Monday, September 28, 2009

Snack Bag

Snacktime was out of control at our house.  I would get the girls a snack whether it would be animal crackers, etc and they would fight over it and ask for more constantly.  I also wanted to give my kids some independance and keep their snack to a reasonable portion.  I finally had to institute the "Snack Bag".  It is a big Ziploc bag that they can reach in a lower cabinet.  They must ask first but twice a day, they can go get an individual portioned snack.  When it is gone, snack time is over.  I keep it stocked with mostly Trader Joe's or Annie's organic treats like fruit leather, cereal bars, or cheddar crackers.  It is one more thing that makes our house a little more organized and liveable.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Life Journals

All of the things I list in this blog are just pieces to a puzzle that come together to produce a more peaceful and joy-filled life.  This is probably the most important piece in that puzzle.  I had always intended to have a good "quiet-time" with God.  Sometimes I would randomly read a chapter in the Bible and pray before bed.  Sometimes I would make it a week or so getting up early and using an online or book devotional.  Whatever it was, it was never consistent.  One of my goals this year was getting this part of my life under control.  While in Hawaii, I visited New Hope Church in Honolulu.  Their pastor had introduced the idea of using a Life Journal so I started looking into it.  It is such a simple but beautiful way of studying the scripture everyday.  You read through the Bible in a year by reading the passage they have outlined for that day and then write about the verse that stood out to you.  You follow the SOAP method: Scripture-write out the verse, Observation-what you see in the text, Application-how you apply it to your life, and Prayer-your response to God regarding this verse.  You don't have to have the notebook they sell but it does have the verses in the front.  I simply bought a small spiral notebook and use the website they provide to read the Bible.  It is simple and really seems to permeate through you throughout the day.  My husband and I have both been consistently doing this for almost 2 months and we love it!

1-2-3 Magic

I'm a big lover of the 1-2-3 Magic method of discipline but I'm first going to throw in a disclaimer.  I believe any method of discipline that emphasizes love when done consistantly is probably going to work.  This method just works for us.  I used to be a reluctant spanker.  I didn't want to do it but I didn't know what else to do and I couldn't see the value in time-outs.  I also used to get emotional when I disciplined and yelled a lot.  All of that changed when I bought the 1-2-3 Magic book.  Now we follow the method when our kids make bad choices and calmly work towards correcting their behavior.  Our house is much more peaceful and I no longer feel the need to spank or yell.  I don't feel helpless anymore when my kids misbehave.  I feel like the knowledge I have empowers me to get them back on the right track.  For us, this is a big part of intentionally parenting our kids.  We intend for them to grow up with self-discipline and manners and now we have the keys to make that happen.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Family Notebook

Our Family Notebook is one of my most important tools.  It is great for finding a place for all those loose but important papers.  Ours is a binder that has plastic page protectors so I can slide anything I need in.  The first page is a list of information and important number.  You can leave that page open for babysitters or use it yourself to quickly find the number to the doctor's office or your favorite take-out.  Next, there are a few pages that outline my weekly cleaning schedule.  They list things around the house that must be cleaned everyday as well as giving me some options of random things that I need to get around to every once in a while.  I keep a monthly calendar in there as well as our yearly family goals.  I also have important information about our dog, like her vaccinations and information from her breeder. 

In the front pocket I keep upcoming event information like invitations to weddings that we have already responded to and fliers from my daughter's school that I need to get to later.  In the back pocket, I keep coupon magazines I get in the mail from local businesses.  It all stays neatly on my counter and helps me keep up with everything in our family's life!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Family Birthday Rules

I feel like birthdays get out of control for kids these days and our family has a tight budget so we instituted some rules to make things fair.  In our house, you get a big family birthday for your 1st, 2nd and 3rd birthday.  You don't have any "friends" at that age so your family and family friends are who you would invite as a parent anyway.  I make food or have my husband grill us some hotdogs and usually have a pinata and the obligatory but delicious cake from Costco.  Then on your 4th birthday forward, I figure you have probably started having preference for kids that you like to play with so I ask my kids who they would like to go out with and we do something more special but with less people.  For my older daughters 4th birthday, we invited a couple kids and their moms to Build-A-Bear to build a new stuffed friend and go out to get ice cream afterwards.  It was very fun for her and not overwhelming.  It wasn't overwhelming budget-wise either.  This year for our older daughter's 5th birthday we gave her a list of choices and she decided she wanted to go on a Mommy/Daddy date without her little sister....and she wanted food from China.  So we took her to PF Changs and to see a 3-D movie and she was thrilled.  It was a special memory and didn't break the bank!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Family Day

Family Day is one of the most important things in my family's life and it makes sense that I start there.  I had really struggled for years regarding what I supposed to do with this concept of "Sabbath".  Do we just lie around and do nothing?  Do we ignore things that must be done?  I was so lost and I wanted to have this time of rest but I kept getting caught up in legalism with it.  Isaiah 58:13 says that we are to, "call the sabbath a delight", but I wasn't doing that.  I was calling it "boring".  The way I grew up, we got up on Sunday, went to church, came home, ate a big meal and took a nap.  We really didn't do anything the rest of the day but the nap was mandatory.

Skip ahead to my family with two young children.  We would do fun things if they came up but nothing was ever planned or "intentional".  We just hung out on Saturdays, went to church on Sunday, and cleaned the house or mowed the lawn somewhere in between.  It was Boring...The Next Generation.

I think the change all started when we started going to a church that had Saturday night services.  We decided to change a lot of things and start a whole new schedule.  Saturday then became: Family Day.

Our Family Day schedule is as follows:
My fabulous husband cooks breakfast
Go someplace fun with our could be a museum, zoo, farmer's market, etc
Eat lunch at home
Nap (that part didn't need changing)
Eat a fun dinner out (usually at the always awesome Chick-Fil-A)
Go to church
Put the kids to bed
Husband and I watch a movie rental and have a fun snack

On Sundays we spend the whole day cleaning, mowing the lawn, etc but Saturdays are just for enjoying our families and the things God has given us.  I don't do laundry, we try not to do dishes or any other chores...just enjoy life.  For me, I feel like it is calling the Sabbath a blessing.  God sat back on the 7th day and enjoyed His creation.  On Family Day, we sit back, enjoy our home, kids, church and city. 

My children love it and look forward to where Family Day will take us this week. It is our routine and the highlight of our week.  It is the pinnacle of everything the previous week has been and energizes us for what lies ahead.

Why am I writing this?

First and foremost, I don't have all the answers but thankfully I know the One who does.  I'm writing this blog to share the journey I have been on for the past couple years.  I used to be so frustrated and angry as a mom and I felt like my life was being pulled in a million directions.  I have really spent the last 2 years focusing on what is really important.  I hope this will help some moms be filled with a new sense of peace and passion for their families and their lives.