Lifegiving Home: March 

Standard

Three months into The Lifegiving Home and I really enjoy thinking about small changes that I can make to our home or schedule to make life easier or more enjoyable. 

Last month, I committed to letting Clarissa interrupt my housework to enjoy what she is doing. I have not done this very well. But I am at least making an effort to play more and let the dishes wait a little while. There is a quote I really like that I need to hang on my wall as a reminder. Dr John Trainer said, “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” 

March is written by the daughter and focuses on finding the beauty in everyday life. 

One thing it mentions is introducing children to beauty through art and books. “With each new name children learn, with each description they hear of the world, language is teaching them what to pay attention to, how to perceive it, and what value to place upon it… As you fill your bookshelves and pick the images that fill your walls, consider the habits of thought and desire they will kindle in those who behold them.”

Clarissa loves to read. I can really see her imagination and creativity growing each day. She is one of the most imaginative three year olds that I have ever met. 

Another focus of this chapter was a family ritual. We do eat a family dinner at the kitchen table every night. We have a pancake breakfast most weekends. We enjoy spending time together. I imagine that these rituals will change as Clarissa grows. 

“The journey of ministry and Homemaking to which I have been called is a long one, and if I am to make it to the end with resilience, I need to plan for adequate rest along the way.” We need to be intentional about a family rest day. Clarissa and I need more time at home during the week as well. I like to be busy, but I find that our family does function better if we have some quiet time at home to rest. 

The book talks about family walking rituals. Now that the weather is nice, we can get outside more. We have done long walks both days on the weekend the past two weeks. Clarissa usually sits in her stroller for most of it, until we get to our designated playground for the day. Tim and I enjoy walking and talking. 

We especially like exploring new places. Clarissa likes our adventures. As she gets older, I imagine she will ditch the stroller and join more of the conversations. I would also like to attend a few festivals while we are here to learn more Korean culture. 

A regular date night with Tim should also be sacred. Clarissa can have her own fun with a babysitter now that she is older. 

A Life Giving Home Discussion and Link-up

Lifegiving Home: February 

Standard

Last month, I decided to try something new and blog through The Lifegiving Home each month for a year. 

In January’s post, I shared that I wanted to start an afternoon reading hour and make sure to read a Bible story with Clarissa every night. We have been reading, but still have not established a consistent reading hour.  We have been better about reading Bible stories. Clarissa looks forward to Bible stories now. She told my parents this week, “I like Jesus. He heals people.” 

Month two of The Lifegiving Home focused on how you treat people, or how to show love. Clarkson says, “All our life accomplishments, from God’s point of view, will be summed up by how much we loved God and how much we loved other people.” 

She talks about how we often get caught up in the practical things like cleaning a house instead of focusing on the relationships in our home. I am definitely guilty of telling Clarissa I can’t play with her because I need to do the dishes or some other chore that can wait. Clarissa will only be small for a short time and I don’t want to miss out on playing and witnessing her creativity because I was so busy with housework. 

I think my main goal this month is to make time for interruptions. I want to be able to really play and enjoy my three year old. The dishes can wait. Clarissa never wants me the entire day anyway. 

Clarkson says, “the narrative we tell ourselves as adults often grows out of the messages we received as children.” I want the message that Clarissa hears to be that she is loved and valued. That her parents cared enough about her to stop what they were doing to spend quality time with her. 

In this chapter, another focus is on traditions. Tim and I need to think about what birthday traditions we want to establish. 

A Life Giving Home Discussion and Link-up

The Life Giving Home: January

Standard

One of the things I enjoy about the blogging world is that I can read and enjoy life giving content without leaving my house or taking time away from my family. When one such blogger suggested The Life Giving Home, I knew I wanted to check it out.

The book and it’s companion, The Life Giving Home Experience, are broken down into 12 sections, one for each month of the year. I really like that because I feel like it gives me time to focus on one thing for a while before I move on to the next section. And since it’s meant to be read over the course of an entire year, I won’t feel rushed.

I think it is beneficial to have both books. The Life Giving Home has great content. The Life Giving Home Experience is more like a workbook/journal and asks you questions as you think about your home.

A few thoughts stuck out to me as I think about how I want to create a lifegiving atmosphere in my home:

  • Our home moves with us. It’s not tied to a specific house. The author, Sally Clarkson, says about her own family, “I knew from the beginning that we would probably not have a static homestead where we could congregate over life as a family. So we focused on creating home out of less tangible materials – traditions, habits, rhythms, experiences and values.” p 10
  • People before schedules. “It’s easy to get caught up in the details and forget that the purpose of a lifegiving home is to nurture real human souls and bodies. Everything else is secondary to this cause.” Experience p. 2

She talks about taking time at the beginning of the year to really make goals for the next twelve months. We have some big changes coming up soon so I didn’t do that. I decided instead to think about the things I DON’T want to do or focus on this year as I am making decisions and commitments.

There are also a few things I am trying to add to our normal routine.

  • A daily reading hour. Clarissa loves to read and I enjoy it when I take the time for it. I would like to be intentional about spending some uninterrupted time in the afternoon reading. Sally suggests, “If you can create the habit of afternoon reading when your children are little, they will keep it going the rest of their lives.” p. 54
  • A Daily Family Clean. Set the timer for 10 minutes and everyone pitches in to clean up a specific area of the house.
  • Be intentional about playing worship music during the day. It helps set the mood.
  • Bedtime Bible Time. We always read stories before bed. We’re intentional during Truth in the Tinsel and Sense of the Resurrection. But I want to be intentional about reading the Bible with Clarissa every night. She enjoys picking a story from her own Bible to read.

When we were in Hawaii, Clarissa slept late every day because of the jet lag. I had a really long quiet time each day. It was wonderful. I need to be intentional about waking up early so that I can continue doing that at home too. Even on the weekends.

I also need to be mindful of how much time I spend on Facebook. It’s nice to keep up with friends back home but there is also so much drama that it’s not really life giving. I play this game where I delete it off my phone and then add it back. I may just delete my account eventually.

I’m going to try something new and link up with other bloggers as I read this book.

A Life Giving Home Discussion and Link-up

Make Over Your Mornings Take 2

Standard

Last summer, I tried the Makeover Your Mornings course when it first came out. It did help me to have a more productive summer and fall. I really enjoyed a relaxing spring and then had a lot of vacation bible school work to do over the summer, so I knew that I wanted to do it again after our trip to Japan.

On day one she writes:

“The goal of this course is not to create productivity for the sake of productivity. As satisfying as it is to cross things off your to-do list, it is not an end in itself. Making over your morning is simply a way to ensure you have more time and energy for the things that matter most: caring for your family, serving in a ministry, starting your own business, learning a new skill, or taking the time to refresh and refuel yourself.”

Who can’t use more of that?!

I also like that she talks about how a simple evening routine can set your morning up for success. For me that means doing dishes, packing the diaper bag for the next day, and setting out my glass of water.

This course also really helped me think through how I should prioritize my time. In this way, I can have a more productive day because I think about what things are more important uses of my time. There were a couple of days devoted to goal setting, which really helped me prioritize my schedule.

On day nine, she actually has you come up with a morning routine. I appreciate what she says:

“I don’t maintain my morning routine perfectly every single day, but I keep coming back to it because it has borne such good fruit in my life and in my family’s life. Remember, a good routine will help simplify your morning rather than create new anxiety about perfectionism.”

Day 12 talks about how having routines can help streamline your day and eliminate decision fatigue.

On day 13, she says, “failure is evidence that you are trying.” She talks about reevaluating your routines every 21 days to see if they are still working for you.

I like the format of the Makeover Your Mornings Course. Each day there is a short video, a couple of pages to read, and an action step or two. The whole process takes about 15 minutes of your day. The beauty of it is that since you have access to the videos and reading all the time, you can take more than 14 days to finish. There isn’t a date tied to your access. So you can take two or three days for each topic if you really like it or need more time (or get too busy and don’t get to it on a particular day).

Make over your mornings

Standard

I must be on a Crystal Paine kick because I feel like I have been blogging about her a lot lately!

A few weeks ago she launched a 14 online course called Make Over Your Mornings. When I read her other books, I wasn’t feeling like my morning routine was awful, but she had a launch special for $5 with a thirty day money back guarantee, so I decided to check it out. I was not disappointed!

She set up the course to take about fifteen minutes per day. There is a workbook to read, a video to watch, and an assignment to do each day. The surprising thing was that the course didn’t mention a morning routine until day eight.

The course covers topics such as creating an evening routine that sets you up for a successful morning, goal setting, and priorities among other things. But those were the three that I enjoyed the most. I never thought about creating a bedtime routine to make my morning run more smoothly. But packing the diaper bag for the next day or sorting the trash has really helped me get out the door more quickly in the  mornings. I also really enjoyed thinking about goals for my year. The course helped me to break my goals down into smaller pieces which is actually helping me make a to do list that is more productive because I am working toward larger goals instead of just cleaning.

My cleaning routine: an update to my most popular post ever

Standard

When I started my blog, I thought it would mostly be a mom blog. It really turned into a recipe blog with mom posts sprinkled in. Since we moved to South Korea and it has become more of a travel blog. But for whatever reason, the post with the most views on my blog is about my cleaning routine. Now that I have moved to the other side of the world, my lifestyle has radically changed and so my routines have as well. I thought I would share an update.

In Norfolk, I was mostly a stay at home mom. But I worked three days a week for about six months of the school year. So when I was making a routine, I did a lot of my errands and cleaning on the other two days. In Daegu, I am completely a stay at home mom so I am able to spread out my routine over five days instead. It has made my life less stressful (I don’t know how moms can work full time and get anything done. My hat’s off to you if you can). In addition to this, apartment life just has different chores than homeownership with a dog.

The beauty of our move was that it took two months before we actually received all of our belongings. This was actually great because it gave me time to get into a cleaning routine without as many distractions. Before everything arrived, I had already found my groove.

Schedule

My dry erase board broke when we took it off Clarissa’s door at the old house. I didn’t bring the laminator with me. When we got here, I simply wrote my laundry schedule on a sticky note and stuck it to my laundry room door.

image

I still use the google calendar app for everything. I like that I can update events on my phone or computer. Everything is in one place so I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything. I also like that I can set email or phone reminders for whatever I need. I can remind myself ten minutes before something happens, an hour before, a day before, or even a week before if I want to. I can even put the address of the appointment or event and my phone will tell me what time I need to leave in order to get there on time.

I made a cleaning calendar for myself when we arrived and taped it to my refrigerator. But I honestly haven’t looked at it in months because it wasn’t in a good location for me.

I have discovered an app on my smartphone called Google Keep. This is another one that I can use on my phone or computer,  but I mostly use my phone. Every night before I go to bed, I write out my to do list on the app. It basically looks like a sticky note on my phone with checkboxes. When I click the box next to my task, the task gets crossed off and moved to the bottom of my list. I have figured out what I can reasonably achieve during naptime and that is pretty much all that ends up on my to do list. Sometimes I can get to an item or two before naptime, but it’s not a big deal.

image

 

So basically, my schedule starts with my bedtime routine. Strange right? I recently did the Makeover your Mornings online course and it talked about a bedtime routine that sets your morning up for success. World rocked. It’s pretty easy. After Clarissa is in bed, I take my shower, brush my teeth, pack the diaper bag (or collect the trash), make tomorrow’s to do list, and pour my water for the morning. Then, I hang out with Tim until it’s time to go to bed.

When I get up in the morning, I have my quiet time, drink a glass or two of water, do my morning exercises, do my netipot, take my vitamins, and check my email. About that time, Clarissa wakes up. I check facebook while she’s nursing (though I’m pretty sure those days are numbered). We eat breakfast together and then we start our day.

In an apartment you have to bring your trash and recycling downstairs. In Korea, you also have to separate your food waste, plastic bags, plastic, glass, paper, styrofoam, and metal. Clarissa and I usually take down the recycling on Tuesday morning before we head to the playground. On Friday mornings we take down the recycling and food waste. The trash bag only gets full like once a month, so we take that down when it’s ready.

We basically either play in the morning or go to base for an activity like PWOC or Story Time at the Library. I don’t often make a special trip to base for shopping. I plan my week so that I will get my shopping done on the days that I will already be on base.

After lunch, Clarissa takes a nap and I really tackle my to do list. I pretty much do laundry, dishes, and vacuum every day. I have a monthly keep list on my phone of the deep cleaning chores that need to happen each month: clean each shower, mop the floor, wash the sheets, etc. Those things happen on days that I have more time. Each day I also have time to work on one of my goals that I set for the year. Mondays usually become making Tim’s lunches for the week, Tuesdays are a bigger project, Wednesday is a more indepth bible study book or a conference DVD, Thursdays are for bloging, and Fridays are me time. Weekend naptimes are for time with Tim.

I usually start dinner while Clarissa is still asleep and she wakes up about the time that Tim gets home and we are ready to eat. Then we hang out as a family for an hour or so before her bathtime and bedtime routine.

Laundry

I have laundry down to a science. As illustrated before, I have a laundry schedule. This is so we never have a stressful late night or early morning where we have run out of underware, socks, pants, or shirts. We have enough of everything to get through an entire week. My husband knows that if he is using his last white shirt to sleep in on Monday night it isn’t a big deal, because I wash them all on Tuesday and his drawer will be full before he goes to sleep Tuesday night.

Most people probably think I have an excessive amount of laundry hampers in my house. For three people, we have eight. But it makes my life easier. There is a hamper for each load of laundry that we do. One hamper is for whites, colors, delicates, pants, towels, sheets/blankets, Clarissa’s clothes, and diapers. That way, on laundry day, I just pick up a hamper after breakfast and start the load of laundry. By lunchtime, that load is ready for the dryer and I put the second load in. By the time dinner is on the table, both loads of laundry are usually dry, folded, and put away. I find that doing two loads of laundry per day makes it so that I still have enough time to fold and put the laundry away in the same day. If I do several loads in one day, I can never keep up with the folding.

Find a system that works for you and stick to it.

Meal Planning

In Norfolk, I would plan my meals for the week, based on what was on sale. Here, I plan for the month. The commissary doesn’t have crazy sales. Their coupon policy is nice in that I can used expired coupons and they even have a coupon station in the commissary with hundreds of donated coupons. They don’t double coupons either. So the prices for items are pretty much always the same.

At the end of the month, Tim and I talk about what meals we liked and what we’re sick of eating. Then, I get out a cookbook and mark a few new recipes for Tim to look though. We pick two new recipes to try that month. Tim also picks two different things he would like to eat for work lunches. I make a big pot of lunches for him each week. During the month I won’t make either of his lunch meals for dinner.

 

The plan is taped to my refrigerator, where I will see it daily. Since I usually go to base on Wednesday and Thursday each week, I make my shopping list on Tuesday during naptime. I look at the meal plan and make a keep list of all the food we will need for the following week. Then, when I go shopping I break the list in half so that I will be able to carry the groceries and Clarissa to and from the bus. Tim and I may go together on the weekend to Home Plus or Emart for a few items that we can’t get at the commissary.

Our grocery budget here is slightly higher than in the United States, because it is more expensive to buy food here. (The commissary food prices start lower than in the US, but the coupon policy is different). But we also have a going out to eat budget so I usually get Saturday night off from cooking (really my favorite part of that is that I don’t have to do the dishes that day!).

 

imageI will say, that these are routines that work for me as a stay at home mom with one child who currently sleeps through the night and takes a nap. You may not be able to do things this way, but my hope is that you will be able to use some of these ideas to find a routine that works for you.

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase the Make Over Your Mornings Course through the link on this post, I make a small commission. However, it does not add anything to your cost.

 

Cheapest Makeover Ever!

Standard

Last week I read a blog post about keeping  your kitchen counters clean. Basically, the writer said that she only keeps three things on her counter tops on a regular basis. The rest stay in the cabinets until she uses them. I have kept my breadmaker, can opener, toaster, and blender on my counter for my entire married life. After reading this article, I put them away in the cabinets (definitely took some rearranging so that I could fit it all in there), but let me tell you, it has been amazing!

I have a very small kitchen. And just putting these things in the cabinets has made me feel like I have a huge kitchen! I am so excited about all of the new space that I have. I didn’t think to take a before picture, but here is the after…

image

image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another thing that I did was sell my coffee table. Clarissa kept climbing through it and trying to climb on top of it and it really wasn’t built for that. I was concerned that the thing would fall apart and she would be injured. Can I just tell you how much bigger my living room feels? The original plan was to buy a new coffee table, but I don’t think I want to now. My living room looks so much bigger. I realized yesterday that I actually have room to dance now. (Which Clarissa thought was hilarious and Josie definitely went crazy trying to join me) Cheapest home makeover ever. And it didn’t cost me a penny. I actually made $20!

It was a very simple thing, but I had never thought of it before. So I wondered if there were things that I did to make life easier that maybe my readers haven’t thought of before?

I am a list person. I have lists all over the place. I used to ask for sticky notes for Christmas, but I think I have enough to last me the rest of my life! Seriously.

Schedule

image

I have a dry erase calendar on my daughter’s door. Every month, I write in appointments, birthdays, pay day, trash day, etc. I walk by her door several times per day so it’s a great location for me.

I also have all of that on my phone in a google calendar app. I like to have it in both places. The physical calendar reminds me earlier in the week. My phone reminds me the day something happens. Moms get busy, so it’s good to have the extra reminders. The thing that I like about the calendar on my phone is that I can set up multiple reminders if I need to (a week in advance, 12 hours in advance, etc).

When I was a teacher, I bought a small laminator from Amazon. I still use it all the time.

I have a to do list/chore chart for myself. I do better with something I can check off my list instead of remembering what to do or being overwhelmed by all of the things that go in to keeping a house clean. So I have listed the three days I vaccuum, the days to wash diapers, the day of the week that I wash specific loads of laundry, certain chores that only need to happen a few times per year have been assigned specific months. This way, I just use a dry erase marker and check off when I do something. It doesn’t always get accomplished, but at least I have a goal…And if I’m having a bad week, the check marks get erased on Sunday anyway, so I get to start over!

Laundry

I have 7 laundry hampers in my house. Sounds excessive right? But it works. In our bedroom, I have a separate hamper for whites, colors, pants, towels, and delicates. Clarissa has her own hamper in her room. And then of course there is the diaper pail. This way my laundry is already sorted. On laundry day, I just take that load and wash them. Note, I only really do one load of laundry per day (unless it’s diaper day, then it might be two) which gives me time to wash, dry, fold, and put away said laundry in the same day. But this also means that I do laundry six days per week. Find a system that works for you and stick to it.

Meal Planning

I also have a dry erase chart for planning my meals. Some people plan for the month. I choose to plan for the week so that I can buy things when they are on sale and use them the following week in my planning. We pretty much have the same thing for breakfast every day. I make Tim’s work lunches on the weekend. And then I cook dinner every night. I like to bake, and all three of us have a sweet tooth, so I plan two desserts for the week.

I used to wait until Tim was home from work every day and ask him what he wanted for dinner. By then, we were both hungry and cranky because we didn’t know what we wanted to eat. This way, we both have input into what the week looks like and I know ahead of time what I am going to make. Dinner can be ready closer to when he comes home from work and it helps our evening to flow better.