Friday, January 30, 2015

Gimme 5 Series - 5 Housekeeping Tips for Working Moms

We are beginning a Gimme 5 Series here on Sister-Dipity!
Every Friday for the next 5 weeks, we will feature 5 tips to help busy moms!




I am NO expert at keeping a house clean. I LOVE having a clean house but with three kids and working full time....not always doable. I have figured out a few little tips though that I thought I'd share with you.




1. Have a Landing Pad - Have a place for each child to "drop" their stuff when they get home each day. We have baskets at our house. Each basket has a name on it. That is the spot they know to put their hat, gloves, backpack, folder, gym shoes, etc. each day after school. The tower of baskets is right next to the coat tree to hang up their coat. No excuses. There's a place for everything.
This is our landing pad....




Click HERE to see the post where I shared our landing pad!




2. 10 Things - Before bedtime (yours and the kids) and right before you leave in the morning, have everybody pick up 10 things. Kids who are about 3 or 4 on up are able to count to 10 as they pick up 10 items! And 10 does not seem too overwhelming. Also, I've found that even for myself, if I'm looking at a huge pile of laundry I can tell myself - "Just fold and put away 10 items." It is quick, doable and puts a dent in the mess. The little bit of progress often motivates me to keep going too!



3. Connective Cleaning - This "connective cleaning" is my own self-created term. The "connected" part is sort of a "one thing leads to another" idea. So for example, I might find a hairbrush on the kitchen counter. I pick it up, carry it to the bathroom to put it away. In the bathroom I find a towel on the floor. I pick it up to carry to the laundry room. When I get to the laundry room, I find a pair of shoes left by the door. I put them in the kids' shoe basket. Laying next to the shoe basket might be a truck that belongs in the toy box in the living room. I take it to the living room and put it away. Then find a empty glass that should be taken to the kitchen....and so on. I set the timer and may do it in 15 minute increments. Again, doable. A little gets cleaned up in each room. A little eventually leads to a lot! I'm moving quickly throughout the house so I get in a little workout too - win/win!!



4. A Load of Laundry Every Morning - I've heard it said from lots of moms, organizing experts, and top-notch homemakers that doing a load of laundry every day makes it more manageable. I know some might prefer to have a set laundry day scheduled each week but for me, making sure I put in a load every morning works.


5. Be Specific - Children need simple, specific directions. If you tell a 5 year old, "Put your shoes away, take care of your coat, brush your teeth, and turn off the TV" all they will hear is "Turn off the TV" - the last thing you said. It's too much for little heads to take in - heck, it is too much for big heads to take in! Be simple. Be specific. Say, "Please put your shoes in the closet." When that is done say, "Hang up your coat." When that is done have them brush their teeth. One thing at a time with clear directions seems to be the trick to get things done!






Good luck!!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

10 Valentine Gift Ideas for Your Guy

Valentine's Day is quickly approaching. I am a hopeless romantic and often shower my hubby with lovey dovey, sometimes cheesy, often cliche gifts. He always seems to appreciate what I get for him. But after 20 years together, what do I get him?! I needed some fresh ideas! I found some unique gifts that I thought I'd share with you. 
Here are 10 of my favorites! 


Sweet, clever message and really rather subtle (probably you and him will be the only one who knows his socks say that!) Very affordable at $7.46 a pair!


I love these monogrammed tie cuff links and tie tacks from Michelleriesboutique priced from $9.50 up to $23.00. Very classy and very affordable. 


The Lumberjack Beard Kit is perfect for your bearded outdoorsman. It includes the following products: beard oil, a beard shampoo bar, and wax all made with essential oils that will leave him smelling outdoorsy yet lovely! This kit is $31.00 at WhiskeyInkandLace.


This handmade wooden caddy would be a fun gift for a beer or glass soda pop lover. The end of it has a bottle opener attached. $34.96 from WoodChipDesigns on Etsy.



How about Amazon Fire TV?  It is a little box you connect to your HDTV. You can then get Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, and so much more! Amazon is currently running a special for $84.00. 


This men's leather messenger laptop bag is a steal at $55.00 from Amazon!



Does your guy like to grill or cook? This Himalayan salt rock tile is great for creating gourmet meals of fish, meat, and veggies. (I know. My hubby has one and loves it!) $29.99 on Amazon.


The Bacon Man Crate from  www.mancrates.com is priced at $59.99. 
A scrumptious surprise for the bacon lover! 

Here's a sweet handmade gift...


52 Reasons I Love You can be made using a deck of cards and your own sentiments! Click HERE to see how they are made! Cost  - maybe $1.00 if you pick up a deck at the dollar store!

And then there's this...


Obviously, every husband should have this in his closet!
$12.95 from ebollo.

What is your man getting for Valentine's Day? I'd love for you to share your ideas!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Plum Paper Planners

Since it is January I thought I'd share my planner with you! MY VERY MOST FAVORITE PLANNER I'VE EVER HAD!!!! My husband and I are both teachers therefore "new year" in my world is September to August rather than most people's January to December new year. So last August I was wanting a fresh planner. Something to keep me organized as a busy working mom. I did a little research and found Plum Paper. I liked the look of the planner designs to choose from. I also compared prices on similar type of planners and found that this was a good price. The Plum Paper reviews were wonderful so I ordered one for myself! Ready to see it?! Here it is....


Beautiful, huh?! I chose the design and was able to have the cover personalized with whatever I wanted. I chose our last name. I also got to choose which month it began. Perfect for my teacher brain! The new year starts in September, of course! So September 2014 to August 2015 is what I ordered! 


Cool, huh? You ain't seen nothing yet!! Look at this...


Do you see that?! Do you see how there are sections for each day that say Mom & Dad, Hugh, Claire, Oliver, Workout, and Dinner?! DO YOU SEE THAT AWESOMENESS?! Super cool, huh?! Yep, I got to choose what I could have in each of those rows too! You can see in the bottom left hand corner of the screen that there is a block left blank too. I did that on purpose for extra notes.

I love the extra room off to the left that allows you to make a weekly list and add additional notes there too. This is what each weekly layout looks like....


And here is how I use it....


I have found 2 major things in working with a weekly layout such as this. 1) Having "Workout" as a category is motivating. It's there and if I don't schedule a workout of some sort....well, then that little white box looks up at me with a blank stare saying, "Uh, Hello?! Remember me here?? This is important to you, remember?!" Scheduling a workout definitely means it is more likely to happen. And 2) Meal planning is a whole lot easier when you ACTUALLY PLAN IT! I quickly wrote down a week's worth of meals here, went to the store WITH the planner, and Bah-Bam!! Got it all and had a week's worth of meals planned and ready to go! Perfect for a busy mom!

At the beginning of each month, there is a monthly layout as well....


There are so many options for customizing your planner and making it work for YOU no matter who you are. There are a variety of weekly layouts to chose from. You can order bars of stickers in bright colors to highlight important dates or use one color per person in your family. You have the option of adding pocket pages as I did....




You love it, huh?! Want one for yourself?! Well, guess what?! Plum Paper is offering a 10% discount to Sister-Dipity readers. To order your own customized, personalized planner, visit www.plumpaper.com. Pick out your design, decide which options are best for you, and then use the code SISTER10 at checkout to get your discount! You're welcome!!  

Many thanks to Plum Paper for having planners that are perfect for busy moms and for the discount for Sister-Dipity readers! 







Thursday, January 15, 2015

Hands Free Mama


Currently on my nightstand, Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford. 

I have been becoming increasingly aware (frightfully aware) of what a distracted world we live in more and more all the time. One day last month, I got out of my van to pump gas and was surprised to find that there was a television screen on top of the gas pump. What?! Gas Station TV - television programming to keep you entertained at the gas pump. What is this world coming to? I need entertainment for the couple of minutes I'm pumping gas?! I need another distraction?! Some may find it clever, but I was disgusted.....not with the idea itself (as I'm sure it offers great advertising opportunities) but I was disgusted that even the simple act of getting gas had become "screen" time. We are so heavily engaged in screens ALL THE TIME! Email, texts, video games, televisions - and not just in our living rooms! Is it so awful to be present - to give our attention fully to the people in our lives? Is it so awful to be alone with our thoughts sometimes? Is quiet becoming obsolete? Society has become so "plugged-in" to THINGS that we are missing the connections we should be enjoying with PEOPLE. 

Around the same time I made this Gas Station TV discovery, I had ordered this book from Amazon. The author, Rachel Macy Stafford, is a former special education teacher and now, mother of two daughters. This book is filled with practical, simple ways of shifting your focus, reconnecting with your loved ones, and truly being present each day. Stafford speaks very candidly about the mistakes she made in the past, about her regrets, but also shares how she is learning from the past to live fully in the present! I feel like I can identify with her so well as she is a mother and teacher, like me. She knows. She knows the rush to get out the door on weekday mornings. She knows the pressure to expertly balance work and family. She feels the cloud that hangs over all of us - the cloud saturated with hurry and productivity and efficiency and to-do lists. But then we have these precious little people God has blessed us with....


and we remember....they are only little for so long. They are only in our laps for a short time. And this time with them is so much more important than any screen time we think we need or any to-do list we think needs to be completed. In this book, Rachel Macy Stafford reminds us to put our families first. She reminds us to look them in the eye when they are talking, to give them our undivided attention as much as possible, and to be fully present in each moment. 

I am guilty. I am guilty of saying "just a minute" or "later" at simple, innocent requests. I am guilty of allowing "hurry up" to anxiously come rushing out of my lips on busy school mornings. I am guilty of thinking, "I will read the next chapter with her after I sweep the floor" and "I'll play trains with him after I respond to this email." Ugh. Guilty. Right here. This mama is distracted. I must put it all down for they are only little for such a short while. God gave them to me because he knew I was the best mama for them. So I want to do all I can to BE the best mama for them.

Hands Free Mama is $11.43 on Amazon. Worth every penny. Her website www.handsfreemama.com is another great resource. You can subscribe to her posts via email. Like the content of her book, each post carries a meaningful message that really speaks to the heart of a busy mom. 

Technology is great. But relationships are much more valuable. I've heard it said, "Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present."  I must say good-bye for now. I am going to unplug and go snuggle my lovies!




Thursday, January 1, 2015

So much JOY in 2014

Happy New Year!

As we say "good-bye" to 2014, I can't help but reflect back on what God has done for me and my family this past year! Last January I resolved NOT to make a resolution  but rather commit to a special word to live by in 2014. That word was JOY. Click HERE to see the post where I shared my plan to live joyfully in the new year. I am so pleased to say that I most definitely DID live a year of JOY the past 12 months!


2014 came in with snow, ice, and extreme cold temperatures! No problem for us! We had 12 snow days total, and with Ryan and I both being teachers this meant 12 unplanned family days. What a blessing! We were stuck at home....together! After the rush of the holiday season, this unexpected "vacation" was SUCH A BLESSING! We stayed up late watching movies, snuggling, playing with new toys, having tea parties, doing crafts, putting puzzles together, and indulging in warm, cozy soups and hot cocoa. It was a WONDERFUL way to begin the new year! 

                           

                                 


During these weeks of being snowed in so much, I began a new hobby which soon became a little business! I began making chunky bubblegum necklaces for little girls. I taught myself by trial and error and a few YouTube video tutorials! At times in 2014, my "little business" kept me very busy!



Summer! Oh, summer always brings us JOY! We had so much fun swimming, having picnics, lounging on the beach, fishing, hanging out with friends and cousins, riding bikes, camping, geocaching, and soaking in the sunshine!


 




Ryan and I had been saying for months (eh....maybe years) that we needed to get a new van. We didn't feel our vehicles were dependable to venture very far from home. We finally bit the bullet and bought a Chrysler Town & Country this past summer. I do not know why it took us so long. All 5 of us LOVE our new van! Hooray for a new van!! (and the 3 DVD players!)


In July I drove up north (by myself) to visit a childhood friend that I hadn't seen in many, many years! We spent the weekend reminiscing, laughing, sharing stories about our families, shopping, and making plans for future visits! We met another childhood friend for dinner and the three of us had such a great time catching up! When I look back on 2014, this weekend was definitely one of the highlights that brought me so much JOY!


In the fall, Ryan, Hugh, and I went on a ziplining adventure for the first time! What fun!!



We had so many milestones in 2014 as well...

Hugh turned 11 in June!
Claire turned 6 in December!
Oliver turned 4 in August!

Claire graduated from Preschool!

Hugh finished 4th grade!

Oliver started Preschool! *sniff, sniff*


Hugh and Oliver and Claire played soccer....

Oliver didn't really have his head in the game much! He was really there for the cool shoes and the snacks at the end of each game!

I visited my grandma whom I hadn't seen in a very long time. It was one of the highlights of my year!

Hugh began playing the trumpet!

And me....Well, this past year I lost nearly 30 pounds! See HERE my post about these 4 lovely women who have motivated and encouraged me in 2014! This fall, I was named VFW Teacher of the Year in a 6 county, 36 VFW Posts area! Next week, Ryan and I get to attend an awards banquet for this honor. I am so overwhelmed and humbled by this recognition! I have been greatly enjoying my family....all the snuggles, the funny, cute things the kids say, and the every day moments that keep me so busy but know I will miss when they are grown! I have been cherishing the few quiet times I get with my husband and am looking forward to some upcoming "dates" we have planned! I have been enjoying my job this fall and have been trying some new projects with my students! It has been an exciting time! 

We ended 2014 with a wonderful Christmas!

Definitely a year filled with....


Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 106:1