A Line is Drawn

The Man Beast calls me today on his cell to tell me that he won't be home until very late.

It's up to me to make dinner.

There's only one problem -- dinner is fried chicken.

Fried chicken is the Man Beast's domain, not mine. And it seems, the children know this.

When they asked when Man Beast was coming home (they usually just call him Dad) and I told them he was going to be late they asked me, "Who's gonna cook dinner?"



Who's going to cook dinner? "I'm going to cook dinner! I am Mom after all. What are my blog readers going to think when I tell them this", I asked them. "I'll tell you what they're going to think -- they are going to think that I never feed you. And they actually have proof!"

It's time I 'fess up to you all right now.

I cannot cook fried chicken. And potatoes. Of any kind. But I swear to you -- I do cook for the kiddos and the Man Beast. Obviously the Man Beast is well fed. His mama fed him well and when we got married 11 years ago, she entrusted his nourishment to me. I promise I do feed my family. I really, really do!

I make a moral decision and decide that the kiddos cannot possibly wait until 10 o'clock to eat. They never eat that late...well, this week at least. No, this is something I have got to do myself.

Well, I did it. Cooked to perfection. Or so I thought.

As The Boy was putting his plate in the sink he asked, "Did you season the chicken at all?"

Obviously, not enough...

I Got Sidetracked This Morning

It's so easy to do, actually. You begin your day with a mug of coffee and then sit down to check your email. You notice that you have a comment on your blog, so you check it out. While you're there, you check out that person's blog. Since you're checking blogs, you check your other friend's blogs. Then you get caught up in reading comments.

Ah, the comments. This is where the gravy truly lies in a blog. This is where your blog goes beyond you and becomes so much more.

And this is where I get distracted.

I was on a friend's photo blog, checking out her-world-in-pictures. I go to comment and notice that a friend of hers (who also has a photo blog) has fixed a picture for her. Wasn't that sweet? What's really sweet is that her friend did it online - for free! (Yes, she did it for her friend for free, but the photo editing program she used was free online)

So, of course I had to go check it out: Picnik

This program was made for people like me -- people who can't take pictures and whose photos are in serious need of editing. (Okay, so, people who do take really good pictures can use this, too. But for those of us who haven't quite figured out Paint Shop Pro, this program is for us.)

I was able -- without registering -- to use one of their photos to play and upload it to my Picasa Web Album (or Facebook, Photobucket, Flickr, MySpace...) for free.

The fact that they offer such a great service is awesome. The fact that they offer it for free - more awesome-er.

Just check out what I did with one of their photos:

Before:


After:


Pretty nifty, huh? I played around with every setting I could find, but I eventually settled for this - crop, tilt, colored only the face of the clock and left everything else black and white and then added text.

Thanks to picnik, I can look like a photo genius.

The World Does Not Revolve Around Me

But my world does. This isn't arrogance speaking -- just cold, hard facts.

Take for example earlier this week when I was on my death bed. Did laundry get done? No. Did dishes get done? No. Did the cats get fed? No. (In fact, I could win Cat Mom of the Year because I almost starved all five cats to death. I meant to buy more food before I fell to my death bed. I really did. And since the kids can't drive and the store isn't close enough, they starved. But luckily, not to death. They were pretty hungry, though. Did you know that cats, when they are hungry enough, will eat saltine crackers? True story.)

Most families, when the matriarch is sick, would pitch in and do chores, make dinner, basically be a fill-in until Mom got better. Not my family. My family makes sure that the matriarch doesn't actually die. They cater to her every whim. They bring her tea and reheat her tea as many times as she requests. They bring her toast and read to her in bed.

All things considered, it could be much, much worse.

V is for Violently Ill

For the past 24 hours, I have been beating a path from my bedroom to the bathroom.

I have earned yet another Mother of the Year reward. The Boy has been taking care of me and Baby Gurl. Neither child got any adult interaction yesterday aside from the occassional "Boy, can you please heat up my tea?"

Today, I'm feeling a bit better. Still very very tired and pretty dizzy. Didn't stop me from going to the bank, though. No siree. Of course, half way to the bank, I realized that I would not be going anywhere else today (maybe Church tonight, but we'll see).

Dinner will be quick and easy and oh so nutritious -- hot dogs with macaroni and cheese.

Tomorrow, I'll work on really becoming Mother of the Year. I'll go shopping, do laundry and cook, actually cook a home-cooked meal.

But right now, I'm heading back to bed for a nap.

Chipped Teeth and Dead Birds

This would have been my Saturday and this would have been why I didn't create a blog post yesterday.

I was just too stressed!

The kiddos decided that they were going to play. So, they took the ladder from Baby Gurl's bunk beds and created a bridge from the gaming chair to the couch in the den.

I saw it and I didn't say anything.

Even now, 24 hours later, I'm still irked at the whole situation.

Baby Gurl was playing on it and all the sudden I hear a 'Oh, ow!' and then she disappears into the bathroom. She's not howling, so I really don't give it much thought until I hear the Boy ask, "Are you bleeding?"

I calmly walk to the bathroom as not to scare the girl, but all the way, I'm dreading what I might find. I thought maybe she might have bitten her lip and she was bleeding. That I could handle.

What I saw, sent a shiver down my spine.

A chipped front tooth. A permanent chipped front tooth.

Teeth are a big deal to me. I have really bad teeth and I had hoped that God had been gracious in the genes department to give my children their father's teeth. He had. And then something like this happens.

I'm angry. I'm angry at the kids for doing what they do best -- creating death traps. I'm angry because if I would have halted that creativity, this probably wouldn't have happened. I'm angry at what this might mean.

Since it was Saturday, I couldn't take Baby Girl to the dentist. I sent the kiddos outside to play while I went online and did research.

Root canal. That's all I read, time and time again.

I can't find the chip, so they'll have fix that. But looking closer at the tooth, I see a line that divides the tooth in half length wise (as in to the bottom of her tooth to her gum). The tooth is damage. She said when she brushes her teeth, it's cold and it hurts. That means that there might be an exposed root or nerve.

I feel like a failure as a mom. I have no idea if our insurance is going to pay for this and I have not idea how much pain is involved.

And I won't know anything until tomorrow.

Oh, and the dead bird? Courtesy of one of my five cats. In my dining room. On the floor. In all it's glory.

I was the designated bird thrower-outter. Have you ever felt a dead animal body?

It's cold. Very cold. Colder than ice. And it's freaky.

As I was throwing the dead bird out into the garbage, I said a prayer for it. I suppose it's kind of stupid to say a prayer for something that's already dead, but I felt kind of weird throwing it out.

I could have buried it, I suppose. But I've had enough of burying animals. I've buried six kittens in our back yard.

Where's the Calgon?

Nothing like unexpected company to get a house tidy

The Boy's best friend from church is visiting. He actually called this morning and asked to come over.

Initially, I said no. And then I thought about it.

Why should The Boy be punished because I haven't been keeping up on my chores.

I told The Boy to call Boy's Friend and tell him that I'll come pick him up after I run a few errands.

Two hours after that phone call, we were finally on our way out the door. (This would be why I am notoriously late -- never fails. I lack gumption. Or maybe I just have a really bad concept of time.)

The Boy's Friend calls while we're out -- Where are you guys? Aren't you back yet?

Finally, we get home, arrangements are made and The Boy's Friend is on his way over.

Of course, with impending company, you take quick inventory of the really important things to clean. I figured taming the paper monster, telling the kids to pick up their clutter and straightening up the kitchen are good enough for a nine year old boy.

Oh, and I mopped. But only because the kiddos spilled water as they were cleaning out the dishwasher and I had mud puddles on my floor.

Mud puddles and company are very good reasons to mop a kitchen floor.

And now, since all three kiddos are playing Smash Bros. , hiding out in my bedroom and folding laundry sounds like a good idea.

Of course, so does laying down with the new book I got at the library today.


Book Ramblings

I promise that I am not being a blogging copycat. I'm not. In fact, if you go back a few posts, where I posted my blog schedule, you'll see that Thursdays are slated for Book Banter and Movies.

Today, I choose Book Banter.

Now that my moral conscience is clear, I will go on.

*ahem*

I love contemporary Christian fiction. I love reading it and I love writing it (but that's another blog post entirely...maybe around November, perhaps?) I accidental stumbled onto Christian fiction. I didn't purposely seek it out...it sought me.

Thinking back, I think my first Christian author was actually a team. The Left Behind series (by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye) was my first exposure to Christian Fiction. (Now, I realize that some of you might consider the LB series to be fact. And that might well be, but the characters in the book are fiction and therefore, the book in my opinion, is fiction).

The second exposure I had to Christian fiction was through my MIL (she's a fabulous woman...if you ever get the chance to meet her, please do). I read The Covenant by Beverly Lewis, which interestingly was contemporary in an Amish sort of way. No, it was Amish but takes place in modern times. Never mind...take my word for it -- Beverly Lewis rocks the Amish fiction genre hard and loud. (Yes, I understand the irony considering we're talking Amish folk).

Hannah Alexander was my next love interest. She is actually a husband and wife team -- think ER without the sex. Medical mystery is a good term for it, I suppose. The books I read in the second series -- Healing Touch -- are actually out of print. But good news - they are reprinting them next year! (Still, I'm sure you could find them in your local library is you choose not to buy the books you read...I don't).

My friend, Shellbell, introduced me to Terri Blackstock and a new relationship was born! Actually, it was a chain reaction thing -- her grandmother (a dear lady...you should meet her if ever given the chance) introduced her to Blackstock and Shellbell in turn introduced me to her. I just cannot say enough good things about her (Terri...and Shellbell and her grandmom too...but in this case, I'm talking about Terri). Her books are mesmerizing and grabs you from the first page. Don't believe me? Go to her site to read an excerpt of her book -- any book (although I recommend the Last Light series...mesmerizing, I tell you)

Because I like to read the back of books and read author's book lists, I stumbled upon Beverly LaHaye (wife of Tim, mentioned above) who wrote the Seasons series with Terri Blackstock.

And hence, I come to the point of my post: The Seasons series. By far the best series ever written. (Okay, that's obviously a very subjective opinion since I can't have possibly read every single book ever written. But I'm working on it) Just trust me on this. It's a beautiful series.

The Seasons Series follows the lives of four women (Brenda, Cathy, Tory and Sylvia) on Cedar Circle whose lives are as unique and intertwined as they can get. Each book follows one of the four women (four seasons, four women, get it?) and their struggles:

Book One: Seasons Under Heaven:
Brenda, a homeschooling mom of four, struggles with her youngest's illness.

Book Two: Showers in Season:
Tory and her husband, Barry face a difficult decision concerning Tory's pregnancy.

Book Three: Times and Seasons:
Cathy, a single mom, must deal with the consequences of her son, Mark's, wrong choices.

Book Four: Season of Blessing:
Sylvia, the groups matriarch, receives a devastating cancer diagnosis.

All four books center around Christ's love and blessings during trials and tribulations.

Excellent.

In fact, I just finished reading book four last week. I read it in two days because I could no put it down. Sylvia is my favorite character. She is the one who holds it most together and she is the one that every one in the circle comes to for help, for hugs, and for healing. In short, Sylvia is the kind of woman I hope to be one day.

If you find yourself in between books, I encourage you to pick up a Christian fiction novel. The authors I sited above aren't sugary sweet. The books revolve around real-life struggles in which every reader can truly identify. Terri Blackstock and Beverly LaHaye focus on the importance of a Christ-filled life but not in a way that makes you feel bullied, guilty, or preached to.

You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll think. And maybe, you'll talk to Jesus.

I know I did.

Give her a notebook and *this* is what happens

Do you all see this? Look at my beautiful notebook! How long have I had this? Two, three weeks? And just look!

I suppose you want to know what happened. I happened!

Seriously, if God weren't in charge, something like this probably would have happened to the children by now. They'd look like some modern-age painting -- waterlogged and runny. Can I just say right now how thankful I am that God is in charge? Amen and amen!

So, back to my notebook. I put it on my chest freezer while I made my rolls last week. I use my freezer because my kitchen was built back in the dark ages and has a counter top as large as a double sink, all the way on the other side of my kitchen away from the stove!

So, I had the notebook right there on top of my make-shift counter, across the stove, having a good ol' time. After I got the rolls in the oven ,I pulled some milk out of the freezer.

I had to move the notebook to open the freezer and pull out my milk. I placed my frozen milk on top of the freezer to thaw.

What happens when things thaw?

They melt. They make condensation. That condensation makes large puddles -- especially a gallon of milk.

Now, had I left my notebook on the shelf with my pots and pans, I would have been fine. But I just had to move the notebook back where it was--beside the thawing milk jug.

What you see is the end result.

*sigh*

Well, at least none of the inside pages were damaged.
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The Smile

This smile makes my heart skip a beat. This smile can make all my stresses go away. This smile reminds me that after all is said and done, all really is right with my world.

This is the Man Beast. Isn't he handsome? Well, I suppose I'm somewhat biased. But even if I weren't, I'd still think he was incredibly handsome (and I'd probably be incredible jealous that he wasn't mine). But he is mine. And that smile. Oh how I love that smile.

This is this year's Father's Day picture. There are others. But this was the best. Because of that smile.

Did I mention the smile?

I just love the smile.
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Slow Saturday

When I discussed my theme posting ideas, I left Saturday open. I left it open because I couldn't think of a theme, not because I wanted to give myself leeway. But I think I like having an open-ended theme.

Take for today example: I have an update about yesterday's dinner. I'm sure you want to hear about it.

You do, don'tcha?

My rolls turned out very heavy. They weren't light and fluffy. They were meaty and good. I think next time I make them, I'll be sure to put them into a cold oven so that they'll cook slower. The recipe said to bake them for 20 minutes. Mine baked for just 11 and were more than golden brown on top. Too done for Man Beast, actually.

My brownies were a hit with everyone -- but me. I really didn't care for the recipe which means that I'll experimenting with more later. I am glad everyone liked them, though. Maybe I didn't like them because I cooked? Have you ever discovered that the food you cook usually doesnt' taste as great to you as to others? It's true. I think there is a scientific journal out there on the subject.

***

Have I mentioned how much I love technology? I do. I love it. Guess where I am right now? Go on, guess.

Oh, okay, I'll tell you -- I'm sitting on my bed, sipping my first cup of coffee, listening to Tom and writing on the laptop. It's a beautiful thing. Really.

I got my laptop two Christmases ago. It was one of those things that I kind of wanted but wouldn't be completely heartbroken if I didn't get it. Well, I got it. The Man Beast got an excellent deal on it based on the fact that he worked at the store where it was bought. The best part about the whole thing is that it was mine from the get go. No one could take it away from me. Payments weren't made on it or anything - it was mine outright. And I loved it.

Of course, in the past two years, there have been smaller, faster machines built and I try really hard to be content with what I have. And for the most part I am. But I'd love some more memory and Vista. But I can wait. Technology moves so fast .. it won't be long before both will be more than affordable.

***

So -- what's on tap today? Today, is general Saturday chores. I've got quite a bit of catching up to do. The kiddos are still asleep and I should probably get up and get some work done. But here I sit. It will get done. The Man Beast has Sunday and Monday off and I know that the four of us will enjoy each other more if the kiddos and I get our chores done so that we can relax.

Oh...that and it's Father's Day. MB deserves a organized and clean cave, doesn't he?

Of course he does.

TGIF -- Happy Friday the 13th

I refuse to believe that today is any different from any other Friday based solely on the day that it happens to fall on the calendar. I'm sure many people have birthdays today and many children are going to be born today. How can today be bad?

I refuse to be superstitious.

Weekly RoundUp -- in a nutshell -- failed.

Well, no, I can't say that. VBS was awesome! It was loud and disorganized (like your's truly) but last night, we had twenty kids come to Christ! The Girl told me yesterday that she had accepted Christ into her heart last week at another VBS (why she didn't tell me, I dont' know) and The Boy recommitted his life to Christ last night. (I kind of had a feeling he would because he's been really bummed that he doesn't know Christ as well as I do. I reassurred him by saying the only way to know Christ is to spend time with Him and told him that even I hadn't been doing that as much I should. We've agreed that daily devotions together might be a good place to start.)

It takes 21 days to create a habit. Christ should be a habit. Are all habits bad? Is it downplaying Christ to want to make Him a habit?

I know one thing: the more time you spend with Christ, the more time you want to spend with Him.
***
I have a sore throat today. Again, nothing to do with the date today. I just hooted a little too loudly last night at VBS. I woke up in the middle of the night with it screaming in pain.

Do you ever notice that when your throat is sore, you spend more time swallowing spit -- making it hurt more?
***
I have lost my passion for home organization. I must get the passion back.

Okay, I'd settle for a little bit of 'oomf'.

Tonight, I'm making the Man Beast his Father's Day dinner. I'm making spaghetti -- canned sauce, boxed noodles and cheap hamburger meat. But I'm making up for it with homemade no knead rolls and homemade brownies.

That's a maybe on the brownies. I might not have all the ingredients I need. In which case, when I go to the store to buy MB his present, I can pick up a box of brownie mix.

Aren't I just a mess?

I'm pretty sure that anything I serve the Man Beast tonight will be a welcomed sight after a week of cheap processed food. (His doing by the way. He said when he was making the menu this past week that he wanted to go easy on me. Next year, we're going Crock Pot. I don't think any of our bodies could take all this junk again.)
***
Speaking of junk, I'm up a pound this week. Our church served 'dinner snack' to the kids. There's no snack -- unless it's empty calories void of any nutritional value. So you know my kiddos ate it up. I did, too.

I'm so ashamed.
***
Oh well! It's back to The Plan!

Today, I have a mountain of laundry to do. (No, really. I'm thinking of naming it. How does Mt. Dontwannadoit sound to you? Sounds like it should be in HI instead of GA. Mt. Justkeepsgettinbiggernbigger. That's better -- with a true southern twang!)

I've got to tame the clutter in my house. It's the other beast -- the white elephant, actually -- that no one wants to talk about. But it's here. And it's neon white.
***
Later gator!

I'm wet...but I'm posting!

I took the kids to the Free Summer Movie program this morning with two of their friends. Coming back, I stopped by the library to return some books but they didn't open until noon. I was hungry, so I dropped the friends off and come home to fix the three of us lunch.

After lunch, I went to the library to return the books and movies we got last week. We have two big bags full of a new batch of books and movies. Then we went to Kroger.

I should have stayed home.

By the time we got to the store, it was pouring. By the time I walked out of the store with two items and two kids (no more, no less), the sky had opened up and it was a solid sheet of water.

I got wet.

I'm still wet.

And it is because I'm wet that I write this blog entry off line. (I live in small town American where, apparently, when it rains, all forms of life (both domestic and electronic) shut down.)

I promised to blog regularly and I'm going to keep to my word. I have decided that to help me do this, I'm going to have Themed Ramblings days. I've seen other bloggers do this and seems like it works out quite well.

Here is my schedule:

  • Monday -- Weekend Hijinx (around this house, you know there will be tons to tell)

  • Tuesday & Thursday -- Movie Musings (everything from rentals to at-the-movies to oldies-but-goodies)

  • Wednesday -- House Talk (menus, schedules, home improvements - everything house)

  • Thursday -- Book Banter (I'll share books I've read or books I'm reading)

  • Friday -- TGIF: Week Round Up

  • Saturday -- Up in the Air (and probably some goofy sounding stuff, too)

  • Sunday -- Spiritual Reflections

I'll see how it goes and I might mix it up a bit...but I think having a theme will help me keep an ever watchful eye on all that is my life and share about it in a way that hopefully doesn't make you click away or put you to sleep (of course, if you're an insomniac, you might want me to put you to sleep -- in which case, just ask. I'll be more than happy to oblige)

I mentioned that I took the kids and their friends to the movies this morning. The reason why the summer movies are free is because...well, they're reruns. But we don't' get out much, so sometimes, they're new to us.

Today was Evan Almighty. Totally not new to us but a definite favorite in this household.

For anyone who doesn't know (where have you been...under a rock?), Evan Almighty is about a Senator who wants to change the world. Little does he know that in order to do it, God wants him to build an ark.

It's a very cute movie and one I'd pretty much recommend to the over 7 crowd. The humor isn't too crude and the only 'OMGosh Factor' is when Evan says he's going to be pissed if it doesn't rain and when the youngest boy talks about an animal's penis.

Wanda Sykes plays Evan's Executive Assistant and she is hillarious. She brings her brand of humor to movie (loads of impromptu stuff, I assume) in a clean, family-friendly manner.

If you haven't see it, rent it. You'll be glad you did.

On Tuesday, just the kids and I went to see The Water Horse. This was a new-to-us movie. I sat beside a child who had seen it before and was always giving away the surprises (not that they weren't too hard to figure out anyway).

The story takes place in Scotland where a young boy visits a tide pool and finds a mysterious egg. With the help of the grounds keeper, he learns the meaning of friendship and of letting go.

I don't remember any bad words in the movie at all. Of course, I don't think there would be -- it was put out by Walden Media (the same ones who brought us Charlotte's Web and Bridge to Terrabithia). Shows how much I know. According to The Dove Foundation (not the soap people), there are quite a few words in the movie that you might find objectionable. So please, use your best judgment on this. What's okay in my eyes might not be for your's.

My six year old got a little antsy but my ten year old stayed enraptured the whole time.

There were slow points to it, so much in fact that I was surprised to learn that it was only an hour and a half long. But all in all, it was a good movie.

Again, if you haven't seen it, do yourself the favor and rent it. (Check your local library -- you can 'rent' it for free!)

Yes, I changed it again

It's my birthday and I declare creative license to change my blog template at will.

But I have a good reason.

Honest.

I needed more room. Two columns just wasn't cuttin' it.

So I opted for three.

How do you like it?

Happy Birthday to me and other news!


Okay, so I've refrained from being totally obnoxious on the message boards about my birthday. I've refrained from my not-so-subtle countdown ticker.

But this is my so I can be as obnoxious as I want --

I'm done. (See, if you allow me to be obnoxious, I won't be...it's when you prohibit me from being obnoxious that I feel the need to be very obnoxious)

I started out my birthday on a great food -- I woke the Man Beast up late! He declined lunch so I sent him to work hungry. He did take ten bottles of water to work though, so I'm not a complete failure.

I'm finishing my first mug of coffee, sitting on the couch, listening to Tom and writing to you all of you. (I have to interject here: if you need some spiritual boost during the week or don't attend a home church, I encourage you to tune into Tom Dooley and Master Media and listen to hour segments of 'good stuff'. He doesn't brow beat but he doesn't have a lot of fluff in his podcasts either. Listen once, and you might be hooked for life).

Officially, the poll wasn't supposed to end for another three days. But my public has spoken loudly (even though there were only four of you -- I listened!) and I've added feed to my blog. This means you can subscribe to me and never miss a post. (This will come in very handy for when I actually put into practice my daily to-do list and post every day.)

There are several ways to subscribe -- I recommend two:

The easiest way (IMO) is to create feed in your own mail client. (I use Thunderbird and subscribe to Crystal and Ree's blogs -- actually, I subscribe to all four of Ree's).

The second easiest way to subscribe is to use Google Reader.

There are tons of readers out there. Just do a search and I'm sure you'll find the one that's right for you.

Do I have any offers to be my guinea pig? Let me know if it works? I guess I could be my own guinea pig.

As Promised -- Household Notebook (with pictures!)


I've promise and I've promise and I've promised to blog about my household notebook.

Well, it's time to make good on my promises.

I will include links where I can to the guts of my notebook. They'll be posted throughout so be on the look out. (Please Note: Everything that I'm posting is free to use on a personal level. I'm not promoting anything for personal gain. All those who know me know that when I see a good thing, I want to share it with the world. These are all good things.)

The Story Behind the Story:

Back in the day, when I was homeschooling, I had a wonderful network of friends. (Actually, I still have these friends -- we just talk about stuff other than homeschooling.) One of the common themes of various message boards that I became a part of was getting it all done. Some of my friends are more organized than...well, me so I hung onto their every word. Even after I stopped homeschooling, I still needed help so I went on a search to create my own notebook.

What is a Household Notebook?

A household notebook is exactly as it sounds -- a notebook for managing your household. What does this mean, Iva? It means that the heart of your household (well, in weird, organizational sense) is in the notebook. Chores, bills, addresses, lists, lists and more lists. A household notebook has whatever you want in it. This of course, means that the notebook is very personalized and different for everyone.

What do you need:
  • Binder (I started out with a 1 inch...I quickly out grew it...like, before I finished putting it together -- so I now use a 2 inch binder:

  • Dividers -- you really don't need these, but if you have several categories it just makes it easier. Mine have pockets in them. I plan on putting stuff in them. You know, like bills...the idea behind a household notebook is to keep everything in one place:

Nice to have, but not necessarily needed:
  • Page Protectors (I use these on my daily to-do list because it never changes. I can just use a dry erase marker to mark off each to do)
  • Pencil Pouch -- you can use one to put your calculator, pens, pencils, markers or whatever other tools you need/use to make your notebook work for you

While searching for notebook 'guts' I found a wide variety of forms, templates and designs but nothing quite suited my style. (I suppose once I become more proficient with Paint Shop Pro, I can design my own but that might take forever and by the time I get to designing my own my house could very well be run over with clutter, dust and laundry. I cannot let that happen.)

I finally settled on Oranized Home and their wonderful templates. Modern but not too over-the-top. Describes me a to a T, wouldn't you say?

My notebook is divided into five sections: Bills, Menu Planning, Household Chores, Bible Study, and Fitness/Wellness. You could also use your notebook for schedules (sports, music, homeschool, etc). And I'm sure many of you could come up with tons more categories than what I have. Let me know -- leave me a comment.

The Sections:

Bills:
Grandpa Terry has a wonderful site that has tons of information on personal finance. He has oodles of free forms that you can use, too. While you're there, be sure to sign up for his *free* newsletter. It comes out every Sunday and is filled with great information.

Menu Planning:
I also have included a pantry and freezer inventory (makes meal planning that much quicker, dontcha know).

Household Chores: (the bulk of my notebook)
I have a daily to-do list and a weekly planner (where I've written out my Zones -- kind of like FlyLady, only not really). To help with my zone cleaning (I'll explain it in just a second), I've included what Organized Home calls "Spring Cleaning Grand Plan Challenge". I've printed off a challenge for each one of my rooms (not including the children's bedrooms or their bathroom) and made a list of every possible thing that has to be done in each room (vacuuming, dusting, washing baseboards, blinds, curtains, etc):
Each day, I have a different zone I work on in addition to my daily chores (laundry schedule and dishes):
The main difference between FlyLady and me -- her zones are time restrained. I work my zones until the zone is clean. Oh, and I don't wear shoes.

Kids' Chores:

I headed on over to DLTK's site to print up the kids' chore charts. (These are a paper version of the charts the kids have on their commission worksheets that are posted on the refrigerator) Because the kids have so many listed chores (although they don't do every one, every day) I chose not to add graphics to my chart. But you can do whatever you want with yours:

Address Book:

I confess that I wasn't going to add this particular section to my notebook, but after putting it together, it just made sense to include it. You can find several versions of the address book at Organized Home
(My personal information has been blurred to protect privacy -- your copy will be much cleaner)

Bible Study:
My prayer life is very important to me. It's also very lacking. This is why I've chosen to include a Bible Study section in my notebook. You could add anything you want: personal reflections, book of quotes, etc. This is just what I've chosen.

In looking for Bible Study pages, I ran across the Five Finger Prayer. I'm sure many of you have read it before. I hadn't. I just had to include it in my notebook as a reminder of what all I should pray for (I told you my prayer life was lacking). I chose this one to print out because it's so sweet...but there are tons you could add to your own notebook (if you choose to, that is):
(Isn't the picture too precious for words? In case you can't see it, it's a grandparent holding a baby and both sets of hands are in prayer position. A moment of silence please for this awww-some picture)

....

Bible Study Journal

Trying to find Bible Study journal pages that included everything I wanted was tough! I still am not completely happy with what I found, but this will do for now:
Each page has the date, the bible study title, speaker, chapter and page numbers, location, scripture memory verse/Bible passage, notes/outline/discussion points, and prayer for understanding/guidance/revelation/application. Do you see now why I'm not completely happy with it? I like that there is a place for reflection, but I don't need location or speaker -- oh well, as I said, I'll made due. I really would like a space to put prayer requests as well. (I think this will be the area that I work on creating my own document -- when I have time, of course).

The Proverbs 31 woman has always been a great mystery to me. I look up to my friends who look like they have it all together (the realist in me says that it's impossible for everyone to have everything together, but still I strive). But I really look up to this woman. She's loved, cherished, respected, industrious, and organized. What a gal! This chick could make Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray and Paula Deen look lazy. This is really an awesome lady.

But still, she's a mystery.

This is why I was so excited to find Hem of His Garment.
While searching through Ameerah's studies, I found Discovering The Purpose of Womanhood. (it's zipped, so you'll need a zipper...or I guess an unzipper to install it. That's WinZip to all you high tech readers. You'll also need a PDF reader. Here is a free copy of a unzipping program and here is a link to download Adobe Reader if you don't already have it)

If you do decide to download one of Ameerah's ebook, please share with me what you've learned. I'd love to do some of more of her studies once I finish this one.

And finally...

Fitness and Wellness:

I'm not suggesting that I'm putting myself last by putting fitness and wellness at the back of my notebook. It's just when everything is all said and done, I would flip to this section less than I would the others -- hence putting it in the back. (Just wanted to put your mind at ease)

My Fitness and Wellness journal pages were found by accident. I couldn't even begin to tell you where I found it (I searched a lot of sites the day I printed out all these great pages) You can start by looking here to see if you can find something that suits your needs.

My journal page has a little box in the corner that helps me keep track by allowing me to check off my dailies: water, veggies, milk, oil, vitamin, activity, points (for the Weight Watchers folks) as well as what the author (creator of the page) calls 'Balance': exercise, eat healthy, clean something (I like this chick!), sleep 8 hours, create something (another good one!), journal (always important...does blogging count?), work, play, social and read. Under this, she has a whole page of lines that I can fill up with my mindless ramblings. You know -- kind of like this blog:


Well, that's it. Everything you wanted to know about my notebook (and probably a lot of what you didn't). I look forward to updating regularly and tweaking my system. But I will say that so far, my system seems to be working.

Proof:

Laundry Room Before:
Laundry Room After:


If you decide to do your own notebook, please come back and share what's worked for you and what hasn't.





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