Friday, February 19, 2010

Frugal Friday - Shopping Your Own Closet

One of the things I did last fall to combat the financial bummers blues was to "Shop My Own Closet". I decided that since I had this closet full of clothes, I probably really did have something to wear and needed to take stock and see what I had that I liked, and fit and that I could mix and match with other things for a fun, relatively fashionable and pleasant to wear wardrobe.

Let me tell you, I have never ever been so thankful that my mother taught me to never buy a top without having at least 3 bottoms in my closet that I could wear it with. Ditto for bottoms - never buy a bottom that you don't have at least 3 tops to wear with. I do own jeans and two denim skirts, so that makes things easier.

So, how do you shop your closet? It goes something like this:

Step 1: Pick out a bottom. Here's one of mine:


Step 2: Go through your closet and drawers and pick out anything that you think might work. My haul: 2 t-shirts, a sweater, and 5 blouses (2 of them white).

Step 3: Eliminate all the stuff that just doesn't work. I eliminated the pink sweater and one of the shirts (the melon colored one - the color was right, but the style was wrong).
Step 4: Start making outfits! I got this:
Step 5: Lay out the tops that you have (all of them) and look your closet/drawers and answer the question: Do I have another bottom that would work with these? I had this brown skirt and a pair of brown pants.
Step 6: Add any other shirts that go with that new bottom bottom. I added the vertical stripe shirt and the plaid one.

Step 7: Start making outfits again! I have this:

And this...

And this...


All total with the two skirts, the non-pictured brown pants, and the 8 shirts pictured I have 22 outfits! Here how: 6 outfits from the first set of tops and skirt, 6 outfits from those same tops and the second skirt, plus 2 more tops with the second skirt, and all 8 tops with the brown pants!

Money Spent? Zero!

And I realized something else: I am so very truly blessed.

Not only do I have a full closet with a choice of clothes, but I can make over 100 outfits from those clothes without spending a single dime.

How cool is that?

For more Frugal Friday see Lifeasmom!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Work Home and Family - Making the Time


Last week I wrote about priorities and how having a "top 10" list plus a mission statement has helped me in setting up my new schedule.


But what good are priorities if we don't take the time to act on them?


That has been a continual struggle for me my entire life and I assume it will continue to be for at least quite a while yet, if not for the rest of my life. There are so many things that I would like to do, so many things that would be nice to do, and so many things that seem urgent that need to be done. If I do those things, instead of what really is important, then I lose the time for what is important.


Last year at a Scrapbook retreat, I had someone wonder if I ever slept since I made my own bread instead of buying it at the store. Then someone else chimed in and asked if there was anything I don't do.


Yes, I do sleep. :)

And Yes, there are a LOT of things I don't do.


What are some of those things I don't do?


I rarely go out with anyone except my husband.

We don't go out with friends - we have them over or go to coffee instead.

I rarely go to the movies (I've been to one in the last 2 years!).

I don't knit, crochet, decorate cakes, or make gourmet dinners.

I don't watch TV most days of the week at all.

I don't sew anything that requires button holes. :)

I don't get my nails done or get facials.

I don't participate on committees that aren't required for work or school enrollment anymore.

I don't sign up for long-term volunteer commitments anymore either.

I don't do anything involving power tools.

We don't tackle home-improvement projects that require more sophisticated than a rather wimpy cordless drill and can be completed in a couple of hours.

I don't use a cell phone (though I do own a pre-paid on for travel and emergencies).

I don't twitter, facebook, text or IM.


Guess what?

Since I've chosen to not do or have those things, I have time to bake bread, read with my kids and get about 7 1/2 hours of sleep a night! I realized many years ago that my husband's health (he's on a very low-salt diet) was more important than the time it took to bake bread. I also realized that I don't even like most of what's on TV and I don't like going 'out' with friends - no matter how much I like the friends!


More recently God has convicted me of putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak. That means doing what I say is important to me, rather than being hypocritical and doing something else instead. I have a long way to go at making that a reality, but I'm making progress and getting there!


What are you priorities? And what have you given up to make them a reality?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Healthy Habits 2010 - Feeling the Difference

This last week was the 3rd week that I'd made it to 3 workouts a week! Whoo hoo!

Never mind that they weren't consecutive weeks. At least I had 3 weeks! this year! :)

What's different this week?

I'm feeling the difference that cutting back on snack food and upping that workout time has made. I don't think I've lost any inches or weight since last week (and yes, I'm too chicken to find out!), but I feel better.

I have more energy. My muscles are sorer than they have been for a while. I was able to use my 5lb hand weights longer during class than I have for quite a while.

I like all of that! Now - I just need to get the pounds and inches budging....

BUT, in the meantime, I'll take what I can get. More energy is good - I can definitely live with that!


How are you doing with your healthy habits? Care to share?

Goals Update - Week of February 15th

It seems to be hard for me to post on Mondays, so I definitely need to tweak the schedule a little to make sure I get that in! That's what this last week and this week is about - making those little scheduling tweaks that make the schedule "golden".

So how did last week go? Did I get everything accomplished that I wanted to?

Um, of course not. :)
Even with the shortened list and the schedule.

What did I get done?
* 1 1/2 papers written for school
* 1/2 book read for school
* Some filing done
* Two letters written
* My Valentine's decorations up
* Seminar attended
* My daily household chores and the kids chores done
* To bed and up on time
* 1/2 of the library book read

What didn't I get done?
* 1/2 the 2nd paper for school written
* The rest of that first book and half of another read for school
* One interview transcribed
*The rest of the filing
*That baby quilt! (UGH)
*A date with John (our sitter got sick and then he got called in)
* All the pictures developed (didn't even touch this one!)

So what's on my list for this week?
* Finishing that second paper
* The reading for school
* Transcribing that interview
* The rest of that filing (I worked on it for quite a while yesterday and only have a little bit more to go - whoo hoo!)
* Developing those pictures
* That baby quilt
* Another baby quilt
* The date with John
* Finishing that library book and starting another
*Filing our income taxes (we have someone do this for us - so we have an appointment this week)
* A date with Buddy (Missy and John have the Daddy-Daughter dance so we get a 'date' too!)
* A school open house
* Ash Wednesday services with choir x 2
* Daily chores for me and the kids
* Getting to bed and up on time

I am getting more done than I was in the past without running around like a chicken with it's head cut off but I'm finding that I have drastically under-budgeted the time it takes to get the amount of schoolwork done that I would like to. Since I'm not sure I can squeak out any more school/study time during the week (unless I forgo something like time with family, which I'm not going to do), I have to lower my expectations for myself and strive to reduce the interruptions that I get working in a communal office space.

I actually have to get the 2 baby quilts done, the filing done and the pictures developed by February 26th, so I really do need to get rolling on those things. We'll see how this week goes with all the extra evening events we have this week.

How did you do this week? Care to share?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - February 14th to 20th



We start out the week with Valentine's Day - what a day to start with!


We're continuing the 'eating from the pantry' so I made up this menu at the end of January from mostly pantry items. We do have one new recipe to try this week and we'll see what we think of it. We've had a couple of new recipes this last week. One was a hit (Easy Tomato Basil Soup) and one that we decided would be better as a chip dip than as dinner (Southwest Veggie Couscous). Both are keepers! Hopefully this week's new recipe will be too.


Sunday, February 14 (Valentine's Day):
Brunch: Baked Eggs, Hashed Brown Potatoes, Oatmeal Muffins, Strawberries and Melon
Dinner: Steaks, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans, Melon-Pineapple-Orange Salad
Desert: Homemade Red Velvet Cake with white frosting

Monday, February 15:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Dinner: Swedish Meatballs, Noodles, Steamed Corn, Orange Wedges
Tuesday, February 16:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Dinner: Baked Salmon, Rice, Steamed Carrots, Melon-Pineapple-Banana Salad

Wednesday, February 17, Ash Wednesday:
Breakfast: Waffles with Fruit
Dinner: BBQ Chicken Legs (in the crock-pot), Homemade Potato Salad, Orange Wedges

Thursday, February 18:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Dinner: Out for All (Daddy-Daughter Dance for John and Missy, "Date out" for Lea and Buddy)

Friday, February 19:
Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Melon
Dinner: Baked Chicken Tortillas (new recipe!), Apple-Melon-Pineapple Salad

Saturday, February 20:
Breakfast: Out for All (Bible Studies)
Lunch: Sliced Turkey Sandwiches with Lettuce, Carrot Sticks, Apples with Peanut Butter
Dinner: Beef Stew from the Freezer, Baking Powder Biscuits, Orange-Melon-Pineapple Salad

What are you eating this week? Check out I'm An Organizing Junkie to share.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!


Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

The kids had their Valentine's Day party at Pre-school Friday and they enthusiastically wrote their names on all their Valentine's to take to school!




Here they are writing - I'm adding the pencils that came with the Valentine's!
I have such good memories of Valentine's Day from when I was a kid - I'm glad they have those kinds of memories too.
John was on call - and of course, got called in right when we were supposed to have our at-home Valentine's date - so we will postpone our "Valentine's Date" until next weekend, when we have an actual babysitter and no call scheduled!
I hope you have a wonderful day and are able to do something nice for your sweetie, your kids or someone who just needs an extra boost.

God Bless You All!

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - At Home Date Night



John and I used to go out quite regularly - we had symphony tickets, and we went out a few other times a month as well. Then, I went back to school and we had to re-evaluate. The symphony tickets lapsed, paying for a babysitter meant paying for someone to watch the kids the one day a week John had to work late and I had class, and our one family we swapped babysitting with didn't need to do that anymore. So, what do we do?

At home date night!

Sometimes it hasn't been that simple to 'turn off' all the 'stuff' that needs to get done at home. Sometimes we've both been so tired that opting for an early bedtime was far more appealing than a date - even one at home.
Sometimes we just had too much other stuff going on to take the time - though we really tried to take at least an hour for each other in spite of that.


We decided this year that we'd really like to have symphony tickets again, so that's on the savings list for this year. And our church has begun a free babysitting night once a month as a way to strengthen relationships between parents - ages 12 and under (the age when kids can legally be left home alone here is 12). So we have added blessings with that and, God willing, we'll meet our symphony ticket savings goal and have more dates out. But, in the meantime, at home dates are 'the norm.'

So, what do we do?

* Assemble a puzzle together while enjoying a special drink or desert. We just started this one and enjoy it greatly.
* Play a board game with popcorn and hot cocoa or cider.
* Watch a DVD - usually from NetFlix, borrowed from a friend, or from the library. Sometimes we dig through our stash and find one we own that we haven't watched in a while.
* Read a book out loud - taking turns reading.
* Just cuddle on the couch and talk, usually in the candle light.
* Indoor picnic on a blanket in candlelight - we usually save this for special events like birthdays, Valentine's day, etc.

What's my favorite one though?
* A fire in our outdoor fireplace with marshmallows for toasting or s'mores.

There's something just wonderful about sitting out on the patio without the kids, watching the crackling flames and quietly chatting about our hopes and dreams. The kids are in bed, so we have no interruptions. Most of our neighbors retire early in the evening, so it's usually quiet as well.

I especially like it in the fall, when it gets dark early, there are stars up above and the air is nice and crisp. On my 'must have' list for our next house (whenever that may be!) is to have a real fireplace - not the gas kind, but the kind you put wood in. That way we can enjoy a crackling fire in the middle of January when it's 20 below zero out!

What do you do for date night? And what do you enjoy the most?

Super Savings Saturday - $20 Budget


We're still eating from the pantry and our grocery list is getting shorter this month - whoo hoo! Love that! My list had the following on it before I sat down with the sale flier this morning to make out my list: milk, fruit, butter, lemonade mix, baking powder and wheat flour. The lemonade mix and wheat flour are optional unless there's a sale, so really it just had milk, fruit, butter, and baking powder.
Fruit on sale this week is pineapple, apples, pears and oranges. Since we still have oranges, a melon and apples from last week, I purchased a pineapple and bananas. I did get a couple of other sale items as well. So here's what we got:
Two Gallons of Milk
Two 64oz Apple Juice (BOGO)
Two containers of mushrooms (BOGO)
10 ct Tortillas
8 oz sour cream
Baking Powder
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
5 ct plain bagels (for John for breakfast at work)
1 Pineapple
3 lbs Bananas (we had yellow ones at home, so these are for later in the week)
Total: $17.76
I totally forgot to buy the butter - on sale this week for $2.50 a container. I was wondering why my bill was $2.50 lower than I thought it would be! Duh.
So, John will pick up butter when he goes in to do a study at work at 9pm tonight.
Total including the butter: $20.26
For more shopping inspiration, see Money Saving Mom!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Work, Home and Family - Priorities

One of the hardest things about being a working outside of the home mom is making room for all of the things I have to, want to and need to do in my life. Working on my schedule this last week and a half has just confirmed for me that priorities are a necessity.

John and I have been working on our budget priorities but that was shelved to make room for the schedule. Just like having priorities in a budget is necessary, so is having priorities in life.

I carry a home-made day planner with me almost everywhere I go. It's a 1-inch 3-ring binder with the clear pocket on the front. I personalized it with some clip-art graphics and the label "Lea's Schedule" printed on a piece of paper and put into the pocket. In it I carry monthly and weekly calendars, my weekly to-do list (I'll write more about that another week), Bible verses I'd like to memorize, my Bible reading plan checklist, a list of prayers that I like to reference regularly, a list of little ways to bless my family, my menu plans, a list of things I need to buy, and two Velcro-closed pocket folders that hold papers - one for class papers and one for research papers - for reading.

Before all of those things though, I have three things:
1. A lovely quote that reminds me God is the only one I need to impress, not people.
2. My "Top 10" list.
3. My personal "Mission Statement."

My "Top 10" list is the list of things that take priority in my life. If something I'm asked to do or want to do or would just like to do doesn't immediately relate to the things in this list, I can let it go or say no or put it on my 'like to do someday' list.

What's in that "Top 10" list?
* My relationship with God
* My relationship with John
* My relationship with Buddy
* My relationship with Missy
* My relationship with my parents
* My PhD work
* Getting my house cleaned out/finishing incomplete projects
* My teaching
* My character development
* My relationship with my in-laws and close friends

I have a mission statement as well that relates to what I believe God is calling me to do with my life in the grander scheme of the world.

I've had all three of these things for some time now, but with re-evaluating and putting together this new schedule, I have realized their importance. Without priorities, my schedule fills up with stuff that is really nice and sometimes helpful and important, but not working toward the goals I have in life.

If you haven't written up priorities, I encourage you to. You might just be surprised.

Healthy Habits in 2010 - Reevaluating

Well, it's been over a month since I started this and I'm honestly not making much progress.

The problem areas?
Getting in those third and fourth workout seems to be the biggie.
I also haven't lost an ounce or an inch.
**Sigh**

Then my pedometer started acting weird and then died. No, it wasn't the battery. I'm not sure what it was, but it's not working at all.

I figured out with putting together my new schedule that having four out-of-the-house workouts just won't work with John's schedule, my schedule and the kids' schedule if we're not going to have to pay for additional baby sitters and actually see each other once in a while! :) I figured out how to fit in 3 workouts, but not four. What I wanted? No. Can I live with it? Yes.

I did buy a new pedometer and my new "goal" is to take a walk at lunch time for about 15-20 minutes. When the weather gets nicer I'm going to walk a path I've walked before that takes about that much each way and adds in a nice little workout for me in the process - steps, a small hill and a lot of steps!

So, what's the plan for this month?
* Jazzercise 3x a week.
* Calibrate that new pedometer and get going on those steps - beat my previous day's total by at least 100 steps five days a week.
* Work on reducing snacks. Last month I realized that snacks were my big problem (I had an idea that that was the case!) and I started planning my snacks in advance. This month I'm going to cut down to two per day and work on portion control.

So, that's the big plan. What's yours?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Goals Update - Full Force Back on Track

Well, I was MIA most of last week because of this new schedule thing - getting it put together, working out some of the 'kinks' and just plain getting my ducks in a row.

Can I tell you how freeing it is to be able to look at my schedule and realize that I actually have everything I need to get done this week scheduled? I even have a couple of empty slots and an almost completely free Saturday afternoon to play 'catch up' with the inevitable things that get missed and problems that come up.

It's so nice to get out the door in the morning with the house picked up, no one rushing and everything all set for when we get home in the evening. I like that.

I like being able to look at my day and know I have time to work on things, make dinner, spend time with John and the kids and not be rushing from one thing to another and worried about getting things done.

I had no idea how many things I had running around in the back of my mind until they were all down on paper. Or how much time I spent thinking about things that I needed to do and I wasn't sure about where I was going to fit them in. Not to mention the mental guilt about not being able to fit it all in. I did realize that some things just weren't realistic with the time that I have and I had to just let them go. That was hard but now I'm seeing the benefit with that.

I read somewhere (I don't remember where now) that we can have it all, we just can't have it all at once! I need to remember that. I also remind myself that once the cleaning out of the house is done, I can use the majority of those time slots for other things that I want to get done - like my mountain of sewing projects! :)

What did I get done last week, besides putting together the schedule?
* Some additional deep cleaning in the living room
* About 1/3 of the filing done
* Read two papers and 3 chapters in a book for school
* Organized seminar and presented at seminar for the week
* Got the schedule 'finalized'!
* Put together preliminary grocery lists for each week the rest of the month
* Attended a birthday party for a friend's now 5-year-old son
* Date out with John
* Read 2 library books (one that needed to be returned)

As much as I would like, no. But we didn't end up rushing anywhere either. That felt really nice. And all the 'free' time that I would have spent on household and more school things got used up putting together the schedule.

With my new schedule and my simpler goals for this week, here's what I'm hoping to get done:
At school:
* Two papers finished
* One book read
* Part of another book read
* One interview transcribed
At home:
* A ton of filing.
* One of those pesky baby quilts finished
* Several photos uploaded and prints ordered
* Film dropped off for developing
* Two letters written
* My Valentine's decorations up
Additional stuff:
* A valentine's date out with John on Saturday
* Attend Seminar on Friday
* All my usual household chores, meals, etc.
* The kids' daily chores
* Read one more Library book
* Getting to bed on time and up on time

This week has the additional complication of me being home with the kids for 2 days which tends to cut down on productivity for me, in therms of to-do lists. I love spending the time with the kiddos, but I do like to get something done as well. I'm hoping that the schedule I have for myself will help that! I'll let you know next week how it all went.

How are your goals going for the year?

Menu Plan Monday - February 7-13

We're continuing our eating from the pantry into February, and one of the things I did to facilitate this was make out a list of menus from our cupboards and freezer before February even started!

So, throwing together this week's menu was a snap! Combining that with all the schedule planning and everything else we've been doing this last week, I feel ready to tackle the week and (God willing!) make some significant progress on things around here!

After looking at my menu for this week, I needed to purchase 2 cans of diced tomatoes, milk, fruit and flour tortillas. One of this years I'll be brave enough to try to make my own tortillas but not right now! The kids and I are home together on Wednesday and Thursday and John is home with them on Friday, so I also have lunches planned even though they're not mentioned here.



Sunday, February 7:
Brunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Super Bowl Party for Dad and Kids; Leftovers for Mom



Monday, February 8:
Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Orange Wedges
Dinner: Southwest Veggie Couscous, Apple-Melon-Banana Salad

Tuesday, February 9:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Dinner: Homemade Pizza and Bread sticks, Lettuce Salad, Orange Wedges

Wednesday, February 10:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Dinner: Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Pasta Salad, Orange Wedges

Thursday, February 11:
Breakfast: Waffles with Sliced Peaches
Dinner: Pumpkin Soup with Homemade Bread, Lettuce Salad

Friday, February 12:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Dinner: Soft Shell Beef Tacos with Lettuce and Cheese, Apple-Banana-Melon Salad


Saturday, February 13:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Sliced Turkey Sandwiches, Carrot and Celery Sticks, Apple-Banana-Melon Salad
Dinner: Macaroni and Cheese for the Kids, Out for Mom and Dad (Valentine's Date!)



For more Menu Inspiration, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kid Funnies

On Wednesday night I have choir practice at church. We have re-arranged the schedule when our women's group practices as well (we only sing about 4 times a year) and I got home later than usual on Wednesday because of that. Buddy and Missy were in bed, so I went in to kiss them goodnight.

Missy was still awake. And hugged and kissed me.

Buddy looked like he was asleep. But he said "I love you, Mama" when I kissed him.
I replied, "You're almost asleep, aren't you Buddy?"
His answer:
"No, Mom, I'm already asleep."

:)

Hoopa-Loops:
Defn: a large ring, usually made of plastic, placed around a person's middle and kept there by 'wiggling the hips' while the ring spins in circles. (Typically known as "hula-hoops" to adults).

(John had heaps of fun with that one - and I couldn't look at him or I'd really laugh!)

Aren't kids fun?
What more can I ask for?

Super Savings Saturday - Continuing the Pantry Challenge Edition!

I spent about $28 of our $80 last week to restock some things and buy a couple of treats - Breyer's Ice Cream was on sale so I bought 2. That was good because John's Bible Study at 1 carton on Tuesday night along with the apple/pear crisp I made for them (cookies had been on the menu but just plain didn't happen!). So, at least Buddy has his "Nilla" for the next week or two! :)


Going to the store today was a pleasure - I needed milk, fruit, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, a bag of salad, and tortillas. I did get some other deals, so here's some of what we got:

Goldfish crackers 3/$3 (store coupon)
3 Birds Eye Freshlike Frozen Vegetables 33 cents each after coupon and sales
8 oz Kraft Cheddar Cheese $1.50 after sale and coupons
Store Brand Oyster Crackers: Free with purchase of 2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 Breyer's Ice Cream: $3.99 (BOGO with sale)
Oranges 5# at 68 cents/lb
Fresh Express Garden Salad 99 cents on sale

Sorry - no photo. My camera is burried in the bag I took to a birthday party today so by the time I got home with the groceries I really didn't feel like digging it out. :)

I did get a melon and some bananas and a couple of other things, but those are the big sale items. I keep looking at things and we're quite well stocked for this month again. That makes me happy! I'll be buying less and less as the month goes on this month and hopefully continuing into March with 'eating from the pantry.' We've got so many things we're saving for right now, that the savings is worth it!

Check back on Monday to see what we're eating! We have a couple of new things on the menu this week and we're looking forward to trying them!

For more shopping inspiration, see Money Saving Mom.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Combining Work, Home, Family and Goals!

How's that for lumping it all together in one post?

No, I'm not going to do that every week but for this week it seems appropriate.

The reason I've been missing for the last two days is that John and I have been working hard at how we're going to balance my school and work, his school and work, the kids' school, play time and dance class, and all the other household and personal things we need to do. We're taking the bulk of our "free time" this week to put together a schedule that is actually implementable (is that a word?) and works well for us. It also needs to be easily adjusted because our schedules change with school semesters and our need for study time and our times of fixed classes/meetings/etc. changes.

It's been such a blessing these last 2-3 days to sit down, re-evaluate the goals we made at the beginning of the year (is that really only a month ago?) and see what we need to do to get where we hope to be. We've always had a routine of sorts, but not a schedule and more than a few times a week parts of the routines would have to get cut off because of our scheduled activities.

We are using a new book that we haven't used before (and were hesitant to buy for a variety of reasons) and in a few weeks or months as we see how this works I may do a review. Much of the actual scheduling stuff is pretty basic - write down what you need/want to do, estimate how much time it takes you, don't have more than 24 hours of stuff to do each day, etc.

So what's new to us in this book? Well, several things.

One of the big ones: Schedule everyone! Not just mom or dad but the whole family and then put schedules side by side and make sure there are no conflicts, that someone isn't trying to do something noisy where Mom or Dad are studying, or that Mom is scheduling her sewing in the same room at the same time the kids' are napping. Yes, I know - this should be a "duh" but just talking about it made John and I realize that we both had different purposes for being in the living room in the evening and that was causing a problem. Simply solved but a problem unless we know what the other one is thinking.

Other things?

Schedule the important stuff first. For us that's time with family and with the Lord. Then fit everything else around it. Again, this should be a "duh" but someone I wasn't putting time to just play with the kids - I did spend a lot of time with them but it was usually doing something (going here or there or a project or chores or...) rather than just playing. Same thing with reading a book or two to them. Spending time alone with each child was something else we had long talked about but never got around to. Now, we have a slot for them. Hurray!

Schedule around the big stuff. Our example: Evening events always seem to start at 7pm for us. Scheduling dinner every night at 630 means something has to move two nights a week or we are scrambling. Usually we just scrambled and wondered why it's not working.

Set realistic get up and bed times. I was trying to get up at 530am. I realized that after adding up the time I had given myself to sleep that it was too short! No wonder I was having such a hard time getting up. I am now scheduling to go to be a half hour earlier and get up at 6am instead. I can still pack John's lunch and have my devotional time before the kids get up. I'm just now more coherent the rest of the day! :)

The Biggest Thing that was different in this book? Put it together, put it away, Pray about it, and go back to it. Again and again. I like that. It made me realize that I had been asking God to help me get through the schedule I had rather than asking Him to help me put together the schedule in the first place. Yes, yes, BIG duh! But sometimes it just needs to be pointed out to me!

Our first partial test run was this morning with the morning schedule only - we all made it out the door on time, with the house picked up, a hot breakfast made and eaten, and no rushing! Whoo hoo! Can I tell you how excited I am about this?

We still have a lot of tweaking to do but I feel like we might actually make some progress on things. Realizing that we can't do everything at once and that it will take time was something else that I'm wrestling with both with the schedule and other things. I'm currently waiting to hear about my written exam. I'm currently still finishing cleaning out when I'd love to be making progress on my sidebar sewing and scrap booking projects (I do need to have some of them done by the end of the month - and if my schedule works the way I hope it will, I'll get to them by the end of next week!). I'm struggling with the waiting. I'm hoping that if I see progress on some things because of the schedule, having to wait on others will become easier.

When you work outside the home, and have a home and family to take care of I do believe having a schedule is a must. I'll get to specific things again next week (on Monday, like I originally planned!).

Until then, what's the best part of your family being on a schedule?