Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday: Have Birthday Cards Ready!

I have a greeting card organizer that is very helpful for knowing where all my cards and stationary are stored. I did have to come up with a system to make sure my cards got sent out at the right time.

At the first of the year, I make sure I have enough cards for all family members and close friends. I go ahead and pick out a card for each person, write their names on the envelopes and organize them according to month. I then store them in my card box.

On the first day of each month, I have marked on my calendar to get that month's cards ready.(I also have each birthday marked on my calendar.) I then get that month's stack out, address and stamp them and put them in my little basket by the front door where I keep all outgoing mail. Each day, I see the cards and mail them if it is the right time.

This takes a little brain power to remember all this, but it has made it much easier to send cards out on time. It definitely works for me!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Works For Me Wednesday--Keep Aldi Bags In Your Car

I keep my grocery bags and a quarter(for the shopping cart rental) in my car for when I shop at Aldi's.There have been far too many times that I had to break a twenty dollar bill to get a quarter for a cart! And equally as many times have I forgotten to bring bags until I am ready to check out with an overloaded grocery cart. Of course, at this time, there are no nice empty boxes to be found and there is just something about buying plastic grocery bags that doesn't sit well with me. (Especially when I have literally bags of them at home!) My assortment of Aldi bags include several canvas tote bags, some heavy duty paper bags and a pile of regualr Wal-Mart bags. I usually try to swipe a couple of the flat boxes while shopping to put my cans in. I keep the quarter in my cup holder so it's always right where I can find it! This definitely works for me.

Friday, July 14, 2006

My Favorites: Activity Books For Toddlers

I recently treated myself to some new books from half.com. Among them were these toddler activity books. I remembered these as some of my very favorite resources when I was teaching little ones,but never had my own copies.

The Toddlers Busy Book by Trish Kuffner has so many great ideas in it that are very suitable for using at home, since it is written for moms by a mom! My favorite part of this book is the lists of recyclable and relatively cheap items that are recommended to keep on hand.

Wonderplay by Fretta Reitzes and Beth Teitelman is also a great find. This book starts with activities for infants and moves on up to things to do with older preschoolers. I would recommend this book to those with young, young babies and toddlers in order to get enough out of it. I like this book for the plethora of new chants and rhymes! (You'd think that after several years of toddler care-giving, I wouldn't need any more chants and rhymes, but hey, we all need new ideas occasionally!)

Even though I have lots of ideas in my head from experience with little ones, its nice to have some great resources for those brain-dead days or just to bring to mind new ideas or things you haven't thought of lately.

So if you're a mom who needs new ideas or an in-home child care provider as I am, check out these books!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Works-For-Me-Wednesday: Sacred Space and Bible Basket

Some time ago, I read an article in some Christian publication about designating a corner of your home as your "sacred space". Sounds cool, doesn't it?!? :-) It's a space where you can read your Bible, pray, be still before God, chill out, whatever...:-) It can be different depending on whether it is mainly for you or for several people in your family.

Up until reading this article, I had no special spot in which to land for my quiet time each morning. So I was immediately intrigued and began my search for a special chair for my sacred spot. I was hoping for something more cottage-y and charming, but this 21st Century American yard sale find was just the right price at $12, so I immediately deemed it as sacred.:-)Adding an afghan and a pretty pillow makes it seem very cozy, plus I have a floor lamp nearby that has a 3-way light switch so I can have dim light if I want it. Our CD player is close by and also a space to light a candle if I'm in the mood! This chair also comes in handy for cuddling toddlers, reading stories and is perfect for using as a certain toddler's "milk chair"(bottle time sitting against the soft pillow!). I don't have my chair in a secluded corner or anything, but then my living room is pretty secluded anyways at 5:30 a.m. when I sit down for my quiet time.:-)

Beside my chair, I keep a basket filled with my Bible, devotional book(s), various journals and blank books and at least one pen. Everything is right there and easy to find. Husband's Bible has also found its way into the basket, which makes it extremely easy to grab Bibles and get out the door on Sunday morning, since we know where everything is!

I love getting up each morning and going to sit in my special spot. Just sitting there is calming and promotes a quiet spirit before God. I encourage you to also find your own little spot in your home if you don't already have one. My "sacred space" is an idea that definitely works for me!

Be sure to check out Shannon's blog today for more great Works-For-Me-Wednesday ideas!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Tips For New Stay-at-Home Wives and Moms

Here are a few tips that I have learned during the last year as a Stay-At-Home wife. Feel free to read and to leave your own thoughts in the comments box.:-)

1) Get used to living on one income as soon as possible. This is good to do as soon as you get married or before you quit your job. Avoid going into debt and start to pay off any debt that you already have as soon as possible!

2)Get up at a decent time each morning. Shower and get dressed right away just as though you are going to work. This will help to motivate you for your day's tasks!

3)Discipline yourself to stay busy and get your work done. Fight the urge to watch TV, read or sit at the computer all morning. Occasional breaks are fine, of course!:-)

4) Make a house keeping schedule. Now that you are home and out from under an employer's schedule, the week looks very long. There is so much time to get everything done so why schedule it? This is what I thought at first before realizing that days and weeks were passing without a whole lot of productive activity in my home!:-( I was doing things I enjoyed, like cooking and baking, but not a lot of cleaning.LOL!! I have had to use a lot of discipline to get the rest of my home in order! After one year, I have finally come up with a schedule that is working for me. I think we are all entitled to a lazy day occasionally and we all have tired and PMS days when we just don't get that much done. I'm not talking about that but rather slumping around week after week accomplishing nothing! (You know what stage of life you are in right now and what is feasible for you to accomplish in a day. Each person is different in that regard.)

5) Make a list of your priorities and keep them in their rightful places. I like Linda Dillow's list of priorities in her book Creative Counterpart. Mine are 1) God; 2) husband; 3) my home; 4) time for me; and 5) other (for me that means my child care business and my children's church leadership commitments. If I had children, they would be in slot #3 and my home would be moved to #4 and so on. Do I always keep my priorities in the right order? NO!! But when I return to them, my life is so much more balanced and peaceful.

6) Resist the urge to fill up your time with every volunteer opportunity and do everything. Just because you are home doesn't mean that you are lazy(I'm still trying to convince myself of that!) or have nothing to do with your time. It also doesn't mean that you should feel obligated to take on every project and volunteer opportunity that is pushed your way since "all you do is stay home." Know your boundaries and kindly, yet firmly stick to them. Again, you know yourself and how much outside activities you can take on while still able to keep up with your home-making activities.

7) Learn new skills and have fun doing it! This is the time of your life to learn new skills especially if you have no children yet. Make a list of skills you want to hone and research them on the internet, check out books from the library, take a class or learn from a friend. Cooking, baking, sewing, gardening, flower arranging, home decorating, card and gift making,etc. are all fun things to learn and also can be useful in your home. These skills will also save you lots of money in the long run!

8) Cultivate a contented and thankful spirit. Ask God to help you to be resourceful with what you already have or can get on your budget. Pray a lot!!! God is very interested in the little things, too!

9) Make your quiet time with God a priority each day. This should be the first tip!!! It is definitely the most important.:-)

10) Make time for your husband and children.Plan special activities for holidays and ordinary days. It is so much fun to start and carry on traditions that your family loves. Doing this will let your family know that they are the most important people in your life and that they are special to you.