Friday, March 27, 2009

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Whate'er My God Ordains is Right

This is one of my favorite hymns, and I really like the newer tune that's floating around. It's on a CD that my friend Sarah made for me; my daughter and I LOVE listening to it in the car. I have several friends who are currently undergoing some stormy times (two with cancer who are facing the end of treatment options, another whose husband just left for a time in Iraq, leaving her with their young children, etc.). This hymn is comforting in times like these, reminding us that no matter what, God is with us, sustaining us. The hymn is long, but worth reading (this version quoted below has two more verses than the version I usually sing/know).

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
His holy will abideth;
I will be still whate’er He doth;
And follow where He guideth;
He is my God; though dark my road,
He holds me that I shall not fall:
Wherefore to Him I leave it all.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
He never will deceive me;
He leads me by the proper path:
I know He will not leave me.
I take, content, what He hath sent;
His hand can turn my griefs away,
And patiently I wait His day.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
His loving thought attends me;
No poison can be in the cup
That my Physician sends me.
My God is true; each morn anew
I’ll trust His grace unending,
My life to Him commending.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
He is my Friend and Father;
He suffers naught to do me harm,
Though many storms may gather,
Now I may know both joy and woe,
Some day I shall see clearly
That He hath loved me dearly.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
Though now this cup, in drinking,
May bitter seem to my faint heart,
I take it, all unshrinking.
My God is true; each morn anew
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart,
And pain and sorrow shall depart.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
Here shall my stand be taken;
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
Yet I am not forsaken.
My Father’s care is round me there;
He holds me that I shall not fall:
And so to Him I leave it all.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Daily Planner Round-Up

Below is a breakdown of the planner systems I think are worth noting; I focused on availability, cost, user-friendly-nature, and relevance to my own life. I encourage you to consider one of these if you're forgetting details, feeling harried and stressed because you're trying to remember too many things, or just need a simple calendar system. Before you look/commit, sit down and make a
list of what you'd really need in a dayplanner. How are you going to use it? Will it need to be portable enough for you to carry it around all day? Do you have a bag that can hold it? Do you need a cover/case for it? How much time are you willing to invest in creating this perfect planner? How much money do you have to spend on it? Etc. You might even "test drive" a spiral bound notebook, keeping notes for a few days on items you wish you had access to. The following are worth considering, my favorite being first:
  • Busy Woman Planner (This is a Christian company, run by a woman who's taking care of a disabled daughter and diabetic grandson). PROS: Affordable, especially now--she's running some FABULOUS deals; fits into FranklinCovey planners/covers/binders; available in 3 sizes; daily page includes priorities, appointments (small hourly section), "to be called" section, chores, notes, prayer requests, and menu; devotional pages available that let you track your prayer requests, Scripture read, etc. (these look very helpful); month-at-a-glance pages;week-at-a-glance pages; budget pages; goal pages; menu pages WITH PERFORATED SHOPPING LIST SECTION!!!; lesson planning pages; Bible study pages; etc. etc. etc. Busy Woman also has software you can download that will let you simply print planner pages for a full-size or classic-size notebook/binder. CONS: you must date everything. The "notes" pages are lined and have columns--I prefer notes pages as blank as possible. The budget pages are pages only, no envelopes. The tabs for major divisions (planning, contacts, notes, etc.) aren't any bigger than the month and ABC tabs which makes them a bit hard to find. There aren't any zippered binders for sale through this company.
  • FranklinCovey: PROS: widely available, even in cheaper versions (like 365 at Target); many options to customize your planner; multiple sizes available; spiral or ring-bound options; budget pages include envelopes if you're saving receipts; health/fitness tracker page which is neat; daily pages have a myriad options/formats/colors/themes available (I liked the Simplicity series personally); there's a handy calculator that fits my planner; larger section tabs are easy to find. They even have blank notes pages--not even lined! CONS: They didn't have a daily page exactly like what I wanted (believe it or not). This can be an expensive planner to create from scratch. The menu/grocery list page was a little too scripted for my tastes.
  • MomAgenda: Looks like a good possibility for moms juggling several schedules at once (kids going different places and the like). It didn't look as infinitely customizable as the first two listed here, but it might be worth checking out (it didn't immediately grab me, so I moved on to other sites).
  • The Uncalendar: This is an interesting system involving blank charts, lists, and graphs that you can entirely customize. It didn't have a daily page, but the rest of it looks very interesting--particularly if you just aren't finding what you want elsewhere, but don't want to create something to print out from your own computer. There are multiple sizes and binding options.
  • LifeTime Organizer by Weber Associates: My friend Bridgette uses this system and have really enjoyed it. There are several sizes available and the pages give you several options for filling them in (kind of like Uncalendar--lots of boxes that aren't all labeled). The main reason I didn't pursue this further is because it was more expensive than I wanted for start-up costs (I already had my FC binder from Target and would have had to get another one from LifeTime). One particularly nice feature, in addition to the customization available, is the "floating to do list" which moves with you from day to day.
  • Cheap: For years, the following worked for me: a basic wall calendar and a mini spiral bound notebook (I put grocery lists, event notes, random notes, contact info, etc. in it while I was out and about...).
  • and Cheaper (Free): If you're on the computer a lot, you might consider taking full advantage of Gmail/Google calendar. It's a terrific, free, internet-based system that you can have access to anywhere you have internet access (home, work, etc.). You can create different calendars, assign them all a color, and view them all at once or individually. My friend Bridgette has a calendar for her son, her husband, and herself (and her weekly menu). She can view them all at once and tell what's what because they're all in different colors. Google Calendar can email you reminders and the like.
What's working for me now: a combination of FranklinCovey and Busy Woman: mostly Busy Woman stuff, but kept the FranklinCovey section dividers since they are bigger and more easily accessible. Next time I have to order "stuff," I'll try to get their unlined notes pages and perhaps their budget pages. I got the "Master Filler" set (Today's Busy Woman) for compact sizes and it includes the following: weekly planning pages, monthly planning pages, daily planning pages with above categories, address section, menu/grocery section, emergency info section, vehicle maintenance section, goal/planning pages, notes section, budget pages,.... there are some pages in cardstock and some in rainbow colors. A zippered pouch comes with it and each monthly planning page comes with a monthly goals page. It's a terrific bargain at only $11. Sure, I won't be using January or February, but the rest of year is still good! Since the pages aren't dated, I can use those next year and maybe there will be a sale next March. I also ordered the devotional pages. You should note that the master filler set includes 6 months' worth of daily pages, but a year's worth of monthly planning pages. I ordered two sets. I'll keep some in my desk and just keep a month's worth of everything at a time in my planner. I put the FC items I'm keeping and the BW new items in my inexpensive FranklinCovey leather binder from Target.

Next year, I may update my full size Control Journal that stays at home and put menu pages, devotional pages, and such in there--that will keep my traveling planner needs simpler. It's a work in progress, and as my own needs and those of my family change, that will no doubt necessitate a system upgrade at some point.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Daily Planner Quest

I used to sit down every morning with a cup of tea, my prayer journal, and my day planner. It was a wonderful time to get a head start on what needed to be done that day as well as spending some time in prayer. I kept it up faithfully for a year, beginning in December, 2007 (kids were 9 months, 9 months, and 2.2 years); it all "fell apart" when the time change happened this past November because the kids got up earlier. I'm taking advantage of the recent time change to put that habit back into place--it's worth it!!!

I committed to getting up 15 minutes early every morning for the month of December. That time became so treasured that I stretched it to an hour. Since beginning my habit again, I've begun the hunt for the perfect daytimer.

What would my perfect daytimer look like and why is it important for my early morning routine? A dayplanner of some sort works like a "home management notebook," prayer journal, brain-on-paper, and mini-"Control Journal" all in one. Since I wanted a compact size (slightly smaller than half-notebook size), I decided to keep my full-size control journal already in existence (has cleaning charts/information, information on home improvement projects, etc.), and go from there in creating my smaller daytimer. (I need to come up with a name...I like Home Management Notebook, but it's more than that. Any suggestions?) So, before I committed to any one system, I bought an inexpensive FranklinCovey binder at Target; it's leather, the size I wanted, and zips (another feature I wanted). I "test drove" it for a few days, making copious notes in it as to what would improve it, what I liked/didn't like, and what other planners I'd seen that worked better. Here's what I came up with for my "needs" in this brain-binder of mine:

  • Compact size since I wanted to be able to carry it with me
  • Fits in the binder I bought because I like it
  • Daily sheets that include room for menu, prayer requests, to-do lists, and so forth (something just like Simple Mom's Daily Docket and Daily Docket Nano or my friend Megan's creation, but smaller and ready made)
  • Not an hourly schedule to fill in because my life doesn't look like that
  • Menu/grocery list section
  • Notes section
  • Tasks/Projects section
  • Addresses/Contacts Section (I plan to print my address book which I just typed onto little address labels and just stick them in the contacts section)

The Daily Page format I wanted was the hardest to find. I found lots of options in the other categories that I really like. Tomorrow I'll give a breakdown of the planners I looked at as well as describe the system that's working for me now! Stay tuned for the Daily Planner Round-up....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring Cleaning Update--Getting Things Done!

I said I was spring cleaning my life this spring, and boy, have I been hard at work! A quick list of projects completed to date:

  • cleaned out one attic section completely (we have three under the eaves of our house): everything that is in there is known by me, boxed/stored appropriately, and organized.
  • cleaned out daughter's room/closet
  • cleaned out my closet
  • cleaned out boys' room and closet
  • cleaned off kitchen counters (removing unneeded items, etc.)
  • cleaned out games/entryway closet
  • cleaned out laundry area
  • cleaned off/decluttered large bookcase in office
  • cleaned out some flower beds (not just weeded; actually got rid of some other plants because it was too crowded/cluttered looking)
  • pictures/art framed that's been sitting in my closet for 6.5 years....
  • chalkboard for kitchen bought (I've wanted it since we moved in 3.5 years ago....)
  • daytimer bought and now used daily
  • kids' clothes sorted and organized
Items gotten rid of so far:
  • Toys to grandparents' house (they agreed!)
  • 125 items to children's consignment sale
  • $75 worth of trade credit at local bookstore for books/movies turned in
  • large bags to Goodwill, including 25 items of clothing (mine), 2 pairs of shoes, old purses, other truly random things
  • transplants of Lenten roses and others to friends who could use them/wanted them
  • plain old trash bags of trash taken to garbage
  • hand-me-downs mailed to friends' twins
  • hand-me-downs mailed back to friends who loaned them to me in the first place
  • hand-me-downs mailed to nephew
  • hand-me-downs sent to friend's son
  • books sent to friend in Peace Corps
To do still:
  • clean out other two attic sections (a much bigger project than the first--sigh)
  • clean out upstairs linen closet (just did this a year ago, so this should go smoothly)
  • clean out downstairs linen closet (again, just did this a year ago, so should be quick)
  • clean out/declutter office and accompanying closets
I'm on the home stretch!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Previous Easter-Related Posts

Easter isn't too far away! Below are some of our posts from last year to give you a head start on planning for this special time with your family.

Egg Hunt Surprises

Dying Easter Eggs: Some Tips and Tricks

Celebrate Easter! (this one contains a link for Resurrection Eggs, among other things)

Enjoy the beginnings of new life all around you as spring gets under way--these are all reminders of our new life in Christ!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Single-Minded Obedience: No Qualifiers

My friend Sarah and I are reading Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship together, and so far, it has been both tremendously thought-provoking and thoroughly convicting. We just finshed chapter 3, titled "Single-Minded Obedience." Bonhoeffer's point is that we often try to discuss the commands of Christ too much, to figure out what is relevant in our current situation, to analyze "What did the Lord really mean for me here and now?" and so forth.

Bonhoeffer urges his readers instead to obey single-mindedly; he claims we will not understand how to obey until we actually obey. Sarah and I realized that this is very much how you train a child. That 3-year-old doesn't understand even what to do sometimes until he or she attempts it and is corrected or steered in the right direction. But am I, as the parent, more upset at defiance, questioning, hemming and hawing or at an incorrectly done task--but one that was attempted promptly nonetheless? Of course I'd rather see an attempt to obey than have my authority challenged. 

It seems Bonhoeffer's point in reference to our following Christ is similar. It is not imperative that we understand the nitty gritty. It is important that we obey. He's reiterated countless times so far that obedience and faith go hand in hand; the more we do/have of the one, the more the other follows. And, Christ initiates the situation in which we can have faith or obey in the first place. It is all at His direction and under His providence.

Of course, Sarah and I immediately thought of situations in which we wouldn't know exactly how to obey and were we to obey single-mindedly without questioning? But then, we realized that there are an amazing number of commands and directives in Scripture that come with no qualifiers: for those, it is easy to see how to obey and when-->always! For instance, consider the following commands (and notice what a difference it would make if we always obeyed--in your home, your work place, your interactions with the world):
  • Be joyful always
  • Pray continually
  • Do everything with complaining or arguing
  • Give generously
  • Practice hospitality
  • Give thanks in all things
  • Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength
  • Pray for those who persecute you
  • Train up a child in the way he should go
  • Respect your husbands
  • Seek wisdom
The list could go on and on! So, our challenge is not to sit around mulling over the grayer aspects of what obedience to the Lord looks like. We have quite a few directives in Scripture that are not remotely bound by culture, location, time, situation.... No doubt, as we grow closer to the Lord through obedience and faith, the Spirit will enhable us to discern what that obedience looks like in different situations. Our task is to obey, not always understand. And, thank the Lord that His Holy Spirit is in believers enabling them to obey, that Christ's righteousness has been imputed to us, that we do not have to stand before the Lord based on our own merit--especially since one of the commands issued by Christ in the gospels is to be perfect....

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Daily Prayer

We had this as part of our Bible study and the challenge was to read it to ourselves every day for a week. One of those Bible verses you happen upon later on:

Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Psalm 119:33-37

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Are Your Kids' Toys Causing Strife?

Every parent has to deal with the "mine!" issue, right? All children have to learn to share, and they don't like it one bit. That's part of our sin nature--serving our own flesh rather than loving others enough to sacrifice (not to mention resistance to obeying authority when commanded to do something we don't want to do). 

As I've been spring cleaning and purging our house and lives of unnecessary and unwanted items, I came to the inevitable toy questions: which ones do I get rid of? which ones do I save for another time? which ones get to stay right where they are? (on the floor of course)

I have a new criteria to add (my existing criteria below*): I'm ousting all toys that promote strife rather than the possibility for children to play together. How do I determine that? Simple: if the toy is electronic and/or makes noise, it's automatically up for question. That's because most electronic toys (there are exceptions) are designed for the following scenario: one child playing with it at a time, no interaction with those not playing, and no logical end in sight where the toy can be passed off. I've always found the timer method a bit annoying (little Johnny can play with said toy until the timer goes off and then little Suzie gets it). In addition, toddlers and young preschoolers have a really, really hard time grasping the whole concept of time, so it seems like FOREVER that little Johnny is playing with it and no time at all that little Suzie gets it. Toys like this only promote strife, hoarding, running away screaming "Mine!", complaining about whose turn it is, and so forth.

Compare and contrast the following scenarios:
  • three children are playing with some blocks: they can either build three separate towers, forcing the requirement that they share the blocks in question, but allowing each to build separate creations; they can build a tower together, forcing them to not only share the blocks, but to dialogue perhaps or at least work together in a joint creation; they can do whatever they want with them, sharing the blocks, talking over what each person has done, etc.
  • three children are playing with one LeapFrog musical ABC toy: child A has the toy and punches buttons over and over, listening to the ABC chant, while children B and C watch and wait their turn, no one talking to each other except to complain that child A's turn is taking too long (or perhaps child A complaining that children B and C are in "her space" or "crowding her"); all three children are squabbling over who had it first and whose turn it is
Will there be fighting and so forth in the first example? Sure. But are there options that promote sharing and, at the same time, enable all three children to play together? Yes. In the second example, there is no option of all three children playing together and very little opportunity to even interact with each other. Which would you choose?

There are a couple of examples of toys designed for single-child use that can work in a group setting, promoting community, but each child will need his or her own toy. Toy phones are a good example of this. When each child has his or her own, they can at least pretend to talk to one another, or they can each play independently. 

So, in our house, from now on, we are going to strive to purchase/accept toys that engender the possibility of community rather than ones that promote solo play, and thus, strife. (They are free to have solo use toys in their own rooms for their own quiet time; otherwise, I don't want to see it. Arts and crafts are solo use activities that can be used at the same time for everyone--still plenty of opportunities to share, but each person will work on his or her paper.)

*My new top ten toy criteria (I made up this list for this post; I've had some of these in mind for a while and others are new--I'm open to others' suggestions!!): 
  1. Sturdy construction
  2. Multiple uses possible (LeapFrog ABC toy fails this, too, while blocks do not-->they can be towers, houses, trucks, cell phones, you name it)
  3. Adaptable to a range of ages (again, once you know your ABC's, how much fun is the LeapFrog toy going to be? In contrast, you can chew on a block, move up to stacking 2-3, then create towers, then create "birthday cakes" complete with "candles" that your brothers can "blow out"...)
  4. Promotes independent play/design (like arts and crafts or toy train sets)
  5. Promotes creative play/design (arts and crafts, dolls, etc.)
  6. Is not based on a licensed character.... :)
  7. Not electronic (preferably)
  8. Easily taken care of (stuffed animals that can be thrown in the wash v. those that can't)
  9. I couldn't decide here: reader suggestions welcome!
  10. Promotes unity and community rather than strife

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An Inspiring Debt-Free Story

My friends Philip and Bridgette recently got to call into the Dave Ramsey radio show and yell, "We're Debt Free!" I thought you might like to read about it firsthand (and listen to the clip). If you need some inspiration to start budgeting, you'll find it here!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Some Practical Money Tips and Tricks

One of my goals during my "spring cleaning" is to finetune the budget chunks I'm in charge of, so I thought I'd share some of our family's tips and tricks for living within our means.

In my "series" on budgeting these past few weeks (check out the "Polishing Your Finances" category in the list on the right), I've talked about a couple of wonderful books (our featured resource--Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover and Randy Alcorn's Money, Possessions, and Eternity), mentioned grocery savings possibilities, and talked about lowering your heat bill (and other utilities costs) using what you already have. Here are some more practical tips and tricks. Stay tuned for an inspiring story tomorrow.

  • Use your internet resources to help you budget: Did you know you can check all the prices at places like Sam's Club online? What a great tool to help figure out a potentially large expenditure before even entering the store! You can also do some serious price-checking/comparing between stores using their online sites. My dad just did this for a camera purchase over the holidays. It's especially helpful for larger electronics products because you can compare features, prices, service plans, and the like.

  • Practice delayed gratification (otherwise known as old-fashioned self control).

  • Use set-price-per-month programs. Our utilities are averaged out over the course of the year; we pay one price per month. This is extremely helpful since our bills would be considerably higher in January/February and July/August otherwise (due to heat and air). We also use services like Netflix, paying one price for our entertainment.*

  • Use your tax dollars: make use of free/reduced-cost local services that your tax dollars help fund! This includes city parks, libraries, and the like.

  • Associate with other like-minded people: find friends who enjoy doing low cost activities together or who understand when you need to say, "We need to wait until next month before spending more money."

  • Evaluate your time/money cost-benefit ratio: a purchase like Quicken or Turbo Tax might be worth the initial investment if it will really help you in the long run.

  • Try to make do with what you have for a while before automatically buying new software (even something like Quicken or Turbo Tax!). Determine whether you really need the new system or whether you simply want the added inspiration to procrastinate a bit further.

  • Don't pay the tardiness tax!!!! When you get a rebate form, fill it out and send it in THAT DAY. Pay your bills on time. Don't delay making a return until after the store's specified allowed time. Register for events you know you will attend when the early-bird specials are still in effect. So often, when we put off something we know we will do/need to do/want to do, then we end up paying more in the long run!

  • Save on shipping costs from online merchants by thinking ahead. Sure, you might only need another $3 purchase to meet Amazon's $25 free shipping limit, but will you only spend that $3 more? Of course not; in your browsing, you'll see a book you've been wanting to read and it's "only" $9 instead of the MSRP of $14. What a bargain, right? Wrong. Make use of places like Amazon's offer to keep your wish list on hand. Then, next time you only need a small purchase to meet a free shipping requirement, you'll already have a list of needed items or possible birthday presents for someone.  
  • Buy season passes if you will use them. Season passes will just cost you more money if you are only going to be in that place once. If you don't know that you will use the pass, don't buy it! On the other hand, if there's a place you know you would like to go frequently, it may help to buy the pass. A zoo is a good example: there are often seasonal attractions and the kids never seem to get tired of it. So, there's a good chance you'll use your zoo pass if you're near a decent one and have young children. That big theme park 45 minutes away? Maybe not.
*We highly, highly recommend Netflix; because of Netflix in large part, we've been able to avoid getting a new digital TV or Cable/Dish. We had a high speed internet connection because of my husband's work, bought a TV tuner for the computer, and invested in a nice monitor (much cheaper than a new TV). Now, we can "stream" movies, documentaries, and TV shows from Netflix, watch our DVD's that come in the mail from them, and even watch live TV with our Beyond TV program--it works like Tevo, so we can watch our favorite shows whenever. This way, we only watch what we want/prefer, and our out-of-pocket cost per month is $15. We NEVER run out of things to watch.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

(Wo)man's Chief End

My husband has always wanted a hat or shirt that reads, "Ask me about my chief end?" (All good Presbyterians should have a hearty chuckle here!). He is, of course, referring to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (a wonderful resource for all!).

A few months ago, when I first read Kathy Peel's Busy Mom's Guide, the first chapter really struck home. It is all about priorities. I believe the Holy Spirit used Peel's exhortation to live by our priorities to inspire me to review all of my activities and possessions in light of my priorities. What doesn't fit? 

Because I'm a good student, I set out immediately to make lists! Lists of priorities for different categories of my life. The more I thought about it, the shorter those lists got, until I ended up with just one priority: To glorify God and enjoy him forever (answer to the WSC first question). Why did it take me several lists and a couple of months to figure out something I already "knew"? 

Everything else in my life is secondary to this priority, isn't it? What glorifies God? Obedience to him with a joyful heart. What does he command me, as a woman, a wife, a mom, to do? Only the same things he commands all Christians to do (granted, there are a few specific directives like respect my husband, train my children, etc.): love others, serve joyfully, pray continually, give generously, practice hospitality, don't covet, be thankful in all circumstances, walk in the Spirit, study his Word, be faithful in the little things, have faith, care for the fatherless and the widow, perfect! Thankfully, it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to obey. But that really helps simplify my priority list, doesn't it?

Ever since that short list a month or so ago, I've been simplifying and streamlining in earnest: what is cluttering my life (possessions, activities, etc.) that is keeping me from obeying God where he has put me? In other words, why am I having a hard time spending time in the Word (perhaps I could clear off my desk where I used to sit and still have my Bible study aids...)? Why am I griping and yelling at my children (perhaps it's the clutter underfoot and on the counter that is peripherally stressing me out and perhaps I need to train them to start helping out around the house)? Why am I too tired at the end of the day to be a good companion for my husband (perhaps cutting out some activities during the day will enable me to rest a bit instead...)? You get the picture. Hence, the spring cleaning of Betsy's life! Just thought I'd share some of the more spiritual motivation behind the scenes.

To date:
  • Cleaned out boys' closet so it's now safe for them to enter
  • In boys' cloest, hung bar low enough so soon they'll be able to hang things up
  • Cleaned out entry way closet!
  • Have shoe storage shelf in entryway closet along with places for everyone's coats
  • Bought boys little backpacks (daughter already had one) so they can start carrying some of their own gear as we walk without the stroller
  • Cleaned out broom closet in kitchen so it now contains... brooms, vacuum, etc. (not the myriad other things it had that were too much temptation for little boys and caused much frustration for Mommy for dinnertime)
  • Bought underbed storage containers as half-way homes for clothes outgrown mid-season; now I'll only have to get into the attic at the end of the seaon instead of constantly throughout
  • Bought a dayplanner that will include my address book--this is a work in progress, though, so I may switch
  • New menu planning--already helping
  • We budgeted rather specifically at the beginning of January and that has helped relieve so much stress--really, a budget can relieve money stress!
  • The kids and I have been going outside nearly every day (bought rain boots as part of this adventure--nothing can stop us now!); this has helped our health, our attitude, our energy level, ....
  • Set up internet bank to automatically send tithe check to church (along with missionary giving)
  • Set up internet bank to automatically pay bills....
  • My friend Lisa came over to help me declutter my kitchen
  • And this is only the beginning!