Shoe Organization

It’s getting time for Spring cleaning and organizing, right? Well, if your last month has been as hectic as mine, you didn’t get much of anything accomplished in that department. This ties right in with my silence of late- it’s March and I have only written twice this year!!

The month of February included kitchen renovations, hosting a couple times, planning a Parent’s Banquet for our youth group plus normal life obligations. Now I feel like a panting puppy with its tongue hanging out, catching my breath!

This way of shoe organizing isn’t anything I did recently. We’ve stuck to this method of organizing shoes for years and it works well for us, so I’d like to share it with you.

* We do not wear shoes in our house. This immediately cuts down on a multitude of dirt. A great many years ago I read that people are more susceptible to parasites when wearing shoes in their house. That thought has stuck with me. And struggling with considerable amounts of OCD, germs are a number one phobia.

So think with me, you wear shoes all over the store, into those icky gas stations and over that spit on (and worse!) pavement. Then you come home and walk into your house….. Me thinks I see them germs a squirmin’!

It’s fine if you choose to wear shoes in your house and I’m not trying to disrupt your methods…..Maybe I’m one of the weirdos? Is there someone else like me out there??

I didn’t line up the shoes in neat rows before shooting this picture, because this is real life. I like to organize but at the same time, you have to be realistic.

* Slip in your shoes as you go out the door. I feel privileged to have a garage entrance, and this is where we keep all our shoes. It’s as simple as slipping into them when we leave and slipping them off when we come home. It’s not a problem for our children, because they don’t know anything different. And the best thing?? We never lose shoes.

* Use a hanging shoe organizer to efficiently utilize space. This hosts 8 – 10 pairs or more. Plus, we use an entry bench with 3 drawers and bins. Both the children and me have a small bin to keep shoes in, plus their own set of boots or flip flops that stay out, ready to slip in anytime. The drawers we use for each of our hats, scarves and gloves. A small, 3 drawer plastic organizer is a cheaper option that also works for hats and gloves, which is what we used until we found this bench.

The bench is nice for sitting to tie shoes as well as a drop area when we come home- purses, water bottles, mail etc. Reality- the children sit on the step to put on their shoes😜

In case you noticed the red thing hanging on the wall, it’s a shoe horn. I know, it’s usually for the oldies but I like it even though I’m not 70! It’s wonderful for getting your heel into any boots or shoes that your finger can’t slide behind. It’s handy for children too! Especially when their shoes are getting snug.

The shoe horn in business

* Store off season footwear somewhere else. We have four metal cabinets in the garage where we store many things. Off season footwear and outerwear are some of them. We try really hard to only keep the most used shoes and boots in the shoe organizer or bins. Also as soon as the children outgrow a pair, it gets put into storage.

* Keep hooks available to hang jackets and coats. We have a line of hooks nearby to hang everyone’s jackets and coats. 4-5 hooks are lower for the children’s convenience.

* Keep your footwear, coats and jackets as close to your main entrance as possible. This really helps with tidiness in the house. You don’t have shoes kicked off anywhere and mysteriously hibernating underneath couches and clothes. You don’t have jackets slung over chairs or dropped in the hallway, because everything has already been slipped off and hung up! (hopefully) My children’s coats do end up on the floor now and then and there’s many times I’m straightening the entrance, but at least it’s out there! We’ve got enough toys and clutter to stumble over already.

I realize this method may not work as well for everyone. It’s a high priority to me, so I would just work with the entrance you have and see if you can’t organize a shoe organization in your home congregation!

Laundry Room Organizing

I get a great deal of satisfaction in restoring order from chaos. My laundry room is a small narrow room with one gigantic shelf across the whole wall. It’s great having plenty of space for shelving items. But the disorganized mess appears like magic. Just shove it on the shelf, for now. I’ll deal with it later. And just like that, there’s half empty bottles, dust and clutter reigning!

Some weeks ago I was inspired to tackle this room. No, I wasn’t moving around the appliances for a scenery change or anything like that. I changed up the bit of decor in there but mostly, I decluttered the shelf and organized things into tidy, see through organizing boxes. I debated about the see through part, because that can still host a cluttered look. But these are the boxes I found and it was exactly the type I was looking for, so I went with them, despite the see through factor. I thought the gray plastic helped a little, plus, I figured it might just be a good thing to easily see what’s where. I then also opted not to label, despite being a big fan of labeling!

A disclaimer here: Please, don’t think that I have my whole house in meticulous order just because I love and talk about organizing. Much as I enjoy organizing, it has had to slide down the ladder of importance since I became a Mom. Many are the times I glare and despair at the muddle found in various spots of my house! It seems by the time I get one spot organized, there’s 3 or more that beg my attention!

The cluttered shelf that haunted me
I found these baskets at Target
The laundry decor before….
…And after. I like the fresh look. A friend gave me the chicken wire basket for my birthday and the motto was one I had and thot it was a perfect reminder for laundry room moods.

So first off, I removed things from the shelf and wiped it down. Then I sorted through the baskets I had on the shelf, wiped the items, and found new spots for them in my new baskets. The lids are vital! We get an abundance of dust in our house… I’ve finally concluded its simply Nebraska, because I’m not the only lady who notices considerable dust levels in this area. Maybe it’s the gravel roads and massive fields?! Whatever it is, I decided these new baskets must have lids to keep things clean! One swipe of a rag gets the lid clean and no worries on the inside items.

Looking much better! The white bucket with an S hook, holds my clothes pins. Hanging out wash is one aspect of laundry I enjoy.

As with any organizing procedure, I’m always amazed at the amount of trash I find. What a clean feeling to rid all that! I also found items to place in my yard sale boxes. It feels like you can take a deep breath and go “aahhh” after you’ve cleaned and purged! It was so rewarding staring at my shelf afterwards!

I don’t really enjoy doing laundry. It’s more like just another job to get over with for another day. But having a neat looking room helps. I would also encourage anyone to keep a laundry day schedule. I find it so luxurious to not worry one bit about laundry on my non-washing laundry days!! I love tackling other bigger projects on those days, when I’m not hampered by bins of soiled garments. I wash clothes Monday and Thursday and then again on Friday. The reason I wash on Thursday is because it helps to not have so much on my cleaning day on Friday. It really does help the overall work load. Also by washing again on Friday it keeps from a mountainous pile up for Monday. But if you have a large household you likely find it best to wash everyday and that’s fine too if you prefer that. Just find a schedule and stick to it.

Laundry room in reality. And in case your curious, we use a Waterwise distiller for drinking water. This room is also home to it, and therefore the jugs and pitchers for water .

The black wire basket is easy to grab. I got it to host my laundry soap, baking soda, spot spray, brush etc. On laundry days I have one basket to get down and I have it all at my level, easy to use. The rest of the baskets hold things that I don’t use much on a regular basis.

I like adding baking soda to loads that are extra dirty or smelly. I think it adds extra punch, besides helping stretch my laundry soap. I use a powdered all natural soap. I do not use fabric softener but will often add white vinegar to my load.

I would encourage anyone to switch to nontoxic products! I have been away from chemicals for about ten years now and absolutely cannot handle ‘normal’ laundry soaps, body and cleaning products! These are very toxic products and many laundry soaps have filler in them yet too. More money for them and more junk for you! You need to be pretty picky if you want a truly non toxic product. Many are the companies that claim their products are healthy but I’ve found you must research or read ingredient lists to be sure. Too often they’re not 100% pure, which greatly annoys me!

The place I get my laundry soap does not ship otherwise I would share their info. Charlie’s Soap is a powdered, good clean brand that’s available in some grocery stores or Amazon. I have used it with good results. Another one I would very highly recommend is the Branch Basics Company. You get one bottle of liquid concentrate and then dilute it to different levels for laundry, cleaning or hand soap! I love it especially for cleaning! They also have a powder called Oxygen Boost that is great for adding in to loads of laundry as well as for cleaning use. This company is set up for self serve online ordering.

I beg your pardon for running off on a bunny trail…. I was only chasing those dust bunnies! This was about organizing and I got sidetracked about non toxic products! Can you forgive me? It simply came out because it’s one of those things I’m passionate about. Thank you for still reading!!😍 I hope you were inspired to tackle one of “those” spots we all have somewhere!

Six Steps For Smooth Shopping

Do you enjoy grocery shopping? It’s not my favorite thing, but as Moms we get used to it whether we like it or not. Maybe your one of those people who orders your groceries online and just drives to pick them up. If that’s you, read no further. This is for those of us who still would rather do our own in person shopping. Here’s a number of things that help make the shopping experience more enjoyable.

1) Shop as early in the day as possible. There’s less shoppers. The store is better stocked. You have more energy. And in the Summer, it’s not as hot to be in town. Maybe I’m a bit odd but I detest shopping in the hottest part of the day! It takes an hour in the store; you get out to load the groceries and the car is just beatin’ hot, my energy levels are nearly depleted, the children are cranky and I’m fast getting there myself. I find it much more manageable to go in the morning because not only are you shopping for a whole cart of groceries, there’s the loading up, the unloading and the putting away once you get home. If I’m tired before I start out I will certainly be out of steam before the groceries are put away! It takes time, but I also like to wash and prep some of my produce items right away, before refrigerating them. Then their ready for eating/making salad at a moment’s grab.

Neither do I recommend shopping on Friday or Saturday. Those are the busiest days for most people to do their shopping, and I prefer not being one of them. It simply adds to the stress of shopping when the aisles are clogged with humans and their carts! There are times I need to pick up a few things on those days but if at all possible I do my main shopping on another day of the week.

2) Organize your list according to the stores layout. You know your most frequented grocery store quite well. Ahead of time, set up your list as to what aisles/section you’ll be in first as you walk into the store. This saves definite steps, but I still find myself retracing now and then, which always distresses me considerably. I shop most often at Walmart or Aldi. For Walmart, this is how my list runs. I enter the produce section first; therefore all my fruits and vegetables are written on the top left hand part of my sheet of paper. Items like Mayo, salad dressings and vinegar are written a bit further down the list, the baking items further down, and dairy items at the bottom because they’re at the back of the store. Frozen items are at the top right hand corner. I get those last, but don’t want them forgotten way down at the bottom of the list.

Fill in anything as best you can, as you think of your store’s layout. You may need to reorganize your grocery list just before you go shopping, rather than taking the list that has everything jotted down in order of remembering it. Is this making sense or confusing you more? By the way, forget long, thin note pads for grocery lists. Unless, perhaps, your shopping for a one person household! I have a big, spiral tablet that flips open at the top. It gives me ample space, plus, I have something hard to write on as I shop. It’s of utmost importance to cross off each item as I place it in my cart. If I only have a sheet of paper, I’m like trying to hold my paper on the cart handle, scribbling out my purchases…..It just doesn’t work well!

Example of how my list is laid out

3) Write non-household items at a different spot on your list. I like being able to see at a glance what I need that may be in the Health and Beauty section or clothing etc. Then I can target those items first or last, whichever works out most conveniently. It also helps eliminate the wasted steps of being in the furthest section of the store from where the next item on your list is located.

4) Take coolers along to keep your perishable items cold. If you live ten minutes from your favorite store, this would be nonsense. That’s not the case for me. Besides keeping things chill, I also like how coolers help keep things organized! When you get home, you already know where all those refrigerator items are, and you can get those purchases put away immediately. I really really like to have coolers along for when I shop at Aldi! I still use my own bags there but sometimes I’ll just go straight out to the vehicle and bag/load everything right there. Cold items stack better if there not already bagged. And you can easily see what’s what when your ready to transfer everything to your refrigerator. Using coolers also offers stability to the congregation of back sliding groceries. Explanation- I despise having groceries sliding hither and yon in the back of our Yukon as I brake and make turns driving around town! Think rolling watermelon. With these heavy coolers, you can place them in front of the other bags and make a wall so you don’t have that “backsliding” going on.

5) Don’t rush through the store, even though you may be in a hurry. Several reasons here. If I’m threatening the speed limit of indoor shopping, I’m shopping too fast! Sometimes I need to force myself to just slow down! Quite likely I’ll roar right past an item I needed, or then miss something I would have noticed if I was taking a bit more time. Also, people will be much more likely to stop us to ask a question about our dress or faith if they sense an unhurried spirit in us. It also helps me to remember to reach out to others where I can, if I’m not zooming around.

6) Be courteous and wear a smile. To be honest, there’s times I’m shopping and feel grouchy. I force myself to still smile and act pleasant. Sometimes I feel a little better by the time I’m finished, because I acted cheerful, even though I didn’t feel like it. We are Christ’s witnesses and we ought to portray His Spirit to the world around us. Also, there’s plenty of rude people already and if we are followers of Christ, we ought to act like it. Using “excuse me,” “pardon me,” or “Thank you,” freely. It does take patience when there’s an elderly person on their scooter, stopped exactly where we need that canister of oatmeal. Instead of stewing, we can offer to reach something for them if they need help. And hello, someday we may be the old lady on the scooter. It also takes patience when the check out lines are full. But it’s considerate to let someone else with only a few items go ahead of you, when you have a bulging cart. I like to do that frequently because I simply enjoy making someone else’s day just a wee bit better. And sometimes, the same favor is returned to me when I’m the one with five items! I always appreciate that too. Not saying you have to keep doing that all day or you’d never get home! But remember to practice the Golden Rule.

Travel Tips

First, a big thank you to those ladies who took time to share their tips on traveling with children!! I thought there were some good ideas! Some of these may overlap but it was easier to include the responses in their entirety, than to weed out parts of each one. Lastly, I’ll include my own.

* We do not take toys along on trips. (Ohhh, that sounds mean! But let me explain) We have already let the boys take a little bag of farm toys, and within a very short time, they were dumped all over and never looked at or asked for again….. same with an abundance of books. They take one or maybe two per person, and I try to stay very vigilant that they stay picked up and not tromped on! I like to put them in a book bag or backpack. Traveling is hard on books. Again, same with school books. We would much rather have them work ahead as much as possible, and then just do catch-up work with whatever didn’t get done before, rather than take it along. For one thing, they can’t write neatly while we’re driving, and then there’s the thing of the books getting wrinkled, rumpled, torn…. It’s been a few years since we had a girl that was in doll-stage. That would seem to be ok because it’s one bigger thing-not a bunch of little things. Snacks…. again, we don’t do just a lot. I sometimes make burritos or simple sandwiches. Fresh fruit, granola bars, go-gurt. For sure, have napkins and wet-wipes.

We have a “Cabela’s bag” with various pockets, that I like to keep under my seat, with essentials: squirt bottle, comb, meds, floss-picks, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, passports if needed… The covering bucket goes under the first bench seat in the van. To pack our clothes, we’ve gone almost exclusively to duffle bags. They can squish and fit in a lot easier. Our dresses get hung by the waist over hangers. One thing we do occasionally, that I learned from my grandma, is to pass out life savers or some other hard candy, one per person. Then we see who can keep it in their mouth the longest. It kinda quiets things down for awhile.

Another huge everybody-ought-to-know tip is: story CDs! Or something on audio! It keeps our family of 10 quiet and happy for many-a-mile!!! We’ve enjoyed Little Britches and also various Adventures in Odessy, or children’s dramatized Bible stories. Oh! And absolutely No Popcorn!! It is yummy and fun, but oh my! What a mess! A friend gave us one of those tins with 3 different kinds of popcorn, right before we left on a trip, so we took it along… and yes, we did enjoy it, but…..!

We also limit drinks to water. Especially for the Littles. Older ones can decide for themselves, but it helps a lot with potty breaks! Even though you can get the cutest little “Bug Juice” and other cute drinks…. And I’m still learning to keep calm and travel on! It’s not “the end of the world” if there are crumbs and stray trash to pick up. Enjoy the ride, and enjoy your little people! They grow up so fast! -Janelle Sensenig. Texas.

* I don’t have a lot of ideas since I’m usually not very organized but something I do to organize activities in our van is to put them in a 3-drawer stacker (11” W x 9.5” H), like this,

and set it on the seat between two people. This way they can easily get to it and put their toys away again when they’re finished. The books we usually put in a box on the floor. That means they need to be handed out but that’s not very hard to do. I also take several cookie sheets along that work for trays for anything from silly putty and tractors to small puzzles. It gives them a solid surface to play on and also has sides to keep small pieces from sliding off. Note: Depending on the type of carseat, if it has handles sticking up or not, and age of child can make it a little bit challenging to balance it on there but usually it works fairly well. – Gloria Mast. Kansas.

* As far as packing for little ones… on several trips where we were gone for close to a week and most nights at a different place, I put each child’s clothes into clear Ziplock bags and labeled each one for each day. That way we only had to grab the bags for that day and haul in 1 suitcase instead of 3. That helped out tremendously! Remember to add small snacks into a baggie somewhere. Without fail, we would get to our room and they would all be hungry from being too nervous to eat at a strange person’s house for supper.
If you have room in the vehicle, packing a small backpack for each child with age-appropriate games and toys can keep them entertained for a long time. Also, a trashcan is a lifesaver!
We do not have all little ones anymore with our 5 children ranging from ages 6 – 17 so taking food along for a trip looks different now than when they were all little. When you are barely keeping after with your daily duties, to make food for a trip yet besides getting all the suitcases packed can sometimes feel like too much. Just relax, and buy your food, especially if that is an area your husband does not mind helping you out with.
But the more we took food along, the more frustrated I would be when we would stop to get a bite to eat. All the time we spent in the restaurant or even the drive through could’ve easily been spent at home throwing together a few snack baggies or sandwiches!
Also, each family’s traveling style is different. My husband likes to get on the road and mostly stay there until we get to our destination. Other husbands and families prefer stopping for a ½ hour break every 2 hours and enjoying the journey as they go. So, each wife needs to just work with what her husband enjoys.
So, here are some food ideas that work for our family:
For road trips—
Breakfast burritos. We often leave early in the morning, so it is nice to have egg burritos put together the night before and then just reheat then in the oven or microwave the next morning before you head out the door.
Egg casserole. You can also assemble an egg casserole the night before and let it bake while you are loading the last of your things. This is actually not as messy as it sounds. Pass out paper bowls and distribute to everyone.
Baked oatmeal. Prepare this the night before and bake in the morning, so this also is easy, although a little messier if you add milk to the mixture and not at all handy for little ones.
All of the above, I put into an insulated casserole bag and it will stay hot for a good hour. The initial investment is well worth it when you think of all the money you are saving!
For other meals, we will often pack cold sandwiches or wraps or just chunks of meat and cheese, kept cold in an ice chest. In the summer, it is a high light to stop off at a rest area or picnic area of a state park and enjoy our lunch there. While we often spend as much time there as at a restaurant, we all think the trade off of fresh air and the ability to run around makes up for the simple fare.
Or, if time is short, we will stop for $1 sandwiches or a bucket of KFC chicken (although this is messy in a vehicle) and then just enjoy the other food I packed along.
Fresh veggies and fruit always taste good on the road. Baggies for each child can make sure they are getting their allotted amount. We also freeze-dry fruit, so that makes a very handy, mess-free snack.
Protein balls are often in our vehicle and a treat we all enjoy.
Cheese sticks and nuts help to tide hungry people over until the next meal. (or just to stave off the boredom of traveling)
If we pack a complete lunch, I like to stick in a bought treat that we normally do not have at home – small bags of chips, gummies, chocolate candies, lollipops, etc. It also helps out with not having to make everything.
With a family our size, we all have our own personal water bottle, then we can just buy a gallon (or 4!) of water and refill as needed. A squirt container of water flavoring (Stur, etc.) adds spice to the humdrum of ‘boring’ water.
For flying –
Frozen water bottles… this one has been a life-saver for our family of 7. I freeze the water bottles at home, put them in an insulated bag for the 2 hour drive to the airport, then either take that as a carry on or put it over into a back pack. They do allow frozen water bottles through security and each time we guzzle ‘free’ water; I think of the $2.50 per can we are saving.
Also, any jerky, beef sticks, veggies and fruit, cheese sticks, crackers … any food you take along will save you from the exorbitant prices in the airport. Although snacking all day can make you feel blah, so we often end up buying one meal of more solid food or just something warm and nourishing to fill in.

As a young mom, you will probably look at the list and think, “Nope, not doable” … and it might not be! Just give it a few years and you will be surprised at how the children change their tune about McDonalds. Most of ours groan and say, “Mom, didn’t you pack our sandwiches? Those cheeseburgers give me a belly ache!” So, that has been an incentive as well!
And as far as the crumbs, well, we’ve just resigned ourselves that it is part of having a family! The stress of trying to keep the vehicle clean was too much, so we just try to clean it well once we get home…. but that doesn’t always happen either! -Krystal Shirk. Ohio.

* I like to do laundry 2 days before a trip. That way when I am packing the day before we leave, I actually have something to pack. If we will be staying at a place for 1 night before we get to our destination I like to pack a separate bag of 1 set of clothes for each person and 1 set of pajamas and what diapers etc I’ll need.
Always keep a nightlight in your travel cosmetic bag. I never forget it that way, and I am always so grateful for it!
I am a nursing mom so when we travel I find myself sitting in the back a lot. It has surprised me at how the temperature can be either too warm or too cool. So being aware of the temperature for my littles can make a big difference on their traveling comfort and behavior and the best way to know what that is is to sit back there!
When we flew to Kenya (think 21 hrs of flying time alone one way) my baby was 11 months old. He liked to go to sleep with music playing. We bought a child’s fleece headband headset and connected it to my phone with some music he was used to. Instead of putting it on him like a headband, what worked for him was to just lightly hold the speaker part of the headphone lightly against his exposed ear as I fed him and as he slept! It was $12 well spent for us. He could sleep through the unusual noises and pilot’s announcements etc. – Mim Gingerich. Arkansas.

* It takes me a long time to pack, so I like to start 2 days before. If I feel rushed, I feel like hunkering down to a turtle’s pace because it looks too hopeless to get everything done in fast track. And I definitely make lists! Then as I get that particular bag packed, I cross it off the list. There are some things I just keep in the suitcase- a night light, a Bible, a phone charger, and my homemade ‘dirty clothes’ bag.

I also make a list of the refrigerated /frozen items I’ll need to grab the next morning. In case you’ve not tried it, lists bring peace to the mind that’s bouncing in 5 directions all day long!

The pills/herbs bag, the snack box (non refrigerated items) and miscellaneous items I may be taking, are all bags I like to pack 2 days before if possible. I may have gifts for someone or maybe I’m helping with food at our destination etc. Gathering all I can 2 days before helps! Then the day before we leave, I wash clothes and pack bags. We’re blessed with a garage so we usually load up the evening before. That helps so much!

In the bathroom bag I keep toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, body wash, contact supplies, a comb, hand mirror, a soap pump, (yes, because I can’t stand to use antibacterial soaps for a whole weekend, so I take my own Castile soap!) and a few more things. There’s not a lot more to add yet when I’m preparing for travel. Keeping another set of bathroom supplies is definitely worth it and I’ve found it sooo helpful! You can go on and finish up packing and don’t have to wait to finish the bathroom bag, till you’ve brushed your teeth just before you head out the door!

As far as food for us. We usually leave early morning with hopes the children go back to sleep for awhile! I pack Juice Pus shakes, or yogurt parfaits, muffins, protein balls, cheese sticks, fruits and such like for our breakfast and snacks. I pack some salties, but not too much because of the junk factor. I’d rather have more real foods like fruits/veggies and nuts along. We do like the veggie crisps that I find at Walmart. It’s like chips made out of rice flour, beans and veggies. The brand is Off The Eaten Path. I like to keep small disposable cups in with the snacks then dish out snacks in the cups. It’s much easier for little hands to hold.

Jerald likes to drive with plans to get there! No ambling around. So when we make our potty or food stops, we try to be prepared before we stop. Get shoes/jackets on, clear out your present clutter, books or whatever you were doing, and be ready to jump out. For lunch we love Chipotle for a delicious, healthy, ‘fast food!’ I always get a bowl, and the children love their quesadillas and mini oranges. They have good sized portions too! We might do Subway or Wendy’s sometimes. I like to target places with taste worthy salads. We don’t eat McDonald’s. Greasy junk food and traveling just aren’t a good combo if you ask me! Unless we need breakfast, sometimes we’ll get their oatmeal bowls or yogurt parfaits.

We take some books, coloring books and crayons, Josie’s doll, and a few blankets and pillows. I keep their books/toys in a basket. It sounds organized but the truth is it doesn’t stay like that. It never fails that we have things strewn around and stuff gets piled on top of the basket!

We each have our water bottles by our seats, which, again, sounds ideal but honestly, Reece likes to throw his sipper cup down on the dirty floor. Why is it so fun to do that?! But of course, I haven’t tried doing that myself so am I missing a simple joy?? 🤔

We have also found audio books to be an asset for more peace and joy while driving. Even Reece and Mom seem to do better!

I’ve also learned I must watch my attitude or we all have a bad day traveling! Trips are high stress for me and I dislike them. It’s nice to see family and friends and enjoy the occasions but all that’s involved in the from here to there, and there to here, is not so enjoyable! If I complain, the children will be grouchy too. Josie was even starting to say she hates trips too, so I knew I had to improve!! Praying and asking God for strength and patience is so very important! We also usually ask for God’s protection at the beginning of a trip but do we remember to stop and thank Him for that safety at the end of a trip?!

Happy Travels!

Help Wanted

We have been abundantly busy this month, working on a remodel project in our home. We had mold in our master bedroom and bath to irradicate. The remodeling makes a depressing mess and disturbs the whole house. But now with it restored to a fresh, new look and orderliness, makes one sigh with satisfaction.

Our new master bathroom

I have also not been feeling well these past months. Next to zero energy levels spins ordinary work into looming mountains. We’re still trying to navigate roads leading to what might be the cause. I would like a device to attach to myself that would spell out the exact issues- like reading a temperature device. (If you know of someone who invents these, let me know.) The idea of mold being a culprit, at least in part, is quite likely.

And so your thinking, “ahh she needs help with her housework, or another remodel project or cooking or some other thing.” I could definitely use help especially in the cooking department. We’re only a family of four but I continue to be amazed at the effort it takes to keep a supply of decent food around. Dietary restrictions and lack of inspiration can sometimes make cooking feel more joblike than joyful. Then there’s all the ordinary effort it takes to keep a household running moderately smooth. But no, I’m not asking for help in these areas. “What, is she even trying to say”?!

I’ve been struggling to get blogs out like I would like to or that I feel are chipper enough. I’ve felt like some of my recent ones bordered on lame but I sent them anyway and hoped somebody was inspired. I’m working on another but it’s a vast subject and requires more details and gathering information than I’ve had time. So I pushed it off again and kept thinking “what could I send out? Nothing really clicked or worked to write about presently. So I decided to do this one to ask for your help.

Awhile back I had a reader request tips on traveling with children/toddlers. We probably all have our own ways of doing things to make traveling more smooth. If y’all chip in and share your tips, I’ll compile them and make a later post and we can all enjoy the tidbits of other’s advice!

So what are your tips on how to stay organized when you travel with your children? Do you pack or load a certain way? How do you organize their books, toys, blankets, and pillows? How do those of you with scholars organize and work at their school work? (if you take that along.) How do you do snacks without the vehicle looking like it’s not been swept in 2 1/2 years, after the first go around of snacks? Do you make particular homemade snacks that are non messy? Do you make some healthy, homemade foods in an effort to help guard against not getting sick as quickly? How do you keep everyone’s hands at least halfways sanitary? (This particular one really has been a huge one for me to deal with, with my children because I’m way too germaphobia. I’ve had to back down ALOT from my phobias!) Share your healthy snack/food recipes too, if possible. Tips for traveling by air are welcome too because I know some of my reader’s most common form of traveling is by flight. If you have other traveling tips outside of what I mentioned here, feel free to share those too!

You may email your tips to me at jeraldsflower@gmail.com (do not reply to this blog post) Having them to me by February 8 would be appreciated. Thank you for your help!

Daily Planners And A Giveaway!

Do you love or hate a daily planner? Do you make a lot of lists or keep track of schedules and appointments on a nearby calendar? Or what is your method for keeping your head together, besides the skull our heads come packaged with?

I am a paper type of gal and always have loved notebooks, pens and pencils. Sticky notes too are a favorite for me! I make lists with company menus, lists of ‘forget nots’ before trips and even keep sticky notes and a pencil in my nightstand for those times I think of something I must do or add to the grocery list or who knows what it may be! But if it’s on paper, I rest much better than trying to remember mentally! So of course I love planners and have used one for years!

There’s a wide variety out there to choose from and even several designed by Mennonite ladies, which one of those is what I use. I personally don’t like one that’s too overwhelming. The one I have really enjoyed for the past 7 years is The Time Keeper by Starla Kreider. The cover is always gorgeous which is inspiring! It’s spiral bound which is a must for me so it lays flat or can be flipped to one side. It has monthly tabs to easily locate the correct month. It has a monthly calendar page where you can jot down events and appointments, with a narrow section beside that to jot down monthly projects.

I love the way the weekly sheet is laid out! It begins with Monday and ends with Sunday, and I like that, because to me, the week feels like it starts Monday. On the opposite side of the page, is space for each day’s menu, plus a large space for your ‘to do’ list. There’s lots of extra space in the back of the Planner for notes and a gift idea section. There’s perforated shopping lists too, which I have yet to become organized enough to use them efficiently! I also love the ‘planning ahead’ section in the back with a small space beside each month of the next year. You can scribble in the dates of a far off reunion or vacation or whatever. I use it especially toward the end of the year before I switch over to the next year’s planner. Here are pictures of The Time Keeper.

I find it so helpful to use a planner on a regular basis. It helps much to just free up my mind! I like to write down the simple, normal duties on a regular basis. Monday’s list is usually, wash, cleanup house, and then it varies from week to week. But if you consistently do laundry or cleaning on a certain day, consistently write it down. Sometimes I also choose to do the ironing and mending on Monday. Or if I want to sew on Tuesday, then on Monday I also try to cut out the dresses etc and prepare for sewing already on Monday. Then Tuesday, I feel ready to start as soon as my morning duties are completed.

If I’m going to town on a certain day, that’s what I write for that day and usually not much else. It kinda soaks up a good portion of the day, especially with children. And then also till you get the groceries put away, naps and make supper. On Fridays it usually looks like, wash, clean. Sometimes I do break down the ‘clean’ into smaller jobs, such as clean bathrooms, mop, dust. Otherwise, it feels like your really getting something done, but you’ve still not completed all the cleaning and thus there’s nothing to cross off yet for all the effort! Crossing off completed jobs is a big thing in my mind!

Even just writing down small jobs such as writing a letter or getting a card off in the mail, or placing a call-in or online order helps to get those things accomplished! When there’s a day that doesn’t look as busy, try making a note for a few smaller jobs like those and see how good it feels to get that done! When I near the end of one week, I usually have an idea of what the next week is looking like. That’s helpful for when my husband or someone asks, what do you have going next week? Could you help with…? Mentally I think of my planner and what the week looks like. If it’s not full of urgent pressing things, then I feel I can plan around that event and make it suit.

When I think of jobs I would like to do but can’t right now, I like to page ahead in my planner and make a note of those jobs several weeks or a month or more out. It saves my mind, and yet keeps me from forgetting entirely! (keeping a list of ‘running’ jobs on a sticky note is helpful, because you can keep moving the whole list to the following weeks, if you aren’t able to get the projects completed) And yet it’s there for a reminder when time does allow to work on some of those jobs.

I also love a planner for keeping track of my turn on church schedules. As soon as I get a new list, I go to my planner and write it down in the week that I’m on for Sunday host, or cleaning church, or taking a meal for someone and so on. I still highlight our name on the list, but again, this way I can forget about it, knowing I’ll be reminded as I get closer to that week.

If your not a paper type of person, that’s fine. Maybe you make notes on your phone for reminders and that works too. I hate using my phone for reminders but that’s because I’m not techy enough! (I have already out of desperation). But I like my paper that doesn’t disappear or refuse to cooperate!

I find using a planner also helps that I don’t just aimlessly go in circles forgetting what I really wanted to accomplish that day. It still feels like that sometimes and for sure, there are days I don’t get everything done I wrote down! (That’s why I use pencils!) And I need to be ok with that! Interruptions are the normal aren’t they?! Its also nice to just block off a day to just ‘take it a lil easier’. Jerald frequently chides me that I ought to just relax a bit more. And it sure helps if I plan ahead for that, or otherwise, I can think, “oh hey I’d have time to do this, and this and this! And before I know it, I get all involved in something that I never even planned to do! (I hate procrastination!) But I’m a bit too much the opposite! If it helps me out tomorrow, why not do it today?! Moderation in all things.

Have you been inspired to try a Planner this next year? Choose a style you like and give it a try! (You can purchase the Time Keeper here).

I will be giving away this Time Keeper planner! If you would like to be entered for the drawing send an email to jeraldsflower@gmail.com with your name and address by Sunday, December 6. (If you receive my blog via email do not reply to this post but instead send me a separate email).

Happy planning!

Nine Tips To Eliminate The Sunday Morning Rush

But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple. Psalm 5: 7

Are you a Mom who dreads the Sunday morning commotion of getting children fed, dressed, combed and all around supervised, as you prepare for departure to church in a timely fashion? With children, you cannot predict what may or may not happen in a few short hours. It’s best to have plenty of time rather than not enough. Also, the Bible does say, Let all things be done decently and in order…..That especially seems fitting for Sunday morning preparation to enter the Lord’s house. When your racing around all morning, and catch your breath as you slide on to the church pew, it’s hard to be in the spirit of worship. And I suppose you moms that have 5 or 6 children would likely have more advice to share than I do with 2, however, here’s my strategies:

1. Begin Saturday! My food prep on Sunday morning for our lunch must be very minimal, so usually Saturday is a day to prepare food. Prepare Sunday lunch as much as possible! I like to have my food ready so all I need to do Sunday morning is slide it in the oven and adjust the temperature. Something my mom taught me was, get the food in early and bake it at 350* for an hour or hour and a half, then you can turn the oven down to 210*- 220*, and you don’t need to worry about food not being finished when you get home. I cannot plan to have much food prep AT ALL Sunday morning, unless I get up a lot earlier. (Which I do if I’m having company or something.) Maybe you prefer cooking up pancakes and eggs for your lunch after you get home from church but in my book, that doesn’t fly. It’s already later than normal and we’re all ravenous when we get home! Plus, I am in no mood to listen to whiny, hungry children while I cook lunch. And besides, it brings me a sense of peace to know we have good food waiting once we get home.

2. Do not plan your Saturday too full. I try to leave my Saturday rather open but invariably there’s other things that crop up and too often I end up having a crammed Saturday! So, in fact, it actually begins Friday! Getting the cleaning done Friday helps open up Saturday for those unpredictable events that may come up. Also, we like to make sure we’re not out too late, or working on a project late on Saturday evening. Getting everyone bathed and hair washed before late is a high priority for me. As is getting to bed in good time.

3. Prepare your purse/diaper bag. Especially when I have a small baby, I like to pack the diaper bag on Saturday. It gives me time to do it properly and make sure I have what I need. My baby is 13 months, so by now it does not take as much so I don’t always do it Saturday. Still, I find it good to organize it a bit, check/restock the snacks, and set it out by the kitchen table. Then it’s ready to grab and go.

4. Get up in good time! Sunday morning is not a time to sleep in, sorry! (It’s only one of the many mom sacrifices, right?!) I like to do my hair first thing so I have ample time, in case my hair does not cooperate. (Hey, it happens and if it’s almost time to leave and my hair is heading towards a bad hair day, I feel disgruntled and frowzy) It also gives time to lay out clothes for the baby/children, so that Jerald can help with getting them dressed. Otherwise, he asks what Reece is wearing and I try to explain and next thing I know, it’s the wrong set or something that don’t fit right! You could also do this Saturday but it can be little risky for getting the clothes rumpled or strewn about meanwhile.

5.Get the children up before too late. It’s not beneficial for anyone to try rushing children through breakfast and dressing. It’s nice if they have time to relax and wake up a bit before they must eat.

6.Have a simple breakfast. This could also be prepared on Saturday. Jerald and I generally do not eat breakfast, therefore, I usually just quick cook a little oatmeal and he feeds the children, to give me more time for other things. (I think it gives more alertness in church if I don’t eat breakfast, or at least very little)

7.Lay out Bibles and Sunday School books. Place these in a convenient spot to pick up as you go out the door so they won’t be forgotten.

8. Be in the spirit of worship. We have a tradition of playing worship music on Sunday mornings. I really enjoy listening to good worship songs as we anticipate and prepare for church. Our favorites are the Hymns Of The Church CDs by Oasis Chorale. We have Hymns Of The Church in our songbook racks at our church and hearing those songs before we even get there is a wonderful way to begin worshiping God! Plus, it contributes to a peaceful atmosphere.

9. Have a structured departure time. Get completely ready for church in ample time, so you have a few minutes to spare. Maybe somebody gets the wrong socks, or there’s a messed diaper to change or who knows what all manages to happen when we’re pushed for time! Jerald likes for us to be ready and sitting in the living room 5 – 10 minutes before we need to leave. Honest confession here- I try, but somehow, I don’t always get it accomplished! But when I do I like how it gives me time to mentally collect myself and anticipate the worship service. This is also a good time to refresh Josie with her memory verse.

Calming The Refrigerator Chaos

Is your fridge a place of peace or chaos? Probably it’s a place of piece. A piece of this and a piece of that. I don’t like clutter inside or out of my fridge. First, we’ll talk about the inside.

Refrigerators are such a necessity in our kitchens yet so easy to just plop stuff inside and shut the door to clutter. After all, who enjoys cleaning out the refrigerator?! A long time ago when I was a girl at home, my mom and I had a brainstorm to start a business of cleaning out refrigerators for people! Lol! It never materialized of course. It’s not my favorite job and since I detest clutter, I strive to maintain my fridge, instead of having a complete clean out a few times a year.

Having designated spots for regular items is a big help! It’s rather a no brainer to keep small items such as syrups, salad dressings, jams and condiments in the door shelves. I keep a small basket on the second shelf for eggs. It’s very handy to have them out of the carton and just reach in and grab the amount I need. Or if I need a bunch, the whole basket comes out.

A good investment for me has been two clear organizing boxes that I bought at TJ Max years ago. I always keep the largest one on the second shelf for my vegetables. I like to wash and prep my veggies, put them in bags and into this veggie bin. It holds a lot because I can pile it high. When I want to fix a salad I grab the whole container and have all I need in one swift load! Besides, I love having my veggies prepped before hand! Although it does take time when I get home from the store. If I have excess vegetables, I keep extras in one of the fridge drawers until I’m ready to wash them and place in the vegetable bin.

I keep a second clear box in the first fridge drawer for apples, lemons or other bigger fruits. (I keep it in the drawer only because I barely have enough room for a second box on a shelf) Small fruits like grapes or blueberries get washed and placed in a bowl and just set on the shelf. I like to put a paper towel or small cloth in the bottom of the bowl to absorb the excess water and moisture. I keep a basket or bowl on the bar for fruits that don’t need refrigerated. The other picture is just washed produce. I like how pretty and colorful it looks! We eat a lot of fresh foods, so that is why I keep talking about my fruits and vegetables.

I like to keep my fridge drawers categorized too. Besides my fruit bin in the first drawer, I keep cheese, bacon grease, leftover frosting or other small, not often used items. The other two drawers are for extras when I get home from shopping. I place things in there like, extra butter or milk, extra vegetables, sour cream, yogurt and such. In the winter when we have citrus fruits, I keep a drawer just for that.

Now for the shelves. I like to keep leftovers on the top or second shelf but I admit it doesn’t always stay like that. The bottom shelf I keep for taller items like milk or drink pitchers.

My fridge still can get messy! But I find it’s better to stay on top of things; wiping up lil spills or smears immediately and keeping tabs on those leftovers so they don’t rot, way back in the boonys of refrigerization! Two more clarifications. When I get company, my fridge gets full and cluttered and normal requirements get banned, because there’s extra food and I need to manage to fit it all in somehow, because I don’t have a second fridge! Also, I know we don’t have a large family where there’s way more food and people in the kitchen, and where things don’t stay as mom would like it to stay! That would make a big difference I’m sure, but maybe this can still give you ideas on organizing that big cold box!

Now for the outside. My fridge does not have a magnetic front so that keeps things off for sure! I love the clean look of nothing on the front! I do have some things on the sides, but it’s not my main place to keep pictures of friends or lists or reminders.

My white board I like to jot down those little jobs or reminders. Very handy and it can easily be erased once completed. I hate cluttery papers, notes and lists all over my fridge. I put many tips, some recipes I like to keep handy or lists inside my cabinet doors. This is also where I tape up my two month menu calendar. It’s wonderful because it’s not a constant eyesore to me, yet conveniently accessible because I’m always opening the cabinet doors for dishes! If it’s a list I want to make sure I notice more, such as Sunday host schedule, I tape it inside a door that gets opened ALOT. And I highlight our name, but for safety purposes, I still write it in my planner by the date we’re on to host! Most of the other church related lists, I tape on the inside of the office door, which is right off the kitchen. On the outside of that door, is where I put up the pictures of friends and family. I love this set up. It’s easy for people to look at the pictures when we get company and then the inside of the door hides all those lists, but handy to look at when needed!

This is the office door of pictures on the outside and two of my inside cabinet doors. Do you see how cluttered that door on the left is?! It could use a cleaning up I know! But it doesn’t bother me near as much with it being hid from view.

Where’s More Ketchup?!

I want to tell you how fun it is to organize kitchen spaces and what I have found to work for me. It may not be feasible for everyone but hopefully it will give you some ideas to inspire your own organization!

Now, I know we’re not all blessed with pantries. I never had one till we moved to this house and so having one feels luxurious! I know the frustration of conglomerated heaps of bags and cans and boxes! I would try to categorize somewhat, but that too can be difficult if you don’t have much space. One major thing that helps me is to utilize baskets in my pantry! You can use baskets/bins anywhere you have some room to store groceries. It’s ok if you need to store some things in a bedroom closet or another unusual place! Big totes would be especially helpful in that case. Find what works for you and your house.

These baskets help to keep items in their proper place rather than congregating all over the shelves. It still bothers me that they’re not all the same color but when I was buying them, I was unsure how many I would need and then later I could not find this aqua color. But I remind myself the baskets still work, even though it doesn’t look as nice as having them all identical!🤪 I found these at Walmart, but have seen them at Target also. Decide what you would like to put together in each basket and then label it. Yes, add labels! I know you know what’s in there, but when others in your household are looking for something, it helps to be able to say, “it’s in the drink basket” etc. Plus I think it looks nice too. I had chalk labels but I saw it was not practical because the writing rubbed off too easy. So I put practical above pretty and went with plain white labels. They stick well and the writing stands out heaps better and doesn’t get brushed off. ( but as you can see, I’m still using some on my pantry containers…. I still like the looks on there and just put up with the rubbing off! )😜 And just a side note here on labeling, masking tape also works beautifully to label jars and containers! I keep a roll in my kitchen just to label foods. It sticks well, but peels off easily without sticky residue left behind, and you can write on it with a permanent marker. Especially freezer items or jars of pizza sauce, salsa, and ketchup that someone may have a hard time deciphering which is which. I give credit to my mother- in-law for that tip on masking tape when I was newly married.😉

Now back to my pantry. I don’t store an excessive amount of extras like say cream of mushroom soup. Some people like to buy that by the case. Well, in that case, you might want to store most of that elsewhere and only keep a half dozen or so in your pantry to save on space. I personally don’t like to use a lot of that because it has MSG and other additives. So that’s why I can store my boughten canned items in two baskets. I also keep my can opener right there by the cans.

My most problematic area is the floor space of my pantry. It’s all too easy to plop bags of stuff in there and shut the door. I try to only allow that if it’s temporary. Like, if I’m going to be using a lot of it in the next few days, or if I simply don’t have the time to put things in their designated spots as soon as I get home with groceries. But the next day or as soon as I can, I try to put things away respectably. I’ve learned that large baskets help so much to control the chaotic prone atmosphere. I keep extra things in the baskets like flour, sugars, oatmeal etc. I like how I can fill up my flour or oatmeal containers, and if it’s the last I have of it, it gives me time to buy more before I’m completely out.

Also, having some margin is a must! How fun is it to pull off the cracker container and three others come crashing down in the process?! If I have to pull off the pretzel container and reach behind the chip container to pull out the crackers, and thus knocking another one over with my elbow, there will definitely be an occurrence of loud sighs from this Mama! You can’t expect things to stay neat if there’s absolutely no extra room. Allow a little extra space so everyone and everything can breathe a bit better!😅 And then when your family is eating supper and someone yells, “where’s more ketchup?!” you can calmly reply, “in the middle basket on the third shelf”.

Another area I want to tell you about is my container cabinet. I struggled a long while to keep it easily accessible, yet neat. I looked on Pinterest for ideas, but most of those did not work for me. Then, in one of my organizing streaks, I had this extra basket and was looking how I could use it. Its a bit taller so I turned it on it’s side and stacked my lids in it. So far it’s been a hit with me! I could finally keep them easy to reach without the others going whooshing down on the shelf as soon as I pulled out one lid! This also helped so that I could better stack my containers in each other, rather than storing the lids on the containers.

The turquoise basket I keep for my disposable containers like cool whip and yogurt. It keeps them together and when I need one, I pull out the basket to retrieve the item, then shove it back in. Works like a drawer. There’s no lids or containers sailing to the floor to get attention! (so I imagine their thoughts 😂) My rule is, once this basket is full, I pitch any extra containers because I don’t like clutter! But when I start getting a little low, then I save them again. I do not appreciate towering stacks of cool whip and yogurt and cottage cheese containers! But if you do, then by all means keep your stacks!

We do not use the toaster a whole lot so it doesn’t merit sitting on my counter. But neither do I want a big “awgishick” (for those who don’t know PA Dutch, a big hassle) when I do want to use it. I use my blender a lot more, so it sits up front. When I want the toaster, there’s room to push the blender to the side, pull the toaster up front, on the tea towel, and get it out. It’s on the towel so it slides better, plus it catches those crumbs that make cabinets cleaning so necessary at times! Occasionally, give that tea towel a good shake and be rid of those crumbs in a jiff!

Whenever I get done straightening up a closet or cabinets, there’s such a huge sigh of relief and feeling of accomplishment! Now, head to Walmart and buy a few baskets for yourself!