Friday, March 29, 2013

I Gave Up Facebook (am I nuts?!)

Facebook has been a huge part of my life since college! I love keeping in touch with old friends, new friends, and family through notes & pictures. In fact, my now-husband first contacted me through a message on Facebook. We spent about 3 months writing back and forth (I've printed and kept the correspondence like old-fashioned love letters!) before we started dating and our long-distance relationship turned to conversations over the phone There are so many good reasons to have a Facebook account...

  • Store photos
  • Find old school mates, neighbors, friends
  • Keep up with out-of-state family
  • Show off our cute kids (let's face it, we're all biased)
  • Read the headlines from people's lives
  • Receive important news (engagements, pregnancies, graduations, etc) 
  • Be a witness for Christ with godly words
  • Encourage those who are hurting
  • Track events
  • See a "journal" of your life, like a type of diary
  • and more!

With all of these good reasons to have Facebook, why did I choose to close mine down? Let's see if I can explain...

Too Much Wasted Time I do not have self-control when it comes to FB, so limiting my time has never worked well for me. And when I would scroll through FB while watching TV, or get on while I was with people I knew the situation was becoming ridiculous! I should be fully engaged in conversation when I'm with people, and it just seems uber-geeky like an addiction to be watching TV and playing on FB! My solution- something I have been putting off for a while actually- is to close it down completely to take away the temptation. 

On a related note... I find that I am most frustrated with my kids when they interrupt me. There is a balance here, there are times when they should wait patiently for me to finish a task before requesting my help. I am not talking about those times. When I am on FB, I often get annoyed when pulled away to do something or help my children. Total honesty here (embarrassingly so!), this is not how a godly woman should respond! My #3 primary role in life is to be with my kids (#1 is God, #2 is my husband). Getting rid of FB gets rid of another thing that keeps me distracted from being a godly mother. Now my time is spent teaching, training, and playing with my children.

Too Much Filth All media has content that I, as a Bible-following Christian, do not approve. In some way, media will include advertisements, statements, pictures, content, etc that I do not wish to see. There is really no way to avoid this in a public, cost free, platform. And, I say this gently, some times the things people post are not glorifying to God or edifying to God's people. And don't get me started on anti-Christian articles or political things! My mood can easily be affected by the content I read on posts, or see in advertisements. The only way I can control what my mind takes in is to keep my mind away from those things, i.e. closing down FB.

Too Hard to Filter So many times I want to post a statement that is not appropriate of a woman of God. This might be a complaint against someone or something, a rant against an issue, a TMI post that would not be modest, something that I should not find humorous, venting,  and so on. As a Christian I need to filter all my words and actions to make sure that I do not sully the name of Jesus Christ (which I have done before, unfortunately). This is hard work; by getting off FB I remove another "job" from my long list of To-Do's. Now I don't have to think about what I will say on FB, because I don't have it.

These three reasons are the main ones for getting off FB, even though I could name other little ones (annoying game requests, fear of my information/pictures getting into the wrong hands, etc). I thought it would be hard to be off FB. I wondered what I would do with all my time? I was afraid I would lose touch with people I wanted to connect with. I have family in another state, and friends from college scattered all over the globe! HOW WILL I SURVIVE?!

I "quit" FB on Tuesday, and today is Friday. Let me list what I have accomplished during all of those pockets of time I used to be on FB.
  • I've been less inclined towards electronics at all, like TV
  • I've read Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon
  • I de-clogged the bathroom sink
  • Organized [most] of The Pile from the hall stairs
  • Done an extra load of laundry
  • Read more books to my kids
  • Took my kids outside (despite 45 degree weather- hey, it was sunny)
  • Sent many texts (which are more conversation oriented than reading a post on FB)
  • Had time to converse with a friend when she called
All this in two full days and one partial day! And these are only the "extra" things I did with my day, they do not include the things I would have normally gotten done (diapers, breakfast, diapers, dissolved child arguments, diapers, lunch, diapers, general chores, diapers...). I'd say this list makes ending FB worthwhile!

I figure I'll have FB withdrawal at some point. And someday I may choose to get back on with many more limitations than I had previously. But, with texting, phone calls, and email, I will have no problem keeping up with people. Our conversations will probably be fuller and more encouraging than a statement here or there on FB anyway. In the end, I think this is the right decision for me at this time in my life. I may be nuts, but I think I can live with that.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Finding Colors

I've spent the last couple weeks describing my attempts to organize my life a little better. And I've added two wonderful (vital) habits to my life: morning Bible study and daily exercise. You can read about all of these things...

Morning Bible Study
Home Management Binder Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Obviously, I need to dig in and use my HMB because yesterday I forgot my youngest had a Dr. appointment. Home Management Binder fail! Oops.

While I haven't yet settled on an official theme or direction I would like to go in "homeschooling" my son, I do try to play at least one intentional game during the day. Here's an example

(Sorry for the blurry images, when photographing kids it's inevitable)

You can see my daughter holding little balloon cut-outs in picture #1. I went through them like flashcards and had my 2 year old name the colors; then I helped my very-verbal 1 year old to repeat the color back to me. After a few rounds of that, I took the yellow, red, and blue balloons and laid them on the ground. I instructed my toddler to find toys that matched the colors and put them by the correct balloon, picture #2. I gave my daughter the rest of the balloons to hold.

(These colored balloons, by the way, were saved by my mom from when I was homeschooled in kindergarten! Let's just say they are nearly three decades old!)

This is why I call what I am doing with my son "loose homeschooling". At this age, play is a better educator than books/paper/forced memorization in the typical sense. Please don't misunderstand, there is certainly a place for reading, writing, and memorizing! I just mean that I can easily teach my 2 year old without him even knowing he is "learning" at this young age.

If you have begun homeschooling your child(ren) I am desperate for curriculum ideas! My son will be 3 years old by September, so either a 2's & 3's or 3's & 4's would work. Please help a mom out :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Home Management Binder- Finished!

There's a phrase floating around social media that goes "Stop the glorification of busy". How true this saying is! Between my husband, kids, church, friends, meals, chores, family, and life I could spend most of my time running around like a crazy person. Instead of saying "yes" to things, I've been trying to say "no" or "I have to think about it" as often as possible. Then I consider the time and energy commitment I would need for this new "thing" and compare it to my Home Management Book. After all, my HMB is my brain- it gives me a realistic view of my life and my schedule/commitments so I don't overbook myself (either physically, or emotionally- which may be more harmful). I want a well ordered day, a day with lots of room for the unexpected with my family. How sad I would be to miss a playful moment with my kids because I have to hurry them out the door to my next appointment? I hate those times when I am rushed to go somewhere with two kids who can't put on their own shoes, coats, or hats. Suddenly, Unkind Mom shows up and I leave in a frenzy, with crying kids, and a sweaty brow from the exertion. If I had used my HMB in a more intentional way I could have planned better to leave on time, without the sweat and tears. I'm not saying that there aren't unexpected stresses that come up despite careful planning. However, if I plan well, I should be planning extra time for those last minute problems. This all boils down to being organized and having a plan- which is the point of a Home Management Binder.

I've already talked about the tools needed to get started, here.
Two of my personal sections have been detailed, here.
This leaves the remaining sections of my HMB...

Church Tab

This purple tab (with purple title- have you noticed my color coordination so far?) is for my church related things. I am the Children's Ministry Director at our church, so I have a couple schedules for the nursery and kids classes. Usually I have copies of the Word document schedules to put in here, but when your printer is out of ink, you have to go old school. Thus the hand written version. I keep track of the books we have used for curriculum in this section, phone numbers for my teachers, copies of notes I've used in orientation meetings, and so on.

Misc. Tab

I did not include a picture of this tab because it has private information, like a list of all of my family's birthdays and anniversaries, usernames and passwords, and other miscellaneous information that is too small for seperate tabs. Here are some great printables for items that may make it into this sections of your HMB.

Life Love & Geekery: Info Page, Usernames & Passwords, and Important Dates
The Uncluttered Lifestyle: Our Medical Yellow Pages, Medication Tracker
DIY Home Sweet Home: Dates to Remember, Password Log, Emergency Information, Medical Expenses, Doctor Visits, and Bank Account Information
The Nest Effect: Medication Tracker
Organizing Homelife: Contact Lists for Doctors & Insurance Policies, Birthday Trackers, and Usernames & Passwords List (scroll a ways down to see thumbnail pictures of the links)
Delightful Distractions: Dates to Celebrate,

Front Pocket

These two pieces of paper go in the front pocket of my binder because I refer to them often. They are a Cleaning Checklist and a Daily page.

First, the Chore Checklist. I still have not found one that I really, really like, but this one comes close. Usually the problem I run into is there are chores for rooms/things I don't have, like a master bathroom (yes, you read that right; we are "blessed" with one, small, teeny-tiny, itty-bitty bathroom), so that box never gets checked and then it looks like I have things left over to do, when I don't and that stresses me out (get it? got it? good). The above printable is from Simple Mom and although I searched and searched, I cannot find it on her site anymore. This is one of the easiest printables to find off Pinterest though, simply do a search for Cleaning Checklist and you can find dozens of pictures of available types. The pictures are nice because you can see right away the color scheme (because we all know that women like things to look pretty and match, am I right?)

Daily Docket, which is in the second picture up these, is very easy to find as well. Most variations include spots for to-do's, phone calls to make, errands to run, kids activities to jot down, shopping lists, prayer requests, check off places for drinking water, taking vitamins, or exercising, and so on. Again, Pinterest may be your best friend here, just type in some variation of Daily Planning Page and you'll have plenty of selections. I searched for the original source of this printable and I cannot find it (seems to be a theme for me, sorry). I'm certain the blog it's from is Delightful Distractions; if you find a direct link to my pictured Daily Docket then please let me know so I can link it up here.

Both of the above mentioned pages I keep in a plastic page protector so I can use a dry erase marker with them. I also keep extra copies (just in case) in a pocket in the very back of my HMB.

And that is my completed Home Management Book! These books often take weeks to finish putting together, and need to be tweaked often as life changes. Here are some last tips as you put yours together (I've gleaned these from my personal experience and from the testimony of other bloggers- whom I have linked in these last three posts if you want to check them out)

  1. Make it pretty to YOUR taste: We don't use ugly things, make it appealing so that you will be inclined to use it :-)
  2. Keep it in an open spot: My HMB does me no good if I keep it stashed in a drawer. Rather, I need to keep it near my phone or in the kitchen (guaranteed to be seen 3x a day) so that I refer to it often.
  3. Don't be afraid to throw out entire sections: Remember, if some section does not suite you, don't feel you need to keep a it just because other people find it helpful. Tailor this book to be your brain, not someone else's.
  4. Use it: "If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time", says a popular quote. A HMB is designed to help us take one step at a time through our days. Do one chore, then one meal, then one activity, and so on. This binder is to help us when we're tired or stressed, to prioritize the most important things and get those finished in a timely manner. HMB keep us focused on our valuable role as the managers of our home and guide us through the hard or un-fun things so that we have more time for our families.
  5. Have Fun!

And lest you think I have it all together, here is a picture of my kids' closet- the next To-Do on my HMB list:

If you don't here from me soon, you'll know I got buried in all this clutter.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Home Management Binder- House Tab, Kids Tab

Home Management Binders come with a purpose. If we are wives and/or mothers we are in charge, the managers, of our homes. This is our delightful, God given privilege as women. A Home Management Binder (HMB) is our "brain" in a sense. With multiple people, rooms, items, and jobs to care for, we can be forgetful or (as is more often my weakness) overwhelmed. When I don't know where to start, I often don't start anything at all. Apart from organizing our lives, a HMB should give direction to our days so we have a plan to get work done in a timely fashion. Then, when our work is done, we have time in the day to pursue relationships and hobbies!

Yesterday I talked about the supplies needed to get started, as well as sections to consider for your own binder, and my most used tab: Menu Planning. So let me dive into more sections of my personal HMB.

House Tab

This tab contains 4 pages so far. The first you can see above "House Needs". I've started a list of all the maintenance-type work we need to attend too. Examples from my list are: new vent covers (kids love to drop things down there), moving a shelf from the kids' closet to our mudroom, and exchanging my old stove for a new-to-me one (we have it stored in our basement for now). This is a great place to make notes about paint touch-ups, burnt out light bulbs, and anything that needs to be fixed or mended in the home. Here are some free printables that you could use in this section:

Organizing Homelife- Household Projects
The Nest Effect- Honey Do List, Blank Check List, and Work To Do List (all links are at the bottom of the page)
Home Sweet Home- Master To Do List
The Uncluttered Lifestyle- Home Inventory List (scroll down to mid-page for the link to the free printable)

The next page under this tab lists Declutter Projects. There is a wonderful 40 day challenge over at Keeper of the Home that I will probably print soon and use to replace my simple, lined paper list. I tell ya, every time I feel like I've purged my entire house, it needs another round of decluttering!

Next, is a list of decorating ideas. I have a board(s) on Pinterest with plenty of ideas for the home, but this page in my HMB is where I list the ones I would like to start soon (I am awful at decorating and my house has had bare walls for going on 5 years now, help!). As I mentioned earlier, if I plan my day well and accomplish the things I need to do, then I have more time for the things I want to do, like crafts for my home. So I always have a page with a few ideas ready for those "spare moments" (however few and far between they may be).

To go along with the decorating page, I started a list of items I need for those projects and would like to gather at thrift stores or garage sales (I may have a little spring fever if I'm already planning on going to garage sales). I've listed things I want- like a wooden barrel for my front porch- and researched a general price for the item (they sell at home improvement stores for about $20). This way I know whether or not I am getting a deal at a thrift store or garage sale.

Kids or Educational Tab (it's in development and doesn't know which title it wants).

I actually began this blog to share how I was doing "light homeschooling" with my 2 years old son. So this section in my HMB is a place for me to record ideas and themes I wish to teach him in the upcoming days. I hope that very soon I will get back into daily activities with him! Until then, I keep listing ideas. The first page lists Lesson Plans; things I wish for him to know, like how to spell his name. The next page is for activities I would like to do with both of my kids. Because it is winter, many of these activities involve burning energy inside the house (this boy momma is worn out!). I only have three listed right now: 1) jump over objects, like a rolled up towel, 2) dust the house (hey, kids love helping and doing "big people" activities), and 3) play bubbles in the tub. I definitely need to develop this section more; now that I have fine-tuned my HMB (again) I will soon be able to focus on getting back into homeschooling. I would love to hear of any activities your kids have loved to do while being stuck indoors this winter- educational or non?

Whew, I'm almost finished detailing the sections of my personal HMB; tomorrow I'll end with Church Tab, Misc. Tab, and Pockets.

Do you have a HMB already? How do you use yours? What section(s) are your favorite(s)? I'd love to see a link to your blog or picture/description of your HMB.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Home Management Binder- Getting Started & Menu Tab

Up until two years ago I had not even heard of a Home Management Binder. Then I was given a recommendation for the book Large Family Logistics (see where I talk about this book here). At the time I was pregnant with my second child and ready desperate for a little more organization in my life. So I began to put together my own Home Management Binder.

In case you have no idea what I am talking about let me answer this: What is a Home Management Binder? Briefly, it is a book, often a 3 ring binder, that includes any paperwork that helps your life/family/house run smoothly (many are designed to keep your household running and to be "you" if you are gone, sick, or ill with pregnancy; your husband and children should be able to navigate the book in your absence). A HMB may have calendars, schedules, menus, grocery lists, budget worksheets, To Do lists, goal charts, and so much more!

Let's get started...

Supplies Needed: 3 ring binder, dividers/tabs, paper, 3 hole punch
Optional: Markers/Pens/Colored Pencils, zipper pouch, clear pocket protectors, ruler, index cards, post its, anything from the office supplies isle that you couldn't resist buying because it was cute

Step 1: Gather your supplies
Step 2: Decide which sections you need: Remember to tailor this to your lifestyle. For instance, nearly every HMB I have explored has a section for Finances. In our house I don't do any bill paying or financial things. So that tab is useless to me. Another example are school/sport schedules; my kids are too young to be in either so I do not need those. Here is a loooooong list of sections to consider for your HMB (the ones in bold are in my current binder and will be featured in upcoming posts):

  • Calendar(s) (daily, weekly, monthly, year-at-a-glance)
  • Schedules (family birthdays, church activities, breastfeeding/newborn schedules, school, holidays, sports/extra curricular activities, maintenance logs, medical check ups/pet check ups, gardening, etc)
  • Cleaning Schedules (daily list, weekly/monthly list, kids chores, seasonal projects/spring & fall cleaning, etc)
  • Menu Planning (weekly & monthly menus, lists of recipes or family favorites, pantry/freezer inventory, ideas for hosting/special events, editable grocery lists, household items refill lists, etc)
  • Finances (budgets tracking, bill payment schedule, kids' allowance tracker, anticipated expenses, holiday budgets, etc)
  • Kids (current clothing sizes, allergies/special needs, medication tracker, gift ideas, vaccination records, etc)
  • Contact info (address book, list of numbers for: doctor, vet, dentist, babysitter, emergency contacts, close neighbors)
  • Personal or Family Health (exercise goals, nutrition guidelines, gym hours/upcoming activities, etc)
  • Bible Study (reading plan, verse memory sheet, church notes, Thankfulness Journal)
  • Personal Lists (books to read, Things on Loan, gift ideas, goals accomplished, movies to see, etc)
  • House (work needed on the house, project ideas, decoration ideas, supplies needed, seasonal work, de-cluttering schedule, etc)
  • Usernames & Passwords list 
  • Homeschool Lesson plans/ideas
  • Seasonal Bucket Lists
  • Blogging (schedule, ideas, tips)
As you can see, there are many things to consider when making your own HMB. I made my first one in the summer of 2011; since then there have been about 6 revisions. As my life changes and the lives of my kids change, I am constantly adapting my binder to work for me. This is key- a HMB should work for you, not the other way around. 

My first tab is my most used tab: Menu.

Making a menu is key to staying within my grocery budget and making sure I prepare healthy meals for my family. There are dozens of great menu planning printables out there (of which I have probably tried 6-10), with none of them exactly the style that I wanted. So I draw my own on notebook paper. I number the amount of dinners I need to plan for, and have a section on the back for lunches and things I make at home (like salsa, granola, bread, etc). I don't adhere to a daily lunch or breakfast schedule, I just make what sounds good to me at that time. That is why more detailed lists were not my preference. Here are just a few links  to free menu planning printables (seriously, try searching "Menu Planning Printables" on Pinterest and see how many options there are):

Some suggest using a page protector with your menu planner so you can dry erase each week instead of printing out 52 pages (do whichever works for you).

Several menu planners have built in grocery lists or have color coordinating grocery lists that come with them. I have smaller pieces of paper for grocery lists that I store in a page protector in the back of my binder.

 Other things I include are: a Master List of favorite meals, and Seasonal Lists (favorites for winter, things to cook on the grill in the heat of summer, and so on), Breakfast & Lunch Ideas, and Homemade foods. So far I make homemade bread, salsa, granola, biscuits, and taco seasoning. I hope to add ketchup, yogurt, tortillas and pancakes to this list soon. (I have all of these recipes on my Pinterest boards: The Alternative, and Sides, Sips, and Snacks).

That sums up my first section in my Home Management Binder. Visit me tomorrow for the next part: Front Pocket and House Section.