Saturday, February 9, 2008

Time for Me to FLY

For those of you who are not familiar with FLYLady, FLY is and acronym for Finally Loving Yourself. One thing that I have learned over the years is that in order to find true contentment in life you really have to love yourself. I don't mean that you are to be conceited. What I am talking about is doing what you need to do to take care of you. Pray, eat well, sleep well, and keep a positive line of thought going at all times. That way when things come up that are challenging, tedious or that you just have to deal will be able. You have to be at a point where you can see your purpose and live it.

I find that when I do not take care of myself, physically or spiritually, there is no way that I can be truly content. I walk through the day out of balance, cynical, and in many ways simply lost. To get back into balance I must invest the time to refocus. I can only do one thing at a time well. I must remember that my well being has to be intact before I can do anything outside of myself. Once I regain the balance, I am on a roll and can be a loving wife and a good friend at the drop of a hat, nurture my children as every mother should and do service for many as needs arise. There is no question about who I am or why I exist. When I FLY I am free to soar toward Heaven. And in my flight I am never alone.

Countdown to Easter

Daniel with the baskets on Easter morning 2007

Although I don't have the religious connection to the Easter holiday, as I believe on the first day of every week we are requested to remember our Savior and His sacrifice freely given for our lives, I do like the family gathering and some of the fun kid traditions that my parents shared with my siblings and I. We in turn are sharing these same traditions with our children.

I am using a website to help break down the preparation into five weeks. It is found on CEO's site;
Easter Countdown. For me this is actually a countdown to my Spring Break as well, as Celebration Week is my Spring Break. If you have kids at home, or are planning a family dinner, egg hunt or egg decorating get together, you will want to check out it.
Kevin and Raymond preparing eggs to dunk. April 7, 2007
Danny dunking egg during annual egg decorating get together.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Perils of Progress

It is Thomas Edison’s fault that I don’t get enough sleep. You know that nifty invention, the light bulb, which blazes a brilliantly bright light in some rooms of my home, and in others, the bulbs set off a soft warm glow. And regardless of the degree of brightness created, the lights are kept on well after the sun goes down, and I don’t get the ten hours of sleep that my body craves.

I guess there are many others that could get some blame as well, like the individuals who brought about television and then the 24 hours of programming, on hundreds of stations, that now go with said piece of electronic genius.

You would think with the invention of time savors like the clothes washer, dryer, having refrigeration, a gas stove and oven and assorted electrical appliances to aid in food preparation and preservation that I should have ample time to get some Zs. Time should also be provided by the aide of the dishwasher, vacuum cleaner, swiffer mop, and more that save so much time in cleaning.

And yet, I average about 7 hours of occasionally disrupted dozing on weekdays. If I am especially fortunate I will get nearer to eight hours sleeping in on a weekend morning. Oh, Mr. Edison, what have you done to me? And what is my sleep number?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Year of the Rat

Okay, I remember growing up and hearing Al Stewart’s ditty, “The Year of the Cat”, and the meaning of those words in the title eluding me for many years. As far as the Chinese go, there is no Year of the Cat. Although in Vietnamese cultures the Year of the Rabbit is replaced with Cat years. So what is the Year of the Rat? Thinking of rats puts me into the mindset of pesky vermin that spread disease and destroy food and possessions. But the rats in the Chinese culture are considered wealthy, hard-working, quick-witted charmers, and you may have one in your family or as a neighbor.

It is now the year 4706 in China, also known as the Year of the Rat. It is the first year of a cycle of twelve, each represented by an animal each with specific characteristics. When I was in high school, I became intrigued by the Chinese and other Asian cultures and their many rich traditions that have been handed down for millenniums. Over the years I have had students from China and nearby countries that have shared with me that the celebrations can be as diverse as the types of communities that each individual came from. Some families shared that they dress in elaborate costumes and basically all but celebration shuts down for weeks in the community. Other families shared that they would dress in their best red clothing on New Year’s Eve and have a feast with extended family members and give each child a gift of money in red envelopes, and then life would go on until two weeks later, where a parade and community festivities were the focus.

Today marks the Chinese New Year. In many parts of Asia today is the biggest, and for many the only, time of celebration. In fact today is the day many Asians celebrate their birthday regardless of when their actual birth anniversary falls. Families spend weeks preparing for and then weeks celebrating the annual event. The New Year is usually opened with a feast on the new moon, and 15 days later, a fireworks festival and dragon parade are held at the full moon. If we wrapped up our New Year’s, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day (honoring ancestors is a major part of the events) and every other family celebration we acknowledge into one, this would be he closest to understanding what a special time this is.

For fun, our family had dinner at Young Dragon, a local Chinese restaurant. It was quiet, and not busy as it is on Fridays, our normal night out. It is a bit unusual to have dinner out on a weeknight anyway. And dinners out have become more rare events with our schedules of no shared days off, so getting a chance to go to a place that is a family favorite was a nice treat. It was definitely a feast.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Snow Day

The phone rang this morning at 4:33 a.m. It was the counselor from my school starting our limb of the phone tree. As soon as I had pushed the off button of my home phone, my cell phone beeped to signal I had received a text. I pulled my cell out of my purse and read that my son's school was cancelled for the day as well. I called the next person on my school's calling list and got an answering machine, left a message and then went down the line to call the next sleeping individual. As a teacher, I meet a snow day with mixed emotions. First is the initial joy of having a bonus day off, a holiday of sorts. Then comes the realization that lesson plans are going to have to be shifted and meetings are going to have to be rescheduled. Then my mind reverts back to that childish instinct, "But it's a SNOW DAY!!" So I can go back to bed and sleep in for a while, or get up and start my day home with the kids. Or, as I did on this snowy February morning, both.

So what do I do when given a day of extra time? I have actually cleared my desk. That is a feat. I have started tax preparations, but need to have uninterrupted time to finish. I have put all of my scrapbook supplies into groups of like items into drawers in my file cabinet. I have boxed up some craft supplies to drop off next week, and put ones that I want to use, but are not scrapbook supplies, into a tub and inventoried the contents.

Over the course of the day I have been a momma penguin, bird, rabbit and fox. Daniel has been the baby of each said animal throughout the day as well. He loves to pretend he is some kind of animal and I am always his momma.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday

I stayed up late watching the political fallout of primaries and caucuses going on in 24 states across America. I am praying that as God gives someone new the executive power over our country in the next year, that we will not lose our freedoms secured over the past two centuries. I pray that God will be the guiding force for our nation, and that we will do His will.

It is interesting to note how many people I have talked to over the past few weeks that just want something different. They don’t necessarily want what is best or right or what works. They just want things to be different. Unfortunately, different does not always mean better. Again, I pray. That is our only hope for things to happen His way. Pray, and vote for those that serve God’s will.

Monday, February 4, 2008

My Daily Routines and Basic Weekly Plan

Each day I try to follow a routine. If I stick with my routines, even on days that are not "normal", my life stays in order. I also have routines, a basic weekly plan and zones for work. If I follow them, all is well. I have a copy of these routines in my planner. I also have them printed on 3 x 5 index cards.

Over the course of a week, all areas of my home are scheduled to get attention with my basic weekly plan. My zones are areas of my home that get decluttering, deep cleaning or decorating attention for a brief period most days. I work with an online group, and we work on the same area for two weeks and report our progress to each other through group e-mails.

I highly recommend having someone to be accountable to, to share successes with, and to get ideas and insights from. This can be someone that is physically a part of your life. A friend, neighbor, sister or cousin. It can also be an on-line friend. Being a part of an online group with shared interests and goals has been great for me. Getting and giving support is a wonderful way to work toward reaching goals.

Sometimes life happens, and I get off the track of following the plan. The beauty of the plan is that the routines happen even when other things interfere with a normal day, and the basic weekly plan is always there to get things in order as soon as things are back as they should be.

Here is my current plan. It really is not as complicated as it looks in print. Since I do the routines in the same order every day, I don't even have to think about them. I have to look out to not have someone add something to the mix, or attempt to change the order in which things are done, as that is when I will get thrown off and waste precious time or forget to do something altogether. I also need to watch out for days that I don't leave the house, as I often delay getting the routines started and waste a lot of time that could be used enjoying things I love. I use my kitchen timer during my room rescues and other weekly tasks. When the timer goes off I am done with that room or task, and I move on. I have become a pretty good judge of 10 and 15 minute intervals.

WAKE UP — Set a time (4:30 work days)
JUMP UP — Don’t lie in bed, take meds, drink water, bathroom
MAKE UP — Bed immediately/automatically, if it’s empty, Monday change sheets
SET UP- Workout clothes on, water on for tea/coffee, clean dishes put away
WORK OUT- Move for 15-60 minutes; DVD, VHS or recording on DVR
WASH UP- Shower/Wash Hair
DRESS UP – Down to shoes
WRITE IT UP – Start daily blog entry
EAT UP — Something nutritious for breakfast; follow the meal plan
PACK UP- Pack lunch/snack bag and water; follow the meal plan (work days)
BRUSH UP- Take care of your teeth
FIX UP — Contacts, skin care, make-up and hair
CLEAN UP- Wipe and swish bathroom, put in load of laundry, kitchen counters
LOOK UP — Sometime early turn your heart upward to God-start the day right!
START ‘EM UP- Get boys up, fed breakfast (home days), dressed, teeth and hair, boys morning chores
TAKE OFF- Go to work or follow the BWP. Work Day take off 6:45 A.M. or 6:35 on meeting days
HEAD BACK- End workday and head home at 4 p.m.; On Tuesdays leave at 3:30 & run errands on way home; After monthly Site Council meetings (2nd Wednesday of month) leave at 5:15-5:30 p.m.


( ) Plan menus/make grocery list
( ) Check dates to remember
( ) Clean out purse
( ) Set/Review goals and Action Plans
( ) Reflect on week, Plan and prepare for week ahead
( ) Spend 1 hour in zone
( ) Choose clothes for the work/school week

( ) 15 minute Master Bathroom Rescue
( ) Water plants
( ) 15 minute Master Bedroom Rescue
( ) 15 Minute Kids Room Rescue x 2
( ) 15 Minute Boy’s Bathroom Rescue
( ) 15 Minute Zone Work

( ) Fill up with gas
( ) Aldi’s/Food-4-Less/other grocery store
( ) Banking as needed
( ) Misc. errands (or delegate if possible)
( ) Wal-mart (or send list with Joe)
( ) 15 Minute Zone Work
( ) 2nd Tuesday PTO Meetings 6:30-7:30 p.m.

( ) 15 minute Utility Room Rescue
( ) 10 Minute Refrigerator Clean-up
( ) 15 Minute Kitchen/Dining Room Rescue
( ) 15 Minute Great Room Rescue
( ) 15 Minute Zone Work

( ) 15 Minute Desk Rescue
( ) Pay bills, balance checkbook
( ) Lesson plans, School preparation
( ) 15 Minute Zone Work

( ) Family Night or Date Night

( ) Family Work Project Outside or in the Zone and/or Family Play

PICK IT UP- Tuesday- stop for errands on way home
SORT UP- and put away mail, and anything unloaded from car, backpacks, etc.
CHANGE UP- from work clothes to home clothes-Put clothes from washer to dryer
CHECK UP- Boys’ chores/homework/notes, tomorrow/this week’s calendar, etc.
EAT UP- Prepare and serve planned family meal, family works together on this; follow meal plan. Take vitamin, calcium and aspirin with dinner.
CLEAN UP- Kitchen-everybody sticks around until the kitchen is completely done.
STRAIGHTEN UP- Areas from BWP, Hot Spots, and Focus Area- family event if not done earlier in the day
FOLD UP- And put away laundry
PLAY IT UP- Take a walk, play a game, read a book, etc. with Joe and/or boys
PACK UP- Items needed to go out the door tomorrow
WASH UP-Boys’ baths, pjs, story and into bed; Brush teeth, wash face, my pjs
CATCH UP- On e-mail, journaling (including blog), letter writing, cards, school work, grading, planning, recorded tv shows, etc.
SEND UP- Words of glorification to God with praise, thanksgivng, and requests
READ UP- Current Bible reading and then other reading selections
INTO THE HANGER-Plan for 8 hours or more of sleep each night (in bed by 8:30 p.m. work nights)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Who Gets to Happy Dance?

It’s the big day for professional football fans. I must admit, of late my love of the game is pretty fickle. Some seasons I watch all the games. Others I do not. I think a big part of my interest, at this point in my life, comes in how well our local team is doing. The Kansas City Chiefs are not glowing at the end of a successful season this year, nor were they in the last few. They have had sad rides home at the end of many recent seasons. In seasons like this, I of course watch the pre-games and all of the rival games (Broncos and Raiders, for sure). Coming out of the pre-games to the real season without a win leaves a spectator a little skeptical. This year has been especially tough for coach Edwards and all of his players. The NFL is getting bigger and stronger players as each decade passes.

My first memory of the Chiefs goes back to days when I was very young. Dad watched both college and professional football regularly. It only mattered what the local television station broadcasted as to what games were watched. Sometimes Dad would have a brother in law in the room, one of my uncles hanging out on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, playing a series of games of chess or card games, drinking an untold number of cups of coffee, discussing the games as they unfolded. We, including siblings and cousins, knew better than to create any interfering noises nearby. My dad loved Lenny Dawson. He was a part of the Chiefs initial team that won the Super Bowl in its early days, and I have loved the Chiefs since. I do not have memories of the first Super Bowl game as I was much too young to have even understood what was going on, but my dad later shared his enthusiasm and hope of better successes as the Chiefs made it as the best of the AFL, but did not beat the National League’s best of the year, that power house, Green Bay. I have never lost respect for that team.

On that day in January long past, we were huddled by the television, sitting Indian style. My cousin John quietly commenting on plays before the commentators did. He was much more knowledgeable of the game than me, and was also the leader when we played football in the backyard for hours during the cool autumn and cold winter afternoons for many years to come. “First down” and “fumble” were words I knew. They meant a good thing for the Chiefs. They were really good on this day. We were elated the whole game, as our team never fell behind. I loved that celebratory feeling. I have felt the elation many times after with varying degrees of intensity, but this was the first.

There was a period in the 1980’s were I thought KC might rally to a trip to the big bowl game again. After having the experience of the Royals winning the World Series in 1985, I held on to the illusion that my football team could do it too. I was ready to do another happy dance. When Joe Montana joined KC in the early 90’s, I continued the rally to watch every game. My husband, never a football fan, became one for several seasons to follow. KC made it to the playoffs, but no Bowl prize.

This year I am indifferent as to who will win tonight’s Bowl game. If the Patriot’s do they will have proven themselves the best…undefeated throughout the season, playoffs and winners of a bowl game. If the Giants win, we will have another team that turned it all around to play with the big dogs. I like those types of wins too. But since neither team is a favorite for me, I will just say have fun and enjoy the game. Someone else will get to do the happy dance.

Keeping My Act Together

My planner is a tool I used for many years with much success. I stopped using my planner a few years ago as I was experimenting with making my information more accessible through the computer. I did have access to information at home and work. I did use the same common calendar, to do lists, and had routines accessible for both work and home. The problem was that I would have to make copies of to do lists or be tied to the computer. The information was not portable, as I didn’t have computer access most of the time while traveling, or while out on errands. The other parts of my computer-based system seemed to work, but then it became a burden to keep it up. I had to actually be in front of the computer to do it. Everything was not in the same place or located in the same program. I did not find that this was a success, and so this year I have purchased a new planner with half sheet pages. I have never been one for an electronic planner either, as there is something about that process that appeared to be tedious and somewhat limiting. I know that many have found success with using them, but I want my paper.

In my current planner I have included my calendar, goals, routines, basic weekly plan, on my mind lists, budget, bills and checkbook, meal plans, grocery and shopping lists, contact phone and address book, meeting notes, health and fitness tracker, information for each vehicle’s servicing, website tracker and my tickler file. I am happy to now have it all in one place, and portable so that I can work on paying bills, or adding items to my shopping list from anywhere. If someone calls me looking for some important information, I most often have it with me.

The calendar I use is for everything I need to remember. I use it for personal, family and work events and special days. I have a month at a glance and a weekly detailed page that has a section for each day to list appointments, my current area of focus at work and at home, and my to dos that are priority and not a part of my routines. I have a personal and work section in my planner too, each including a separate set of goals, routines, basic weekly plans, and to do lists. In a pocket in the front of my planner I keep a thin stack of home routines on index cards that can come out of my planner as I work through the items on the lists. I don’t think I will ever completely give up my cards.

Meal planning is done on a page of my planner and I have it with me when I shop. On the back of that page is my shopping list. Everything we need to buy is added to this list and I try to keep shopping and errands down to once a week. If something can’t wait, usually Joe will pick it up before coming home from work. I have also started a price book so I can keep track of where to get better deals on products we use.

My contact list includes addresses, phone numbers, cell numbers, e-mail addresses, websites, birthdays, anniversaries, and anything else that would be helpful to remember. My memory gets less sharp at time goes by.

I also have a section for pages used to journal. These don’t usually stay in my planner once they have been filled, but if you haven’t noticed yet, I really love to write. I usually have several different topics going at once. I am so eclectic. Some may say scattered. My planner helps me keep it all together.

Finally I have a pencil, eraser, a couple favorite pens, stamps, a few blank index cards and a small pack of post-it notes. I think with this I am ready to take on whatever the world has to dish up for my day.