Friday, July 25, 2014

How I Organize My Mornings

Mornings can be one of the most stressful times in the day.

The good ole alarm goes off (and lets be honest, that is the LAST thing you want to hear in the morning).
The minute you turn it off, your day begins.

What do your mornings typically look like? Do they look anything like your "dream" morning? If you are the majority, it probably looks FAR from being your dream morning!

My dream morning would consist of waking up before (or to an alarm), being rested enough knowing that I will not be tired. It would mean getting my breakfast, doing my devotions, listening to the birds outside sing away, and start my day with excitement (not dread).

I will throw in a clause here and say that we do not have children (yet), so I understand that for some, this may be difficult. The thing is, I feel you can make any morning what you want it to be - it may mean getting up earlier and going to bed earlier. It may not be easy to make switches, but it may be possible!

This is what the start of a typical morning looks like for me:

  • I tend to wake up before my alarm often (depending on the night before)
  • Get up and grab my cereal (I am almost obsessed with eating cereal - I am known for it!)
  • Sitting in our recliner, feet kicked up with a blanket over my legs, with my Bible or book in my lap.
  • Add blog posts to social media sites.

And so on...

It does take determination to just sit and listen to the morning. I do struggle with that because I am a do-er. Time spent sitting, I tend to see as time wasted, but that is extremely unhealthy and I recognize that! I am continually trying to work on that, but it is hard! It goes against everything in me, but I know it's important.

But to be quite honest, a successful morning for me, begins THE NIGHT BEFORE.

The night before, I spend time making a list of things I need to do, people I need to email back, chores around the house to do. I also pick up the house (if I have the energy). There is something about waking up to a picked up house in the morning. There is something about waking up, knowing what I need to do (before other things come up), in the morning. By doing this, I rarely forget my schedule, items I need to get, or things I need to do.

Organizing my mornings begins the night before. If I get home late, I sometimes do not plan for the next day, and it's a more stressful morning. That is just how I work. I realize I am just one person and I do things differently than maybe you do. Whatever your morning routine may be, what changes do you need to make, in order to make it an enjoyable morning?

What does your morning routine look like?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Teaching Kids to Organize Their TIME

Every night, do you battle the question with your kids: "Have you finished this?" knowing full well, they have not accomplished everything they have to before bedtime? Helping kids organize their time and teaching time management skills at a young age CAN happen and IS feasible! Believe it or not, organizing is a LEARNED skill. Teaching children to make the most of their time at a young age, will only prepare them to take the initiative later on in life, to be able to do this on their own.

Where to begin?
I am going to share with you some practical and helpful tips on how to help kids get organized with their schedules and time. Some of these ideas may work better than others, but give them a try and see what your children react to the best!

1. Create a checklist: every night, have your children complete a routine, such as their homework, picking up their toys, getting their school bags ready, brushing their teeth, etc.

2. Help your kids discover time management skills - before they can go and play with friends, they have to finish "this". Before they can watch a favorite tv show, they have to get their homework done. You don't want your children to rush through their homework, but if they know that EVERYDAY they have to finish it before they can watch tv, they will be determined to do so (the priorities of a child!)

3. Create a consistent study place, such as the kitchen table. This way you are most likely available if they have questions and they are able to spread their homework out. Little do they know too, that when they are distracted, a watchful eye (YOU), will catch them and keep them on task!

4. When they are doing their homework, everyday ask them what homework they have. You could even take it a step further (depending on their age) and go through their assignments with them.

5. Have a calendar in your home that everyone can read and understand. If you have a weekly calendar that you use, have your kids sit nearby as you fill it out and purposefully ask them what they have coming up. This helps them take ownership of their schedule (even if you know the answer to this simple question).

6. When filling out the calendar, if your child has a project that is going to take a while, put the due date on the calendar. This assures you AND them, that it will get done. It is a helpful reminder to the child that working ahead is a tool that they will use the rest of their life!

7. Finally, have your child pack their school bag the night before. Working in a school, it is amazing the number of items that are forgotten at home each day! Help your child think about the day ahead and what they might need. Don't tell them - ask them. This again, gives ownership. Also, have a consistent place where they can keep their school bag, instrument, lunch, etc.

As much as parents want their children to be flexible and "go with the flow," it is also important that they have routine and consistency. Teaching your children about boundaries, time management, and organizing their schedules, will go a long ways in helping them become adults. RESPONSIBLE adults at that!

What is your #1 way to help your kids get organized?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What A Fresh Coat Of Paint Can Do

Consider me odd, but I LOVE to paint.

In our old home, I painted every single room - not just once, but sometimes twice. Sometimes I didn't like the shade of tan, so I would repaint. Sometimes the color was too bold. Then I wanted to create a tuscan color montage, so I repainted yet again. To me, painting is fun because you can make it what you want.

Choosing colors is difficult for me to be honest - I hem and haw for way too long about what color to paint. Thankfully stores now offer the sample cans - who would've thought? That seriously is the easiest solution to finding the right color. I can't tell you how many times I have gotten the sample can of the color I thought would be perfect and it wasn't. That little paint sample has saved me oodles of money!

We are blessed with the opportunity to rent (since we own a home in another state), but also update it while we are living here. The kitchen and dining room were covered with wallpaper and honestly, it wasn't that out of style. Although, it was old and peeling, so we thought it would be a good idea to take it down.

Wallpaper - there was a chair rail that separated the two designs

Taking the wallpaper down was another story. I had to use a steamer and a wallpaper scorer to just loosen little pieces. What I thought was going to be a few hour project, ended up taking me 13 HOURS to take all of the wallpaper off! 

It created a bit of a mess!

Piece by piece it started to come off. Thankfully March Madness was on at the time so I listened to many games, since they were on all day anyways! Tidbit about me: I love sports.

Then the fun part - PAINTING! 
This is not the best picture (looks way more green in the picture than it really looks)
We LOVE how it turned out! Definitely has a fresh and clean look.

You just can't go wrong with painting a room. For $20-$30 you can liven up a room and make it something "new" in just a few hours! What project adds that much change, but yields such amazing results in such a short time?

I will forever love painting for these very reasons.

Do you repaint often in your home? What is your favorite color? What room do you want to repaint?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Just A Little Bit More...

You sit down at a restaurant and get 4x the amount of food that you normally eat. Feeling full comes after eating half of it, but you say "Just a little bit more..."

Walking through the mall, you see all these sales plastering the windows of your favorite stores. You spent your budget or the amount you feel comfortable spending without feeling guilty, but you say "Just a little bit more..."

Decorating your home to make it "yours" is what you have always dreamed of. You buy this, you buy that. But you just aren't satisfied until you get this "one thing". Just a little bit more.

You know you shouldn't be browsing Pinterest or Facebook for hours on end because it is taking away from the other priorities in your life. But you say..."Just a little bit more..."

What is a little bit more? What's so wrong with just a little bit more?


Living with enough displays a life of contentment. Living with the thought of needing just a little bit more displays a life of greed. What category do you fit in?

This is something I wrestle with EVERYDAY. Every time I go to the grocery store. Every time I have to buy something. Every time I sleep. Every time I eat. Anytime I do SOMETHING; I have to ask myself, when is enough, enough?

Seeking and finding that place of contentment is a lifelong struggle. Maybe not the most encouraging statement of the year, but this is true: the more you say enough, the less you will struggle with a little bit more. It is worth the journey. It is worth the struggle of today in saying no, to make tomorrow's decisions easier.

You see, we live in a culture that is obsessed with a little bit more. I am sure you don't have to drive far and see that families struggle with the "little bit more" philosophy. Why is it that many lottery winners end up bankrupt after awhile? Because the desire for a little bit more was never satisfied. They never put a leash on it. They never said enough. I often ponder what it would be like to win the lottery. What would I do with a million dollars? My humanness thinks I would be happier. Yet I know deep down, that the secret to contentment surely is not more. In my opinion, the secret to contentment is LESS.

Just a little bit more is what causes our homes to burst at the seams with stuff. Just a little bit more is what causes us to burst at the seams in our clothes. Just a little bit more is what can cause families to disintegrate as more and more time is spent at work and on computers and not at home.

How are you going to defy the odds? How are you going to counteract the norm and switch to just a little bit less? Think about the consequences that it will have on your family if you continue to live a "just a little bit more" life.

Where are you heading?

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Dinner Table Conversation

I love "family" meals.

Granted it is just the two of us, my husband and I, but I will forever love sitting in the peace and quiet over mealtime. No phones. No tv. No interruptions. You see I specifically didn't say a "nice" meal because sometimes our meals consist of tuna fish sandwiches. Or leftovers from 3 days ago. We aren't picky eaters and fancy meals are special occasions. When you have special occasion meals all of the time, they do not become special anymore. Hence our low-key dinners at times. 

While sitting over a meal, we often discuss our days, and in the end, try to solve all of the world's problems. Of course we don't get very far. One thing we can solve though, is our own problems. What problems you might ask? The problem of materialism and contentment. 

I do not see this as just "our problem" as our world is saturated with this very disease. It spreads like wildfire. It spreads into every crevice you can imagine. It seeps into the areas of our lives that seem untouchable. 

That day, I had pondered a question: what do I want our life to look like? In fact, it inspired me to write a blog post on this very idea: Standards of Living: Is It Worth The Cost? If I could start completely over and forget any variables, what would it be? What would our life look like? As I thought about this question, I realized I wouldn't change much. Of course the added bonus of more money would be wonderful and having cars that you don't have to worry about whether or not they will start is a plus, but in all reality, I am satisfied.

I decided to ask the same question to my husband over dinner. I always look forward to our dinner table conversations because again, we talk about everything under the sun. I decided to ask him this thought-provoking question - what do you want your life to look like when it comes to possessions? After a minute or 2 of silence, he said "we really have all we need". Yes, having 2 reliable cars would be nice. But we decided that even though we don't make oodles and oodles of money according the America's standards, we make enough. Dan being a youth pastor and me, a secretary, we love our jobs. They are flexible, influential, inspiring, and we love them. We actually make plenty for the lifestyle we live. We can put some in savings. We can pay our bills. We can go on a vacation or 2 each year. We are more than blessed.

As we looked around our home, we realized that really, we do not need anything else. We are content with what we have. I don't say that flippantly and say we never want things. FAR FAR from that. We dream. We probably dream too much. We dream of getting things that we really will never need, but think we want. We struggle with the same wants and really greed, that others have too. Our humanness is always wanting more and MORE.

But we realized while sitting around our table, that we are thankful. We are humbled. We have more than we will ever need in life. And daily we have to choose to be content. It isn't an automatic switch to just turn on. It is a lifelong commitment and goal I feel. But it is achievable in the sense that progress is progress, right?

Our dinner table conversation has now challenged us to continue towards a life of contentment when it comes to material possessions. 

Are you up for the challenge?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Natural Ways To Eliminate Bad Smells

Today I am sharing another GREAT guest post from Mrs. Shanne, who writes in her free time. Parenting and managing a business on her own takes almost all of her time. Your can find more tips and tricks at Prompt End Of Tenancy Cleaning. Thanks for sharing!

Neutralizing different bad smells is a pretty tricky task. You have to recognize where the odor comes from, what have caused it and how you can make it disappear. Buying expensive scented candles and sprays can only hide the smell for a while so why don't you try to eliminate it using natural means. We have gathered the most popular methods below.

Every household should have coffee, vinegar, salt and baking soda. They not only improve the taste of your food but can also be used as an incredibly effective smell neutralizers. If you wonder where a certain smell comes from- just open the fridge or the trash bin- the possibility to find the cause of the odor in there is too high. All you have to do is to put an open package of baking soda into the fridge, throw the garbage out and sprinkle some more of it into the new trash bag.

By mixing vinegar and baking soda you will get the perfect cleaning agent, which you can use for cleaning the entire kitchen and bathroom. Well, your house will be amazingly clean but the vinegar itself doesn't smell really nice so if the smell of vanilla appeals to you, rub a bit of it on a light bulb.

The other most common place where the odors can linger a long time is the carpet. Sprinkle a sensible amount of baking soda and shake it off after a couple of hours.

If you are trying to live healthy, eating oats is a must. However, you have probably never thought of them as a odor neutralizer. Put a bowl of oats in the kitchen and observe the results.

All those blankets, sheets and suitcases put in the wardrobe a long time ago don't smell too fancy even after washing? The greatest deodorizer known up to now is the sun. Let your stuff get dry in the sun instead in the drying machine and enjoy the fresh smell after that.

The cigarette smell is really awful and persistent. Open the windows to let a fresh air come in. It's an effective method for eliminating all kinds of smell. The smell of cigarettes, in particular, can be terminated by boiling water and vinegar and leave it simmer or you'd better have your house thoroughly cleaned. Ceiling, floor, furniture, windows, curtains- everything needs to be taken care of. You can book a professional cleaning services from Chiswick deep clean and by paying a small amount of money you will get the job done. The cigarette smell is not the main reason. Actually, your home should undergo entire cleaning every six months.

Maintaining your home in a good condition should be among your top priorities. It's the place you go after a hard day at work and you want to spend some time with your family. Don't let the dirt and bad smells ruin the cozy atmosphere. Find the most efficient natural solution for neutralizing the odors and enjoy the freshness of your home.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Standards of Living: Is It Worth The Cost?

We all have one.

We pour ourselves into our work. We pour ourselves into finding the best deal. We pour ourselves into keeping up with those who are around us. Our friends. Our family. Our neighbors. Our culture. We pour ourselves out until we have nothing left. Nothing.

This is what I call a standard of living.

What does yours look like? How would you define your standard of living?

According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, "standard of living" is defined as:

the necessities, comforts, and luxuries enjoyed or aspired to by an individual or group; a minimum of necessities, comforts, or luxuries held essential to maintaining a person or group in customary or proper status or circumstances"

This is where we might struggle. This is where we end up living the life we really don't want to be living. This is when we find ourselves caught in a standard, finding it hard to escape.

Standards are something to live UP to. Standards are something to strive for and obey. Standards, when it comes to living, are not worth it in the materialistic world.

Take a look at your life. Think about how you spend your money. Think about what you spend your time doing. Think about the life you REALLY want to be living.

Seriously. Disregard for 10 minutes, the life you live. Forget what it would take. Dream about the life you REALLY want. Maybe it's a life of less stuff. Maybe it's a debt free life. Maybe it's a life without worrying about what others think. Maybe it's a life of contentment. Whatever it may be, make a list. 

Here are a few of mine (not my complete list):
  • Use more natural resources, like use less processed foods. Would love to try living off the grid someday!
  • Not be consumed by technology - don't want technology to control me. I want to walk away from it if I can and not be tied to it.
  • Start my mornings off with a quiet time to do my devotions and spend time with God.
  • Be debt free - this means paying off our mortgage. I do not want ANY other debt!
  • Always stop and think before I buy something
  • Be an example in life
  • Don't set standards of how to live by looking at other's lives, but looking to God.
It is my faith in God that drives me to live the life I live. I find more peace and contentment following the principles of the Bible than I do following the ways of the world. It is just that simple. Always looking at other's lives, makes me so incredibly discontent. I start stressing. I start thinking that we need to make more money. I start thinking that how we are living "isn't right" because we don't make a certain amount. I find though, that when I am content with how much we make, that contentment flows into other areas of our life as well. 

Why do I waste away minutes of my life, thinking about how others live? It is a wasted life. In the definition, it says a standard of living means maintaining a proper status. What is the "proper status"? Each and every one of us defines this "proper status" differently. Therefore, it is impossible to live up to a certain standard of living.

So why do we literally spend our life TRYING? Trying to live up to this standard we will NEVER meet? Think about what you have bought in the process, trying to live up. Think about the time you have wasted. Think about how your home is filled with items, in attempts to live up to this standard.

I encourage you to keep the list that you made, close to you. I have to daily remind myself of the life I want to live - a life lived for my Savior. In Christ, I am not judged by what I own. I am not judged by what I look like. I am not judged by what I do not have. What matters is what kind of a steward I am with what He has given me. Whether it be money, possessions, or gifts. 

How are you living YOUR life? What standard are you living up to?

Is it worth the cost?