Wednesday, March 30, 2011

You GOTTA try these!!!

I HAVE to tell you guys about the most delicious snack EVAH!!! I haven't always been a fan of the almond the way that I am now. I guess you could say it has become an acquired taste for me since becoming a little more health conscious. But now, I love them. I really do. Indeed. But momma needs a little variety in her life, you know? These little tasty tidbits of deliciousness are the answer to a dieter's prayer. I grab a handful for a snack (the can says 28 nuts is a serving, but The South Beach Diet has brainwashed me that 15 is the magic number!) whenever a hunger pang strikes. Nuts (especially almonds) are so heart healthy and very filling making this a great go-to snack. And even if you aren't a fan of almonds, this wasabi and soy sauce flavor of these might change your mind. They rock my face off. Now if I could only get them to rock off a little of the tummy and some back fat, we'd be good to go! Seriously, go get some. Before I buy them all!! Muah-ha-ha-ha!!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sew Cute and Sew Fun!!!

This is my first attempt at sewing for the public! Ain't it the cutest?!? This was made for a sweet little girl in Jamie's Girl Scout Troop named Zoey. I hope she (and her mom) like it! Now that I've gotten myself on a schedule, I've decided that Fridays are going to be my sewing day (after I work out, of course!). I've got lots of projects lined up so I'll be posting those as I get them done. I might even throw in a tutorial or two, who knows. Check back for updates!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How To Organize Your Finances

Week six in Jennifer Ford Berry's book, "Organize Now!" deals with organizing your finances. Despite an uncontrollable urge to link you directly to Dave Ramsey's website and call it a day, I'll offer you some insight on what we do around here to keep the Pearson family finances in check. Fair warning though... this might sound like a Dave Ramsey infomercial... you know, without the annoying "and if you call in the next 10 minutes" shpeel. LOL!

Seven short years ago, Chuck and I were living in a new town, I was preggo with child numero dos and had recently come out of work due to Anna's medical situation. Coming out of work was something that happened suddenly and not by my choice, so we went from a two-income family to a one-income family without warning, planning, or want-to. Keep in mind we still had the bills of a two-income family and for a time, things were pretty rough. Many months went by when I was literally "stealing from Peter to pay Paul" as the saying goes. Add mounting medical bills to this scenario. It was NO fun, I tell ya. No fun at all.

I had never heard of Dave Ramsey, but was immediately interested in his course "Financial Peace University" by the title alone. Our church was offering classes (by video and workbook) and Chuck and I signed up immediately. We were doing the best we could with what we were going through (which was mostly living off credit cards) but I knew we needed help. Help came in the form of a witty, tell-it-like-it-is, been-there-done-that, knight and shining armor...otherwise known as Dave Ramsey. ;) I hold the man in high regard, can you tell?

If you ever have the opportunity to take this class, I highly recommend it. You can even take it online now. If you want to get the gist of things, buy his book "Total Money Makeover" and heed every.single.word. There is no quick fix to getting out of debt. You have to "plan to work, and then work the plan" as he says. But if you do the work, you WILL reap the benefits.

This is the part where I should tell you how we live debt free and are the poster children for following Dave's advice. Ummm, no. If we had stuck to our guns we would be debt free by now. But we got lazy. And we lost focus. But luckily we've managed to get back on track and have made a plan to be debt free (except for the mortgage) in 5 years. That may sound like an awfully long time, but dear peeps, we're talking about an awful lot of debt. And you know what? It's TOTALLY do-able. Dave can show you how.

If you are so lucky (and smart!) to have not accumulated the debt that we have, Dave's advice is good for you too:

*Do you have an emergency fund? This will keep you from having to rely on those credit cards when the air-conditioning goes out or you need a new set of tires.

*Of course, a budget is crucial (I know, the "B" word. It's so ugly. But essential. Kinda like Spanx after childbearing!). You HAVE to know how much money you have coming in and going out before you can do anything else. This may take a month or more to collect such information, especially if you haven't kept up with things before now.

*Got outstanding debt? Tally your balances and start with the lowest, putting all extra cash toward paying that one bill down. Pay only the minimum payments on the rest. When that bill is paid in full, take the money you were paying on that bill and add it to the minimum payment of the bill with the next lowest balance. Dave calls this the "debt snowball."

Soon, you will see your debt disappear. It's a beautiful thing. Check out his website for all the deets on saving for an emergency fund, budgets, and basic wealth building. He's got it "down pat" as my grandmother used to say. It's fool proof.

The only other advice I can give on organizing your finances is to have a specific day set aside to pay bills. Mine is Monday. I pay the majority of my bills using my bank's online bill paying service and though it takes a few days to process, it's no slower than snail mail. And think of all the money you save in stamps! My apologies to the USPS! I also use automatic bill pay for our hospital bill. The benefit here is that you don't have to worry about the bill getting overlooked because it gets paid every month on the same day. The only thing you have to worry about is making sure there's money in the bank! I see us switching to more automatic bill payments in the future. This is easy when your emergency fund (in a separate savings account) is linked to your checking account through overdraft protection. Just one less thing to have to worry about, you know? Who couldn't use more freed up mental space?

Next week the topic of Berry's book deals with organizing your bill-paying system. I've re-vamped mine recently, so I can't wait to show you. Don't forget to check out House of Grace for tips from Bonnie and the other girls linking up to her party.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Has Sprung Around the Mailbox!

Life stands before me like an eternal spring with new and brilliant clothes. Carl Friedrich Gauss

Happy Spring! Yes, I'm aware that the first official day of Spring was days ago. Just call me a late bloomer. Bah-dum-bum! Yeah, I couldn't resist. Anywho...

After spending Spring Break at Children's Hospital last week, all 4 of us were eager to get our hands dirty and work in the yard. Our first project: a mailbox overhaul. Thank you young hoodlum, whoever you are, who thought that hitting our mailbox with some blunt object would be a riot. I'm sure that was the climax of your weekend. Loser... No worries, though. We are resilient. And so is our new plastic mailbox. ;)

Here's a pic of the Diva washing bird poop off the pole. Look, she volunteered for that job. Far be it for me to stand in the way of a willing worker! LOL! After it was dry, I gave it a fresh coat of black paint.

Here is the remains of the old one. May it rest in pieces, um, I mean peace. :D

We brought a quilt outside for Anna to sit on. She loved it! Daddy is taking a break from mailbox duty. When I say stuff like, "Honey, will you cut the bottom out of that fake whiskey barrel planter so I can put it around the mailbox?" he's always game. After 10 plus years, he trusts my vision (even when he can't see it for himself, right away!).

And there she is... ain't she purty?! It was getting dark, so the picture is not the greatest. We are going to fill in the bare spots with Lantana later on so it can spill over the sides. I'm pretty proud of our work. :) Adding little touches like this really makes a big difference to your curb appeal. What are you waiting for?! Get out there and show your mailbox some love!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Daily Devotions

This book was a gift to one of my girls on her birthday several years ago. It is a sweet little book of devotions with even sweeter illustrations. Mostly this book has been read before bed time, but I brought it back out for Lent and decided to read it in the mornings as me and the girls are having breakfast.

Aren't the pictures precious? The title says it's for the very young, but my six year old and (mentally challenged) 9 year old love it. We've started keeping the TV off in the mornings and read a passage from the book as we begin breakfast.

After telling them the date (which can start conversations about who's birthday it may be, or if it's a holiday) I explain to them about where the bible verse at the top of the page is from. After the short devotion, I read a little bit from this children's bible that I borrowed from church. I got the idea of reading the bible at breakfast here from Courtney at Women Living Well. I thought it was the perfect time (we're all at the table anyway!) and it gets the day started on the right foot.

We started at the beginning (Genesis 1:1) and each day we read a little bit at a time. This morning was interesting because we read about Adam and Eve eating from the tree that gives knowledge of good and evil and the curse that befell mankind and the earth because of it. "They were naked?" the Diva asked. "Yep," I replied. "Why were they naked?" I thought to myself: They were banished from paradise, made to sweat and work for their food, cursed with agony in childbearing and ultimately death and all the red-head can focus on is that they were without clothes. Oy vey! Seriously though, it's been wonderful to have conversations about the beginning of all things with my child no matter where the questions might (ahem) take us. I've always heard there's no such thing as a dumb question. Parenting definitely puts that theory to the test!

How do the rest of you teach the bible to your children? The responsibility is not the minister's, the Sunday school teacher's, or the private school's. If you don't have regular bible time with your children, perhaps you could start one over breakfast or another meal. And the bonus? You get your daily dose of the scriptures as well. Win-win, people!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How To Organize Your Personal Information

Organize your lif

Well, here we are at week 5 in Jennifer Ford Berry's book "Organize Now," and we are working this week to organize our personal information. Honestly, this was not a week I was looking forward to, but not for the reasons you might think. Surprisingly, Momma's got a pretty good handle on important paperwork. This is due primarily to the fact that I traded in my two drawer filing cabinet for a mack-daddy 4 drawer one that my father-in-law was getting rid of. Because I was the lucky recipient of such charity, I happily gave my friend Hollie my old filing cabinet. "Share the love," I always say. But I digress...

How about you? Could you put your hands on your family's important papers like Social Security cards, birth certificates, or car titles? Berry breaks down this weeks goals to guide us though this very important task:

1. Decide where you want to store this information. I'm a "paper-and-pencil" girl myself, although storing such info on the computer would probably be easier. Just be sure you save a backup copy to a jump drive, you know, just in case...

2. Label each category accordingly so you can reference the information easily. Berry suggests these:
A. Finances
*Your credit score (I have NO idea what mine is...oops!)
*Credit card and debit card numbers and the number to call if they are stolen
*Bank account numbers and the number to call if your checkbook is lost or stolen
*A budget for your income, expenses, savings, and personal goals
B. Health
* Allergies (food, meds, animals, etc.)
* Your blood pressure
* Any health issues that run in your family
* Your cholesterol level
* Your blood type and those of family members
C. Safety
* Emergency contact numbers
* License plate number and VIN
* Flight numbers if you or a family member are planning a trip
* Current photos of every member of your household labeled with heights and weights
* Photocopies of yours, your spouse's, and your children's passports
D. Just In Case
* Your measurements and clothing size (along with your spouse's and your children's).

3. Purchase a fireproof storage box (if you haven't already) to keep important documents in like:
* Marriage certificates
* Birth certificates
* Death certificates
* Adoption papers
* Auto titles
* Stocks and bonds
* Wills
* Household inventory list
* Valuable contracts
* Passports

As mentioned earlier, I actually have a pretty impressive filing system but a fireproof safe, I have not. I've always wanted one, so I guess it's worked it's way up on my " things to buy" list. I'm going to look around because if I remember correctly, they are not cheap. Worth every penny, I'm sure, but not cheap.

I made a notebook for Anna's medical history several years ago to help me keep up with medicines (that she currently takes, and has failed), doctors and therapists (along with phone numbers and clinic notes or instructions for home) and basic seizure information that I pass on to anyone whose care she might be under (church workers, babysitters, etc.). As for the rest of the fam, including myself, I have almost NO
information. This area needs work I guess. I'll do a post on Anna's book, too, as that might be beneficial for some of you to see how something like that comes together.

I also need to get all my credit and debit card numbers together. We have been the victims of identity theft recently so many numbers have changed for us. This will also be a good chance to cancel some cards that carry a zero balance thanks to some hard work to become debt free. Woot-woot!

Next week we will dive in to organizing our finances and this makes me super excited! Berry's book is making this organizing stuff easy peasy. If you've been following along and haven't gotten the book yet, I would HIGHLY recommend it. Bonnie at House of Grace has a printable for your personal information that looks awesome today, so head on over to check out her post. Happy organizing, folks!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Music Therapy... Friday Edition

Since my Thursdays have been rather full "organizing my life" ;), I thought I'd interject a little music therapy today. When I need to get in touch with my inner red-neck, I like to listen to Miranda Lambert. This is such a fun song and it literally makes me LOL. So to kick off the weekend, here's a little diddy to help us laugh at ourselves. Just one question, tho... Southern belle or red-neck gal? Me? Well that's easy. "I'm just like you. Only prettier."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How To Organize Your Priorities

"Does it ever feel like you spend all your hours and days doing but not living?" This question, posed by author Jennifer Ford Berry in her book "Organize Now," really hit home with me. If you are a wife/mother who wears a plethora of hats daily, then I'm sure on some level it resonates with you too.

This week we are focusing on organizing our priorities (I actually exhaled deeply as I wrote that last sentence! Do I need this book, or what?!?). As a mother and a wife it seems as if my life is consumed with the details of housekeeping and child rearing... as it should be. Because I didn't marry until I was 28, it was an adjustment for me to shift gears from worrying about me and only me all the time, to devoting my life and my work to my husband and the two adorable children that followed suite. Ironically, now I struggle to find balance in putting myself "back on the list" as they say, and making myself (my emotional and physical health, my goals and aspirations) a priority. Berry must have written this chapter especially for me! LOL!

For this weeks goals, we were asked to make a list of our top 10 priorities. Remember, Berry says that they "...should reflect what is important to you. If you don't decide what they are, others will decide for you." No truer words have been spoken. Here are mine:

1. My relationship with God and my spiritual growth

Of course this would be number one, right? But sometimes, if I'm honest, I struggle with putting God first. Lent is making me acknowledge this about myself and I'm making strides to do better.

2. My relationship with my husband

Like "the Man upstairs," my husband gets put behind the children most days. Heck, sometimes even the laundry gets put before him. Sorry, sweetie. I'm making progress here, too. Once the kids are asleep, me and the hubs have been making an effort to stay up and talk, watch TV, or (ahem) whatever.

3. My relationship with my children

Having a more organized routine in the house has helped me be a more attentive mom in the afternoons when the girls come in from school. I try to have the majority of the housework done so I can be available to them in the few short hours we have between 3:00pm and bedtime. We've been playing the Wii after supper together some nights and it has been great "family" time for all of us.

4. Healthy eating

I have the best husband in the world. Not only does he cook, but he also grocery shops when needed. He's always so supportive with whatever I'm doing diet-wise and right now we are just focusing on eating "healthy." For me, this means 4 small meals a day. I need to be better about meal planning, though. Still working on this one...

5. Exercise

I've been doing "From Couch to 5K" for over a month now. This week, I've joined the gym for the first time in ages. I'm finally making this a priority and I'm exercising first thing in the morning that way it's done and out of the way and I don't even have to think about it for the rest of the day. I'm feeling better in general (which gives me stamina to complete all that I have to do in a day) as well as feeling better about my looks (which helps with priority number two... the hubs may say he doesn't care what I look like but I do!)

6. Becoming debt free

This has fallen down a few notches on the priority list, but needs my attention a few days out of the week when I pay bills and budget the rest of the money. Gotta tighten the reigns here again...

7. Teaching Sunday School

Anna's seizures has kept me from teaching Sunday School for about a month now, but this is something I dearly enjoy. I love working for my church this way and also heading up Vacation Bible School. At least one day a week needs to be devoted to planning my lessons so I'm not running around last minute.

8. Free time (AKA: ME time or play time!)

Okay, here we go. Momma needs down time too, right? This week I've scheduled two naps into my schedule and ya know what? I've been a better mom and wife because of it. I've also allocated Friday as my sewing day so I can get caught up on some projects that are lying around. And truth be told: being creative is therapeutic for me. It's good for my soul. Having a day at the end of the week to play is like a reward for doing all the stuff that needed to be done earlier in the week. So there. Enuff said! ;)

9. Organizing the house

The condition of my house is usually a reflection of what's going on in my life. It's the reason I bought this book. Duh. :D But it's getting there. I'm proud of my progress.

10. Extended family

My parents and Chuck's parents live about an hour to an hour and a half away. My sister lives even farther. I want to make an effort to visit with them more. Chuck and I are also talking about going to North Carolina to visit my brother this summer. And if nothing else, I'm trying to be better about calling regularly. A quick call to say hi and I love you doesn't have to take half an hour. Pick up the phone, Linds. It's not that hard.

11. Special Needs Advocacy

Yeah, I know we were only supposed to have 10 priorities, but what can I say? I'm an overachiever! Being a mom to a special needs child has put me in places and around people I never thought I'd be in or around 10 years ago. I have always had a heart for the handicapped and I adore spending time in the Special Ed classroom at Anna's school, going to Miracle League softball games and watching sweet angels compete in the Special Olympics. I have spoken on two different occasions about Anna and her disabilities and I am always honored to talk to, answer questions, and share stories with other parents who have similar circumstances like we do. I feel this is a great calling on my life and I would like to do more for people who have special needs in our community. I don't know where this will lead, but I feel God has big plans in this area of my life. I'm trying to be open and listen to his call here.

Two other things that are worth mentioning in this section of the book deals with setting boundaries and learning to say no as well as limiting time spent with negative people. First of all, we are not responsible for the entire world. Look at your plate. Is it half-full, brimming, or running over? The world will not stop on it's axis if you say "no" to the PTO, your next door neighbor, or the Ladies Auxiliary. If you don't bake the cupcakes, organize the block party, or book next month's speaker, they will find someone else to do it. They always do. And second, nothing will suck the life out of you faster than a negative friend. Look at the people you surround yourself with. Search out ladies who you admire and who can be a mentor to you and invite them over. Or better yet... meet somewhere for breakfast and pick their brain over pancakes or have your kids play at the park together. Attitudes are contagious. Surround yourself with positive people and keep yourself emotionally healthy.

Next week focuses on organizing your papers. Are y'all ready for this? I'm no psychic, but I see a LOT of work for me in the next few days! LOL! Check out House of Grace today and see how others are organizing their priorities and get inspired to start setting some of your own!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday and Buh-Bye to Stuff

As a good Presbyterian, I'm preparing myself for the Lenten season. Having grown up in a totally different denomination of the Christian faith, I have learned more about Lent over the last several years and the purpose and ideas behind it. In these last years, I have not always observed Lent, as I believe that whether or not you participate, and to what extent of what you do and do not do, is completely between you and God. For a general overview, if you are unfamiliar with Lent, look here and here.

This year I have decided to take part in the "40 Bags in 40 Days" challenge that Ann Marie from White House, Black Shutters is doing. She got the idea from Sarah from Clover Lane who got the idea here.This is a fantastic idea and goes right along with all the decluttering I've been doing around the house. My pastor always asks us during Lent, "What is it that keeps us from spending time with God?" For some it's too much television, Facebook, or any other hobby that many of us make into an "Idol." And for some (like myself) it's STUFF. With all the junk I've accumulated, I spend the majority of my time, picking up stuff, putting away stuff, organizing stuff, and trying to find stuff. And if I see cute stuff on sale, you better believe it's coming home with me. See what I mean? I'm tired of being a slave to my stuff.

So for the 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter (this does not include weekends), I am going to take a bag a day (whether it's a Wal-Mart sack, or black lawn and leaf bag LOL!) and fill it up with the stuff that's cluttering my home, my mind, and my LIFE and take it out of my house. Normally I would pile all my stuff that I take out of my house in the garage and save it for a yard sale... OH, BUT NO!!! This time I'm going to sacrifice the money I would usually make from my yard sale and give all my stuff to the Downtown Rescue Mission where they can sell it in their store and help the homeless. Everybody wins this way!

Another way I'm preparing myself for the Lenten season is reading a devotion everyday at breakfast with my girls as well as reading our way through a wonderful International Children's Bible that I borrowed from our church (I'm going to post about this next week). Today we started in Genesis and read about the beginning of all things. JR commented that there were LOTS of pages for us to read to get to the end. LOL! How observant is that??? That kid cracks me up...

Now, where did I put those garbage bags?!? Kidding! They're under the sink in the kitchen. I cleaned out THAT cabinet a week and a half ago. ;) I'll post pics of the progress. Stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Groove Is In The Heart...And The Hat Too, Apparently

"Just Dance" on the Wii is a favorite at our house. I just had to capture this moment.

Sporting momma's fedora helps the Diva find her groove. Looking good!

That's right. Work it, girlfriend. She beats me in points every single time. It's gotta be the hat...

Monday, March 7, 2011

'After' Pics from "Operation Find the Floor"

As promised... here are the "after" photos from the little challenge I have since named "Operation Find the Floor." This is where my mother-in-law and myself cleaned up, cleared out and hauled away 2 garbage bags full of trash and a super huge cardboard box full of junk to take to the thrift store. And now this is what you see now when you walk in the Diva's bedroom.

Here's a closer shot of what's above her bed. We picked up a new quilt and sheet set at Target. Her room needs a good re-painting. Any suggestions??? I was thinking that lime green color even though that was the color it was before the pink. I got the circle-y/ crystal-y thing at Trees and Trends for 60% off. Momma ROCKS the bargains. The chandelier sticker is from Hobby Lobby...50% off! I've been waiting MONTHS to use it somewhere and I think it's cute over the bed. You can't tell in the picture, but it has some adhesive crystals that play off the circle-y thing.

Here's a closer shot. The Barbies above the bed are really MY collection. ;) If she had her way, JR would have them out of the box and half naked by now. True dat.

The curtain is just some fabric that I just threw over a curtain rod a couple years ago. Actually making the girl some curtains has been on my to-do list for quite some time. I'm still not satisfied with all the stuff just lining the walls, but I think you'll agree that it's a vast improvement from what it was. We are in the market for a new little throw rug to bring in more of the colors from the quilt on the bed and I really want to do something with that cork board...

This still looks cluttered to me. We are talking about hanging the tv on the wall to free up more of the desk space. This would get rid of the make-shift, wooden "hutch" that I've repurposed from an over-the-sink shelf. I also spray painted the original hardware to the desk with some Rustoleum spray paint in bronze. Still not crazy about them tho. I got the desk for $25.00, so I can't really complain too much.

And here's the last pic, working your way out the door. The bookshelf was given to me 10 years ago and I used it next to Anna's crib when she was a baby. It's solid wood and fits nicely in that little space. Cat clock from K-Mart. :) I'm weird and have to have a clock in every room.
So there you have it, friends! I have to say that the red-head LOVES her room. We actually have a hard time getting here out of there now! Tee hee. :) And she has been a champ in keeping it picked up and clean. This morning, before school, she even made her bed. Pardon me while I wipe the tears from my eyes...
My next projects involve getting into the two worst closets in my house: the office and the master bedroom. It never ends, does it?!? Spring has gotten me so motivated for, well, Spring Cleaning! Anybody else been bitten by the cleaning bug?

Friday, March 4, 2011

From Flab To Fab Friday... From Couch to 5K

Thought it might be time to check in on the weight loss and keep myself accountable with my exercise routine. Let's just rip the band-aid off, shall we?!? I've GAINED 4 pounds. I know. Cry me a river, you say. Because in total, I've still lost 12 lbs, and that makes me happy... but 16lbs is closer to 20, which is closer to the 40 that I set out to lose in the first place. That's right. Four, zero. Or the equivalent of my youngest child. Talk about putting things into perspective. I was practically carrying Jamie Ruth around with me every day. No wonder I ached top to bottom!

I'm surprised I haven't gained more than 4 lbs, honestly, considering I have eaten my weight in Girl Scout cookies over the last three weeks. My saving grace has been the "From Couch to 5K" podcasts that I downloaded for free (that's right FREE. You know what they say... If it's free, it's for ME! LOL!). Inspired by a friend on Facebook, I decided to take the leap (no pun intended) into running.

First, let me say that I have NEVER been the running type. I really don't know what got into me, really, other than thinking it would be really cool to run a 5K. This program takes you from your current "couch potato" status, and through the course of nine weeks of building up walking and running intervals, will have you running continuously for 30 minutes, or 5 kilometers.

I "Google" searched "From Couch to 5K podcasts" and was surprised that there are several different ones out there. The one I chose has a British lady named Laura who guides you through the walking/ running routines to some up-beat, contemporary pop music. Laura tells you when it's time to walk (a 5 minute warm-up in week 1), and when to run (30 seconds of running in week 1 followed by 90 seconds of walking to recover and so on). You need to complete at least 3 sessions before moving on to the next week, and always take a day of rest off in between.

I started off gung-ho. I ran EVERY. OTHER. DAY. Without fail. Then life happens, as it tends to do (sick kids, sick husband, etc.), and I began to skip two and three days in between. Then Anna's seizure activity picked up and as of yesterday, it had been almost 2 weeks since my last run. But after NOT exercising, my body started to (dare I say it) crave running. I know it sounds bizarre, but it's the truth. So yesterday I hopped back on the treadmill and completed day three of week three and it felt great. I guess I'm a runner now. Who would have ever thought that would happen?!?

As a person who never ran anywhere before (except to the fridge in the garage for an ice cold diet coke!), I can hardly believe how much I love this program. It's quick (30 minutes... that's all!), and after purchasing my treadmill for a sweet deal from my friend Jennifer, I don't have to worry about the weather messing up my exercise plans. Plus it has been a GREAT stress reliever for me. Sad, mad, or frustrated? I just work it out on the treadmill. And I have energy to spare. I haven't felt this good in years. YEARS, people!

Today is the 4th of March... how are you doing with your weight loss goals for the New Year? If you are struggling, I highly recommend the "From Couch to 5 K" podcasts. If I can do it, anybody can. I can hardly wait to run my first 5K. Wanna join me? :D

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How to Organize Your Cleaning Schedule

I have tried and tried to get myself on a cleaning schedule. In the past I've broken tasks down into daily chores, and I have also tried the "once a week" cleaning day... both with little success. But that is why I bought the fantastic book "Organize Now," by Jennifer Ford Berry. This book is changing my life. And that's saying a lot since I've read almost every organizing book, magazine article and blog post I could find on simplifying and order. I'm an organized person deep down. Really, I am...

I have at least figured out that I haven't been able to clean as I would like because a lot of my time is spent putting things back in their rightful home. I guess you could say I do a lot of "picking up" but not a lot of "cleaning up." I recently implemented a chore chart with my kiddo as well as began purging a lot of unnecessary things to help with this issue. After following Berry's advice to write down ALL tasks that need to be done in the house and then categorize them into what needs to be done daily, weekly, monthly, etc., I think I've come up with a plan that will help me be successful once and for all.

Basically, I broke my house into sections that will be addressed on certain days of the week.

Mondays: Master Bath and Master Bedroom
  • sinks/counter tops/mirrors
  • tub
  • shower
  • toilet
  • sweep/mop
  • change sheets
  • dust
  • vacuum
  • pick up

Tuesdays: Laundry Room and Kitchen

  • wipe down washer and dryer
  • sweep and mop Laundry Room
  • put clothes away
  • sweep/mop Kitchen
  • clean sink/wipe counter tops
  • clean microwave
  • wipe down cabinets
  • wipe down fridge
  • clean out fridge

Wednesdays: Living Room and Dining Room

  • dust
  • sweep/mop/vacuum
  • clean t.v.
  • pick up

Thursdays: Guest Room/ Office and Girls Bath

  • change sheets
  • dust
  • vacuum
  • clear desk
  • sweep/mop bath
  • sink/mirror

  • tub
  • wash rugs

Fridays: JR's Room

  • change sheets

  • dust

  • vacuum

  • clear desk

Jamie now has a new chore chart that involves keeping her room clean, but the Friday list is for me to make sure that things are being done and tweak some things that she's already done to get them to my specs. I know. Control is a hard thing to let go of. But I'm trying to keep this from happening again. Aye-yie-yie.

Of course there are things that NEED to be done daily like make the beds (hopefully JR has already made hers before school), take out the trash, dishes (empty dishwasher, load dishwasher, run, repeat :D), laundry, and some general sweeping (We keep our litter box for the cat in the master bath, so I'm trying to sweep in there every day to keep from stepping on strewn cat litter. I know. Gross part dos. And let's not forget one-third of our meal that seems to end up underneath the table. It's the only reason I'm thinking of getting a dog... kidding!) I recently purchased this little broom and dust pan set at Tuesday Morning. I thought it might help me feel cheerier (is that a word? LOL!) about cleaning crumbs and cat litter. I'll let you know when that emotion kicks in...

Once a month I plan to dust the base boards (first week of the month), ceiling fans (2nd week) and windows/ blinds (3rd week), change the air filter in the return and dust the grate (on the 4th week of the month). I'm outta control, right?!? Soon the Pearson house may actually be dust-bunny and cobweb free. Oh, to dream!

Three things I can already check off my list that Berry suggests is to have each family member an assigned towel for the week (Check), place a set of disposable disinfecting wipes in each bathroom for quick, in between cleanups (Check), and to save space by minimizing cleaners (big fat CHECK!). I recently switched to Shaklee cleaners after reading about it on Bonnie's blog and I have been super impressed. I'll do a post about them later cuz they are just. that. good.

Whew! What a long post! But can I tell you what a difference it makes to actually have it written down? There's no "Where do I start? What do I do now?" cuz it's all right there in black and white. In doubt? Check the list! And if the kids are sick and I'm unable to accomplish everything for that day... oh well. New day = new tasks. It can just wait until next week or if there's extra time later in the week (yeah, right!) I can back track on a task or two but I am NOT getting bogged down trying to play catch up. It just defeats the system, ya know?

I hope y'all are enjoying the book and every one's posts as much as I am. Don't forget to check out House of Grace today for inspiration on getting your own cleaning schedule started. Next week we delve into organizing our priorities and I've already jumped ahead a little. See what a little organization can do? ;)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I REALLY Can't Believe I'm Doing This

Allow me to mortify you with some pictures of my daughter's bedroom. I seriously can't BELIEVE I am going to share these with you, but in the attempt to clean up and organize my house, I thought it would be beneficial for you to see the "Before" pics so that you could really appreciate the "After" the way I do. Are you sitting down?









Exhibit A: My mother-in-law is so horrified, she's taking her own pictures. I needed back-up. MoMo and I make a great clean-up crew!

Exhibit B: Can't even GET to the desk to work... The small laundry basket was my last effort pre- "Operation Find the Floor" to get her to throw 20 things in there to get rid of. She only managed FIVE.

Exhibits C and D. And yes, I did stumble (and almost fell) trying to make my way across the room to get these shots. What can I say, I'm a dedicated journalist.

This little experiment does three things. First, it embarrasses me that we have indulged our child with so much STUFF. I'm also embarrassed that my inability to stay on top of the situation has let it get this "outta control." Ahh, mom-guilt. It's a beautiful thing. Second, I am motivated beyond measure to clean up and clear out anything and everything that's not nailed to the floor. Everywhere, not just the Diva's bedroom (I do feel I must put in a disclaimer here that states the rest of the house DOES NOT LOOK LIKE THIS... Okay. I feel better now.). And lastly, if misery loves company, it might make you feel a teensy bit better about the condition of your home. Come back Friday for the "After" photos. Prepare to be amazed...
Update: Due to a last minute sewing project, "After" photos have been postponed to Monday. Sometimes 24 hours in one day are just not enough around here... and sometimes they're 24 hours and 36 minutes to many! LOL!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pear Salad

If you know me, you know that I am NOT the cook in the family. That's Chuck's title. He's an avid " Food Network" watcher, a mean omlet maker, and truth be told, I think he dreams of one day owning his own restaurant. Yep. I'm a lucky gal. I'm also happy to relinquish the kitchen to his master-mind and enjoy the delecacies that he creates. I, on the other hand, tend to gravitate toward easy-peasy recipes. I like casseroles and semi-homemade stuff that looks great, but could easily be pulled off by a grade school student. Case in point: the delicious and uncomplicated (and very southern) pear salad.

Chuck and I often wonder who was the first person to come up with this unique flavor combo. At first glance these ingredients seem like they would never go together, but trust me... It's super yummy. My mom used to make it all the time, and though it's technically a salad, I like to have it for dessert.

* Get yourself a can of pear halves and drain them.
* Arrange them on a bed of lettuce for presentation (I left the lettuce out, cuz, well, we were out of lettuce!).
* Add a dollop of mayo to the pear centers (I like to use a mellon baller because it's quick and keeps the fingers mess free!).

* Grate yourself a little cheddar cheese and sprinkle on top.
* Finish it with a cherry and you're good to go.

What could be easier than that? Pretty enough to take to a pot-luck and simple enough for an after school snack. And dee-lish. Four out of five housewives with the culinary skills of grade schoolers agree. ;)