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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

A few days ago, a friend and I were having a conversation about our kids and our busy weekends.  She has two kids compared to my four.  Somewhere in the conversation she said to me, “I don’t know how you do it all with four kids and a full time job.” 

I get this comment a lot and every time I do I feel terribly uncomfortable.  While I have to admit that my life is very hectic and my schedule has precious little “white space” and many times I have to make an appointment just to talk to my husband in between that white space, I don’t think my life is any more complicated than other moms in this world.

My life is way easier than a military wife who has to run the household and raise the kids while her husband is off serving months at a time.  It’s way easier than the single mom who is working two or three jobs just to make ends meet.  What about the mom who is raising a handicap child or a child with special needs.  And then there are foster moms and the like. 

I count my blessings that I don’t have these challenges.  For that I am so grateful.  It makes me respect those moms who do have very challenging roles.  Those moms are the real “super moms”.  They have earned the title.


I will never forget when I graduated college and got my first job.  It was as a home energy surveyer where I had to go into homes and show customers how to save energy.  Most of the day was spent driving around in my car and very little time in an office.  My car became my office.

I had a mentor at the time who told me one thing I will never forget. She told me that since my car was my office I had to take some personal pride in it and make sure that it was presentable to customers.  Wanting to do a good job I complied and I have always treated my car in that manner even when I eventually moved onto another job and no longer worked out of my car.

One of the reasons why I am organized is because, for me, it gives me a great sense of pride to look at my belongings whether it is my home, my office, or my car and see that they are being well cared for, clean, and tidy.  It sends a statement not only to myself but to others who live with me or who come to visit.  My personal pride is what drives me not the need to be some sort of perfect, super, eighth wonder of the world. I don’t organize and keep tidy because I want to impress others and I don’t judge others to live to my personal standards.  I just like the way my house looks when it is clean. 

The best aspect about being organized is that I have a better chance of not losing things when I know where they are or when they are in their designated places.  If putting stuff in their place helps save me 1 minute or 1 second of my time in the future then it is worth the time I take to create the designated space to begin with.  It’s definitely easier to throw my mail in a big pile and then deal with it later but then I might miss a bill I need to pay or a paper I need to address.  I don’t like that feeling of thinking I am missing a deadline or forgetting a child’s event because I procrastinated and didn’t take care of it or put in on my calendar.

I can’t speak for everyone who is super organized.  I can only speak for myself.  For example,  I don’t spend lots of time doing laundry.  The reason why is because every time I do laundry I think of a way to shave off time and then I try to make the process more efficient.  Because if I am inefficient I waste time and I have precious little time to waste on laborious tasks. I would rather spend my leisure time with my kids or laying by the pool not searching for my keys or the unpaid bills or doing piles of laundry.

Yes some of my thinking came from the way I was raised. I tended to be a kid who tried to find a solution t0 every problem.  I even went on to get an engineering degree where I learned how to be a professional problem solver and thinker.  All of the jobs that I have ever had have been centered around making something more efficient whether it was a process or a project or something like that.

I guess you would say I was meant to be organized.  And I can tell you for a fact that my husband likes that I am.

Good thing I know how to keep a schedule.  I have perfected the art of the schedule for awhile now ever since I got Outlook at work and at home.  The calendar functionality on Outlook is the best in my opinion and I can’t imagine there being anything better.  So I use my work calendar for everything from work related meetings to personal reminders and tasks.  I color code it all and have trained my eye to focus on the most importantly coded things.  After testing and tweeking I finally found something that works for me.

That said, my schedule is always crazy.  With two high school boys and two younger ones there is always something going on.  It’s not as bad as some people I know because I try to stick to my rule of only one activity per person at any given time and now that my teens can drive and have friends who can drive it’s not as hard to make sure they are getting to their games and practices. Thank Goodness.

I also like to make sure that at the end of the day my family has a nice home cooked meal that we can sit down to.  Most of the times I reach that goal.  Sometimes I don’t.  Any suggestions on that?  I am still perfecting the home cooking thing and searching for ideas that work for me. 

Now I am off to make my schedule for the rest of the week.  Happy Week to everyone.

I used to struggle every morning dragging myself out of bed, rushing to get myself ready, and struggling to get breakfast on the table for my kids.  Every morning was chaotic. I was running around the house with wet hair and half of my face made up for work.  I would run to the pantry and have to get a bunch of different cereals because the kids like different kinds.  I would look for bowls only to realize that the dishwasher load didn’t run last night which means I had to take time and wash a few dishes for the breakfast cereal.  Kids shoes and backpacks would go missing.  It was crazy.

So one day I did something that I usually do when chaos seems never ending.  I take a step back.  I look at the situation and I really study it.  What am I doing wrong?  How can I survive like this?  How can I make it BETTER??  There is a way.  I know it.  I can figure this out.  I have an engineering degree, after all.

I reviewed my morning ritual.  Most of it revolves around looking for stuff whether it is breakfast bowls, cups, sneakers, or backpacks.  I decided that instead of looking for those things in the morning when my time was the most precious, I would look for those things the night before and put it all out on the counter in the kitchen the night before when I did have a few minutes to spare.  Lunches get made the night before and put into the refrigerator.

So I put it all out.  Cereal containers, bowls, spoons, cups, backpacks, lunchboxes, sneakers, my purse, car keys, and my laptop bag.  With the exception of food from the refrigerator it is all there waiting for me the next morning.

The first day was like heaven.  No rushing around.  When my kids and I woke up, I leisurely walked into the kitchen, got the milk from the refrigerator and everything was all right there on the counter waiting for me.  No rushing at all.

I have been doing mornings like this for the past several months and it’s been the best morning move I have made.  What I have learned from this is that if I can shave off minutes or even seconds from my routine to make things run smoother it is so worth it in the end. 

Do you know of any opportunities in your own life to make improvements such as this?  What are they?

on the way to the ballpark.  As I entered the ballpark with my husband and two young children in tow to watch my older boys varsity baseball game last night, I learned of a funny phenomenon that is going on right now in my household…

My older boys are becoming men.

It’s a strange, strange experience for me who is constantly remembering the days they were born, their first steps, their first days of school.  Add to the list their first girlfriends.

As we were sitting in the stands and my oldest was playing in the game, my other son was sitting in the stands with a bunch of his friends.  Some of them are guys and some are girls.  He was laughing and having a good time and not realizing I was watching him grow up the whole time.

I realize at some point they will have girlfriends and go out on dates.  I can tell this is coming soon…almost too soon.  It’s a mom thing. I just know.

I am thankful that I have a good relationship with my boys so that they are comfortable talking to me about their personal lives and their interests and yes, sometimes that includes them talking about members of the opposite sex.

For now I have to remember to keep my distance because  “moms are pretty uncool”.    I am not sure if you got the memo on that but it’s true.  I also have to remember to keep communicating with them and keep talking to them about how to become responsible and respectful men.

And after those talks I will go back to my room and look through the pictures of our lives together when they were still young enough to think I WAS cool and I was the only girl in their lives.

I used to hate crockpots.  They freaked me out.  It’s just something about turning on a cooking appliance and leaving it on for the whole day unattended.  The thought just makes me cringe.  I keep imaging the worst that could happen.  But if I could only get past this fear I am sure that the crockpot could make my life very easy.

So I decided to get one and in order to release my fear of it, I would cook with it but not leave the house.  This experiment had to be done on a weekend of course where I would have 6 hours to be tied to the house.  I decided to cook something fairly simple…I think it was a chicken stew with potatoes, celery, carrots, and onions.  Needless to say the entire cooking process went smoothly and the meal turned out delicious.   As the day wore on, I kept standing over the pot waiting for it to explode.  Of course if it did how bright would I be for being the one who stood directly over it.  Still, I kept touching the sides seeing if it was really safe inside that metal casing.  All was fine and my fear was gone.

Yummy Beef Stew

I now use my crockpot for so many things that I cannot imagine how I got along without it.  Some of the more common menus I cook in it are sauce and meatballs, beef stew, soup, chicken and dumplings, and other assorted chicken dishes.    You can even google crockpot recipes and find just about any recipe under the sun.

Do you use a crockpot?  Did you have the same fear as me?  How has crockpot cooking helped you in your busy life?  Share your thoughts with me here!

I have been bugging my teen boys for weeks (months) to clean out their room. It wasn’t until I was at the end of my rope that I realized that they have absolutely no interest whatsoever in cleaning out their room. And when they started telling me that I needed to buy them more black socks because they no longer had any did I decide to take over their room. I couldn’t imagine where all of their black socks had gone. I took matters into my own hands.

I went in their room with a mission to find the 20 pairs of black socks that I knew lurked in there. I also was going to find shorts that they told me they no longer have as well. After all, clothes don’t just walk away.

My approach was fairly straightforward and would work in just about any bedroom. I worked on the closet first and then moved to the bed area and then the TV area. Closet was the biggest challenge because kids notoriously do not organize or purge their clothes. I am sure there are exceptions but at least this rule is alive in my house. I start by pulling all of the clothes out of the closet. We make a few piles: one to give away, one to keep, and one to pass down to their youngest brother. The boys were a part of the process and as I held up the item we decided which pile it goes into. The decisions have to be quick and kids usually know which of their clothes no longer fit or is no longer in style. We went through the belts, shoes, and baskets. Every keeper got hung back up on the rod in an organized fashion grouped by type (shirts, pants, tshirts, etc). To my kids’ surprise the baskets which contained shorts and t-shirts were crammed with shorts that still had the tags on and ended up buried at the bottom. What we also found were several pairs of black socks. I struggled to contain myself so as not to relish in what I knew all along (that the socks and shorts didn’t just walk away).

When the closet was finished I moved on to the drawers under their beds. This is where they keep their underwear, pjs, and socks (which they say they no longer have any of). What I found hidden beneath the underwear were more socks! We sorted through these drawers and paired up all the socks, folded up all the underwear and threw everything out that no longer fit or was wearable.

While I was at the bed area I decided to take a look under the bed. I figured that surely I would find treasure there and I was not disappointed. More socks!

We moved on to their end table that they somehow has become a total junk drawer. I emptied the whole thing out much to their horror. The whining tone didn’t sway me. We were not going to do a partial purge. Everything was emptied out of that drawer onto the floor. We went through old papers, candy wrappers, and overall junk that just needed to be trashed. I did find a few surprises that came from that drawer..money and gift cards that totalled $75 in value.

Only essential items were put back into the end table drawer and on that happy note we were finished with the purge. Lost treasure totalled $75 + the cost of black socks and striped shorts. Overall the mission was a success.

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