Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Amazing Bible Study Resource

I have been following this blog for a while and she is always sharing wonderful resources.  She has an entire key word symbol  resource which I have added to my Bible study resources.  In addition she occasionally posts new symbols.

I bookmarked this resource a while back and have just now gotten around to printing it.  The older kids have really started learning how to observe the text.  This week they are completing observations #21-30 on 1 Corinthians 15:3.  To get that many observations out of 24 words you really have to dig deep. 

I hope you enjoy Precept Camden's blog as much as I do. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

My Desk at the End of the Day

UPDATED 10/16/2012- I wanted to update this post to reflect the fact that mesk does not just look like this during the weekend, but in fact looks like this most every evening when I walk away from it.

I wanted to share what my desk looked like at the end of the day when all the paperwork is  done for the day. I want to be able to walk by my desk at end of the day or start of weekend and not freak out by outstanding items so my goal every after noon and particularly late Friday afternoon (though sometimes first thing Saturday morning) is to get my desk to look like this.  
There have actually been MONTHS where I have not seen the top of my desk.  It was several inches thick with paperwork. My outstanding paperwork certainly never would have fit into that cute pink plaid expandable file folder.
The daily file folder is empty until Monday when I will sort week 3 and start the process all over.  

If you still have questions about my paperwork system PLEASE feel free to shoot me a questions through the comments.

Hopefully I will get my post on my magazine problem obsession system done this week.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Weekly paperwork

Ok, I know it has been a while since I posted and I apologize for that. I certainly want to finish this series and I already have my eyes on the next one... tackling magazines!

Ok, let me do a very quick recap.
1) take the monthly folder (ie October) and remove paperwork
2) sort paperwork into the proper weekly folder (think due dates on bills and paperwork for appts) In the case of October there are five weeks.
3) each Monday i pull the weeks paperwork out and sort into the daily folders.  This is week  2. Once I pull out all the paperwork I refile the weekly file and I won't see it again for another month. 

Ok, a few notes before I tell how i sort.  First, My goal is to only do paperwork Monday-Friday.  Five days a week is enough for me.  I would say it is probably more than enough for most households.  If you don't have a special needs child or currently not behind you might be able to dedicate one day a week to paperwork.  I don't ever see that being an option in my life.  I like bite size pieces as it keeps me from getting overwhelmed.  Once you get rolling with your system you will find what works best for your family.
Second, If this seems like overkill and a time waster, I promise it isn't.  Writing the post detailing how to do the weekly paperwork takes WAY longer than the actual process.  Tops I spend five minutes on Monday morning. 

Let's get going.

I lay out my Monday- Friday folders across my desk (when this first started I had to use my dining room table for this part. 

The first thing i note are due dates (ie bills on Thursday, paperwork for appts go on the appropriate day, etc)

I try not to schedule anything for Thursday other than bills.  Occasionally I will also have an appointment, but I do try to make that the exception to the rule.  It takes me 30 minutes to pay the couple of bills I have, make sure the checkbook is balanced and make sure I haven't overlooked any specialty bills.  Thursdays are pretty easy and consistent. 

 Once bills are out of the way, i look to see if there is anything still pending from the previous week.  Perhaps I am waiting on a return phone call or something to come in the mail.  Anything pending from the previous week I automatically add to my Monday file folder.  Mondays are pretty busy in our home.  Often times my hubby is off and we are working on special projects as i also try to get school work done, so following up on pending paperwork is about all I can handle.  Since hubby is typically off on Mondays I will also throw things in the Monday folder that i either need his help or opinion on so that I can address it with him.  He has come to expect this and it has greatly improved communication in regards to paperwork in the house.  Win-win all the way around. 

I use Tuesday's to make phone calls.  Most offices are slammed on Mondays anyway, so this is working out perfect.  i am finding that I don't typically spend as much time on hold and I am getting appointments scheduled and completed.  Tuesdays seem to be a very big homeschooling day here.  I am amazed at how much we get done.  It certainly makes up for Mondays which tend to be a bare-minimum day.

Somehow, and I am certainly not sure why, but Wednesday has become appointment day.  I don't think I could tell you the last time we didn't have an appointment on Wednesday.  I don't mind UNLESS I have three appointments like today that basically have me gone from 9:30-6 and then I (and everyone else) are so wiped out we skip church :(    I am working on a remedy for that.  I have moved a standing appointment to Wednesday which is not usually overly taxing so I am hoping as a result we will be less tired on Wednesdays so that we can get back into the swing of things with church because we are all missing our Family Bible Hour.   

We have already talked about Thursday being bill day so let me tell you a bit about Friday paperwork.  I save Fridays for special projects.  this could range from a household task like chore charts and menu plans to something home school related like transcripts or a new lesson plan.   On the other hand, it could be something more personal like genealogy research or scanning personal records.  Typically the items I have on Friday are not time sensitive, but I still need to see them to completion. 

Now, let me address the elephant in the room...

What happens if i don't get the days paperwork handled (either due to the pending nature of the paperwork or the simple fact that life gets in the way)???

Simple, I move it to the next day.  I always handle critical, time sensitive items first each morning.  Everything else is icing.  If it doesn't get handled the world will not end.  At the end of the day on Friday I take any outstanding items and quickly drop into the next weeks folder.  Life goes on and i enjoy my weekend. 

To read about my entire paperwork system you can go here, here or here

if you have any questions please feel free to post them in the comments.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Answers to Your Paperwork Questions

I'm going to answer your questions here regarding your paperwork questions.  Any new Questions will be updated and posted at the top.
Updated 10/10/12
1) I loooooove Evernote. But it never occurred to me to use it for this purpose! I just tested taking a pic of a doc with my phone in Evernote and it worked! The text in the picture WAS searchable. This method is much more likely for me to actually implement because I have a serious procrastination problem when I have to scan things (computer and scanner are in different rooms, etc)
Don't you just love that Evernote recognizes text in pics.  I take "snapshots" of websites, magazine articles and hand written notes all the time.  One of the most under utilized features of Evernote is its powerful search engine.  In the future i will be doing a complete series on how and why I have Evernote set up the way i do and how I try to maximize its use. 

2) what benefits does the premium Evernote account have that inspired you to upgrade? 
For me it is the monthly upload increase and capacity, even greater search capabilities and speed and sharing capabilities.  here are all the wonderful features you get with a premium account 

3) Google Drive intrigues me. Did all your former Google docs move in there? I have Google docs and am wondering if that is all different now. Must look into it. 
Google Docs converted to Google Drive. When I did the "upgrade" all my documents were there as always.  The two additions that i really liked with the upgrade were the desktop and iPhone/iPad apps.  For the desktop it allows me to drag recently scanned documents directly into the appropriate Google drive folder without having to actually upload files.  Having an app on my idevice makes it so much easier to finds things I need when i am out and about.  

4) thank you so much for taking the time to write this all up. You have given me some great new ideas. Paperwork is THE biggest frustration in my home management efforts
I am glad you are finding these posts helpful.  please keep the questions coming.  I love sharing what I have learned and want to share this freedom with everyone I possibly can.  You are not alone on the paperwork frustrations and i have certainly learned the hard and long way that it doesn't have to be that way.

I also received the following tip for those concerned with using any online storage sites:
We back up everything to 2 external hard drives.
We have not ruled this out for our own family as well.

Here ya go:

Do you have desk time 7 days a week?
No, I typically only have desk time Monday-Friday.  My only usual exception is if something comes in the mail on Saturday and I needed it to finalize something else.  OR, if I have a crazy week, I will finish up a few final things on Saturday.  Sunday is reserved for worship, fellowship and rest.  

How does that look in your daily schedule (ie when and for how long)? 
This does vary, but typically it takes me approximately 30 minutes to initially handle my paperwork each day.   I take care of everything I can while my youngest two are eating breakfast and handling their morning chores.  Then, all the things that are pending the mails arrival I handle for a few minutes after lunch.  Anything that is pending a phone call I will either handle as the call comes in or call when we are done with school for the day.  I will go into even greater detail on this when I do my post on my daily/weekly paperwork.

Is that day's file empty when you end your desk time? 
Yes, I reach "Inbox Zero" on my desk.  I process every piece of paper, every day.  Hopefully to completion, but if not, I move it to pending for the next day.  At the end of the week, all my daily folders are empty in the expandable file folder ready for the next weeks paperwork.  

 Will you be posting more details on your paperwork system? 
 Yes, I believe I am going to turn this into an entire series.  Not only to answer questions, but to give more specific details in certain areas. 

I was just wondering more on what was in the daily/ weekly folders. 
 While I give a general overview of the daily/weekly folders here, I plan on doing an entire blog post to better explain this part of my system.

AND more about your miscellaneous ones! ;)
 I finally got that one done tonight.  You can find it here.

All that Misc. Paperwork

Ok, in my last post I introduced my paperwork system.  In this post I would like to discuss the miscellaneous stack of paperwork that we set aside in the last post.  This is all the papers, magazine articles, business cards, notes on scratch papers.  I have to say, this can be the most overwhelming stack as there isn't just a neat little category in which they fit.

While I no longer have my misc stack to show you, I can explain the process I used to make it disappear.

Tools I recommend:
You can always use your printer's scanner like this one OR
you could get this wand scanner that I am dying to get or this one which is also highly recommended. 

And if you want the Rolls Royce of scanners it seems to be this dual sided scanner.

Now that I am going paperless I have found Evernote to be an INVALUABLE tool.  If my paperwork does not contain any identifying private information I keep it in Evernote.  This includes all of the following: warranties, magazine articles, online articles, recipes, any and all home school resources, farming resources and much more.  Because of the volume and the extent to which I am using Evernote I have invested in a premium account.

Google Drive
Finally, I highly recommend a secure online storage system.  Since my ultimate goal is to go completely paperless I looked for something that I could feel confident in keeping my family's private documents.  I chose Google Drive (formally Google Docs) for several reasons.  First I was already using it.  Second Google had recently upgraded to Drive which made it much more versatile.  Third, it has a drag and drop feature that I love.   Forth, I could easily share documents with others as needed.  Finally, it met the security measures that I needed.  Not only does it require a password to enter it that expires at least every 30 days per device, but I have it set up with a secondary security features that sends a validation code to my iPhone that I then have to enter before getting into my Google account.  That means if someone were clever enough to guess my password, they would also need my cell phone to get the validation code.

I will tell you, I don't recommend these tools lightly.  My scanner has become my best friend.  lol and now that I am putting this stuff in Evernote and Google drive I am actually using it!  How's that for a concept.  Evernote has an AMAZING search engine.  It will search and find info from my scanned in, hand written notes.  I have tested it.  It will search text in PDF files and in pics.  How I keep Evernote organized will have to be a blog post all on it's own.  

So now that you have all your tools in place let's take a look at how I tackled this project.

Because there were no pressing matters in this stack the only way I arranged it was so that it didn't fall over.  Yes, it was that tall.  Every day after I finished my daily priority paperwork, i would take ten items off the top of this stack and handle.  That's right ten items a day.  Did it take longer to handle it this way? Yes!  Did it seem manageable to handle this way? Definitely!

Out of those ten items, I pulled the items I knew I wanted to keep and I scanned them.  After I scanned the item, I sent it to either Evernote or dragged it into my Google Drive folder. After it was successfully scanned and sent to the proper program I through the paper version in my paper recycling sack and deleted the hard copy off of my pc (only if I had sent to Evernote)

Next I would go through business cards.  Some of these I had for years from booths I had visited at different events.  So first I would look up their website and see if the company still existed.  If they no longer existed, I tossed the card. If they did exist I would find the item that interested me to begin with and I would "clip it" into Evernote with the Evernote Web Clipper.  Then I would toss the card.  If the company no longer appealed to me, I tossed the card and moved on.

Next, hand written notes.  If it was a brief note I would just create a new note in Evernote and type in the information.  If the note was long then i would scan in and send to Evernote.  And many times I would just toss it.

The kids pictures they have drawn or colored for me I scanned and sent to Evernote and recycled the original. If I came across any photographs, I put them with my scrapbook stuff.  As I came across recipes I evaluated whether I would ever truly make the recipe.  I thought I would like to make it then I scanned it in (I scanned very few in), if not I would chunk it. 

It probably took me two weeks to go through this paper (Monday-Saturday).

I would be happy to answer any questions you have so please feel free to fire away.

Monday, September 03, 2012

How to manage your paperwork... that it doesn't manage you.  

I wish I had taken pics when I began this journey at the end of July.  I have a very large dining room table and it was completely covered in paperwork.  I had so much paperwork I was completely paralyzed.  Think complete and total mental and emotional meltdown paralyzing.     

So here are the steps I took to conquer my paperwork. 

First, I purchased cute file folders.  Some that made me smile and think happy thoughts.  Might seem ridiculous, but it gives me something to look forward to as I pull out paperwork and work on it.  I did find them on sale for a very incredible low price.  It takes a total of 22 file folders to set up your system exactly as i have it.

Next I used my handy, dandy label maker to created January-December labels, Monday-Friday labels and Week 1-5 labels.  I used two expanding files that I already owned and loved.  To hold my monthly/weekly folders I use a 12 pocket plaid one and to hold my daily files I use a 7 pocket solid one.

Now that the fun part was done i got down to business.  The first thing I did was divide all of my paperwork into major general categories: bills, medical, my special needs son, farm, school and misc

Next I laid out the 12 monthly file folders.  I took each stack of papers and went through every single piece of paper and made a decision.  If I knew that the item had a definite future action (ie March 2013) I put it on top of that months file folder.  If it didn't have a future action but did require action I put it on top of July (because that is the month this all started for me). Finally I was left with this misc stack.  You know you have one.  Items ripped out of magazines, business cards collected, dates to remember, notes jotted on scrap paper, etc.  I set this aside because I had special plans for it (not the trash).  I then put the monthly file folders in the expanding file folder- two months per slot. 

Next i pulled out the current month.  So to begin I started with July, but my pictures will show September.  When i started this I had two and a half weeks left in the month.

Then I pulled out my five weekly folders.  Since I knew i didn't need Week 1 and 2 I filed those away. Knowing I had such little time left in the month I got real with myself.  I took my stack of papers and divided into two stacks- Emergency and non emergency.  You have two understand that my emergency pile was over two inches thick.  

I took the non emergency stack and put it in my August file folder.  Next I took my emergency stack and started prioritizing.  I had to realize my time restraints based on other priorities around me that didn't involve paperwork.   so I divided my emergencies in half.  The first half went into Week 3 and the second half went into Week 4.  I reserved week 5 for carry over since it only had a couple of days.  I filed my weekly file folders in front of my monthly file folders. 
Next I pulled the current week.  And took a deep breath.  While this all sounds super time consuming.  It is only time consuming in setting up the system and going through everything the first time.  This morning i went through September, divided into weekly folders and divided this weeks folder into the daily folders, took pictures for this blog and it might have taken me 20 minutes. 

So next I lay out my daily file folders and start sorting my weekly paperwork.  This is how it looks for me.  Bills automatically go on Thursday because Thursday is payday.  If anything related to an appointment I put it on the day of the appointment.  If I have anything pending from the previous week (ie waiting on return phone call, waiting for something in the mail) I automatically put that on Monday.  If I know I have appointments I try to limit the paperwork I assign to those days so i don't overwhelm myself.  If I am working on a special project that isn't a top priority I set that for Friday because that tends to be a light school day. After I have everything divided up for the week I put that in my expandable file for my daily file folders.  
Each morning when I get to my desk I pull the days file folder, set aside pending items and wait for either the mail to arrive and then handle or a return call.  If the mail comes and I don't get the info needed to complete the paperwork process then I quickly file it until the next day.  If I get to the end of my desk day and haven't received a return phone call I decide whether I have time (based on other activities I have going)to handle making a call or deferring until the next day.  So the rest of my daily items I handle as quickly as possible in the morning or if it is a more time consuming project I will handle it while we are taking a school break.

I know this post has grown terribly long so I will talk about the "misc" stack in another post.  If you have any questions just post them below and i will answer them as quickly as possible.  

View Part 2 here 
Answers to questions are here

Friday, August 17, 2012

Having a Heart of Thanksgiving

"Worship or Whine
The importance of this matter of gratitude can hardly be overstated. I've come to believe that few things are more becoming in a child of God than a grateful spirit.  By the same token, there is probably nothing that makes a person more unattractive than the absence of a grateful spirit.

I have learned that in every circumstance that comes my way, I can choose to respond in one of two ways:
And I can't worship without giving thanks.  It just isn't possible. When we choose the pathway of worship and giving thanks, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances, there is a fragrance, a radiance, that issues forth out of our lives to bless the Lord and others.

On the other hand, when we give in to whining, murmuring, and complaining, we end upon a destructive slide that ultimately leads to bitterness and broken relationships."

Excerpt from Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

My thoughts:
I have to tell you, the first time I read this I felt as if I had been hit square between the eyes.  This summer has been especially hard for me, coming off of a wild and crazy year that really changed the dynamics of our family's life.  I was weary, very weary.  I was whiny, very whiny.  I couldn't focus and it was all I could do to survive the day.

It all came to a head at our Ladies Retreat at church in mid-July.  So many things hit home with me that day.  My heart was heavy.  I bought this book with a plan to add it to my "to read" pile.  Who knows in what year it would have actually made it to the top.  The next evening I found myself crumbling down and completely falling apart as i was sharing with Christine and our pastor's wife.  My pastor's wife strongly encouraged me to immediately start writing down anything I could think of to which I am thankful.

I went home and took a pretty blank journal that I actually got at the retreat and ...nothing.  This wasn't going to be easy.  I was going to have to purpose myself to do this.  A whining spirit doesn't just turn itself off.  My spirit of worship had to over power it.  And how did that happen?  One thanks to God at a time.

There is power in Eucharistia, the giving of thanks.(pg 32). With each thanks to the Lord I wrote, I was sowing a seed of thanksgiving, which allowed the Lord to begin cultivating my heart into a heart of gratitude and worship.

These lines of thanks aren't all thought provoking (# 4 left overs), some are (#18 for reminding me Your love for me does not stop just because I sin, just like my love for my children doesn't stop when they sin.). These thanks are not all scripturally based (#85 mobile electronic devices that add to our convenience), but many are (#174 for being slow to anger with me and your continued lovingkindness no matter how many times I fail you- Psalm 103:8). Regardless, they are all heartfelt thanks to my Lord and Savior.

It has been just over a month since this started and I feel like a renewed woman.  Things aren't perfect and I still find some things challenging.  But I am learning I can always find something in which to give thanks to the Lord no matter what else is going on in my life.

Christine, this one is especially for you ;)
# 177 for giving me the courage to remove the new speech therapist from our family's life.

I hope you all have a bless day.

Monday, August 06, 2012

I won a giveaway!

Create your own banner at!

A sweet IRL and blogging friend was hosting a giveaway and rafflecopter picked me!

I got the cutest little anklet and it came all the way from Greece!

 It is the perfect summer anklet and I look forward to wearing it.  Be sure and check out other giveaways going on over at Jewelry Making Crazy. and tell her Brandi sent ya. 

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Drawing out our Children's God Given Potential

The Pelsers 7 Tools Book Club

What an amazing first chapter.  I love this reminder as to why and how I home school.  This is about more than education.  At the end of this 18 year journey, what sort of child do I want to turn out?  Am I looking to turn out a child that is full of book smarts and no character or would I rather have a child who is fully of Godly characteristics and average book smarts?  Personally, I am way more concerned about my child's salvation than the grade he/she receives on a particular paper.  

To me, this is a journey.  Our children learn and grow through our tender cultivation.  They learn and grow from both our mistakes and their own.  This journey is an opportunity to explore and learn  what it is they are truly passionate about.  We are to educate them, "to draw out of" them, their best. 

We can do none of this without the Lord.  After all, "As parent, we haven't had any loving thoughts for our children that did not originate with God."  He taught us how to love.  "Parental love originated in the heart of God before earthly parents were ever created.  We know how to love our children because He first loved His children.  We know how to do good things for our children because our heavenly Father does good things for us.  God the heavenly Father teaches us how to be parents through His Word and by His example."

We have to remember our calling and our purpose.  "If we imitate God's behavior toward us, our children will have a much easier time believing in a God who loves them and has sacrificed Himself for them." And in Chapter 2 we will begin learning about the tools needed to achieve our goals. Until then...

"Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness."- Psalm 37:3 (NASB)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Our Plans vs God's Plans

The Pelsers 7 Tools Book Club
I have to admit, I am Type A personality and I am a HUGE planner. I have to be careful with this though. There are times that if I am not careful I Unintentionally plan God right out of the picture. I try to take complete control.
I had a life plan when I was younger. I wanted to be an attorney. A Husband was optional and I considered kids a no go. Thankfully God had different plans. Plans more amazing than I could possibly dream.
As my oldest child neared pre-k age I looked at private school options knowing that public school simply wasn't an option where we lived. Soon into the process I began to get a prompting from the Lord to investigate home schooling. WHAT!?!?! No way! I only knew one person who home schooled growing up and quite frankly he was just strange. I did NOT want my child turning out like that! Yet the more I investigated and the more I learned, the more I fell I love with the idea.
I prayed about it for MONTHS before even mentioning it to my husband. After much begging and pleading he very reluctantly agreed to try it for one year. As we now enter our 13th year of homeschooling we have no regrets in our obedience to the Lord and have come to see the real fruit of His amazing plans.
In reading the introduction and appendix this last week, Zan Tyler's story reminded me that I have much to be thankful. Without her brave obedience in a time when home school was completely taboo, I might not have the freedoms that our family so enjoys today. Reading her story reminded me of my own in that she had plans for her life, but God had better plans.
There are times God saves us in spite of ourselves, but the journey is so much better, though not necessarily easier, if we follow His promptings and rely on Him for direction. Zan's early days of home schooling sounded down right terrifying. Despite the odds she and her family battled on, not just for their own sake but for the sake of those following.
When I just had two children I was very actively involved in the political aspect of homeschooling. I stayed up to date on all the legislation and was proactive in making phone calls as needed. Since adding two more children, including one special needs child, I have become more complacent in this area. Zan's story has reminded me of the importance to stay involved and be proactive. After all, our home school freeedoms (or any freedom actually) could be just one bill away from being gone.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Incomplete projects

I know I can't possibly be the only mom who struggles with completing projects. Sometimes I feel like a juggler that is juggling so many plates that I can't stop to actually complete anything, lest I stop and everything else falls.

I am working on solving this problem. Slowly and one step at a time. I decided to start with email. Most know how easily it can get out of hand. As a home school mom I am subscribed to email lists for the curriculum we use. I think facebook's default setting is to email you every time someone sneezes. then think of all the newsletters you sign up to receive and last but not least, advertisements from every online store you have ever set up an account. Before you know it you could easily receive 250-500 emails minimum per day.

I started cleaning up my email by playing the email game. I quickly went through my email, got through all the junk I knew I didn't needed, "boomeranged" things that could wait for a later date, replied to anything that would take less than two minutes. I got through THOUSANDS of emails using this process.

When I was in the corporate world (I left in 1997), I worked with the mindset of "Inbox Zero". Maybe that isn't what I called it then, but that is the lingo used today. Particularly in the Getting Things Done (GTD) world. Now keep in mind when I left my job to stay home with my kids, I didn't even have a computer at my actual desk. Everything I did was manual, yet even though I had to touch everything to process I still got my inbox down to zero. Every. Single. Day. It never dawned on me to do it any different. If my box  wasn't empty, then I didn't feel done with work. Of course, everything wasn't complete, but it had been processed and I knew what action needed to be taken next. So, what does that mean for my email?

It means my inbox is 100% empty when I go to bed at night. It means I process any email that comes in and take the appropriate action. I take one of the following 6 actions with anything that comes in my inbox:
1. Read and delete- love the delete button, it is so freeing
2. Reply if I can do so quickly (under 2 minutes) and add "waiting" tag and archive if necessary.
3. If it is a long read I add a "read" tag and archive(I am currently updating this process and forwarding all of my reads to Evernote.
4. If it requires further action I tag it with "todo" and archive. I go through these daily and complete items.
5. If I need to reply and I know it is going to be a long email or if I need to do some research before replying then I tag with "reply" and archive. I go through this daily as well.
 6. If the item received is purely for reference that I will either use for our home school or our home then I forward to Evernote and delete.

I can't tell you how freeing this is and I don't know why I didn't do this sooner. I hope some of these processes help you.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Streamlining my iPad

The amount of apps available for the iPad can easily be overwhelming and very tempting. Before you know it your iPad is completely out of control with apps everywhere.

I was recently inspired by a dear friend to clean up and streamline my iPad front page. How freeing it was to do this and it really made me pause and think about what apps are REALLY important to me and if they are, am I actually utilizing them.

I truly think I've got it narrowed down nicely and while I certainly use other apps on my iPad, they are not my priority or they have a more specific use.

I think it is fun to see what apps people use and why so I may start reviewing my priority apps each Wednesday and explain why and how I use them.

Played with my skitch app to create my graph for this post. Oh so fun :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why I love almond milk

I have always been a huge milk fan. Loved it as a child and still love it as much today. The more serious I got about eating healthy the more I realized I really didn't have room in my clean eat diet (noun) to drink my calories away.  Enter almond milk. 

So what and how do I use almond milk?  Except for the very occasional batch of homemade ice cream I have completely replaced cows milk with almond milk.

 I use the unsweetened milk to add to whole grain cereal, oatmeal, in any cooking or baking I do (even cake).

I use the vanilla almond milk as a creamer for my coffee.  At 90 calories per cup it is a great alternative to all the flavored creamers you find in the grocery store and it doesn't have all the unpronounceable junk that those creamers have either.  Nor does it have the fat or calories. If I were to drink a glass of milk I would drink the unsweetened with a splash of the vanilla. 

Now to the delectable dark chocolate almond milk.  In all honesty I have actually only drank this once.  This is just not where I want my calories to go.  My kids, however, are a completely different story.  At just 120 calories, it is a much healthier alternative to other chocolate milk choices.  And you have to be careful at that because one day we came home with something called chocolate drink.  WHAT?!?!  My oldest daughter drinks 6-8 ounces every day.  with my youngest two I mix theirs with equal parts dark chocolate almond milk or and the unsweetened almond milk. Probably about 5 ounces total.  I've tasted it and it tastes more like regular chocolate milk, rather than than the succulent dark chocolate. Occasionally my oldest son will drink a glass as well.  The rule is they can only have one glass a day and I only buy one carton a week. 

Another thing I love about this milk:  the expiration date.  I have never, ever had to throw out an ounce of this milk.  Away from the house unexpectedly for a few days?  You don't come home to a soured carton of milk.  We are not big milk drinkers here, but we go through a carton of each of these milks a week. 

If you or someone you know has been sitting on the fence about this milk just give it a try.  I noticed as i got the image for this post that they have a coupon link on their website.

*i have not been compensated in any way for this post.  I just wanted to share about a great product. 

7 Tools Book Club Participant

The Pelsers 7 Tools Book Club
I am so excited to be participating in 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child's Potential Book Club. I have been reading articles by Zan Tyler for years and I can't wait to see what is in store for me and my family once I begin utilizing these tools.

Zan Tyler and her family are true pioneers of the home school movement. Without her and many more with her same passion and tenacity I might not have the freedoms I so easily take for granted as I go about my day to day responsibilities of homeschooling our four children.

It is not too late to join this book club, so if you are interested you can click on the button above. I should be posting a new blog post each week with my thoughts about what we have read. Look for my first official post on July 16th.

Until then, happy reading :)

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

2012 Goals- Parenting

You would think that since this the area in which I spend the most time that I would naturally be the most successful.  Quite the contrary, most of the time I feel like an "epic failure" (borrowing a much used quite of DS16).  I think i wake up every morning saying this is the day i will keep my cool, this is the day i will not raise my voice, this is the day I will not be bothered by the little things.  Then I get out of bed.  lol.  Seriously, some days it is like that and other days have their magical moments. 

All of the kids are reading Making Brothers and Sisters Best friends for school, or as I like to refer to the book when i am hunting it down, Making Brothers and Sisters be Quiet, or making Brothers and Sisters Get Along Before Mom Shoots Them.  I think if I could end all the sibling bickering then peace would not only resonate through me, but resonate through my entire home.  I think they live to torture each other some times.  Thinking, back i did the same thing to my brother ;) 

So as far as resolutions regarding my parenting I have the following goals for the year all of which will lead the a perfect happy home, or at least a few minutes of peace.

1) Continue my non-fiction reading schedule for Wednesday which focuses on parenting.  My current reads for this area are The Power of Motherhood by Nancy Campbell and The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Ormartian. 

2) Leave love notes for my kiddos each week.  While I verbalize it every day, I want them to have it in writing too.  These notes will include lots of praises because I am honestly horrible at that.
 - I am planning on writing them a note each Wednesday and putting them at their spots at the dining room table. 
- I am going to try and find nice little love letter boxes like I have for Hubby too. 

3) Be more consistent.
- Be consistent in my praises
-Be consistent in my discipline (will be implementing a new 3 strikes your out discipline system). 

4) Be purposeful in having fun with them. 
-I like our family time to be engaging and fun.  We also like to watch movies.  We need a balance.
-The kids and the family got new games for Christmas.  I need to have plan regular family time where we play our games.  We use to be very consistent about this and then life got in the way.  This year I am putting it on the calendar. 

5) have more one on one time with each child
-even if I just get to go sit in their room alone with them or invite them into my room, I want some more alone time with my kiddos.  Meeting them at their level.  Just a few minutes of quiet uninterrupted quality time. 
- I am putting this on my calendar too.  If I can give fb one on one time every day (even if for a few minutes) I can certainly give my kids one on one time as well. 

I know as we settle into our new place things will calm down on its own.  I know as We become more and more consistent in both routine, praises and discipline things will calm down.  i am looking forward to a fun joyful year with these children whom the Lord has blessed me with. 

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2012 Goals- Marriage

Second to God the most important people in my life are my husband and children which is why make goals to improve my relationship with them.

My husband and I are very close.  He is my best friend.  But like any other relationship, it could stand to make some improvements.  Many times we get caught up in our daily lives and in the duties of parenting and we leave little time to focus on being an actual couple.  This year, I am hoping that if I set some specific goals and therefore making achieving my goals a priority, we will have more time together and further strengthen our relationship. 

The last time Mike and I have gotten away for a vacation was August 2006.  We went to a marriage conference for adoptive parents.  We were in classes all day but we still had a relaxing time at a hotel.  The time before that was may 2004.  We went to a bed and breakfast for the weekend and it was amazing.  To say that we need a break is an understatement. 

Marriage Goals:

1) Have regular dates with Mike
- plan out a date each month with ideas i come up with on my own or ideas from or even pinterest
- have at least one date per month that cost us nothing but time.

2) get away for the weekend with Mike
-this is going to take some strategic planning but I know it will be worth it.
-we really love going to B&Bs so it will probably be something to that effect- find a location by 2/13/2012 and give this to him as his gift for Valentines Day
-plan childcare for our two youngest children and find friends for our oldest two to hang out with for the weekend.   
- pick out a new game for us to take with us for the weekend.  We love to play games.  The last time we went to a B&B we played Upwords all weekend long and loved it.  Well and other things too- we are married after all.

3) leave Mike love notes each week
-a friend gave me a cute little hinged box that says "love notes" on the outside so each week I am going to leave Mike a love note.  I am going to place the box on his pillow so he will know he has a new note.  If he decides to reciprocate then great, but if not I am perfectly ok with that too.  That is not my love language so no biggy : )  (Mine is acts of service)
-I am going to focus on things to praise him for because I openly admit I am not very good at praises. Fault pointing, no problem, praises...  Since I know I'm the one with the biggest fault in this scenario it is something that I want to work on diligently with my Husband and my children. 

4) I will continue in my non-fiction reading selection for 2012. I focus on marriage on Tuesday and right now I am reading Created to Be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl and The Power of a Praying wife by Stormie Ormatian. 

I am just tweaking here and spicing things up a bit.  My marriage doesn't need an overhaul, just a bit of a boost.  I know if I work hard at these three goals we will be beaming at each other at the end of 2012.