Thursday, January 30, 2014

Little Hearts with Big Prayers

I mentioned at the beginning of the month, that our family was making a commitment to end each day in family prayer and Bible time (here).  After the first month, I can say it is going fairly well.  Some nights the kids are serious and focused and other nights are a bit harder to keep everyone on task.  However, the positives have far outweighed the "patience required" moments.  We decided to begin a family verse for 2014.  We chose the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), as we all need to be reminded of these qualities from time to time.  The original idea was to use the verse for the entire year, but the kiddos memorized it so fast we decided to add a new verse each month.  

In addition to reciting the verse, we hold hands and take turns praying.  The kids prayers have blown us away.  They are so small but some of their prayers have been so big.  At times, the prayers have made my husband and I glance up and wink at each other, stifling giggles under our breath.  At other times, the innocence of the their prayers have brought tears to our eyes.  Children have a way of making prayers seem so simple.

After reciting some of the prayers to my mom, she mentioned that I needed to start writing them down.  I loved her idea.  I thought it would be great to journal throughout the year, both prayers and family verses.  This will be a great reminder of their innocent and gentle hearts.  It may be something I use to reference on those days when I feel they are ganging up on me with a plan to take Mommy down! :)

I took a "Mom Needs A Break" trip to Wal-Mart last night.  I had a few random odds and ends that I needed to pick up.  Since I was by myself, I decided to peruse the office supply area.  I love office supplies. :)  I happened upon this adorable journal.  I normally would not have gravitated toward the fruit theme but I noticed the Bible verse on the front, Galatians 5:22, The Fruit of the Spirit.  Coincidence?  I think not! :)

I picture these pages filled with prayers from my children.  Hopefully one day, I will cuddle up with grandchildren and read prayers from their parents.  I am sure we will giggle and laugh and I know it will warm my heart.

Here are some examples of our recent prayers:

Alex (6 years old)
"Dear God,  Please be with me as I learn about money and all of the presidents who were shot and killed and now their heads are on the money.  I hope they made it to you safely.  Amen"
*This one definitely made us giggle.

Another great of Alex's
"Dear God, Please help Lauren as she learns her schoolwork, so she can go to school, graduate from college, and get a real job.  Amen"
*Apparently, he is concerned about her living at home the rest of her life. :)

Lauren (3 years old)
"Dear Jesus,  I love you Jesus because.....(long pause) well, because I love you Jesus. Amen"
*This was said in a very strong southern drawl - not sure where that came from.

Jacob (9 years old)
"Dear God, Thank you for our food, our day, and my nice warm bed.  Please help everyone who does not have a house or bed find a warm place to sleep.  Amen"
*Every night Jacob's prayers start with thanking God for our food and our day.  :)

** Please take some time to hop over to I Heart Organizing and enjoy the awesome link party!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

31 Organization for the Car

I loooove 31 products!!!  It just so happens that one of my dear friends is a super-duper 31 sales director.  She is fantastic at selling and making me fall in love with all of the products.  Here is my latest purchase, The Pack -N- Pull Caddy.  It is can be used for all types of organization.  

I have decided to use the caddy in my car.  Just like most moms, my car is a traveling house, classroom, dressing room, and sometimes kitchen.  Now that all three kiddos are in various activities, I feel like we live in the car.  It doesn't take long for the car to be a complete mess.  Last week, I found a pair of kid's dirty socks in the backseat - gross!  I always throw out trash and tidy up while pumping gas, which is usually when I find random articles, such as socks. :)  

The caddy will help keep my area nice and neat.  My "area" would be anything in the front seat territory. I do not like the kids venturing into my territory.  It is mine... not theirs!  They have the other 20 something feet to roam!  Insert smiley face :)... but seriously, I mean every word. :)

Back on track, I was very excited fill my caddy and put it to use.  I must say, I was shocked at how much stuff it holds.  I was able to load it with the following items:
  • hand sanitizer
  • bottle of water
  • full sized box of tissues
  • package of wipes
  • change of undergarments for the kids (yes, I still carry an extra pair... you just never know)
  • small paper and plastic bags (can be used for all sorts of things)
  • small zipper pouch for extra change
  • small zipper pouch for girlie products
  • baggie of bandages (I keep a larger first aid kit in a storage compartment but these will be much easier to access)
Take a look :)

There is still plenty of room for additional items.

The smaller compartment includes a slit for easy tissue access.

There are mesh exterior pockets on each side.

The back includes a heavy duty strap for attaching it to the back of a headrest.  I don't think I am going to do this, but it is a great option.

Everything is tucked away, nice and neat.

The caddy also comes in a taupe gingham fabric and solid black fabric.  I decided to go with this print called, Citrus Medallion.  I think it is fun and super girly.  

** Please take some time to hop over to I Heart Organizing and the awesome January Link Party.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Trying On Positive for a Change

I have always admired those who seem to be naturally positive.  You know, the people who seem to flit and flutter through life, always smiling and seeming as though the world is always wonderful.  At times, I have found myself resenting those type of people.  Why did they get the "positive gene"?  What line did they stand in that I obviously missed?  I would be happier if I could just smile and not over analyze every little detail of my life.  If only I could let things go and just roll with the flow. Let me make myself perfectly clear, I don't know that I have ever just "rolled with the flow".  If I did, I definitely wasn't smiling and giggling through the experience.  I was probably questioning every step, just acting as though I was laid back.  I have literally annoyed myself with my negative thoughts, before.  It is one thing to be annoyed by others, it is a whole different level of aggravation to be annoyed by yourself. When my husband witnesses me getting a little too negative or becoming a bit too uptight, he forces me to stop and give him a hug.  Literally stop, he will not let me move another step until after he is done with the hug.  He says it is his job to slow me down.  This action usually makes me roll my eyes and realize once again he is right.  He is naturally a positive person.  I am naturally a realistic person.  I prefer not to call myself a pessimist, it makes me start analyzing if I am really that negative.  :)  Does it make me positive since I added that little smiley face at the end of my sentence?  :) Becoming more positive is something I am constantly working on.  I read daily devotionals, reference Bible verses, read "self-help" books, all for the same goal - trying to find the magic answer.  What do those positive people know that I don't? I am currently reading, "Today is the Day" by Bil Cornelius.  He just happens to be the pastor of our church and a very, very positive person.  The book is about finding your dreams and acting on them.  Today, I read Chapter 4, Change Your Beliefs.  For some reason, today it just seemed a little easier to believe and understand that I really do have the control to make my thoughts positive.  It doesn't mean my circumstances will always be perfect or that my days will always be easy but that doesn't mean I can't try to keep my thoughts positive.  Maybe it sunk in more today because the book was written by our pastor.  He is definitely someone I feel is full of wisdom.  His positive outlook is also contagious.  Maybe, God knew I would hear it louder if it came from someone I respect. The past two years have been filled with challenges.  We are still working on our son's diagnosis.  Is it really ADHD?  The name Aspergers has also been thrown around.  As we constantly try to figure out the best route to parent him and the best way for him to receive his education, we are also constantly feeling immense pressure and often failure.  Our marriage has always been solid, that is truly a blessing from God.  There is no way a shaky marriage could make it through the past two years we have endured.  The last few months have definitely sent both of us into this state of negative thinking.  We vowed to each other that 2014 had to be different.  We have decided to make it "our year" regardless of our circumstances. Reading Chapter 4 today helped solidify that vow.  I have a feeling I will be reading it many times in the future.  I have lived the last two years in a negative state.  I am tired of negative...  I am ready to try on the feeling of positive.  It seems to work for all those other positive people! :) I have added a couple of my favorite verses from the Bible which Pastor Bil referenced in his book.
"With God's help, I can do this" Phil. 4:13
"As a man thinks in his heart, so is he" Prov. 23:7
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" 2 Cor. 12:9
** I had originally planned to blog about organizing the may electronic cords, chargers, adapters, etc. that are around my house.  I guess that wasn't His plan for me, today.  See, I am already going with the flow... :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Family Song - "Shake" Mercy Me

Dance and music have been a huge part of my life. Actually, dance has been the biggest part of my life right behind wife and mommy of five. I started dancing when I was four years old and fell in love. I was always the serious student in class, absorbing every step and detail. I decided to major in Dance and went on to teach it at the high school level for 10 years. I loved teaching my students how great dance can make a person feel. My three year old daughter started taking ballet this fall and I see similar characteristics in her. She does not like it when the class plays games, she only wants to practice "real" dance steps. I love it! :) All three of my boys (husband included) love to dance around the house. Anytime a good song comes on the radio we all start be-bopping around. It creates such a good mood. To me, a good song and a little shaking can cure just about any bad mood or stress (at least for the moment). We recently found a new, favorite song. The band is Mercy Me and the song is called, "Shake". It is very upbeat song, the whole family loves it.  We have deemed it as our family song.  Whenever the song comes on we stop what we are doing and dance. Moments like these are some of my most favorite memories, so many smiles and sounds of laughter. I am so thankful my family enjoys music and dance. It is definitely a common bond the five of us share.

"Shake" Mercy Me (official video)

If you can, take a moment out of your day and give yourself a little "Shake". :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Science Has Overtaken My Kitchen

Can you tell my oldest son loves science? :)

Goodness, it feels like my kitchen is a laboratory.  It started with a tiny "Something to Try" section from his science book.  He is currently studying plants.  The first small project was growing a sweet potato in a glass jar of water.  Simple enough, we already had all of the necessary items to get started.  Apparently this will takes weeks.  Wonderful!  I have always wanted a sweet potato sitting in a jar of water to display in my kitchen.  :)  Not to mention, I had great lunch plans for that sweet potato... oh well.

Then another "Something to Try" popped up.  This one was called, "Grow a Plant From a Cutting."  Now, I do not have a single living plant in my house.  A green thumb is something I was never blessed with.  It is an injustice to bring a plant into our home.  The plant knows it's final days are near when it enters my house.  So, we decided to ask Grandma, (a.k.a. Ma).  We turned our science lesson into a  typing/email lesson.  Side note:  I believe it is very important to teach children proper typing skills, otherwise they will grow up only using their thumbs.  Back on track, he sent the sweetest little email to Ma asking for plant clippings.  We brought them home from her house and displayed them in a jar of water next to the sweet potato.

Today.... oh, today may have crossed over my threshold.  Today, we started to grow mold.  Yes, you read that right.  After endlessly trying to keep mold out of my kitchen, I am purposely growing mold!  The things you will do for your kids! :)  I am not sure how long I will be able to let that moist piece of bread sit on the plate by the sink.  My kids think its amazing and check on it often.  I will have to grit my teeth and tie my hands behind my back to keep from throwing it out.  Hopefully it grows quickly! Ewwww!!!

The last item I have next to my sink is a heart shaped piece of soap.  My oldest son carved it last night at his Cub Scout den meeting.  He worked very hard on it and carefully wrapped it up to bring it home. What am I saying?  He hacked the daylights out of that piece of soap then threw it in my bag, so I could bring it home!  Since he is not attached to this project, we are going to put it to good use and wash our hands with it.  I decided it should sit next to the mold.  In a way, it makes me feel like the mold is a bit cleaner.  

Boys, they get attached to the strangest things (sweet potatoes, plant clippings, moldy bread) and then could care less about something you thought they were going to treasure.  Boys - gotta love 'em!

Here's to my mold!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

He Picked Me / It Takes a Village

This picture was taken almost two years ago.  It just seems so calm and peaceful. :)
This post is going to be honest, real, an open book, and hopefully comforting to all of my mommy friends. I am a mom. I am THE mom God has chosen for my three children. Do I get it right every day?  Absolutely not. Do I try my hardest every day?  Hmmmm...I guess if I am being real, the answer is no.  Some days I just don't have it in me to make a home cooked meal or help my children with the latest and greatest craft on Pinterest.  Some days are just TV, electronics, Happy Meal days. Do I constatnly question myself and the decisions I make?  Yes, one thing is for sure, I question myself pretty much every day. Do I overanalyze everything, even the little things?  Yep, I am a chronic analytical thinker.  I actually analyze how much I over-analyze.  It is a ridiculous argument that I have with myself almost daily. BUT.... Do I remind myself that God pick me for these children?  This is my corner stone reminder.  He picked me, no one else.  Just like He picked you for your children.  We are hand chosen.  It is not a random luck of the draw.  He knows our children before we know them and he ever so carefully places them with each one of us. I would say most days as a mom are not easy.  Can you remember the last time you went to bed feeling like the day was a breeze?  Honestly, I can not remember that day. It takes a village to raise children.  You can't do it on your own.  But, I also believe it takes a village to raise a mom.  We, as moms, need support systems, cheerleaders, and trusted friends.  We need to help one another and offer encouragement.  We need other women who will not only listen to our rant but who will also tell us to pull up our boot straps and get back in the game. My children are 9, 6, and 3.  I am definitely learning that each phase has it's own joys and challenges.  I am so thankful we no longer have diapers and bottles or baby gates and outlet covers but now we have eye-rolling, activity schedules, and homework.  On the flip side, we also have great conversations, nights filled with sleep, and family movie night. I am about to turn 35 (ugh, not sure how that happened) and I am finally beginning to feel like I have gained some wisdom in this adventure called motherhood.  As much as I worry about the dreaded "teenage years", I know I have amazing women who will be more than happy to cheer me along when the time comes.  Trust me, I will need the cheering and lots of it.  I taught high school for 10 years and it scared the daylights out of me as to what is to come. :) The point to all of this is: 1.  We must remind one another that each of us was hand picked for our children by the God (The Almighty Creator).  He took the time to hand select you, He trusts and believes in you. 2.  Find your village, cheer squad, or parenting platoon.  Lean on them and be a support when they need to lean on you. 3.  Remind yourself to take a deep breath, pull up your boot straps, and get back in the game - because the timer just went off on the dryer, dinner is on the stove, homework needs to be done, and I am sure someone needs their nose or some other area of their body wiped! BUT REMEMBER...IT IS A GIFT!!! :) This post is dedicated to my village, you know who you are! :)  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Speed Date

Do you ever feel like you need a date night every night of the week?  I do!  Why? Time with my hubby. Time away from the kiddos.  I love being with them but I could definitely use time as an adult, too. The joy of sitting down to a meal that someone else cooked. The pleasure of not having to wipe some one's mouth, cut up food, wipe up spills, or pick items off the floor. NOT HAVING TO CLEAN THE KITCHEN! The list could go on and on. REALITY CHECK!!!! Finding a babysitter. Paying a babysitter. Preparing everything before you go.  I usually feed everyone and do bath time before a date. Picking everything up when you get home. Just as above, the list goes on and on. My husband and I have taken on a new kind of date... The Speed Date. Speed Dating - working as hard as possible to make sure you and your hubby still get a date each week, even if it is only 60-90 minutes long. My husband works very long hours, six days a week, 10-12 hour days.  He usually gets home between 7:30 and 8:00pm.  It has always seemed impossible for us to have a date during the week.  Until, last night.... :)  My mom offered her free babysitting services for any night this week.  Typically, it would be used for a scheduled activity... Cub Scout meeting, volunteer meetings, and any other type of meeting that may come up.  BUT!!!  This week we did not have any scheduled meetings, wide open schedule!!!  How did this happen?  Don't question it?  Don't tell anyone or post it on Facebook because they will schedule something that involves you!   This was our plan. 1.  Feed and bath the kids prior to Mom arriving.  This was actually the kids' idea.  They said they did not want to waste their time bathing while "Ma" was at our house. :) 2.  Have an amazing mother who offered to bring the kids milk shakes and tater tots.  Wow!  What a treat!  Can I stay? 3.  Arrange with the hubby a time and place to meet.  There is not enough time for him to drive all the way home to pick me up.  I know this seems ridiculous but it takes him 20 minutes to get home then a few minutes visiting with the kids and finally another 15 minutes to drive to a restaurant.  It is much easier and saves a lot of time for me to meet him.  We picked Jason's Deli (on his side of town) at 7pm.  Not romantic but sounded really good. 4.  Tell mom that we will be back around 8:15.  I am a real stickler for bedtimes during the week.  I would not be able to relax on our date if I knew the kids would be going to bed really late because we were not home.  Our kids are not the easiest to put to bed so I never ask grandmas or babysitters to worry about bedtime.  I want them to come back! So, the plan was in place, now to execute it.  I found myself a little excited to meet my husband at the deli.  I waited in my car in the parking lot and watched for a white pick up truck.  Where we live, there are a lot of white pick ups.  It actually felt like our original days of dating.  It was fun to watch and wait for him to pull into the parking lot.  Is that corny?  Probably, but I love that I still get that excited feeling in my stomach when I meet my husband for a date.  I hope it is like that when we are 80, although our children will probably be driving us to our dates.  :) We had a great dinner and the food seemed extra yummy.  Probably because someone else made it and brought it to the table.  We actually ended up with some time to spare.  We decided to run an errand to Academy for snow gloves.  We are taking a family trip to Washington in March.  It has been quite the battle trying to outfit our family for this trip when we live in a warm weather climate.  We laughed because we saw a display with snow hats and bikinis! I was quite fond of our "speed date".  I will take a short date over no date any day! Last week, we put the kids to bed a little early, rented a movie, drank coffee and ate donuts.  That was a fantastic date!  It only cost the amount of the movie.  Plus, we felt like we were breaking the rules eating donuts at 10:00pm!  Hey, its the little things!!! What kind of dates work for you?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Prayer Verse for 2014

One of my favorite blogs to check regularly is, The M.O.B Society (Mothers of Boys).  It is such a great site and is beneficial for all moms, not just boy-only moms. :)  After reading the January 1st post, I became inspired to pick a verse or two to pray over my kids for the entire year.  I have never used one specific verse before and I thought it would be a great habit to introduce into the new year.  I talked it over with my hubby and he agreed it was something we should do. It is not an easy task, picking just one verse.  I have so many favorites!   We finally decided on Galatians 5:22 (The Fruits of the Spirit).  We felt it was a great verse for the kids to hear...ALL THE TIME, EVERY DAY, ALL YEAR LONG! :)  It is a great reminder of the qualities we should strive to live by. We have also made a family commitment to sit down and have family prayer time before the kids go to bed.  The kids have always said their bedtime prayers, but to be honest it has always been a bit rushed.  Now we sit down together, pray our verse for the year, read a devotional, ask the kids if they have any prayer requests, and then take turns praying.  So far, it has gone pretty well.  My husband and I decided this is our commitment for the year.  As hectic as life will get, we will try our hardest to end our day all together in prayer.  I must say, I have been blown away by the prayer requests of our children.  Our youngest son always requests to pray for those who are sick or is so sweet. We know it is only January 6th, but we really want to honor this commitment. I highly recommend you take a moment and hop over to The M.O.B. Society and enjoy reading the many verses other moms have chosen for the year.  If you are a blogger, they suggest you write a post about your verse for the year.  There is a also a free printable! We have also enforced two main rules for our family to live by: 1.  Love God more than anything or anyone.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.  Matthew 22:37

2.  Treat others the way you want to be treated - BE KIND
Do to others as you would have them do to you.  Luke 6:31

These rules seem obvious, right?  But how often do we actually remind ourselves, each other, and our kids to live this way?  When we sat down and really took a long hard look at things, we decided we were going to keep things simple and follow these two main rules. So, our family will have three points of focus: Galatians 5:22, Matthew 22:37, and Luke 6:31.  I think it is going to be a great year!!! :) *** The devotional our family loves is Jesus Calling 365 Devotionals for Kids by Sarah Young.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas Card Organization

Well, the holidays are over and now it is time to put everything away until next year.  My house always feels so empty when the Christmas decorations come down.  Some years I take the time to organize and clean out decorations I did not use.  Other years, I throw everything in the Christmas buckets, stick the lid on, and call it done! This year, I decided to take the time and really organize my Christmas cards.  I love sending and receiving cards!!! In years past, I displayed our cherished cards over my kitchen window.  Using wooden clothes pins, I attached each card to the hem of the window valance.  It was something I looked forward to, but this year I changed my window treatment.  The new window covering (DIY No Sew Burlap Curtains) did not allow for the cards.  Instead, I took a large red and white striped ribbon (about six feet long with wire edges) and hung it on a column between our living room and kitchen.  Each time a new card came in the mail, I attached it to the ribbon with the wooden clothes pins.  It was so much fun to add new cards and to see six feet of cards going down our wall.  We filled the entire ribbon by the end of the season! But now what?  The holidays are over but I just hate throwing out Christmas cards.  I know how hard everyone works to get just the right card and just the right pictures.  To keep the cards, I decided to use a small decorative box to hold the pictures until next year.  It won't hurt so much to throw them out when I am getting new cards in the mail.  :)  It may seem silly to hold on to them for a year, however, it will remind me who I need to send cards to.  This year, we had a really tight budget for cards.  I ordered the amount I thought I needed, however, received cards from several other people.  I felt awful not being able to send them a card in return.  I have already noted that I need to increase the number of cards and budget for next year. In the box, I also included the cards my family has sent out over the past 10 years.  Those are always so much fun to look at each year.  I decided it would make the most sense to also include the ribbon, thumb tack, and clothes pins in the box, as well.  Perfect!  Everything is in one box and ready to go for next year.
The best part, we received the box from someone else.  So, this little piece of organization cost absolutely nothing!

I treasure our family's Christmas cards.

Everything tucked away, nice and tidy.

I labeled the box using my handy-dandy label maker.

Another way to do it would be to use a non-holdiay themed box.  If you purchased a box that matched to every day decor, it could sit out all year long.  I think a box like this would look really cute on a coffee table or credenza.

Happy New Year!!!

***Please hop over to Living Well Spending Less Thifty Thursday for some exceptional organization on a budget!