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Archive for August, 2016

Organizing Month 7: A Collection of Memories

Organizing month 7 a ollection of memories

Organizing  our memories

Memories, they are worth more then any price tag, they help to make us who we are but there are times when clinging to memories might hold us back from living in the present. Over this year I have been on an organizing journey to work my way month-by-month through the book, “One Year to an Organized life,” by Regina Leeds. So far I have addressed the kitchen, garage, bedroom, bathroom, office papers, and travel. This month was one of the hardest and well… I kind of failed.

This month we tackle our collections and memorabilia. This may not seem like much but memories and some pretty intense feelings can be wrapped up into these type items. That is what makes this so much more difficult to organize and purge from.

Whatever the item is in this category, it evokes a memory or a time we felt better about ourselves, our environment, our life. It reminds us of possibilities that were open that might now be closed, comfort and easy that is lost to us in our current life, people who we can no longer be with. All these situations live in our memories and we have placed these memories into a physical item. So each time we look at them, we can become that person again, at least for the moment.

In this chapter the author brings up several very valid points to help you to let go of these items. She states that many people hold on to college memorabilia because they mistakenly believe that was when they “peaked” in their life. But here is another gem of wisdom found in the pages of this book.

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How many of us do this?

We fixate on the past and don’t live in the moment. I will admit I have not shown gratitude for today. What I thought was preserving the past kind of took over. See, I have been an avid scrap booker since before I got married. I loved the idea of preserving a moment of time on a scrapbook page. It was a creative outlet I shared with friends. As I had children I preserved the experience and their growth through these scrapbooks.

As they grew and my time began to fill with other things, I still felt the intense responsibility to preserve a history for my family. I actually made the fun activity of scrapbooking into something on my to-do list. A chore. No one was making me do it. I put this idea in my head and the pressure on myself was completely made up. Until one day, I decided to stop. Just stop.

I finally came to the realization I was not enjoying it anymore. The truth is my family and I have not cracked open any of these scrapbooks in years. With the exception of their baby books, they really have no interest in them. I was doing this solely for me it turns out, and when it stopped being fun what was the point? My kids where living for today so why shouldn’t I. So where did I fail you ask?

What was left in the wake of all of this scrapbook collecting was a cabinet full of scrapbooking supplies, crafts and memorabilia. Yes, I had been the one who saved every award, every drawing and every photo of every event in my children’s life. There tiny hand-print turkey, the good citizen award, and all the colorful scribbles of pre-school. Where I failed is that I can’t let them go. Not just yet. 20150823_194107 (2)

The author is right on the mark when she states these collections make us think of a time when our life was more interesting, or exciting. I look at these and think back to a time my children where smaller, and more needy. Where I felt more important to them.  When, for a small moment of time, I was someone’s world. Like they are for me.

This collection makes me feel that again and if I am honest with myself I’m not ready to let it go just yet. I know it will happen sometime. Our house is small and I can only save so much before it gets out of control, so I know the time will come when I have to let it go.

As for now I followed some of the books instruction which helped me let go, a least a little. Collections are meant to be displayed so I took some of the newer drawings and awards and put them on the doors of each child’s bedroom. I also stopped printing pictures unless I had a specific purpose for them. Now I organize and store them digitally. This has gone a long way to reducing the clutter of printed pictures that had been accumulating.

So for now my children’s memorabilia sit in a cabinet awaiting the day I return to scrapbooking for fun or the time I am emotionally ready to let it go. Currently, I only get rid of a few things every couple of weeks rand I’m ok with that. I know letting go is an evolution and the key is to start.

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5 Free and Cheap Ways to Save on Your Child’s Party

5 free and cheap ways to save money on your childs birthday partyIt is one of the most heart-warming feelings to see the ear to ear grin of your child after they blow out their birthday candles. Another successful birthday party organized by mom.

Most people (unless they are other mother’s) attending a child’s birthday don’t realize all the hard work, planning and expense that go in child’s party. Decorations, cake, venue, favors… it can all run into quite a hefty bill once you add it together. But based on your circumstances, the time of year and your craft prowess there are ways to save money  and still have an awesome and memorable party for your child.  Here are some ideas to explore when trying to reduce the cost of your child’s birthday celebration.

Have a combine party

We did for the first time this year. Not only did it save a ton of money. It also reduced the amount of jealously and fighting between the children. Each opened separate presents instead of one watching the other open gifts while they sat empty handed. It halved the expense by only planning one party. I was afraid one of the children might feel slighted but to my surprise both children enjoyed celebrated the time together. Explore the idea of going in with a friend who has a child with a birth date around the same time as yours. This not only reduces the planning load, it also halves the bill.

Have it at home for free

Although it can be a hassle in set up and clean, it saves you a bundle over paying for a venue like Chuck E Cheese, or a bounce house center like Monkey Joe’s. If having it at home is not an option look into local clubhouses, church’s or parks that might rent space for a low price. I found renting a pavilion at a park near was only $25 for the day.

Make it a pot-luck

cakesf

Homemade cake for my daughters birthday party. Don’t be to impressed Olaf’s head fell off

This will save you greatly in food costs and it also allows others to make a special and involved in the party by making a signature dish. We did this for my daughters first birthday and it added so much the party. It can make the event even more memorable when grandma makes your child’s favorite cookies, or her homemade chocolate cake. It also removes some of the expense and menu planning hassle. Also many hands make light work.

Choose a theme and DIY the decorations

Personally, this was the best part of party planning. There are a ton of sources all over the internet and Pinterest on how to do DIY party decorations for less money that still looks great. My son had a Star Wars birthday a few years ago and I had such a blast making Storm Trooper faces on white balloons and personalizing the party décor.ballon

Make it a travel/ experience birthday

This works great for an older child who has kind of out grown a party. Also this is an option for a child on the shy side that doesn’t like being the center of attention. Have them chosen a trip in honor of their birthday or an experience they would like to have instead of a party.

If you can combine a family vacation you might have been planning anyway with a birthday experience or trip, this will save you the cost of a party and still make the kid feel special. We have let our kids do this every other year to forgo the cost of back to back birthday parties. It has been such a wonderful experience. Our kids feel empowered and special in choosing the vacation. Plus the birthday boy/girls suggestions give us new vacation ideas we might not have considered.

Take a look at some of these sites for great party planning tips and ideas.

http://mimisdollhouse.com/

http://www.bystephanielynn.com/

Hostess with the Mostess

You can also check out a recent post about creating a DIY Candy Buffet.


How To Get Back On A School Schedule

How to get back on a school scheduleAll around the United States the bathing suits, sunglasses and Nintendo DS’s are being shelved for textbooks, backpacks and school uniforms. Yes, summer break has come to an end here and with that us parents must face the re-establishment of a school routine. This is a tough one since summer days are longer, more casual and less structured than a typical the school year. It can be quite a challenge to re-establish proper bed times, study hours, and less playful activities.

In my household we are battling fiercely to get back into the school routine.  This week we have seen our fair share of tantrums and resistance. Every evening we are met with pleas for “5 more minutes,” at bedtime and kids who look like they are heading for a firing squad at having to put away their electronics in the morning.

[ctt title=”Although summer was a blast and it was great to let loose for a little, routine is what kids strive for. ” tweet=”Although summer was a blast and it was great to let loose for a little, routine is what kids strive for. ” coverup=”sPY52″]To help them feel safe, connected and know where they fit and what to expect. Even thought at first they are resistant in time they will adjust. Here a few ways to help you kids adjust to reentering the school year routine.

Re-establish specifc mealtimes

(source WebMD) After a few months of a flexible mealtime schedule. It will be much easier to get into the groove of the school day by starting of with a good breakfast the same time each day. Most students lunch time will be at a designated time (mine are always early in the day) so the other meals should adjust to follow suit. This will also help student stay fueled for the more hectic pace of the school day.

 

Get back to the RIGHT foods

 

I will be the first to admit I have taken the easy way out for summer cooking this summer. Yes it has been a summer of hot dogs and hamburgers.  Tons of snacks, pops and ice creams. But with the longer school day kids need brain power in the form of more nutrition. So it is imperative that we reinstitute some proper nutrition.

Determine a set bedtime and stick to it

Between vacation travel, family events and just it being lighter longer outside. My kids bedtime had extended about an hour longer on than during the school year. Plus our bedtime routine has been totally thrown out of whack. No harm was done since they had a more flexible time to rise. However once the school year has begun, the alarm will ring and it is off to school we go. So in order for children to function and learn they need the right amount of sleep. See my post HERE on the right amount of sleep for each age.

Set screen time limits

During the summer I found myself being very flexible with the amount of screen time my kids had. Since it was so hot out and we mostly had to stay in doors I extended the one hour of screen time to a lot more. This week it has been a struggle to have then put down the DS but it has helped greatly in regaining their attention.

Homework comes first

It is great to have time to play and during the summer we had long stretch’s of uninterrupted play. Once school began kids need to understand that school work needs to come before playtime. Once the homework is completed, then you can play with your friends.

Getting back to afterschool movement

During the summer you have more time to play sports, outside, go swimming in the pool or head to the beach. Once school begins students spend the majority of the day inside, in a state of inactivity while learning. It is important to give kids a way to burn off this pent-up energy. This comes in the form of afterschool sports56 ways to get back to a school schedule. I agree it is much harder to fit this in afterschool. Mostly, this can take a toll on the parent who has to stand around during sports practice. In my view, this activity is necessary for a well -rounded child.

It is hard to let go of the carefree feeling of summer but it is also nice to get back to a set schedule and a bit of routine…at least until Holiday Break.


Gymboree Sale On Now!

For People about to Blow Their Wad: 5 Ways Not to Spend Money

5 ways not to spend moneyI know what you are thinking. Is this girl nuts? We need food. We need clothing. How do you not spend money? I know that sounds weird. Eventually, we all need to buy stuff. There comes a time when we have to spend some money right?

But what if you didn’t have to always spend money. What if we worked to make spending less of a habit? What if you could change your mindset so that buying was not the first impulse. If you are trying to save for a large purchase, pay off debt or recover from some other large outlay of money this might be your a pretty good option.

I get it. It is so easy to need that instant gratification and want to loosen the purse strings. Society in general reinforces spending instead of saving. It becomes harder ad harder to watch new things advertised and talked about and not feel like you need them. See that’s the key…do you really need them? It is almost as if we can no longer tell ourselves “NO”. That not buying lunch out or not purchasing new is no longer socially acceptable behavior. Buying and spending has become so commonplace it has become the norm. But if we can shift our perspective the financial benefits could be great.

So how do we get into a saving mindset and not spend money? Here are 5 ways to shift your thinking and get away from a free spending attitude.

  1. Use what you have – In past generations this was the norm. They would never have gone out and purchased a new car for example, unless the old one just stopped working. Past generations didn’t feel the need to fall pray to the newest shiniest new toy on the block. Surprisingly, to us they lived perfectly happy lives without things we feel are necessities like TV, cell phones and programmable coffee pots.  If we really examine our possessions, most of the time we have more than enough items just lying around unused or even forgotten that we had even purchased. That shirt we bought months ago on sale, that electronic gadget we had to have, you get the idea. Look through what you already have and well…use it.
  2. Create something new out of something old – There has been a resurgence in creating new home furnishings out of driveway discards. There is good reason for this since most of what we throw away is still in good condition, we just want it to be new. Most of what we throw away can be transformed or reused into another purpose. This might take some imagination and creativity. Many people have found it fairly easy to refinish a piece of furniture and create a like-new functional item for their home. All you need to do is look at things from a different perspective and see if you can find a new use for something you already have instead of discarding it and buying it new.
  3. Clean stuff up – Often a bit of elbow grease will do the trick in. Instead of purchasing new, search Pinterest for a way to clean something old and bring it back to life. I tried this with my car headlights instead of having them replaced. You will be amazed at the results.
  4. Stay in – Sometimes we lose track of how much we spend when we go out to dinner, a concert or movie. There is more than just tickets and entrance fees, there is additional food and beverages, t-shirts and souvenirs. More often than not it is healthier, easier and cheaper to cook it at home or watch it on video. Plus you will get the best seat in the house.
  5. Remember people mean more than things – In our over-consumptive society, we feel an intense need to buy, shop and consume in order to feel connected to the latest trends, hottest events and newest things. What really matters is the people that we share our time with. Spending time with a friend over coffee means more than all the overpriced lattes consumed on our own. Sharing a walk with your family means more then the next complicated computer game. Making time to spend with the important people in your life has more value then working overtime to pay off purchases you never really needed in the first place.

Back to School Post Round Up

back to school round up

As I have mentioned last week, back to school is here is some parts of Florida. For many of us down south we are already trying to shake off the easy going, relaxed spirit of summer and get down to business. It’s been hard to get back into the routine of learning, adjusting schedules and managing school work. So to gear up and get back into the school swing of things, here are some fantastic school related posts from around the bloggershere. I also add a few posts of my own from last year that are helping me to get into a more studious mindset.

Food

This is a fantastic post from one of my Beachbody mentors, Lori Miggins. It is about how she organizes her kids school lunches in a practical, easy and doable way. Genius! http://lorimiggins.com/organize/organizing-kids-lunches/

This is a post I wrote last year about my trials, tribulations and ultimately what I learned from over doing school lunch preparations http://inbetweenmoderation.com/balancing-school-lunch-prep/

Finances

I just love this site. Even if you are not a couponer they always have great posts about saving money, coupon deals and where to get school supplies on the cheap. I have followed these girls from the beginning and not only are they funny and savvy, they are mom’s just like us and know what limited time and energy we have. http://thekrazycouponlady.com/category/back-to-school/

This one is from last year but I thought it still had some great tips on thrift store shopping and finding deals for school clothes http://www.thepennyhoarder.com/how-i-bought-all-my-kids-back-to-school-clothes-for-38-16/

Feelings

This is a post I wrote last year as I reflected on the feelings I had as my preschooler began Kindergarten. No joke this transition is a big one. It’s probably harder for mom then for child, but it also comes with an amazing experience of growth. http://inbetweenmoderation.com/first-day-of-school/

Get the tissues ready this post is going to make you cry. But it will also help you realize it is ok to let them grow. http://www.scarymommy.com/growing-up-saying-goodbye/

Family

 

Nuff said!!! Have a great back to school everyone.

 

 

 

Happiness is a Choice

happiness is a choice

 

You have a choice in how you view your circumstances

Not everyone, by nature, looks on the bright side of things. I grew up in an environment where negative and doom saying was the first reaction. In that circumstance you develop negativity as a go-to emotion.  In my case, I am not trying to blame anyone for my less then sunny outlook but until recently I always assumed that this was just the way I am. Some days I’m happy, some days down.

The about a week ago while  listening to a podcast called the “The Lively Show,” I stumbled upon a discussion that made me question what was really going on with my emotional state.  In the podcast episode #159, the host, Jess Lively present a concept that my husband has been trying to hammer home to me forever. He has stated this to me in a different manner but I never really got it until now.

It’s the idea that your emotions are limited and are not based on your circumstances.

Whoa…What? Ok we lets dissect this. Our emotions are limited. In our infinite hubris as “advance creatures” we assume that we have a myriad of emotions that are varied in depth and breath. I have always had the feeling that this made my emotions some natural force that was almost separate from me. Sometimes it was hormonal; sometimes they grow out of history, trauma. But I always felt as if they are almost separate entities and uncontrollable at times based on what circumstances brought on the emotion.

But in this podcast she states there are 17 basic emotions that fall on a spectrum. The specific emotions listed are not so much what were important. Only that the spectrum had much like the force in star wars a dark side and a light side. For me this created some organization to something I had previously viewed as a wild unseen natural force.

The second concept is the one that really clicked. And I will admit that this is the one my husband has been trying to get me to understand for year. He doesn’t read this blog so I know I can safely say without facing a gloating I told you so, that he was right. (Don’t let him know I said that.) anyway back to the second concept. Your emotions are not based on your circumstance.

So this is how people who might have poorer living conditions can find contentment. This is how people battling cancer come out with a new perspective. This is also why people, probably similar to me, have difficulty keeping focus of all the blessing that have.

That’s the thing. Working under the assumption this was the way things are and how my emotions function. I figured my circumstance dictate the way I feel and react to external events around me. The emotional control, I mistakenly thought, lies elsewhere. The control over my feelings was dictated by some other circumstance, location, event or person. They made me feel the way I felt. Now I see this is flawed thinking.

It makes perfect sense now. People do it all the time. My grandmother, who I have always sought to emulate because of her boundless love and carefree spirit, was one of the people who did this. She made a choice to be happy and to very her world through a lens of joy instead of sorrow despite her circumstance. (and I know if her 95 years of life she had a lot more trying circumstances then I have ever had to deal with.)

I know I have heard it before “your are in control of how you view your circumstance,” but I have never really thought about the idea that your circumstances dictate how you feel. You are more in control of what emotion you choose to feel completely independent of the circumstances.

So what does this mean exactly? You are in control before after and during an event, not your circumstance. This means that you can choose to be on the more positive “light side” if you want to. Now there is a catch. It doesn’t happen overnight. It is not something that you can just decide and accomplish automatically. If your general disposition has always gravitated towards the”dark side.” It will continue to do so. It is a basic law of physics “Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion unless acted upon by and equal and opposing force.” Ok not bodies but feelings in motion? So you can change where your go to emotions land on this spectrum but it takes work. It takes an equal and opposing force in your mind to eventually move yourself away from this way of thinking.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ok with a little hard work if it means living more of my life in the space of joy, love and fulfillment. Before now, I thought I had no control over my feelings. They just were. I was just a boat at sea being battered by waves of circumstance and emotional reaction. From this concept it seems like someone threw me a life preserver from a cruise ship. All that has to done is climb up and I could be having drinks on the Lido deck.

 

You spent how much on school supplies?????

school suppliesRemember when back to school meant getting some new clothes, maybe a new pair of sneakers, and socks. Remember when the only school supplies asked for were a few pencils and pens, notebooks and a compass (what did we even use that for except to stab our seat neighbor with the pointy end.) My kids attend public school and this year I was floored by the laundry list of school supplies needed for my daughter entering 4th grade. There are personal items, classroom items and community items. These together stretched down the page.

My sons list was not as long being that he is only going into first grade, but still it is a lot of supplies. Let me preface this all by adding that on the list it is stated that these are voluntary donation. However, if parents don’t bring these supplies who is paying for them? Apparently not the school board any longer.

Don’t get me wrong I am not blaming teachers in any way. I know that if parents don’t provide these supplies most good hearted teachers will dip into there personal paycheck to get needed items for the classroom. Which I also don’t feel is right thing either. After tallying up the cost of school supplies for each kids my total came to over…$150. and I used BOGO’s people!!!

I am sorry, I just don’t get it what has changed so dramatically in the 20 or so years since I have been out of school? Why can the school system, funded by the lottery, taxes and government programs, no longer provide pens, and paper? I mean that is kind of a schools life blood. Reading, writing and arithmetic. For the writing you can’t really go without pens and paper. And I only have 2 kids. I can’t imagine the cost for supplies in larger families. It must be like a mortgage payment for school supplies.

It’s not like clothes, you can’t hand me down supplies. Plus after asking for an absurd amount of supplies (like 144 pencils for 1 student) they have the nerve to be brand specific! You need to get the premium crayons. Only Crayola will do, as specified in bold on the school supplied sheet. No low class Rose Art or sub-par Target brand, no cutting corners here.

There are many school districts that are hurting and need the additional parental support and this is not about them. This is about the schools who clearly can cover the cost of copy paper and are being excessive in the (donation??) request of supplies. These schools now have to use what was school supply funds to pay for something dumb, unnecessary or redundant.

In my high school there was an entire wing of the school that no student ever went to because it was for administrators only. What? If you are not interacting with the students what exactly are you administrating over? Look, I really don’t know what goes on in the hallow halls of the administration wing but clearly it is not as much a benefit to students or teachers if they are sequestered away, given tenure and no parent has a clue what they do. I sure don’t.

What I do know is I am not only paying for them to “administer,” I am also paying for the paper they do it on. If my rant is ill placed and I am totally off base with this feel free to educate me. I have never been a teacher,  or in the education field so I welcome anyone in the field to explain to me how things have gotten this way. Thank you all for listening to my rant. Now to load the massive amount of crayons, pencils and notebooks (and my paycheck) in a suitcase (Yes a suitcase!) and hand them over to the people in charge of educating my children.

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