List Making

I find that making lists (like To-Do Lists for example), helps to keep me focused and on track. When I write things down that I hope to do or that need to be done, not only does that list serve to channel my energy one task after another, but I actually accomplish more. Lists can save you time…save you money…save you energy…save your voice…save you brain cells (in my season of “mother to many”, that’s a precious commodity).

I make list for so many things…
  • Daily tasks (each day I make a to-do list of things needing to be done)
  • Grocery & home purchase needs (I try to keep an ongoing list so when shopping day comes I am ready with a quick final scan before heading out the door)
  • Extra home tasks for the children (each day I try to jot down a few extra tasks that need to be done around the home – some may be chores while others may be paying “jobs” – for the children to do)
  • Checklists for school work, chores, etc. (during the school year our schedule serves as a guide for what should be done each day and when…sometimes it helps to make a checklist for the children to “check off” as they complete each item…a friend put her child’s school checklist in a sheet protector to be checked of as they completed each item, reviewed by her when all items were “complete” and erased to be used again the next day…great IDEA!)
  • Inventory of pantry, freezer, curriculum, etc. (this helps to reduce duplicate purchases and/or to take advantage of sales at the store…knowing what you have is key to saving money)
  • Good books to read (this is a list of books broken down by genre that can be referred to when going to the library…serves to point children in a good direction when needed and/or for reading assignments)
  • Family activities (this is a list our family compiled for days when we want to do a fun spontaneous activity…a guide of ideas)
Making lists for your children serves a two-fold purpose. For example, regarding chores…when you make a list for each child of jobs needing to be done, specific to them, writing it down on paper allows them to have something tangible to refer to for keeping them on track and for you to be able to follow-up with to make sure they complete the tasks. How many times have you given your child something to do (told them verbally) and then you became distracted and never followed-up on that assignment…the task, let’s say you assigned them to take the dirty laundry to the laundry room and sort it. Instead of following up, you go about your business and forget to check back. When you go to do the laundry later, you remember/discover that the clothes never made it there or maybe they made it to the laundry room but not sorted…only left in this stinking heap! Well, a list may have helped you to hold them accountable before it got to this point. Now, this becomes another issue..a need for training or possibly a character (laziness) issue or maybe it’s a different character issue (lack of diligence)…they didn’t follow through because they got side-tracked. Is that dear mother, not the same example you have set? Distraction has caused you not to follow-up or follow-through and your child has just imitated the same behavior. Ouch. Don’t I know it!

I know I am stretched to the point that some days I feel like Stretch Armstong.  Having things down on paper helps all of us stay on track. I know when I am being pulled in many directions, I can easily forget what I assigned, forget to follow-up and then become stressed. Making verbal demands under pressure, spatting off 5, 6, 7 items as I see them becomes stressful for everyone and no one remembers and nothing gets done. It is so much better to write it down, then check it off. Everyone knows what is expected and has a paper guide to keep them focused.

I have run across some great resources on line for using list. Check out some of these sites and start your list making today. (love this site for creating an “Organized Home” notebook…calendars, party planning, lined paper, checklists, etc.)  (love this site for homeschool forms, lessons, printables, etc.)  (other fun homeschool forms, charts, and journals for many subjects)  (free printable paper, signs, templates)  (free printable charts & calendars)  (free printable checklists for to-do’s, grocery, math, spelling, etc….color graphics)  (a site containing hundreds of printable forms, charts, lists, party planning pages, coloring sheets, crafts, etc.)

If you have a treasured resource to share for free printable lists, charts, schedules or home organizing/home schooling forms, please share it with us by leaving a comment.

Blessings as you check off you way to completion ~

Goals and Regular Assessment...

I know in my season of life I have a lot of seasons happening at the same time… being a helpmeet to my husband and active in the business, children at many ages and in many phases (infant…teething, learning to walk, still nursing, etc. and young children…ACTIVE toddler and preschooler, a mother’s helper in training, a young man in training, one entering into young manhood, another going on into further education), ministering to my mom, serving the brethren, witnessing…and so forth.  It can be overwhelming at times. Taking time to write down goals (something that was mentioned during my husband’s continuing education class) can help us stay on track. What goals do I have for spiritual growth? For showing honoring and love to my husband? What goals do I have for child training? And how about expressing love toward my children? What goals do I have for keeping my home? For hospitality? Etc.

Making a list of goals, or in better terms, a list of what the Bible says about being a woman, wife, mother, sister in Christ is a great place to start. I tend to be a list maker, so having a place where this is listed serves as a great point of reference and as a reminder of what I am striving toward as a follower of Christ. Under each heading, list virtues and Scripture references to remind you what the Word says about each.

I find that regular assessment of the activities I am engaged in (or ideally, prior to engaging in them) helps me to discern whether these activities are profitable in meeting my goals.  Sometimes, upon assessment, things must be redirected...sometimes, upon assessment, things can be taken on.

 Asking questions like:

— How will this affect others in the family? (counting the costs)

— Is this something that is creating a hardship on my family? (hardship is to be endured however, if it is what God has called you to do – for example, caring for your children is not easy, however it is our duty as a mother to do so…caring for aging or sick parents may not be easy, but it is honoring and our Biblical responsibility to do so…we may need to adjust the other things in our life to allow us to do what is Biblically correct…so many lessons are being taught to our children and testifying to those around us, as we live out our hardship – whatever that may be. The hardship I am referring to in this question would be more relating to taking on extra-curricular activities, ministry opportunities, pursuit of interests, etc. There must be prioritizing, so as not to cause neglect in areas of responsibility for the sake of the interest.)

— Is this an opportunity for growth in the character of myself (my children) or will this cause me (them) to stumble or neglect other areas of responsibility? (once again, if it means neglecting duty/responsibility, it must be considered carefully…growth in character could mean though, ministering to those in need…just be careful not to neglect one area for the sake of another)

— Is this causing me (them) to draw closer to the Lord, therefore working toward my (their) goals of spiritual growth?

— Is this an opportunity to bear witness to His word (via hospitality, encouragement, honor, serving others before oneself, standing up for those that are perishing, poor and needy, etc.)?

— Is this an area I can use God’s given-gifts to minister to others (unless it would cause me to once again neglect my primary responsibilities)?

I’d love to know how you assess and keep track of your goals. Leave a comment with your practical tip or a resource you have found encouraging in helping you do so. We can benefit so much from others…my next post will be on list making with some links to free printables.  Be sure to check back soon.
Because of Him ~

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Well here is a snippet pictoral summary of our gardening experiences thus far this some of you have inquired how things are going, I hope you enjoy the pictorial tour.

The construction of new raised beds for this year...while listening to GA Henty ~ March 2010

We ventured to try red leaf lettuce this year with starter our delight, this yielded two beautiful LARGE heads that was enough to pick off of to make several family sized salads and share with my Mom ~ April 2010

Watermelon from starter plants ~ April 2010
Promising signs of upcoming watermelon with sprawling vines along the ground ~ June 2010

Pole beans started from seed and transplanted into our raised bed in April 2010

Now visions of beans happily nestled between herbs and our raspberry bushes (will need to be transplanted after the season to a new location) ~ June 2010

Yellow squash very thick and green growing along the ground of one raised bed...yellow flowers a promising sign of future vegetables ~ April 2010

Our first very healthy yellow squash...delightful! ~ June 2010

Grape and cherry tomato plants (didn't take a picture when we planted them in March), yellow pepper and red pepper plant (far left) ~ April 2010

The first tomatoes to begin growing on our plants ~ April 2010

To a plant that grew much larger than we ever anticipated, bearing MANY tomatoes that have GREAT sweet flavor ~ June 2010

Yummy grape tomatoes...June 2010

The first signs of future peppers ~ April 2010
Our yellow peppers now ~ June 2010

Our red pepper plant now ~ June 2010

Our first attempt at the "upside down" started with a pint sized tomato plant (did not take a picture of the beginning stage), then progressed to this stage in April 2010 with fruit thriving.

To bearing many juicy tomatoes now ~ June 2010

Other plants we have included in our garden this year are:  herbs (parsley, rosemary...thriving, thyme, basil, oregano, cilantro...can't seem to keep this one growing healthy), raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries...though I heard it will take a couple years to bear fruit with these, grapes and kiwi.  Tried climbing cucumbers this year, with a few cukes that grew, but I would not say these were a success...two on the whole vine, maybe another variation in our Florida weather will do better next year.

Although we are far from being able to feed our family on this garden, it has and will continue to be a great learning experience and does provide immediate access to organic fruits/veggies, thus saving some money.  Over time, it is our goal to improve and have viable, fruitful raised beds which will provide a season of fresh organic fruits and veggies for our family. 

Would love to hear your success stories in raised bed gardening in Florida and natural treatments for insects and worms.  Leave a comment and share your knowledge and experience with me (and my readers).

Blessings from aspiring gardeners in Florida ~

Redeeming the Time...

It is rare to find a mom that has extra time on her hands. It seems these days in this fast paced world we live in, with technology “helping” us to do more in the name of efficiency and with so many women trying to “spin more and more plates” to keep up with all the demands and “opportunities”, less and less seems to be getting accomplished. What’s a girl to do?

Well, I believe we need to step back…out of the plate spinning…and see what it is we are really doing and who are we doing it for and why? So many times our view is obscured because of our busyness…we lose sight of our purpose and jumble our priorities. Even taking on things because they are “good” and “profitable” but forgetting what season we may be in.

The Bible speaks about the role we have as women. A role to be “keepers of our homes”, “honoring our husbands”, “loving our children”, “working with our hands”, “extending hospitality”, “looking well to the ways of our household” and much more. How can we do all these things? We can’t outside of the grace God and equipping of the Holy Spirit. It is through Him that we do these things. It is through His word that we are able to discern what we are to do. It is through the gleaning from “older woman” that we learn what that looks like.

Over the next few days, I hope to post some mini-posts relating to the practical application of how I try to redeem the time. I’d love to hear your practical application tips on how you live out the role of wife/helpmeet, mother, home manager, etc.

May He give you joy, strength and creativity as you live each day.

Blessings ~

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise by as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil."  Ephesian 5:15-16

A Weekend of Work....

With Mark at continuing education classes on Friday and Saturday, it was a perfect time to get some things done around the house. Although, Zach had his final paper due for Con Law on Sunday, he was minimally worked into the “work” festivities, too.

Here’s what this weekend’s To-Do List consisted of (highlighting shows what was finished):

 Finish stocking and labeling the Activity Bins (project from last week)

 Laundry (it’s a daily to-do item…but I love empty laundry bins and don’t want to get behind)

 Maintaining inside of home (kitchen, bedrooms, living area) while working on outside projects

 Major Focus Area…Deep clean garage (with my direction): write up two stove-sized boxes of Goodwill donations (I have nixed the garage sale idea…will donate most, consign some and Craigslist some other items); purchase another shelving unit to better organize our large family’s needs (extra pantry/storage space, designated shelving for activity bins (on last week’s to-do list); add wall shelf above freezer/refrigerator for storing party supplies, canning supplies and out-of-season kitchen items; gather/photo/post used curriculum for sale items; straighten business/personal retention boxes & surplus co-op/office supplies; straighten business stock items (this is part of operating a business from the home…the garage becomes a warehouse, too); clear counter top and reorganize for educational game area (old computer for learning games and radio for books-on-tape); purge the every many shoes and organize the shoe rack; re-organize and inventory the pantry items and paper products; purge toy bins and re-organize bike area; go through “camping”, “paint supplies”, “automotive care”, “cleaning supplies”, and “sports” areas…put items back in proper places, make sure areas/bins are properly labeled and condense were possible; shampoo garage carpet (yes, we have carpeting in 2/3’s of the garage because it provides extra storage/play areas…and yes, we do park a vehicle in there, too. In Florida, there are no basements so the garage becomes extra living/storage area for many…as in our case, it serves many purposes.)

Purge two cabinets of ABeka books to sell some (re-store others for upcoming children); store seasonal books/units in newly created space (i.e. Resurrection, Thanksgiving, Christmas)

Grocery shopping for the upcoming week (with all the children…giving Zach some time to work on that paper uninterrupted)

Take my Mom to ACE Hardware (Zach – first thing Saturday morning)

 Photograph items to post on Craigslist and the used curriculum sites (TUAC yahoo group, home school classifieds, local home school yahoo group site and Veg Source) then begin writing up the posts (this will probably not be done this weekend!)

Meal planning

 Clean bird baths and fill bird feeder

 Weed garden

 Drill holes in planter for geraniums (looking very water logged!)

Wash outside windows & squeegee

 Use cob web broom and rid the perimeter of the house from webs; brush around the perimeter of inside garage door & ceiling corners

Dust Florida room (our enclosed sitting/play area)

These items are not feasible to be accomplished without TEAMWORK…it takes all of us working together to get the work done (especially with little ones in the mix and the oldest limited on his availability). What great opportunity the Lord gives to teach our children good work ethic and shaping good character through working! We work a lot, but when the time comes to play, it makes it all the sweeter. It makes hospitality possible without going into a state of panic, because we work hard throughout the year to keep things manageable – Lord willing.

Being in less than a 2000 square foot home with 9 people, homeschooling and a home business means space must be utilized to its fullest, while still providing enjoyment and a clutter-free feeling. It is a continual task of assessing, re-assessing and re-organizing as our family grows and needs change, but what the Lord has done with this home built for three is amazing…I would have never imagined there would be 9 of us living in a house we built for three. So, very thankful for His continued provision, direction and creative ideas on how to maximize our home to its fullest – a weekend of work and the fruit will be a Sabbath of family and rest and upcoming week of fun, Lord willing.

Blessings ~