wiping down bathroom sink and toilet and quick scrub of toilet - no need to use cleaning products)
~Empty Dishwasher
~Reboot Laundry (a load a day keeps the CHAOS away)
~Check your calendar (where do you need to be today?)
~Check your control journal (a journal created by you to keep things under control - see her site to see how to create one)
~What's for Dinner? (take out freezer meal or think about what you are going to have and prepare accordingly)
~Drink your water
~Declutter something for 15 minutes
~15 minutes of loving movement (exercise)

This routine for me is usually completed by 8am.  How can I help you accomplish this so you can enjoy the rest of your day?

First, get up early (or earlier)!  Hop out of bed and make your bed - if there is not someone still in it!  Then work out and/or do your quiet time.  Then its shower/dress time.  During this point I check my calendar and think about dinner.

Calendar time
I think having a family calendar is key. I am still a fan of the regular paper kind of calendar that the whole family can see. FlyLady supports both the paper kind and  a virtual calendar.  The virtual calendar is called Cozi.  I have signed up for it – it’s free but since I still have a phone from the dinosaur ages, I don’t find it that  useful. I like FlyLady’s paper calendar because the spaces are big – I keep track of my chores, places to be, meal plan, and other things to get done on it. It is $10 for 18 months and has fun stickers to go with it. It also has a student sticker kit that has 600 stickers for around $6. I recommend getting a calendar that can be hung so that everyone can see and stuff doesn’t get piled up on it. I hang it in the kitchen since it is the heart of our house and everyone can check it there.
How are we dressed and ready by 8am?  One thing we do to get out of the door on time, is have a getting ready spot and/or drawer. My daughter goes to pre-school 3 days a week so I know that at least 3 days a week, she is going to need to get out of her pajamas and be presentable. In her room she has an empty dresser drawer. On Sunday nights I have her pick out 3 outfits and put them in the drawer. Then she is to bring her outfit of choice down the night before or the morning of. This allows her to pick from three outfits that I have already approved of – meaning everything matches and is the right season – and she still feels like she got to pick it out. This avoids morning drama and taking up too much time.
I also have a place that I put my clothes for the next day. This basket sits in my bathroom behind the door…it has my work out clothes and my outfit for the next day. If my work out clothes are in there, I am more likely to work out then if I have to go pick something out that early in the morning. I fold it and put it all in this basket...putting my robe on top for when I get out of the shower (including in the basket are socks, bras, etc too...everything I need besides shoes.)

How can we do swish and swipe when my vanity is full of products?  You need to find a spot for your products!  I think the key to being organized is being clutter free as possible. I like to leave the tops of things empty…counters, coffee table, vanities in bathrooms – empty. I’ll explain each room what I do as we go. Having the tops of things cleared off makes them easier and quicker to clean…and they just look, nicer if they are not piled up with stuff.  So think of it this way – “top-less”. (You’ll tell your hubby all the stuff you learned about today and all he’ll hear is “cleaning topless” and he’ll be happy).

Now, I don’t have a medicine cabinet and have limited drawer space in my bathroom. I do have a shelving unit that is hiding behind the door in the bathroom. I have created bins to organize stuff so that it is easier to find. This is my getting ready bin…it has all the stuff that I do with my face and my deodorant…I bring the bin down, use all the stuff and then put it all away. This is how I have nothing on my bathroom vanity…easy to wipe down every morning.
I also have bins for eyes/lips - this one has all my contacts, solution, glasses, extra lip glosses. I don’t have to dig through shelves of things…same for nail polishes.  When you do have time to declutter something, it's simple...just go through one tub at a time.  There is no emptying out large spaces of things that take hours to go through.  

 I also put my make up in a bin and store it in my drawer.  This is the basic stuff I use everyday. I get it out, put all my stuff on, and then put it back in the drawer. I don’t have to dig through a drawer to find what I need…this is just every day stuff.  This little basket you can get a the Dollar Tree - 2 for $1.

And I have to do her hair too?

When you have a little girl you will find that you have access amounts of hair accessories.  Organizing these will help you easily find and choose things to put in her hair.  Here are a couple of ways that I organize hair clips:

Rubber bands and small barretts here

headbands are here: 

this idea I got from www.iheartorganizing.blogspot

All it is is a paper towel roll and some old scrap fabric. You’ll have to fit it to the smallest headband and take off the extra towels. Wrap the fabric around and tuck into the holes…no sewing! It fits right in the shelf with the rest of the tubs…easy to see them all and easy to get off.

After all this and the kids are awake and ready, I have one of them unload the dishwasher with me (if I ran it the night before) and I through in a load of laundry.  My laundry is always in the dryer before 9am.  It is the first thing I do at nap time - fold it quickly.  Then I let the kids help me put it away when they get up from nap time.  One load is quick and easy to fold and put away.

I use to run around trying to find shoes in the morning.  We keep the nicer (more Sunday shoes) upstairs in their closets.  Every day shoes we put in bins in the garage.  They take them off and put them in their bin before coming in.  And right before they get in the car, they grab the shoes they need and put them on.  This bin I got from Ikea...want to say it was around $30.  Each member of the family has their own bin.

If you have time after all of that, de-clutter something for 15 minutes - when your kids are eating their breakfast and watching their cartoon.  I usually focus on de-cluttering something that is in the room/zone that we are focusing on that week.  This week I did my tupperware/rubbermaid drawer and will be getting rid of a ton of stuff!

That's it...that's the morning routine.  Sounds easy, right?  Pick one thing and start recommendation is laying out clothes the night before.  It seriously cuts down on time in the morning!  Next week, we will head to the kitchen and start organizing there!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Organizing/Cleaning Issue 2 - Getting Ready part 1

I hope many of you have been blessed by the Fly Lady's routines the past couple of weeks. My house has been blessed and I am ready to have fun the rest of the week. Today I am going to give you one task to do keeping this post short and simple. Then I will do a part 2 in a couple of days.

 The next two posts we will look at how get cleaned and organized in our morning routines. In this issue we solely be looking into our hearts and will work on getting up earlier. The next issue (later this week) on "Getting Ready" we will look at: how to get "out the door" on time, how to organize the things we use to get ready in the morning, and our morning routines/chores.

 First off, I get up early. I have NEVER been a morning person, but I make myself get up early and get going so that I can get things done and enjoy the day with my kids. This is mostly a selfless act on my part with help from God. I could not have done that without Him. I'd say if you take any advice from me at all, it would be this one. Let's spruce up our hearts by organizing God first in our lives. It is important to keep God at the center of your day - and at the beginning of the day if at all possible. The word of truth gives us backing on this. Mark 1:35 says "In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place and was praying there." Jesus shows us an example of getting up early and spending precious time with God. Psalm 5:3 says "Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my request to you and wait expectantly". Psalm 119:147 "I rise up early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and put my hope in your words." And finally Proverbs 31:15 "She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day's work..." The word gives us plenty of truth on this matter.

 For the past 3 years, I have gotten up really early and started my day with the Lord. This has greatly blessed not only me, but my family. Getting up before the kids get up is so helpful. I usually get up around 5:15 or so. Every other day I try to work out first, but by 6am I am always up and in the word. I pray and do a bible study of some sort until 6:30 or 6:45. Then I take a shower. My kids don't get up before 7 and if they do they have to wait until 7. Being ready for them, sure makes the morning a lot less hectic. We still have hectic days, but most of the times our mornings go smoothly. When you organize God first in your life - all other things kind of fall into place. It's hard when you are tired and you just want some extra sleep, but for me, that extra sleep didn't help me have a better attitude toward my family or help me accomplish more through the day. What did help me have a better attitude and helped me accomplish more? 1) God 2) being up before the kids 3) getting organized 4)teaching my kids chores (later post). He really blesses me for this effort. I am really no more tired when I get up early than when I sleep in a little extra. Plus, I always rest 20 minutes at nap time to get recharged (this Dr Oz says is better than sleeping in). This is coming from a long life of excusing it as being a non-morning person.

 Beth Mooore says it's all about submitting to God...which also means "to put in order under". She says "I don't know about you, but I'm not a very orderly person naturally. Most of the time I work in what a co-worker calls creative chaos. My desk looks like a grenade has gone off in my office, and I have about 3 drawers at home that nearly throw me into self-loathing every time I open them - IF I can open them. And don't get me started on the garage or my purse". She says "If it's under God, it's in order". And we can see from the above verses, that getting up early is under God. She goes on to say "I'm not saying we all couldn't stand to fold our pajamas in that overstuffed drawer, but only one brand of order is necessary to open the door for grace outpoured. Put your sweet self under God. arms and legs kicking out to the sides...death to your pride" Let's put our pride to rest and our bodies to rest early each night so we can rise early and accomplish what God wants us to, not what we want to.

 Ultimately each one of us has to determine what God wants us to do. We believe a lie that we don’t have time to do everything we’re suppose to do. Nancy Leigh DeMoss says in her book Lies Women Believe “The frustration comes when I attempt to take on responsibilities that are not on His agenda for me. When I establish my own agenda or let others determine the priorities of my life, rather than taking time to discern what it is that God wants me to do, I end up buried under piles of half-finished, poorly done, or never-attempted projects and tasks (Can anyone say, pinterest?). I live with guilt, frustration, and haste, rather than enjoying the peaceful, well-ordered life that He intends” (pg 119). She goes on to say “frustration is the by-product of attempting to fulfill responsibilities God does not intend for us to carry. Freedom, joy, and fruitfulness come from seeking to determine God’s priorities for each season of life, and then setting out to fulfill those priorities , in the power of His spirit realizing He has provided the necessary time and ability to do everything that he has called us to do (pg 120)

 We also believe a lie that we can make it without consistent time in the word and in prayer. This is a lie from Satan. If Satan can get us to operate on our own thoughts and ideas, rather than seeking the wisdom that comes from God, he knows we will eventually get sucked into the world’s destructive way of thinking. “Satan knows that if he succeeds in getting us to live independently of the Word of God, we become more vulnerable to deception in every area of our lives” (pg 122 Lies) What we are saying is we can handle that day on our own – apart from the presence, wisdom, and grace of God. We are saying we can do our work , keep my home, handle my relationships, and deal with my circumstances without Him (pg 123 Lies) That independent, self-sufficient spirit is an expression of pride (pg 123 Lies). We can’t do it without Him…trust me, I have tried.

 Beth Moore says “God is the one with the real plan.” James 4:14 says 'You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring'. But He indeed does. We have all sorts of plans jotted on our calendars pertaining to next year, but they’re mostly based on theory, right? His is the only day-timer based on certainty. That’s one reason why spending time with God in His word in the morning is so vital. He wants to prepare us for the reality of our upcoming day. Not our theory." So in conclusion…I can give you all sorts of wonderful ideas on how to organize and hopefully live in less chaos…but if there is one I really want you to take away and start right away, it is this one of putting God first in your life. If what you are doing in your life is under God, it’s in order.

 If you make time to pray in the morning and actually sit and listen, He will really speak to you and show you what to do. We as women can hold so many things dear to our hearts that aren’t important – down to how clean our house is, what types of material things we have – decorations in our home, down to the containers we use to organize our home, etc. But none of that really matters to God. All he wants is us and our obedience to him and his perfect plan for our lives. Taking time to stop and listen and pray in the morning is one way we can do this. One of my favorite songs is by Tenth Avenue North called “Pretty things” and the chorus goes like this: “Look at all the pretty things, that keep my heart away…I can feel I am fading…Cause Lord I love so many things, that keep me from your face, come and save me”. What are we allowing to keep us from God’s face? Sleep? A messy unorganized house? Let’s get organized with God.

So what is the task I am assigning? You guessed it...try getting up early. Start small...even 15 minutes earlier than you would have. I started by getting up 15 minutes earlier every day and each day I wanted to get up earlier because I knew how much I accomplished by doing this. Try getting up at least 15 minutes before the kids and spending some time in prayer or in the word. If you don't have a current bible study, I encourage you to start by taking a look at the book of Proverbs. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs...start by reading one a day...that will get you a month of material. Start tomorrow is my task to you. I would love to hear from people that do this and how they are blessed by this. You can do it! Tomorrow we look at how to organize our morning routines and our stuff!