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Every year, inevitably, both parent and child arrive at a place where paper becomes their arch nemesis. That is, if they do not have a good system in place.

Sometimes, people think because I am a home educator and an organizer that things ALWAYS go off smoothly and I NEVER have to make adjustments, maintain or catch up. None of these can be the farthest from the truth. Organization is work, it is work to maintain it and life does not always ‘play nicely’.

And, being an organizer does not make me immune! But I am armed with a tenacity to find a solution, so I tend to tackle problems with an attitude that a solution will, indeed, be found.

To this end, I have a younger son, who, a few years ago, we found was fighting an epic battle with school related paperwork. Prior to the new school year beginning, we had set up a binder system  where he could place his assignment planner, his work in progress and notes, etc.

He had all the tools that he would need to complete his assignments…So, we thought.

As I am his instructor, I began to notice that on a frequent basis, his assignments were not all being completed.

Almost simultaneously, it occurred to me that each time he came to our schoolroom to attend class, his binder was almost empty, while his pile of paperwork was toted down the stairs poking out of books, stacked precariously atop of his pile of books or simply MIA.

I decided to take a few days to observe. Day after day, the same scenario occurred. Finally, on the third day, I asked him a question that changed his educational career and saved my sanity!!

Now brace yourselves, this question is momentous!!!! Are you ready for it?

I asked, “Son, why do you not use the binder system we put into place?”

With a frustrated sigh, he replied “Because it makes me really, really mad!”

I was shocked. How could a binder system make anyone ‘really, really mad’?

I asked him to tell me why this particular system provoked him to such disgust.

He began to tell me how much it frustrated him to have the paper holes tear and for the pages to be hanging askew, lacking tidiness. Now, folks, I’ll admit this astounded me, because he toted this papers down in ways that would make me crazy. Nonetheless, he had shared what he thought about it and I took it to heart and began to think about solutions.

So, I asked him about using the ring reinforcers. He did not like that idea either, because it “made everything look, I don’t know, off…”

Ahhhhhh. I got it. I really did.

Because the system produced less than stellar aesthetics and functionality, in his mind, it provoked him to anger, which made him not want to use it. He didn’t want to turn in torn work or work that looked less than what he thought it should look like.

I can TOTALLY relate to this. When I use something, I want it

1) to work and 2) I want it to be as aesthetically pleasing as is possible. If it isn’t, I don’t want to use it and, apparently, neither did he!

Now, don’t get the wrong idea. This child is a BOYYYYYY. He doesn’t do frills. He is interested in things that are functional and do not create a disaster. Something that works. For him, the binder system just did not work.

So, what were we to do? Well, I decided to go try an accordion file.

I zipped down to Target and purchased an eight pocket file, zipped back home and he began to label the tabs with the names of his courses. Place a legal pad in one file, along with his zipper pen holder, and then, place his planner which he uses to keep track of assignments and events in the front.

I cannot tell you what this small change made in our lives. He began to not only be able to track his homework assignments, he came to class prepared, less stressed, turning assignments in on time and receiving good grades. It was amazing. Now, the young man will not be found without it, when he is pursuing something academically!

This just reiterated to me how much having a tool that does not work affects us. And this is true in any organizational feat. The tool may work fine for others, but it may not be a good fit for us.

My daughters, for example, work just fine with a binder system. In fact, they prefer it. He simply cannot abide it, so it does not work. And it showed in everything  he was trying to do. It kept him from being successful.

Now, my younger two children are teens and my older two are adults, so I have been writing more about teens. But you may be a younger mother, or, at least, a mother with younger children and you may begin to ask, what about filing for the little ones in our lives?

The lil’ people are so fun to find storage solutions for, because there is so much more color and texture (Generally, speaking…) than for the teens. Or maybe, I just feel that way, because pretty paper, glue, markers, etc. get to be pulled out and I get to have more FUN!

At any rate, stay tuned and we will look at storage for the needs of our little ones tomorrow.

Oh, by the way, if you have a ‘frilly, creative’ girl, whose desire is to use an accordion system, as well and wants to add some sass, you can follow the idea from this Pinterest page, using whatever material she would like to. Make it modern, antiqued or whatever your style is…the point is to make something functional beautiful or cool. Just have fun with it!

This idea could also be used for Mom’s organization of paperwork that has to be kept, but available on the go! So, don’t forget the possibilities for yourselves ladies! After all, we are the managers of our home!!

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When we examine the question, “Disorganized or Just Plain Messy?” it may seem to be quite obvious…aren’t they one and the same?

Well, not really. Organization is about being about to find what you need, when you need it and quite frankly, there are a few folks who have been clients that have literally astounded me with their ability to find the darndest things in the middle of what I call complete chaos! They are messy people, but they are not “disorganized” in the sense of being able to live life without the mess interfering. In this case, these folks simply needed help in setting up systems that work in reigning in the mess, a task they did not have time to do themselves. When I checked in with them after the job was complete, they were using the systems and functioning quite alright. If they had truly been disorganized, this would not have been the case.

Let’s review why…

Messiness occurs, and accumulates quite rapidly, I might add, when we either do not have time to tend to certain tasks, or we do not have the proper systems in place to reign in the mess properly. A person may know where to find their items, but their “storage system” is unsightly.

For example, I spoke with a professional our family frequently uses for a service he provides and he was commenting on his paperwork and how it builds up and makes him stressed. On the outward, it appeared to be disorderly, indeed. However, as my husband and I spoke to him about the situation, he demonstrated being able to find anything he needed. The problem was, as we found later in the conversation, the computer system he uses to invoice and the consequent storage of printed invoices, receipts, etc. were lacking. This caused a “back-up” in his system, which was causing him stress. We made some suggestions and look forward to seeing his back-log cleared up. Problem solved.

True disorganization will have some tell-tale signs, which just seem to scream “I am disorganized!!” Here are just a few:

  • Unable to find what is needed the majority of the time
  • Constantly have to “run here or there” to pick up something they were just at the location to do.
  • Forgetting appointments
  • Forgetting assignments
  • Late payments on bills due to not knowing the due date and payment amount (or where the bill is!)
  • Frequent “melt-downs” when the person is under a deadline.
  • Procrastination
  • Lack of follow through in the details

While this is not an exhaustive list, it is a springboard for evaluating whether a person is messy or really dealing with the effects of disorganization.

One last note, I would like to comment that I have found that messiness is a thief, as much as true disorganization, so I am not advocating remaining a messy individual. But the solutions, while similar, are different in the sense that the truly disorganized will require new systems, new thought and behavior patterns and a LOT of practice; whereas, the one who is messy simply needs a system that works and, generally speaking, can have the mess taken care of fairly quickly with the right tools.

Diagnosing properly is important, particularly within a family, where provocation can happen very easily. Knowing what we are really dealing will give us a “leg up” on solving the problem.

Tune in tomorrow for some practical paperwork solutions for your kiddos schoolwork, as some of them will be needing help right about now!

My Favorite Thing…


Rambling through this ole mind of mine trying to identify my most favorite thing has been quite interesting. Well, you may wonder why I would embark upon such an adventure, and, no, it wasn’t because I have been listening to the sound of music! God forbid!!! No, I am warbling about mentally because of a wee lil challenge that was put forth to word press bloggers…blog about your favorite thing.

For me, this challenge summoned memories of cold, winter mornings at Van Buren Elementary school in Van Buren, Ohio. Steve Scothorn’s Dad, Mr. Scothorn (of course) attempting to corral all of us energetic, wiry, and, frequently, out of tune youngsters into the choir room so that he could teach us to sing. I look back and marvel at his patience! “My Favorite Things” was a song he introduced me to and has remained a favorite ever since, especially during the holiday season.

On a side note, I was never one to place too much value in musicals, especially the filmed kind, so I had never viewed “The Sound of Music”. In fact, I avoided it like the plague when I was a child!

So, can you imagine my utter surprise as I sat with my daughters watching “The Sound of Music”and discovered that a singing nun was the source of my song?!

Just for the record, I still love it just the same, despite its shady past! ;D

For me, it conjures wonderful memories of all things Christmas. I just could never relate well to musicals despite my love for music itself…still trying to figure that one out. 🙂

All of that to say, music did come waltzing down the central corridors of my memory, as a favorite, but it doesn’t quite qualify as a possession and that is what this week’s challenge is about…my favorite possession.

My silver teaspoons that make breakfast delightful? No. Though, they are quite wonderful.

Going through the list of items I own, though I really enjoy them, there are very, very few things that I find incredibly important to the point that I would call them a favorite.

The one item that continues to come forward in my heart and mind is my parent’s Bible.

My father gave it to my mother as a Christmas gift in 1977, two years before the demise of their marriage and our little family unit.

One may question the value of an item that holds that memory with it, but because my father gave it to my mother, it tells me that it meant something to him at the time.

It holds more importance to me than just that, however. This Bible has a prominent place in my office. It is a reminder that I do what I do in my home, I study what I study and I do the job I was called to do in order to encourage more little family units to stay together and to learn to grow more in love with Christ and through that more in love with one another.

For me, it is not just another book. It is the Word of my Lord. The One who completely changed me, who has in the years since 1977 has changed my parents and despite the break-up is still reconciling and making new all that was broken.

For me, He is the key; He said that He is the Word represented in that Bible on the stand in my office and I believe Him. He has shown Himself faithful in the lives of my family, though we often have chosen not to be.

I took it down this morning to flip through the contents. There a few faded, yellow letters from my father to my mother tucked inside. My Dad’s handwriting communicates family history as he knew it. Those are the things that I, also find to be precious. They are the icing on the cake, so to speak.

So, my favorite thing? My Bible, which represents my Lord, which represents His power to keep my family together and many, many others. That…my friends… is my favorite thing.


follow the megaphone guy!

I was speaking with a woman recently about the relationship she and her child have in regards to education. It occurred to me that this mother was trying to achieve meeting her own needs through her child. When they were not met the way she desired, she became angry; her daughter is struggling with being respectful, there is something that she is wanting, too. The breakdown in their communication has caused problems, because each can only see what they, personally, want and are not receiving.

The book of James says that the things that cause fights and wars among us is the fact that we desire something that we are not getting; that we covet and kill but do not get what we want because we will not ask of the Father and when we do we ask, often we ask amiss to use it on our own pleasure rather for the glory of the Father.

So, how does this apply to communication in the new school year? Throughout the next months that make up our school year, there will be things that we and our children will want from one another. And, there are specific ways in which we have learned to communicate; ways that are both good and bad. This is important to accept and understand, because communication is a tool. It can be used as an implement to build and restore or it can be wielded as a weapon to tear down and destroy.

We, as parents, can set the example of loving communication that deals with problems as they arise in gentle truth, allowing our children to flourish and grow as they begin to see that we are committed to loving them the way Christ loves us.

We can teach the way He did…consistently, lovingly and truthfully, with God’s glory in mind…not our own.

When we communicate to our children that we are “here” and willing to commit to responding to them in the love of Christ, we build trust.

As I mentioned before, however, communication can also be a tool of destruction…it can be detrimental to the lives of our children.

When our children’s mistakes arise ( and they will, just as our own do) it is imperative to remember, that like ourselves, they need to be corrected, but gently, kindly and with loving patience. Is that not what the Father does for us?

He does not scream, throw things, give us labels such as “stupid”, “dumb”, or “incompetent”, storm off or ignore us. Rather, He tells us the truth in love. He calmly addresses the heart, and then the actions that came out of the position of the heart. Then, guess what? He gives us room to grow…to practice! He is not intimidated by not getting exactly what He wants from us as His children. After all, if He waited to meet us and help us until we responded perfectly to Him each time, He would be waiting an awful long time, even among those of us who call upon Him as Savior! We do not respond to Him perfectly and yet, He is always faithful in every way. Our children will not do things perfectly, but that should not keep us from committing to loving them, teaching them, being faithful parents and setting an example that they can follow and respect, as we ourselves, submit our desires to the Lord.

As we look to begin a new year in school, what would you like to see as growth in yourself and your child by the end of the school year? Lay these before Him and let Him equip you to equip your child.

Set the example of praying for both your needs. You will not be sorry.

When looking at your goals for the year, begin to also examine what is working in your relationship with your child in regards to communication.

If it working, praise the Lord for it!!! We are so good at looking at the bad in a relationship and completely missing all that is good about it!

Let’s start off the year right…Looking to the Lord, looking at the good, noble things about our relationship, give thanks and rejoice over those things and then, set off to do what the Lord shows us. Communicating with one another in love, so that our parent/child relationship will show to the world that there is a God who cares that we stay together and that we stay together because of love, not just because we are a parent and child.


English: Fiddlehead ferns

When I was a kid, I was absolutely fascinated with plant life. So much so, I remember receiving a small terrarium as a gift from my Mother.

To say I was excited was a bit of an understatement! For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, a terrarium is a small enclosed container in which plant life and even small animals can be kept for growth and observation.

[I think I just officially revealed just how nerdy I really am! 😛 ]

At any rate, I loved that thing. I got started by planting the tiny seeds in the soil provided. I added the recommended amount of water, put it in a window with partial sunlight and waited.

And waited…

and waited.

It seemed like an eternity before my tiny little plants began to unfurl from within their humid enclosure, but there they were… growing! I was so excited! From here, I set out to help them grow. “The trick?”, you might ask…

Consistent watering. That’s it. They didn’t need anything more than I had given them in the beginning. Good soil, water and sun. The Lord did the rest.

The funny thing about looking back upon these little plants is they were not stressed out, running all about trying to make themselves bigger, prettier, more fruitful. I WAS waiting after all!

No, they did want they were supposed to do. They grew at a steady rate…much slower, I might add than my little impatient nerdy self would have liked, but they made it! They became a beautiful, self-contained miniature garden. They did what they were created to do, even in the midst of being impatiently observed.

My point? REST. Yep, you heard me. REST.

In the book of Isaiah, chapter 30, God told the people of Israel that “in returning and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be your strength, but you would have none of it.” So, off to captivity they went to learn what it meant to rely on the Lord and rest in Him and His work in them.

For all you students running around trying with allllll your youthful might to make yourself the best you, you can be. Trying to bring in the grades. Trying to have the ‘right’ social life. Get into the ‘right’ college or grad. school.  Rest. The Lord knows who the ‘best’ you is and exactly how to accomplish it. Trust Him.

For all you parents running around not only trying with all your older might not only to be the best you, you can be, but you are trying to force your children to be the best of your ideal version of them. Rest. God declared that He had a good plan for both of you before either of you were even conceived! Rest.

Besides, for all of our rushing, fussing and stress, we cannot change one hair on our young, or more mature (for us older folks) heads.

The Lord knows what we need. He understands all too well that our lives, much like those of my precious little garden plants of childhood, are lived in a proverbially terrarium. People are watching…and people have opinions…and they talk!

Just like I was of the opinion that my plants were not growing fast enough, there will be those who just don’t think we are getting the job done. But the thing is, if we are waiting upon the Lord, we are trusting Him and we are allowing Him to transform us into His image, it will happen. Just not in their time. But it will happen. Rest.

Sometimes, we are the ones who analyze ourselves to death. I am a professional over-analyzer, when it comes to my life. You know what the message to me is? Rest. Let the Lord direct and grow me. He has planted me in the fertile soil of Himself, He waters me with His Word and He provides the warmth of trials to grow me. He knows what He is doing. Rest. In trusting Him, I have my confidence and my strength. It is when I am running around trying to make it happen that all of that goes away. I crumble. My relationships crumble. I need to learn to rest, too.

I know, I know…”But, But, But…”

Just rest. Ask Him what He wants you to shoot for today. Do it, relying on His strength and His provision. He will see what He began in us to completion. He promised.

Just rest…


Teens sharing earphones, listening music outdo...

It may seem a little odd to post about parent/child relationships in regards to the school environment, but I believe that all we are shooting to accomplish stems from a healthy, godly outlook in life or an unhealthy, anemic outlook based upon ourselves and what we have accepted from the culture.

I have a particular heart for teenagers and their parents and a strong desire to encourage great relationships with both. Hence, today’s post. Now, while you read, please keep in mind the ideas here can apply to any relationship, so it needn’t end with teenagers.

Most people are about a week into school now, at least in our area of the country and families are still trying to find their “school legs”. There are papers to fill out, teachers with whom to establish relationships, supply buying frenzies from lists that have gone out later than they should have (or been provided to you later than they should have been), lunches to pack, sports equipment and schedules to maintain, and for our family debate briefs to begin. Needless to say, this is a hectic time for anyone with children, anyone who teaches or anyone who assisting one of the previously listed. Additional relationship strains can be the proverbial ‘needle’ that breaks the camel’s back for the day. So, how can we avoid bringing old baggage into a new year?

1. Look at our posture toward our children.

If you just got up and looked in the mirror to see how straight your back is, come and sit with me a while longer and I will explain.

Our posture toward our children speaks volumes. Ask yourself the following questions…

— Am I keeping records of past behavior and holding it over them as if they can never change?

— Do you have the attitude that your children need to ‘get their act together’, but you have never really

committed to training them well?

–Do you feel that as a teen, your child should know innately the solutions to anything they face, because they

have seen you do it ‘a thousand times’?

Finally,

–How much responsibility do you take upon yourself as the parent to bring up your child in the way he or she

should go?

 

If you have ‘yes’ answers to the first three questions, I would urge a re-evaluation of your attitude toward your child. You have great gifts to offer your child in the form of coming alongside them and allowing them to learn from your example and to practice what they have seen and began to learn.

Also, keep in mind, that for your own part, you want to be shown grace, love, patience, kindness, etc. You do not want those from whom you are learning to be inconsiderate, impatient, enigmatic and self-exalting. You want to be given an environment where you can learn and share what you have learned without be condemned for your mistakes at every turn. That is not to say that we should ignore continually mistakes in the same area. I am simply suggesting room to make mistakes and allowing them to learn.

Teenagers are not fully functioning adults. If they were then, why are we as parents commanded to train, encourage, edify, love, extend grace, mercy, gentleness, humility, etc. to them, if they lived perfectly?

And while we are looking at teens not being fully functioning in all areas of life, who among us, who are by age considered an adult, can be  named perfect for the task?

Folks, I have yet to meet one human being who fits the bill. Only Jesus has met the standard of perfection and that standard was certainly not set upon humanity’s capabilities!

SO, a gift to give your children, your spouse and yourself this beginning of the school year?

GRACE, MERCY and LOVE.

These fruits are financially free, they fit into any backpack, desk drawer, sweater pocket or set of arms and they do not rot under any type of pressure!

Don’t be afraid to extend what you, yourself, need so badly to your children, even if it is not freely returned. Is that not what Christ has done for us, as our Father?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

Happy School Days! Enjoy those precious gifts from the Lord!

 

 


Today, I am off in a million different directions, but my heart is still in the garden! My mind is flooded with visuals, ideas and longings to build, paint and plant.

To this end, I popped across this lovely little site called “Design Seeds”. I believe that Jessica must be the Einstein of color matching. The way her mind works is nothing less than artistically miraculous. I have not experienced her approach before; the way she designs her color swatches is amazing, not to mention inspiring.

As I was browsing her swatches I was imagining different scenarios in my garden scenery, but, quite literally, her swatches could be applied to anything

Organizationally speaking, she does the color swatching for you, and it would be a snap to add to your own home design idea notebook, garden  notebook, art project list, etc. Truly the possibilities are endless.

Here is a sample of her work…but check out her website…I am convinced your mind will fly as mine has. 

Happy Organizing and dreaming…

 


This morning my older daughter and I were discussing our weekly dates to the farmer’s market. We are planning to find one unique ingredient and create around it during our cooking date. Which will be great fun for us both, as she is a culinary arts major and I just love to cook!

Now, my daughter is soon to be nineteen, but I was thinking about ways that younger Moms (or Dads…;) ) could begin to instill a love of cooking and culinary adventure in their wee little peeps by making everyday recipes fun and creative. As the children begin to learn the basics of cooking, they will, then be able to put their expertise together in later years, while also developing a larger and more versatile palate. AND…they are more likely to eat what “they” cooked, because they cooked it! I thought this is definitely a win/win!

So, here is the idea for this morning…I thought this was so CUTE and brilliant, I might add.  Why did I not think of this? I have decorated countless cakes and cupcakes over the years and this idea still eluded me…but I am glad someone thought of it and is sharing it with the world. 🙂

Happy cooking and enjoying precious treasures…your children!

<div style=’padding-bottom: 2px; line-height: 0px’><a href=’http://pinterest.com/pin/162129655305485778/&#8217; target=’_blank’><img src=’http://media-cache3.pinterest.com/upload/162129655305485778_bQhWbSXY_c.jpg&#8217; border=’0′ width=’500′ height =’371’/></a></div><div style=’float: left; padding-top: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px;’><p style=’font-size: 10px; color: #76838b;’>Source: <a style=’text-decoration: underline; font-size: 10px; color: #76838b;’ href=’http://firstlookthencook.com/2011/11/02/meatloaf-cupcakes/’>firstlookthencook.com</a&gt; via <a style=’text-decoration: underline; font-size: 10px; color: #76838b;’ href=’http://pinterest.com/dbonnabel/&#8217; target=’_blank’>David</a> on <a style=’text-decoration: underline; color: #76838b;’ href=’http://pinterest.com&#8217; target=’_blank’>Pinterest</a></p></div>

 


Here are some pics I took on my wee morning outing…

 

This is the sign on my garden gate. I thought it appropriate as we welcome Spring to the west coast. :)

This is the sign on my garden gate. I thought it appropriate, especially since Spring is beginning to share its wonders.

This is the camellia blooming in my front yard…A little gift after these short days of winter.

Isn’t the Lord wonderful for giving us such beautiful gifts?

Never give up…


“Never give up…” This is a phrase that has consistently percolated, like one of those vintage coffee makers, in my heart and mind, throughout most of my life. I cannot say that I know from whom I picked it up, but I can say that there is something in this phrase that defines me.

This last year has been one that has been full of trials, but one which has, also, been full of victories. I am thankful for both. Trials are what the Lord seems to use frequently to expose and refine my character; though, I will tell you that it is not always fun for Him to do so. It does, however, scream of His love for me as a daughter of the Most High. He says those He chastens are children. Parents who love their children will train them. And, boy, does He! 🙂

All of that to say, when I began to write the posts about organizing the school environment in August, I had little idea of what an increase of pace my life would take. Each month, while I have delighted in my children and husband, their endeavors and all that has encompassed our little world, I have lamented not making it back to this little piece of cyberspace. I had such high hopes of making a daily habit of it. I still do!

To this end, it seems the Lord has seen fit to use those bloggers who are featured in “Artful Blogging” to encourage this fledgling! THANK YOU. TRULY. FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART. This has been a wee little dream of mine, one that I keep coming back to again and again, but I believe it is also an area of my life that I am going to have to learn to “allow” myself to part take in. I used to think that it was “just a whim”. Now, I am beginning to think that it is much more than that. Why else would it consume my thoughts so often? What makes it important to myself and to those who read them? I believe the answer to that question lies in the singular word, “ENCOURAGEMENT”. We all need encouragement and for so many women, including myself, who are running at breakneck speeds, it is nice just to hear someone’s true voice and to see what their hearts have been moved to create, in whatever realm they are creative in. To see that someone is out there doing what they are dreaming about.

I was talking to my husband over this last weekend about the dreams lying around in my heart, and how he would define my character. One of the words he used was “tenacious”. I don’t think he could understand the power of this little reminder of who I am. I needed to hear it and to feel it reverberate through many areas of my life. I don’t give up. It is not an  option, if the calling is from the Lord. For His calling is without repentance.

So, my cyber friends, whoever you may be both now and in the future, I write this to you and to myself, “Never give up…” on what it is the Lord has called you to. It is so important. One last word (words?) I read a quote recently by Anne Lorys that I think sums all of this up quite nicely, she said, “We never know the countless lives we touch when we hit publish on our blogs. We never know the souls we reach or the lives we potentially save through a kind word or an inspiring image.” Our lives are a living commentary of who we are, what we believe and where our hearts lie. And what of our blogs? They are simply an extension of those living, breathing commentaries. Will we DARE to inspire and reach out and touch the lives of those around us today, whether it is through blogging or simply going about our daily tasks?

I DARE us to…never give up.