More Streamlining

May is less than one week away. 

Never before have I needed things to run smoothly and efficiently than in the month of May.

May is the busiest, not necessarily signing up for extras but fulfilling prior commitments. School has its end of the year projects and celebrations. Dance is finished off with a recital. There is prep required for summer activities, camps, and VBS. And then there is the beautiful weather which has us staying out longer in the afternoons. Oh, and the usual stuff like laundry, meals, carpool, 4 year old tantrums, 1 year old tantrums etc.

So I'm streamlining like crazy. Today, I want to share 3 more things I've added to my list of ways to make life a bit more manageable and that are now part of my streamlining repertoire.

1. The 3 oldest kids got a pair of Natives. My friends have raved about these shoes. You can get them wet. There are not shoestrings involved. They are durable. These shoes are a one shoe wonder in that they cover all our shoe needs.

These are my kids ONE pair of spring/summer shoes. Sure, we have back ups, but these are the shoes. I chose these because my children can easily put them on themselves. And that makes my life so much easier.

This one, easy shoe philosophy could totally be done with shoes you already have. I'm not recommending everyone has to go out and buy a pair of Natives (though they are great). But, it's worth considering with your next shoe purchase how involved you have to be as the parent in helping with kids' shoes.

2. I've gone hard core (again) with our color coded cups. Each of my children (and one neighbor friend) has an assigned color. George and Caroline each have a sippy cup. When someone asks for a drink, I say -"where's your cup?" - and they have to find it.

It is my hill to die on.

This has cut way back on dishes.

The one pair of shoes and the one cup thing are teaching us all to be more disciplined about keeping up with our stuff.

It is truly so much simpler, a paradigm shift creating real habit change!

Last but not least...

3. I'm taking full advantage of Walmart grocery pickup, averaging about once a week. Because it's  usually required that you reserve a time slot 24 hours in advance, it's forcing me to be more organized. This service is saving me so much energy because what is more exhausting than taking little kids to the grocery store?!

If you have not tried it, you have not really lived.

The comments were so great on the last streamlining post. Share if you have more ideas!


Spring Around Our House

Loving Spring over here! It's my fave. We can't get enough outside time. The weather has been perfection.

I'm looking for a new audio book to listen to. Suggestions? Finished Lincoln in the Bardo....I liked it, but don't openly recommend it. It's not for everybody.

Failing at tea. I'm drinking coffee as I type.

Also, as I type, my kids are having "room time."  This is a new thing for us - 30 minutes to 1 hour of quiet in their rooms in the afternoon. I'm loving it and they are learning to love it.

Laurie's kindergarten class is celebrating the wedding of Q and U tomorrow and I'm making this cake.

Stephen is turning 8 on Thursday. He is getting this Statue of Liberty 3D puzzle. He's already done the Titanic and an aircraft carrier.

Jennifer's 10 Item Spring Wardrobe - love it. I look forward to her videos every Monday and Thursday!

Got to go...room time is almost up!


Helping Kids Push Past Boredom

The other day it was hot and my kids got bored, a glimpse of summer :) They were begging to watch YouTube and play on the the iPad (uggh!).

This got me thinking...about summer and the endless hours of free time at home while the baby will be (hopefully) napping.
On one hand, I'm all for kids being bored. But I do think it's too much to ask them to "figure it out" for hours on end. Setting a little inspiration before them can go a long, long way. This is sort of a recent revelation for me.

As my kids get older, they have more of their own agendas and expectations. I'm learning that those agendas need to be carefully managed. I need to lead them, guide them, provide ideas for them - "run" their life so they don't run mine.

Serve them strawberries so they don't raid the freezer for ice cream, literally and metaphorically. 

This takes energy and planning on the part of the parent. It's hard.

When they were full of complaints on this particular Sunday afternoon, I pulled out a new pack of beads and some Legos. I held firm. No YouTube. No iPad.

They got lost in their creations.


As I prepare for the summer, I'm filing away ideas of things to do. Simple things. But I have a feeling that my attitude is my biggest challenge.

Can y'all relate? 
What supplies/materials do you provide for your kids to keep them busy? 


Clothing Budget + Enjoying the Burn

The beginning of 2017, I set a strict clothing budget for myself. I even opened a separate checking account to keep all clothing transactions organized and separated from our main checking.

I was seeking strict accountability for what I buy and how much I spend on my clothing. Clothes are my weakness. If I'm tempted to impulse buy, it's going to be on my clothes.

Oddly, even thought I showed weakened restraint when it came to clothes and I had plenty of clothes, I wasn't buying the right clothes. There was still holes in my wardrobe and things that were not really my style...just not quite right. Worse, I kept buying similar items. Hello I do not need anymore button down shirts!

Setting a strict budget was my attempt to rein it all in.

I'm also keeping a list of each item I purchase throughout the year. The list allows me to really reflect on what I buy - How much did I wear it? Was this or that a good purchase?

I guess you could say I've made a hobby out of creating a wardrobe that I love. It's a creative outlet and it keeps me from dressing frumpy (as is so tempting for moms at home). It is a hobby that overlaps with the necessity that I get dressed everyday.

I'm almost 4 months in, and I'm really feeling the benefits of this strict budget.

- There is freedom in the budget. The money is allotted for me to spend on clothes, and I don't feel guilt about spending the hard earned family dollars impulsively.

(A word about my impulsive purchasing - what I mean is....impulsive for me, a person who is not very impulsive about purchases. It's relative. In general, I'm an under buyer.)

- I've become a more cautious and confident buyer. The budget provides clarity because if I'm going to spend my precious clothing allowance, I want to buy something I LOVE.

- It's made me patient. My allowance is enough to enjoy and buy beautiful, quality clothes. But it's not enough to run out and buy a full season's worth of clothes and accessories. It's a slow and enjoyable process.

Jennifer Scott describes in one of her videos (though I can't find the exact one) about enjoying the burn, the slow process of building a great wardrobe, buying the best quality you can afford. I love this concept - enjoying the burn. It's an exercise - to budget, to have self-discipline, to refine my style.

Do you have a clothing budget?
Are you satisfied with your wardrobe?
How much do you care about your clothes? A lot, a little?

P.S. You would be so underwhelmed if you saw how I dressed. I'm no fashionista. I enjoy timeless, simple clothing. Though I am trying to dress a little more elegantly by slowly acquiring more dresses.


Plating and 6:30 Dinner

Whenever my parents are cooking for a group, they will often plate everybody's meal and serve it like a restaurant does. Everyone gets a serving of each part of the meal, beautifully arranged on their plate. This does not mean you have to eat it, but it makes it easier on the server and it is a lovely presentation. 

An important part of the success of our 6:30 family dinner is plating all the plates at the same time. This is not a new invention, but new to me.

I used to prepare the children's plates, let them start eating, and then I would fix my plate. By the time I sat down, they were done and asking for more food or wanting to get up.

Last night we had our typical 6:30 dinner - minus my husband who was working later. We set the table, and then I plated the food (including my plate). I snapped a picture realizing how vital plating is to getting everyone to sit down at the same time, especially when my husband is not present. I really enjoy the formality of it and it enables me to sit with everyone while we eat.

I can see how eating family style or buffet style might work when the kids are a bit older. And maybe we'll tackle dress code one day, too. Laurie could not resist wearing her bathing suit to dinner last night. Whatever!


I'm also thinking I need to do lunch this way in the summer when we are all home.

Do you plate everyone's food?

Family style? Buffet style? 

I've never given much thought to this, but it can really make a big difference for the cook and server in the enjoyment of meals.


P.S. I loved every comment on Streamlining. Y'all gave me so many more ideas to think about. Thank you for reading and taking the time to share your wisdom!
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