Friday, November 20, 2009

New Schedule Implementation Update

So, last week I put together a new schedule that was supposed to help me complete what I need to complete without being overwhelmed. I was going to start it on Tuesday, since I had to take the kids to the Eye Doctor on Monday afternoon - eating up the whole afternoon.

So, how did it go this week?

Truthfully, not so hot. For several reasons.

What didn't work:
* I have yet to get up with John this week. I used to do this all the time, but this week, not so much.
* I haven't been getting to bed on time either. So, this is tied to getting up too. Going to bed at midnight or later does not make it easy to get up at 530am! Not to mention what it does for being coherent when I am awake at that hour....
* Tuesday we had the broken window at the dance studio, so I got home at 1230pm, instead of 11am as I'd planned. I was able to shift things, but lost an hour I had for working on presents and another hour on housework.
* Getting up late, means I get in to school later, and the result is that I miss a good hour or hour and a half of the time I had budgeted for review during the day as a whole with trying to ensure I have time to do what is necessary for daily function here.
* I had coffee with a friend on Wednesday after choir practice, which meant I lost another hour to work on presents. I need to schedule that when it has less potential to be precluded by something like this (people are always more important and this was something we've been trying to schedule for a month, but the presents still need to get done by Wednesday next week!)

What did work:
* I was able to shift my schedule so that I get the schoolwork and the housework done. The presents and some other more 'open' times, not so much.
* I have been able to get caught up on some things I hadn't gotten done but should have.
* I know what I need to work on in terms of scheduling - going to bed on time is a big one!
* I'm a big amazed at how little time it takes to do certain things now that I'm scheduling time for the kids to help do them - dusting for example takes so much less time since they do everything below waist level. Is it perfect, no. Do I care that it's not perfect? No. :)
* I've stayed up to current on several things this week. Not everything but it's getting better.

I'm striving for improvement, not perfection. Though I'm pretty disgusted with myself for not going to bed and getting up on time, I guess the rest is not too bad. I tend to focus on one area and then jump to another and then another, and I'm liking not having to do that with this new schedule. So, I guess that's a good improvement. :)

My goal for next week is to get to bed on time each night. More work that is refining me, I guess, since that's always been a challenge for me. I'll let you know how it goes next week!

Making Progress....

This has been a good week productivity speaking. I've gotten about half the stuff on my to-do list crossed off and I'm close on a few other things. For a while there, I was starting to think I was seriously productivity-challenged.

Still up this weekend is getting some review for my preliminary oral exam done (I'm trying to do a little each day so I'm not overwhelmed and my mind has time to organize 3 1/2 years + worth of information), finishing making and buying the Christmas presents and 5 birthday presents we need to take down to Iowa next weekend, buying, wrapping and mailing a baby gift, a birthday party for my children's' friend, my monthly Bible Study, trimming back the roses and putting the rose cones on them, cleaning out the last flower bed, at home date night for John and me, and our normal weekend worship (with choir this week), errands and housework.

My plan for grocery shopping this weekend is to make my menu for the 3 days we'll be here this next week (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) from what we already have, so I can just use our $40 for stock-up. There's some excellent deals on meat and all the makings of Thanksgiving meals this weekend so I'm hoping to get another turkey, a whole roasting chicken, beef roast and a few other things I've had my eye on for a while, like shrimp! We'll see what I can come up with!

In the meantime, I'm working on review today and in the process found a paper or two that I should have read but didn't. Oops! So, basically catching up, wrapping up some loose ends. I like to do that on Fridays, so I can jump in with both feet on Monday.

Has this week been all good and productive? No. Not by a long shot. But at least progress is being made. That's the important part. And not letting the setbacks get you so discouraged that you quit or fall apart. It's not always easy, but it's worth it!

How are you doing with your goals for the week?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finances in Line: Getting Out of a Budget Funk

It's been 3 1/2 years since I went back to school to get this PhD. At that time we cut back to 1 income (John's) for living expenses, daycare and household repairs, etc. with my 'second' smaller salary covering tuition, parking, books, etc. This is the third (non-consecutive) semester in those 7 semesters plus 4 summer sessions that I've not had an income.

For some reason this time it's harder than before. Maybe because we have preschool tuition to pay on top of daycare. Maybe because we have more medical expenses than we've had other times. Maybe because we have a different budget worked out.

Maybe because things we've had for a while are starting to wear out. I'm noticing that things I thought were 'new' really aren't any more. For example, I was all bummed that a set of our towels was too worn to use for effective drying not to mention they were stained and had bleach spots. I said to John "Would you look at this! They're practically new." John replied (with a straight face, no less), "Oh, yeah, we got those for our wedding 11 years ago!" Oh yeah. Duh. Not to mention the 'new' shoes that fell apart that were 4 years old (and worn almost daily) or the 'new' jeans that wore through that were 3 years old (and worn at least twice a week).

We also have 2 kids growing out of clothes left and right. Two vehicles that are 11 and 7 years old respectively. Not to mention our 50+ year old house. And the little fact that we are now trying to pay cash for everything and pay down what little debt we do have (even though it's mostly self-loans from our personal savings accounts).

It seems like our list of 'needs' are much longer than our budget. Never mind the fact that we won't go hungry or naked or have the house fall down or anything like that. Add to all of this the fact that John's had a couple of paychecks 'under budget', and I was getting seriously frustrated by the whole thing. I've been fighting a serious case of the "I wants" lately.

I decided to do two things:
1. Go through my cookbooks and several issues of Cooking Light Magazine that I have in my kitchen bookcase to find some new and frugal recipes to make to mix things up and stay healthy.
2. "Shop" my own closet, starting with a 'bottom' (or other main piece) and see how many outfits I could make from what I have.

It's helped more than I thought. Here's how:

1. I have several new and 'cheap' recipes to try. Two are on this week's menu: Peanut Butter Pancakes (a definite keeper!) and Easy Black Bean Soup.

2. I know what common recipe ingredients to add to my master grocery list to pick up on sales to make additional recipes (canned artichoke hearts, whole garlic, shrimp, fish, EVOO, parsnips, etc.). Two that are on this week's list: EVOO and parsnips (both on sale) and I bought garlic last week for a quarter for a big clove.

3. I know what pieces in my closet I don't wear and probably won't. I can either sell those or donate them, simplifying my wardrobe and making space in my tiny closet.

4. I know where the 'holes' in my wardrobe are so I can fill those when we have the budget to do so, thus stretching my closet even more.

5. I have several 'new' outfits to wear - things I wouldn't have thought of before that look nice and make me feel like I'm stylish (Ha!).

6. I found out I really have a lot more clothes than I thought - enough to make well over 100 outfits when I mix-and-match pieces. **Blush**

The biggest thing: I found out how very, very blessed I am.

How?

Many of the recipes I found I have most of the ingredients to make in my house already.
I have more clothes than I ever thought possible and I like them more than I had thought I did.
I have a mother that taught me to cook very healthfully (and cheap!).
I have a mother that taught me not to buy anything but a dress unless it goes with at least 3 other pieces I have in my closet (i.e. buy a blouse that goes with more than one pair of pants or skirts or both).
I have a mother that taught me to dress in a very classic style, so I have very few things in my closet that will go out of style.

After doing this, I'm more committed to living on a budget. As tiring as it is at times, the sacrifices are worth it.

Having two people in graduate school without accruing debt is a good thing.
Paying preschool tuition and daycare with cash is a good thing.
Having two paid for vehicles is a good thing.
Being able to pay ourselves back for household repairs and upgrades is a good thing.
Being able to pay off our small amount of credit card debt is a good thing.

And all of it is used by God to refine me further for His glory and not my own. Teaching me to be thankful for what I have. Teaching me to be a good steward of what He has given me. Do I have a ways to go? Yes. But I am slowly learning...

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.

For more financial inspiration, see Money Saving Mom.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More Excitement Than I Needed

I got to the dance studio where our Jazzercise franchise rents space for class this morning to find the front window (next to the front door) broken.

I looked at it for a minute and thought "Um, I really don't think that's supposed to be like that!" and called my franchise owner. I did not have the studio owner's numbers so she was going to contact them. They came at the end of our class along with the building owner.

Just the outer pane was broken in a double-pane window, so no glass on the floor. If someone tried to break in it was a pretty sad attempt from looking at the whole thing. (If it had been a break in I would have high-tailed it outside or to the neighboring business and called 911 first, don't worry!) The authorities believe from looking at it was just a random act of vandalism - someone trying to break a door or window just to make a mess and cause trouble.

Still, it was way more excitement than I needed for the day!

Now, it's back to less exciting things, like washing the bedding and making headway on my reading assignments for this week and a class project....

Have a great - and mostly uneventful - day!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - November 16th

I'm working from home today since the kids have an eye doctor appointment in the middle of the day. By the time I got in, I'd have to turn around and come home. Not to mention that they would have spent a grand total of about 30 minutes at daycare - in 2 15-minute chunks, no less! So I'm dropping them off and picking them up from preschool and then we're heading out to the eye doctor. I contemplated picking up something for lunch, but our budget was short this pay period, so pb&j at home it is!

So, here's what we're eating this week!

Breakfasts are oatmeal or yogurt with a banana unless otherwise stated.
Lunches are leftovers unless otherwise stated.
We drink skim milk, 100% apple juice, homemade lemonade, or water. I also drink black coffee.

Sunday, November 15:
Breakfast: Cheerios with Banana
Lunch: Peanut Butter Pancakes with Strawberries and Walnuts
Dinner: Hot Chicken Sandwiches, Mashed Potatoes (John's request), Steamed Carrots, Fruit

Monday, November 16:
Lunch: PB&J on Whole Wheat Bread, Vanilla Pudding, and Orange Wedges
Dinner: Scalloped Potatoes with Ham, Lettuce Salad, and Fruit

Tuesday, November 17:
Dinner: Baked Chicken, Baked Pumpkin, Brown Rice, Fruit

Wednesday, November 18:
Dinner: Easy Black Bean Soup, Cornbread, Lettuce Salad, Fruit

Thursday, November 19:
Dinner: Crock pot Venison Stew, Homemade Rolls

Friday, November 20:
Dinner: Leftovers

Saturday, November 21:
Breakfast: Out for Mom (Bible Study), Oatmeal Muffins and Strawberry Smoothies for Dad and Kids
Lunch: Tuna Sandwiches on Homemade Rolls, Baby Carrots, Fruit
Dinner: Homemade Chicken Calzones with Lettuce Salad

Snacks: fudge swirl cake, oranges, dried apples with toasted pumpkin seeds, apples or stove top popcorn without butter

For more menu planning inspiration, see Organizing Junkie!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Yummy One-on-One Time

I bought cake mix today - something I rarely do (I can't even remember the last time I made a cake from a mix it's been that long!). Missy asked if we could make a cake after we got home today.


So we did! I poured it into two round pans - the kind you stack to make a two-layer cake. We're eating one and I'm sending the other one to work with John on Monday. I remember now why people prefer to use a mix - we had the whole thing mixed up in about 5 minutes! I think I need to make up some mixes of my own. I'm almost out of biscuit, cornbread, and muffin mixes that I'd made before and should probably add cookies since we're getting toward Christmas. Hrmm - something to do with the kids tomorrow!


Anyway, back to that cake! Missy poured everything into the mixer for me and then even cracked the eggs and put them in to. Apparently my Mom showed her how to do this in May of this year without informing me. She did great - go figure! Then, after pouring both batters into the pans, she 'swirled' them for me by 'cutting' through them with a butter knife.
Here's Missy frosting the cake for home with our homemade vanilla frosting:

Adding the sprinkles:



And the final product!



Not bad for a preschooler, huh?

And it tasted so very, very yummy!

What an enjoyable thing to do this afternoon! And what a good way to spend some quality time with my daughter!

What more can I ask for?

Super Savings Saturday - $40

Today we started our $40 grocery budget again, after being at $25 for so many weeks I'm so happy to be back to $40! I can do so much more with that and I think that's a good number for our family of 4 to be at. I'm not sure I could do it with two in diapers again, but for now it's really good.

Here's the Loot!


We got the following:

Two gallons skim milk

1 lb Roma Tomatoes

8 lbs Oranges

1 loaf of whole wheat bread

10 lbs of Potatoes

1 yellow onion

1 clove garlic

2 cans black beans

1 jar Smucker's Red Raspberry Jam

5lbs bananas

2 12 ct bags Pillsberry Oven Ready Buttermilk Biscuits

5lb Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flour

1 bag Fresh Express Romaine Salad Mix

1 bag shredded Kraft Cheddar Cheese

3 lbs Honeycrisp Apples

80 oz Enriched White Long-Grain Rice

2 boxes Duncan Haines Fudge Swirl Cake Mix

1 jar Green Mill Pizza Sauce

All for $39 and change! I saved at least $20 in reported savings.

I'll post acutal prices either tomorrow or monday!

For more shopping inspiration, visit Money Saving Mom!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Crazy Week

It has been a wild and woolly week around here!

All the usual stuff plus the prayer request for my cousin (who had her baby on Wednesday evening and everyone is doing fine - Praise the Lord! Thank you for prayers!) and a meeting with my advisor and the uproar at church. I also had a headache bordering on a migraine for two days. John had the national inspectors in at work and a co-worker on vacation. That equals long hours for him. I also had to get started on a project for class and finalizing my thesis proposal so I can turn that in and get things rolling with that. Not to mention our friends from church meeting their 3 new daughters and keeping everyone posted on how things are going with their adoption process.

We ended the week today by waking up 2 minutes (literally - 6:58, he needs to be in at 7am) before John had to be at work. He called in, said he was running 15 minutes late (Ha!), took a 2-minute shower, dressed, grabbed the pasta salad I put in a Tupperware bowl for him to take to the lunch potluck today, and was out the door. All in 7 minutes.

It took me a lot longer to get back to whatever normal is this morning.

Not to mention that Missy first wanted yogurt for breakfast, ate half of it and then decided she wanted oatmeal instead! Ugh. Then we totally finished the milk off during breakfast too. Add to that waking up to a house smelling like boiled chicken (I had chicken stock making itself in my crock pot over night last night), and my day did not get off to such a good start.

Physically I feel like I've been chased by something large and frightening for almost a week now!

After the meeting, with my advisor yesterday I wanted to crawl under the table and cry. I found out I have yet another hang-up with my preliminary written exam. No idea when that will be resolved (though they're working on it). I do have things I can do in the meantime, but my to do list for all of that combined with class and normal activities looks insurmountable at the moment!

So, today I wrote out a schedule for all 7 days of the week for the rest of the semester, with the exception of Thanksgiving and the following 3 days. Now I need the self-control to stick with it. And a lack of interruptions.

I can stick to the schedule with God's help and work to minimize the interruptions (ear buds work great in a communal office - even with no music playing, people think you can't hear them!). With God's help and blessing I can get these things done and do them well. I'll post how it's going in a week or so when I've had a chance to try out the schedule for a bit. I'm sure there will be tweaks, but it should be helpful!

And I need to remember God is good, even when my day isn't.

I'm working on that too....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Amazing Faith

Friends of ours from church are currently in Columbia for adoption. They met their new family yesterday and posted photos on their web site for all of us "back home" to meet the children. I was moved to tears. They are ecstatic, excited, and terrified.

Yes, they are adopting a family, not just a single child. Three sisters, ages 7, 4, and 3.
This couple have been married for longer than 10 years, are at least late-30s in age (I've never asked how old they are specifically!), and are now going from a couple to being a family of 5!

Not only that, the children speak only Spanish and have some continuing medical problems as well. Bringing home a 7 year-old has very different challenges than a newborn or even a 1 year-old. Not to mention a 4 or 3 year-old having different challenges again.

I am overwhelmed and amazed at the faith that it takes to do something like this. To step out on a limb and adopt an older child takes courage. To adopt 3 siblings, takes even more. To adopt the siblings from an overseas orphanage with only a 3-inch folder of materials documenting their previous life and having the children speak another language takes nothing short of pure faith.

This couple is a good, strong Christian couple. They have been requesting our congregation's prayers throughout the whole process. They are elated to have finally met their children. The web site said that the oldest child was so excited that she was getting adopted along with her sisters - that they would never have to be separated. The other children at the orphanage were pointing to our friends sayings "There's the parents!" when they arrived. The children have had a good Christian foundation laid in the orphanage and our friends are hoping that this will be a common bond that unites them as they build a life together here in the US.

Our friends have a long road ahead before they can even bring the children back. They are hoping to be home for Christmas but they don't know. For now, they are content to spend time together, to slog through the paperwork and other details, and to get to know their girls.

Congratulations to the O. family! If you think of them, will you say a little prayer? They appreciate it.

I will continue to pray and offer outgrown toys and clothes and car and table booster seats. I will offer play dates and friendship (though I don't speak Spanish).

And I will continue to be amazed at the faith our friends have to follow God's direction for their lives and bring an entire family home from another country as their own. I can imagine it would have been so easy to have said "I don't think so." But they didn't. They accepted God's direction and the challenges it will bring. They have given 3 lovely girls a mother and father and a home again. And they are all so very blessed.

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Prayer Request

My cousin, who I'll call J.L., is in the hospital with pre-term labor. They're pretty sure everyone will be okay in the long run but if you think about it, can you say a little prayer for her and baby?

She's only 32 weeks, so they're worried about lung development at this point for baby. Plus, they can't figure out why she went into labor and why they can't stop it for more than a few hours. This puts them on the lookout for complications with both baby and mama.

Thanks!
God Bless.

Scripture for Today

We've been going through a tough time at our church. A lot of fighting and disagreement. Actions taken by some with authority that have overstepped the bounds of that authority and without thought to larger ramifications of those actions. It's pitted friends against friends, family against family and members of our congregation against others.

I HATE IT.

More than that, I'm pretty sure that this type of division is definitely not something God wants for us, no matter where we stand on the issues involved.

I hate going to worship and wondering if the Pastor has an 'ulterior motive' in his sermon.
I hate not knowing what to say to some friends because we stand on opposite sides of the issue and I'm not sure how they'll respond to me about anything.
I hate it that we get a package without a return address and I'm afraid to open it (it turned out to be a lovely thank you gift for John's work on the retreat weekend).
I hate it that I constantly think about it.

Why? Because there are more things that unite us that we CAN agree on. Those things are more important in the grand scheme of things than this issue is.


Today during my devotional time, I read this:
Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.
Philippians 2:3
Part of the commentary from the author read:
"Why do our churches attract so much criticism? Is it not because we spend all our time fighting each other rather than fighting the devil?"*
Sunday, my verse was:
Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit and bind yourselves together in peace.
Ephesians 4:3
Frankly, this whole disagreement sounds like the pre-election debate all over again. "If they 'win', we're going to h*** in a hand basket!" and I doesn't matter which side you talk to! The other side is always wrong and they are always right. End of discussion (if one took place in the first place!). And 'we' HAVE to win - at all costs. No holds barred. Take no prisoners.
Really folks.
No single one of us, no single denomination, no single pastor or congregation has a handle on salvation. Last time I checked, God was the one who made those judgments, based on people's hearts, not their actions or words or anything else. That's what grace is all about.
Personally, I'm so very grateful for that. My sins are many. My actions can use improving. My speech can certainly use improvement. I am so glad that God will grant me salvation in spite of my weaknesses. Since I can't see the hearts and minds of others and know how sinful I personally am, I am so very, very grateful that I don't have to judge others. I am quite sure that if God's grants me eternal rest in heaven, I'll be thoroughly surprised by who is there and who isn't there.
But isn't it true that the squabbling and division in the church (pick your favorite branch!) is what makes us look like a bunch of crazy hypocrites, unable to even get along with those who supposedly have salvation right along with us?

Come on people, let's focus on what we agree on. I have four people in my house and we can't agree on everything. Hey, even John and I can't agree on everything - and we're 2 people! Do we really think a body of almost 1000 worshipers is going to agree on everything? Or a church body of 4 million? Or the entire Christian body?
Come on...
Get a grip...
and focus on the important thing...
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, who died and rose from the grave 3 days later. The ultimate sacrifice to make atonement for our sins once and for all. The gift of forgiveness, mercy, hope and salvation.
Let's practice a little of what we preach for once.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Always.
* Taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Women by Jill Briscoe, page 324.

Menu Plan Monday - November 9

Here's what we're eating this week:

Breakfast: cereal or oatmeal unless otherwise stated
Lunch: leftovers unless otherwise stated

Sunday, November 8:
Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins
Lunch: Baked Eggs, Sausage and Apple Crisp
Dinner: Baked Pork Chops, Steamed Broccoli, Rice and Fruit

Monday, November 9:
Dinner: Pot Luck at Church: Bring Fruit Salad

Tuesday, November 10:
Dinner: Baked Ham, Roasted Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans, and Fruit

Wednesday, November 11:
Dinner: Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup and Homemade Bread

Thursday, November 12:
Dinner: Pulled Chicken Sandwiches, Pasta Salad, and Fruit

Friday, November 13:
Dinner: Leftovers

Saturday, November 14:
Breakfast: Cinnamon Breakfast Biscuits
Lunch: Ham Sandwiches, Fruit
Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks, Lettuce Salad

For more menu inspiration, see Organizing Junkie!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Super Savings Saturday - $65 Haul, Revamping the Budget

Well, John and I are revamping our budget. It's getting almost impossible for us to stay within our $25 budget if we include toiletries and paper products. It was fairly easy over the summer because we could score big time with in-season stuff at the farmer's market and still had a ton of meat from my cousin (venison and elk) and the neighbor (salmon!). We also got cheap or free fruit from friends.

Once we stock up again, we'll probably going to be able to go back to $25/wk for a month or two, but right now meat is a big thing we need plus milk and fruit (we have frozen veggies from summer). So, this month we're up to $40/week, or $80 every two weeks, which is how our budget works.

I spent $22.28 at one store and $42.10 at another for a total of $64.38.

Here's the loot:


Store #1: Cub Foods:

* Cheerios $1.88 x 2 = $3.76 - ($0.55 x 2) = $2.66

* Kleenex 110 Count $0.99 x 3 = $2.97 - $0.50 = $2.47

* Cub Flour $1.47

* Cub Apple Juice 2 x $1.89 = $3.76

* Starkist Tuna Pouches 4 x $1.29 = $5.16 - ($0.50 x 4) = $3.16

* 5.32 lbs Banana @ $0.39/lb = $2.07

* 2.76 lbs Granny Smith Apples @ $0.98/lb = $2.70

* 3.08 lbs Bartlett Pears @ $0.98/lb = $3.02


Store #2: Rainbow Foods
*Roundy's Hot Dog Buns 8 ct $1.65
* 10 ct LaBanderita Large Flour Tortillas $2.00
* Ronzoni Pasta $1.89 x 2 = $1.89 (BOGO) - $1 = $0.89
* Dawn AntiBackterial 10.3oz dish soap = $1 - $0.25 = $0.75
* Marcel 250 ct Paper Napkins 2/$4 x 2 = $4 - ($1 x 2) = $2
* Ronzoni Pasta $1.55 x 6 = $4.65 (BOGO) - ($1 x 3) = $$1.65
* New England Ground Hazelnut Coffee $3.50
* Roundy's Neopolitan Ice Cream $2.50
* Roundy's Lint Trap (Clothes Washer) 2 pack $1.29
* Cook's Ham 8lbs $15.99
* Roundy's 1 lb Maple Breakfast Sausage *Free* with Ham Purchase
* Jennie-O 10.5lb Frozen Turkey *Free* with Ham Purchase
* Roundy's 1 dozen large Eggs *Free* with Ham Purchase
* Green Bell Pepper $0.50
* 1lb Bag Baby Carrots $1
* Gallon Roundy's Skim Milk $1.78 x 2 = $3.56
* Youplait Delights 2/$4 x 4 = $8 - (4 x S1) = $4

All total I saved: $45.08 not including store sales at Cub (which aren't listed on the receipt and I'm not going to take the time to figure them out!).

Whoo hoo! And I have $15.62 for next week. That should get us milk, fruit and any really killer deals.

For more shopping inspiration, see Money Saving Mom!

Note: My apologies for the weird spacing, my computer is doing very strange things!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yikes...

These last few days have been busy - almost to the point of being hectic.

Choir last night was wonderful - especially after saying some very naughty words at our main desk-top computer as it failed to cooperate at letting me order books for my childrens' November book order 3 times before it finally went through! Uff da. I definately need to work on patience - especially with dumb, inanimate objects! :)

I did get almost everything I wanted to accomplish yesterday accomplished. That makes me happy!

I was just looking at my to-do list for the rest of today.

All I can say is: YIKES!

I have a ton to do and I'm not sure if any of it can get pushed off until tomorrow, though I'm trying to find something to push to tomorrow so my list isn't quite so long.

I guess that means I need to get rolling! God willing, I'll be able to cross everything off my list today. I'm sore from working out twice this week, so I'm hoping that isn't a hindrance. I'm hoping... Hope is a very good thing!

I hope your week is going well and is as productive as mine has been! Keep plugging away at those to-do lists. It is SO worth it!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Just Busy....

I've been trying to dig myself out from under the pile of things that I've been getting behind on during the month of October.

So, these last couple of days have been just plain busy.

Throw in school conferences, John's Bible Study, a gut-wrenching 2-hour long meeting at church, our favorite teenager's 17Th birthday party, an eye doctor appointment along with all the usual things this week and it's been officially a busy week.

Still, I'm grateful I have the energy to keep up.
And I'm even more grateful that I've gotten a lot done.

... a Thanksgiving countdown chain up for the kids
...a draft of a paper written for school
...4 papers for school read and notes taken
....ironing almost caught up
...slipcovers, sheets and towels washed
....3 loads of laundry washed, dried and put away
...a birthday gift wrapped and card written
...a letter written to our Compassion International Child
...1 large box and 1 large pile of stuff cleaned out from our stash of stuff left from moving in
...progress made on my niece's and nephew's quilt tops
...a movie watched while cuddling with the kids
...the living room tidied up and cleaned
...a list of Christmas gifts to make has been made
...3 Christmas gifts and a birthday gift have been ordered online
...Attended the 2-hour church meeting
...talked to several people regarding the meeting
...made an apple crisp
...gotten my eyes checked and I don't need new glasses (yay!)
...met with my kids' teacher and they're doing very, very well (double yay!)
...had a mini-budget talk with John
...found the curriculum guidelines that I had been looking for (and needed!) for school
...made four appointments
...scheduled two meetings
...set up and checked people in for and attended Jazzercise (and I can barely walk today!)
...did a quick clean on the bathroom for John's Bible Study
...actually found the Thanksgiving guest towels and put those out!
...came up with an amazing $25 grocery list thanks to some awesome sales for this week

...Plus all the daily stuff like cooking and cleanup, eating meals, and morning and bedtime routines.

On tap for today also is choir practice at Church, finishing this paper, finishing one last load of laundry, ordering the kids' November book order and school pictures online, making and eating dinner and vacuuming the carpets.

I'm so grateful that I have the energy and can actually cross some things off my to-do list. It's exciting. It's exhausting. It's exhilerating.

And I feel so blessed that I can do it.
Soli Deo Gloria. Always

Monday, November 2, 2009

Character Traits in November

The three character traits I'm working on this month are as follows:

* Creativity
* Ordiliness
* Thoroughness

I have a tendency to be messy and half-finishing things, so I'm hoping to use these to get a few things crossed of my to-do list that have been on there way.to.long! These things include:

* Cleaning out my home office and organizing it (something I've started and stopped about 10 dozen times!)
* Finishing my half-done sewing projects
* Cleaning out the boxes left from when we moved in 10 years ago. Ahem. Yes. There aren't that many of them, but they're there.
* I also have a list of 5 loose ends for school that need to be tied up this semester.

The creativity part, I'm not that worried about, though depending on the context, it could be challenging. I'll write back at the end of the month about how I did with all of these and am hoping to post with my finished to-do list projects along the way.

From last month:
* Thriftiness
* Self-Control
* Eternal Security

I made some strides in thriftiness and self-control, but not as much as I'd like. I will continue to work on those. Eternal security is something that is fairly easy for me right now due to the newness of the whole faith happenings that have happened in the last two and a half months. I think that will be something I might need to work on at times in the future though!

God willing, I'll make some serious progress this month! And not get ill again....
I'll keep you posted!

One Last October Blessing...

We had a surprise blessing on Halloween. Well, two of them actually.

First, we got a new camera this spring and didn't have any way to get the pictures off. A friend loaned us their converter thingie (yep, that's the technical term!) to try it out before we bought one. Saturday, they told us we could keep it. Apparently, not having it in the house gave our friend an excuse to 'go looking' and they ended up buying a really nice, much fancier one than the one they loaned us. We were so surprised! And blessed....

Second, I was able to share my faith story of the last few months with someone who really, really, REALLY needed to hear it. Totally unexpectedly we ended up having root beer floats at a friend's house after trick-or-treating on Halloween and I found out a bunch of stuff that had been happening in her life and the life of a friend of her's that was also there. It was such a blessing to be able to share and make a difference in these peoples' lives. I was humbled and amazed that God has used me that way.

Isn't God good?
Soli Deo Gloria. Always.

Menu Plan Monday - November 2, 2009

This week's menu plan is a bit odd, even for us - we have several evening things and we have a birthday party to go to as well (Dinner provided at the party!). John is also on call Thursday this week through Monday next week because he co-worker is out of town. Yes, it's officially a busy week!

As usual, breakfast is usually cereal and lunch is usually leftovers, unless otherwise stated.

Sunday, November 1:
Brunch: Pancakes
Dinner: Hamburger Gravy with Noodles, Fruit

Monday, November 2:
Dinner: Cracker Baked Chicken, Roasted Root Vegetables, Lettuce Salad

Tuesday, November 3:
Dinner: Birthday Party - Dinner Provided.
Bible Study Snacks: Cookies, Apples and Oranges, Hot Cocoa, Water

Wednesday, November 4:
Dinner: Chili and Cornbread

Thursday, November 5:
Dinner: Venison Stew in the Crock pot and Homemade Bread

Friday, November 6:
Dinner: Leftovers or Macaroni and Cheese with Fruit

Saturday, November 7:
Breakfast: Cinnamon Rolls and Fruit
Lunch: Hot Dogs on the Grill, Pasta Salad, Fruit
Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Lettuce Salad

For more menu inspiration, see Organizing Junkie!