Monday, August 13, 2018

Simplify your School Year

We have a week to go before the kids go back to school. In some ways I'll be spending this week trying to hold on to the last remnants of summer. In other ways I am craving a return to our routine. I've been running the kids around all over the place this summer. Part of the reason is to give them a fun and enriching summer, but honestly it's mostly to keep them occupied because Ken and I both work full-time.

This school year will be an interesting one for sure! We are going to have a kid in elementary school, one starting at a new middle school, and the oldest starting high school. I've already had a taste of the juggle that will be involved with the registration appointments we had last week. It's a fairly small school system, so you'd think they could coordinate things a little better, but NOPE!

I know it's going to be a lot to keep track of, so I'm setting myself up for success by trying to be really organized before we even get started. And when I saw our August theme for Blog With Friends was "Simplify Your Life," I knew exactly what to do.

In years past I've created some other ways to stay organized during the school year: a pencil can for Frances, a binder with all the important information in it, and a cubby system to keep all the stuff organized. This year, however, what we really need is a way to keep all the important dates organized in an easy to see place.

I've used an online calendar app called Cozi for a while now. It's great because Ken and I can both see it on our phones or computers and it syncs automatically. We have now reached the point where the kids need to see what's going on, but don't have ready access to smart phones to check on things.

While we were at Staples doing some school supply shopping, my eyes were drawn to a big dry erase calendar. I chose one that had space next to the calendar to write in, as well as a cork board underneath. I picked up a few other supplies and an idea was born.

I put the calendar in the foyer so it's easy to see as we leave the house. I wrote out the dates for August by checking the Cozi calendar as well as all those stray papers that have been getting sent home lately. Each kid picked out a color scheme and I labeled their events with magnets in that color. I also found some "cubicle clips" that have pins in the back to stick to the cork board and a clip in the front to hold papers. The cubicle clips and the magnets come in the same colors, so each kid can tell at a glance which things pertain to them.

The day after I put this up on the wall and showed it to the kids, Frances came home from her camp and clipped something to my clip underneath the calendar. "What's that?" I asked her. "It's a paper you need to sign for tomorrow," she replied. SUCCESS!!

Need some other ideas for how to simplify your life? Check these out!

Karen of Baking In A Tornado has Skillet Cordon Bleu Dinner. Start with a packaged rice mix, add leftover chicken, ham and vegetables for a quick and simple dinner in no time.

Dawn from Spatulas On Parade presents Parmesan Ranch Chicken. Simple easy recipe that doesn’t complicate our busy lives

Tamara from Part-time working Hockey Mom shows us her KEEP - DONATE - TOSS Buckets. Declutter areas of your house by using the tried and tested method that she calls keep, donate or toss.

Lydia from Cluttered Genius has a Simple (On-a-budget) Laundry Room Update. The house is from the turn of the 20th century, but the decor doesn’t have to be. An easy and on-a-budget update that even *I* could manage!

Jules of The Bergham Chronicles listsEasy Ways to Keep Your Family Organized and on Track. A list of ways to keep your family running like a well oiled machine, especially during busy times.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Hidden Room

I had a good childhood. There was very little drama for me, and for that I am eternally thankful. I think the biggest "crisis" I dealt with was moving the summer before 4th grade. So when I got this writing prompt, I was a little confused; not quite sure where to go.

Your “Secret Subject” is: When I was little I had a hiding place. It was my mind. When things got tense as they often did. I would go to my hiding place... It was submitted by:

When I was little I did have a cool place to go. It wasn't for hiding and it wasn't for any traumatic reasons. I had a recurring dream that I always thought was kinda cool. Sometimes I would "request" the dream to myself before going to sleep. Sometimes I would day dream about it.

The dream I used to have was of a house. I walked into the house and explored it. After looking around a room, I would open a door, thinking it led to a closet, and find another room to explore. The rooms in this house were infinite and I spent many dreams just walking through and exploring things.

I don't remember the rooms being the same or feeling familiar. In fact, in the dream it always seemed new, but when I would wake up I knew that I had had the dream before. It was never scary or uncomfortable. It was a nice exploration through a seemingly endless house.

I don't know what started the dream. Was there a TV episode that inspired it? Or a book I read? Is there a deep meaning behind this dream? Always keep exploring? Leave no stone unturned (door unopened)?

I don't remember the last time I had this dream. I've thought about it a few times recently, especially while house hunting. Something about opening a stranger's closet seems intrusive, but also necessary at the same time. I would love to find a house that had a secret room! I feel like those would get snapped up pretty quickly off the market. Or maybe I'd be the first to discover it?!

Did you have a childhood hiding spot? Recurring dream? DO YOU HAVE A SECRET ROOM IN YOUR HOUSE I CAN COME VISIT?!?!

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 9 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado
The Bergham Chronicles
The Blogging 911
Cognitive Script
Never Ever Give Up Hope
Part-Time Working Hockey Mom
My Brand of Crazy

Friday, July 6, 2018

Your Civic Duty

In high school we had a government class taught by a fun guy who loved the United States! He was very animated and literally jumped around the room while explaining things to us. He took his classes on a field trip to the inauguration every four years. He drilled current events into us and very obviously loved everything about his chosen subject matter.

I was not a great social studies student. History never stuck with me. I couldn't remember dates and which people went with which era in history. I wasn't good at memorizing states and countries and their capitals. I often struggled with which remembering governmental hierarchies. I had a very broad, general idea about how things worked, and that was it.

I started voting when I turned 18 because that's what you were supposed to do. At the time, I only voted in presidential elections, but I have since tried to vote in all local and state elections as well. I've done some research and prayed about my decisions. I've tried to take a more active role in selecting our country's governance. (But I still don't like "talking politics")

One part of government I've actually wanted to participate in is jury duty. I know most people seem to dread serving for jury duty, but I've always thought it would be kinda fun. Is it because I'm a nosy person? Is it because I like watching court dramas on TV? Is it because I'm just weird? Who knows!? I just think it would be fun to sit on a jury.

Now I should clarify, I don't want to hear the grisly details in a murder trial. I don't think I'd be able to sleep after that. Actually, any sort of violent crime would be too much for me. And I wouldn't want some convict coming after my family for putting him away. Does that happen in real life or just my books?

Maybe a lower profile case would be boring. Maybe that's why most people dread being called for jury duty. That mostly makes sense. I may end up bored too, but I still think I'd like to try it.

I almost went to court once. Ken and the kids and I were on our way somewhere in two separate vehicles when we witnessed a vehicle accident. The guy behind me sped around me, through a red light at an intersection, across a few yards, and hit another vehicle before driving off. I called 911 and talked to dispatch. We were on our way somewhere important, but dispatch said I could leave, so I went with the kids and Ken stayed behind to help sort things out.

He and I both eventually got called as witnesses by the prosecution and defense. I was nervous talking to them, especially because of the time between the incident and when they finally called me. I went through all the steps at work to have time off to go to court. I wrote down my statement so I could remember things better. The case got continued twice and then I think think the guy made a plea deal, because they never ended up calling us to testify. That's as close to court as I've ever gotten, but I was ready to do my civic duty!

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 11 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:
 Baking In A Tornado
The Lieber Family Blog
The Bergham Chronicles
The Blogging 911
Cognitive Script
Never Ever Give Up Hope
My Brand of Crazy
Part-Time Working Hockey Mom
Southern Belle Charm
Paradoxical Suds

My subject is "You’ve been called to jury duty, how do you feel about it? Why?" It was submitted by:

Monday, June 11, 2018

Dare to Wear

It's been such a long time since I sat down to really write anything that my fingers feel a little rusty! The kids are out of school now and they all actually ended the school year on positive notes. I had very few mental requests and that was one of them: Can we please start the summer feeling good about school?

Everyone here has been struggling with various levels of anxiety. We're taking a few different approaches to treating it. I've been doing a lot of advocating for my kids and making sure all the bits and pieces are where they're supposed to be.  Frankly, it's exhausting! The good news is that we are making positive progress. Also somewhere in the middle of this I was able to take some steps for self-care.

I've been taking ballet classes for fun and exercise.  No, I don't wear a leotard. No, I don't have a recital. Yes, it is fun and I've enjoyed getting to know my classmates. It gets me out of the house by myself once a week. That's important!

The other thing I finally did was cave in a buy a new power pedal for my sewing machine. Mine got lost in the move and I've been borrowing machines for the times I really had to sew something. But, man, it feels good to be back on my own machine! It feels so good that I bought a bunch of fabric to try out too.

I bought fabric to make a skirt for Frances and one for myself. I also bought fabric to make Henry's birthday shirt. I brought it all home and threw it in the wash so that when I was ready to sew that step wouldn't hold me back.

Memorial Day weekend I ignored some house chores I needed to get done and sat down to plan out my skirt. I didn't really have a pattern, but I had an idea about what I wanted. I decided to just jump right in!

See one of the issues that comes up as a result of the anxiety in my house is that everything has to be planned out to a "T." Anticipation of the unknown is a big trigger here, so days go better when every detail is meticulously plotted out. The problem is that not only is that exhausting; it's not my style. I enjoy "flying by the seat of my pants." I like to go for drives with no destination in mind. I like to jump in feet first and figure things out as I go.

So that's what I did for my skirt. I ironed and cut out the pieces. I pinned them together and I started sewing. I messed up on a few parts, so I had to rip out some seams. NO BIG DEAL! People make mistakes. I got really close to finishing and we had to leave for our Memorial Day trip. I ended up taking it with me just to look at it and critique it. I finished it up when we got home and actually wore it to work the next day.

My skirt didn't turn out exactly the way I wanted it to. But I still had Frances' to make so I figured that I would use what I'd learned to make it better. This one had a few snags too, but I turned out much better and my 8th grader actually wore it to school!

I've since made another skirt and started a plan for a costume for VBS this summer. I also sewed Henry's birthday shirt. I didn't realize how much I had missed sewing. I didn't realize how therapeutic it was to sew. I've missed being able to create things and now that I've reminded myself, I'm going to try not to forget again!

3rd skirt
Henry's birthday shirt

Wanna make a skirt like this?

Here's the "plan."

Pick out 2-3 different fabrics that go well together.  I cut one fabric about 6" wide and the other 3" wide. The length will depend on how long you want your skirt to be. Don't forget to plan for a hem and a waistband.

Sew your strips together, alternating wide and narrow strips. Put enough together that it will fit around your waist only counting the 6 inch strips. (If you have a 30 inch waist, you'll want at least 5 six-inch strips.) Once you have all the strips sewn together, it's time to go back and make the pleats. I think these are called inverted pleats. I made them by folding the 3" fabric in half and sewing about 5" straight down. That means the 3" fabric is hidden at the top and peeks out lower down. I did this all around the skirt before I sewed the two ends together. (That's why you have to make the waist by only accounting for the 6" fabric.)

Once I had the two ends sewn together, I added an elastic waistband and hemmed the bottom. For my skirt, I cut my fabric in the wrong direction and it turned out shorter than I was comfortable with. I ended up adding another strip of fabric around the bottom. It wasn't exactly as I had planned it, but I still like the skirt! Frances' turned out perfectly and she LOVES it!

Here are some other "Truth or Dare" projects to check out!

Karen of Baking in a Tornado has these delicious looking Onion Poppy Bagels.

Lydia of Cluttered Genius has some tips on how to survive the beach with kids

And Tamara of Part-Time Working Hockey Mom has a Blast from the Past vs Present Life

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