Saturday, October 19, 2013

When I Wake Up Early

     Hello blog world. I just wanted to take a few minutes this morning to encourage you to wake up earlier than normal on days you know will be extra busy. Let me be the first to say I do not do this all the time, I am after all hugely pregnant and would love to sleep many more hours a day than I already do, however when I do wake up early the benefits always outweigh the drawbacks! 
     I have one day each week that involves me being gone most of the day. If I don't get up early that day then we have a really hard time getting out the door, having what we need, and eating a real dinner. However, when I do get up early I accomplish more in less time than I dreamed possible.
     I know there are seasons in our lives where this is virtually impossible, and I will personally be there in a few short weeks. Maybe you cannot realistically get up early everyday but there is one day each week that is difficult for you. Could you get up a little earlier just one day a week? Are there tasks you could complete the night before to give you a jump start on the day? Only you know the answers. I simply encourage you to think about what you could do to make your day go smoother.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

10 Steps to a Less Stressful Christmas

I just wanted to remind everyone there are only 8 more Fridays until Christmas. It's not too late for you to have an organized, less-stressful Christmas; it simply takes planning. One cannot haphazardly prepare for Christmas and expect it to be anything but stressful. So here are my 10 steps to having a less-stressful Christmas.

1) Determine your Christmas itinerary (will you be staying home, traveling locally, staying with family/friends overnight). We also like to sync our calendars so we're on the same page.

2) Make a budget! What will you spend on gifts, food, holiday clothing, and gas/meals while traveling.

3) Make a list of people you would like to give a present to and set a budget for each person (based off your total gift budget you just set). Always plan for extra small gifts because there will be someone you would like to remember in a small way (a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend, the gymnastics teacher). Last year I found Christmas scented items at a popular soap store that were all under $4 each, some were only $1.

4) Begin planning gifts for the people on your list. Some people you will know what you want to give them in advance, other people you will have no idea (this is totally normal).

5) Plan your meal if you will be staying home. Keep in mind you don't want to be too overwhelmed. What can you make the day before? What can you make in a crockpot? What will other people be bringing? When is the best time to have your meal? - If you will be traveling make a list of the foods you will be taking to each house. Keep in mind they need to be foods that travel well and depending on how far you will travel may need to be foods you can easily purchase at the grocery store and assemble quickly (veggie tray, chips & dip, apples & caramel dip, cider & mulling spices, cheese & crackers, a bakery pie, or bakery bread).

6) If you will be staying somewhere overnight begin a packing list by category (bathroom, sleeping, Christmas outfits, everyday clothing, shoes...). I also determine what outfits we will be wearing on Christmas and purchase them according to my budget.

7) If I'm going to do a lot of baking I will make a list of what I want to make and what I need to purchase in order to make them. I will space them out on my calendar and begin with the freezable ones first.

8) Begin purchasing gifts. Normally I like to be mostly done before Thanksgiving however this year (for budget purposes) I will still be making some purchases in the first week of December.

9) Plan ways you can involve your family in serving and giving. Will you adopt a family? Will you be purchasing animals for a family via Heifer International or World Vision? Is there a shelter near you that could use a few hours of hands on help?

10) Lastly don't forget the reason for the season! I know it sounds awful to say but you need to plan this too. This is a very busy time of year and you don't want to get so busy with the things that don't actually matter to forget the the things that really do! Will you be doing an advent wreath? How else will you bring Christ into your family's Christmas?

I'm Back - Updates

      Where do I begin? Well, my husband and I are expecting our third child this month. She will be our third daughter. This pregnancy has been easier in some ways and harder in others. Just as every child is different every pregnancy is different. I would say the two hardest things have been that I have two smallish children who need my care and that my contractions start earlier with each child (this time they started at 17 weeks).
     The homemade vanilla extract turned out great! Not only is it super easy but it also less expensive; I would recommend it to anyone! It's almost gone and I need to start a second batch. It would also make a wonderful homemade Christmas gift.
     My husband relinquished his second company command this past Spring. We are definitely enjoying seeing him more often. He did a wonderful job and I know he was sad to leave his soldiers. He is now an instructor for the Army.
     We moved. The upcoming addition to our family qualified us for a larger home and with the help of family and friends we jumped at the chance to say goodbye to the copperheads in our old backyard. We haven't moved to a different Army post, just a different house.
     The weather is finally cooling off and it has me in a pumpkin mood. This isn't an update but more of a warning.
     Lastly, if you're still here thank you!

Syd's Silly Slip-ups

Several month as ago we had some of my husband's co-workers over to watch the Superbowl at our home. As one can imagine I was rather tired at the end of the day and instead of cleaning like we knew we should, we went to bed. Fast forward several days and I honestly thought I had cleaned everything up the following day but alas we had completely forgotten the juice box cooler. I think we each thought the other had taken care of it. What I found was not pretty but a little bit of bleach made a world of difference. Which brings me to the first...

Syd's Silly Slip-ups

Do not allow your juice boxes to sit in a cooler filled with melted ice (aka water). Juice box containers are made of cardboard. What ensues is mushy boxes, nasty water, straws wet with said nasty water, and an expensive mistake now in your trash can. You are welcome!

If you wish to submit your slip-ups for others to learn from please e-mail them to me.