Cherish The Moments (Family Time)

Recently, there have been a string of premature deaths in my area. I can easily come up with 10 people in their 20s who have recently passed away, and this has been affecting me, even if it’s not really manifesting itself in grief. It’s just come to show me how valuable life itself really is.

Three years after becoming a mother for the first time, I can honestly say that I truly love the special family moments we’ve been working on. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with staying at home and making some homemade playdough, but I really enjoy the outings we’ve been having as a family lately. Aldric and I bring the kids out for a walk on a trail, or around in an area they’ve never been before. It gives the kids some time to explore as we let them run a few steps ahead of us. I know it sounds crazy, but these times together have really made me understand just how much my children have grown! Also, it has begun to put my mind at ease about having both children out in public, haha. It’s taught me that they listen way more than I ever thought they would, it’s shown me how much they love being outdoors, and it really allows me to see the vivid reactions on their faces when we explore a new area. Sometimes we keep it more low-key, and have a campfire before bed with the kiddos. The way the kids light up when we bring out the marshmallow roasting sticks is simply adorable.

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I want my children to have memories, not only day to day average activities. I want them to really have fun times that they can look back on, filled with love and devoted attention. Not only that, but it really brings Aldric and I closer together as well. It’s nice to actually see him actively parenting the children and interacting with them. I strongly believe that a strong bond between father and child is special. It’s one thing that I missed out on when I was younger, which I realize is probably why I find myself making sure that Aldric is a really actively-involved parent. It’s one thing for a parent to be around, it’s another thing entirely for a parent to be actively-involved (and no, I’m not referring to helicopter-parenting).

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I think it would be unrealistic for me to believe that every moment of every day is special. So much of it is filled with the mundane, cleaning, organizing, getting ready, working, and all that jazz. As soon as I made it clear to myself that this was what I wanted in our lives, and that this was important to me, I was able to find the time for it. I’ve changed my attitude to take one solid day a week, not just an hour once in a while, to put aside any major projects, I just do light cleaning, and we just “make a day of it”. We do whatever we would like, but we do it together. It’s really our own, personalized version of stopping to smell the roses.To cherish the time we have together, because I do realize that before I know it my children won’t be babies anymore. True family time is something that Aldric and I missed out on when we were growing up, and instead of bringing up another generation like we were, we decided to put an emphasis on memories, telling our children (and each other) “I love you”, and really solidifying the bond that holds us all together as a family.

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I totally understand that sometimes due to scheduling, or where you’re at in your own journey can make devoting an entire day somewhat tough. Up until the past few months, I would’ve thought that this was nearly impossible! So make sure you’re really cherishing the moments that you DO have together. Tell your children, and those around you that you LOVE them. Spend at least 20 minutes a day on your child’s level. Play with them, colour with them, converse with them. In time, if it’s truly important to you, you’ll find more and more time to spend with your loved ones.

I feel like I could go on all day about this topic, and I’m not going to. You know your own personal scheduling, I’m just hoping that maybe this post will sway you to spend a little more time as quality time… you never know how much you have left.

Until next time,
Barb

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Organize Now! – Week 4

So week three is done now. I’ve found that I accidentally left my planner in the car though, and never seem to have brought it back into the house… don’t fret! I’m bringing it in tomorrow. Things are really going to change (two days a week anyway) as my oldest daughter will be starting preschool this Thursday. I’m not sure exactly what that’s going to entail… but hopefully she’ll make some new friends and get ready for school.
There’s not much else to say about week 3…

So on to week 4!
Yet again it’s another fairly boring week. So this should be quick. To be honest, I have accomplished more just by setting my mind to it than I have because of this book so far. It’s good to get your life organized, don’t get me wrong… maybe it takes others a full week to do these things? But seriously… this week is about organizing my cleaning schedule, something which I already accomplished 3 weeks ago when I had a few moments in the morning one day.
So I’ve already gone through and figured out my daily, weekly, monthly chores for the different rooms around my house.
I made a bare-minimum list for 4 days a week. I have decided that I will do this bare minimum list once a day, so if I sweep in the morning, and then one of my kids drop a few cheerios on the floor, that’s tomorrow’s problem. This way I’m not cleaning ALL of the time, but yet my house still remains reasonable-looking because I’m not getting so frustrated at my lack of a spotless house that it builds up. Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays get a little extra tacked on, like putting away laundry, bringing out the recycling/garbage and those extras.
I’ve begun taking 15 minutes a night before bed to tidy up. I usually do this about 30-45 minutes before bed though, that way I can relax for 15-30 minutes again before bed. In these 15 minutes I usually refill and run the dishwasher, give a quick wipe to the kitchen surfaces, and pick up any stray toys that the girls missed. It just makes it that much nicer every morning when I wake up.
I do extra cleaning whenever I can, like I just recently did my porch, my bookcase, the top of the entertainment center, the top of the wardrobe, basically a large portion of the clutter-holding surfaces. I fit this in to my 15 minutes at night usually if I only spend a couple minutes putting a few dishes into the dishwasher.
The rest of these things are already done. Quick little things, like switching to an all-purpose cleaner, keeping disinfecting wipes in the bathroom, etc. Those are all pretty good little ideas.

Hm, guess this week was quick!

Talk to you soon! I’m starting my weekly weigh-ins this Thursday, so stay tuned!
Barb

Organize Now! – Week 3

So, how did I do last week? I think I did pretty alright. I do still have to work on scheduling in time to do the things I wish I did more of, but otherwise things are great. Also, I am getting 7-8 hours of sleep nowadays, but it appears to be sort of on the wrong side. I’m still going to bed late, and therefore sleeping in. That two hour readjustment is something I’m still working on.

So now, on to week 3. Man am I ever glad I’ve been busy working on some other things! Because this week is a breeze.
I already do all of my scheduling in one beautiful planner, the girls don’t belong to many activities yet, and therefore we don’t need monthly meetings about our family schedules.
I do need to focus on working on my to-do list. I can’t leave my planner next to me when I go to bed as one of my daughters will surely get to it and begin uhhhh… “scheduling” in her own work, just like she checked off a number of things in this book for me well before I even had a chance to get to them.. so I’m thinking maybe just a little notepad and pencil. That way I can still jot things down, and schedule them in the next day, but I won’t have to worry about the little hands.
Otherwise thd rest of this week is pretty much about making to-do lists. Seems easy enough… now all I need is one for house renovations, one for cleaning, one for heavy-duty cleaning, one for my outdoor area, one for my garden… hm, maybe this week will be slightly more time-consuming than originally thought afterall.

Oh well, it’s about time I started writing all of these things down!

Keep an eye out for a post about the recent organization that’s been going on.

Til next time,
Barb

Organize Now! – Week 2

Okay, week 1 is finished! Yay! How did I do? Hmmm… overall, not bad, I’d say.

I answered most of the questions on the previous post, so now I’m going to quickly fill you all in on the rest: It advises getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night. There was only one night I didn’t accomplish this, which is a massive improvement in my life. I’m starting to feel better, at the end of my days I want to sleep. This is really a good thing. I used to go to bed at about 2, wake up at 7, feel dead in the afternoon, nap if at all possible, and then go to bed at 2. This schedule just wasn’t working out anymore. I really had to sit down and have a chat with the boy, because honestly he was a huge part of why my sleep schedule had been so skewed. I suck at going to bed without him there, and he stays up playing video games or whatever until that time. Now he gets off at 10, and we’re in bed by 11. I feel tired at nighttime, not during the day, and therefore my days are much more productive again… even with two children running around!

Although I don’t specifically write out a to-do list every morning, I usually do it the night before, and if there’s nothing specific, I have my regular daily to-do list made up for each day of the week. Most of them are pretty simple, but on the days when I know I’ll have a bit more time to accomplish a bit extra (like cleaning the bathroom or putting away the laundry) I stick it on to one of those days.

I have yet to get my exercise time scheduled in, but don’t worry! It’s coming, I promise.

I have begun doing more and more organizing, although it is a long, slow, tedious process. This week I organized the top of the bookcase in the back of my living room. I hadn’t touched it in about 6 years. I went through everything, and now there are only 4 small decorative vases, a lamp, an old picture of my property, and one extra vase that has some glass roses. The books underneath are also organized, although I want to do something a little more special to it.

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So, now on to Week 2:

There are some more general questions I’ll answer to the best of my ability for you all :). This week it’s all about priorities.
I most value my children. Out of the entire world, my children come first. I love them to death, even though every once in a while we don’t see eye to eye. I’m not going to lie and say I’m the perfect super-mom. But at the end of the day, I love my children with everything in me.
The things that are most important to me would have to be my children, my relationship, my health and my life in general. That is so odd to say, I know. But I can’t be specific as right now, it’s the whole thing. I’m trying to figure out what I want to become, how my life will work out, etc.
I’m here because this is where I chose to be. I’m unsure of where I’m going. I just recently began looking into getting back into school and completing a college or university degree geared towards counselling.
My purpose is to provide a better life for my children, and to become someone I am proud of. I want to really be proud of myself.
My top ten priorities for life are:
1. Getting my children ahead in their lives.
2. Figuring out exactly what I want to become, and the best route to take to get there.
3. Organizing my house.
4. Organizing my life.
5. Becoming a healthier person/family.
I guess I just don’t have 10 priorities right at the moment. My life is simple, and although shortly enough I feel like I will add to the list, that’s it for right this moment.

Tomorrow I’ll schedule down the important stuff in my life :).

Like I said, this is a simple week, so I’m pretty much already done! However, I do need to go to bed so that I can get those 7 hours of sleep ;).

Goodnight everyone!
Make sure you all keep being hot bosses in your lives!
xoxo
-Barb

Organizing the Filing Cabinet

Here we go!

In my house, the filing cabinet is a fairly big an usually overwhelming task. Who wants to sit down and sort paperwork and place every piece of paper in correct chronological order anyway? I know I don’t. It’s like I told my friend, “I’ll know I’ve finally become an adult when I make my bed every morning”, well… I really feels like this follows suit. In my defence, I’ve switched a lot of our bills, statements and general filing cabinet items online. Therefore, there’s a lot less work going on in this paper-filled cabinet nowadays. I made a first attempt at this about 2 or 3 years ago, when the filing cabinet was about ready to burst, and it was well in need of another good going-over. This time, I made a few changes to make it easier for me to use on a steady basis. A lot of the old tabs and organization was outdated, and no longer relevant to our household, so that needed to be updated to the raw basics, with the addition of some new labels that I wished I had had over the years. This is what I started with:

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Look, I know a lot of people laugh at me when I say, “Go buy the pretty things! If it makes you happy, you’ll be more willing to use it!” But honestly, this is no joke. You know what prompted my re-organization of the filing cabinet? These pretty new folders! I bought them at the dollar store, and I love working with them. I wanted to see these suckers every time I opened the filing cabinet instead of those old drab plain folders that everyone else has, and it was just enough motivation for me to sit down and get it done.
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Aren’t they nice? You never know where you’ll find the pretties, so keep your eyes out for something that suits your tastes!

Anyway, the very first thing I did was whip out my new label maker. Easy to use, a good amount of options, etc. etc. etc. and I broke down what labels I use, the ones I didn’t and which new ones I should add. Obviously these may differ in your household, so you should figure out what paperwork you feel you need to keep, and how you want to organize it. For me the categories were as follows:
-Bills
Power
Phone
Phone/Internet
-Accounts
Credit Cards
Bank Statements
-Income
Taxes
Pay Stubs
-Vehicle
Registrations
Insurance
-Warranties (This was an important new addition)
Electronics
Batteries
Living Room
Kitchen
Appliances
Other
-Barbara D. Photography
Contracts
Model Release Forms
Receipts

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After my labels were done, my next task was to go through the paperwork that was currently being stored in my filing cabinet. I shred pretty much anything that comes out of here for a heads up, in case you were wondering. You might feel as though you don’t need to, if you store something non-personal, don’t worry about it, but it’s a safe bet that you want to shred anything that might give someone the ability to steal your money. I tossed anything that was before 2012 unless it had a special significance, think income tax paperwork. Many things didn’t, and therefore a vast amount of my papers disappeared. Once I had finished going through that whole mess, my filing cabinet already started to feel much more manageable and I hadn’t even put any folders in there yet! So I emptied my filing cabinet and went from there.

I began by using the hanging folders in a colour-coded system, instead of just throwing them in however I wanted to. Yellow = Financial (I would’ve preferred green, but couldn’t find any!), Red = Business, Blue = Important General Paperwork. So I put my label-maker to work again, and got to work with the categories. Once they were placed in the filing cabinet, I added the sub-category folders to them as well.

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Then, all that was left was to throw in the remaining paperwork!
BEFORE:
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AFTER:
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Hahaha, please disregard the idiot date-stamp, I never remember to change/get rid of it!

Isn’t that much nicer? The larger labels are easier for me to read, the simple system I put in place makes it easier for me to find everything, the addition of a “warranties” area makes my life tons easier when something breaks down, especially car batteries! I am still working on improving this, so when I get my new budget underway I’ll probably devote another spot for that, as well as one for each of my kids as they age and begin creating paperwork for me to look after. But for now, this works, and I’m using it.

If you’re reorganizing your filing cabinet, these are my biggest recommendations:
1) Go through your current paperwork. Make a list of new categories you need, and omit those that you’re not using anymore.
2) If it’s over a year (max. 2) old, toss it. EXCEPTION: Income tax paperwork.
3) Keep it simple. Go back to basics. You can add more if you find you really need to, but if you make it too complicated, you may lose track of where exactly you put that bill since it appropriately goes into three of your folders ;).
4) Put your paperwork in chronological order, either back to front or front to back, but decide now and do the same thing for all folders.
5) If you can keep it online, do it! I’ve begun saving the .pdf files to a usb drive in case I need them for future use. Much less space than all of that old paperwork!

Let me see pictures of your new filing cabinet using the hashtag #3toa10life!

Keep going, it’s the only way you’ll make it there!
Barb

Organizational Update

So this is the first post in reference to the “Organize Now!” book that I got myself while I was up in the city. I’ve thumbed through it numerous times and finally put my foot down and basically told myself that it’s time to start doing it! So here it goes, week 1. This should be fairly easy, so I’m actually going to do what I can here on the blog since most of it is writing things down.

The vision I have for my life:
This is such a toughie, I imagine so many things. I would love to earn an income being a teacher, a counselor, a landlord, a photographer, a farmer, etc. The list really does go on. I’m so undecided and have no idea what I want to become. My days would be filled of fun, love and laughter. I’d wake up early, have some time to myself, get my kids ready for their days and we’d go on fabulous adventures around town! I would live more, and worry less.

In the next 56 weeks, I want to accomplish the complete organization of my life and my house (mostly my house!) I cannot live like this forever, I need to be able to live in a house that functions much better than this one. I need to be able to easily walk through my hallway, and be able to find those damned things I put away for future use and then turn around and buy more of. I want to sit down and make a schedule that gives me the ability to workout, eat healthy, and lose some weight. I want to spend more time bonding and loving my children than I do cleaning up everything.

I’ll start going to bed earlier. Starting tonight. We’ll be going to bed at 11, unlike our usual 1 or 2 in the mornings. My ending plan is to get my bedtime pushed back to about 10:30, that way I should be able to wake up at 6:30 and get a good start to my day. The kids only have to get up around 7:15 when we start getting them into daycare/activities so it should work out. It’ll give me enough time to do at least a few minutes of cardio and just to sit down and breathe.

I think I’m just going to count this blog as my journal. It catalogues my life events and whatnot, so I might as well. I have other journals on the go which are more focused on notes for my future generations to read, so this should suffice to get my ideas, thoughts, emotions and whatnot written down.

The rest of the things this week will focus on small steps towards making my life a little more sane. It includes scheduling a few 2 or 3 minute breaks just to take a breather, scheduling some exercise time and limiting the amount of television we watch. The last one there is of considerable importance in this household. I want my children to be more focused on childhood activities than the t.v. Now that I finally have my boyfriend’s work schedule for the rest of the week, I’m going to head off and actually plan out those days!

I’ll let you know how the rest of the week went next Monday when I move on to week 2!

For now though, I’m off!
xoxo,
Barb

You know… sometimes, life happens

Wow, I would love to be able to tell you all about how busy I’ve been, and how awesome my house, weight loss and personal lives are coming along. Although I can’t brag about my non-existent sparkling clean kitchen, or my non-existent organized cupboards, I can tell you about the small steps I’ve taken which are slowly pulling me closer to a more organized chaos. This post may be a little all over the place, mostly just updates and some previews about what’s going to be coming up, so if you’re only looking for a post that contains one subject, skip along. If not, stay for the update after my impromptu-vacation from blogging.

I might as well start by telling you guys that I was going to blog, I’ve been over at my computer every night recently. Especially at the crazy hours like this (big mistake), however, when I was cleaning up my desk area (yup, finally got around to it! I CAN ACTUALLY USE MY DESKTOP AGAIN!) I found an old copy of a book I had began writing and instead decided to work on that instead. I feel a little guilty, because, you see… I had so many ideas about what to blog about, but some of them were fueled by the emotion I felt as these things were ongoing, and therefore I’ve lost the ability to write about them as passionately and focused on my book instead. I guess I was hiding from my blog while working on my book. That’s going to change, when I become more organized since I’ll have to include weekly dates for both tasks. However, this time, I AM going to FINISH this book. It’s about time that I finally finished at least one of the damn things I started… and this is really an idea that has stuck in my head throughout the years. Although I gave up on it last time due to a lack of ideas, amazingly enough, after picking it back up again my head is filling with all sorts of new ideas and turns for my story to take… but enough about that, I’ll let you guys know if I ever manage to finish it!

Secondly, I went up to the city and we went to the large Chapters store up there. All I can say is, wow! I’m not usually a bookworm, and I tend to stay away. Recently, however, I’ve found myself in them all the time. Ours is quite small, and I’m sad that I’m going to have to start ordering in online but they really don’t have much in the way of organization or decorating. I actually added a book to my cart a couple of weeks ago and decided to put it on hold until I was 100% sure about the purchase… and then found it at this place! I was so excited! The book is called, “Organize Now!” (the updated & expanded version) and it’s written by Jennifer Ford Berry. It’s a good handy tool to use for self-motivation, although not a really detailed book and I find it lacks slightly in ideas about how to accomplish everything on your weekly list. That being said, the only thing I actually have a problem with about this book is the fact that she recommends that 80% of your weekly groceries be pantry items, while only 20% be fresh. I cannot even begin to tell you how much that drives me crazy! I believe that an organized life, should be a healthier life. 80% pantry items does not a healthier life make /endrant. Really though, if you’re looking for a way to figure out everything you need to do, and a timeline on how to get it done, go have a look at the book at least. I’ll be making weekly posts about my progress from the book, or how I’ve changed things around.

So I was looking online at those books, right? And came across the most beautiful planner I think I’ve ever seen! It’s got a shiny peacock pattern on it, and it’s slightly larger than my usual planners. It began in July 2013, so I took that as a sign that I just needed to have it in my life! Currently everyone is colour-coded, yeah… I know that will never last! Still worth a shot though, makes it look prettier… which, in turn is actually helping me to use it a little more. The only problem I seem to be having is the fact that I’m too shy to make the phone calls I write down that I need to make… for no reason other than the fact that I usually sound like a total idiot whenever I get on the phone. I really believe this little planner will help me with the kids this upcoming year now that they’re old enough to get into activities and the like. My oldest daughter will be starting preschool and dance lessons for sure, as well as speech therapy if her preschool teacher refers her. Not too much going on with the little one, there’s still a little over a year left before she’s old enough to join these programs.

In other news, I hate grocery shopping… like, really. This is probably the biggest reason I’m not eating a healthier diet. I think the prep work for the grocery trip is probably the biggest factor keeping me away from the store, although I will fully admit that I’ve skipped on it for a day or two when I had the list in my hand. This is something new… it’s been a fair amount of weeks since I actually went to the grocery store and picked up enough food to last my family for the week. I try telling myself that if I could work it down to just having to go bi-weekly, I would make time for it. But personally, I know that’s still a lie I tell to comfort myself. As soon as I get one child into preschool, I’m going to start going every Thursday. This way, even if my boyfriend is at work, it’s not a big deal for me to take the little one with me.

On that note, it brings me around to my second weekly update which will be going in effect starting now. Every Thursday I’m going to be doing a weekly weigh-in… or at least a make-shift one. I am fat, fact. So fat, that I am not comfortable posting my weight online right now. So I’m going to be weighing myself once a week, letting you guys know how I’m doing, but it’s going to be in a +2 lbs or -2 lbs format until I hit a personal goal. Then I’ll convert to actually telling you guys how much I weigh.

Anyway, since it’s almost two in the morning, even though I didn’t manage to write everything… I’m going to bed now. Goodnight!

P.S. Happy birthday to me!

Thanks for reading,
Much love to you all!

Barb