Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Individual Snack Boxes ... it works for me!

Welcome to Day 28 of the 31 Days series It Works for Me!

When you live in a large family, 
one of the most frustrating, disappointing, unhappy things that can happen to you 
is to come to the Wheat Thins box only to find that the other six people living in your house 
have been there before you ...
and left only crumbs.  

This situation has caused great unhappiness in our family.  


Strife between the brethren.

Here's the solution that brought peace to all the land ...

Individual Snack Boxes
... the birds sing ... the flowers bloom ... the rainbows appear ...

Each week at the grocery store, I get various treats, 
and everyone starts out the week with about seven items in their box.  

You can eat all your treats by Monday midnight or pace yourself, 
it doesn't matter.  
You know that the treats in your box are all yours, 
and that your provisions will be stocked again in seven days.  

I thought the kids would gorge on their treats and they'd be gone the first day, 
resulting in great pain and suffering until the next grocery run.
I thought there would be taking from boxes not your own.  

But guess what?

Having snack boxes taught the kids to pace themselves, 
and the benefit of moderation. 

They have snacks left over.
I think it's created a feeling of abundance, rather than scarcity,
and a feeling of being in control ... which sometimes in a large family can be a rarity.
There's been no "borrowing" except for my own occasional pilfering.
I've also seen the kids work out a pretty impressive bartering system :o)

Okay, please don't judge me on the heathfulness of my snack provisions ... 
I know in your snack boxes, you have whole wheat muffins that you made from scratch.  
Or fresh picked tomatoes from your own garden.
I promise we have fruits and veggies and protein on the menu!

My eldest once told me the snack boxes were one of the best things I've ever done as a mom.

Clearly ...
my work here is not done.

But if it gets a compliment like that from a teenager ... it works for me!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Be present ... it works for me!

Welcome to Day 27 of the 31 Days series It Works for Me!

whew ... 
I am lagging, but I'm going to make it to 31 posts ... 
perhaps by the end of October ... 
perhaps not :o)

Today I'd like to share with you what wonders you can catch if 
your camera is always ready to shoot and always where you can find it ...

... and if you have to go to the car because you left your datebook in the back
and you don't remember what time the doctor appointment is ...

... and you remind yourself ... 

... to look at the world and be present ...

... because it is beautiful. 

What a gift ... it works for me! 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Consider yourself ... it works for me!

Welcome to Day 26 of the 31 Days series It Works for Me!

Growing up, I was always subconsciously amazed at how my mom kept our house 
- my room excluded - 
reasonably orderly all the time.  She had serious cleaning days for deep cleaning now and again, but the day to day keeping things picked up just seemed to happen without a whole lot of effort.

I remember being at my friend's house and marveling at how orderly and neat her older sister's room always was.  I remember well the afternoon I asked her, 
"How do you keep your room always so clean?" 
And she said, 
"I can't stand it if it's messy."  

Just like that.  Can't stand the mess ... so ... keep it clean.

Rocket science.  


Keeping things neat and tidy didn't come naturally to me.  But over the years (maybe as I've matured - ha!) I've figured out that I really can't stand the mess either.  

So since keeping things tidy doesn't come natural, there's a little trick I've learned 
that kind of helps me keep things picked up.  

It's kind of kooky.  

But then, I've already admitted a certain amount of kooky here ... it works for me :o)

Anyway, here's what I do:

When I'm ready to walk out of a room, I look back and think how walking back in next time will make me feel.  This is why I always make my bed ... walking in to my room with a messy unmade bed feels yuck to me ... 

so as a favor to the future me, I make it.  

Sometimes I even remember to thank myself.  
It's kind of like doing unto myself as I would have myself do unto me.  
Or something like that.

Told ya ... kooky.  But it works for me! 

I'm linking this post to Richella's Grace at Home party at Imparting Grace!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Watch the Movie of Your Life ... it works for me!

Welcome to Day 25 of the 31 Days series It Works for Me!

I love a good movie.  A lot.  
My enduring favorites are the ones where you get a deep sense 
of another woman's life and home.  

Like Meryl Streep in It's Complicated ...

Like Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail ...

Like Sandra Bullock in Hope Floats ...

And of course we all know how movies are ... the sets are gorgeous and homey, 
the clothes are beautiful, the girl gets the guy, the guy gets the girl, 
and it all just makes you feel good.

So sometimes when I get under-motivated, I play the movie game. 

I started this game years ago, when I was working outside the home.  
I was a small town girl, and I  moved to the big city and got a job in corporate America
at a major airline.  It was pretty wonderful.

But like everything else, there were days when I didn't really want to go to work.  
So, I would play the movie game.  

In my mind's eye, I would watch myself drive my cute little car to this big corporate headquarters, dressed in professional attire complete with hose and high heels.  
I would watch me walk into the building with other yuppie professionals, 
check in with the receptionist, turn the lights on in my office, and sit down behind my desk.  
I would see myself look out my office window, knowing that I could travel over the weekend if there were seats available to just about any place I wanted to go.  

And suddenly, it wasn't so bad to be me, even though I was at work.  
There were still phone calls to make, people to see, reports to complete, projects to push, 
but somehow lifting myself out of "me" for a minute and watching my life from the outside 
helped me see the good stuff a little more clearly.

Now ... nearly 18 years after I traded my high heels for something more comfortable ... 
I still play the movie game from time to time.  

It never fails to jerk the grumbling right out of me. 
 I'm not saying my life is just like a movie ... 
but I am saying that when I take a minute to pull the camera back to a wide angle, 
where I get a panorama of where I am, who I am, and the job God has blessed me with ... 
I realize there are blessings everywhere I look.  

It's like that saying, "if all the troubles of the world were heaped into a big pile,
 and we could choose which troubles we carried away from it,
 most of us would just as soon walk away with the ones we came with."  

Sometimes, it just takes a movie screen perspective to help me see that a little more clearly.  
It works for me!

Pre-Sort the Laundry ... it works for me!

Welcome to Day 24 of the 31 Days series It Works for Me!

As our family grew, it quickly became apparent that doing laundry 
was definitely not going to be one of my favorite tasks. 
 I hated picking through the sometimes very large pile of dirty clothes to sort items 
into loads of whites, darks, reds and pinks.  
It seemed like just sorting it all out was a whole day's work.  

Since there's so much of it to be done, 
I want doing laundry to feel more like this  ...

than this ...

... that would be me - the happy girl - there in the middle ...

Here's what we do at our house to make doing laundry go a little quicker and easier:

Get four large trashbuckets, and label one for each:   
whites, darks, reds, pinks 
(or whatever loads you are typically sorting your laundry into).

Keep the trashbuckets in your laundry area.  

Have your family bring their dirty clothes to the laundry area every day, 
and sort their clothes into the appropriate bucket.

Now, when it's time to do laundry, all you have to do is grab the bucket most nearly full 
and empty those clothes into the washer - 
no more sorting through all the dirty clothes to make up a load!

Someday, my laundry room will look like this ...

and I won't mind how much time I spend in there.  But until then ... 

I pre-sort the laundry ... it works for me!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Don't play the blame game ... it works for me!

Welcome to Day 23 of the 31 Days Series It Works for Me!

Shortly after LtDan and I married, we attended a marriage seminar at our church.  
Honestly, I can't remember a whole lot from the seminar. 
 But I'm convinced that what little I do recall has significantly contributed to my own sanity 
in relating to the rest of humankind, and probably a good bit to building a happy marriage.

I wish I could remember who presented the seminar, or what it was called so I could give them due credit.   What I do remember is the example of the trashcan.  It nicely encapsulates the gist of the whole seminar.  

See, to the wife, it was important that the trash be emptied every day.  
And more than that, it was important that the husband empty the trash every day.  
Even if it really wasn't full.  
Growing up, her father emptied the trash upon arriving home in the evening after work, 
whether it was full or not, 
and so she expected her husband to do the same. 

 But he didn't.  
And it drove.

In the husband's home, whoever happened to be around 
when the trash can burgeoned was the one who emptied it.  No big deal.  
If it needed to be emptied, someone emptied it.  
He did a hilarious pantomime of how he'd gotten it down to a fine art of pushing the trash 
deep down into the trash can so it didn't need to be emptied as often.  

At one point, the wife refused to empty the trash.  
She left the trashcan half full.  
She pulled it into the middle of the kitchen.  
The trash began to crowd the top of the can.   
She walked around the almost full trashcan in the middle of her kitchen floor for two days. 
Finally, she had an epiphany.  

The trash wasn't a big deal to her husband.  

"Emptying the trash is more important to me than it is to him.  So if emptying the trash can is such a big deal to me, why am I spending so much emotional energy blaming my husband for not emptying it?  
Why don't I just empty the trashcan myself and be happy??? 
If it's really a big deal to me, then I should just take responsibility for it and stop blaming him for not doing it."

I'm sure there was much more substantive material offered that day.  
They had a cute and quippy slogan about:

 "Don't play the blame game,
[insert catchy phrase here about taking responsibility for things, and make it rhyme]!"  

I wish I could remember the positive side of the slogan, but for me, it's kind of boiled down to, 
"if something is a big deal to me, I'm not going to blame someone else for not doing it, 
I'm just going to take the responsibility for it and do it."  

Sometimes, it's appropriate to negotiate things, to assert your feelings, or to train your children.  And of course there are layers upon layers of arguments that can be made ... if they love me, they'll do it because they know it's important to me ... why do I always have to be the one to do this, they should help ... it's not my turn ... I'm working harder than anyone else, I'm doing all the work ... they know it's important to me and that's why they're not doing it, it's a power play ... on and on and on.

But in the meantime ... guess who's feeling bugged about the overflowing trashcan?  


Just not worth it in my book.  
I'm not saying I don't get frustrated with other people ... not by a long shot.  
But I've learned that not being angry and not playing the blame game 
means a lot less frustration. 
It works for me!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Avoid ironing ... it works for me!

Welcome to Day 22 of the 31 Days series It Works for Me!

My mom was a stay-at-home home mom.  The kind who cooked and cleaned and sewed and made candy and had dinner-including-a-dessert on the table at 6:00 sharp.  
She also had an ironing day.  


I have nothing against it.  I love a crisply ironed shirt.  
It's not that I mind ironing ... it just feels like I don't have the time.

So I avoid it.  There are occasions when I'll break out the iron, naturally, but on a weekly basis, 
the need for ironing is mostly non-existent.  

My secret isn't dry-cleaning - although that would be nice.  

Here's what I do:

1)  If you can buy wrinkle-free, that's always a good idea ... although this trick works on other types of fabric though maybe not quite so well.  

2)  Wash your clothes, and when the cycle is complete, move them into the drier right away.  
Do not let them sit in the washer wet, because that sets in the wrinkles.

3)  Just before the dryer cycle is complete, but while it's still blowing hot air, begin to take your clothes out one at a time.  Put an item on a hanger, and spray it liberally with spray starch.  

Smooth out the wrinkles and pull the fabric straight with your hand.  
Where the wrinkles are deeper, spray on more starch. 
It's important to take the clothes out of the dryer hot ... 
if they've cooled down, the results aren't as good.

4)  Hang the clothes to finish drying.  

That's it ... the wrinkle free fabric may have more to do with it all than my little trick, 
but before, I always felt the clothes needed at least a light iron. 

Am I the last person on the planet to figure this one out?
Why didn't anyone tell me?!
With this method there's no ironing day ... it works for me!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Happy Hour ... it works for me!

Welcome to day 21 of the 31 Days series It Works for Me!
Greetings from somewhere between Texas and Arkansas :o) 

Friday I wrote about taking breaks.  And then we went to my in-laws home in Arkansas
and I came down with a wicked cold and slept while everyone talked and laughed.
Boo for missing all the family fun!  
But I got lots of unexpected sleep, breakfast and two cups of coffee in bed … not all bad!

As we’re on the road and my creative juices are flowing somewhere below optimal, today I would like to repost one of my first blog posts, about Happy Hour …

I remember being perplexed by Happy Hour as a kid. Were you not supposed to be happy except between the hours of 4pm and 7pm? And what exactly made “happy hour” happy”?

Tonight I met my husband and my brother&sister-in-law at Gordon Biersch for Happy Hour. Let me just tell you, it’s not drinks that compel me, it’s the garlic fries. They would make a vampire blow his diet. So it's the garlic fries. And the company, of course.

 I'm a stay-at-home Mom, and we live in the country, 
so going into the city is a fun change of pace.

Did you ever watch the show "Dallas"?
they were always going "into the city", dressing snazzy, driving their convertibles on freeways that strangely had no traffic ...
 ... anyway ...

Today I'm thankful for Happy Hour.
But not that kind of Happy Hour. I don't remember where I read about this concept - it's certainly not original to me. Anyway, the idea is to pre-determine moments in your day when you’ll be happy.

So in the morning, I tell myself, "I'll be happy today when I see the pumpkins on the front porch.”

Zing! happy.

or, "I'll be happy today when I see my morning glories (that survived the dogs ... and the horse ... and the hottest, driest summer in years)."

Zing! happy.

or, "I'll be happy today when company comes to the door."

Zing! happy.

Most of the time my list includes things like hearing my children laugh, or seeing my husband drive up in his truck, or hearing my dad come into the kitchen. I make a list in the morning, telling myself when I'll be happy and it sets up little pockets of happy all day long … happy hours, you see.

So, here’s to happy hour. I’m thankful for it today :o)
So what about you?  Have you had your happy hour today?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Place of Quiet ... it works for me!

Welcome to Day 20 of the 31 Days Series It Works for Me!

While we’re out of town and not so connected to the webbernet, 
I’m reposting a post I wrote a while back about one of my favorite places that really works for me.

I never really had big plans for a dream home.  
In fact, I'm pretty sure the only thing I ever actually said I wanted was a tiny little room, just for me.

Once as my mom tried on dresses in a store, I sat in the fitting room next to hers and had a pleasant chat with my five-year-old selves in the three-sided mirror about how when I grew up, I would have a tiny room just like this, with a comfy chair where I could curl up with a good book.

I almost missed my chance ... when we built our house, the bazillion details took center stage:  lots of windows!  a paint color that glows!  the wonky angle of the house on the lot! ... but I happened to be reading Celebration of Discipline just before we finalized the floor plan and I was reminded of my little girl dream.  Celebration of Discipline isn't a book about building your dream house, but it is an excellent book about developing a deeper spiritual life.  In it, Richard Foster encourages setting aside a place in your home for prayer and quiet time. And as I looked again at the master bedroom on our floor plan and wondered how anyone could use a closet that big, I realized ... right there was the spot for my plenty o' quiet room.  I was so grateful to have remembered just in time.

I had to explain it to Lt. Dan.  He joked about putting a lock on the outside of the door, but was happy to put the room in the plans anyway.  I had to explain it to the builder.  He thought I was crazy but put the room in the plans anyway.  I had to explain it to the electrician.  He thought I was crazy, but put the plugs in anyway. I had to explain it to the closet people.  They thought I was crazy, but took the shelving down anyway.

When we moved in, I defended my space passionately from my own tendency to pile stuff behind closed doors when company is coming.  But eventually, with nothing in there, my little room filled up with framed pictures stacked against the wall, good will donations, unpacked boxes and a broken dining chair. 


And then ... for Mother's Day, my sweet husband and kids surprised me.  
Not only did they give me a reading chair and lamp, 
they cleaned out my closet.   

Oh ... happy ... day!!

I made a memo board from an old mirror...

 added a shelf from Ikea ...

and got this cute little footstool (also from Ikea) that serves as a table ...

Now I'm glad the electrician put a plug half way up the wall even though the light switch was supposed to go there.  It's the perfect place for a Scentsy Plug-In that gives the softest light and wonderful aromas.

I usually start my day here, and sometimes I slip in with my Kindle or my laptop at lunch, or any time I  want a little piece of quiet.  It may look like just a closet on the floor plan, 

but for me it's a dream come true!

You may call it a Mom Cave ... a sanctuary … whatever ... really just a little closet.  
It’s my quiet place.  I’m pretty sure just opening the door lowers my blood pressure. 
  I highly recommend making a special place for yourself, 
no matter how small … it works for me!