Pinterest Organization Tips and Tricks

I resisted Pinterest for quite awhile because I thought it would become a time-waster for me, just like Facebook had.

Once I realized that I could use it to help me keep my thoughts organized though, I decided to give it a try and I don’t think I’ll ever go back!

Here are some ways I use my Pinterest account to keep myself organized:

Make your Pinterest boards work for you with these fabulous organizational tips and tricks!

1) Writing/blogging

Fabulous writing and blogging articles used to get hidden in my inbox, buried in a sea of text messages, or lost in my computer’s history.

Not anymore! Now when I read something that  I think I may want to refer back to later, I just pin it to my Writing/Blogging board!

And since I’m working on improving my blog/Pinterest photos, when I come across beautiful Pinterest pictures, I pin them here so I can refer back to them for inspiration.

2) School and books

When Nathan sends me links to cool science videos and websites (like this really awesome octopus-disguise video), I pin those links to my School Resources and Ideas board so I won’t forget to share the information with my kids!

We also have a School: Autumn and a board for spring and summer learning so those fun ideas can be at my fingertips as soon as the weather changes each year!

Plus, I recently decided to create a board of things to learn before we visit somewhere! For example, this simple Beach Learning board was incredibly helpful in keeping my ideas in one place before our recent trip to the Outer Banks, NC.

Bonus Tip: I keep a separate board with lists of books to read (this is perfect for pulling up at the library!).

3) Recipes

I love using Pinterest for recipes!

Strawberry Recipes

I pick apples with my uncle each year so I have a small board dedicated to just apple recipes. (I also have a section for apple recipes in my recipe book at home.) Because my family loves to camp, I have a little board for camp cooking.

I also have a board for Kitchen Tips and Tricks, which is a great place for me to put things like kitchen organization articles, cooking substitutions, and menu planning ideas.

And, because when I’m cooking, I generally want to either make something I’ve already tried and liked or try a new recipe, that’s how I organize my main food boards!

Pinterest Tips:

Unfollow Liberally

It can be easy to get pulled into Pinterest and to feel like our own teaching/homemaking/whatever-else efforts aren’t good enough, so I want to give you a little tip:

If certain boards make you feel bad, just unfollow them!

One time, I unfollowed every single home decorating board (including my friends’ boards!) because seeing those ideas made me feel inadequate about how much I personally lack in the home-decorating area. Now that I’ve read, “The Nesting Place” by Myquillyn Smith, I’m inspired to try a few things so I started a living room decorating board of my own. I still don’t follow many decorating boards though because I find them overwhelming!

NestingPlace

In other words, if you’re not in a season where you’re cooking from scratch or doing a bunch of messy projects with your kids, feel free to unfollow those boards so you only see what’s relevant to you. After-all, it’s your Pinterest account! If you’re hesitant to unfollow, remember that you can always add those boards back later if you want to.

Make it Yours

As much as I love my Pinterest account, it can become a time-waster if I’m not careful, so I know that I must stay careful! Choose to make your own Pinterest account a time-saver by organizing your boards in a way that works for you.

And don’t be afraid to change things up! If something stops working for you, then change it, delete it, or add something new so Pinterest can be a great time-saving tool!

What’s your #1 Pinterest tip for fellow users?

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4 Easy Steps to an Organized Medicine Cabinet

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Our medicine cabinet used to be a mess – it was overcrowded, difficult to find things, and half the medicine was expired. To solve the problem, I created a system that is so easy to maintain I knew I had to share it with you!

1) Circle expiration dates with a sharpie.

Take the time to check expiration dates on all of your vitamins and medicine. Properly dispose of old medicine and use a sharpie to circle the expiration dates on all medicine and vitamins that you’re keeping. The black circle makes is so easy to see if your child’s Tylenol has become expired the next time he or she gets a sudden fever.

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2) Organize medicine by person or by type of medication.

Here are the categories that we have:

  • Men’s Health
  • Women’s Health
  • Allergy & Pain Relief
  • Throat & Stomach
  • Children’s Medicine

Since we don’t take any daily medication, we include vitamins in with our regular over-the-counter medicine. Your categories may need to be different than mine, but having your medicine categorized will help you to find the needed medicines quickly.

3) Use sandwich bags if needed.

If any medicine tends to fall out of its package or to leak, put it inside a zip-top sandwich bag! I do this with our sore throat drops and it keeps them from falling out all over the cabinet.

4) Label the organized categories.

Since ease-of-use is a must for having a good organizational system that lasts, take a few minutes to label each category with food labels or with masking tape and a sharpie. This way anyone in your family can find the medicine they need to find and can put it back easily as well.

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And that’s it – if you follow these four steps, you’ll have an organized medicine cabinet that will serve your family well over the upcoming fall and winter months!

Do you have any questions or tips about medicine cabinet organization?

PS You may also like my recent article about how to organize your spice shelf and baking supplies.

{Linking up at All Kinds of Things.}

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4 Easy Steps to a Decluttered Kindle!

When my husband and I first realized that we could install Kindle apps on our phones for FREE, I was so excited about it that I downloaded nearly every free book I could find! But more than 3.5 years and over 500 books later, it was past time to do a little decluttering.

DeclutteredKindle

{Image courtesy of Freelart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net}

While all of the basic declutter rules apply to eBook decluttering, I’ll give you a few quick tips as well.

What to Delete:

1) Delete any books you read that you didn’t really like.

2) If you’re no longer very interested in reading a book, delete it. (Tip: If you downloaded it two years ago and never even opened it, it’s probably safe to delete.)

3) If it’s a book you downloaded for a specific occasion (a wedding, travel tips to a vacation spot…) and that occasion is over, delete the book!

Tip: Remember that there are new free eBooks every day! You won’t run out of free reading material, I promise!

What to Keep:

1) Keep any books that you read and loved, especially if you like to refer to your old books or loan them to friends.

2) Keep any books that you actually plan to read.

NOTE: Since I have this Kindle (affiliate link), the following tips are specifically for Kindles. If you have a different type of eReader, just check your device settings – the process may not be very different!

To declutter your Kindle:

1) Get on your computer

You may be able to do declutter your eReader from your phone or from the eReader itself, but I imagine that would be pretty cumbersome.

2) Go to your Kindle Settings.

  • Sign in to Amazon.
  • Hover over “Your Account.”
  • Click on “Manage Your Content and Devices.”

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3) Start deleting!

  • When you clicked on “Manage Your Content and Devices,” it should have taken you to where you can see all of your eBooks in one place. If not, click on the “Your Content” tab on the left side.
  • Click the “Select” button on the left side of the books you want to delete.
  • Once you have up to ten eBooks selected, click on the orange “Delete” button towards the top of the page.
  • Repeat until you have deleted all the books you want to delete!

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4) Organize your remaining books into folders!

If you have a lot of books and want to organize them into categories or folders (Amazon calls them “Collections”), grab your Kindle and use this how-to article from Amazon to help you.

The bottom line? I went from 515 books down to 199 books on my Kindle in about 30 minutes! I’m sure there are more books I could delete, but for now I’m thrilled with this much more manageable level!

How many books are on your eReader? Are you happy with that amount or do you think it’s too much or too little?

{Linking up at All Kinds of Things.}

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How To Organize Your Spice Shelf and Baking Supplies

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Spice-shelf organization is a project I’ve attempted and failed at many times. Because even when I did organize the spice and cooking-supply cabinet, it was usually back to a gigantic mess within just a few weeks.

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My first recent attempt at cooking supply organization – it wasn’t easy to use so it didn’t last.

After much thinking and reorganizing, here’s how I finally created a workable spice and baking system:

1) I did my research.

And by “research” I mean that I looked in the spice cabinet of every home I visited for several months under the guise of helping the host cook or clean. Then I interrogated the owner of said spices to find out what she liked and did not like about her current system.

Browsing Pinterest and the rest of the Internet for ideas could also work :)

2) I figured out what my own problem areas were.

I noticed that I was:

  • Trying to stick to a system that no longer worked for my family’s changing needs.
  • Not able to find spices easily.
  • Battling with overly-crowded spice and baking shelves.
  • Allowing shelves to be almost bare where I used to keep pre-packaged foods.
Cooking cupboards, take 2

My second attempt at organizing ingredients – a great start but still not quite how I wanted things.

3) I started thinking about what I did want.

I realized that I needed to move some of our crowded baking supplies over to our bare cabinet where I used to keep the pre-packaged foods.

I also knew I wanted a system that would be so easy to use it would actually last for a long time.

And I knew that I wanted my spices in alphabetical order so we could quickly find what we were looking for.

4) I slowly gathered supplies.

During one of my cabinet-opening sessions at a friend’s house, my friend Katie showed me a spice rack full of clear empty spice jars she had put in a closet. She was planning on delivering those perfect jars to Good Will. By the end of the day, Katie’s spice jars were in my kitchen instead :)

I also gathered random items around my house that I thought might possibly be useful:

  • Christmas cookie tins that I hardly ever use
  • Small scraps of wood from one of Nathan’s woodworking projects
  • Some of Grace’s leftover scrapbook-type paper that’s sticky on one side (awesome stuff by the way!)
  • A sharpie
  • Scissors, both plain and fancy
  • A little bit of kitchen-style scrap fabric from Lily’s fabric bin.

5) I got to work.

Prep work is important but all the planning, thinking, and preparing in the world isn’t going to get my cooking supplies organized. The actual organization part is all about the hard work.

So Lily and I rolled up our sleeves, she hopped onto the counter, and we started organizing.

Here’s how we organized the spices:

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  1. We alphabetized all of the jars on the counter.
  2. Since I had two different types of jars I wanted to use (my clear ones and Katie’s clear ones), I decided which spices would go in which jars.
  3. We washed jars and put spices in their new jars (this was tricky to keep everything straight, so we only worked with a few jars at a time!).
  4. We threw out the jars we didn’t need to keep.
  5. We used scissors, sticky scrapbook-type paper, and sharpies to put new labels over the old ones.
  6. We made sure the labels would be facing the front when in the cabinet for easy viewing.
  7. I used wood scraps to make little “steps” on one side of the cabinet.
  8. I covered the plain wood with scrap fabric to make it prettier and safer (no splinters).
  9. We put the spices back on the shelf!

SpicesDuringAfter

Since we have a lot of herbs and spices, I also cleared out a shelf (a bonus of decluttering!) to use for “spice overflow.” When a jar starts getting low, I simply refill it from our overflow shelf:

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Here’s how I organized the rest of our cooking and baking supplies:

  1. Baking supplies we use often were put in one container.
  2. Baking supplies we don’t use very often were put in another container on a higher shelf.
  3. Cake and cupcake decorating supplies were given their own little tin.
  4. Sugars and flours put on a separate shelf.
  5. Items with corn have a shelf, too! (Corn starch, corn meal, etc.)
  6. Meat rubs were given their own section in a cupboard, separate from the rest of the spices.
  7. Cooking oils and vinegars were also given a proper home!
  8. I labeled the shelves!
BakingShelves

The containers make cooking and clean-up extra easy – we just pull out the tin we need, use items from it to cook with, then put the container away when we’re finished!

In Conclusion:

When we finally got to work, it took me about 1.5 hours to organize the cooking and baking supplies, plus Lily and I spent about five hours organizing our spice shelf on a separate day, but it has proven to be well worth every second!

Six months after revamping our spice situation, spices no longer fall on my head, I can quickly find everything I need, and my family members can also easily find the spices they need when they’re cooking.

Plus, this system is so easy to follow that the spices get put back in the correct location. Every. Single. Time. That, my friends, is a huge success in this house!

What tips or questions do you have about spice shelf and baking supply organization?

{Linking up at All Kinds of Things.}

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How To Keep A Tidy Home Even When You’re Sick

Six simple ways to keep your home tidy even when you're sick. Pin this to refer back to  when you catch a bug this winter! I love Tip # 5!

My family and I recently went on an amazing vacation in the Outer Banks, North Carolina for a week! (Go here to see some of what we learned before we left and a few things we did while we were there.)

Instead of bringing home a normal souvenir, however, I brought home a not-so-lovely case of strep throat.

After we got home on Saturday evening, I slept for 18 out of 21 hours. I’ve also spent approximately 44 out of the last 48 hours in bed or on the couch. No books. Hardly any computer or TV. Barely any phone time. This illness has really knocked me down!

But, alas, the house will not get the best of me. I’ve been sick before and I’m sure I’ll be sick again. Here’s how to deal:

1) Accept every offer of help.

If you have a large family or your kids are too young to cook and a friend wants to bring over dinner, say yes! Even if you’re too sick to eat it, your family can enjoy the meal while you slurp soup.

Accepting help also goes for people living within your home. As the mom, I want to be the one to take care of the house. But I also recognize that my husband is awesome and when he genuinely wants to help by going grocery shopping and cleaning the kitchen, I need to accept his love offering!

And when Lily offers to make simple family meals and snacks to help out while I’m sick? Yes, please!

2) Compliment any helpful efforts.

No matter how large or small a task is that a family member completes, compliment it, even if it’s not done the way you usually want! When Grace got ready for bed and tucked herself in without me close-by, I told her how nice it was that I was able to rest while she took care of herself.

Those genuine and appreciative compliments often go a long way in helping family members want to offer even more help.

3) Forget about perfection.

When your well-meaning crew loses focus or you run out of energy after a job is only half finished, remind yourself that a sink full of rinsed or soaking dishes is much better than a sink full of stinky dishes!

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4) Don’t do more than is good for you.

If I had forced myself to do all of my normal housekeeping this week, I would have made myself sicker for even longer. So I believe these two solid days of rest have been necessary.

Now that I’m feeling a tad better, I’m catching up on a little blog work. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to fold some of the laundry my family has been washing for me. In other words, do what you can but won’t worry about what you can’t do.

5) Drop everything unessential from your plate.

Feeling better by Wednesday doesn’t mean that you’re obligated to stick to everything you had planned for Wednesday. Cancel in advance and give yourself a day or two to catch up at home before resuming your normal activities.

6) When all else fails…

Maybe your family hasn’t done very well on pitching in around the house – now you know what to work on after you’re feeling better. Or maybe you’ve been sick for two weeks and in spite of everyone’s best efforts, your house has become a gigantic mess anyways.

Regardless of the reason, choose not to worry about the house. Just give yourself grace, let your family eat really easy meals, and know that you’ll be able to work towards an orderly home once you’re feeling better.

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What tips do you have for keeping a semi-tidy house even when you’re under the weather?

{Linking up at All Kinds of Things}

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When It’s Time To Live Out Your Faith

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 2:7 (NKJV)

When it's time to live out your faith. This article is SO inspiring!

I was recently handling a disobedience issue with one of my children – from the time I asked her to complete a simple task, until the time the task was actually complete, was over two hours.

As I discussed this with her afterwards, I apologized for my lack of proper discipline. I knew that that instead of giving swift punishment when she didn’t obey, I was helping to breed laziness within her by allowing the behavior to continue.

During our conversation I lectured, “Doing something more than two hours after I ask you to do it isn’t obedience – that’s disobedience and completely unacceptable.”

Then I stopped. It was one of those aha moments where I recognized doing this in my own life.

I reflected on my own Christianity. When I know that God wants me to do something, I normally consider obeying “only” two hours later an excellent time frame!

But, how many times have I known I needed to take some sort of action and put it off, not just for a few hours, but for months or even years? Even though I do my best to stay away from the “bad” things mentioned in Revelation 21:8, I also know that…

Christianity isn’t just about a checklist of things we don’t do. Christianity is also about what we do. It’s about following Jesus fully and completely, without delay.

For example, we’re told that Peter and Andrew were out fishing when Jesus called for them and, “They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” Likewise, when Jesus called James and John, “Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.”

Boat

As I truly considered the passage in Matthew 4, I realized those men had incredible faith – the apostles didn’t dwell on the opportunity for several months, or even several hours, beforehand. They didn’t even go home to pack a bag! They knew where Jesus wanted them so they lived out their faith and they went.

Would you have done it?

Would I have?

I’d like to think so, but I know myself. I know that I would have probably wanted time to think about it. I would have doubted. I would have wondered, “What if this doesn’t work out? Maybe I should deliver these fish first. What if I want to come back to this occupation later but my customers have found someone else?”

When I’m truly honest with myself, I know that I probably wouldn’t have simply cast my net, my livelihood, aside and followed unless I was absolutely certain of the outcome.

But then, if we’re following Jesus completely, aren’t we already certain of the outcome?

“Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 (NKJV)

Yes, sometimes we need to consider options and make sure we’re doing the right thing.

But when we already know what the right thing is?

We need to stop putting it off! We need to open our eyes, refuse to let fear stop us, cast our nets aside, and obey by following Jesus.

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Fast and Frugal Storage Solutions


Six Fast and Frugal Storage Solutions. Great tips from a mom who organized her entire home without spending a dime!

Maybe one day I’ll change my mind, eat my words, and embrace beautiful (and pricy!) organizational systems.

But, for now? I’m perfectly happy to organize my home using items I already have on hand. After-all, the pretty containers don’t organize my stuff for me :)

Here are some frugal storage items that I use:

Zip-top bags

Gallon size bags are my best organizational friend!

I’ve put decks of cards into sandwich bags then placed those in a gallon bag. We also keep small game pieces in sandwich-size bags in their respective boxes so they won’t get lost.

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Lily and Grace have a bag of headbands and bobby pins. Another bag contains hair bows and barrettes.

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I have a gallon bag of nail polish.

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Grace’s toy box has like items in separate bags (cars, Lego’s, lacing games, etc.).

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We even use gallon bags for toiletry items and first aide supplies when we camp!

A word of advice: I’m not usually a brand-snob but in this situation, I highly recommend that you “splurge” and buy Ziplock, or another good brand, bags. I’ve tried the off-brands and they’re not nearly as durable.

Cardboard boxes

I also love to organize with cardboard boxes! They definitely aren’t the prettiest storage containers. And if they’re used outside or in a cellar, it might be a problem. But in our home that stays dry enough? We haven’t had any problems with using boxes to store things.

Holiday decorations, mementos, and clothes have all been successfully stored in cardboard boxes.

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Christmas storage – out of the way and easily accessible!

Gift Bags

Sometimes I buy holiday presents early and store them away in gift bags.

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I also keep gift-wrap supplies in gift bags.

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Tip: Gift bags are pretty for storing things, but stick with gallon bags and boxes for heavy items or things you’ll need to stack!

Baskets

We’ve been given items in adorable gift baskets so I use them around my home!

The girls love their rainy day baskets. {Click that link for tips on how to make your own rainy day basket for free!}

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And I love the super cute basket I use to organize desk supplies.

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Baskets can also be used to hold blankets, magazines, photo albums, library books, and a plethora of other items!

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The baskets under our coffee table! From left to right: Photo albums, blankets, borrowed books.

Plastic Containers

A few people have given us plastic containers they no longer needed. I use most of them to organize clothes and toys.

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Under-the-bed totes for clothes to grow into.

We have one container for ponies, another for dress-up accessories and another for small dolls.

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The girls each have a small spa container as well, complete with their bubble bath, extra sponges, etc.

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Book Shelves

Bookshelves aren’t just for books! We have one bookshelf that only has art supplies on it. Bookshelves can also hold movies, games, and many other items!

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Art supply shelf. Notice the gallon bags inside the baskets!

Other Organizational Tips:

Use vertical space. (Click that link for details.)

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If you need to purchase a gift bag, consider buying an inexpensive container instead. My friend Alissa gave me a “writer’s inspiration” gift for Christmas one year and she put all of the items in an adorable box. I love it and keep all of my correspondence items (cards, envelopes, etc.) in it!

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Sometimes the problem isn’t a “lack of storage” issue as much as it’s a “too much stuff” issue. So when you’re implementing new organizational methods, go ahead and throw out what your family is no longer using!

Whether you have cardboard boxes or beautiful bins, use storage containers you already have on hand to help set limits – once a container is full, it’s full, so something has to go.

Bags to donate and toss!

The less stuff there is, the more usable space you have!

And when you look at the big picture (an organized home) as well as look at the space as a whole (an entire closet instead of focusing on one specific item), your organized spaces probably look nice even though various things aren’t in the prettiest containers.

After-all, what looks nicer and is easier to use: an organized closet with a few gallon bags as storage containers or a closet that’s so disorganized, things fall out every time you open the door?

Personally, I prefer the first option!

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What about you? What frugal storage solutions do you use in your home?

You May Also Like:

How I decluttered my entire house in just six days!

20 minutes or less to “Company Clean.”

Tips for keeping a clean-enough house when you’re really busy.

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When Marriage Is So Tough That You Need A Helmet…

When marriage is so tough that you need a helmet... an incredibly touching and inspiring story that highlights one couple's journey from hardship to great joy. I literally cheered with them during the canoe story in the final paragraphs!

It feels like yesterday. It feels like a lifetime ago. A distant memory… but not so distant.

I was 19 years old. He was 20. My friend Kelly did my make-up and I wore a long, white dress while I walked down a long white aisle.

We thought we were so grown up. We thought marriage would be fairly easy because we were in love.

Wedding

Then we went on our honeymoon…

We thoroughly enjoyed being together but by the final day, we were ready to go to our new home. We made the mistake of doing just one more “fun” activity before we left.

We bickered the entire time we were in a canoe together. We couldn’t get the boat to go the way we wanted it to go. We spent our time in the water working against each-other, each trying to steer the canoe our own way. Not listening to the other person.

My visions of an easy, nearly perfect marriage came quickly crashing down.

The canoe guide saw what was happening and told us about his wedding ring. Scratched and worn and no longer perfect, but still lovely.

Still lovely.

That first year of marriage I became pregnant, Nathan and I both lost our jobs, we started a computer-service company with no money in savings, a high-school friend of mine committed suicide, my parents divorced, and we moved from a tiny apartment into a house.

Plus Lily was born and we became a family of three living on one part-time income.

The stress was enough to crush us. But it didn’t. We learned. We grew. We loved. We worked. We stayed committed.

We took our vows seriously. We held tight and refused to give up.

Still lovely.

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We’ve been together through the deaths of three grandparents. He held me while I cried at my cousin’s funeral. He’s also comforted me when I’ve worried about situations outside of my control and when I’ve hurt so badly I thought my heart would never heal.

I learned that a good marriage doesn’t come easy. There’s no great how-to manual that I know of. (Although “His Needs, Her Needs” by Willard F. Harley, Jr. changed the course of our marriage for the better.)

There’s commitment. Respecting each-others differences. Learning to work together instead of against each-other. Trying hard. Offering grace. Refusing to give up. There’s also plenty of fun!

And there’s God. Through it all, His love prevailed and we never went without a meal in our bellies or a roof over our heads. He is good and our faith has grown so much.

We now have two healthy children, my husband’s computer business is thriving, I’m able to pursue my dream of being an author, we’re almost completely debt-free, and we’re closer to each-other than ever before.

As for canoeing? 

Nathan and I finally braved it again last summer with Lily and Grace. We had a blast. We worked together, we steered the boat without any problems, and we didn’t grow upset when the other person made a mistake.

When we pulled in to the finish-line with the rest of the canoers (friends from church), they celebrated with us that we conquered a marriage fear together!

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Our friends understood that, for me, canoeing successfully with my husband was symbolic of the fact that we’re getting the hang of marriage.

Sometimes marriage is work. Some seasons are tough. But sometimes? Sometimes it’s so much fun that we laugh so hard, tears stream from our eyes. Sometimes we love each other so deeply that we think our hearts will explode.

Our wedding day, 10 years ago? We thought we were grown up then, but really, we’ve grown up together. We finally realize that we’ll never stop growing. I’ve spent over a third of my life married to my best friend. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Never perfect. But still lovely.

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How to Get Kids to Think Chores are Cool

Want your kids to think chores are fun? Check out these great tips for ideas!

I’ll never forget the day that I walked into the kitchen to find Lily (about six at the time) sitting on the table and waving her “magic wand” at her little sister while saying, “Bippity-boppity-boo, make this room clean!” Grace (about two) ran around putting things away as fast as she could so she could help the wand to work!

That day I had an epiphany: kids will like cleaning more if they think it’s a game.

Sometimes we do have to just hurry up and clean, but whenever I remember to have a little fun, chores are usually accomplished with much better attitudes!

For younger kids:

If you give chores fun names, sometimes it can make young kids think the job itself is fun! For example, I never ask Grace to “gather dishes.” She’s a nature lover so I ask her to go on a “dishes hunt.” She really thinks that getting to hunt for dishes is cool (please don’t tell her otherwise!).

And when we put her laundry away? She moves it from her “suitcase” (the laundry basket), to her “tent” (her drawers), and she has to do her best to keep it off of the “dirt” (her floor). She also loves scrubbing the “bathhouse!”

Yesterday we even made two dolls come to life. I became the baby-sitting doll and she was the child. We talked in our best doll voices and cleaned our “doll house” (the schoolroom). She loved this change of pace!

If you have boys, maybe you could try some sort of super-hero thing where they can “zap” the items into place! (Moms of boys, please chime in the comments with your ideas!)

For older kids:

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For older kids, chores can be made cool with cold, hard cash. Lily will cook dinner for the entire family for $2.00. Even with the cost of food factored in, that’s still way cheaper (and healthier) than eating out somewhere. Plus, cooking and working to earn money are valuable life skills for kids to learn.

I also keep a sheet on the fridge with chore ideas and amounts that I’m willing to pay for each chore. Both girls are welcome to do those chores anytime. On days I need to work extra on the computer or the house just really needs some TLC, I’ll declare it a “double-your-money-chore-day” and every single chore is worth double.

Older kids also understand reasoning really well. For example, sometimes I’ll tell my kids that whoever helps really well in the kitchen, living room, and bathroom gets to relax while everyone else cleans the bedrooms. This motivates Lily to help really well because she knows she’ll be able to relax while I finish up!

Race. Sometimes I’ll assign races. For example, Lily will clear the table while I load the dishwasher or she’ll make  the beds while I put dirty clothes in the hamper. The winner of each race race gets a tally mark. When we’re done cleaning, whoever has the most points wins. The “loser” then makes the winner a simple snack or a fun drink or rubs the winners shoulders for a minute. This motivates both of us to clean fast!

And of course, I always emphasize that when the house is clean, we’re all winners!

Additional ideas to make chores more fun:

  • Turn on music.
  • Occasionally have a reward (a glass of soda, stickers,  a book you bought used, etc.) for anyone who was a really great helper.
  • Only give a reward to those who actually were good helpers.
  • Race the timer.
  • Praise more than reprimand.
  • Work before playing.
  • Don’t overwhelm. If the house is an absolute wreck, possibly clean one room by yourself before enlisting help from the little ones.
  • Have a kid’s cleaning bucket!
  • Play a game or read a book afterwards. Make sure to let your kids know that since they saved you so much time by helping, you now have enough time to do a fun activity with them!

Cleaning Bucket

How do you make chores a little more fun in your house?

 

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Marriage, Divorce, and Time Management Tips (Money Management Q&A)

Reader Questions Answered about money management, including marriage, divorce, and time-management. Insightful post with tips and book recommendations!!

During this Money Management series, I received a couple of really challenging questions so I’m going to do my best to address the issues requested!

Question One

Q: You quit Facebook to stay off the Internet. Now you’re writing more. How is that not taking time on the computer?

A: I didn’t quit Facebook to stay off the Internet :)

I quit Facebook to help me be more intentional with my time. I can spend 45 minutes browsing my news feed or I can spend that same 45 minutes writing an article or playing with my kids. I’m choosing one of the latter.

Why I Unfriended Everyone On Facebook

Question Two

Q: How do you work from home and still spend time with your kids?

A: I am not the expert on work-from-home time management! (That title belongs to my friend Misty who practically holds my hand as she helps me figure out how to schedule my writing time.)

But, since I was asked, I’ll tell you what I’m working on.

First of all, I highly recommend reading the book, “Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom” by Tricia Goyer. It’s only $2.99 right now and is hands-down the absolute best book I’ve ever read about balancing work and motherhood.

I felt like Tricia was giving me the permission I needed in order to make time for doing something I love outside of being a mom and wife.

Secondly, I’ve learned that to be successful at working from home, I have to get up early. I can accomplish more in 1-2 hours of work time before my girls are awake than I can accomplish in an entire morning after they’re up.

I’ve also learned to utilize quiet time well. I can knock out a couple small projects after lunch while the girls quietly look at books for an hour or so.

When needed, I can also work after the kids are in bed at night. I’m currently trying to limit evening work to two nights a week because nurturing our marriage is a top priority for my husband and me.

Finally, I’ve learned to give myself grace. Some weeks I work too much. Other weeks I don’t work enough. If I were to give up on things just because I don’t have a perfect schedule, then I would never accomplish much of anything! I simply choose to keep on trying.

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Want to read more about time-management? Check out this post about working from home.

Question Three

Q: Do you believe that women working outside the home is a contributing factor for why the divorce rate has dramatically increased over the last few decades?

A: Yes, I do.

For starters, due to huge advances in the workplace in the last 50 years, many women earn an income so they’re no longer dependent on their husbands for financial survival. And even women who don’t currently earn an income know they could if they needed to.

Also, many women are in the workforce for long hours, completing projects, accomplishing goals, and often working closely together with those of the opposite gender while simultaneously spending less time with their husbands.  The large chunk of time that are spent completing tasks with male coworkers and succeeding together builds bonds that, if left unchecked, can become romantic.

Does this mean I think that every dual-income family is an affair waiting to happen? Absolutely not! It just means I believe that people need to be aware and mindful of their decisions as they take precautions to protect their marriage. Two great books about this are “Every Man’s Battle” by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker (for men to read) and “Every Woman’s Battle” by Shannon Ethridge and Stephen Arterburn (for women to read).

On a more personal note, I found that when I worked outside the home, it put a large strain on my family and on my marriage. Nathan and I would came home from work already tired and the girls would need our attention, everyone was hungry so someone had to cook, and there was always something around the house to accomplish (like taming the laundry monster).

Laundry

The thing is, however, that I didn’t realize how much of a strain it was for me to work outside the home until I was no longer doing it.

Now that I stay home, I’m generally able to spend time with the girls and take care of the house during the day, as well as cook dinner before Nathan arrives home, so our evenings are usually much more laid back as we relax and simply enjoy being together as a family.

Am I saying that every mom needs to stay home full time? No. I know some women are refreshed and energized by working outside the home (instead of worn-down and exhausted like I was!), and I know that sometimes, both parents working is a necessity (although not nearly as profitable as some may think).

The important thing is to be intentional, communicate openly with your spouse, and make time for nurturing your marriage (monthly dates and yearly small getaways are helpful). Also, be truly honest with yourself about your motives and your finances.

That wraps up this Money Management Series!

Do you have any additional money-management or work/staying-home tips?

Money Management Series

Part One: Can You Afford to be a Stay-At-Home Mom?

Part Two: Work from Home Opportunities, Plus 9 Tips You Must Know.

Part Three: Work or Stay Home? 10 (Mostly-Unbiased) Things to Consider.

Part Four: Question & Answer Session (Marriage, Divorce, and Work-from-Home Time Management Tips).

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