Thursday, March 17, 2011

I had laundry waiting for me again...

WARNING: I had laundry waiting for me again, so this is long enough to be two blogs. If you just want to know what’s happening these days in the Tucker household, read the first part. There’s plenty of warning when you get to the middle, where I switch gears, and write about a topic I feel like writing about. J

Well, last Friday I was in Elmira, OR getting to hang with my folks, and went for a drive with my brother, Ben, so didn’t get to write to ALLLLLL my FANS… all 2 of you. I know you were all just drooling in anticipation for my next entry, and must have been HIGHLY disappointed that there wasn’t an entry last week. Uh huh.
Anyway, good stuff has been going on over the last couple weeks.

We got our taxes back from the accountant (her fee was SO worth it!), and we were shocked at the amount we’re getting back. Thank you, God! I was actually just shocked we GOT money back. J When Duane started adding up the numbers, I thought they were numbers we’d have to pay, and was starting to freak out, not having a clue how we would’ve been able to ever pay that amount. THEN he told me we were GETTING that amount. There’s Duane for you. So here’s a quick poll: Add a comment to this blog, and tell me what you would do if you got money back from your taxes? Don’t worry, we have plenty of ideas of our own, but I’m always curious how others decide what to do with theirs. We made a
wish list of all the things we’d like to do with it, from paying off credit cards to a flat screen TV, to stuff for working on the house. THEN we had to figure out our priorities: the money isn’t ours, but God’s, and we want to be good stewards of it. We now have a preliminary budget, which I imagine will flex as we go. It’s amazing how fast money goes!
I’m now on a vacation for the next several days, so you might hear a little more from me. My CEF committee (i.e. my bosses) ordered me to take next week off, and who was I to argue. ;)My sister, Anna, is coming to spend most of the week with me, and then we have company coming for the weekend, too. The rest of the time, I’ll probably get Anna to help me on
organizing the office here at home… which begs the next paragraph.

We were able to scrounge the money to put in a laminate floor in the office, so have the materials ready to go, and will install it on Saturday. We should have a good crew here, combining those with the brains with those with the backs and hands. I’m excited to add to my skills in that department, as well as in sanding and painting: My goal tomorrow is to sand and paint the molding so it’ll be ready to reinstall when the crew gets here. Should be interesting, but I’m kinda excited!

Also, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: We have 2 new additions. Romeo and Jada have been one big ball of energy from the beginning. One of these days I’ll hafta blog about the adventures of settling in grown-up puppies. They may not chew on much like puppies would, but we’ve had to train them in just about everything else. Romeo is turning into quite the stinker. We’re sure it’s him that has found ways to knock down the child-gate that’s supposed to keep them in the kitchen when I leave them at home. We try doing it tighter,
stacking things against it, stacking things against both sides, etc. I’ve got an idea for next time, but that stinker is BOUND to find a way around it. Jada on the other hand, really doesn’t like car rides (doesn’t get sick though), shivers in fear in new situations, and then turns around and has started trying to put Molly in her place (someone needed to!). All kinds of craziness! I’m just glad they’re finally acting like they’re potty trained most of the time.

Tomorrow will be our 6 month anniversary and I haven’t killed Duane yet. I told him this morning, that I’m holding out, so I can at least say I survived the “excruciating” task of putting up with him for six months. Watch out for the day after that though!!! J Totally kidding. That man rocks my world. My heart still does flip-flops when I see those blue eyes
looking at me, and I can’t stop thanking God for Duane’s patience with me, his sensitivity,
his strength, and… just so much.  

So that’s the news for this week. Now here’s the topic onwhich I feel like waxing eloquent: Weekly Planning.
When Duane leaves on Sunday afternoons for the week, I breakout our “Family Notebook”, my “Menu Notebook”, as well as a couple of interesting cookbooks, and get ready to plan. I know I’m not the only one with a crazy schedule, and somehow I still managed to forget a meeting today (sorry again, ladies!), but there are a few things I’ve learned to do that help make things go a lot smoother. I get overwhelmed easily, so I have three main worksheets
that help me make life a little more manageable.

          1.    Weekly Schedule

2.    Menu/Shopping List

3.    Chore List
(these are available at the end of the blog)

The weekly schedule comes first. This is a two page schedule, with a quarter of the page for each day of the week, and one quarter for errands I need to run. I start with my PDA and its calendar I’ve updated from work. Then I add in from our home calendar, and any other new commitments I’m making. Then I start adding my errands – usually Duane and I think of plenty of things that I can do during the week to make life easier for everyone (this week it was some grocery shopping, paperwork for the dogs, and a couple projects around the house). I also add my chores for the week, but that comes a little later. Any phone calls that need to be made, blogs to be written, cards, etc, are also added to this list, on the day on which I need to do them. This way I can space them out to a practical load for each day, and not get overwhelmed!
Now that this is done, I can start working on my menu. I do a quick field trip through the kitchen and pantry to see what I have, taking special note of leftovers and perishables that need used up, as well as the canned goods that could be coupled with other things for tasty dishes. Then I start filling in the menu, with an eye toward my schedule. This menu is a table of 3 columns (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and seven rows (Monday thru Sunday), as well as a column of lines on which I can make my grocery list. I try to add the leftovers first, especially considering them for lunches at work or busy evenings without much time to
cook. Then I can add a few recipes that I’d like to make on the nights when I have more time to cook (like Friday when I don’t work and can have something ready to welcome Duane home for the weekend). I usually try to find at least one recipe that is new or a little more challenging to try out. Sometimes that is from a lovely home-made recipe book made by a friend (thank you to Sarah Seck and to my CEF friends in Eugene!!!) Other times, it’s one I’ve kept since childhood, or in one of several cookbooks in the cupboard. If I STILL can’t
find what I want, there’s always the internet, but I’ve never gotten that far yet!

Next I fill in all the other blanks with simple meals. This is where I usually refer to the E-Mealz program (a subscription to weekly menus using a budget priced according to the grocery store or diet that you prefer – this also includes the shopping and price-list). I did it for a full year, and as a single for most of that time, I couldn’t use CLOSE to all of it. I cancelled my subscription, and now go back it for very simple but tasty menus. It includes
the shopping list right with the menus. 

Anyways, as I make the menu, I add to the shopping list on the right side any of the
ingredients that I’ll need to buy (I try to limit this as much as I can by using things on hand), which becomes part of my general shopping list as well.
Chore list: Thankfully we have a simple home, and there are plenty of things that we STILL haven’t moved in yet in the 6 months we’ve live here, but somehow, there are still PLENTY of things to do to keep it tidy. And I very easily get overwhelmed when I start to think about it (or avoid thinking about it). So I’ve stumbled on a couple tools to help me. I’ve discovered that there really isn’t any one perfect plan for everyone, much less me, so I make a
hodge-podge of things that meld together to help me tackle things.

The first main tool is to give myself permission not to get it ALL done in a week. Somehow I wake up realizing that I’ve put pressure on myself to get it all done, and feel like a miserable
failure for not, so then I don’t do anything. Reality is that I work full-time, am involved in various ministries, have physical issues I’m still trying to figure out (another blog for another time), and am often emotionally exhausted, and just can’t devote 24-7 to keeping house. Cuz you know all those house-wives who don’t “work” get it all done AND sit around and eat bon-bons while watching their soaps on TV. Just kidding. Anyway, Once I realize that I don’t have to do it ALL in one week…

I realize that I DO have to do the reasonable amount. So at the beginning of the week, I figure out what I can handle – even just for that week – and add that to my calendar.

Basic things: While waiting for the dogs to finish their morning and evening meals in the kitchen, I do a quick tour of the kitchen, tidying up, filling the dishwasher, putting food away,
etc. In the morning, I also make the bed, have a “quiet time”, shower, take care of the dogs, etc (still working on getting all that into a routine, but working on it nonetheless).

Then I assign things for each day. This week, for example, I was to Pay the bills on Monday, update the budget, and go grocery shopping. Tuesday I knew I wouldn’t have much time at home, so just decided to sweep the floors and do a quick tour of the bathrooms (check TP,
empty garbage cans, wash the sink, clean toilets if there’s time). Wednesday, I planned to Vacuum and mop, which was scheduled around calling to chat with my dad. This was also a night I knew I could catch up on any chores from the first part of the week that I didn’t get done. Tonight (Thursday) is my built-in kinda-relaxed night: After I do any dishes that need to be hand-washed, I “get” to do laundry (one of my least favorite chores is FOLDING laundry) while watching a movie. Fridays I don’t usually work at the office, so I have two
main goals. First, I want to fix some food that Duane will be able to take on the truck with him, so I’m not scrambling on Sunday afternoon to get it ready for him. Sometimes that’s rice krispie treats, other times that’s dip for his veggies, and still others, it’s tuna packets (tuna and mayo in a squared off crescent roll). The other goal is to pick two chores off of my chore list to do. This is why I maintain my list throughout the week of things that need done
around the house. These are usually bigger chores that will take more time or focus than a busy weekday schedule can afford. This includes washing the windows, hauling in wood to the garage, gardening, etc. I make it my goal to do at least 2 of these each Friday, and then am completely satisfied that I did what I needed to do. Then if I can do more, it feels like it’s a bonus, but at least SOMETHING gets done, instead of being overwhelmed by all that COULD be done but isn’t.

One thing that will make all this work, whether for me or for you, is to START. Right now, doing some part of this, I can start to be successful in being diligent as the Proverbs 31 woman in caring for her household. Thanks for joining me in this journey!

Proverbs 31:27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Inexpensive Date Idea:

          Anna Nutter suggests “at-home candle-light dinners are fun, especially if they're a
surprise. I know it's not fancy, but we always enjoy long afternoon walks, too…”
Thanks to the gang for posting ideas on my facebook page! I’ll put one on here each week, and am open to more ideas (just message me or email me with them).

 (Mention Dave Ramsey and get a major discount)
         The forms mentioned above (menu, schedule, and chore list) are part of a wonderful FREE collection of organization sheets available for your home notebook.

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