I posed this question to my readers on Facebook this last week but remembered some of you dear friends aren’t on Facebook. So I’ll ask you here too…
What do you want to hear about this year? I’m doing some blog planning this week and want to write about things that interest you.
What do you struggle with? What do you enjoy? What challenges you and makes you think?
Please don’t think I have it all figured out…believe me, I’m far from having it all bundled in a neat tidy package. But we have something to learn from one another. We’re in this together.
So I’m asking, dear readers…what do you want to read about this year? Feel free to leave a comment here or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to 2014 with you!
It’s Christmas baking time at our house. I tried this recipe out last year and it was a hit!
Here is the recipe I used (with tweaks).
· 2 1/2 cups flour
· 2 tsp. baking powder
· 1/2 tsp. salt
· 2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
· 1 cup butter softened
· 2 cups sugar
· 3 eggs
· 1 tsp. vanilla
· 3/4 cup sour cream
· 1 pkg. Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips
· 3 TB sugar
· 3 tsp. cinnamon
1. Cream butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon until fluffy. Add eggs and mix well.
2. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix well.
3. Mix flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add to wet ingredients and mix until all combined.
4. Add cinnamon chips and stir into batter. Set aside.
5. Spoon batter into 4 mini loaf pans until about 2/3 full. I made it in 2 regular loaf pans and baked for about 50 minutes.
6. Mix 3 T. sugar and 3 t. cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle over the batter in each loaf pan.
7. Bake at 350 for 35-38 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before removing from pan.
This bread was way tasty! Cinnamon chips though are a seasonal item and usually only available at Christmas time. You can buy them online here
and make the cake during the rest of the year, something I totally plan on doing.
It’s so exciting to pull in to the drive of your new home! Call me crazy, but one of the things I love about moving to a new place is planning where my things will go. And this last time, unfortunately a lot of them went to storage as we downsized our living space considerably.
So imagine with me…there you are with your family, your big truck full of stuff and a few friends/family/folks on the other end ready to help you unpack that big truck. And let’s face it…you’re really kind of exhausted. At least I always am. I’ve been busy packing up our home, cleaning the old one, coordinating loading the moving truck, driving to the new place (which isn’t exactly a short trip) and entertaining small children along the way. We pull in, the kids jump out and usually run through the new house to be the first to stake claim and explore new territory. And you have to unload the truck and make sense of all those pretty boxes you labeled before you left. Now what?
If we have help unloading the truck, I try to walk through and “label” each room, at least verbally. So that when I say “office” everyone knows which room I’m talking about. Then comes the unpacking of the truck. Boxes are carried out and remember that master list you had? The one you created at the very beginning? That looks a little like this? Yep. That’s it. I’ve been pregnant for several of our moves and my husband isn’t fond of me carrying heavy boxes while carrying a baby (or ever really). So I direct. As the bins and boxes come off the truck I can say “purple circle…goes to the kitchen” or “red triangle…garage”. Oh my goodness, it makes the unloading so much easier. Everyone knows where the boxes go, I don’t end up with kitchen stuff in the bedrooms and I don’t have a huge mess to sort out later when all my help is gone. I’m not terribly picky about where in the room the boxes go, so I still have a pile of bins in the room, but I know all of those bins belong there and will be unpacked mostly in that room. So.much.easier.
There are some bins that will end up getting moved around, but in the initial stages all bins of the same color come to the same spot. For example, I know that not all of my homeschooling bins will be unpacked or put on my homeschooling shelf in my kitchen (at least that’s where it is now). But initially all of my orange circle boxes get put in my kitchen where my current homeschooling stuff will be used. Because I have my itemized index card, I can easily tell which orange circle boxes I need to open and unpack and which ones I can send to the basement for storage until next year.
And oh! What if we can’t find something? I can go to my itemized index cards, go to the category and find which number will have my item. A few weeks ago I was looking for our heating pad. I knew that I had packed it in the bathroom boxes. When we moved in we had only unpacked the essentials (because that’s all we have room for). I went to my handy dandy itemized cards. Found my heating pad listed in yellow circle #5. My husband located the box and the heating pad. We erased the heating pad off the list and put the bin back in the garage.
As I’ve said, we’ve moved to a much smaller house this time and a lot of our things are in storage in the basement or in bins yet in the garage so this system has proved more than useful again. I’ve been able to locate the Christmas lights or fabric paints without having to tear apart boxes looking for one item. So much easier!
I should also note two things.
Besides finding toilet paper the first room I usually unpack is the kitchen. I feel like I can think when my kitchen is unpacked. I usually pack our clothes and supplies for about 4 days in suitcases before we move so I don’t have to rush to unpack clothes that first night.
I try to hang one or two things on the wall the first day in our new home. I have a couple of pictures and a shelf that are my first things on the wall. They’re the last things I take down when leaving and the first things I put up when we get there. It just helps a big empty house full of boxes feel more “homey”.
So that’s it. That’s how I’ve organized our family (now of 7, including a baby) to move 12 times. Do you have any tips or tricks you’ve used when you’ve moved?
Yesterday I shared with you how I get started when I know we’re going to move. Once I get ready to pack I make sure I have my list of supplies. Here’s my list:
Boxes or plastic bins. Several years ago during a move, we decided to invest in plastic rubbermaid type bins. They stack uniformly, last longer than cardboard boxes and will hold up in storage a bit better. Most of our things go in these plastic bins.
Index cards, letter dividers and a box to put them in. I prefer the 3×5 ruled ones. You’ll be using these a bunch so you want a way to keep them organized. You can usually find these items in the office supply section of your local store.
Packing tape. I’ve found packing tape with a dispenser works better than duct tape.
Markers — colored markers like the kids use for school. And a black sharpie
I try to pack items by room, either by the room they’re in now or by the room they’re going to be when we move. This last moved involved me packing before we had a house to go in to, so I packed things according to the room they were in or the one I *thought* they were going to go in when we got there. Some things, like “homeschool supplies” are assigned a category rather than room. I assign a color and shape to each room or category. For example, books are pink circles, storage items are red circles, garage items are red squares etc. Be sure to make a master list of your colors and categories.
Next I start making cards for labeling. Each box will get two index cards. One with a large colored shape and number for the bin itself and one with a smaller corresponding shape and number in the upper left hand corner for my index card box. I let the boys help make my labels. It’s a great learning activity for shapes, colors, writing numbers and counting. I usually start by making 10 or so of each color/shape. This last time we moved, I pre-wrote the numbers in pencil and let my 5 year old trace the numbers in black sharpie. A sharpie works better than a regular black marker because it bleeds less. Then I pack my bin. I write everything I put in the bin on the index card with the smaller shape. Sometimes I’m really specific, like with my kitchen or crafting items. Other times I’m not as specific. With books I don’t write every title down rather I write the shelf the books came from or whom the books belong to (ie Dad’s commentaries or children’s books for book time). Remember, each bin gets two cards. The card with the bigger shape goes on the bin as the label and the smaller one goes in the index card box. I assigned a letter to each category as well. B was for books, E was for boys only because E was the next available letter in my card box.
Every bin, box, plastic storage box gets a colored label and corresponding index card for the box. I know that it seems like a lot of work to just pack a box, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been really thankful I packed our things this way. If I know my kitchen items are purple circles and filed behind K. I can look on my index card and tell that my rolling pin is in purple circle 5 and I can send someone to go find it. When we moved a couple times ago, I had the luxury of being able to pack months in advance. I consequently packed a few things that I ended up needing before we moved. It was so nice to be able to pinpoint the exact bin containing my item and send someone to get it rather than having to unpack every kitchen box or struggle trying to remember what other stuff was in the box. If you’re fortunate enough to have a little space in the first room you pack or even in your garage, you can start moving packed, labeled boxes to the free space to reduce clutter and the feeling of walking over and around boxes all the time. This was hugely helpful when we left Colorado. I had one wall of our garage stacked with bins and when we had loading help for the truck, they could just grab the bins and load the truck rather than walking in and out of the house repeatedly.
It takes a little more work on the front end of moving, but it is oh so helpful when it comes time to unpack or search for an already boxed item. Tomorrow I’ll share with how I unpack and organize efforts when we get to our new home.
Our family has moved. A lot. I mean, a lot. We have moved 12 times in the 12 years we’ve been married. 3 of those were because I was working as a traveling nurse, but still…that’s a bunch.
It takes a lot to organize, pack, move and then unpack a family. I’ve learned some tips and tricks to make the process go smoother for our family with the least amount of frustration for all involved. I want to share a few things with you to make the process easier if you’re facing a move in the near future.
The first thing I do before we move is go through every room of the house. I have three bags or boxes. One for donating, one for throwing and one for selling. I only have one rule…once it goes in a bag/box it doesn’t come out. If I decide to give it away, it stays in that box. No taking it out just because “I think I might need it someday”.
Once the donate box is full, it goes to the car. I don’t want it to accidentally get packed and I don’t want to move it just because we never made it to drop off. Some larger cities will actually come pick up your items for you. It’s important to make sure you call far enough in advance to schedule the pick up well before your moving date. I like to keep the box in the car so that when we are out and about we already have it in the car to drop off and there’s no “Oh nuts! We should have grabbed that box for Goodwill”.
I try to sell the other items as quickly as possible. I will usually list them in a local Facebook group or sometimes Craiglist. I don’t want to have to mess with shipping stuff out while I’m trying to pack them away.
The trash box/bag goes…well…in the trash. Sometimes it’s helpful to schedule an extra dumpster if needed, but I’m usually sorting items far enough out that I spread our trash out over a couple of weeks and we don’t need one. I make a shred pile for papers that might have important information on them. Shredding is a great job for the boys to do while I get a few things packed.
I know some families who sort, throw, sell and pack all in one fell swoop. I’ve tried it and pretty soon I just get overwhelmed. If I sort first, I know that when I walk in to that room to pack, everything that’s in there goes in boxes to go with us. I try to pack up a room soon after I’ve sorted so that junk doesn’t find it’s way back in there. Another benefit to sorting first is that if you’re lucky enough to have packing help you can send them in there with a stack of boxes, a tape gun, labels and they can have at it. They won’t be holding up a broken picture frame or toy saying “do you want to take this?”.
So that’s how I get started. It always feel good to get a room done and know that it’s ready to be put in a box or bin. I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about how I stay organized when I’m packing.
This week marks 2 years ago that our lives, mine especially, was shaken to the core. Two years ago today our son Knox was born at 16 weeks.
The days leading up to his birth have replayed in my mind. On the first we’d had our sonogram after not being able to find heart tones for a couple of days. I can still picture the black hole in his chest, where his heart was no longer beating. My heart still sinks when I close my eyes. On the second we met with an OB doctor I’d never met and scheduled the induction. It was God’s providence that we made that relationship with him. I’m so thankful for his care. Because little did we know that 6 months later we’d be in his office again staring at a lifeless body in my womb and scheduling yet another induction for our daughter Lily. And then today. I remember walking in to the hospital the day’s events. I remember how scared I was, how sad. His birth, so thankful to be able to hold him and admire God’s handiwork. Thankful for nurses who made footprints, took pictures and prayed with me. Sobbing when they took him away. I remember the OR, fighting anesthesia with fear…waking and asking before my eyes were open if I was still whole, if they’d saved my uterus. And the next day being so weak, having my first allergic reaction ever (super scary for me) and then watching as someone else’s blood made it’s way through the IV tubing into my own arm. And leaving. Pale, weak and exhausted. Hollow and leaving a piece of me behind. As I mourned I wrote. I wrote this series as I grieved his loss. Writing was often the only time I didn’t feel completely numb. It was my therapy. Two years has passed since. The pain is less, but it’s still there. I still wonder how different our lives would be if he’d survived. I still wonder why he died. But through his life and his death I have learned much. God taught me a lot about trust, control, grief and caring for others. I gained a new perspective as a patient and hurting mother. I learned a lot about wrestling with God…and I did wrestle, I shook my fist, I cried out and I surrendered. It’s been two years. His footprints still hang on our wall. A heart in our family tree to mark his presence in our family. And brothers who still talk about him…and a brother who bears his name (Zebediah Knox). A brother who will learn about the one who came before, the one he will meet in Heaven. God is faithful. He is good even when we’re grieving the loss of a child…even when it doesn’t feel like He is good. I am thankful for the joy that He has shown me on the other side of this loss. I am thankful. Losing Knox allowed me to be teachable, mold-able…God used that experience to shape me more to the image of Christ.
So today, I remember the birth of my son whom I will meet for the first time with his sister and two other siblings in Heaven. What a glorious day that will be! Today our family remembers our Knox and we are thankful.