Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wrapping presents

I am a terrible wrapper.  One of my friends in college was so appalled at my wrapping ability, that when seeing a present I wrapped for my sister's birthday, she took the presents and rewrapped them (splendidly, I might add).  But, I love seeing trees with beautiful packages underneath and have always dreamed of having the same for my own tree.

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This year, I decided to use Kraft paper and red ribbons.  I like to have presents under the tree throughout the whole season.  But, if the kids' names are on them they are picking them up and stealthily trying to figure out what their gifts are.   Last year I used the wrap everyone in a different paper idea, and it worked well.  But, it was a little busy looking with such a large family.  So, this year I decided to get a different ribbon for each kid.  They are all red, silver, or gold (or a combination of those).

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I think it looks much more cohesive, and yet the kids still don't know which presents are theirs.  

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Pretty, practical, and inexpensive.  


Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent Calendar

I wanted to do some sort of Advent Calendar this year to count our way down to Christmas.  After perusing Pinterest (for hours, LOL), I decided I wanted to make mine activity based.  I began working months ago on coming up with a list of activities, some pretty in depth and some extremely simple.  I printed them out onto red card stock.  I then set out to make my own decorative envelopes to put them in.

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I had a stash of Christmas scrapbooking papers left over from my scrapbooking years, so I pulled out 5-6 coordinating sheets.  I wasn't sure what to use as the actual envelopes.  I came up with the idea to cut standard envelopes in half (after sealing them closed).  This gave me perfectly sized, inexpensive envelopes.  I covered my envelopes in scrapbook paper and numbered them (my numbers were from a scrapbook paper that I cut apart).  

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I went through the calendar and added activities that were date specific.  I also tried to put simpler activities on Sundays, since we're usually so busy that day.  I also used scriptures from this site, and added one to each day.

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Here is a list of the activities I have listed for ours:
(I also have several snow related ones (snowball fight, make snowman, go sledding) that I will add in place of some of these - if we get any snow in the next month).

  1. Choose Secret Santas
  2. Visit Bethlehem Marketplace
  3. Make Paper Snowflakes
  4. Watch a Christmas movie and eat popcorn
  5. Make a Christmas craft
  6. Play a game
  7. Go on a Christmas Hike (this one will depend on weather)
  8. Do an act of service for someone in need
  9. Watch Elf
  10. Make Hot Chocolate
  11. Make a homemade gift for someone
  12. Make Truffles
  13. Make a Christmas ornament
  14. Go shopping for your Secret Santa
  15. Make a gingerbread house
  16. Have a family camp out in front of the Christmas tree
  17. Go Caroling
  18. Make Sugar Cookies
  19. Decorate Cookies
  20. Go to mall and see Santa
  21. Plan and act out the Christmas story (& video it!)
  22. Make cookies and deliver to neighbors
  23. Go see Christmas lights
  24. Watch a Christmas movie and eat caramel corn

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A few fall pictures ....

I guess if I blog every day for a month, the unintended consequence is not blogging the next month!  I haven't been taking a lot of pictures lately.  In fact, I didn't even take my camera with me to Thanksgiving this year.  I do have a few shots, though of fall.

Some pictures from our corn maze/hayride night at church:
Corn maze.The hayride makes him a little nervous!!
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Carving pumpkins:
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Enjoy your day with family and friends, giving thanks for all the blessings He has bestowed upon you!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Set in the decade following WWII, Snow Falling on Cedars takes place on San Piedro Island off the coast of Washington.   The island has a large population of Japanese immigrants who were taken to internment camps during the war.  The story deals with the great prejudice leveled against these residents of the island.

Kabuo Miyamoto is a first generation American veteran who is on trial for murder. Although the police have some circumstantial evidence,  the strongest evidence they have against him is the fact that he is Japanese.  Ishmael Chambers is the owner of the newspaper and uncovers evidence that could possibly free Kabuo, but his past with Kabuo's wife, Hatsue, makes it difficult for him to know what to do.   Does he do what he knows is right?  Or does he let the prejudice from the loss of Hatsue's love and his arm fighting against the Japanese keep him from doing what he knows he should?

This story jumps between the trial, the days leading up to the murder, and the teen years of the main characters.   Although this seems like it might get confusing, the author moves seamlessly between the different time periods. 

The book does contain several pretty graphic sex scenes.  If these bother you, then you can skip ahead and not really miss much of the story.  I would be reluctant to turn the book over to a teen, though, even though I think they could gain much from the story.

The story highlights a dark time in the history of our country that, although we all know about, we really don't talk about much.  This time period in our history was, of course, very similar to the days and months surrounding 9/11.  I clearly remember similar sentiments expressed towards Muslims in our country during that time (and still today).   Thankfully, we as a country didn't repeat the mistakes of our past and give in to the fear.   Many individuals, though, do still live lives full of prejudice and fear.   Just because their faces were Japanese  didn't make them killers and spies.  And today, just because someone is of Arabic descent doesn't make them a terrorist.  

We all see the world through our own eyes, which is heavily influenced by our culture.  It is so easy to view a different culture as not just different, but wrong.  Although we might not fully understand another culture, I do think we can try to understand that a culture in and of itself is not right or wrong.  We need to not paint the world with such a wide brush.  We need to find common ground with one another and embrace the differences.   We need to not let our prejudices blind us to the truth.

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First Line: The accused man, Kabuo Miyamoto, sat proudly upright with a rigid grace, his palms placed softly on the defendant's table - the posture of a man who has detached himself insofar as this is possible at his own trial.

Last Line:  Ishmael gave himself to the writing of it, and as he did so he understood this, too: that accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 31 - Don't Give Up - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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My last day!  Writing on the same topic for 31 days has been far from easy.  The beginning was very easy, but the last week has been much harder!  I've enjoyed thinking through all the ways I try to keep my head above water over this month.  I hope that I was able to encourage a few people with what I had to share.

Today I want to encourage you not to give up.  Even when it feels like your drowning and it seems impossible to hold everything together.  I want you to keep pushing on.   Some days it feels like you just can't continue on anymore.  The voices in your head will tell you to give up.  Don't.  Just keep on.  

The most important thing you can do to keep you head above water is to not ever give up!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 30 - You Can't Do It All - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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We as women are led to believe that not only can we do it all, but that if we're not doing it all, then something is wrong with us.   Today, I want to let you know ... you CAN'T do it all.  Something has to give.  So, how do we survive when the expectation is that we can do it all?

First, we need to be alright with the fact that we can't do it all.  No guilt.  We can't allow a false premise to keep us down.  We also must prioritize. If we can't do everything, we must decide what must be done and what things we can just let things slide.  This goes back to saying no when you need to. We also need to know our limits.  We shouldn't push ourselves so much that we crash.  Most importantly, we need to adjust our expectations. We need to quit expecting that we can do everything.

Realizing that you can't do it all can help you keep your head above water.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 29 - Letting Go of Perfection - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water



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Perfectionism can be a trap that many women fall into.  It is a great way to continue drowning.   Sometimes we as women put unnecessary pressure on ourselves.  We expect perfection, when perfection isn't possible.  We fear failure.  We fear mediocrity.  Trying to be perfect keeps us from being real.  It keeps us from living our lives.

We need to remind ourselves daily that perfection isn't our goal.  In pursuit of it, we end up missing out on all the important things of life.  Perfectionism can have negative effects on our closest relationships.   

Let go of perfectionism.  Allow yourself to fail.  Remember that failure is part of growth.   Our lives can be full and beautiful without being perfect.  Don't hold yourself to impossible standards.   If you can allow yourself  to be less than perfect, you will be much closer to keeping your head above water.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 28 - Asking for Help - 31 Day of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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When you feel like your drowning, you may need to ask for help.  This is where having a network of people you can trust comes in handy.  Family.  Friends.   Church family.  People you can turn to when you feel like you are drowning, and will be there to help you.   I know for myself, it's often hard to ask for help.  In asking for help, it feels like you are admitting defeat and declaring yourself a failure.   When you are really drowning, though, you need to ask for help.




Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day 27 - Getting Out into Nature - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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I think it is important for all of us to get out into nature and experience the refreshment that can come from it.   God made a beautiful world ... a place for us to enjoy.  When we feel like we're drowning, we often feel like we don't have time to get outside.

But ... I'm not a nature girl, you might say.  Getting out into nature doesn't necessarily mean that you need to go hike out into the wilderness.  You can get out into nature by sitting on your porch and listening to the birds singing.   You can visit a park close by and just sit on a bench and think while the breeze blows in your face.  Go for a walk around your neighborhood, taking in the summer flowers or the fall leaves.

When we get out into nature a few things happen.  First, we feel the immensity of the universe and by contrast our problems and struggles seem a little smaller.  We also can take time to rest, breath and relax.   We can use it as a time to quiet our souls.   Getting outside is good for your health.  Most of  us in this country are vitamin D deficient.  Just a little time in the sunshine can boost your levels, helping you feel more energized.

Taking time to get out and enjoy nature can help you keep your head above water.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 26 - Don't Compare - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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I have a problem with comparing myself to others.  I think it is a problem that the majority of women have (and probably you men, too).  Now, I'm sure there are those of you out there that compare yourself to the women around you and come out feeling superior.  I'm not on that side of the equation.  Most of the women I talk to are not on that side of the equation.  So, I'm not going to speak to the women on that side of the equation, even though the negatives of a superiority complex are overwhelming!

For the rest of us, it seems like the women surrounding us have it all together.  They do so much more than I do.  They have successful careers.  They have perfect children.  They have perfect homes.  The list goes on and on and on.  I put enormous expectations on myself, to try to be like them.  I fail.  I think if I were just a better person, or more disciplined I could do all the things they do.  I feel like I'm drowning.

I don't think I'm alone in this cycle.  Maybe I am.  My biggest mistake is comparing myself to someone else.  I am a big believer that we are all different.  We all have different giftings and different callings in life.  We are all part of different families who have differing needs.   I can never be exactly like someone else.   Instead of trying to be someone else, I need to find out who I am and what I was created to do.  If I am fulfilling my calling, then it doesn't matter what others around me are doing.

I think we can learn from others.  The whole point of this series has been to try to help other women with the lessons I've learned.  I hope this series hasn't come across as me saying I have it all together, though.  Because I don't.  All of the tips I've written about really do help me keep my head above water.  But, I don't always follow my own advice or am in a season when I really can't do all of those things.  My house is often still messy!  My kids get behind in their schoolwork!  I still feel like I'm drowning.

I think even though there does seem to be a few super women out there, most of us have areas that we struggle in.  We more than likely keep those struggle areas secret from those around us.  Why??  We as women need to stop the 'Mommy Wars'.  Just because your house is clean and mine isn't doesn't make you a better person.  Just because you cook all organic, homemade meals while we sometimes eat processed food doesn't make you a better person.  Just because I homeschool my kids, while you send yours to public school does NOT make me a better person.  Just because I nursed my six kids while you bottle fed, does not make me a better person.

We need to learn to embrace the differences in each other.  We need to stop looking at other people's choices as an indictment on our own.  Just because I choose to do something differently, does not mean that your way is wrong ... and vice versa.   We're just different.

Stop comparing yourself to others.  Be the best YOU you can be.  This will help you keep your head above water. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 25 - Finding Your Best Time - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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All of us have a time when we work the best.  In order to keep our head above water, we need to find our best time and try to make our schedule work with it!

We've all heard all the sayings about getting up early, such as, "The early bird gets the worm."   I read blogs all the time with women touting that the one best way to get your life in order is to get up early.  People I know in real life wear their early rise time as a badge of honor.  At least here in the rural midwest, getting up early is seen as more righteous than staying up late.  When you wake up or go to bed isn't something that makes you better than anyone else!

We're all different.   For many people, morning is their best time to work.  If that is true of you, then by all means get up early and get some things done while you are at your best.   For others, though, they work better at other times of the day.   One of my best friends in college was a bear to get out of bed in the morning, but she could work well into the night.  She was a night owl and worked best after others were in bed.   For those who are night owls, it makes sense to work into the night and sleep in in the morning if your schedule can allow that!

Morning is my best time that I work best.   I was an early riser even as a small child.  I have many wonderful memories of getting up early in the morning, often with just my Dad and I awake.  But, I am also a girl that needs her sleep.  When I'm up with a child all night, those extra hours of sleep in the morning allow me to function the remaining hours of the day.   There is no shame in sleeping later, so you can get the sleep you need.  Remember, we are all in different seasons!   We schedule the harder part of the school day in the morning because this is my best time.

So, figure out whether you are a morning person, a night owl, or an afternoon worker.  Then, adjust your schedule to try to get the most done during those times.  And please remember ... you are not a better person because the hours you are awake are different than someone else.    A person who is a night owl is not more lazy than a morning person!

Find your best time to keep your head above water. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 24 - Remembering What’s Important - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water


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It’s easy to focus our attention on all the wrong things.  They aren’t necessarily bad things, but they are unimportant in the scheme of life.  So what are the important things in life?   Family.  Friends.  Faith.

Those three things make up the most important things in our lives.  They are also often the first three things to fall to the wayside when our lives get busy and frazzled.  Keep the main things the main things.   Don’t forget to spend time with those you love.   Stop and play with your kids.  Spend time talking with that friend who needs you.  Spend time in God’s word.   The unimportant things aren’t going anywhere.   

Sometimes when we feel like we’re drowning, we just need to change our perspective.    We forget how blessed we really are.  Yes, I always have a huge pile of laundry, but I have six beautiful children making that laundry.  Yes, I never get enough sleep, but I have a healthy one year old who wants to snuggle with me.   I am so blessed.  With those blessings come a lot of work.  But, I wouldn’t trade all the work for the ones I love.
  
Try to remember that in the scheme of life, the little things are the big things.  When you’re trying to keep your head above water, pull your focus off the unimportant and focus on the important.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 23 - Reaching out to Others - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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When you're drowning, reaching out to those around you may seem counter productive.   But, I think focusing our attention on someone other than ourselves is good for us.  Seeing someone else's struggles and being there when they need it not only helps them, but also helps us.

When we spend all our time focusing inward, our problems become monumental.  The more you focus on your struggles and ruminate on them, the bigger they seem to become.  When we have an outward focus, we can see that life is difficult for everyone.   Our situations aren't unique.  Everyone has struggles and needs someone there to listen.  Be that listening ear for someone else.  Be the person there with help when they need it.

It doesn't take big gestures to reach out to others.  I think we can all find little things to do.   We can find time to send them an encouraging card.  We can spend time throughout our day to pray for others and their needs.  We can be there for someone to talk to when they are struggling.   We can take a meal into someone who needs it (even if it is just takeout!).

We can also be honest about our own struggles,  not putting on a face to others.  We can minister to those around us, sharing the things we have learned.  We can stop the fake facade and be real.

Reaching out to others helps us keep our head above water.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 22 - Make Your Marriage a Priority - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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Motherhood fundamentally changes us by forcing us to focus our time and attention on a little human being who is helpless without us.   We pour our hearts and souls into our children.  When they have a need we are right there.  When they have a want we do everything in our power to fulfill it.  We sacrifice our time, money, bodies, and often even our careers for then.  Their safety and well being becomes a priority over our own.  Although we would do it over and over again, it is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.

For many women, this leaves little left to put into our spouse.  Our relationship from which our children came gets neglected.  Most of us married our spouse because we enjoyed their company and and wanted to spend our life with them.  Yet, we often take them for granted.  If we nurture the marriage relationship we not only strengthen our marriage, but also ourselves.  

Having a lot of young children is not conducive to regular nights out on the town.   Several years ago we started having at home date nights.  We would take turns planning fun things we could at home after the kids were in bed.  We really enjoyed these dates!  It was like we were dating again.  It rejuvenated us and was something fun to look forward to each week.  When Alex was born, we got out of the habit.  It's something we really need to start doing again.

Make your marriage a priority to keep your head above water.   

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 21 - Feeding your Soul - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."  Psalm 119:105

Feeding your soul is an important way to keep your head above water.   Spending time in God's word is one of the best ways to feed your soul.  Some other ways include regular worship time, fellowship with a body of believers, listening to the preaching of the word and reading inspirational books,

When we're struggling with the demands of life, God's word can bring us comfort and direction.   Even a few minutes reading the Bible can refresh you.  I know when we're super busy it can be hard to find the time for Bible study.  Especially, those of us with young kids who never give us a second of peace and quiet.   I know I don't always spend time in God's word like I should.  But, when we feel like we're drowning it should be the first place we turn.

We should also worship and fellowship with fellow believers.  During worship, try to shut out all the things on your mind and focus on Jesus and your relationship with him.   Keep up your relationships with other believers, as well.   Feeding your soul helps keep your head above water.




Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 20 - Finding Peace - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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Peace.  Something most everyone craves, but few experience regularly.  When you have children, the peace is replaced with chaos ... the quiet is replaced with loud noise.  It seems impossible to feel any peace.

I was lamenting this several years ago, when God showed me that peace isn't situational.  Peace can be found even in the midst of chaos.  Peace is a condition of our heart.   True peace isn't dependent on peaceful surroundings, but comes through our reliance on God in the midst of the craziness.   This is a hard one for me.  I would prefer the peaceful surroundings!  I am working on finding peace when the world around me is anything but.

Finding peace can help you keep your head above water.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 19 - Learn to Say No - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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One thing I've had to learn in order to keep my head above water is that sometimes you just have to say 'No'.   Our plates are already so full, but it seems like there is always someone ready to add more.   I used to feel like if someone asked me to do something, then I needed to agree to it.  It was the nice thing to do.  It was the loving thing to do.  It was what a good Christian (and Pastor's Wife) did.   At some point, though, I realized that in trying to be nice and loving to people, I was destroying myself.  Let's face it ... we can only do so much.

You need to figure out what your limits are.  Some of us (me included) aren't like so many super women out there and aren't able to go, go, go 24 hours a day.   Each one of us needs to learn what we can handle.  Then we need to do what we can do ... and do well.  Instead of spreading ourselves so thin that we can't do anything well, we need to do only the things that we can realistically accomplish.

When presented with an opportunity, you need to decide a few things.   First, ask yourself if you have time.  There are many great opportunities in life, but only so much time.  We have to pick and choose the things we can do and fill our time with.  We need to prioritize things.

If you have time, then you need to decide if this is something you want or feel called to do.  If it is something big, you probably need to spend time in prayer about this.   When someone asks you to make a large commitment, learn to tell that person that you'll need time to pray about it and will get back to them.   Then, make sure you actually pray about it (and get back to them, too).    Allow God to lead you.

Now, I don't want you to take things too far the other way and never do anything to help someone else.  You need to find that perfect balance, where you are doing things in service to others while at the same time not over committing yourself.  That balancing point will be different for each one of us, so you need to find your own sweet spot.

Remember ... saying no does not make you a bad person!!   Keep your sanity and learn to say no.  It is imperative in keeping your head above water.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rock Candy Suckers

Making rock candy suckers.

After seeing them on Pinterest, Rachel just had to try the Rock Candy Suckers.  We followed the instructions from brandyscrafts.   Although, in looking at it we skipped the first step of rolling the sticks in sugar.  Ours still worked, although we had one dud that didn't grow as well.  The kids loved doing this, and couldn't stand to wait a full week before eating them!   A few things we learned:

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  • Keep the sticks from the bottom of your glass/jar.   3 of ours were too far in and ended up stuck to the bottom.   They were so stuck that we couldn't use them!
  • Use flavorings!  We did not and the suckers tasted like sugar cubes.  I think they would have been much tastier with a little strawberry flavoring added!
  • When you go to clean up, use the sprayer on your sink to spray hot water around the inside of your glass.  This will loosen the sugar and the large lump of sugar in the bottom will slide right out.
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Day 18 - Scheduling Your Days - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water



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All of us have great demands on our time.  Today we're going to talk about scheduling our days.  I think scheduling consists of two parts: keeping track of our outside commitments and giving order to our normal day.  

Until I had a bunch of kids, I was able to remember and keep track of all the things I needed to do.   At some point, either because of those kids or just aging in general, things began to fall through the cracks.  In order to keep your head above water, you need to get those things out of your brain and down as a hard copy.  The way I do this is to have a centralized calendar.   If you want to be creative, just do a search on pinterest for calendars!  If you want to be tech savvy, then you can use google calendar or ical and sync up with every member of the family.   I just use a regular old wall calendar.   When something comes in the mail or we make an appointment, I add it on the calendar.   My calendar hangs on the kitchen wall, so it is easy to glance at it and see what we need to do. 
 
I think it is also important to give structure to our days.  Those of you that work outside the home or send your kids to school, those schedules will dictate a large part of your day.   Those of us who stay home and/or homeschool may need a schedule to help keep us accountable for how we use our days.   All of us can use a routine for the morning and evenings.    I find that having a 'schedule' to follow helps me organize my day and feel less harried.  It can help me to get in all the many things I need to do each day.
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How do I make my schedule?  First, I list out all the things I need to do in a day and how long it takes to accomplish those tasks.   I try to add in everything, from sleep to exercise.  Then, do the math by adding up all the times.  If you're below 24 hours then you are ready to make your schedule.  If you are over 24 hours, then  you have some decisions to make.  Because, contrary to the belief of everyone putting demands on our time, there are only 24 hours in a day!   Something has to go. You have to make decisions about what are necessities in each day.

Once you have your day down to 24 hours, write a plan for your day.  This doesn't have to be an exact plan, but something to guide your time as you go about your day.   You probably need a few points during your day that are pretty set ... wake up times, meal times, bed times, etc.   Then, you can fill in the things you need to do in between allowing enough time for each one.    You may need to be creative with your day to fit everything in.

As with everything in life, you need to use your schedule as a tool and not allow your schedule to rule you.  Some days the schedule gets thrown out the window.   Other days something on the schedule will take exceptionally long and you will have to choose something else that you can forgo.   These are the days that quick go to meals may save you that extra time you need.   Occasionally, there are days where everything goes just as you planned, but those are rare!   Just knowing what you should be doing next is helpful for me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day 17 - Control your Media Time - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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We have a plethora of media at our fingertips.  It can be very useful and you can use it wisely to help keep your head above water.  But, we can also let the media control us.  Maybe we get online for a quick second to check our email ... and it turns into an hour as we got distracted.   Maybe we have to have the television on at all times.  Maybe we are addicted to social media.   Maybe we waste hours playing silly games.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a little time surfing online.  There is nothing wrong with enjoying a little TV.  There is nothing wrong with social media in and of itself.  Even the silly games can have a place in our time of rest and relaxation.   The problem comes when we are spending time with media indiscriminately.  When we are online wasting time while neglecting our responsibilities it is a problem.  When we know the characters in our favorite shows better than we know the people living in our own house, it is a problem.

How do we use media without being controlled by it?  I think we need to set limits for ourselves.   I'll admit that I have fettered way too many hours away online.   I've recently made a conscious effort to limit my time.  The way I've done this is two fold.  First ... I only use my computer at my desk now.  No more cuddling on the couch with my laptop.   Because it isn't as comfortable, I just naturally spend less time online.   The other thing I've done is to stay away from forums.  I've spent many, many hours on homeschool forums wasting my time.   I no longer allow myself to even visit the forums.   Next spring when I'm researching curriculum, I'll allow myself on ... but I'll have to keep myself to research and research only.

If your media time is out of control, think of steps you can take to limit your time and control it.   You may have better self control than I do, and not have to go so drastic.   Maybe you just need to set a timer while you are online so the time doesn't get away from you.  Use media to make your life easier and free up your time, but keep it from stealing precious hours of the day away from you.

Controlling your media time will help you keep your head above water. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 16 - Seasons of Life - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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Every season of life has it's own difficulties.  When we feel like we're drowning we need to look at the season we are in and decide if our expectations are realistic.   If I am an empty nester who works and is gone from my house all day, I can probably clean my house once a week and it will stay pretty clean until the next week.   If I am a stay at home mom with a passel of small children, realistically my house will never be totally clean.  

Everything in life is a trade off.  The empty nester may be lonely and recall wistfully the days of little fingers leaving prints all over the glass.  Those of us with little fingers constantly leaving those prints find it hard to believe we will ever miss it!   Part of keeping your head above water is remembering which season of life you are in.  Try to enjoy the things that are unique to your stage of life.   Those little fingerprints won't be around forever, so don't fret over them.

Embrace the season you are in.  I know the last 12 years have gone past in a blink of an eye.  I look at my youngest, who looks a lot like my oldest, and recall how it seems like yesterday that Caleb was Alex's size.   Now he's taller than I am.  Don't regret these years when your kids are small, because they are small for such a short amount of time.

When you feel like drowning, keep in mind the season of life that you are in.  Give yourself some leeway!   

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 15 - Getting Enough Sleep - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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A good night's sleep makes all the difference when you're trying to keep your head above water.  It is so hard to function when you are tired.  I know from personal experience that this one is not always possible.  During certain seasons of your life, a good night's sleep just isn't going to happen.  But, even when it's not possible, we need to try to get as much sleep as we can.   

I have a little guy who doesn't like to sleep.  I understand all too well trying to function while exhausted.   Lack of sleep makes small problems seem large.  It makes life feel overwhelming.  It makes me grouchy. 

Our bodies are made to need sleep.  Our brains can't function properly without sleep.  Lack of sleep is the cause of what I call the Baby Haze.  We function so much better with the proper amount of shut eye!  If you're feeling exhausted, try to find a way to get to bed a little bit earlier (or sleep in a little later).   It's worth the sacrifice!

Go to bed on time to keep that head above water!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 14 - Prayer - 31 Days of Keeping Our Heads Above Water

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"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."  Philippians 4:6

Prayer is an essential component to keeping your head above water.  Ask God for help to make it through the day, and he will help you.  

Sometimes I think we make prayer out to be some complicated thing that we need to set aside large amounts of alone time in order to do.  Although it's a wonderful thing to have a time set aside to pray, we can pray wherever we are.  It's communicating and communing with God throughout the day.  During the day, when we meet a struggle, turn to him.  You can talk to Him in your head as you go about your daily tasks.

I have a long way to go, but I want to be a woman characterized by prayerfulness.  I want my steps during the day to be taken with Christ by my side.   I want my decisions and attitudes to align with His.  Prayer is a necessary component in keeping your head above water.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 13 - Medical Issues - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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Sometimes when we feel like we're drowning, there is a medical reason behind it.   Besides eating well and exercising, be sure to get a check up if you are struggling to stay afloat.  Vitamin deficiencies, hypothyroidism and depression are three big health causes of the drowning feelings.  There are many other medical reasons, too.   It's amazing how seemingly minor health problems can make such a huge difference in the quality of our lives.    Don't continue to drown when you could get some help. 

I have hypothyroidism, and when my levels are off I definitely struggle with energy levels.   I find it nearly impossible to complete the simplest of chores.   Keeping your body in tip top health is an essential way to keeping your head above water.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day 12 - Once a Month Cooking - 31 Days of Keeping your Head above Water

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When life gets busy, it's easy to not have enough time to cook every day.  This leads to stress.   One way to keep up is Once a Month Cooking.  One day you cook/assemble meals for the whole month.  You dirty all the dishes only once.  You can brown lots of hamburger at once, then use it for different meals.  Every day, you just pull your meal out of the freezer and let it thaw.  Then you cook it and have an easy dinner on the table.

I've done this many times and it is so nice to have all those dinners waiting in the freezer.  But, it does take one very busy day in order to do all the cooking.   If you can't fit one day in your schedule, then try to double or triple freezable recipes when you make them.  Throw them in the freezer, then pull them out on super hectic days.   

Here is a previous post I did on OAMC, with a list of the meals I made.    Once a month cooking can help a struggling cook keep their head above water!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 11 - Chore Charts - 31 Days of Keeping Your Head Above Water

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Last week we talked about having a cleaning schedule.  I mentioned deciding which chores can be done by other people in your house.  That's where today comes in.  Chore Charts.   I've used many, many different chore charts over the years.  They've had one main problem.  They were portable.   In theory, this was great!  The kids could carry them with them while they worked, so they could be more efficient.  In practice, they came up missing.  Daily.  Sometimes permanently.  A chore chart doesn't work if it can't be found.

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So, my most recent chore chart is affixed to the wall.  I printed out morning, lunch, evening, and Saturday chores and then framed them and hung them on the kitchen wall.   They can't be lost!!

Here's a list of each of their chores:
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Several of their chores are also on my monthly rotation of chores.   This gives me a chance to give some things a really good cleaning, since they don't always do their jobs as well as I would like.  They also each have a room in the evening that is their responsibility to make sure is cleaned up each day.  This keeps the main area of our house (I take care of the kitchen) mostly clean every day.

Having the kids help with chores is a great way to keep your head above water.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

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