Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Home Organization - Tackling the Toys

I am so encouraged by many of your responses and questions.  Many of you have said you are ready to tackle the toys so lets get started.  
First of all if you haven't read my starter tips refer to my post Home Organization - 1.  It is best to read that first and then return here because I am basically just going to dive right into categories here.
So just so you know (every time you organize) this will get messier before it gets cleaner.  You need to start in whatever currently has the most toys.  Even if you aren't going to keep them there still start there.  It is also best that the kids are playing elsewhere but if they must be in there then just tell them they need to help you sort things and to not grab from piles - you will never get this done if they keep  pulling things out to play with.
Begin pulling out toys and start putting them in very small categories (piles) around them room.  Here are a few of our small piles:
-small cars/trucks
-bob the builder toys
-CARS toys
-magna stix
-Lincoln logs
-Mr. Potato head
Other small categories that you might have are:
-Dora toys
-Diego toys
-barbie doll clothes
-barbie dolls
-baby doll clothes
-baby doll supplies (bottles, burp cloths, etc)
you get the picture!!!
Once you have divided all of these toys into smaller sections you will know how many bins you need and if your stuff will fit into the shoebox style bin (or whatever bins you want to use).  If not try to only go up to the size bin you need so you are not tempted to later stuff it with other things because there is space.  Now go get your bins and start putting stuff into the bins and label them.
We have lots of learning "toys" as well so lets talk about them for a minute.  Here are some of the bins I have for them:
-flash cards
-leap pad cartridges
-alphabet magnets
-animal magnets
-stringing beads
-puzzles - for puzzles I always remove it from the box and put them in a zip lock bags.  i cut the picture off the front of the box and put it in the box as well.  This takes up less space.  I put these in an open bin - without a top - so they can pick which one they want easily.

The playroom closet has the same shelves in it that I used in my Home Organization - Removing the Chee post.  They have a longer shelf that I have in the middle of my closet where the bookshelves are in the closet of that post.  I have the learning toys on one shelf and toys on the other two shelves.  This keeps the playroom floor open for the most part so that there is more room to play.  If you don't have closet space and need it to be in the actual room then you may want to buy cuter shelves and bins.  One of my friends just used bookcases and cloth bins without lids coupled with some clear shoe boxes for smaller items.  

Some other important things:
1. Dress up clothes: I  previously used a large plastic storage bin but now I have moved to a wooden toy box.  That is all that is in there.  I think that minimal organization in this area is important.  Put all the stuff in one place and if you have little girls that have jewelry you may want to put it in a shoebox within the bigger bin.  Allow for imagination here and give them the freedom to just dig through and put on what they are looking for - mixing and matching.  Have 1 place that it all can be put away during pick up.  I moved from the bin because the boys had acquired more than it would hold.  I would also suggest putting this near a mirror.  If I had a boy and girl I would separate them by sex but keep them together because probably if they are playing together they would dress up together.
2. We have lots of Lego's and I have put them in one big bin (they are all same size - we just had multiple bins of them).  
3. Train Sets: My friend has Thomas sets and so we divided this stuff into types of tracks - straight, colors, round tracks, etc.   this way when he needs a specific part of the track then he know where to look.  I also put all the trains in one bin, all the accessories into 1 bin.  The bigger sections of the track can either stack beside the bins or you can get a bigger bin for them.
4. Mini Lego/building sets: we haven't made it to this stage but I would treat these like puzzles (see above)
5. Cars/Trucks/Bulldozers/Dump Trucks: These I line up on the bottom shelf or on a small bookcase.  This keeps them from taking up so much floor space.  WE have a small bookcase that is full of these things.
6. Little People: Put the people in a bin and stack all the toys on the shelf in the same area.
 7. Misc Toys: you will probably have a bin of misc toys - things that don't fit into a bin.  Try to make this only 1 bin. YOU CAN DO IT.

So here are a few more tips:
1. Keep the floor space a clear as possible.  
2. The boys are only allowed to get 1-2 bins down at a time.  They must be picked up and put away before they get another bin or they must come as me. This keeps clutter down and it teaches them to play with the same thing for more than 10 minutes at a time. (self-control)
3. We don't have a ton of toys.  I have come to see that the boys play with only a few things often.  I would suggest trimming down on the toys.  I promise they really won't miss them.  Tell them that you are giving them to kids that don't have toys.  If you keep your toys then just find places for all of them.
4. It has been my experience that your smaller same sex children will for the most part play with the toys their big brother or sis is playing with rather than age appropriate toys.  I keep a few baby toys but the rest I wouldn't hold onto at least for that sex. 
5.  I keep Jake's games in the top of the closet.  This should be true for any toys that you only let them get at certain times.
6. Once you have one room of toys organized into bins it will make it easier to go room to room and get the toys from each room and put them in the appropriate bin.  If you don't have a bin that it will fit in create one.  I do suggest that you keep all of the same stuff in one area.  Example: all of your Dora toys or lightening McQueen toys should be together not scattered throughout the house.  If you want toys in various rooms them put a bin of alike toys in that room.
7. I would use the games in my post Home Organization - Training your children to teach the kids where things belong.

I am not at home while I am doing this post so I may add some things to it when I get home and remember something I may have left out.  Hope this helps -ask me questions if you have any and have fun Tackling those Toys.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Am I older yet?

So tonight Brady, my 2 year old (2!!!) had this conversation with his dad:
B: daddy I wanna sip of that (referring to John's alcholic beverage that looked like juice)

J: you can't have a sip of that it's for daddy

B:But I wanna sip

J:When you get older you can have some. It is for adults

so Brady goes and plays a little while and comes back and can you guess what he ask John (my 2 year old)?

B: daddy am I older yet??????

Wooing His Heart

A few weeks ago I finished reading "Grace Based Parenting" by Tim Kimmel.  One of the things he talks about is learning your child and his bents and seeking to cultivate those things in your child.  When I looked up the word Woo in the Thesaurus, other words for woo were cultivate, seek, try to attract, curry favor with, seek to win.  So essentially I gathered from Kimmel's book that as I parent I am to learn my child and his bents and use those to woo his heart.  A few years ago the lady that discipled me in college told me that she strongly believes that Christians feel the presences of God most in their life when they are operating in their giftings and doing the things that God designed them to do for His kingdom.  I see this is true in my own life so of course I want my children to experience this too. 
Jake is very artistic and is in love with taking pictures, painting, drawing and the likes. So today I set out to woo his heart and it was a wonderful day.  A few years ago, the Pensacola News Journal commissioned some local artist to paint/create pelicans to display around downtown.  They were amazing and very creative.  So I decided to take Jake downtown to see them today.  Sadly to say, there were only a few left.  Turns out many of them were vandalized and removed.  Jake took pictures of the ones that were left.  He loved seeing them.  Here are a few of his shots.

We also went to the Pensacola art museum and he was amazed at the paintings.  He would walk up to one and say Mommy what do you see?  Then we headed off and took some pictures of some local places.  We both had such a great time.  It is so fun to watch him get so excited.  It sure filled his tanks.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Home Organization - Removing the "Chee"

My mother - n - law's housekeeper told her that she had to much "chee" in her closets and it needed to be removed.  I was clueless and ask what that meant.  She said it meet that she needed to clean her closets out.  Well you all know that made me smile - and get a little excited. So today I tackled the kids toy closet. I spent about 30 on this closet - 2 shelves from walmart for $11 each.  I bought 7 bins at Dollar General for $1 each. (by the way that is $1 cheaper than they are now at walmart so I would check there first.)  The only things that came out of the closet for good are the car seats, bed rail and sheets.  Everything else is still there with space for some more (which is always your goal!!).  Be inspired!!

view 1 - before
view 1 - after
view 2 - before
view 2 - after
view 2 - after with top of closet
view 3 before
view 3 after

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yeah Jake Is Home!!!!

He had a blast with his cousins but we are so glad that he is home.  When he got to us at the airport he had big hugs for all.  He and Brady hugged and kissed and Brady said "I missed you Jake"  Jake's response to Brady was "I will never fly away from you again." Sweet Brotherly love.  Here are some fun pics from his trip and a sweet pic with mommy when he got home.  Oh I missed you Bocee!!!!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Home Organization - Training your Children

Thought I would give a shout out to my sister - n- law Kym.  She has gotten inspired by my tips and got busy on her house.  I am so proud of her.  These pictures are of her newly created and organized "school room" - she is about to become a home schooler.  She also inspired this post.  When she sent me these pictures a line in her email said "Now I just have to train the kids to put it all back where they got it."  Well I have a little suggestion that can HELP this process.  It won't solve the problem - but it will make the training part of it fun.  It is game time!!!!

So here's what you can do Kym, and all of you others who have said this exact same thing to me. Have some training time with your children in the form of a game.  Tell them that just like any other game they have to listen to the rules and follow the instructions in order to play.  So take a small section of the house - like this school room, a play room, bedroom, etc.  Talk to the kids and show them the basic gist of where things go.  Like I said in my previous post about labeling.  Your initial goal (especially with toddlers and preschoolers) is to get it very close to the general proximity of where it belongs.  We as mom's must die to perfection.  
So using Kym's pics as an example I would sit the kiddos down and tell them the first game we are going to play is I Spy. Tell them that this will help us learn were things go so that we can play the next game. Some of these are so obvious but that is great for little ones.  Have some stickers or something little in hand to give for right answers.  So then you can say things like I spy a globe, or a leap pad book, or a box of stacking blocks, or a get the picture.  The first child that shows you were it is gets a little sticker or such.  If the bigger kids are hogging the game then just take turns. Play this a little while and expect to let the kids be the person that spies as well.  This may be all that gets done in this training session.  Just remember that the goal is only known to you and disguised to the kids as fun and games.
If you have kids with long attention spans then proceed to the next game but you really want to make sure that the kids know were the things go/are first. If you stopped with I Spy and then return later to keep going then just recap the I Spy game with a quick "Who can tell me"  
The next game you can play with them is Memory.  Before they come into the room (or make them close their eyes) take 4-8 random objects off shelves and in the room and lay them in the center of the room.  Tell them that it's just like when you play the memory card game and you have to remember where you saw the matching card.  Here you have to remember from the eye spy game where things are (don't underestimate your kids - they can do this).  Have each one take turns and put an item back on the shelf where it goes - if it is wrong give them another try.  Make it fun.  When they get objects right reward them with whatever you want.  Remember that they are learning a skill so give them lots of praise and make it worth their while.  Play this several time if they stay with it.  When you think they are ready go to the final big game.
The Cleanup Challenge -  this should come with a great surprise for all who truly participate not just the winners.  My suggestion would be to get your husband involved with all of this but especially this game (I mean lets face it - he will think he is doing it to help you out this one time but then he can't say he doesn't know were things go :):)  So divide into 2 teams - 1 adult on each team.  If you don't have 2 adults but an older sibling then let them be the main helper on the other team.  The goal is to clean up the entire room CORRECTLY in the quickest time.  So go into the room and somewhat destroy it and then time the other team to see how long it takes to clean up the room.  Cheer on your opponents - (John would struggle to do that).  Next, your team goes and in order to make it fair you have to minimize your help since you did set up the system - give more guidance rather than doing it yourself.  After the game is over their should be a surprise for the winning team (Nothing wrong with healthy competition) but a big treat for everyone - ice cream would be great.  This would be the time to talk about and teach your children about stewardship.  Something like this:
I had a lot of fun playing our new games together the last 2 days (or tonight).  It was fun time to spend as a family.  But we did this for another reason as well.  We want to teach you how to be good stewards of our home....Talk about what a steward is and what God says about it (keep it on their terms)  You can be good steward by helping mommy take care of the things that God has provided for us like the toys and books that are in our school room.  The games we have played have taught you where things go and I have seen you put them where they go - you even won prizes for doing it.  So now, when mommy ask you to go clean up your school room - I know with complete confidence that you can do it.  We expect you to care for your things because God has instructed us to do so.  Mommy has spent this fun time together teaching you how to do just that.  i am so excited that you have learned a new skill and a new way to honor God.  Do you have any questions about what I expect of you?

A few tips:
1.  This could be a game night with breaks in between games.  The kids will follow your lead so if you make it a blast they will have a blast.
2.  You don't need to expect them to get it in 20 minutes especially if they are little or are not use to having "training times" like this.  Just be patient and try the next day.  The bigger picture here is that you are training your children how to be stewards - not just keeping a room tidy.
3. I would suggest talking with your husband about it before hand - I hope that he desires that your children learn stewardship as well and then he is on board and making it fun. Plus he learns where things go.  I would call that a GREAT PLUS!!!
4. I would suggest using this with every major room that you need their help keeping tidy and organized - their rooms, play rooms, living rooms, baths.  Some of these may not be safe for the kids to be in charge of yet so use your judgement.
5.  Don't stop after this night or training session.  If we don't use it we loose it.  If they slack replay the games to remind them.  Expect them to do it and make it an issue of obedience.  There have been times in my life I have said it is easier to just do it myself but God has told us to train our children in the way they should go.  If I do it myself I am doing my kids a great injustice of teaching them that someone will always be around to do it for them.  They don't learn/aren't taught personal responsibility and stewardship.  

I hope this is a way you can teach and train your children that is fun and playful rather than nagging and frustrating.  Love to hear how it goes.  Remember to be patient, persistent and consistent.  You will see fruit.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Home Organizing - Labeling

Ok so this will be a short post.  Today a post on how to teach your family where everything goes came to mind but I decided that I needed to do a short post on clear labeling first. (The other post will follow soon!!)
So in order to make everyone including yourself successful in putting things back WHERE THEY GO, everything needs to be labeled clearly.  Don't deceive yourself into thinking that you will remember what is in there - YOU WON'T.  So here are some ideas for labeling and you can pick what works for you.
1. If you have small children it is best to do both picture and word labels.  This makes them successful.  You can do this one of two ways.  1) lay the contents of the box out and take a picture of it and laminate the pic and tape it to the box. 2.) Find a clip art of what is in the box and print it with the word below it on a label or a piece of paper and laminate it and tape it to the box.  You don't necessarily have to do this if the boxes you have a clear because they can see what is in there but the box needs to always have word labels on it regardless.  Trust me it makes life easier.
2. If you have the right kind of basket - woven, some fabric, etc you can take an object in the bin and tie it to a ribbon and attach it to the basket.  This is more cute than functional but it will work if you won't it cute.
3. Same baskets as #2, or wire shelving (like a pantry or the top of a closet) you can use "Hang tags"  They are little white shapes with a metal lining around them and they are attached to a Key like ring.  You would thread the ring through the shelf or basket if it will work.  This looks really cute in a wire shelf pantry.
4. Your basic label maker of file folder labels will also work great.
This should be enough to get the ball rolling.

Also, here are some other tips for those of you that may be anal about putting things in the exact place:
1. Take a picture of the toy/object that will be completely removed from the spot (things like toys, music pieces, shape sorter, etc) and put it in the back of the shelf or on the bottom of the shelf so everyone knows were it goes.  a note of warning though: this degree of analness (is that a word?) does not set anyone up for success.  You will always be frustrated and very seldom will you get to tell your toddler or you husband - thank you it looks great and really mean it.  So think about letting up a bit and shoot for teaching them the right shelf or general vicinity and learn to let it go!!!!!

I think that is all I can think of to help for now.  Hope these are helping

I love this quote!!!

"The only people who get better are people who know that, if they never get better, God will love them anyway."   - Steve Brown, A Scandalous Freedom

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What happen to Community

Lately I have had multiple conversations about the desire for a strong community but a lack of it. I can't help but wonder if we are longing for something that is not real or if we are just to lazy to make it happen?  I remember years ago a friend of mine writing about how our culture had been inundated with some many modern conveniences that are suppose to save us time - microwaves, cell phone, cars, and well you get the point.  But what have we done with the time we are saving?  
I know that in college I got to experience true community - a family.  But time and distance has separated many of those relationships and it seems harder and harder to build community where you are planted at this stage in life.  But man do I long for it!!!
Last night John and I had the best time with many of our "old family" from college.  We were celebrating the fact that we really are getting old :).  We talked about how easy it is just to stay in the 4 walls of your house than to get going and get out there.  I think so often I just want to be initiate  to rather than to do all the initiating.  The truth I think is that most every one feels that way so no one is initiating.  How sad!!!!
The other thing that is so hard - and for those of you that have moved recently you may have discovered this too - when you move to a new place everyone that is already there has a life.  They have their established relationships and routines.  I have also realized that for the most part they enjoy spending time together but they don't think to initiate which leaves it up to you.  This is why it is so tiring!!!So tiring.  
But today, I have spent lots of time thinking about how great last night was.  To sit down with friends that I really haven't seen in years and pick right up where we left off.  So easy!!!! So great!!!  And then I think that in order for this to be true of my life now I have to get my tail out there and initiate regardless of how much I had rather stay home.  I do feel grateful that God has placed a handful of couples in our life that John and I really want to spend more time with and so we just have to make people our priority again.  
I long to build a strong immediate family but I also want my family to know the world is bigger than our 4 walls and that there are people out there who need to be loved on by the Cook's.  So in the words of dear sweet April - I need to just get over myself and initiate to people and stop waiting for them to initiate to me.  (don't worry she wasn't fussing at me - actually she said "we")
So I decided today that I am not making excuses any longer (except the fact that we are leaving in 3 days for a week and half vacation).  But as soon as I get back I will be about the business of building me a community.  Anyone want to join me?  Oh and I may have to wait till I get Jake started in school :)  See this is how it happens - after this and after that.  Life is just crazy and I am through ranting!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Home Organizing - Craft Supplies

I have been encourage that some of you are actually tackling some projects this week. Now that John is working full time from home and we currently only have 1 computer my time is limited so sorry I haven't posted this earlier. I will try to do better. So here we go:

I am blessed to actually have a craft closet. Our bedroom has 2 closets so we use the smaller one and the walk in holds my craft supplies, office supplies and extra books. I love it. But my craft stuff would fit in a hall closet or an armour or such. Here is what the first section looks like. I bought a $15 plastic/PVC shelf at walmart (back by the bathroom stuff with the shelving and organizing supplies)

I want to be as specific as possible to help you wrap your head around how I do things. As we proceed in other rooms I won't be this specific because you can get the principles from here and apply it to other spaces. Some of the boxes have a selection of random things in them but it is because I only have a few of those things and I want to save space. When this is the case I limit it to only 3-4 various types of items and label all things inside. So below is a list of what things are on this shelf by bin (or shoebox):

-glitter, strings, headbands
- glue and guns
-pipe cleaners, pom-poms, pop sticks, google eyes
- collage supplies
-clothes pins, filters, cupcake liners
-trims and ric-rac
-tissue paper
-tape, scissors, box-cutters
-scrapbook supplies
-gift wrap supplies
-floral supplies
-colored pencils
-paint supplies
-foam kits and letters
-extra crayons and kids markers
-misc craft supplies
-children's paint
-hard felt squares

The above picture is a shoe bag that I keep my acrylic paints in so that I can see the colors. It is hanging on the wall beside the craft shelf.

This is above the shelf in the closet. It consist of my sewing machine cover, pillow batting, 2 baskets of fabric scraps, magazines that I keep (only a few) and some of Jake's artwork and extra canvases.

This picture is my sewing supplies. These bins include:
-Thread and bobbins, machine tools
-rotary cutting supplies
-misc sewing supplies (buttons, zippers, etc.)
-wide ribbons
-thin ribbons
-projects basket (things I am working on or that need fixing)

So there you have it - my craft supplies organized so that I can find what I need in seconds. Here are some extra tips that may help:
1. Some of my bins may require multiple bins for you. Two examples - my sister n law scrapbooks alot so she would have more than one tiny bin of supplies. My friend Shannon has an embroidery business so she has tons more fabric and ribbons. In fact, we had to divide her ribbons by color. So don't try to stuff you stuff into 1 bin. If you have a lot of one thing figure out how to sub-divide it to make you successful. Ask me specifics if you like.
2. From personal experience it works best to keep your craft supplies and the kids supplies (unless you give them free reign of them) together. Jake has a small tackle box in his room that has crayons, pencils, color wonder markers and scissors as well as a few coloring books and paper beside it. This is all I let him have easy access to at this time. So for me it works best to have it all together so when I plan a craft I can go to one place to pull what I need.

That's all for now. GOOD LUCK!! If you do it I would love to see pictures!!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Do you have EYE - STORIES?

So this morning Jake comes and gets in the bed with us and this is the conversation that followed:

J- Mommy does Buzz Lightyear have a dad?

M- I don't know if he does or not. Why?

J- Mommy do you know what an eye story is?

M- No bud I don't - what is it.

J- Well mommy and eye story is when you go to bed and you close your eyes to go to sleep and you see a story in your eye. Does this ever happen to you mommy?

M- yes bud and they are called dreams.

J - does daddy have dreams to?

M- Yes

J- do all people have dreams?

M- yes

J - I have those sometime when I close my eyes but not all the time. Last night my eye story was about buzz lightyear and his dad.

I am constantly amazed watching him make sense of his world. He left today to go spend 10 days with his aunt and cousins in Colorado. Last night John ask him if he was excited and his response was "daddy do you know what not really means?" John said what do you think it means. Jake said "not really means that you are kinda excited about going and having fun but you are worried that you will miss your mommy and daddy."

He's 4!!!!!

Anyway, hope you have sweet eye stories tonight!!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Home Organzing - 1

Ok so here it is, my attempts to encourage you to get life organized. I have been thinking about how to do this so that it is not so overwhelming to those of you that want to do it but just can't get over the fear of diving in. So for today I wanted to give you some starter tips to help you in your thinking. I want to begin with some areas that seem to give people the most trouble - lots of stuff scattered all over the place. So look forward to post on organizing your arts and crafts supplies, office supplies, kids room/playroom, pantry, garage, and implementing various systems to make keeping house mindless. All of the following tips apply across the board:
1. Keep them small and clear - Buy SMALL clear containers. I always use the clear shoeboxes at Wal-mart. They are like 99 cents each and I have a ton because I use them everywhere. Sometimes you will need a bigger container but it needs to be only because the items are to big to go in a smaller one. Big containers tend to get stuffed with to much stuff.

2. LABEL, LABEL, LABEL!!! - if you want you can purchase a labelmaker. I love mine but the tape is not cheap so sometimes I just use file folder labels and write on them.

3. Group alike items - don't throw pens, pencils, paper clips, stapels, markers and sticky notes in one box unless you just have a few of them. Keep it small and alike. When you are looking for pens you know where to go and you don't spend 10 minutes fumbling through a mess of stuff to find what you want.

4. Everything needs to go in same place - all craft supplies go in one place, all office supplies go together, all Thomas the train go together, etc. There are a few exceptions to this that I will give each time we work on a room. For example, I keep all of our craft supplies together in one place - mine and the boys. But I have pulled out a handful of crayons and a few coloring books that are kept in Jake's room so that he can have quick access to them for his room time. All of the other crayons and paper and coloring books are kept together with the craft supplies so I know what I have when I plan an activity.

5. I operate with Function over Design mentality. I like cute but it doesn't usually fit into my budget so I go with simple and basic - clear shoeboxes. I have 2 good friends that I help organize their house that prefer Design. So they buy the cute boxes and baskets for certain spaces and I come in and make them function. So I will always give you functional (and cheap) ideas and you can implement them however you choose.

This week I will post about organizing your craft supplies. So if you are up for the challenge here are some things you can do in the meantime to start preparing:
1. pick a place in your house you want to store your craft supplies - closet, bookshelf, a "craft closet" It needs to be a place that you can lock if you have small children unless you want your acrylic paints on your nice sofa.
2. take a laundry basket and go through each room in your house and get any craft/art supply you find - markers, crayons, construction paper, yarn, scissors, paint - well you get the gist. Gather them together in 1 place so that you have EVERYTHING before you start. This will help you know how much of stuff you have.
3. Buy some shoeboxes and labels.
4. Don't get overwhelmed if you have a room full of stuff rather than a laundry basket. Soon it will all have a place.

Good luck!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Truth about Organized People

How this word resonates within me these days. For about 6 months now God has been refining my perspective on so many things. I could write post and post about this but today I want to write about perspectives on being organized and having systems implemented into my life.
Lately, I have received comments that go like this "I could never be as together as you are," "your house is always so clean," "how do you do it?"
Well here is my perspective on all this. First of all look at these pictures of MY house:

This is not as uncommon as you would think around here. You see the right perspective about being organized is not that you always have it together, and that life just runs perfect. Yes, there are some people who want you to think this is the case and at times in my life I have been one of those people. I still struggle with it from time to time. So from first hand knowledge I can tell you that these people who always have it together have 1 of 2 things true about them:

1. They are faking it because they, like me at time, feel that their self worth is wrapped up in how well they perform for others. I also struggle with feeling unworthy of being loved if I don't do what is required of me in my roles in life.

2. They really do have it that together and their house is spic and span always, their kids are always on their best behavior and they are never ever late for anything and oh, they have little tolerance for people who don't operate like they do. Because I struggle with wanting to have it all together and because I know I am great at organizing my life I know that if this is happening the people they love and that love them are suffering tremendously. I am sure that there are those very select few that manage this well and that is just how God made them but you better believe they have some other great struggles in their life. But perfection is not meant to be attained this side of heaven.

What I want those of you who question how I do it to know is that this is not about having a perfectly clean house all day and a perfectly implemented schedule every day. Not at all!!! What it is about is setting up systems in your life that make life run smoothly and that you can go from what you see in the photos above to picked up, orderly and welcoming in about 1 hour flat. (Not shoved in the closet to deal with later either)
I am learning more and more these days that a life lived on purpose is messy in every way every day. You have to make choices to drop what needs to be done for what really needs to be done in that moment. Discernment is necessary to learn how to do that part successfully and only God can give you that. But in those times when you choose to drop what needs to be done it helps to have things in place so that quickly you can jump back in where you were and get those things done. Almost without thinking!!!
I have a friend who because her husband is just crazy :) moved a family of 5 into an 1100 or so square foot house. Back in the day people did that all the time but today it is unheard of :) Before they actually moved their bodies into the house but after most of their stuff was in the house I went and set up systems and organized the entire house. So when I got it all done I showed both the adults where everything goes - all was labeled very well and what needed to happen to keep the house functionally with so little space. During their stay in this house - thankfully he came to his senses :) and is moving on to bigger spaces, she told me countless times that the house could be a complete disaster - which is to be expected with small kids - and they could have it cleaned up in about 15-20 minutes. She taught the kids the systems - little kids. They knew where Thomas the Train stuff went and were the crayons and coloring books went. They could be told to pick up their toys and they knew were to put them. Hubby knew what to do with his keys, wallet, phone and mail when he came in the door. These are the things that make running the home successful. The "I know what to do, where to put it when I get to it." So my hope with this post is to encourage you to give up the idea that organized people live clean and orderly lives everyday. It is a lie. I hope that realizing this will inspire you to tackle a room in your house and see how much easier it is to keep it clean. I want to continue my posts on organizing tips. I am thinking about taking it room by room. We shall see.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Always ready for some fun!!!!

So tonight John and I went in to check on the boys as we were headed to bed. We noticed Brady's light was on from under the door. When we walked in his room this is what we found. Lights on, him sound asleep with the suitcase in the bed with him. He is a hoot!!!!


Here are the only pictures I managed to take from our adventurous day with 7 kids.

Here are some pictures of some of the art work Jake did this week during art camp with Belinda. This past year his teachers told us that Jake was a great artist/drawer for his age and we needed to nurture this gift. I talked with Belinda and we put him in class with the 6-8 year olds. I was worried how he would do but she said he did great. He loved it and I think did really well. See for yourself: