M. O. M. – Master Organizer of Mayhem book review

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M.O.M. Master Organizer of Mayhem can be a quick and easy read. I was on the launch team and got behind so I read the whole thing over a weekend. It’s doable and there are some great suggestions in here. But, I don’t recommend reading it this way. Each chapter has an action step. When you breeze through the book, you don’t have time to do all of the action steps that will really help you organize things for your family. I recommend taking your time to get through this book so it is more beneficial. She gives great suggestions on decluttering, organizing, meal planning, laundry, and getting kids to do chores.

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Some of my favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “Being organized does not mean we have to have the perfect home, sterile and clean, at all times. Clean is good, but dust bunnies, crumbs, and spilled milk happen…organization is about increasing the efficiency in our home so that we can maximize our time with our family and for other priorities.”
  • You can’t have everything perfect all the time. Ask your husband what things are important to him. Focus on those things. (I need to ask Tim this again.)
  • Keep a master list of projects room by room to refer to instead of just reacting to problems you come across. Pray for God to give you a vision for each room.
  • “Creating efficiency in our home is all about finding the right rhythm so that our family can productively perform the tasks, chores, and routines that need to be done regularly.”
  • “The basic principle for toy management is that every toy in the house needs a home – and your child needs to know where that home is.”

 

God Schooling Review

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Since Clarissa is in kindergarten, I am very new to this homeschool mom thing. As a former public school teacher, I am used to following curriculum or a pacing guide. But learning to go at my child’s pace is pretty new to me. I enjoy it but I always wonder if I’m doing it right. So when I had the chance to review God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco, I knew I would benefit from this book. I wasn’t disappointed.

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In the first section of the book, Julie really challenged my thinking about what homeschooling should look like. She makes some great points in the first chapter about curriculum as a tool and not as an end goal, teaching character before academics, and your relationship with your children. “If we are walking closely with the Lord, He will show us exactly what to do at exactly the right time. ” So as long as I’m seeking God,  Clarissa will be fine. “He loves Clarissa too much to let ME ruin her…” So it really helps to alleviate some of the stress of am I really doing this right?! 

In the second section of the book, Julie Polanco spends some time discussing how to teach children at different ages. Research shows that “the basic character of a child is set by age 7,” but a child can learn academics at any age. So especially when a child is young, teaching character and behavior is more important than learning facts. She thinks that children don’t really need formal academics until about age 8-10, but they will learn more quickly at that age because they are developmentally ready for it. She encourages readers to focus on life experiences instead like writing letters to Grandma or learning math through daily life (cooking, playing games, counting things, etc) instead of a formal curriculum. She also says that teenagers should be able to cook, clean, mow the lawn, run errands; basically to run a household. This totally makes sense if you are going to prepare them to be independent adults.

I did like how she said not to assume that Clarissa would enjoy certain subscriptions or field trips. Ask her first. Sometimes she would rather stay home and play. I have found this to be true with my child. Several times in the book the author mentions “I have often found myself worrying about what other people think about my kids, rather than what God thinks about my kids.” I think this is probably true of most moms, myself included. It is just refreshing to hear another mom admit this. My main goal in homeschooling is for Clarissa to be who God created her to be and to be ready to walk in whatever He has called her to. So it is going to look different than what other parents are doing with their kids because their kids are probably called to something different than Clarissa.

I like many of the points that Julie Polanco makes in her book God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn. I think it would be encouraging for homeschool moms to read, just to see how another mom thinks and teaches her children. I don’t think I’m a true unschooler as I am not ready to throw away all of my curriculum. But I am learning to not demand that Clarissa completes a certain number of pages each day. I have an idea of what I want her to work on, but if she loses interest before then it’s okay. We’ll get to it eventually. She actually enjoys doing things in a set pattern or working through a book together. As she gets older I think she will have more say in what subjects we will study. For now we are going to focus on Bible stories, life skills, and learning to read.

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Julie Polanco Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

God’s Girl Says Yes

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Wynter Pitts wrote a book with her husband last year about praying for your daughter called She is Yours. I loved it. She also has a new podcast that I have been listening to. So when the opportunity presented itself to be on her book launch team for her latest book, God’s Girl Says Yes, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

Her last book was for parents, but this one is for girls. There are not any pictures so it will probably be a few years before Clarissa is ready to read it, but I look forward to reading this book with her one day. Wynter also has a magazine for girls that looks great!

Each of the 16 chapters in God’s Girl Says Yes has a specific message for your girl with scriptures, a prayer, and personal stories about either Wynter or a girl in elementary school. I think these stories will really help to build Clarissa’s faith and to show her that you do not have to wait until you are a grown up to do big things for God. She goes through the fruit of the spirit as a whole passage of scripture and then breaks up each individual fruit into its own chapter.

The book is very relatable. It sounds like a conversation between friends. There are several places to answer questions that will really make your girl think. Some of my favorite thoughts from the book:

  • “The Israelites’ story shows us how difficult it is to make good choices all the time. Sometimes saying yes day after day can be really hard…God loves His people and wants His people to choose Him. He entered into a relationship with Israel on purpose. He knew what was best for them, and He knows what is best for you.”
  • “As you say yes to the things God asks you to say yes to, you will have to say no to other things – to things that are unhelpful and that He doesn’t want for you. When you say yes to God and walk with Him on the path He has chosen for you, amazing things can happen. “
  • She does a good job of explaining why we have rules and learning self control.
  • “God gave us more than rules-He also gave us a relationship with him… Our life is not about rules. It’s actually about being free to live an amazing adventure with God.”
  • Chapter 15 was probably my favorite. She talks about trusting God to have a plan for your life and using your gifts and talents for him.

I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to reading it again with Clarissa soon.

She is Yours

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I have a stack of books in my room waiting to be read. My priorities this year were mainly to focus on God, Tim, and Clarissa. She is Yours: Trusting God as You Raise the Girl He Gave You by Jonathan and Wynter Pitts fit well into two of those categories.

The whole premise of the book is that our daughters really belong to God more than they belong to us. We get to raise them and participate in their lives. But ultimately, we have to trust that God will do His best for each of their lives.

The book has three parts: Her relationship with God, Her relationship with you, and Her relationship with the world around her. Each part is broken up into several chapters with things to focus on, scripture verses, and a prayer for reflection. It was easy to finish this book in about a month by reading a short chapter each day.

In her relationship with God, Jonathan and Wynter Pitts mention “Knowledge of God and knowing God can lead to very different life experiences” (35). That was very sobering for me. It is one thing for me to teach Clarissa about God. She has some head knowledge at this point. But it is entirely another for her to have a vibrant, growing relationship with Jesus. Ultimately, that is what will matter in her life. It doesn’t matter how many boundaries and rules I set up for her. She will miss out completely on God’s best if she doesn’t know God herself. At the same time, it was comforting to read, “drawing hearts to His presence is the Lord’s job, and that His call is just that–His call” (38). They discussed ways that they did family devotions in their home, family service projects, and sending their daughters to Christian summer camps.

I read the section on her relationship with me twice. The first time, I was really convicted that Clarissa needed more attention from me. Yes, we are home together most days, but how are we spending our time together? I decided to reread this section before moving on. “If you don’t take a step back to enjoy life with her, you can quickly get lost in a world of expectations and obligations–losing the happiness that rests in the joy of raising her” (101). They also talk about how if you have a relationship with your daughter, she is more likely to listen to your counsel as she grows. I like that idea that God gave Clarissa to me on purpose, that Tim and I are the ones who are most equipped to raise her. This section of the book also reminded me that Clarissa wants to spend time with me, not just because she needs my help. They also give several suggestions on how to be intentional about spending time with your daughter.

The third and final section was about how Clarissa will interact with people and places outside of our home. This part challenged me to really ask Clarissa about what she is thinking and feeling or why she did something instead of just responding to what I think is happening. I am reminded that in the times I have done that in the past, I usually understand why she did something that may not have been my favorite way for her to respond. Chapter 16 talks about dealing with fear in parents. It was really good. There is even a chapter about praying for your daughter’s husband.

The authors quote Tim Kimmel and say, “God has not called us to raise safe kids; He’s called us to raise strong ones. He hasn’t called us to raise popular kids; He’s called us to raise spiritually potent ones.” We don’t have to raise Clarissa the way that everyone around us is raising their kids. Actually, we’re not supposed to. God has a plan for each individual child, so raising her to be who God created her to be, will certainly look different for each girl. As Clarissa grows, I want to find ways for us to serve together as a family. She loves babies so I would not be surprised if we end up volunteering in the church nursery at some point. I also want my home to be a place that she can bring her friends to.

It was such a great book. I predict that I will reread it periodically, if not yearly. The prayers were great and specific for each chapter so I can go back if there is something in particular that I need to focus on.

Binge reading

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In November, author Robin Jones Gunn was on a podcast I listen to called Cultivating the Lovely. She and the host discussed life as an author as well as some of the books she had written. The host talked about how she grew up reading the Christy Miller series and it taught her about how to be a Christian teenager. I was intrigued.

The library on post had the entire Christy Miller series, twelve books about Christy’s life in high school. The library also had Christy and Todd: The College Years available in ebook format. Fifteen books in, I needed to see how their lives continued. So I started a quest to find the last ten books. Four books in the Katie Weldon series, plus Christy and Todd: The Married Years and Christy and Todd: The Baby Years. It took me a few days, but finally I found them on BookMate. I started a free monthly trial which meant I had 30 days to read these books…It took me two weeks.

Clearly, I enjoyed the series or I would not have read 25 books in two and a half months. It’s a series that I look forward to introducing Clarissa to when she is a teenager. She can see read about what it might look like to have a group of Christian friends, go to college, get married, and have kids. And I won’t be worried about the content being raunchy.

Halfway through The College Years, I realized why I enjoyed the books so much.

Christy, the main character, reminds me of myself. She has blue-green eyes and brown hair. She is the oldest daughter of two children. She marries a blonde haired blue eyed boy who cherishes her and has great faith, like my husband Tim. She is also quite a planner compared to Todd’s very laid back nature that seems quite random, which is much like us. Christy has great friends to do life with (who also remind me of my friends that I miss back home). Her best friend Katie, even gets married and moves to Africa. I can so relate to living on a different continent than your best friend. Plus, all of the time she spends praying about what she is called to really was very fitting for me in this season of my life. travels and does mission work. Christy just seemed so real to me. I loved how she learned to trust God in the ups and downs of life. She also learned to be comfortable in her own skin about the time she turned 30.

I love watching a person’s story from beginning to end. I hope there are more books in the series eventually.

Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break

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My last Bible Study in Daegu was Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break. I only finished half of the study with my class. But I really liked it so I decided to finish it on my own once we moved.

I had never done a study by Kelly Minter before. I like the format of weekly homework with a short video to tie things together. The five days of reading each week wasn’t as long as some other studies I have done so it didn’t seem overwhelming. Two of the big themes in the study were service and obedience.

Some of my favorite takeaways from the study:

  • Nehemiah always prayed before he did anything. “When Nehemiah heard about Jerusalem’s tragic state he didn’t call a meeting, gather his smartest friends together for a quick think tank, or take a poll about what should be done…the first thing he did was pray” (16). He did things like pray for four months before we went to talk to the king.
  • Knowing the Word of God/scripture is important.
  • It is important to serve as a family and for Clarissa to participate in that.
  • Nehemiah chapter 3 lists a bunch of people and their jobs. My big takeaway from that was that God uses ALL gifts and there doesn’t seem to be a hierarchy. My calling is just as important as anyone else’s.
  • If I regularly record answered prayers, then I can remember the things that God has done in my life. It is faith building.
  • “Essentially we are just living as slaves when we’re not enjoying what God has promised to us” (130).
  • When God puts something on my heart, there is NO WAY that I will see the end game before I start walking in obedience. (Hebrews 11:8)

Lifegiving Home: April

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The move definitely put me behind on my reading. The chapters on March touched on rest. As we are settling in to our new routine in Pyeongtaek, I am making an effort to plan for rest. Clarissa is going back to some rest time in the afternoons and I have not committed us to many things in our schedule. It has been nice to spend more time at home, just playing and enjoying my time with my family.

April is titled “a heritage of faith.” In this chapter, Sarah talks about how she saw her parents’ faith while growing up. It reminded me that I enjoy listening to music while I wash dishes and clean the house. Playing music would promote a certain atmosphere in my home.

She also talks about how when she would wake up in the morning, she would always find her mother with her Bible and often she would just join her. She continues the tradition of morning devotions as an adult. So often, I have tried to wake up early to be finished with my devotions before Clarissa wakes up. Now that she is waking up earlier, maybe I should just let her join me or have special books in my room for her.

Sarah discussed many of her family’s Easter traditions. I realized that I never got around to blogging about Easter.

Clarissa and I did Sense of the Resurrection again this year. We didn’t get through all 12 lessons, just the first 10. Clarissa’s favorite lessons were probably washing each other’s feet and when we put a red dot on our hand to show where the nail pierced Jesus’s hand. She often would color the picture on the flag and then cut it out so the flags looked a little different this year.

This year, we added Resurrection Eggs to our tradition. I hid the eggs inside the house while she was playing with Daddy in the kitchen. After she found the eggs, we sat on the couch as we read the story Lily’s Easter Party. In the book, Lily invites her friends to a special egg hunt and as they open each egg, they learn about the toys inside. As they learn about the donkey, crown of thorns, and a rooster, they learn the true resurrection story.

I love that now any time she sees an empty egg, she says it’s empty like the tomb Jesus was in. She enjoys playing with the toys inside as well. I’m not sure that all of the eggs and toys are currently accounted for… Clarissa has requested egg hunts since then. She doesn’t quite understand. When it is her turn to hide the eggs, she will tell me to stay in the kitchen while she hides the eggs. Then, she brings me to each egg and tells me to pick it up and put it in the basket. No finding for me.

 

 

 

 

Make Over Your Mornings Take 2

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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).

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

Windows to Our World 

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I started reading Windows to Our World Sarah’s Journal : Growing up,  crossing oceans,  finding love,  and giving life to 10 children by Sarah Janisse Brown on our trip to Suwon.  I haven’t made the time to read over the summer.  But I am glad I decided to load this book to my Kindle for this trip.

I enjoyed Sarah’s writing style.  I feel like if we had grown up together in youth group,  we would be great friends.

The book is written chronologically as her autobiography.  But the chapters are short,  more like journal entries.  I loved reading about growing up and finding her calling,  meeting her husband,  missionary adventures,  and mom life.

As I read her story,  God really spoke to me about mine and gave me some great things to think about.

Some of my favorite thoughts from the book :

God will call me to do things that I don’t think I can do.  I need to do them anyway.

I need to ask Clarissa what jobs SHE thinks she can do around the house.  The answer will probably surprise me and she will do chores more willingly if she chooses them herself.

If I feel tired and stressed out all the time,  I need to reevaluate my priorities.

I need to be content with what we have,  but also where we live.

One of my favorite things was this prayer in chapter 57

“I dedicate myself to teaching my children to follow after you.  I want to give them the tools they need to grow in many skills. Help me not to waste time on things that have no value.  Please give me your wisdom to know how to spend their time; childhood is precious and fleeting.  As I teach them help me to give each child a unique education that prepares them for Your calling on each of their lives. ”

This book also reminded me that I am on facebook way too much so I need to delete it from my phone.

It also reaffirmed my desire to homeschool Clarissa and also see the world.

Make over your mornings

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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…

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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

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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.

5 Things I don’t buy anymore (and what I use instead)

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In my quest to save money, I have stopped buying paper products (except toilet paper. Tim won’t let me take that plunge…). In addition to saving us money, I think my kitchen is actually cleaner. And I no longer need to worry about running out of something, trying to find a coupon, or waiting for a sale either.

  1. Clorox wipes
    I have always felt these were expensive so I always bought them with a coupon. I also wasn’t thrilled with the chemical smell. This was the first item I stopped buying. Now I just use a wet wash cloth. If something is really dirty, I put some dish soap on the washcloth.
  2. Sponges
    Growing up, we always had two sponges in the kitchen. One was for dishes and the other was for cleaning. Tim always thought I was weird for washing dishes with a sponge. Now, I use two washcloths in the kitchen. One is for dishes and the other is for cleaning counters, etc.

  3. Paper towels
    I use washcloths for small spills and hand towels for larger messes.

  4. Napkins and tissues
    I was buying store brand napkins every few months and puffs tissues because I always had a coupon. A few months ago, we decided to use some of our Discover card points and buy some cloth napkins on Amazon. We bought a pack of 12 white cotton napkins for less than $10 and didn’t pay anything out of pocket. I think if I were to do it over, I might pay the $3 out of pocket and get the colored ones instead.

We aren’t super messy eaters so we usually are able to use the same napkins for breakfast and dinner. I can use last night’s dinner napkin in the morning when I blow my nose from using my neti pot. Tim uses the same napkin in his lunch box for work for a few days.

  1. Baby wipes
    Okay, let’s be honest. I have only ever bought wipes once when I was planning to use disposable diapers on vacation. But the point of this post is to tell you what I use instead anyway.

When I am changing Clarissa’s cloth diapers, I just spray some water on a washcloth. To clean her up after a meal, I wet a washcloth in the sink and use that to clean her hands and face.

So basically, I use a lot of wash cloths and cloth napkins each week. If the wash cloth is for Clarissa, I will wash it with the cloth diaper laundry. The other washcloths and napkins simply get washed with my towels (I do two loads per week).

What is God calling us to right now?

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So I read a blog post this morning that really kicked my butt.

What am I doing with my time? Am I wasting it on facebook and Netflix?

So I wanted to really sit and think about the things I am doing with my time. What should I be doing?

I think it really comes down to calling. What is God really calling me to do? And right now? What are the things that I’ve been meaning to get around to and are they things that God really wants me to do or things that I just think I should be doing?

I know that first I am to be a child of God. Jesus should be my first priority. Then, Tim and Clarissa. Everything else has to be under that.

That kind of puts everything else into perspective. Yes, I would love for my house to be spotless. But if I have to keep Clarissa in her jumperoo for hours a day in order to make that happen, it’s not helping my relationship with my daughter. I would love to publish these ten books that are swimming around in my head, but not if it means that I don’t have any time with Tim and Clarissa. So they’ll have to wait…

I was so convicted this morning that I spend a lot of time on Facebook during the day. I know that there are times during the day that I am confined to a chair while I’m nursing, but I could be spending part of that time writing my books.

I was also thinking about how I’ve been lazy lately and watching netflix during naptime because I am tired or just want to veg on the couch. But then, the dishes and laundry aren’t done and I have to spend time doing that after Clarissa goes to bed when I could be spending time with Tim. Now that Clarissa is actually napping, I should be using my naptimes more wisely.

There are so many things that I want to do. I have thought about starting a mom’s group at my church because I currently go to a mom’s group that blesses my socks off, but as far as I can tell, that doesn’t exist at my church. I have ideas for several devotionals. I would love to go on our church’s mission trip to Vietnam.

Then you’ve got the shoulds…I should be eating better (but its more fun to experiment with dessert recipes for the blog). I should exercise more (well let’s be honest. I should exercise. period. because I don’t at all right now). I should be journaling or making a baby book for Clarissa. I should be making more of an effort to keep up with the extended family, even if it just means sending more pictures. I should be volunteering at some capacity at church. I should be organizing my school stuff so that I can hit the ground running in the fall. The house should be cleaner. I should wake up earlier so I can get things done.

But that is all just me. What does God want for me? right now. What has He called my family to? right now.

I think that I really need to take some time and sit and listen. And just ask God what He really wants for me right now. What should I be focusing on? How should I be spending my time with Tim and Clarissa? What should my free time look like?

I would encourage you to do the same. Sometimes we are involved in really good things. Last fall, I was planning to do Good News Club again. Clarissa was still really young and I knew that I was going to have to work part time at some point, but I figured ministry was something to keep doing right? But as the date for the planning meeting got closer, God really made me uneasy about it. As much as I love teaching and the kids at Fairfield, my first ministry needed to be to my family. Even though Good News Club is a great thing and I was good at it, it was something that I had to stop doing. At least for now. We have different seasons in life. God was teaching me when Clarissa was very young (like four weeks old), that I have to do what’s best for my family. Even if it means saying no to something good. Or even something I had already committed to.

What are you focusing on right now? What does God want you to do? Is there something you should stop doing? Or something you should start doing? God has called you to something. Right now. It might be loving your husband and kids really well. It might be something else. But I encourage you to ask Him what it is. And go for it. Even if it means disappointing other people in your life. I would rather be walking in God’s best for me than to just be doing good things.