Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

it's no secret that i'm a big fan of efficiency.  i'd do anything to save time and do a job better all at once.  my poor children are now subject to my bouts of time-saving strategizing.  i don't think they mind that much... in fact, it's made their lives a little easier.

weekday mornings could potentially be the craziest part of my life.  some days they are.  but, i've taken great strides to avoid the daily chaos that could take place before my 3 older children hit the bus stop.

everyone knows you should do as much preparation as possible the night before.  i try.  i do.  sometimes it doesn't happen.  but when it does, my mornings are so much easier.

so, each night i like to:
- set out everyone's clothes  
this is a good idea, especially with girls, because it allows me to avoid morning wardrobe drama.  for some reason, the drama factor is higher in the morning than it is in the evenings.

- make sure book bags are packed, folders filled, papers signed, etc.
this seems like a no-brainer to me, but there is nothing like searching for lost library books five minutes before i'm ready to run out the door.  IN FACT, my rule is that school library books must stay in book bags.  that helps a lot.

- make lunches!!
i think a lot of people do this.  it's just smart.  but sometimes, by the time i've made and cleaned up dinner and snack, i don't want to be in the kitchen.  i really have to discipline myself to make lunches the night before.  i've employed the kids as helpers, though.  chloe will single-handedly pack everyone's lunch, and that is a big help.  my friend, amanda, gave me another helpful tip, though.  she has a friend who makes all her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the beginning of the week and then freezes them!  she says they are thawed by lunch, so all you have to do is pop them in the lunch boxes.  genius!  i'm wondering if the same thing could work for turkey/mayo sandwiches that my kids love so much...

- have kids select breakfast 
i realize this pushes me right out of the "organized" bracket and into "slightly anal," but like i said, i'd do just about anything to make mornings easier.  some of my kids are prone to breakfast drama (as in, i don't eat breakfast), but if they choose what they'll eat the night before, they don't seem to have a problem sticking with it in the morning.
as you can see, i have the breakfast options on the fridge (it's foam paper on magnet strips) so i can change them depending on what we have on hand (and what i feel like making).  then the kids move their letter magnet to the option they choose.  somedays i don't do this.  but some days i do... and i like it.

you can also see the list of "things to do" in the morning.  i debated doing this since all the things on this list seem pretty obvious, but i'm surprised at how often i see my kids checking the list to see if they've done everything.

there.  that's what i do.  what time-saving tips do you have for making mornings better?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

in an effort to redeem myself

thanks for letting me vent.  i honestly wasn't really that irritable... it's just that somedays, that's all there is to say.  i'm prone to "stuff" so letting it all out every once in a while is rather therapeutic.

the good news is that those days come and go... but they go!  praise God that every day is new.  with that, i'll report the following:
- my contacts and eyes are back to normal.
- the refrigerator is no longer suffering from overcrowding, and i'm making pizza for dinner tonight.  and there was much rejoicing.
- tucker's quiet times have improved since that spanking.  amazing how that works, huh?
- despite my attitude towards the haircut, it did exactly what a good haircut is supposed to do.
- i still love The West Wing.  oh, and we are getting into season 4 of Lost.  good times.  but i am also trying to get back into Farmer Boy for chloe's sake.  she's wondering why my bookmark isn't moving.
- although my sunflower seeds are still not sprouting, my spinach seeds are!  a little redemption in the dirt...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

this is not Tuesday's Tip

i don't have one.
i don't feel like coming up with one.

i'm bored and busy all at the same time.
my left contact has been irritating me for a few days (ever since i opened a new pair), so i opened a new "left."  it's still bothering me.  maybe it's my eye.  maybe it's not.
i need a hair cut.  i'm getting a hair cut tonight.  i usually look forward to those.  not today.
i had to spank tucker to get him to be quiet for quiet time.  i hate that.  i hate that i am the downer to a 4 year old's good time.
i've been watching old episodes of The West Wing.  i really, really love that show.  i've just started season 3 (it's what i do while i fold laundry, etc - my down time).  lately, it's my escape from reality.  sometimes i'd like to jump inside someone else's for a while.  i know that the grass isn't any greener over there... but i wouldn't mind trading problems for a bit just so i can remember that mine aren't that bad.  some days i just get tired of staring at them.  you know?
we're having leftovers for dinner tonight and i don't care how anyone feels about that.  the refrigerator needs my help, and it's the least i can do.
all the seeds i planted in my seed trays this year did not sprout.  they did nothing.  nothing.  this is not a big deal, and yet, somehow, it has morphed into a metaphor for my life and i'm letting it drag me down to the trash heap where those seed cups will end up.

feel free to leave me a Tuesday's Tip as long as it does not involve a cliche about how "we all have those days."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

know what you know and know what you don't know.  and don't apologize for either.

i've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and although it is not a nifty organizational trick, i think it bears mentioning as a noteworthy tip for women everywhere.

there's an unspoken expectation, sometimes self-inflicted and sometimes not, for moms to be superwomen. interestingly enough, i think most moms are!  each of us have been equipped with an amazing amount of skill and talent to do something.  too often, i think we focus on the particular skill we don't have.  

let me give you an example.  for a long time, i've been putting a bit of expectation on myself to learn to sew.  i don't sew.  i never took home-ec, my mom never taught me,... i just don't do it.  i do a lot of other stuff - i cook, i garden, i organize, i teach, i write - i just don't sew.  this made me feel like i was not quite complete.  i don't know why.  i don't have any real need to sew.  everything i've ever wanted to do with a needle and thread, i've figured out - or i've found someone who could help me.  that was my big revelation. yes, knowing how to sew would be a good thing.  i may even learn some day.  but, for now, i'm not less of a mom or homemaker because i don't.  in fact, i've learned that knowing someone who does do the things i don't do, is just as good.  

it's freeing to know that i can call a friend who is good with a sewing machine and say, "hey, i'd really like a new valance for my girls' bedroom, but i know i'll never get anywhere trying to do it myself.  can you help me?"  there is no shame in that.  it doesn't make me weak to admit i'm not good at something.  because, you know why?  i'm good at other stuff.  and sometimes, i get a phone call from someone saying, "hey, my closet is a wreck and i don't even know where to start.  can you help me organize it?"  and i do.  

i help you.  you  help me.  in the process we learn from each other and grow a bit.  a co-op of supermoms, if you will.  because no one wants to be super alone.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

i don't know about you, but i always think twice before i grab those flip-flops for the first time each spring. i'm not vain (or paranoid) enough to believe that everyone is staring at my feet, but i just like them looking a bit more... appropriate before they are all exposed and out there for the world to see.  but i'm old fashioned.  i still wear panty hose, too.

in a different life, i may be the woman getting weekly pedicures and manicures... but that's not my world.  and, honestly, i'm not so sure the frugal part of me would allow such indulgences even if money (and time) weren't an issue.  but they are - and because i believe that the lack of money and time are never excuses, i have a solution!

i do not keep my nails painted all the time.  the winter (cold, wood heat, and constant washing) is a bit too harsh on my skin and nails.  instead, i just moisturize like crazy and save the fancy stuff for nicer weather.  here's my routine, however, for when i'm ready to move out of socks and into sandals.

first, you need a pumice stone.

these are not expensive or hard to come by - check your local drugstore or walmart - but they make all the difference in the world if you have rough, dry feet.  i keep mine in the shower and every so often (more often in the summer) use it to smooth out the rough or calloused parts of my feet.  don't overuse to the point of cuts or irritation... but you'll be surprised at a what a difference it can make!  after that, i often use a body scrub of some sort to continue the process.  i don't have a favorite, or i'd let you know.

i always try to coordinate this with an evening shower for the following reason:  after your shower (or after you've soaked and scrubbed your feet), generously apply a very rich cream or lotion.  i recommend lay it on thick by bath and body works.  

you may have a favorite already, but you want something that is so rich that you feel like you can't really rub it all in - the kind where you don't want to touch anything afterwards.  in fact, vaseline works in a pinch.  another good one is mary kay's extra emollient night cream.  it's meant for the face, but does wonders on dry feet and hands, as well.  no matter what you use, be sure to apply generously and then put on a pair of clean socks and go to bed!  easy enough... but when you wake up the next morning, you'll see the difference.  i promise, it's the easiest and cheapest pedicure ever.  from that point on, you can maintain by applying the lotion and socks at night as often as you can and by using the pumice as needed.

now, if you want to step up your pedicure to involve color, that's not so hard.  i don't know about you, but i find that my the color i put on my toes always lasts longer than the color in my fingernails.  so, i don't mind the bit of time it takes to apply nail polish.  what i do hate, however, is how, once i apply the color, i feel trapped by toes that won't dry!  let's face it, most of us don't have time to sit around and wait for our toenail polish to harden.  and, heaven help you if put it on right before bed - you wake up with sheet imprints on what you thought were glossy lacquered toes.  so irritating... (can you tell i've thought about this way too much?)  thankfully, i've found a solution to this problem, too.  

i discovered Rimmel nail polish.  

seriously, i threw out all my nail polish and now use only rimmel.  extreme?  maybe.  but, for me, if nail polish does not dry quickly in the 2 minutes i took to actually paint my nails so that i can get back to making dinner or folding laundry or driving someone somewhere it just isn't worth it.  but besides that, if the quick drying polish chips off the first time i wash dishes, it also isn't worth it.  somehow, rimmel has managed to meet both my needs (and very affordably, i might add).  and, honestly, knowing my nails may last the week makes it worth the effort it takes to carve out a few minutes of my day.  

maybe this seems like a lot of consideration for something so frivolous.  maybe.  but i have a feeling that i'm not the only one out there fighting this battle.  any one else wanna come clean?