Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 21..Travel Center????

Set up a Travel Center today. Include travel lists, travel documents, travel accessories, frequent flyer information, travel destination files, and books on travel. Complete instructions follow. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 136)

OR for serious simplifiers only...

Travel with carry-on luggage and skip the lines at the airport. Make a drop-dead short packing list and stick to it! Light travelers are free and independent. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 142)

For me...this is ridiculous.  I don't travel,  unless you consider a 45 minute ride to visit my daughters traveling....or a sprint to the grocery store etc.  We take a family vacation once in a very blue moon...but not often enough to warrant going all out on setting up a travel,  I put my attention elsewhere...and set up an errand center.  I do go on my weekly all emcompassing trip into town....and I hate forgetting anything that I might need for the week.  So,  I thought an errand center would make the most sense.
My errand center consists of a pad and pen on my desk....this is to write down what we need for the week.  Everything goes on this list...from pet food, to school supplies,  to decorating items, to groceries, prescriptions, library name it,  I write it down.  I also make sure my cloth shopping bags are ready and in the trunk of my car.  As the week goes by,  I have a box in the trunk of my van...and anything that needs to come into town...returns, repairs etc.....into the box in the trunk.  I store my cloth bags in the car....bags of used cloths that are for donations...into the trunk.
The night before errand day,  I plan my route...and plan a nice lunch with the kiddoes.  We also make sure we spend a nice time at the library.  We treat errand day like a treasure hunt...the kids also bring some of their earned money for that little car they just have to have...or the new Owl City CD....or new colored pencils. 
So,  my errand center is set....and I like having that all simplified.  :-)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 20. Mindful of the Mundane.

Today, practice living in the present---not in fast forward or reverse.  Do one mundane job with your full attention.  When you pay attention in your daily life, whatever you do becomes transformed.  Step 1.  Sit still for a few minutes before beginning the next activity on your To Do list.  Focus on your breathing.  When you feel calm, centered, and grounded, turn your attention to your task.  Next, walk slowly to the site of your task.  Step 2.  Now do the job slowly and deliberately.  Perform this act as if it were your last.  Step 3.  When mental and physical distraction arise, remind yourself to refocus.  If the interruption is about something you must do later---such as calling the plumber---write it down and return to your chore.  (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 131)

OR for serious simplifiers only...

Sign up for a week-long retreat that requires you to be silent.  A week of silence will be one of the most renewing weeks of your life.  (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 135)

I like the mundane. I like the simple. I like putting myself into a mindless task and making it mindful. I like folding laundry and praying for every child as I fold their socks and undies and shirts and pants. I like cutting up veggies and fruit. I like washing the floor and making it shine when my back is in good order. I like the methodical work of weeding the garden. I like hanging clothes our on the line one piece at a time...clip by clip. I find it very spiritual to be engrossed in the simple activities of the day. Our culture is so rush ....rush...rush...get it done...NOW! In it's mentality. This is hard for me. The rush for production seem almost anti-productive. The more I try to go faster...the more my feet slip.

Being a homeschooling mom, there is always a long lists of Academics, housework, spiritual and moral training, meals, yard work, laundry. There are books to be read...there are groceries to be bought...lessons to be planned meals to be cooked. There are emergencies to tend boos to kiss...swings to push and heinies to wipe. It is never ending....which is also a mantra in itself. Gott get it done.
When we embrace the day to day..the simple...the becomes meaningful and even enjoyable.
Today, I learned to sit still.....for 10 whole minutes...I sat. I closed my eyes and I breathed very deliberate, mindful breaths. I cleared my mind of the "gotta do-s." It was pleasant.

Off to mindfully cook

Day 19. Run Fewer Errands....

Today, create a box for errands.  You can use a great-looking basket, plastic tub, or shopping bag.  Whatever works.  Keep it by the door and fill it with film to be developed, shoes to be repaired, purchases to be returned, and papers to be taken to the copy center.  On errand day, take the box in the car.  When you come home, it will be empty.  What a feeling! (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 123)

OR for serious simplifiers only...

Run errands just one day a week.  Designate a particular day and write it on your calendar.  Obviously, some errands are urgent and cannot wait for Errand Day.  Learn to discern the difference between urgent and non-urgent errands.  To run fewer errands, look for the underlying reasons behind your errands.  Then eliminate the reasons! (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 130)

When I began homeschooling, one of the first things I realized was that I had to be HOME if I wanted to homeschool. I also realized we had set ourselves up to live on one income...and back then, it was a rather meager one. So, I learned to try Nd make all my trips into town on e a week. As time went on, and my older kids were involved in more outside activities, I found myself on the road constantly. I put 26,000 miles on my car the first year I owned it!! Those were all driving kids back and forth to swim practices, art
Lessons, music lessons etc. This year our lives have taken a turn to the calmer (I hope) as the older kids are all in college or working in the field with daddy....and my younger kids are re-settling into a home lifestyle...which works better for me. I had run myself ragged and physically exhausted....I like being home.

Anyway, I keep 2 baskets by my front door. One is a collapsible cloth shopping basket...and another big wicker basket. Both have handles and are pretty to look at. The wicker ones hold gloves, hats and scarves in the winter, and sun caps, sunglasses and other stuff you grB Shen leaving the house. My shopping basket holds anything that needs to be given back to its rightful owner, toys other kids left here...their socks, sippy cups, books etc. I also keep su screen, a few dollars in the zipper pouch, my sunglasses, and anything else I need to grab on my way out. In the summer, I grab the whole basket on my way out. I pack it with sunscreen, goggles, towels and off to the pool we go....

I also have a cloth library bag that hangs from my coat rack. As we finish our library books they go in there. On my way out to the store, I grab the bag....

So, older ds blew the engine in his car...and now the only days I have for errands are either Tuesdays or Thursdays it is! All week long I have a pad and pen on my kitchen desk...and as we use up...I write it down. As I find a need ...I write it down. On Wednesday, I make up my itinerary for the next day. I try to include a trip to the library....and I also take my kids out for a light lunch. It breaks up the chore parts and we have time to chat. This week we have about 9 we will quickly do our Bible story and reading...then off into the world! I will try to make sure I get all that we need in that one trip.....anything else dh will have to pick up during the week....and that is always hit or miss.

I find being a list Akers makes it so much easier to get organized and be productive. ....

More later.

Day 18 results

I did it!!! I really , really did it. I stopped procrastinating and opened a family company on my quickbooks program. I back entered all of our income and expenses from January 1, 2011 and even balanced the checkbook and credit card accounts!

Then, since dh brought home a lovely new to me 4 drawer file cabinet, I decided to attack the files I emptied out my old broken and falling apart cabinet...cleared out all the old paperwork and made up new files for our 2011 expense receipts. I also made files for all of our car titles and maintenance, property deed, birth certificates, wills, social security cards....insurances etc. I also let my older kids know where everything in an emergency, they would know where to look.

I then put all the older papers into expandable files...wrapped with a rubber band...and up in the attic they go. I have dated the file, so I will know when it is ok to toss. I also made a file for all of our appliances and electronic equipment with the software discs, extra cords etc. Wow!! It feels great! to look at day 19 & 20.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 18....Financial Simplicity

Happy Monday to you!
Day #18's task is:

To achieve financial freedom, first figure out what you have and then manage it well.  Today, collect your documents that are associated with large assets---documents for your car, house, investments, and so on---and put them in one filing cabinet called Assets.  For your house: file your deed, purchase contract, closing papers, title policy, and insurance papers.  For your investments: file confirmations, year-end statements, and tax reporting forms.  For cars: file ownership papers, registration documents, and insurance papers.  (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 116)

OR for serious simplifiers only...

Don't use your credit card for three months.  Be resolute.  Or, every time you use your credit card, deduct the amount in your checkbook.  Better yet, trade in your credit card for a debit card.  It automatically withdraws the amount from the bank.  You'll spend less.  

Attacking the finances! I have been working on taming this beast for a while...and I am sort of getting it. If only I could reign in dh's spending.....he just doesn't always realize the impact on our general finances. He works so hard, so it is difficult to deny him anything he wants if we happen to have the money available...even if it is earmarked for something else....sigh. financial rules
1. Pay your savings account first...every matter what. Decide what is a reasonable amount and set it aside. No cheating!

2. Christmas comes every matter, how much do you want to spend? Split that amount up by 40...and start putting that amount away more credit card debt there.

3. Pay your credit cards in full every single month. If you can't afford it....don't buy it. If you have to pay down credit off your smallest first, then put that amount towards your next card and so on until it is all paid off.

4. Pay extra principle on your mortgage...and your car payment every month...over time it adds up to much less interest you have to pay.

5. Re- without. If I don't need it...I don't buy it. Period!

6. Watch those sneaky ones etc. Coffee....snacks...impulse buys.....give yourself an allowance each week for these kinds of things. We all need a treat...budgeting for them makes the cost not sneak up on you.

This year I had intended on putting all of our expenses into my quickbooks, but just never got to it.....maybe this is the incentive I need!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Days 13-17 Lent Simplification.

This week I really focused on getting my kids back into their routines so I didn't have the time to blog I just figured I would give a quick overview of my progress.  I did try to keep up on the challenges,  and I plan to finish up some more this weekend.  I also can not find my camera.  I was taking pictures of the progress of the boys room renovation, put it down (big mistake!) and can't find it.  UGH!!!

Day 13 Challenge:Today, examine all of the projects you have not completed. To locate them, look into files, inside drawers, in closets, and under the bed. As they surface, make a list of things you promised yourself, or others, to do. Divide the list into Big Projects and Small Projects. See how many you can come up with in 30 minutes. Then ask yourself, "Which projects can be jettisoned? Which are a burden? Which ones are totally unrealistic? Which ones am I willing to start today? Finally, drop one project from your life and box up all its paraphernalia. You know what we are talking about --- paint sets, knitting needles, unread magazines, and plans for building a dome-shaped doghouse. Finally, place the supplies to be recycled in the trunk of your car. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 81)

                                    OR for serious simplifiers only...

Collect all your unfinished and unstarted projects. Next, toss your projects and the paraphernalia that goes with them. Who knows what new interests you may discover if you free yourself of the deadweight of old business. Remember how good it felt when you finished final exams and could throw out your notes? (30 Days to a Simpler LIfe, p. 85)

I have already done this when I moved the kids rooms around last year,  so this was not really a challenge for me.  I ended up saving my knitting needles and my crochet hooks....but I tossed EVERYTHING else...all scraps,  wool, etc.  I decided to start with a clean slate.  I always felt guilty buying new stuff for my projects because I had something else at home...but THEN,  I didn't want to DO any projects,  because I didn't want to put time into a craft or project that wasn't going to come out how I wanted it.  DILEMNA.  So,  by getting rid of it ALL,  I can get what I need one project at a time......solved!
DAY 14:
Today, go around your house with a shopping bag and fill it with outdated magazines, catalogues, newsletters, newspapers, brochures, and books. Put the magazines and books in the trunk of your car to be taken to the library or your health club. Put the rest in your recycle bin. Finally, make a pile of newsletters and clipped magazine articles that you intend to read immediately.

(30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 86)

DONE!  I put all the newspapers in the burn box,  catalogs I am keeping in the magazine rack,  and the rest...gone!

                                        OR for serious simplifiers only...

Go on a "Low-Information Diet." Say "No!" to extraneous information for one week. Just read what you must for your profession. Don't read irrevelant articles in magazines, newspapers, and newsletters. Avoid catalogues and self-improvement books. Shun the television. In your car, don't listen to radio shows or mind-bending tapes. Instead, play soothing music from tapes or CDs. Finally, dodge advertising where possible. Consume fewer info calories. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 92)

This one will be hard to do for me.  Avoid Catalogues???????  Don't think I can do it!In the car,  I put my radio station to the Christian Praise Music station....and I use my drive time for worship...nice.   Does Radical Homemakers count as a self improvement book????
DAY 15:
Today seek, sort, and organize the keys to everything in your life---cars, boats, bike locks, gates, sheds, houses, and offices. Purchase key labelers and rings and make duplicates, if needed. Finally, create a place just for keys. Install a rack or board with pegs or nails and label it so missing keys can be identified. This system works well for duplicate and seldom-used keys. For everyday keys, we have three suggestions: 1) Put a basket by the front door for family members to deposit their keys. 2) Hang a hook inside your entry door. 3) Provide each family member with his own complete set of keys.

(30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 93)

Okie Dokie....I think I can handle the household stuff...we are not really over run with keys.  BUT,  we need to come up with a better system than a "key" drawer for our clients keys.  It has worked forever,  but I would  prefer a "prettier" system.  Must talk to dh.....and work on this one over the weekend.

                                              OR for serious simplifiers only...
Systematize everything you do repeatedly. To find out what needs revamping, look for things you do randomly. Before you design a system, ask yourself, "Can I eliminate this routine completely?" Dropping a routine is the simplest system of all. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 100)

I am not really sure which routines this is talking about,  but I have been working on our family's routines.  I find my boys function so much better when they know "what comes next."  Hmmmmm....I do wish I know which types of routines they were suggesting to drop.

DAY 16:
Today, declutter your desktop and surrounding counters. Spend at least an hour sorting and tossing. Make your work space the most efficient area in your life. Clutter is especially annoying when it is on your desk or in your office. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 100)

Office is decluttered....have one TO DO filing is caught up....and I even tossed all my dried up pens.  I call that done!  Now I have to set up my schooling desk...getting ready to REALLY write out lesson plans  I also have to buy a new printer for the school room.  I dont like the file system for planning,  but I do use a modified workbox system that I love.  As I set up my schoolroom,  I must make sure I make my work area simple, usable, and effective.

                                     OR for serious simplifiers only...

Spend several hours ruthlessly editing your files. If you don't have a filing cabinet, but an inexpensive filing box to organize your important papers. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 110
I did this a few months ago...and it doesn't need I guess I don't have to worry about this one.  YAY!
DAY 17:
To simplify your computer life, make three piles: pile one, manuals; pile two, floppy discs and CD-ROMs; and pile three, registration materials and bills of sales. Read on to discover how to handle these piles. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 111)

Actually,  I keep these in my file cabinet.  Whenever we buy a new computer or hardware,  appliance etc,  I file the manual, cd-rom and any other related paperwork with it...that way it is always easy to find.
                                      OR for serious simplifiers only...

Keep your computer free of superfluous stuff. Delete programs you rarely use. Don't get lulled into buying new fonts, games, graphics, and utilities that you won't use. Frivolous program slow down computers and create clutter --- more CDs, more manuals, and more information to manage.

Hmmmmmmm........I don't have many programs,  but I have tons of homeschool downloads, pdf's, docs etc.  I would probably be able to use them more efficiently if I filed them better.....I am not sure I really want to spend the time to do that though.  LOL.

There is my week in simplifying!  I would say it was sort of successful.  Still didn't get to that school closet though!


Week in Review 3/28- 4/1/11

Well,  the barfing is over!!!  HOORAY!!!  We had a pretty decent week of school, especially since we were pretty whiplashed from the week.  That,  and my df is having some serious health problems and she was in the hospital all week.  I am hoping the doctors finally have a diagnosis (Lyme disease...UGH!) and she is on the mend. 

On Tuesday,  Hammy had a dentist cavities,  but probably orthodontic work...we shall see. We also had our first library trip in ages.  The kids were so good,  we even got in a good grocery shopping.

The room we are putting our schoolroom into has been emptied,  but while we are renovated the little boys bedroom,  they are sleeping in the schoolroom.  I can not wait to move in there!!!!  We have been schooling in the livingroom and kitchen for 10 years...and I can not stand the mess anymore.  It is driving me nuts!!! I am hoping to paint this weekend and have the boys out of there and upstairs within 2 wweks.  Please pray this job gets done QUICK!

So..on for our Academic week

Our Bible Theme:  Gabriel Announces to Mary she will have a Baby:

I am using Veritas Press Gospels with Christian Liberty Press Book F (I think...It is the one on the Gospels...LOL)

I tied this weeks Art/ Picture study into our Bible stories...we studied Fra Angelico's "The Annunciation."
Notice the martyred monk in the backround.
In History,  we studied the building of the Suez Canal.  We all found it very interesting....We also studied the geography connected with this section of SOTW with the AG.
The kids all made progress in their Light Units in Math, LA and Reading. 
Hammy began Singapore Math's Challenging Word Problems 1.  He likes word problems,  but these are ot too challenging...yet.

And Tallulah has begun Life of Fred Decimals and Percents in addition to her regular Light Units.  We LOVE Fred!!!!
We also began a daily walk.  I think this is really helpful for wiggly boys and tired crabby Mammas.  Tallulah also walks the neighbors dog,  who is looking quite chubby these,  it is good for them too.  I try to take them out before lessons...sort of walking to school.  I am hoping dh will take over this walk so I can get school set while they are out...hint...hint.  It would also be so good for him and bringing his diabetes into control.  We shall see....but in the meantime,  I use the walk to enjoy their conversation...and drill them on their math facts, spelling words, history facts for the week, Bible verses etc.  i need to make sure to bring my memory lists with me.  They think it is fun to drill this way....I like stealth teaching!  This time has also lead to some great nature study.  As we live in a very wooded area,  there is always something interesting to see.  Today we saw a TURKEY BUZZARD!  That thing was almost as big as Hammy...AND he was not budging from the middle of the road.  he was eating a dead squirrel...and was truly enjoying his meal.  We decided to turn back home rather than interrupt his feast....LOL

So,  to go plan next week!