From Strangers to Family

We’ve been doing some home renovations for the past few months. Most recently, the whole family was involved in painting the kitchen cabinets. Hubby and I painted the upper cabinet doors, while the kids did the lower ones. While we were working, I remarked to hubby that we (he and I) have done quite a lot of painting together, starting from when we were dating. He looked at me with an amused expression and said, “Yeah, you surprised me. I didn’t know you very well back then.” I grinned and replied, “I didn’t know you well back then either!”

Our first painting experience together took place almost fifteen years ago when I helped his family paint their house; since then we have come a verrry long way. We went from “Oh, I think he/she’s cute and I want to know him/her better” to getting married to showing our true selves to each other on a daily basis. It’s almost funny to think that as newlyweds, we were embarrassed to fart in front of the other person! That however has totally changed and we’ve seen, heard and smelled more of the other person than we ever imagined we would. HAHA

Isn’t it strange how two people go from being complete strangers to becoming family? It’s a comforting and scary thought all at the same time. Comforting because when you are able to be that comfortable with your spouse, you get to experience a deeper kind of love.

It’s the kind of love that drives someone to…
~ kiss you when you have morning breath
~ buy you chocolate for your next PMS attack
~ allow you to squeeze the life out of his hand during a contraction

It’s also the kind of love that motivates someone to…
~ not nag when you leave your socks in the middle of the floor
~ listen to you complain about your stressful day at work
~ let you buy that new electronic gadget you’ve been drooling over

However, when you are that close to your spouse, things can get a little scary, too. There are plenty of chances to rant and complain and blame and belittle. There are more than enough opportunities to show that side of you that you would never, EVER think of showing to your coworkers, friends or neighbors. But if you have a good foundation of that deeper kind of love to sustain you, you learn to apologize, forgive and try again.

Now, how do you keep the love flowing in your marriage so you not only don’t kill each other, but you actually like one another?

I don’t have any profound answers, but I think it helps to go back in time and think about what worked before. Back to a time when you and your spouse tried to impress one another with the things you said and did. Back to the days when that one Facebook message, text, email, phone call or snail mail letter (depending on how far back you need to go!) from your spouse made your whole day.

Image courtesy of stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

When all else fails, you can always go back to these three timeless basics of a relationship:

1. Practice your manners. Smile at your spouse every day, so it looks like you’re happy to see him/her. 🙂 Say “please” and “thank you”, even for things you think he/she was supposed to do or should have done last week. It not only makes him/her feel treasured, it helps you to have a grateful attitude.

2. Be courteous. Treat your spouse like the person you once so desperately wanted to get to know. Make eye contact and ask about their day (and put your phone down). Listen attentively and nod once in a while (and resist the urge to peek at your phone). Make him/her feel like you care about their concerns – cause you do! Ask for their opinion when making decisions. Be a team player and make your partner feel needed and appreciated.

3. Go beyond yourself. Do something you used to do when you were trying to win your spouse over. Maybe you used to buy her that dessert she likes or leave work early just to surprise her? Or maybe you used to watch basketball with him or compliment him on how hard he works? Go above and beyond yourself and invest a little time and energy into making your spouse feel important.

Marriage is like our bodies. What goes into our body and how we treat it determines how healthy, strong and energetic we feel. Similarly, what we put into our marriages determines if our homes are happy and healthy sanctuaries… or if they feel like suffocating and depressing traps. The choice is up to you. The good news is that every little positive thought and action counts – you just need to start. You, your spouse and family are worth it.

To help you remember what it was like to date your spouse and why you wanted to marry him/her in the first place, listen to Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran’s song, “Everything Has Changed“.

What drew you to your spouse when you first met as strangers? What do you appreciate about him/her now that you are one family?

Monday Mentionables: Pumpkin desserts, Yoga meltdown & Christian Woman mag

Happy Columbus Day! No one in our family has the day off, but here’s hoping some of you do!
 
Here’s today’s mentionables…
 
1. Pumpkin Desserts. I think it’s officially fall when pumpkins start replacing watermelons at the grocery store. Not only did Trader Joe’s have a whole crate of them outside the store recently, they had a whole section of pumpkin desserts in the frozen section! I just had to take a picture of all the goodies: pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bread pudding, pumpkin pie, pumpkin macaroons, mini pumpkin pies and pumpkin chocolate mousse cake! The fudge sauce at the top looks pretty yummy, too. If you’re a pumpkin lover, you gotta go and try these out. I actually had some will power and didn’t buy any cause we still had some dessert at home, but I will definitely get one next time (I’m leaning toward the macaroons). Which do you want to try?
Thank you Trader Joe’s!
2. Yoga Meltdown. I made the decision to start exercising regularly, thanks to a pair of pants I wore the other day which seem to have “shrunk” since last fall. 😉 (By the way, your metabolism really starts slowing down in your mid 30’s – sigh!) I had heard good things about Jillian Michaels’s workouts from a friend, so I bought her “Yoga Meltdown” DVD from Target. So far, I’ve done each routine once and I am SORE (even hubby was sore after trying it and he’s way more buff than I am!). The routines are fairly easy to follow and target the whole body – abs, back, arms, legs and bum – so you get a complete workout. I also like how Jillian Michaels emphasizes trying and improving over time instead of doing the poses perfectly. If you’re looking for a fun and effective way to exercise at home, this is a good one to check out.
 
3. Christian Woman Magazine. This is a print magazine based in Australia. Their website also features many down-to-earth and encouraging articles on parenting, relationships and faith. I’m honored to have had my work published there; check out these links here and here to read them.   
 
Here’s hoping you have a wonderful start to a wonderful week!

Protecting Our Kids

The other day as we were driving home from school, C told me, “Ellie asked why one eye is smaller.”

I grimaced, glad that she couldn’t see my expression from the backseat. I tried to steal a glance at hers in the rearview mirror. She looked like her usual happy self. “What did you say?”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“Well, you can tell her it’s because that eye’s muscle is not as strong,” I replied. “But everyone’s different. God made everyone differently.”

She seemed to take my word for it and moved on to another conversation with her brother. Meanwhile, I couldn’t help but think if this topic would be coming up a lot more often from now on. 

Soon after C was born, we noticed she had trouble opening her left eye. The doctor said it was a plugged tear duct and treated it accordingly. Then a few months later, she referred us to see an ophthalmologist (for those of you who’ve read the Fancy Nancy books before, that’s fancy for eye doctor) who diagnosed her with congenital ptosis. Ptosis is basically a drooping of the eyelid, which in C case, causes her left eye to be a little smaller than her right. Thankfully, her ptosis is not severe enough to hinder her vision; it’s more of a cosmetic issue at this point if we decide to pursue eyelid surgery for her. The ophthalmologist had warned us that once she started school, the other kids would notice it and make comments. Now that day has come…

This is the second time she has mentioned a classmate asking her about her smaller eye. I know these preschoolers are bringing it up out of curiosity and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, I can imagine the tone of the comments and questions changing as the kids grow older. And the mama lion in me wants to protect C from ever being teased or feeling unaccepted by her peers. 

There seems to be a fine line that we parents need to tread between protecting our kids and letting them experience the bad stuff (ie. hurt, loneliness, rejection). Let me say first that this is not the same as letting our kids face the logical consequences of their actions; for example, failing a test because they chose not to study. I’m referring more to the things that are out of their control, like being different and getting teased because of it. 

This got me thinking. Should parents buy their kids name brand clothes so they can fit in better socially? Should parents allow their kids to have cosmetic surgery so they don’t get teased by their peers? I used to think the clearcut answers to both of these questions was NO. Now, I’m not so sure.

Hear me out. I think it really depends on the child. For some kids who may be more introverted, cautious and self-conscious (like our son), they could benefit from wearing a cool T-shirt to school. This is why I am willing to pay a little more for a Batman shirt for our son (versus a plain tee), in hopes that a classmate will notice it and strike up a conversation with him (which has happened). A few bucks is totally worth it to help him feel more confident and sociable.

As for kids who are already more sociable, brave and fun-loving (like C)? They likely don’t need the “extra stuff” to make friends. And should they face setbacks, they bounce back from them faster and don’t take them as personally. They also have no problems talking to their parents and friends about their struggles and asking for help. This has all been true for our dear spunky daughter; she is a talker and knows how to express her feelings and needs. 

Here’s our adventurous daughter taking out her big brother’s scooter for a ride!

Maybe a few years down the line, we’ll need to consider eye surgery for C should it become an issue for her at school. Or maybe she’ll continue to blossom socially, even with the ptosis, and we won’t need to. Regardless, we will do our best to make sure she knows she is loved and is perfect just the way she is.

Here’s the perfect song for this post: “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars. 🙂

What are your thoughts about our role as parents in protecting our kids from teasing and helping them fit in?

P.S. Thought I’d add that in terms of cosmetic surgery, I am not advocating chest enhancements for teen girls. There is really no good reason for any girl to be flaunting her “accessories” around!  :p

Monday Mentionables: MasterChef Junior, Purple Walls, Target Tips & U2

Good day, everyone! I am actually excited this day has arrived; I’ve been waiting for this particular Monday to come for a few months now. Why? Because I’m honored and thrilled that Literary Mama’s blog published my guest post today! 

(Let’s take time for a dance break now, shall we?)  😀

Ok, now that I’ve contained my excitement a little, let’s head on over to today’s mentionables:

1. MasterChef Junior. This show is a spin-off of MasterChef (for grown-ups) and is hosted by Gordon Ramsey, who speaks with a cool Scottish accent. The contestants are all between the ages of 8-13 and let me tell you, they can COOK. I am blown away by their chopping skills, creativity and plating designs. I also love how some of them need a step stool to reach the counter. This show is very enjoyable – but make sure you don’t watch on an empty stomach cause all the dishes they whip up will have you drooling!

2. Purple Walls. We finally finished painting our upstairs bathroom a lovely shade of purple (“Rapture” to be exact). My sister was the one who suggested this color, probably because it is her favorite (she even liked Barney the purple dinosaur once upon a time). 🙂 People say purple induces a calming effect, so maybe this will be a good room to have time-outs in (for the kids and for myself, haha). The decorations on this wall totaled $6 (the wall decal poster, as well as the set of butterfly decals were on sale for $3 each at Target!). 

I painted as much as I could reach before hubby filled in the rest.

 

Isn’t it amazing to know that there has and never will be anyone exactly like you?!

3. Target Tips. Speaking of Target, isn’t it like the best store? They have so many different items ranging from food to household products to clothes and shoes! It’s pretty much a one-stop shopping experience with fairly reasonable prices, too. For you “Tar-jay” lovers, here’s a good blog to check out with tips on how to get your money’s worth on your next visit there.

4. Beautiful Day. Being an aspiring writer is such a roller coaster ride. Hubby’s been looking at me with one eyebrow raised cause last week I was feeling so down after receiving a rejection, but now I’m on cloud 900. 😉 There’s a time for everything as Ecclesiastes 3 says, so for today let’s celebrate with this song from U2.

This is one happy camper who’s hoping you have a happy Monday, too! 🙂

Getting Punched

Yesterday, I got punched in the gut. Not literally, thank God (cause I’m no Rocky Balboa), but most definitely in a way I could feel in my heart.

Image courtesy of hin255/freedigitalphotos.net

The source of the punch? This email…

“We appreciated the opportunity to read your work and found much to enjoy in this essay. However, we are currently receiving more high-quality submissions than we are able to publish, and we are afraid we decided to pass on this one.”

Sigh. 🙁

Although this was not my first rejection letter from a publishing company (and I know it won’t be my last one either), it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. It’s times like these when I wish there was truth in the childhood saying, “I’m rubber and you’re glue; whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you”. But the reality is that I’m human and each “No” I get has the power to pierce through my flesh and draw blood.

Okay, maybe I need to look on the bright side and stop being so melodramatic. 🙂 I know there are always two ways to look at a situation: positively or negatively. If I choose the former, I can tell myself there are other opportunities out there and I have heard “Yes” a couple of times, so don’t give up. If I choose the latter, I can stop writing and just drown my sorrows in Cherry Garcia ice-cream – which is a tempting thought considering how much I love the combination of cherries and chocolate!

But what keeps me going is the fact that I love to write and the belief that anything worth doing takes perseverance. And a reminder from hubby that J.K. Rowling (as did many successful writers) faced rejection numerous times, too.

So, I choose to keep on trying. I got back on the proverbial horse (or in my case, my laptop) last night and contacted another publisher. Sure, I risk facing rejection again, but I also may have opened the door to a potential acceptance.

A side note: Right after I received the rejection email and was feeling down, C took my hand and said, “Mom, sing with me. Things are going to get better.” She had made up the little tune on her own, not knowing how discouraged I was feeling at the time. I sang along with her, squeezing the words out past the lump in my throat, and thanked God for reminding me that things are going to get better.

Here is Pink’s song, “Try“, which is all about getting up and trying again.

What has helped you bounce back from rejection?

Monday Mentionables: Transitional outfits, Refashioning sweaters & Warm Bodies

Welcome to the last day of September; October is now looming on the horizon! Time sure flies when you’re having fun (and doing loads and loads of laundry on the weekend, which is what my recent days “off” consisted of). 😉 
 
As we truly leave summer behind, it’s really time to start thinking about dressing for the cold. But what do you do when it’s only chilly during the mornings and evenings? You start layering! This basically means wearing pieces of your summer wardrobe and adding long-sleeved and thicker pieces on top. I never realized there’s actually a “science” behind getting dressed, but it seems some people put a lot of thought into the process. Thanks to the internet, we now have access to all those style secrets. I thought I’d share a few of those ways we can stay warm in today’s mentionables…
 
1. Transitional outfits. Check out these 5 tips from Jo-Lynne from the blog Musings of a Housewife on how to stretch your summer outfits into the fall. Jo-Lynne also posts regularly about dressing as an over-40 woman, which piqued my interest because 40 is looming on the horizon for me, too (but thankfully not as soon as tomorrow!). 
 
For those of you who like to see things in action, Ann from Life Ann Style has a good YouTube video with before and after versions of outfits.
2. Refashioning sweaters. It’s easy to get bored of the clothes in your closet and oh-so tempting to want to buy new ones. But before you do, consider refashioning them. It’s is a great way to make your old clothes “new” again. I took this old sweater of mine, added some beads and gave it a different look.
Here’s the before…
Here’s the after!

Here are some other refashioning ideas on how to turn a sweater into a skirt, a cardigan (which is a super easy no-sew craft with iron-on adhesive) or a hat

3. Warm Bodies. Here’s a movie that will make you feel warm and fuzzy on a cold night. 🙂 It’s about zombies – yes, that’s right, I said zombies. But before you think I’m out of my mind for recommending this movie, let me say that it’s also a chick flick. And when you have zombies + a romantic story line, you have a movie both guys and girls will appreciate (even hubby likes it). There is really only one scene that may make you cringe; the rest of the time you’ll be laughing, sighing or cheering. Check out the review it got on Rotten Tomatoes here.
Have a warm Monday! 🙂

Game Changers

There’s something I used to do almost every single day that would take a good 30-40 minutes to complete. It was a meaningless, yet necessary, task that had to be done and someone had to do it. It involved water and soap and, you guessed it – lots and lots of dishes.

Image courtesy of koratmember/freedigitalphotos.net

Yep, I’m talking about the chore of dishwashing.

Oh, how I dreaded seeing the dirty plates, bowls and utensils pile up each day! I moaned whenever I passed by a full sink and rejoiced (for a few minutes) when it was empty. I used paper products when guests came over to limit the amount of dishes to wash (I know, it’s so not green!). I went to great lengths to cut out steps in recipes (ie. using one bowl to mix both the wet and dry ingredients instead of two separate ones), so I wouldn’t have to wash an extra item. I even tried making the process more fun by watching videos or listening to music, but I discovered it’s hard to hear anything clearly above the sound of running water.

One of my dear friends kept asking me (after hearing me complain and grumble) why I didn’t just use our dishwasher – she said it saves water and TIME! I said I tried, but the dishes just weren’t coming out clean. I assumed all dishwashers didn’t work well and hand washing was the only way to go. What I didn’t know was that our dishwasher had seen better days and was no longer working the way it should have. It took a while (11 years to be exact which is how long it’s been since we moved into our home) for me to tell hubby, “We need to buy a new dishwasher!” So, off we went to Lowe’s and found a great deal, and to my pleasure and surprise – IT ACTUALLY WORKS. Now when I “do the dishes”, I rinse off any excess food from the dishes, pop them into the handy dandy machine, add detergent and push a button – all of which takes me FIVE minutes to do. And the dishes come out clean. Amazing!

This dishwasher has changed my life. (I’m only half joking when I say this.)  🙂

It has added more time to my day to spend with the kids, to write, to do a million other things that I couldn’t do before. I only wish I had made the change sooner!

Now if a little thing like an appliance could be a game changer for me, imagine what other things could be major game changers!

I’m talking about the big things like…
~ breaking unhealthy patterns/cycles
~ setting healthy boundaries in relationships
~ choosing to do things differently for better outcomes
~ letting go of things from the past

Okay, let’s take a moment to breathe and let that all sink in.

Making changes is not easy. It can even be an uphill battle to get to the point where you realize you need to make changes. But no pain, no gain.

When I studied counseling, I learned an important truth: People only change when it hurts badly enough (not to change).

Take my analogy for example. After years of slaving away at the sink, I decided enough was enough. I was tired of washing dishes and having it take up my time and dictate my mood each day. I decided it was worth the money to buy a new dishwasher. And the outcome has been glorious!

Of course my story is a simple and lighthearted example of what making a change looks like. I know there are much deeper struggles that we face – such as depression, anxiety, unhealthy relationships, resentment and hurt – that are way more complex and challenging. Living with these conditions is like running with fifty pound weights strapped to your shoulders. It’s a struggle just to lift your foot to take a step. You have a hard time seeing through the sweat running down your face. Your heart is void of hope. There is no joy, no pleasure. You just do what you have to do to get by.

But what if you saw a sign that read, “Turn right at the next street to trade in your weights for a bike”? You’d be more than willing to put in a bit of work so you could be free from those weights. You’d be moving your legs and pumping your arms to get up the road as fast as you could! Just the thought of coasting on a bike with the wind blowing through your hair would lift your spirits and get you moving!

I know however that it’s easy to get stuck in what we’re used to and miss the “road signs” that point us to something better. We’re so used to carrying around our weights that we don’t believe we have a choice not to. Dysfunctional patterns become the norm, especially when we don’t know what healthy looks like. But don’t be fooled into thinking “this is it”. We can make the choice to drop those weights and be free. We can be free from the things that weigh us down emotionally, mentally and physically.

Don’t wait until it hurts too much not to change. Start today and take a few minutes to think about what is weighing you down. Confide in a good friend about your struggles. For deeper issues, make an appointment with a counselor to gain insight on how to move forward.

Life is too short and precious to keep dragging your feet.

Listen to Mandisa’s song, “Overcomer” to remind you that there’s so much more in store for you.

What choices have you made that have been major game changers in your life? 

Monday Mentionables: Nifty Little Tips, Face Mapping & Family Rules

Welcome to fall (as of yesterday)! Now that the weather is starting to cool down and temps are only in the mid 70’s (yes, this is California), it doesn’t seem so strange that Costco already has Christmas decorations on display. LOL 🙂
 
I wasn’t sure what to blog about today, but then I remembered there are a few nifty little tips I discovered recently that I’d love to share with you. So without further delay, here are today’s mentionables:
 
1. Nifty Little Tips. The web is full of tips on how to make your life a little easier. For example, you can google “household tips pinterest” and find info on how to use toothpaste to fix scratched DVD’s or to clean car headlights (the latter of which I’ve tried with success, but it requires a bit of elbow grease). Here are a couple of other tips I found…
Add a clip to hold your kitchen towel together
to keep it from falling off the oven handle.
Then pull the front side of the towel down to hide the clip, which is now behind the towel.
Add a keychain ring to the zipper on a pair of pants to keep your fly closed. 
Just pull the ring up, loop it around the button and button it as usual. 
It works great and saves you from any embarrassing moments!
Tea treat oil has antibacterial properties and is a great zit zapper! 
Just dab it on with a Q-tip (you may want to dilute it with water) a 
few times a day and watch the pimple shrink and dry up. 
It may take a couple of days to fully disappear, so be patient.

2. Face Mapping. Speaking of pimples, the Chinese word for zits is loosely translated as “youthful spots”. Whoever made this up obviously didn’t realize people past their teens are still prone to break outs (yes, I speak from experience). 😉 I was happy to find this post on Lindsay’s (of Delighted Momma’s) blog about face mapping. Lindsay is an esthetician and recommends using this chart, which is based on traditional Chinese medicine, to figure out what your skin is trying to tell you. Take a look – you just might find out the causes of those dark circles under your eyes or pimples on your jaw.

3. Family Rules. Just wanted to share this neat wall hanging I picked up at Walmart for $11! Since I’m a recovering perfectionist, I don’t particularly like the idea of rules, but I do love the ones listed here:
Yes, I wish that alarm box wasn’t on the wall, but things can’t always be perfect. 😉

And on that note, may we all have a happy, thankful, compassionate and funny Monday! 

Let the Young’uns Inspire You

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/freedigitalphotos.net

I ran my first 5k this past January. I’m not exactly a sporty girl (because being active = perspiring = getting messy), but I signed up for this run willingly and without regret. What in the world inspired me to do so? Two words: my sister.

About a year ago my family and I stood at the finish line of the Rock ‘n Roll half marathon waiting for my sister to cross over. Around us stood hundreds of people cheering loudly and waving their banners as the runners passed by. It was definitely one of those “you can feel the excitement in the air” moments. Perhaps it was the adrenaline rush I felt that day or the pride I had in seeing my sister accomplish something so great, but something made me want to experience it, too.

Which is why I decided to wake up before the sun on a cold winter morning to run 3.10686 miles. (I would later find out that waking up early would be the easy part.) Thankfully my sister agreed to run with me because I would not have made it without her! She kept me distracted with good conversation from start to finish, especially during the final mile as I huffed and puffed up and down a couple of hills (good thing I hadn’t known about the hills when I signed up!). When we crossed the finish line, I wore a smile of relief on my lips and sweat plastered hair across my forehead. I’m sure my cheeks were bright red, too. My sister, on the other hand, looked like she had just taken a stroll in the park. She breathed normally and had a nice rosy glow about her. Our parents who had come to meet us after the race congratulated us and our mom took in both of our appearances. She then turned to me and said in a matter of fact tone, “Ten years do make a difference.”

Thanks, Mom! LOL 😉

Let me bring up an important fact – my sister is ten years younger than me. One whole decade. She has ten years less of wear and tear on her body. She has a lot more energy and stamina than I have had in a long time (especially since kids entered the picture). She was able to run a half marathon without passing out and just ran a 10k the other week, so a 5k was no big deal for her. Her knees are likely a lot stronger than mine.

What ten years has done for me is given me more life experience and maybe a little bit of wisdom, but it’s added some weariness and disillusionment as well. For some reason, as we age, things tend to become more complicated. I can’t just get up and go anywhere, anytime that I want to. I have a lot more responsibilities and have to narrow down my goals. There is a limit to how I can spend my time, energy and resources. And my joints have started to make a lot of cracking noises.

Which is why I needed my baby sister to inspire me to run.

I’ve discovered that it’s good to hang out with young people. People in their teens and even twenties view life with more hope, fervor and possibilities. They tend to be more optimistic, more carefree and more adventurous. They (the proverbial they again) say we should learn from our elders (which we should), but I say there is a lot to be learned from the youthful, too. May we oldies be inspired to consider dreaming again. May we throw caution to the wind and take chances, at least once in a while. May we get our bottoms off the couch and start moving, even at the risk of throwing out our backs.

And may the young’uns out there take this to heart:
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)

Here is FUN’s song, “We are Young“, which talks about being young and setting the world on fire.

What have the young people in your life inspired you to do?

Monday Mentionables: Organizing, Meegenius & Brown-Eyed Girl

Welcome to Monday again! 

I think one of these days we should have a backwards week where the weekdays are the weekend and vice versa. Then we would actually look forward to Mondays. What do you think? Anyone want to start a petition, just let me know! 😉 
 
Here are today’s mentionables…
1. Organizing. I have been bit by the organizing bug! You would think a square gal like me would have her whole house (and life – LOL) organized, but I never really had any down time or the brain power during grad school/full-time work to do it. Then after the kids arrived, I just went into survival mode. 😛 But now I do (at least I’m starting to)! There are tons of Pinterest pages and sites with ideas if you don’t know where to start. Organizing your home can be quite a daunting task, but the key is to start with one room, or even one drawer, at a time. Take a look at these improvements I’ve made so far.
This is a before pic of my bathroom drawer where I keep my makeup and hair accessories. I hesitated taking this because it looked quite hopeless and it’s embarrassing to think I was so messy before! But wait till you see the after pic!
Ahh… now I can breathe again! Look at the difference some containers
(in this case some old jewelry boxes) can make! 🙂

And now onto the kitchen…

We have this magnetic board from IKEA (here’s a similar version) hung behind the stove to prevent the wall from getting greasy. I had a brief moment of thinking “outside the box” and decided to give it a dual purpose. I bought these magnetic hooks from Harbor Freight (4 for $2.79!) and hung all our cooking utensils on it. Not only did doing this free up a whole kitchen drawer, it makes cooking and baking so much more efficient now!

2. Meegenius.com. If you have kids and haven’t heard of this app, it’s time you checked it out! This is basically an online store of picture books that are read aloud to you. All you do is listen and follow the words as they are highlighted on the screen. It’s great for families on the go, especially on long drives when the book reader (usually me) loses her voice after reading about six books. With Meegenius, the parent gets a break and the kids still get something educational to do. It’s a great resource for teachers and schools, too. If you’re a teacher you can get a complimentary (FREE!) subscription that gives you access to over 70 books. 

Now comes my shameless plug! 🙂 If you are so inclined, you can also buy my very first picture book, A Rainbow of Nine Colors that is available on Meegenius.com for $2.99. It is a book about a brown beetle named Beanie and his quest for significance among his more colorful bug friends. Included are lessons on mixing colors, rainbows and finding beauty in diversity. The illustrations are pretty cute, too. I am hoping to someday get paid for my writing efforts and am 1/5th of the way there already (I get paid after every $50 earned). If you could help spread the word about my book, I’d really appreciate it!

3. Brown-Eyed Girl. This song by Van Morrison is one of my all-time favorites (maybe cause I’m a brown-eyed girl?). It’s an oldie, but goodie. Hopefully it gets you movin’ today!