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 :)