Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Club Reads

Here is the list of books that my book club read in California.  Most of these are so good and worth the read.

https://outlandishbooks.wordpress.com/



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Organizing!


Spring Clean

O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Spring is the traditional time of rebirth.  It is the season that we clean out the old, dirty and worn out and replace it with clean, beautiful things.  One of my goals for this year was to get my home completely organized.   A recent study at Princeton Neuroscience Institute found that clutter limits your brain’s ability to process information and restricts its ability to focus.  Clutter is the number one reason that American homes are disorganized.  Too much stuff limits our ability to function well and raises our levels of cortisol and thus, our anxiety.

So, for our brains to function properly and our stress levels to be low the first thing necessary is purging the clutter.  You can either use a box system (trash, donate, keep) for closets or rooms or you may have to just go with a whole house declutter.  For me, it was time for a whole house makeover.  So, one room at a time I got rid of stuff.  Americans are all suffering from affluenza and that is the number one reason we have clutter. 

I had extra dishes, coats, books, toys, and clothing that all needed to go.  Getting rid of stuff is the best first step because it opens up the room and gives you space to find solutions.  Chic Boutique in Whitefish even paid me for getting rid of clothes!  After I got rid of extra stuff, I also scoured the internet and Pinterest for the best home organizing tips and tricks and here is what is working for me.

Tote Bag System~


I found Thirty One Bags to be the best solution for corralling stuff for me.  One thing I really needed under control was sports equipment.  I love that these totes are big and stand up alone.  I filled them with little kid ski boots and helmets and only needed to grab the bag on Saturday!  Another bag holds all the ski gloves, goggles, masks and hats.  It was an easy solution for something that was really creating a lot of clutter in my laundry room.  With spring here, it is time to put all of that ski stuff in a storage bin and replace it with baseball equipment.  In summer, all swimsuits and lake things will go in the totes.
Totes are a great solution for library books, baby gear, road trips, and outings.  Just find the tote that works for you and keep it filled with what you need.  Store it in the closet and just grab and go when you need it.

Basket system~


Baskets are perfect for magazines, books, toys, and throw blankets.  These are the things that clutter up the living areas.  Target and TJ Maxx have some great baskets with chalkboard labels on them that are extremely durable and cute.  Kids can easily clean up their own messes when a label is right on the basket!  In the dollar section, they also have some cute plastic bins that are perfect for first aid items, hair items, toiletries, pantry items, craft supplies and more. 
I also bought some wire baskets to hang on the wall by the door.  Mail goes in here and important school papers that need to go right back.  A basket on a table by the door holds keys. 

File system~


I love this idea for keeping paper organized. It is genius!  Buy a file box for each child.  Have files for birth certificates, shot records, school information, and best of all, favorite art work and cute things from your kids.  At the end of each school year, take out the art and school stuff and keep your favorites.

Some other useful ideas I found were color coding your kid’s towels, cups, toothbrushes, etc. and hanging plastic hooks at kid height in the closets so instead of throwing jackets and sweatshirts on the floor, they can easily be hung by your child. 

Spending the last few months purging and organizing my house has reaped so many benefits.  No more frustration while trying to get ready to go somewhere, everything was in its home and no more buying new things because we couldn’t find the old ones.  There are no longer coats thrown on the floor of the coat closet thanks to hooks hanging down low. 


Spring cleaning will be a snap now that there is not so much random stuff cluttering up my house!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Get your "But" Out of the Way



“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the BS story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” ―Unknown

Do you have a BS story you tell yourself? You know that excuse you have that lets you off the hook and becomes the reason why you can't get your house clean, run a marathon, lose weight, write a novel, get up earlier, etc.

The difference between you and the people who actually do these things is not the reason you think it is. It is not because they are naturally thinner or more athletic; they are not morning people or neat freaks. It is because you allowed your "but" to get in the way. I would clean house, but the kids just mess it up. I would lose 10 pounds, but I have a slow metabolism. I would train for a marathon, but I am not an athlete. I would write a novel, but I don’t have time to write. These are just excuses that your mind uses; they are your “but.” If you really wanted to do these things, you would get your but out of the way and do them. That is what people who achieve do. They stop giving themselves a free pass and an excuse and they quit stopping. They start exerting self-control and discipline.

 Most of what you accomplish in life has everything to do with your mind and very little to do with your body. Recently I was watching a survival show and everyone started out positive, excited and set on winning. As soon as those people started getting down or discouraged, as soon as they let negativity take root in their minds, then their bodies started to fail them. They didn’t realize that their mind was the greatest tool they had for survival, and once they lost control of it, they might as well lie down and die. It is the same with goals. Your body never wants to anything. Your mind forces it to do whatever the mind sets as a goal. Once you get control of your thoughts and stop telling yourself that excuse story and start telling yourself positive words and affirmations, you can do anything you choose to do.

Self-discipline is THE single most important thing for achieving goals.

Anyone can run a marathon, anyone can lose 10 pounds, anyone can keep a clean, organized house, and anyone can get up an hour earlier. Control your thoughts and you will control your body.
Want to start achieving in 2014?

*Make smart goals that have steps and are measurable.

*Write your goals down.
 *Don't share your goals. Recent research has shown that telling people you are going to do something, gives your brain the same boost as doing it. Don't reward yourself until the goal is reached. Wait to tell people after you have done it.
*Get control of your mind. Remember that to achieve something; you must be willing to give something up...sleep, food, time...in order to achieve. You must be willing to accept some discomfort whether it is physical-pain, hunger or whether it is mental-fear. You must tell your body that it is okay to feel discomfort.
 *Get your but out of the way. Stop accepting that story you have been telling yourself. You can do anything you set your mind to doing.

Goal Setting With Kids
“The tragedy in life does not lie in not reaching your goal, the tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.” -Benjamin Mays

One of the most important things we did on our parenting journey with our kids was regular goal setting. Every New Year’s Day we take our children out for a nice dinner and review our year. Each person tells their favorite memories from the year and how they did on the goals they set a year ago. Then, we make our goals for the coming year. It is so fun for kids to be able to share their successes of the year so we make the dinner a big celebration of goals reached.

Kids are natural goal setters. They have hopes and dreams for the future, what they want to do and what they want to be. The also start life with a lot of self-efficacy and hope. They naturally do not put limits on their dreams. As parents, we help them take their dreams and make them smart. We help make the goals specific and measurable. We help them narrow it so it is attainable and realistic within the time frame of one year. The goals are posted on their bedroom walls so they see them every day and periodically we check in with them on how it is going.

What makes goal setting so powerful for kids is that they really see the connection between hard work and success. They see that their choices and the decisions they make affect their success. These are great lessons for kids to learn early in life and will benefit them so much as adults. As a parent of grown children I have been able to see first-hand the good that goal setting did for my kids. I can look back on their goals and see what made them become reality.

Try it with your kids and see what amazing things they can accomplish with a little hard work and perseverance.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Being Intentional

Being Intentional
Snow on the ground creates such a quiet, peaceful environment outside. I love the muffled sound of winter when we can sit inside by the fire. The holidays can be a hectic time for most of us, however I think we all wish we could just slow down and be present in our own lives. We need a way to stop being busy and instead be productive. Creating a peaceful home in a hectic world starts with ta.king stock of all the things you are committed to doing and eliminating the things that distract and stress you.
Snow on the ground creates such a quiet, peaceful environment outside. I love the muffled sound of winter when we can sit inside by the fire. The holidays can be a hectic time for most of us, however I think we all wish we could just slow down and be present in our own lives. We need a way to stop being busy and instead be productive. Creating a peaceful home in a hectic world starts with taking stock of all the things you are committed to doing and eliminating the things that distract and stress you.
In the 21st century, most of us are not “just” homemakers anymore. Most of us, juggle part or full time jobs, volunteering, as well as trying to maintain our homes, playing chauffer to our children, parenting and being a wife, sister, daughter and friend. It is a constant struggle to find a balance. Many of the moms I talk to tell me that they are too busy. Their time is eaten up with obligations, work, driving and also with facebook, pinterest and other time wasting activities. Most moms would love to create a cozy home and organize their lives, but they are simply too busy.
Technology was supposed to free our time and make things easier for us and while in some ways it has, can you imagine not having google now? And don’t you wish it had been invented when you were in college! But, it has also made our lives very busy. We are constantly at the beck and call of work and struggle to find time for friends, while meeting the needs of family. We might have 500 friends on facebook but have not had lunch with a friend in a year. We are overwhelmed with communication, but are communicating less with the people who really matter to us. Life has become a barrage of input from acquaintances and businesses and very little interaction with real people. This constant input is the reason we feel so frantically busy. Our phones notify us constantly of someone needing something, even if it is just a “like” on a picture. This winter, my goal is to stop doing and responding to the things that don’t matter and to create an atmosphere of peace and calm inside my home.
What would it look like if you could stop doing all the things that take away your energy? And how would you do that?
Prioritize
A few weeks ago I was trying to figure out a way to add two more hours of productivity to my day. I needed to give up sleep, exercise or spending time with my family in order to accomplish everything on my plate. After a couple of days of thinking about it and making lists, I realized that instead of doing more, I really need to BE more. I need to slow down and be present in the everyday moments of my life and not try to find ways to cram in more activities that don’t add value to my life or add more unnecessary stress.
Take a piece of paper and write down all of your responsibilities, all of the things you spend time doing and all the things you just want to do. Then, put a number next to them based on their importance to you.
I. The things you have to do. Work, childcare, housework. But also include the things that really matter to you, such as exercise and special things with family.
II. Next are things you really like to doing but are not priorities. Things that make your life better. Book clubs, bible studies, moms groups. These are the things you want to have time to do.
III. These are the things that you don’t have to do, but would if you had time. Hobbies, volunteering, learning new things.
IV. These are the things you are doing that add stress to your life. These things you do not have to do. They take up valuable time that you could be using on I and II. This could be spending time on facebook or pinterest or attending events you don’t enjoy. An IV activity should never take precedence over an I or an II.
Now build your schedule with the things from the I and II group. After you have those in place, add III if you have time in your schedule. Throw out everything that has an IV. These are time wasting and not soul feeding. The hard part is throwing them out, but you have to recognize that time doing a IV activity is taking time away from doing a I activity. For instance, if I place a high priority on keeping my house clean, but I spend the time I could be cleaning to pinning pictures of clean houses, then I just wasted my time and now I am unhappy because I didn’t do something that I valued instead.
We are all busy but if we prioritize our time correctly, maybe we will stop doing the things that suck energy from us and start doing the things that give us energy and life. Knock out some of those boring IV activities and replace them this holiday season with some fun family activities instead. Have a soup night and play board games and read aloud with your kids. Now, that is a good, soul feeding, kind of busy.
In the 21st century, most of us are not “just” homemakers anymore. Most of us, juggle part or full time jobs, volunteering, as well as trying to maintain our homes, playing chauffer to our children, parenting and being a wife, sister, daughter and friend. It is a constant struggle to find a balance. Many of the moms I talk to tell me that they are too busy. Their time is eaten up with obligations, work, driving and also with facebook, pinterest and other time wasting activities. Most moms would love to create a cozy home and organize their lives, but they are simply too busy.
Technology was supposed to free our time and make things easier for us and while in some ways it has, can you imagine not having google now? And don’t you wish it had been invented when you were in college! But, it has also made our lives very busy. We are constantly at the beck and call of work and struggle to find time for friends, while meeting the needs of family. We might have 500 friends on facebook but have not had lunch with a friend in a year. We are overwhelmed with communication, but are communicating less with the people who really matter to us. Life has become a barrage of input from acquaintances and businesses and very little interaction with real people. This constant input is the reason we feel so frantically busy. Our phones notify us constantly of someone needing something, even if it is just a “like” on a picture. This winter, my goal is to stop doing and responding to the things that don’t matter and to create an atmosphere of peace and calm inside my home.
What would it look like if you could stop doing all the things that take away your energy? And how would you do that?
Prioritize
A few weeks ago I was trying to figure out a way to add two more hours of productivity to my day. I needed to give up sleep, exercise or spending time with my family in order to accomplish everything on my plate. After a couple of days of thinking about it and making lists, I realized that instead of doing more, I really need to BE more. I need to slow down and be present in the everyday moments of my life and not try to find ways to cram in more activities that don’t add value to my life or add more unnecessary stress.
Take a piece of paper and write down all of your responsibilities, all of the things you spend time doing and all the things you just want to do. Then, put a number next to them based on their importance to you.
I. The things you have to do. Work, childcare, housework. But also include the things that really matter to you, such as exercise and special things with family.
II. Next are things you really like to doing but are not priorities. Things that make your life better. Book clubs, bible studies, moms groups. These are the things you want to have time to do.
III. These are the things that you don’t have to do, but would if you had time. Hobbies, volunteering, learning new things.
IV. These are the things you are doing that add stress to your life. These things you do not have to do. They take up valuable time that you could be using on I and II. This could be spending time on facebook or pinterest or attending events you don’t enjoy. An IV activity should never take precedence over an I or an II.
Now build your schedule with the things from the I and II group. After you have those in place, add III if you have time in your schedule. Throw out everything that has an IV. These are time wasting and not soul feeding. The hard part is throwing them out, but you have to recognize that time doing a IV activity is taking time away from doing a I activity. For instance, if I place a high priority on keeping my house clean, but I spend the time I could be cleaning to pinning pictures of clean houses, then I just wasted my time and now I am unhappy because I didn’t do something that I valued instead.
We are all busy but if we prioritize our time correctly, maybe we will stop doing the things that suck energy from us and start doing the things that give us energy and life. Knock out some of those boring IV activities and replace them this holiday season with some fun family activities instead. Have a soup night and play board games and read aloud with your kids. Now, that is a good, soul feeding, kind of busy.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Organizing for Fall



Fall Organizing
I love the change of seasons and the change to fall is my absolute favorite. The start of the new school year, the crisp mountain air in the mornings, fall sports and fall foods. I love it all. With the start of the school year it always seems like the best time to make new goals, get organized and start fresh. It also makes the most sense to put new routines in place while the school kids are getting their new routines as well. Get your kids and yourself on a schedule this school year. Consistent bedtimes and mealtimes, a good housework schedule, a menu plan and simplifying your home can ease your stress and make being a mom, whether at work or at home, much more joyful! There are some things you can implement this fall to make your life easier with kids.

Plan Your Housework
Housework doesn’t take all that long if you consistently get small jobs done. As a stay at home mom, plan a couple of hours a day for getting household chores accomplished. I like to do certain chores on certain days every week. When I was a working mom, I used Saturday mornings. Get into the habit of doing your housework at scheduled times so that it becomes automatic for you.

Homeroutines.com has some great resources for you if you need a boost in getting the job done and they also have a handy app.

Enlist the help of your kids. Remember that chores build character and we all want our kids to have a lot of character, right? Start your little ones in small chores and as they grow give them more responsibility. Big kids can do laundry, dishes, pet care, yard work, etc. Everyone can pull their weight and the younger you start teaching your children, they easier you make your parenting job as they get older. You raise kids who have a work ethic and self-discipline.

Chore Checklist helps manage chores at home. Records completion and calculates next due date based on your preferences. You can set a reminder for each chore. It comes with a pre-loaded checklist with daily/weekly/monthly chores. You can add and delete chores, as well.




Plan Your Menus
One of the biggest jobs that mothers have is planning, shopping for, and preparing the meals for the family. That takes a big chunk of time if done right and if not done at all, takes a big chunk of cash spent eating out. Meal planning can save your budget and your sanity. There is nothing worse than looking at the clock at 5 and realizing you have no idea what to feed your family. The best way to make a menu is to come up with a list of all the things you know how to make and start plugging them into days, then find your recipes and make your shopping list. Once you have a month done, you can just repeat it all year.

A great tip is to use themes for each day of the week. This makes it so easy to plug in your meals each week.

Mondays-Mexican
Tuesdays-Italian
Wednesdays-Crock Pot
Thursdays-Casserole
Fridays-Pizza Night
Saturdays-Grill out
Sundays-Comfort Food


Helpful Hint
If you like Pinterest as much as I do, then you probably have a whole board of recipes. I took one morning and printed them all off and put them in a notebook. I slipped them all into page protectors and categorized them. What a timesaver! I was spending so much time trying to remember and find the recipes I had pinned or bookmarked in order to use them. Now they are all in one easy to find spot.


Ziplist.com is a free site with a recipe index, shopping lists, and mobile apps to help you out. It makes meal planning and grocery shopping a breeze. Create your weekly meal plan, organize your grocery list and get money-saving coupons.


Simplify Your Home
Have you ever stayed in a rental house on vacation and wished your home was always that clean? That is because none of your junk followed you on vacation. You don’t have to keep up with all the paper, toys, clothing, and clutter that we have in our homes. In the United States we are blessed with abundance, but abundance becomes clutter. We over buy and over spend and then are stressed at home because there is too much stuff to manage. Fall is a great time to get your clutter under control, especially when the kids are at school and you can control their clutter, too! One of the best things I ever did was to simplify clothing. If your laundry is you’re most dreaded, never ending chore, then possibly you suffer from clothing abundance. Pare down kids clothing to one outfit a day, a few pairs of pajamas, 2 pairs of shoes, and underclothing. Simplifying clothing was life changing for me.

Get the rest of your clutter under control this fall, too. Simplify in all areas. A team of anthropologists from UCLA spent four years studying 32 middle class families and found that the effects of “managing the volume of possessions is such a crushing problem in many homes that it elevates levels of stress hormones for mothers.” Too much stuff is the cause of too much stress!
Once you have your housework scheduled, your menus planned and you have simplified and decluttered your home, you can enjoy more downtime with your family. When you have done the things you have to do, you have so much more time for the things you want to do.

We love to be on the mountain in the winter and on the lake in the summer, but if we have to spend all our free time getting housework, errands, and homework caught up, we don’t have any time for fun. Spend a little time this fall getting organized, making a plan and simplifying your life. Less stress = happy families.

Evernote is a super-organizer’s best friend. You can type in to-do lists (complete with checkboxes), scan in whole documents, insert pictures and videos into your notes and then automatically sync up those notes between your smartphone and your computer, storing everything online.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Daybook

FOR TODAY

Outside my window...
It is zero dark thirty.  The sprinklers just came on, the clock says 5:00 am, the sky is beginning to lighten over the mountains.  It looks like another stunning summer day in Montana.  I don't think there is ever a summer day here that does not take your breath away.

I am thinking...
I am thinking a lot which is why I can't sleep and up so early.  I am feeling a little bad that I was too exhausted to do anything this weekend at all.  I think summer finally caught up with me.  We have been playing so hard, wanting to experience every single moment of sunshine and daylight, that this weekend I just collapsed.  I spent all day Saturday laying on my bed with a pile of cookbooks and a notebook.  Last night I was asleep by 10.

I am thankful...
Healthy, happy children and a wonderful space for them to grow up in.  While I was falling asleep last night with the baby, I could hear them all outside around a campfire, roasting smores and laughing.

In the kitchen...
It is eat from the pantry week.  We have had multiple big expenses...broken refrigerator, house painting project, family reunion so we need to save some money this week and eat what we have. It looks like it will be breakfast, pasta salad with grilled chicken, chili and sandwiches.

I am wearing...
Capris and a pink tshirt with my running shoes.  I can't clean house barefoot.

I am creating...
Yesterday I worked on the Kalispell Moms website.  Today I am writing an article for a wedding magazine.  Scones are going in the oven for breakfast.

I am going...
The boys (13 and 15 year olds) spent all last week painting the exterior of our house.  In exchange, they have 2 kayaks being delivered today.  I imagine I will be taking them to the lake every day.  That sounds like a good week to me!

I am reading...
Almost finished with And the Mountains Echoed...love it.
The next book in my pile is Into Thin Air.

I am hoping...

Still hoping for that type B personality my husband would love me to adopt.  It still ain't happenin'. I do still hold out hope that I will one day wake up all type Bish about everything but I am finding that change to be very difficult for me.  I am very goal driven and have a hard time just letting things happen.

I am looking forward to...
A late summer hike in Glacier Park with my 17 year old. Lots of kayaking fun with the boys who also just taught me to play racquet ball...How did I go through the 80s without playing racquetball.  It is so fun!

Around the house...
I need to clean house this morning.  That is what got me up early.  I felt guilty for not getting anything but cookbook reading done this weekend. I do love a good cookbook.  We are waiting on kayak delivery today so I have all day to get the house clean.  In my defense, I did get all the laundry done over the weekend.

A favorite quote for today...
“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” 
― Anne Lamott

I NEVER met an Anne Lamott quote I didn't like.


One of my favorite things...
Last night, falling asleep with little Julianna, she kept saying "I love you really much."   Every thing else pretty much pales in comparison to that.  I love how she loves me.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Lake fun, a $1 movie, and just enjoying the last weeks of summer.

A peek into my day...
A photo from last week's family reunion.  Here we are with my parents at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

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