Saturday, April 30, 2011

Schedule vs. Routine

Oh cleaning - it is a challenge.  It's one that I'm trying to wade through and slowly finding some success on.

You see, I'm a rebel.  I hate lists.  And the minute I make myself  "schedule" I instantly have to break it.  Yes, I'm very mature.  I don't know why I'm like this.  But there, I admit it.

So how do I get my brain around this obviously defective thinking pattern?


Routines are like covert schedules.  They aren't written down, but somehow happen the same way each day all on their own.  Regardless of whether they are a "good" or "bad" routine - they are hard to break out of.  What if I could steer myself toward a "good" routine that helped me with some of my cleaning?

And that's how it started.

I already had lots of routines that I never even purposefully intended.  For example:

  • In the mornings, I make both boys warm milk for breakfast.  Every.single.morning.  I didn't sit down and write this routine out, it just happened.
  • After outdoor play, the boys always get a bath.  A natural consequence of their outside stench.
  • We always read a story to both boys before bed.
  • I sing the same song every night to Corbin.
We all have routines.  They often come naturally, or after awhile "feel" so natural that we don't even think about them even more.  So I've been working on a few more "routines" to help me out in the cleaning areas.

1. While the boys take a bath, I pick up and clean the bathroom.  Instead of just hanging out and watching them play (completely bored), I now go through my routine of wiping down the sink and counter top, and removing clutter.
2. During that chaos hour (you know, around say 5pm) when I really need a break, I step outside for a couple minutes and clean out a few items from my car.  This really helps cut down on the mess in my car.  This is not a complete clean out, but a quick trash pickup and carry in a couple items back to the house.
3. Every morning while the boys eat breakfast, I "refresh" the dryer and throw in another load of clothes into the washer.  I also put the dishes in the dishwasher away and fill it up again.

I'm starting small, but just getting into these few routines has really helped.  I'm really not at the point where I can completely "revamp" my cleaning, and I'm not really the kind of person that does well with lists or schedules.  But I figure I can train myself to form some new routines - and that works for me!

What do you prefer - routines or lists/schedules?  Do you have any routines that work for you?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Information Overload


Yesterday, I wrote about my need for focus.  My staggering library of books is one such area that could use some focus.  Lately, I feel overwhelmed with information.  Again, most of it is useful and good information - but just too much of it.  Links on facebook, blog posts, articles, and my enormous stack of books on my nightstand scream out to me daily.  I feel rushed to absorb all the information I can.

Of course, in the end, that means I generally absorb nothing at all.

What would it be like to be on a deserted island with just one or two books?  To squeeze every last drop of usefulness or enjoyment out of a book?  At present rate, I skim through and hardly process what I'm reading.  I quickly make a mental note of "that was good to know" and just as quickly forget what I learned all together.  And I rarely, if ever, apply it to my life.

How much is enough?

I'm at a stopping point with information these days.  My brain is full.  I have a library full of wonderful books that I've barely brushed the surface on or haven't even read.  

I want to sit down and read.  

I want to soak up a book from cover to cover, and then read it again.

I want to meditate on what it means for my life and if I like it, put it into practice.

And I really think I need to stop buying/borrowing books for awhile. ;)

How about you?  Are you feeling the information overload?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Keeping In Focus


I took a small blogging break, but now I'm back!  It's healthy to take breaks.  I'm learning that, haha.  Lately, my mind has been trying to grasp the idea of focus.  Honestly, this is a really difficult area for me.  I am so easily distracted and thrown off.  I jump onto new ideas and challenges on a whim.  I over commit myself.

And while I'm a lover of trying new things, there is something to be said about focusing on a task to completion or proficiency.  So, I am working really hard on keeping my focus.  And, oh boy, is it hard.  Just today, I was reading a great post about a new cleaning challenge and was two seconds away from joining!  Whoa there!  Why am I taking on something else?  I'm not even doing those things I already have on my plate!

There are just so many great things out there!  They are all most certainly good and helpful things - but I cannot possibly do ALL of them - and that is my downfall.  I want to do everything!  If it's good or helpful, I want to do it!  But that just leaves me half-finished with about a million different projects, challenges, or goals. :( 

I think my 2010 word of Simplify still lingers on in my heart.  I desperately know that I do need to simplify...or crash and burn.

And I need to be gentle with myself.  I am not going to finish all my "undone" projects overnight or instantly modify or form good and beneficial habits.  

Time.  Patience. Gentleness.

How do you keep balance and focus in your life?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Evening Pickup

It's the same every night - the evening "pick up".  You know, that last final effort to make the house livable "looking" before Mark gets home.  Two little boys can do a lot of damage in a days time (despite the fact that I clean not only before Mark gets home, but during naptime, and when we all go to bed at night, HA!).  Usually, I kind of trudge through this daily (hourly) task.  Today was a bit different.  I saw each little item for the blessing it was.

Rain boots scattered about the front hall - two little boys at play with their "big boy" boots on
Muddy crocs tossed near the door - happy little muddy feet coming in from a day's adventure of water and mud
Baby wipes - Thank God we're not running low of those, we go through them like water around here
Outgrown shoes in the "shoe bin" - my little boys are growing
Unflushed toilet - Praise God for potty training!  Hard work does pay off.
Couch pillows and throw blanket tossed about - Boys (and mama) who love to curl up on the couch in the afternoons
Empty cans and dirty mixing bowls - Another yummy dinner cooking in the oven
Sink full of dirty dishes - A days worth of fully bellies 
Baby toys still in the living room (which the "big boys" are still playing with) - Remnants of sweet baby company this morning
Dryer buzzing - Another load of warm, clean laundry ready for the week's wear
Another mess beginning right behind me as I clean up - Two happy little boys, what more could I ask for?



Friday, April 15, 2011

Home Management Notebook

Several weeks ago, I mentioned that I'd always wanted to tackle a "Home Management Notebook".  I originally had read about this a few years ago, but never seemed to go farther than digging a binder out of my closet, loading it with paper, and making one "To Do" list.

Just the name of this thing "Home Management Notebook" sounds a little intimidating.  And there are so many different formats and examples out there.  Which one is best?  What will work for me?  Most of the formats were a little overwhelming for me or they didn't pertain to what was needed in my household.

And then, it happened.  It happened without effort really!  A friend asked me if I had actually worked on the home management notebook, and I realized that without even meaning to - I had made myself a home management notebook! (Seriously, let's call it HMN from now on, because this is getting ridiculous).

So here is my version of the HMN and my "take-aways" on some lessons I've learned.

Start Small

It all started with an impulse buy at Target:


Truth be told, I was really looking for yet another journal.  But this time...this time I would really write in it!!  That's what I always tell myself.

There was just something about the layout of this binder.  It really overcame many of the obstacles and annoyances of the average journal and binder combined.  The feel of a spiral notebook, yet the freedom of a binder to pull and add.

And that's how my HMN started.  It started with small aspirations - just a journal.


Notice that I didn't immediately label each tab with the section or need I "thought" should be in there.  I started with my most immediate need - a journal.  A place to record and process my day.  My journal has become my jumping off point for just about every other area of my HMN because it's here I process what my needs are and then those needs are translated to the rest of my life.  

For me, it makes a lot of sense to have my journal in my HMN.  

Think Practically

At this point in the game, I didn't even know I was creating a HMN.  And then, I signed up for E-Mealz.  Basically, each week you get two pages to print out.  One page with a list of the meals for the week and how to prepare them, and another page with a shopping list.  I plan on reusing these recipes and lists when my subscription runs out so I wanted a way to store them but also protect them from getting ruined while cooking or at the grocery store.  

Page protectors were the solution.  I put the two pages back to back and had an instant meal plan within the confines of one page!  It was so nice to have it all together in one place and not getting crumpled around in my purse or covered in grease while cooking.  And since it was in a page protector, it fit perfectly in my new binder.  What a great place to keep each weeks menus!  And that is how the next tab in my HMN came along - Meals.


One of the big keys for me here is that it is practical.  I can easily turn my spiral binder to this page and cook. I don't have to worry about ruining the pages and it's very handy to have it all in one spot.  After grocery shopping, I also tuck the receipt on the other side with the grocery list so I can compare weeks and prices later.  I have a six month subscription to E-mealz and my plan is to have a nice selection of meals and grocery lists to pull from at the end of that time.  I also make a note on each meal so I can remember which ones we liked and which ones I can scrap!

Be Flexible 

Once I started seeing the benefits of keeping everything I needed at my fingertips, I thought of other areas of my life that could be improved by using my HMN.  The next logical tab was for Hayden's Preschool lesson plans, schedule, and worksheets.  I have a rather large binder of Hayden's lesson plans and activities for the whole year - it is about 3 inches thick!  It's very heavy and time-consuming to sort through and it was making homeschool more difficult than it had to be.  I took a Saturday night to pull out all the lesson plans, worksheets, and other needs for the upcoming week and put them all together in my HMN.  I also sat down and wrote out a rough schedule for each day.

This made life so much easier!  Less digging around for papers and pulling out the BIG binder every time I wanted to check something.


Having a schedule was helpful, but we most certainly did not stick to it most days.  The schedule was my guide, not my master.  If I felt a trip to the library was better than a worksheet or other play activity, then that's what we did.  Being flexible, not only in homeschool, but with myself is so important.


I think flexibility is also important for your HMN.  If something is not working - get rid of it!!  If you make a schedule - for school or cleaning or whatever - and it doesn't work - change it! This stuff is not written is stone.  After all it is my HMN.

A Work in Progress

One of the last sections I have worked on is the therapy strategies I get for Corbin.  Each week we are given goals and suggestions to work on and I love having the week's ideas from all three of his therapists in one place.  I can easily highlight the things I want to try and then come up with a schedule for implementing the strategies during the day.


There will be many more sections to my HMN - of that I am sure.  It is a work in progress and will never be finished.  My life is in constant flux, and I will continue to change and rearrange things to suit my needs.  In the future, I can definitely see sections like children's ministry, a cleaning schedule, or an emergency information sheet for parents/babysitters.  That's the beauty of this - it's my HMN, not some formula or one size fits all example.  It really is just looking at my needs and trying to meet those needs the best I can.  I also love that I have been able to go at my own pace, slowly morphing it into what's best for me.  I have never been overwhelmed in this process - only excited and energized to finally have something that is working well for me!

If there is interest, I most certainly will write future posts on the changes and additions I've made along the way.  I certainly have a lot of ideas for future stuff!

Do you have a HMN? If so, what do you put in yours?  Or if you don't - what would you like to see in yours?

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Yes, my blog hasn't gotten much love this week.
We've been, um, busy.
I know, excuses, excuses.
I also was running low on blog inspiration.
But today, I was reminded that there might actually be interesting things in my life.
So I promise to blog them tomorrow.
Right now it's almost 1am.
Although, you won't get to read this until 10am.
Did you know I schedule my posts?
Well, you do now.
So enjoy your Thursday!
If the weather is even half as good as it was Wednesday, we're in for a real treat.
Did you get to go outside?
Cause it rocked.
We went to the park.
It was fun.
And then I realized I had a lot of sand stuck to my butt from sitting with the boys.
Of course, I didn't notice this until after I'd walked all over the park.
Oh well.
Doesn't even compare to the day I walked around church with a gummy bear stuck to my butt.
And no one noticed...or at least said anything to me.
Seriously guys?
Friends don't let friends walk around with gummy bears stuck to their butts!

Monday, April 11, 2011


Occasionally, I wish that we had a girl.  
You know, someone to share all the little girl things of my childhood with - that box that sits out in our garage just waiting.  
And, of course, the clothes - the cute, precious clothes!  Bows and ribbons, and frilly lace, all of that.  
The dolls, tea parties, and dress up.


And then...there are days like Saturday, when I am beyond thrilled and excited that we have BOYS and I look forward to all the adventures ahead.  
You see, this weekend I taught the boys the fine art of water gun and water balloon fighting.  
And one day, I predict we will have all out WAR!  
With strategies and alliances - and yes, I will no longer win - but that's ok.


One day there will be camping, and fishing trips for "just boys", and boy scouts.  
There will be tree forts, mud pies, and adventures.  
Hiking, knot tying, and swiss army knives.


One day my boys will be men.  
And then the adventures really will begin.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Yippity Skippity, It's Friday

Oh boy, it's Friday, and don't I know it!  It couldn't have come soon enough.

  1. I have fallen in love with my new notebook - Five Star Flex Hybrid NoteBinder. This thing rocks.  It's a binder, but like no binder I've ever had.  It folds like a spiral notebook, but opens like a ring binder.  But the rings are made out of this flexible plastic stuff.  It rocks my world.  The dividers have pockets, plus pockets for index cards!!  Woot.  This is fast becoming my journal, sketchbook, menu planner, home management notebook, planner, basically everything.
  2. E-Mealz rocks.  Let me say it must check it out.  No, I most certainly do not get paid to say that.  I learned about it from The Candid Pastor's Wife last month.  Anything that plans my menu, generates my grocery list, AND plans meals on my Weight Watchers diet definitely has my vote.  Today was my first day using it and I went grocery shopping tonight - love, love, love it.  I'll let you know how the recipes turn out.
  3. Speaking of grocery shopping...I don't know how people can spend their whole lives in the world and not understand common courtesies.  While at HEB, I was unloading all the things from my cart when two women came up behind me and threw the divider down and put all their stuff onto the conveyor belt.  Um, did I mention that I wasn't DONE unloading my cart??!!  As the belt continued to move forward, I had NO room left to put anything down.  Who does that?
  4. These two same women proceed to tell the bagger to "Go Away, I want to bag my own groceries..."  and had a conversation kind of like this, "I think I'm missing two of my kids.  Am I missing two of my kids?"...Ok, what?  If you have to ask...weird.
  5. I found a new (well new to me) favorite wine - Sweet Bliss Red.  Yum.  It's a red wine, but it's a little sweet with hints of cherry and chocolate.  It doesn't have a cork, so I was a little suspicious about the quality when I unscrewed the cap, but it was surprisingly good.  Plus, it's at HEB, which just makes life simple, no extra trips.
  6. Speaking of corks, I was proud that I at least checked if there was a cork, because last time we brought home a wine, I just assumed that it had a cork and started drilling into it.  It was quite interesting when I discovered that there was a screw off cap (which now had a hole in it thanks to my enthusiasm).
  7. On the ride home yesterday Hayden informed me that "My booty is scratchy.  I think my poo-poos are tickling me".  Today when Mark told Hayden "I'll see you later" he replied, "You'll see my underwear later!"  He answers almost every question these days with his own made up word, "Biggle!".  No idea what that means.  At lunch, Hayden embarrassed me by pointing out the guy next to us and saying "That big guy is going to eat me!"  You never know what will come out of his mouth next.  I pray that those of you that don't have kids never take what they say out in public to you seriously - they obviously have NO idea with their talking about.  I hope that poor guy did NOT hear Hayden's ridiculous remarks.
Hayden posing

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy Wednesday


Corbin's always had his own style.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Easter Sensory Fun!

Last week I put this little sensory bin activity together and our occupational therapist loved it.  So I thought I'd share here.  Regardless of where your child is on the spectrum of development, sensory play is a vital part of their experience so this is a great activity for any child.

To make this you will need:

  • Medium or large size bin - I used an old pretzel tub.
  • Different sizes and textures of easter basket grass - all of these I had saved from previous Easters, I just tuck them into a ziplock bag and store for next year.  It saves me from just buying and throwing out the grass each year.  I hate wasting both money and materials like that!
  • Plastic easter eggs - the kind that open.  All sizes and colors work well and add more dimension to this.  Again, I save these each year.
  • Treats for inside the eggs.  I used goldfish, small toy planes, and plastic counting bears.
Essentially, this bin was absolutely FREE to make, which I love.

Fill the tub with the different layers of grass.  Add treats to the inside of each easter egg - I filled around 20-30 eggs.  Hide the eggs in the tub between the layers of grass.

Let them dig out the eggs, open them and enjoy!

This hits sensory and fine motor skills quite well.

Sensory easter

Monday, April 4, 2011

Charms for China

A sweet friend of mine is on an adoption journey right now to bring a little girl from China into their forever family.  To help raise funds, she has started making and selling these adorable necklaces in her Etsy Shop - Charms for China.

Adoption is certainly near and dear to my heart (as I was adopted by my wonderful father) - if God has that plan for our family I would certainly hop right on board!

If you have a heart for adoption, please check out her shop!  Or if you just have a heart for necklaces, because they are super cute too, hehe.  Besides what's in the shop, I believe she is also doing custom ones as well if you send her a message.

Awaken Me

Money. Jobs. Approval. Fame. Respect. Validation. Pleasure. Looks. Weight. Kids. Family. Husband. Food. Parties. Drinking. Drugs.

Meetings. Traffic. Birthdays. Holidays. Picnics. Promotions. Vacations. Nap time. TV. Internet. Games.

Good times. Quality time.  Bucket List.  American Dream. Retirement. Security.

Wake Up. Make Breakfast.  Get Dress.  Clean House.  Do Dishes. Do Laundry. Make Lunch. Do Dishes. Do Laundry. Clean House. Watch TV.  Make Dinner.  Do Dishes.  Do Laundry.  Watch TV.  Sleep.  Wake Up...

These are the things of life, but these things are not life.  Down deep, I know that this is not the purpose of life.  The endless cycle of days or the pursuit of the next mountain to climb is so meaningless.  The "What's Next?" mentality is not working anymore.  When I was 6 and still had a lifetime of "what next" events (college, job, marriage, kids, etc) it sounded right, but after knocking a few of these things off my list, I'm left with an aching feeling that I rushed through my list a little quickly.  Not that the timeline matters, but that I missed important connections along the way.  I had my "eye on the prize", but was not awake in my everyday minutes.  To get that time back...

It's gone.

But this moment, right now, is not.  It's here and I'm in it.  I'm in it and I'm connecting, relating, and you.

I don't want life to just happen to me, I want to be in it and living with intent.  I was made with a purpose and God has a plan for me.  He has a plan for you.  He has a plan for everyone.  We are not a mistake.  We are not an accident.  Our lives are not a string of unrelated and random events.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed. ~Psalm 139:13-16

We were made to glorify Him.  My whole life I always thought - what does that even mean?  Glorify - such a stuffy word.  One of those lofty and high words that the meaning always becomes too elusive when you really try to nail it down.

All of creation is screaming the glory of God.  The breathtaking sunset.  The amazing complexities of DNA.  The interconnectedness of the earth's systems.  The presence of love in this world.  Love.  And us - men and women - God can be glorified in us.  Yes, there is a Creator, a Savior, there is Love in this world.  We can express it too - amazing strength in weakness, compassion's roots growing in our damaged hearts, the nastiest parts of our lives redeemed, and beauty in this life of decay.

Shine Your light so all can see it
Lift it up, 'cause the whole world needs it
Love has come, what joy to hear it
He has overcome

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Thoughts

  1. Well it looks like I'll be solo for our church retreat this weekend.  Hayden is definitely sick, and Corbin looks to be joining in the "fun" too.  Just colds, but enough to keep them home.
  2. I know without a doubt that I have the best husband in the world.  Despite his usual awesomeness, he is making the big sacrifice to stay home with two little boys instead of going to the retreat.
  3. I won't deny that even though I am really sad about our whole family not going, I am breathing a little sigh of relief not having to worry about Hayden and peanuts this weekend.  I have a lot of anxiety whenever we are in new and unknown food situations (even if I may not show it always), and not having to worry about that takes a great weight off my shoulders.  Obviously, going to a camp and being completely clueless about what and how they will prepare for meals definitely drives up the anxiety a notch.
  4. This will definitely be one of those "Let Go" moments this weekend, as everything I had envisioned about the weekend has completely changed, HA!  As hubby will tell you, I don't like my plans changing at the last minute - so this will be good practice in following God's will not mine.  He obviously has different plans for me this weekend.
  5. Hubby is definitely racking up points for Guys Night Out (Hint, hint...go plan something for Sunday night Babe!!).  
  6. Don't worry, I will embrace every second of my kiddo-free weekend.  This will actually be the longest amount of time I've ever been away from either of them.  My only other times away were the two women's retreats, but they were only one night!!  Hmmmm, maybe a little break is a good idea.
  7. Now that Hayden is four, we've instituted some "quarantine" practices that I hope will limit the spread of germs here at home.  Our new rule is that the sick person must lay down on the couch and not move about the house!  Thank goodness at least one of them is at the age where this is even possible - Corbin would never sit still that long.  I loved this idea from Like Mother, Like Daughter and have made it a new house tradition!
For those of you heading to retreat - see ya soon!
For my hubby - I love you so much and will miss you tons!!
For everyone else:

Have a wonderful weekend!!!