Tag Archive | Organization

Car Organization with Multiple Kids

I have been putting together a system for our car to keep me organized. We often will randomly decide to go to the zoo or to the park or somewhere that’s over an hour away from our home and I used to get really panicky and anxious that I would forget some important things (which I usually did) and I didn’t want to overstuff my diaper bag or pack a million other bags to take with us. I have had this dilemma multiple times and finally decided to look at an overlooked area with potential organization excitement… the car! We drive a Suburban and there are multiple little nooks and crannies to be filled! Even though we have 4 kiddos and often take our 130 lb. Great Pyrenees on trips with us, it is amazing how much you can pack in!

So I am going to share with you some tips and maybe it will be helpful. These are things that stay in my car all the time. And the very important thing to organizational success in the car is to make sure when you get home that you take everything out that is extra that you brought in (water bottles, diaper bag, food wrappers, etc.) and if you made a dent in any of these organizational areas in your car (snack bag, swimsuits, etc.) that you replace them ASAP. That way you will be ready for ORGANIZED SPONTANEITY!!! Often when we get back from a long road trip I take an empty laundry basket and go from door to door and throw stuff in it. Then I take it inside and sort and clean up. It’s best to do it ASAP so things don’t start growing!!!

Here is my dashboard. The gadget to the top R on the air vent is a $5 Target Spot phone holder. It is great for GPS when needed. The other little doodad is my bluetooth connector. It’s a little bit of a pain to use it everyday for your phone but if I’m on a long road trip and want to talk to a friend for awhile then I’ll connect it. Otherwise I use it to listen to audiobooks or kids music that I might not have cd’s for. Check out this post on my favorite free audiobook website and how I can catch up on my Jane Austen novels while cleaning the house! I keep gum, hand sanitizer and lotion in the bottom compartment and try to keep the other ones empty for anything I might need it for later.

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This is the glove compartment. I got a pencil box holder and put a tire pressure gauge and one of those window hammer things if your car goes in the water and a small flashlight. I also have one of those small accordian fold folders that I put our registration and insurance as well as a vehicle maintenance log and my tire receipts for when I get our free tire rotations from Sam’s Club. I like it being in the box because then it’s not floating all over the compartment.

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I try to keep our cupholders empty and add my coffee and water as I go : ) in between the cupholders are some pens/pencils and a nail file : ) I keep one of these wipes containers because it seems I am either always needing a wipe or needing to hand one to someone. When we get to the zoo or somewhere I take it out and strap it to the handle of my stroller for easy wipes access!

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This isn’t very pretty but this is what’s inside the center console… At the back is an envelope with coupons and the front right is a small bag for garbage and I have a ziplock bag of suckers/hard candies to keep me awake if we’re driving for a long time and our blue zipper bag holds quarters and extra change for horse rides at the grocery store!!!!

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This is a viser organizer from thirtyone. I downsized my wallet to a Vera Bradley wristlet which means I don’t have room for all the cards I own so I keep the extra ones that aren’t for everyday in here (IKEA member, walgreens, kids library cards, etc.). In the large zipper pocket I keep an extra charger for my ipod/phone/pad and one for my Kindle with an extra wall plug that can be used for both cords. This is nice if we stay the night somewhere then I don’t have to pack extra cords and worry about forgetting them. I also keep a pen that has a nifty pen light at the top and my chapstick.

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Right behind my seat I keep extra disposable diapers for my 2 youngest as well as an extra changing pad. I have used this so much as I usually use cloth unless we go for a long day somewhere then I like disposables as I can go longer in between diaper changes. This way if I forgot to put some in my diaper bag and only have cloth then I can count on my car to provide! Underneath the seat houses all the straps and bungee cords that we use when we travel and need to strap things on our hitch hauler or bike rack or the roof. These have to stay in the car but are far less annoying when put in a bag and hidden under the seat. In the bright blue box houses socks for the kids, a light pair of gloves and snow hats for each kid (even though it’s summer let’s face it… it’s Colorado and we have on more than one occasion used them!) I also keep a light sweater for each kiddo here and a small blanket for Baby Jo. This box gets utilized a LOT!

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There’s an up close of the blue box and Baby Jo’s little toy box next to it which is handy when he gets a little fussy.

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Another view of our middle row.

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This is another nifty organizer from ThirtyOne. I keep an extra water bottle on each side pocket and the pocket to the right is for wipes and has a nifty compartment where the wipes can hang out. I usually put sanitizing wipes here instead of regular ones. In the big compartment I try to keep fairly empty and end up filling it on long road trips with random things but there’s always a bottle of honey roasted peanuts for some snacking if needed!

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And here’s just a view of our third row being utilized by our two oldest. We keep this one seat in the middle row folded down for easy access in and out of the car and then when Meema or Beepa or anyone visits and needs a seat it is really easy just to pop up.

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All 4 kiddos’ seats

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And now for the trunk : )

This is why we opted for a Suburban a few years ago… even with the third row up we still have all this flat trunk space! It’s great for our doggie!!

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The green bag on the L houses an extra swimsuit and baseball hat for all the kiddos for random splashpad adventures! The green bag on the R houses extra paper plates, plastic utensils, bug spray, sunscreen and a quick first aid kit with tweezers, bandaids and neosporin. These bags are nice since our headrests don’t pop off but the bags are big enough I can just slip them off and hook them onto my stroller so I don’t need to take all the items out and put somewhere. Or you could sew some cute ones if you want to be crafty! The black bag is our snack bag with granola bars, PB crackers, fruit snacks, goldfish packages, etc. We use this bag ALL THE TIME. We seriously end up with crazy days and lots of random roadtrips and you never want to be out with hungry kiddos and no options so this is a MUST!! (Keep in mind not to pack with meltable items in the summertime!). The big green box on the left houses my bigger first aid kit as well as 2 fleece blankets (handy if you end up driving at night and the kids want a blanket to go to sleep with), my cloth grocery bags and my zippable picnic blanket. The red box in the middle has extra windshield wipe fluid, a gallon of water for refilling purposes, my on the go stroller bag from thirtyone, our zoo/museum maps and extra grocery bags. And that funky black thing is our Power Station… this sucker has jumper cables and can put air into your tires and has a large flashlight attached to it… it’s supposed to be able to jump your car so you don’t have to wait for someone to rescue you! And I always keep my umbrella stroller in the car. We have a single jogging stroller and a double stroller which do not stay in my car but get added in depending on what we’re doing. And you can’t see but behind all those things is a large golf umbrella and our snow scraper/brush. These never leave my car no matter what season!

0145b31aba5e83105a9191630d8562a1bf96ffc335  And there it goes. Happy car organizing!

Oh I must say that some things will change for the winter… my swimsuit/hat bag will probably house some more snow items like waterproof gloves and maybe snowboots/pants. We will see!

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My Best Tip for Housework

Over the last few months I have been trying out various schedules and plans on how to keep up with homemaking now that we are homeschooling on a daily basis for the majority of our morning hours and now that we have added our fourth child leading to minimal time for basic homemaking (laundry, cooking, cleaning and tidying up). While I still haven’t settled on one plan/routine in particular that I really like I have found one thing that is changing my life! This was an idea straight from God’s mind that He knew would bless me and maybe you!

Two years ago I asked for an iPod Nano for my birthday and also bought an armband in the hopes I could use it for running. Well my days of running are pretty slim to none and my expensive iPod began to collect dust. I began wondering how I could make use of it again for a different purpose. I was enjoying listening to some podcasts in the kitchen on either my iHome or my bluetooth speaker connected to our tv but I found that during my homemaking times I would be all over the house moving around and had to keep pausing what I was listening to. One day it dawned on me to strap on my iPod and plug in some headphones and listen as I moved about. Thank you God!!! It sounds so simple and maybe obvious to some of you but it was a revelation to me. Now on most days I actually look forward to my time for homemaking so I can listen to my podcasts and audiobooks. I have so many books I want to read and just don’t have time to and this is a great way to get it in.

So here’s what it looks like for me. I usually reserve the folding of laundry, cleaning dishes and dinner prep, cleaning the house (sweep/mop, bathrooms, etc.) and any kind of decluttering chores for our afternoon rest time. So I put the kids to their allotted places and strap my iPod on and get started!

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Someone else there to keep me company on laundry day!

I love listening to:

Charles Stanley‘s podcast
Chuck Swindoll‘s Insight for Living podcast
James Macdonald‘s Walk in the Word podcast
Dr. Vernon McGee‘s Through the Bible podcast

Loyal Books has free audiobooks for download. They are a lot of classical novels which is a good way to catch up on your Jane Austen books!

Overdrive is connected to your local library account where you can check out audiobooks and download them onto your device. They have a pretty big selection of current books so you can catch up on your Hunger Games series! I am not able to put these on my iPod because it is an app and my Nano does not have app capabilities but I can put it on my iPhone and plug in my headphones there and listen.

Here is the armband I have for my iPod and I love it.

Listen and enjoy and let the homemaking begin!! And don’t forget to turn the baby monitor volume on high in case your littlest one wakes up for a feeding! I learned this the hard way!!!

Halfway Review of Little Hearts for His Glory

This review is a little less than halfway but I am at a point of re-planning and adding in some different things so I thought it would be a good time to organize and process through my thoughts and share them here.

You can look back at my first post here if you’re interested in more info on the Kindergarten set up of LHFHG.

Here are some things I really like about LHFHG (also keep in mind my kiddos are 5 1/2 and 3 1/2 and both started right before their 5 and 3 year old birthdays).

  • I love the bible verse memorization and found a lot of great printables here. I love printing the verse on cardstock and putting it in our photo book for easy review.
  • I love the Hide ‘Em in Your Heart CD to coincide with the memory verses.
  • I love the assigned storytime. My kiddos absolutely love reading through Thornton Burgess’s stories and it’s one of our favorite times of school (we usually do it after we’ve eaten our lunch and wrap up our day with this).
  • I enjoy the Art, Science, Thinking and Dramatic Play activities… these are things I usually don’t enjoy doing with the kiddos because I don’t think I’m very creative but they force me to go outside of my comfort zone and the kiddos LOVE doing these activities.

Here are some things I’m a little disappointed with about LHFHG. Now my disappointment does not mean I wouldn’t recommend it, it just means I have found some ways to supplement because of it. I also think it can be different for each family so you have to go by what works for you and your kiddos. For my kiddos these are some things I was hoping to have more of and it might be their age and interest calls for it.

  • I am actually a little disappointed in the Bible Study section. I was hoping to go through more of the Devotions book each week but it only shows up once or twice every couple of weeks. Aside from listening to the memory verse and practicing saying it and a short Bible story each day that is it for Bible Study. I think my kiddos have gotten familiar enough with the bible stories that they need something a little extra. I went back to Big Truths for Little Kids and have been reading a section from that each day they do not have a Devotions reading. I also will throw in their Awana story for the week on one of those days.
  • I’m also a little disappointed in the Science aspect of the guide. I am not very good at science and don’t really know how to teach it and maybe that’s why they don’t lean very heavily on science in this guide is because of the age for Kindergarten. Maybe what they have is just what they need. I think I had hoped someone would push me to add something in and LHFHG definitely doesn’t do that but that might be okay. To satisfy my guilty mom feelings we are utilizing our museum membership. We go to the museum every other week and pick one exhibit to focus on (i.e. dinosaurs, mummies, gems & minerals, etc.). We read books about that exhibit the week before we go and I usually can find some cute printables and coloring sheets for the kids to work on during the “fine motor skills” section of the manual. This has been great and I feel like we get a good portion of science in.
  • We dropped the 100 Easy Lessons for our phonics as it was just not vibing with Amelia. We went on to the Bob books and she has really liked those but it was still a struggle to get her excited about doing phonics. I started wondering about the early readers books and we picked some up at the library and now do that for phonics. She gets to pick any fun book she wants (usually frozen or some disney princess) and we read 1 or 2 pages each day. I just have her sound out each letter and put it together slowly then faster and faster until she’s sounded out the word. This is what I am thankful for about the 100 Easy Lessons because it taught me as the teacher a good method for teaching reading. Now she really looks forward to phonics and has been practicing sounding out words and word recognition everywhere we go!
  • As far as the Handwriting book and the Rod & Staff books I would say you could easily find the equivalent online. A lot of it she has already been familiar with and while it is easy and nice just to go page to page through the workbook I feel like you could find some critical thinking papers that maybe catch your child’s interests better through the internet. I also am not too impressed with the Handwriting book. Amelia had a lot of practice doing the copywork pages for the Seeds Family Worship songs and I don’t think this book teaches anything real different. I am almost tempted to have her do copywork of bible verses for the weekly memory verse and maybe will switch to that here soon.

So here is a review of our daily schedule: (We do school at home right now 3 days a week and we do 1 day a homeschool enrichment school day away and 1 day a field trip day to the zoo or museum)

  • Bible and Devotions/Big Truths for Little Kids
  • Scripture Memory and Music
  • Calendar Notebook (see post here)
  • Rhyme
  • Alternating Activity
  • Snack
  • Motor Skills
  • Math
  • Phonics
  • Chapter Book (we read through Amelia Bedelia or some other big chapter book)
  • Spanish (just learning flashcards and numbers, etc.)
  • Geography (see post here)
  • Storytime at Lunch (this is the Thornton Burgess books)
  • Piano after Rest Time (we just started working through this book)
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We made this school book box out of a diaper box. I hot glued scrapbook paper to the sides. I love using it because it is nice and strong and holds a lot and even has handles on the side!

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Here is the front/side of the box. I also wanted a way to display the current bible verses we were learning and I really don’t have much wall space and thought of doing this! So there’s each of their Awana verses for the week and the LHFHG verse for the week. You can see I cut down part of the front of the box to make for a little easier access to the books. We’ve been using it now for 8 months and it’s still standing strong!

Preschool Year Two: Organization and Pictures

I have been revising our homeschooling plans for this year due to a realization of being stuck and bored and lacking in direction after a short 2 months. The biggest revision is we are going to add in the Before Five In a Row curriculum. I plan to keep the same organization plans that you will see below but instead of fishing out papers into a weekly format I will fish out papers into a hanging folder by each different book in the BFIAR plans and then most likely move those papers into the daily folders. I hope this may be helpful to someone as it really was a good way for me to organize all of those free printables out there but I just found myself way too overwhelmed and I wanted to enjoy this time with my sweeties!

I just have to begin this post by saying that I will forever be indebted to Pinterest and all those other homeschooling mommy blogs out there. I truly believe God allowed these things to come to fruition just for me : ) and all the other homeschooling moms who have no clue what they’re doing but have a wonderful place to start. What a blessing it is to us! Could you imagine this journey without Pinterest and blogs? I certainly can’t. Coming from a background where I was not homeschooled and hardly knew anyone who was I am so thankful to get a peek into the lives of other homeschooling families and steal ideas from their curriculums, planning, organization, etc., etc. I hope that this might help someone out there and they can take some bits and pieces and make what works for them since that’s all I did from looking at everyone else’s plans.

After a lot of searching on how to organize all the millions of printables I printed for free for this school year and not wanting to spend a lot of money I settled on this bright and basic filing box from Wal-Mart for $4 : ) While I kind of wanted something to stick in the closet I couldn’t find room for it and this box goes with the general bright flow of the rest of the room and I try to think long term and this would make a good toy box, recycling box, shoe box, etc. in the future should it need a new home.

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I already had hanging file folders which I labeled for each month of the year and one for “seasons” and one for “holidays”. I then bought a box of file folders (50 for $4 from Wal-Mart) and labeled them with “Week 1”, “Week 2”, etc.  thanks to this idea here. Then I placed 4 weeks in each month and we’ll see what happens from there! I also made file folders for each season and put those in the seasons hanging folder. I plan to do this for holidays as well. Within each weekly file folder I have put all the printables I am planning to do for each week and then I went a step further and separated them by days and paper clipped each day together that way when it’s Week 1 I’ll get out my…

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… weekly folder for Amelia and put each paper clipped stack in a day for that week. This was my spin off idea from the “workbox” idea that is so popular. Since I’m only schooling one 4 year old I didn’t think I needed a whole workbox so we’re going for workfolders : ) With this system in plan and taking a few hours now to organize my papers it will make it so easy on Sunday night to just get her workfolders ready for the week.

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I also am using a 3 ring binder for my own planning and here are some pictures of the contents in that… This is a cute All About Me Preschool sheet I made after seeing the idea here. I am so excited for this and am planning to do one each year and put a picture of their first day in the box on the right and then laminate it and keep it in a binder as a keepsake : )

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I have all of our goal sheets for each subject in the binder.

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Here is our “schedule”. I have it organized by Mon-Fri at the top and subjects on the left and then my general plan of what I want to do each day. I really am afraid I have too much going for her but we’ll just see how the first few weeks go and I’ll remove things as needed. Anyone else so stinkin’ excited about homeschooling they’re going a little overboard? I’m afraid that might be me!!

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Here’s a little calendar. I put 4 months at a time on one page and am planning to evaluate and plan every 4 months and see where we’re at and what we’re accomplishing. I have it penciled in : ) for easy changing and here I write if there’s some commitment that will change our schooling plans for that day i.e. MOPS meetings, ballet class, travelling, etc. This also helps me see which weeks will fall on a season change or a holiday.

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And here’s a blank weekly planner with the same format as the first one pictured. When I’m doing my planning and organizing my printables into their weekly file folder I write in pencil here which sheets I want to do each day and the more specifics from our general plan. So for our Bible section I’ll put here which song it is from Seeds Family Worship we’re learning that week and which printable activity that day I want to do. And for our Science section I put which experiment from Everybody Has a Body we’re going to do and any things that I need to gather for that experiment. (I have after 2 months cut out the science aspect as this is an area of struggle and disinterest for me and the kiddos so we will get to that later!) This is also in pencil : ) And I listed at the bottom some book ideas that would go well with what we’ll be learning that week i.e. animal habitats, evaporation, addition, etc.

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Which leads to the next paper… Library Check-Out List. I created this since we’re going to rely heavily on our local library for basically all of our reading needs : ) Another blessing although this one has been around for years and years… what a great invention the Lord had in mind for homeschoolers when He allowed whoever it was to invent the library! I wrote at the top of this sheet a line so I can write the day we need to check out the books by and also the day I need to get on the computer and place holds on all of the books. And then I write this date down in the previous calendar so I hopefully won’t forget to hold and check out the books on time. I discovered an amazing thing that our library offers… online book lists! So… I can go to their search catalog and search 41 different libraries in Colorado, when I find the books I want I can save them to a specific list I create i.e. addition, fall, George Washington, etc. This is great because I spend the time now doing this so when it’s time to put a hold on them I can just go to my list, click them all and hold them. This also helps planning as I get an idea of what topics I can find books for and how many books we’ll have for each topic. I try to hold them a week before to allow time for our InterLibrary Loan to get the books to our local library. This sheet is for each month and I put it in front of the blank weekly planning pages for that month. I put small post-it tabs that you can write on for each of these papers for each month so I can easily find the month in the binder.

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Now to the really exciting part… pictures of our homeschool room with our new furniture addition! A 9 cube Closetmaid Cubeical organizer from Wal-Mart for $40!!!!! I am so thrilled about this part. Let me start with my trouble spot before picture… this picture was actually taken after I did a little bit of cleaning and moved some toys to the boxes shown here. Before these boxes were canvas princess boxes… about 6 of them… and there was the problem. This held my daughter’s dolls and doll accessories… any of you have a firstborn in the family girl? If so then you know the magnitude of this collection. It was hard to ever find anything and the bins were too small and everything ended up everywhere and looked horrible. I also disliked looking at my plastic “office drawers”… yuk! I wanted to clean this place up and was very hesitant to spend money but with my husbands encouragement I took the splurge and bought this…

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… doesn’t it fit that space so incredibly perfect!!!!! We spend all day every day in this room and I am so happy to be looking at this now : ) Which by the way this is considered a “den” off the main level as you walk past the living room and kitchen towards the back. We are so blessed to be renting this home and God definitely more than spoiled us with this rental! I want to eventually fill each cubby with the canvas cubeical bins but at $6 a piece I will slowly add them. I rearranged some other things in our home and made use of what I had on hand (with the exception of the green and blue bins which I bought this time around).

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Here’s a closer view of the finished project : ) I was super excited about the top left cubby that used to hold Amelia’s coloring books and just perfectly fits our printer paper and perfectly fits into the cubeical : ) I think the Lord allowed this little surprise as a special blessing to me because it makes me so happy : ) The bottom 3 bins and the 2 red flower bins are all toys and the top 2 blue bins are some office supplies from my previous ugly plastic bins.

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This is a little out of order but the kiddos had a blast helping me with their plastic tools to put together the cubeical : )

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And I must note that I decided to make my own arrangement of which cubeical had the back added on to it. I decided instead of the traditional scattered way that I would do the top 3 since those would hold supplies other than cubeical bins for awhile and would look better with a backing on it and I did the middle row right and left cubeicals just because I thought that looked best.

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Now here is an overview picture of our school room…

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The comfy couch in the corner is our reading couch and also the place I land in the morning before the kiddos wake up for my quiet time. There are some toys on the floor and our days of the week, alphabet, weather, #1-20 posters all from the Dollar Tree. I keep the door on the left open all the time as that little water heater closet is home to Tinka’s (our cat) bathroom and kitchen : ) I used it for some extra wall space and put a little clothesline there to clip on the papers we complete for that day.

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Here’s the other side of the room with our big bookshelf. The top 2 shelves are all schooling books. The middle shelf is toys, the next shelf is some toddler friendly and fun books and more toys and the bottom shelf is more toys and where we stash our library books. Next to the bookshelf on the floor is the filing cabinet that I mentioned above and next to that is our toy kitchen and our Melissa & Doug calendar and our ABC Bible Verses booklet hanging on the wall.

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A different view of that area.

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And this school room comes with a closet (another blessing from the Lord to tickle my fancy!). Here’s where the ugly plastic bins land : ) as well as some hanging closet dividers also from Wal-Mart and Ikea for about $4 a piece. The top of the closet is large puzzle boxes, board games, play dough and paints. I have puzzles, lacing cards, memory card games in the hanging dividers as well as plastic shoeboxes from the Dollar Tree that hold our flashcards and each cubby has it’s own subject i.e. top right cubby is math with a plastic shoebox housing math flashcards and manipulatives. The larger plastic bin on the bottom right houses all of our craft supplies and other miscellaneous school/craft stuff. Coloring books moved to the plastic drawer in the middle right and this is where I hang my diaper bag and purse.

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And that’s it! Are you still there? Anyways, I hope this helps whoever needs help as I mentioned before so many of you have helped me get this organized! Woo Hoo Pinterest… and all glory be to God of course!

Creating & Maintaining a Weekly Schedule

Ask anyone who knew me decently well in college (and even high school and maybe even my close friends today) and any of them will tell you that I become giddy thinking about creating and planning a schedule! I have always loved planners but have always struggled with some limitations. In college my freshman year our Campus Crusade leaders challenged everyone to make an Excel schedule for the week. This was to include our class schedule and any other requirements such as those to Crusade or any club or group we belonged to. The point was to compartmentalize your time and see on paper how much time is spent doing various activities. Then we could see where to cut out or where was appropriate to add in our quiet time and other important ways of spending our time pursuing the Lord. I have been using these Excel files ever since! I loved signing up for classes for each semester because it meant I could plan my Excel file finally!!! Of course my life nowadays is quite different. I abandoned Excel my entire nursing career (any nurses will know why)… my work schedule every week it seemed was different and of course now the challenge arises from having little kiddos. BUT… I have come back to Excel and it works perfectly for my Type A brain and keeps me on track.

I have a few tips I have learned about creating a schedule over the years:

  • set ATTAINABLE goals – I used to have myself studying all sorts of hours in the afternoon and late into the night and then getting up early for my quiet time and get going… NOT REALISTIC. I knew it at the time but it was what I wanted my schedule to look like. It was a goal but not an attainable one. When using a schedule to keep track of your goals you need to be realistic or you will constantly feel like a failure and quit quickly. If you’re wanting to start working out then your goal and schedule should not be 5-7 days/week… that’s hard for anyone to maintain let alone someone just starting out… start with 3 days/week. This is a goal but it is an attainable one. Once you attain it then increase the days.
  • factor in down time and travel time – If something starts at 9 AM, don’t start your block at 9 AM… start it at 8:30 AM. That will allow for travel time and packing for kiddos or anything else that may come up. It is important and falls align with setting attainable goals that you schedule in down time. If you need a nap a couple days a week then schedule that in. Schedule 3 days a week with a nap included and the other 4 days schedule whatever you need to get done during that time. This way you know on Mondays I get my nap!!! And it will be okay because Tuesdays and Wednesdays are set aside to accomplish my other tasks. This way too if you’re not very tired on Monday you can accomplish your Tuesday tasks and then on Tuesday fit in a nap because your tasks are already accomplished!
  • don’t forget to schedule meal times and showering! – Ever since having kiddos (wait… I’ll confess… ever since college!) I have struggled to shower every day. Depending on the age of my kiddos I stick to an every other day plan or 5 days/week. Am I really admitting to this? Of course if I sweat or stink or am covered in baby spit-up that might change. But let’s face it… it can be a challenge to shower when the kids are safely entertained and take the time to get ready on a daily basis! So for me it is important to look at my week and pick days I can skip a shower : ) For example, Wednesdays is zoo day for us which is a long day and takes a lot of preparation. I plan to skip my shower on Wednesday which means it’s vital for me to take one on Tuesday. Tuesday is my women’s bible study in the morning which means I have to plan this shower time in early in the morning to be ready and prepared. It is also important to plan in meal preparation, meal eating and meal clean-up time. Is 15 mins. realistic? Or is it 1 hr? Only you know and every meal, every day and every family is different. On average we spend about 1 hr in the mornings with breakfast prep, eating and clean-up… maybe the same or closer to 1 1/2 hrs in the evening. I need to plan this time in so our mornings aren’t a hectic rush to move on and so at dinner time we’re not sitting down super late for dinner.

So here it is! This is what one week looks like. The top line are the days of the week and the left column are the hours and half hours in the day. I color code based on activity. This I did in college and color coded what was for school, what was for work, etc. For example, the yellow spaces are meal times; the dark blue spaces are church/quiet time/bible study, the red spaces are Amelia’s learning time, etc. Notice all the white spaces : ) those are free times for me! What do I do every afternoon when the kiddos wake up from their naps? Whatever we want/need to do. If we had to run unexpected errands or had dr. appts in the morning and couldn’t do learning time then we can fit it in here. If I’m wanting to create a culinary masterpiece then I have the time to do so here. If we want a special movie night then we can do so here! It is so important to have white spaces so you don’t feel like every single second has to be planned… there’s leniancy.

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Here’s a close-up of my Mondays. I have picked Monday to be laundry day and Friday to be cleaning day. Picking one day a week helps me because if on Thursday I see something needing cleaning attention but my Thursday is already so busy I don’t have to stress wondering how to fit it in… I know that Friday is cleaning day and I will take care of it then.

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Now, while this does look all nice and neat it is just a guideline to run by. Most of these things (except schedule events like church and bible study) happen around this time frame but the days still flow smoother having the guidlines. I want to emphasize something… schedules are great in the moment but require great flexibility. My schedule is only through April because at the end of April we will be welcoming another infant : ) : ) and we will be moving (again!) and we have no idea where or to what type of job so I have no clue what a schedule might look like in May. BUT I wanteId to make the most of every opportunity and instead of just waiting until things seem settled and normal in my life before I make a schedule I wanted to make one for the here and now… no matter how short it may be. This helps all of us stay on track and stay accomplished and focused and productive. I know when I don’t have an idea of how my week and days look then it’s so hard for me to exercise or wake up for my quiet time or whatever it may be. I’ll think that the time will just magically appear at some point and I’ll know what to do in it… but that’s how 5:00 rolls around and I’m still in my PJ’s and we’ve accomplished nothing and I haven’t a clue what to make for dinner and I find myself all of sudden battling a depressed and frustrated attitude.

I have also tried a weekly schedule that is a little less structured such as this one. It actually worked great at the time and I’m sure at some point I will go back to this just depending on what is going on in my life. I fit in our meal schedule for the week and also what we were going to do for learning time that week. I liked having the kiddos nap time schedule in with which days I wanted to accomplish what. This prevented the same feeling of I should research this or that and instead of wondering when it would get done and where to fit it in I had a research period set aside during one nap time day each week so I knew come that day I could sit down and research stuff. I wouldn’t feel guilty like I had something else to do and I didn’t feel overwhelmed at all I wanted to accomplish.

For the Week of:

Weekly Schedule

 

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

                                                                                       *laundry*          *cleaning*

Breakfast:               
Amelia Learning Time (8A – 10A):              
During Joshua Morning Nap (10A – 12P):            
Lunch:                
During Kiddos Afternoon Nap (2P – 5P): Blog Spanish Finances Piano Read Research Spanish Planning Piano
Dinner:                

 And I have also just tried a list format like this one mentioned on this post here. This is still the general flow of my schedule but since living in the city with being at a church that holds a bible study and going to the zoo etc. I needed a little more planning for the entire day.

Good luck with your scheduling!

 

 

 

Favorite Diaper Bag for Cloth Diapers & 3 Kiddos

I have been looking around online for recommendations and ideas for diaper bags in anticipation of baby #3 coming in a few months. Here were some of my requirements:

  • backpack preferred – it is much more comfortable and I don’t feel bad asking Adam to carry it around and it comes in handy when paired with an umbrella stroller because you hardly know you’re carrying it as opposed to the shoulder bags that are always falling off in my experience and they’re great carry-ons for airplane trips
  • compartments – I HATE fishing around a big empty hole for something so compartments to me is an absolute must and BIG compartments is what I particularly was looking for this time
  • cup holders – I find these so convenient I almost just went for the backpack I used at nursing school because it had so many compartments and cup holders and just seemed wonderful for a diaper bag but it is currently my husband’s work bag so it would be hard to take it from him : ) I hate digging around for waterbottles in my bag so it’s nice to just have them right there on the sides

Those were my only 3 requirements and this is what I found:

The Baby Sherpa! It actually looks similar to my college backpack but has a few amazing new excitements designed specifically for diaper bag usages. You can sort of see the 2 cup holders that are actually detachable. The one on the right is thermal for a bottle if needed and on the left is mesh. Above the cup holders are smaller compartments where I put my video camera and then Amelia’s rubberbands and comb. Then it has that stretchy band so when you’re really stretched you can slip in jackets or a blanket or something there and it’ll hold it in place. You can also slide things in where the mesh part is at the front of the backpack. I didn’t take a picture of the back of it but there’s a slit where you can slide in your changing pad which is nice since you don’t have to open the backpack to access it.

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There are essentially 2 large compartments and then compartments within the compartments (finally speaking my language!). There is this top compartment that opens from a zip flap at the top. This is so convenient! I throw it in my double stroller basket (need a recommendation for a double stroller? I am in love with my Chicco Cortina Together Double Stroller… I think there’ll be a future blog post for that one too!) so when I need my diapers or wipes I can just unzip and pull them out instead of lugging the whole thing out of the stroller and digging around.

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This is what that top compartment looks like. There is a zipper compartment where I stash my other lifesaving product the Timeless Wristlet from ThirtyOne : ) so my money/credit card is protected in the zipper. Then there’s a compartment in front of that where I put my emergency/medicine kit and my wipes and a few disposables just in case. Then there’s a larger compartment in front of that where I put my little personal bag of chapstick, lotion, gum, etc. and this is where I throw my wet/dry bag for my cloth diapers… it doesn’t look that big from the picture but I stash 3 prefolds and 2 covers in my wet bag (maybe more if it’s a long day or overnighter) and it fits nicely. I think I won’t have a problem with adding more cloth diapers when the new baby comes as there is still lots of room in these compartments. Then you see the mesh compartment where I put our “eating out” necessities of bibs, table covers and my kid size plastic fork/spoon set from the dollar tree that comes in a hard plastic container.

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Here’s my wet/dry bag in place.

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And the second compartment is this nifty little thermal compartment! I use this for our lunch when we go to the zoo and this is so nice. Instead of carrying a million different bags I have it all in one! It held about 3 medium sized plastic containers and 2 small plastic containers plus 2 ice packs! It was great! The other nice thing is if I’m going somewhere different and need an extra change of clothes for the kiddos or I anticipate when the new baby comes this compartment may be dedicated just for them to put a receiving blanket, burp cloths, nursing wrap, change of clothes, etc. here and then I’ll just carry my lunch box separate… just because it’s thermal does not mean it needs to be used for a cooler! There’s also a little roof mesh pocket where I have sunscreen and Amelia’s sunglasses so they’re protected in there. The only thing I’m really bad about is bringing toys around with me but you can attach them with clips to the outside or add them to any of the various wonderful compartments : ) And when we’re just out for the day and need snacks I put them in the thermal compartment so they’re separated from the rest of the stuff.

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Now while I absolutely love this backpack I am still a little self-conscious that it looks like I’m going on a hike everytime I leave the house with the kiddos. It doesn’t look that big when you’re wearing it but sometimes when I’m just headed to the dr. or something quick I don’t want to take this big thing with me so I pulled out my old bag I used to take to my nursing job. This beautiful Vera Bradley bag! I love this bag too! It definitely isn’t quite fit for a long day trip but I’m combining it to use alongside the backpack for shorter trips.

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It’s one big compartment so all I do is I keep wipes in there at all times so I just throw in my wet/dry bag and my emergency/medicine kit from the Baby Sherpa and I’m good to go! Not much transition at all. There are 3 open pockets against the inside of this bag so I usually throw in my snack bags and my Timeless Wristlet and I’m set with plenty of room for whatever else we collect on that short trip (toys, etc.). It also has the required 2 cupholders : ) which makes me happy too. And it sits nicely in the front seat next to me for a quick car clean up before we unload.

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I am so thoroughly happy with both of these bags and highly recommend the Baby Sherpa if you are okay foregoing the pretty looking diaper bags and going for an extremely functional and amazing bag! The Baby Sherpa runs between $60-$80 and we got ours off Amazon with free shipping.

Pinterest Projects!

I just recently discovered the black hole that people call pinterest : ) If you know of it then you know why I call it the black hole… if you don’t know of it… it’s debatable on if you should join or not. The black hole will suck away hours of your time without you even blinking an eye : ) but it will leave you with incredible ideas and projects! Here is a compilation of my first round of pinterest projects. I have high hopes for some other projects when we live in a more long term place but these projects are for someone who has a very limited budget and has very limited space!

This is Amelia’s coloring binder for roadtrips. We take a lot of roadtrips and they are always with the kids so this one I mixed a few different pinterest ideas together and came up with this one for her. It was amazing and it worked great when we went to restaurants or doctor’s office visits because she could just carry the notebook in with her. I purchased 3 pencil holders from the dollar tree (1 for crayons, 1 for markers, 1 for colored pencils) and took various coloring books and scrap paper and hole punched them and put in the binder. Once she colored on all of them I swapped out for fresh papers. The only thing is I had to get a 3″ binder (from our thrift store for $1) so it is a pretty bulky item. Total cost: $4 plus coloring books and markers and crayons if you don’t already have any on hand which I did.

I have fallen in love with all the ideas for hanging shoe racks and was amazed to find the dollar tree carries these little shoe racks! I use 1 in the car to keep Amelia’s small games (a travel connect four game, a magnetic fishing game, her magnetic letters for her cookie sheet, a flash light when we drive at night, a coffee mate bottle of goldfish and one of cheerios). It comes in handy in the car especially when I’m driving by myself I have it linked over the headrest in the passenger seat so I can see and grab quickly while driving.

I wondered what else could I use this for. If we had different closets in our apt. I would use them to hang little toys and other craft supplies in Amelia’s room so I thought our bathroom is the only closet in the apt. with a suitable door so I put one on with sticky hooks and put my daily toilettries (face lotion, deodorant, mascara, toothpaste, floss, body spray, lotion, etc.). I love having these things so easy to grab (we also don’t have any drawers under our sink where I have kept these items before) and they don’t get lost among the bigger items in our closet. Total cost: $1

I found this big shoe rack organizer at our thrift store for just a couple bucks and wondered what I should do with this. Well, I have been trying to organize my medicine cabinet and nothing seemed to satisfy me. My bins were too small for our stuff but too big to divy up into grouped medicines plus the aloe bottles kept throwing the sizes off so I thought this just might be the perfect solution!

So here is our medicine “cabinet” behind our closet door. I have put the stuff I really don’t want the kiddos into near the top and things like band-aids, thermometers, emergency flashlights, cough drops towards the bottom but my kids have never tried to open this closet anyways and our apt. is so small I can see this from almost everywhere I am! This is perfect for us and my husband loves it because he hates searching for medicine late at night or when I’m gone and he can go right here and see everything we have. Total cost: $2

On my trip to our dollar tree I went a little bin crazy… most of these shown here I actually already had so there’s only 2 new bins here but I thought the organization may help someone else living in a small apt with limited closet space. This is Amelia’s closet/craft/toy/activity space. The bottom 3 bins are her clothes, the 3 bins on top are some of her crafts which I labelled with the all mighty and cheap label maker (address labels and a pen)! The smaller bins on top of the larger ones holds her puzzles and the very small 3 bins on top have crayons, colored pencils, and markers… this is great to just pull out and put paper in front of her and she can clean up after very easily. The hanging shelves are a miracle (this I purchased a couple years back and have reused it for many different things). It currently holds diapers/wipes and pj’s.

I added a couple bins to the top shelf to hold her paints, paintbrushes and painters smock (Adam’s old t-shirt)! And other various toys or items we don’t use often. Total cost: $2 (for the 2 new pink bins since all the other bins I already had).

This is an offshoot of a couple different book shelf organizing ideas on Pinterest. Some people use the spice racks from Ikea to display books on their wall. I don’t have any wall space and I needed an idea for the little books that always fall down (Berenstein Bears, Curious George, etc.) that don’t have any spines. I searched the dollar tree and didn’t find any cute bins but I found these 2 on clearance at Michaels! One of those… I wasn’t looking but it caught my eye and I saw the price and knew God put them there as a special blessing just for me : ) Total cost: $<4

I have accumulated a few random sets of flash cards mainly to use later for Amelia when she’s a bit older and I saw this idea on Pinterest for organizing them. I think hers looks a lot better but I did the best I could with what I found! And again I labelled them with address labels and a pen. Total cost: $9

I needed a little help in my “pantry”. We don’t actually have a pantry and I have to be very particular about what I keep because our space is so limited but I wanted to help out my baking section so I went to Wal-Mart and bought these little containers with the green lids.

This was a simple change for me but it really has helped me grab things easier and not have to try and stack bags of flour and sugar (which don’t actually stack so you see my dilemma!). I labelled them with my favorite address labels and a pen. Total cost: $4.50

I didn’t take pictures of these but I also got some bins from the dollar tree to hold chip bags and bread loafs and snacks in my cupboard again to stop trying to stack everything on top of each other. Then when I’m picking out chips for lunch I just grab that bin out and place it back in its spot.

I love being more organized!

Updated Preschool Schedule

I have done a little bit of tweeking to our schedule now that we are 5 weeks in and have had a little bit of experience with this schedule and also now that we found out we are expecting Baby J #3 !!!! Why would this affect our schedule now? I AM TIRED! Plain and simple. I need more structure or my battle with laziness and tiredness and a horizontal position on the couch will overrule! So I am going to try out our new schedule tomorrow. For the first time I am going to try getting Joshua on a napping schedule. He follows a general rule of thumb but some mornings he will sleep in until 10 AM ! So I spend most of the morning hesitant to start anything in case he wakes up and before I know it 2 hours has gone by and he’s slept and I’ve accomplished nothing. I also try to plan their afternoon naps and am going to be a little more diligent at this so that I can take a little nap myself : ) This past week we did a couple days with Josh awake during our Learning Time and I actually really liked it. I thought it would be difficult to focus on Amelia but Joshua is so content in her room (essentially a playroom) and he just keeps to himself and plays. This frees up the morning nap he takes for me to do some other things  that are more difficult to accomplish with a crawler around instead of saving Learning Time for his morning nap. So here is my new schedule to try out:

6:00-7:00 Quiet Time

7:00-8:00 Breakfast and clean-up

8:00-9:00 Joshua awake

                     Learning time

9:00-11:00 Joshua asleep

                       Me exercise (3 -4 days a week) and shower

                       Amelia watch educational DVD and free play

11:00-2:00 Joshua awake

                        Take Adam lunch

                        Free play or park

                        Housecleaning and dinner prep

2:00-5:00 Both kiddos nap

                     Me nap : )

                     Computer and Household task time (i.e. open mail, finish cleaning, baking, etc.)

I’m excited for this week to start and to try out a little bit of new structure!

ABC Theme Weekly Paper Organization

After finally making the long 45 mile trek to the nearest Wal-Mart and Dollar Tree to satisfy my Pinterest project cravings : ) I found the perfect storage set for all of my paperwork for our Preschool ABC themed year. This nifty little file folder thingy… for only 8 bucks!

It had the perfect number of slots (except Y and Z sharing a slot) to label each one with the alphabet letter for the week and there is a pocket in the very front where I am storing extra copies that we did not use each week. This is great because I can plan in advance and put the print outs for the letters for future weeks and then when we complete a week I just add all of our papers to the letter for that week. I plan to just keep this around for our future reference if need be and when Joshie is of age to join the ABC learning.

This also makes it really easy for me to transfer each week over to the Home Education section of my Home Management Binder which I am going to keep using as I take this binder everywhere with me so on laundry day at the in-laws we can squeeze in some learning time since I have all my papers for each day that week neatly organized. Here is a recap:

I look at my schedule for the week to see which focus is for which day (i.e. Monday is #’s and cutting, Tuesday is shapes and writing, etc.) I have lots of copies filed in page protectors with a label specifying which focus it is in the binder so I just grab a couple sheets and move them over to the…

… pocket divider that is labelled for each day of the week. I do this on the weekend so when Monday rolls around I just grab all the papers under Monday and we start at the top and work our way through. This saves my brain and time from doing any preparation each day.

Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE my Home Management Binder!

Home Management Binder

It’s finally here!

My post about my Home Management Binder : )

I first mentioned it in this post here

This little amazing thing has been my lifesaver especially with this transitionary place in life we are at. I made it shortly before I quit my job to stay home with the kiddos/we moved from Arizona to Colorado/we moved in to my in-laws already full house/we then moved a couple months later to a small apt all within 3 months. If I did not have this majestic little thing I would have my brains spilled all over the place from here to Arizona and back and everywhere in between!

It is a simple pink 1 1/2″ notebook. I printed this out and put it in the front for some prettiness and inspiration.

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Proverbs 24:2-4

“She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27

 This is what you see when you first open it up. I found this little plastic pencil holder thing for less than a dollar at Wal-Mart : ) I have pretty pens, pencils, small tabs and dry erase markers.

 I went back and forth on dividers that had pockets or not and settled for the not to try and minimize loose papers that I do not know what to do with that probably just need to be recycled as they probably will serve no purpose other than make my HMB bigger and cluttered! I labeled them (Schedule, Christian Growth, Cooking, Cleaning, Natural Living, Finances, Home Education, Spanish Resources, Hospitality and Prayer).

 I wrote some verses on each divider tab to remind me of the purpose for the tab and God’s desire for that area in my life

 Under the schedule tab I have tried out this Daily To-Do sheet that I formatted on Word. There is a place for a Memory Verse for the week, Daily To-Do, Errands to Run, For Tomorrow and Additional Thoughts. I borrowed an idea from another blog to put your papers in page protectors and then write on them with dry erase markers to eliminate printing the papers every day.

 I also have a Monthly Planner template I made on Word. I also put this in a page protector. There is a small section at the bottom of each day labeled Dinner… this is where I try to plan out my meals and then with the dry erase marker I can move them and erase as our plans change!

 The Christian Growth section is my favorite section as I tend to go there frequently to remind myself of the things the Lord showed me in creating this binder and the purpose behind it. I spent time back in February coming up with a Personal Mission Statement which has really helped me in my growth with the Lord.

 I also prayed about some Family and Personal Goals for 2012

 There was a lot of scripture God kept spewing out at me back in February when I was having all sorts of visions for our family and me staying home with the kiddos. So I typed them up and have been working on memorizing them.

 I have my reading list which was also mentioned on the post linked to above. I planned out the books for this year and have added some that I’ve found at thrift stores or God showed me in the past 6 months to move into priority for reading. I love having a reading list! Believe it or not but I was stressed about all the books I wanted to read! Now I can relax and know that I will get to each book one at a time and my motivation to start one and finish it before starting another one (at one point I think I had 10 books that I had begun reading all at one time and never finished one of them!) has grown tremendously.

 Under the Cooking section I have my Master Menu Planner which I love! I was frustrated taking out all of my cookbooks and trying to remember where all my favorite recipes were so I wrote down on this Word template the recipe name and the book and page # for easy reference when planning my meals. On the sticky note at the bottom is Meals to Try that I saw in my mother-in-laws recipe books! I also have under this section some printed out tutorials of different recipes and things to try (homemade yogurt in croc pot, soaking grains, etc., etc.)

 The Cleaning section has some ideas and print outs from various blogs and I am working on a Cleaning schedule now that we are back in our own place and all the cleaning duties lay on me again! So I will update when that happens! The Natural Living section is again print outs and ideas that I want to try in my attempt to live a little more frugally and naturally. The Finance section is where I write down our spending and budget and updates throughout the month (both my parents are CPA’s and I remember playing with math flash cards as a kid so math is one of my favorite subjects, therefore I do the finances in our family because I enjoy it and it’s relatively easier for me!). And the Home Education section I described in this post here although I am quickly realizing that I will need a separate binder dedicated to just this section : )

 Next is the Hospitality section which my friend suggested and I am so thankful that she did. She made a template like this which I copied for birthdays. It is from Excel and on the left side are the days 1-31 and the top are the months of the year. Then I wrote in the matching spot our friends and families birthdays and anniversaries! Great idea to have it all in one spot to reference each month! I also have an Excel file for my address book which is behind the birthday sheet. It has the name, address, e-mail and phone number for all of our contacts. This makes it easy when writing a thank you note or for Christmastime as I now don’t have to get on the computer to look it up but I can just flip to my HMB and there it is! It also makes it easier when I get notice of a change of address to just quickly open up the binder and update the address!

My HMB is basically my brains in a notebook. I was used to a lifestyle of post-its and print-outs all over the place and I could never remember where anything was and I always frustrated my husband when I’d ask him to find me something. There are a lot of things I wanted to print out for later reference and never knew where to put it. This is definitely the answer for me! It may not be for everyone but for me it certainly is! It keeps me focused and organized and who doesn’t need more of that in their life!

 This is the one verse that God keeps bringing to me over and over again that in addition to the 2 verses listed at the beginning of the post are the whole theme and reason behind this binder:

 “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:17

 Adam and my opportunities during this point in our lives are changing moment to moment and my temptation is to just say “well… I’ll get to this or that when we finally get settled somewhere” but this is an unbiblical thought. We lived with my in-laws for 3 months and there was a lot of opportunity to make the most of (help with housekeeping, building deeper relationships between me and the in-laws and our kiddos and their grandparents and their cousins, etc., etc.) God showed this to me (thankfully) before we moved there or else my mentality would have been to just get through it and we’ll do other stuff later since it was a difficult circumstance. And we are facing that now in our small apt. in a town that we don’t know how many months or maybe years we may live here. There are a lot of opportunities… a Christian homeschooling family right next door! amazing hiking around the corner and an incredible church body that God led us to the first week we moved here. My temptation is to not invest time into these things because it seems like a lot of work when we may not be living here past December… again this is an unbiblical thought. God has us here for this moment for however long and we must MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY while we are here… okay I’m done preaching to myself : ) My HMB helps me to do this by keeping my time organized so it is not wasted on searching for papers and watching pointless TV or browsing the internet aimlessly… it keeps me focused and planned which is making the most of every opporunity.