Our Family Unit
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  • March15th


    In an effort to wrap up the process of creating my process, I wanted to explain what I included in the last two sections of my Household Notebook.  Click here for the why and how-to.  As a side note, thinking about Trapper Keepers today…wouldn’t this lovely rainbow one be a nice alternative to the wooden cover I talked about before?  Anyone???  Apparently no, on to my notebook…

    The second section in my new Household Notebook is Calendars.  This is pretty self explanatory.  I have a 2012 calendar printed on one sheet for big picture planning and filed after that are monthly calendars that I can fill in as things are scheduled.  I decided to keep the laminated monthly calendar that we put up on the fridge a few months ago; it seems to help Kyle and I stay on the same page as far as what’s going on for the family.  I’ll update that one as needed but it’s handy to have the additional monthly calendars in the notebook for things that are more than four weeks out.

    The final section is labeled ‘Family’.  Other titles that would also have worked ‘Misc’, ‘Everything Else’, ‘Bucket of Stuff I Didn’t Want to Make Into it’s Own Section’.  But ‘Family’ seemed to evoke the happiest feelings, so I’m sticking with that.  :)

    Inside this section:

    • Summary page for the Everyday Joys (to keep a running record of the little gifts God puts in my days)
    • Focus sheets for Spirituality and Financial Security (these are two more of our Values that I talked about last time, but involve more habits than to-do’s.  I wanted to keep them visual, but not compartmentalize them in a weekly to-do list.  Just like the other Focus Sheets, they include a definition of the value for us, habits we are following or forming, and goals – short, mid and long term)
    • Kid Pages (one for each kid for the year.  I really like this idea and think it will come in super handy when it’s time to fill out the baby books around their birthdays.  An example of mine is below)
    • Gift Lists & Ideas (one sheet to jot down ideas about gifts for people throughout the year)
    • Favorite Recipes (just a list of our favorites and where they are located.  Hopefully this will make menu planning a lot easier.  We love trying new recipes and do it a lot but it’s not practical for every meal.  Next time I’m drawing a blank, I can refer to the list and know I’ll find a winner)
    • Menu Sheets (I’m a little crazy unconventional when it comes to menu planning.  The whole idea of doing menus by Sunday, Monday, Tuesday… is lost on me.  We usually don’t know when we will be eating dinner or who will be there until about 30-45 minutes before we eat.  Kyle’s job is a little unpredictable with the hours, so just because I have steak & potatoes listed on Tuesday, it’s entirely possible and probable that he will text at 7:30 pm saying that he’s going to eat at the office.  I’m not about to cook steak and potatoes for myself and 2 half-pints.  At that point, it’s time to scramble some eggs and make toast.  I realize that you don’t have to cook what’s on Tuesday just because it says Tuesday, but why plan menus that way if it’s not going to be followed?  The other thing that I have seen on some people’s menus that I simply cannot fathom is including breakfasts, lunches and snacks.  Mad props to those moms who’ve got that under control, but planning one meal a day is enough for me!  We do eat breakfasts, lunches and snacks but I just buy “the usual” and fill in with what’s on sale.  Occasionally, I will try to give lunches a little change up but most of the time I save the menu planning energy for dinners.  I usually buy groceries once every two-ish weeks, so I kept the 14-16 meal plan.  Then I devised a sort of topical menu that I can pick from as the evening dinner plans develop.   Foodie Nights and Family Nights we try to do once a month, so every two weeks I plan one or the other.  Then a bigger meal to share with guests,  a couple of lunches (these may or may not get filled in), a few meals we plan to eat with Kyle (a little nicer than scrambled eggs), Easy meals are ones we’ve done before and Quick meals are for the nights I look up and it’s 9pm and realize no one has yet eaten anything.
    • Shopping List (right after the menu sheets are shopping lists.  I made my own to follow the aisles of my local grocery store.  Again, the central location is key; I can add things as I run out or think of them and never misplace my list.  Plus it’s super handy as I’m making menus)
    A few other items that I might include one day (but just didn’t have time to create yet)
    • Emergency Info sheets
    • Babysitter Info (just  tear out form and leave instructions for the night.  Easily tailored to your kids at whatever stage they are currently in)
    • Personal and Medical Info (Driver’s License #s, Social Security #s, Policy #s – all those numbers that it would be handy to have when you’re on the phone and don’t have two hands to dig through a file drawer)
    • Packing Lists (for vacations, trips home to CO, camping, etc)
    So that’s my Household Notebook.  This is my first week trying it out, and so far so good.  My favorite part has to be writing down the Everyday Joys.  Taking time to notice them really changes my outlook.  I think the next best thing is seeing the purpose behind the things I do.  I’m not just inviting someone to dinner, I’m building Intentional Relationships.  I’m not just singing the days of the week to the tune of the Adams Family theme song, I’m educating my children.  Perspective…
    What systems help you stay mentally organized and focused on what’s important?  I’m sure it will look different than mine, but I’d love to hear what helps you.   Do you have a household notebook?  If so, what’s included?  Knowing me, I’ll probably be revamping my “system” again in another 6-9 months when a new life stage hits and will be desperate for ideas.  So goes the life with young kids, right?


  • March12th

    Saturday I mentioned that I’m in the process of creating our own family’s Household Notebook.  If you want to read more about why I started this project, click here.  Today I wanted to break things down into a little more detail – more for me than for you because it helps solidify things for me when I write them down.

    Late last spring, I discovered I had hypothyroidism.  As soon as I was diagnosed, I started a hormone replacement treatment.  And as the mental fog started to lift, I took a deeper look at how I had been coping with life prior to knowing I had a medical problem and realized I had developed some very bad attitudes and habits.   Part of the process of getting things back on track was dividing things into two categories:

    • Values
    • Obligations

    Kyle and I have talked a lot about what we value over the years, initially as a couple and now as a family with young kids.  The book that launched that conversation was ‘Smart Couples Finish Rich‘ by David Bach.  The message of the book was basically ‘determine what your values are spend your money there’ but what Kyle and I discussed is it’s not just about money, it has to do with time and efforts too.  Last summer I realized (finally) that I wanted to put the majority of my efforts into what mattered to me, into where my heart was.  Not only would I be fulfilled when doing them, but I also would be able to view that “task” in the right light.  Also, by actually categorizing something as an Obligation, it made me practice not filling my week up with things that I didn’t like doing.  If I have 52 obligations that week and not one thing that fulfills me, I’m headed into a rotten week!

    How do I head into a great week?  Here’s what I’m going to try…this is the first page of my To-Do section.  It has a list of the plates I have spinning right now.

     Most of them correspond to a Value that Kyle and I have and all of them have their own “focus sheet”, which I filed immediately behind this page.  The focus sheets have the details of each bucket:

    • the definition of that value
    • things to incorporate weekly & monthly
    • tasks & goals divided into short, mid and long-term

    The idea being that as ideas come to me or goals are made, I can be constantly adding to each focus sheet.  Everything is centralized.  No more forgetting a call to make, or kids activity to try, or habit I’m trying to form.  It’s all written down in the notebook.  Then at the beginning of each week, I can take a look at the focus sheets and pull forward what needs done this week.  That way my to-do list doesn’t get overwhelmed with things not due until August and I can see big picture, if I’m creating a balanced week for myself or not.

    Down at the bottom, is a “bucket” called Everyday Joys.  Have you heard of the book One Thousand Gifts?  I’m sure you have and that I was the only one hiding under a rock for the 24 weeks that it was on the New York Time’s Bestseller’s List.  This space on my week’s to-do list is for me to write down the gifts, the everyday little joys that God gives so graciously to an undeserving me.  I purposely put the Obligations right next to the Joys.   Every week will have crap that needs taken care of.  I can either see it and start the mental grumbling…or I can look to the right and realize I have a very blessed life with lots of joy and I should live in that, even when I’m calling the insurance company for the umpteenth time.

    I’ll flesh out the other two notebook sections (Calendars and Family) next time…


  • March10th

    This is my brain…

    This is my brain on kids…

    This is probably a bit of revisionist history, but it seems that pre-kids my life was so simple to organize.  I owned a Franklin Covey planner which was so easy to maintain.  It was more for the idea and look than necessity.  I mean, how hard is it to remember things when life doesn’t have interruptions or distractions?  You’ve heard of “pregnancy brain”… I don’t think  my mental facilities ever recovered after getting pregnant with Kade.

    Just because life is chaotic with kids, I don’t want it to sound like I would ever want to go back to life without them.  Never!  They make every day so full and bring little rays of sunshine into the cloudiest of moments.  But I do feel like I am in constant search of a rhythm for our family.  Especially with young kids, life stages go by so quickly.  Just when we are set on two naps a day, it’s time to switch to one.  Just when we’ve figured out breastfeeding, it’s time to switch to formula.  Every 6-9 months, I feel like I’m overhauling my “system”.  To tell you the truth, this is probably the best thing for me.  I’m a processor, I need to think things through and write things down and mull them over before I can jump in with both feet.  That’s what this week has been for me…a time to evaluate what I’ve been doing and process.

    One of the blogs I enjoy is Steady Mom and recently I purchased her book Steady Days.  It’s filled with lots of great ideas, tips and reminders about being intentional in our role as moms.  One of the things she talks about that helped her was a household notebook.  I’ve looked at these before and must say, I was completely overwhelmed and intimidated.  They usually have house cleaning schedules that list things like washing walls every two weeks and changing the sheets daily.  Are you kidding?  I’m happy if I sweep up all the Cheerios daily!  But then it hit me (I’m slow sometimes) – my book doesn’t have to look like theirs.  Why adopt a system that you know won’t work?  Instead, adapt it to what will.

    This is my adaptation…our family unit’s version of a Household Notebook.  I decided to try it out for my latest “organizational system” revamp.  I like the idea of valuable info being visible and in a central place.  Too many times I have a list on my computer, another on my phone, another on the fridge, one in my purse, one on the counter, etc.  But it’s difficult to see priorities that way.  I end up wasting time and being inefficient.  I do what’s on the closest list, rather than what is the best thing for that part of the day.  I don’t know if anyone else can relate, but I’m discovering there are things you can do with kids awake and others that can ONLY be done when they are sleeping.  My new motto is “Never waste sleeping time!”  I’m hoping that modifying a household notebook to fit our family will help me better manage our home and school – but also help me keep focused on what’s really important.  Not just with the To-Do list, but also with my perspective on life.  Is the most important thing I do as a mom keeping the house clean and ensuring we don’t live on PBJs?  Or is it modeling Christ to my children so that they are drawn to Him?  I’m not saying a notebook will make me perfect, I’m just hoping it will be a tool to remind me what I should be working towards.

    So the first adaptation – no 3 ring binder from an office supply store!  Instead I’m going to make request Kyle to cut me two pieces of wood so I can make something like this little lovely from Cheriebee over on Etsy.  Isn’t it darling?

    6" X 8" Mustache wood journal

    After I settled on the fun “pretty” stuff…it was time to take a look at what to put inside.  I divided mine into 3 sections:  To-Do’s, Calendars and Family.  I’ll break these down in more detail a little later, but here’s a preview.  I’m off to get some wood cut…

  • January13th

    Right before we left for Colorado, my best girlfriends and their kids came over to have a pre-holiday-travel get together.  We’ve been hanging out just about every week for the past year to rejoice with, pray for, give advice to, share experiences with, and laugh about each other and our kids.  They are a true blessing to me – providing sanity checks, adult conversation, warm fellowship and delicious food (especially right after Jessie was born).  Girls – I love you and your amazing kids!  Thanks for being a part of our lives!!