Beware of 4 Ways You Can Waste Your Time

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I shared with you that my husband and I have been reading this book, Crazy Busy, together. It has been quite enlightening! My husband asked me a simple but direct question: “Do you think you’re busy?”

I’m a homeschooling mom of 4 young children … isn’t the answer obvious? But I thought about it, and I came to this conclusion. I feel busy. I act busy. But, I don’t have to be busy. It doesn’t mean that I should do nothing all day. Productive days don’t have to be crazy busy, where I feel frantic and frazzled all the time. There is enough time each day to get everything done, but I can end up wasting a good portion of it without even realizing it.

So, it took some reflecting, but I have come up with 4 ways that I have wasted my time away. Perhaps you can relate.

Over-Checking Social Media

I had to say it. Yes, social media. I understand its value in this day and age, but I have sunk into the vortex of my Facebook news feed deeper than I want to admit. Who invented “infinite scroll” anyway? Suggested solution: set a timer for checking social media (be reasonable) or set a certain time in the day when you can log in.

Over-Prioritizing the Less Important

There are a number of things to do on any given day, so we have to be able to pick out the non-negotiables. For whatever reason, I would sometimes tackle the less important tasks, and then find myself scrambling at the end of the day to get the important jobs done. Another word for this is procrastination. Suggested solution: when making your list of goals for the day, a second look should allow you to pick out the “must do” items and move the rest to the “if I finish everything else” list.

5/4/2010: To-Do List

Over-Scheduling Your Day

Sometimes I pack so many things in my calendar that there is absolutely no wiggle room at all. In the end, I am frustrated and overwhelmed. Even if I got everything done, my attitude just makes for a wasted day in my book. Suggested solution: divide up your day into 3 periods (morning, afternoon, evening). Instead of one gigantic to-do list, you can tackle it in more manageable chunks. This gives you a more realistic picture of what can be accomplished on a given day.

Over-Doing Your “Me” Times

We could all use a little “me” time now and then to recharge. And as much as we want to stay on our little island, there are people we need to attend to. Suggested solution: Memorize this verse, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

What are your suggestions for having more productive days?

 

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5 Practical Tips to Reduce Your Restaurant Spending

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Whenever we found ourselves in leaner financial times, one of the easiest ways to reduce our spending was to avoid eating out. Ordering take-out may be the easy solution to a full day that leaves me little time to cook, but food that you have to pay someone else to cook certainly eats your budget unnecessarily.

Whether it’s the double bacon cheeseburger at your local fast food place or a perfect medium rare ribeye at a 5-star steak house, you can find ways to steer clear of the most tempting restaurant specials to save yourself some bucks. Here are 5 practical tips that have helped us.

Before You Go Out, Eat

Kind of obvious, right? If your grumbling stomach is not a distraction as you run some errands, then you will be able to drive right past the drive-through line without even a second glance. Your wallet and your body will thank you for it.

Brown Bag It

If the time that you go out happens to be in between meals, you can bring a bagged lunch to eat later. When I go out with the kids, I try to think ahead and see if our outing will run into the next meal time. If so, I pack a few sandwiches, bring some water, and we’re good to go. The times that I have failed to do this, we would certainly end up at McDonald’s or some equally not-so-healthy fast food joint.

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Bring a Few Snacks

Maybe you’re in a rush, and you just don’t have time to eat or pack a lunch before heading out the door. Some on-the-go snacks will keep those tummies quiet until you return home. If you keep your pantry or fridge well-stocked with pre-packed snacks, this will take no thought or preparation before you go out. Check out this post for some ideas on making your own snack bin.

Break Open the Cookbooks

Are your cookbooks collecting dust on the shelf? Is your Pinterest account overloaded with recipes that have yet to materialize in your kitchen? One of the best ways to avoid unnecessary restaurant runs is by taking some time for regular menu planning. Schedule some family favorites to cook during the week, and maybe try one new dish a week to keep things from getting boring. Sometimes, we get tempted to go out because we’re tired of the same dishes. You can also look up copycat recipes of some of your restaurant favorites, and you may find that your version tastes way better.

Budget It

I’m totally not opposed to eating out, especially when my husband and I can go for a date night. So, if we are able, we plan for it in our budget. You can decide what amount you can set aside for this on a monthly basis. If it’s too hard to keep track and you don’t want to go over budget, an envelope system may be helpful. Put the pre-determined amount in an envelope marked “Eating Out”. Use that money wisely. Once that money is gone, you better have a plan B.

What else have you done to reduce restaurant spending?

 

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Whatever Wednesday

4 Lessons I Learned From My Facebook Suspension

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Twice, I remember having to go to detention after school. The first time was because I was trying to push away a boy that was bothering all the girls in line. I was doing it for a good cause, but I was too timid to make my defense. The second time was because I threw a ball after the recess bell rang. Did I learn anything from staying 30 minutes in an almost empty classroom and writing “I will not throw the ball after the bell” 100 times? Perhaps. I don’t recall ever breaking that particular rule again.

That was pretty much my criminal record during my school days. I was a goody-goody. I was never suspended … until now. Let me explain.

I had joined a Facebook Mommy Blogger Group, and it was great meeting other fellow bloggers. Introductions were made. We exchanged website addresses and swapped “likes”. And, this was when I was blindsided with a message on my screen, “You have been temporarily blocked.” What did I do wrong? I really had no idea.

Lesson 1: Be Slow on Facebook

Apparently, I was “liking” pages too fast. When I had a 5-minute window to use the computer before my kids woke up from dreamland, liking too fast was something I had to do to avoid the nightmare of a rough morning start. So, learn from my mistake if you’re on Facebook: if you do any activity at a rate which Facebook considers fast, you may get dinged.

Lesson 2: Better Understanding of a “Like” … or Not

When I was young, I remember wanting to give that one Valentine’s card that says “I like you” to the boy I had a crush on. “Like” had a particular meaning in that context. But throughout my adolescent years, that word became even more confusing. “Do you like-like him or like him?”

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In social media, “like” can have so many different meanings. It can mean I read it, I agree with it, I want you to like me back, or I like it. So when you receive a “like”, how do you know which one it is? It’s like being 13 years old all over again, but this time, it’s not about the cute boy sitting in front of you in class.

Now, I’m not saying I’m going to start withholding “likes”. I still like liking. It’s a busy mom’s friend … when I read a post, sometimes there’s just not enough time to give a good response. So a friendly “like” will have to do.

Lesson 3: Build Your Connections With Real Conversation

Eventually, Facebook gave me back some of the privileges, except using the “like” button. And you know, liking is nice, but commenting is where connections really happen. Sure, it takes time and more thought, but you are also more likely to remember that person and their post.

Let’s get out of cyberspace for a second, and think about when you meet someone for the first time. If you say nothing more to them than “Pleased to meet you”, you will probably forget who they are in the next minute or so. But, if you ask more questions and engage in a conversation with them, you will be more inclined to talk to them again the next time you see each other.

Lesson 4: Bloggers Want Nice Comments

Sometimes social media just doesn’t feel very social. Though you are broadcasting tweets, posting pictures, and publishing pieces, you wonder if anyone really reads or looks at them, especially if the response you get is silence. If you are a blogger, I know you would agree that receiving comments just makes your day. One of the things that keeps me going are receiving the comments from you.

So don’t be shy, after clicking “like”, send a nice comment or two. It may be just what that person needs today.
 

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When Your Dreams Take a Different Turn

I want to thank Melissande from Our Growing Roots for starting this link-up of Transparent Tuesday. The internet is not lacking in blog posts that show the best in our own little world, whether it’s a recipe, a craft project, or family time at the park. But, we all know these are just select snapshots, and often we’ll discard the pictures that don’t quite portray our world in the best light.

But, isn’t your heart also drawn to things that show life as it really is? I wanted to join this link-up to show you that life isn’t always picture perfect (or blog perfect). In fact, life appears real messy sometimes, like an artist’s palette, but just wait. In due time, God will unveil His masterpiece.
 
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There’s a pile of papers waiting for me to look through. They’re not bills that need to be paid. They’re not my kids’ schoolwork that need to be put away. They’re not letters that need to be opened.

They are papers given to us by a doctor, a specialist in speech pathology and audiology. Why would I have papers like these on my desk? Because one of my children was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder. So now, we have some decisions to make about therapy, education, and how all of that will affect our whole family. Honestly, it all gets overwhelming sometimes. Hence, the papers remain untouched on that desk.

imageWhen a woman first realizes there is this life growing and thriving inside her, there are no limits to her dreams. She dreams of rocking that baby to sleep. She dreams of holding his hand and never letting go. She dreams of showing him the beauty of this world and its Creator. Those were my dreams.

They still are, but the path to each looks far different from what I had imagined. I did not picture doctors, therapies, treatments, psychological assessments, and special needs consultants. But they are there, and I must accept that and believe that even though it’s hard to see sometimes, God will make something beautiful out of this.

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I imagine that you probably have something like this in your life. Something that has not turned out exactly the way you planned. Something that you feel is out of your control. May I encourage you to receive it, embrace it, and make the most of it.

There are really only two choices: despair or hope. I have been in despair. It is a dark, dark place and a paralyzing state. But, hope in God is what enables me to keep moving forward and pressing on despite the obstacles before me.

What do you choose?

 

It would be great if you can join the link-up at Melissande’s site. You can share a story, a picture, anything. The link-up went live on Tuesday but is open all week. Click here for more details and to read about what other bloggers have shared.

Our Growing Roots

 

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5 Things I Need on a Deserted Island

Special thanks goes to Man Crates* (a company that specializes in sending custom gifts to men) for inviting me to do this fun post! Hope you’ll have fun with it too!

 
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My husband can tell. Maybe it’s the dark circles under my eyes. Maybe it’s because I’m still in my pajamas. Maybe it’s the tangled mop on my head that I call a ponytail. Maybe it’s the 4 little voices that call my name nonstop. “Sweetie, let me take the kids out so you can take a break.”

You would think that I would jump at the chance of having some “me” time, but it’s not quite that easy for me. If I was left alone in my house, I would likely start vacuuming or doing some other chore. I know. There’s something seriously wrong with me.

So, my husband gives me option B, “We’ll stay home, and you go out and do something fun.”

Oh, good! I can finally do some grocery shopping. We need eggs, milk, bread … Yep, there is something wrong with me.

What my husband might have to do is send me off to a deserted island. That’s a sure-fire way to get some “me” time. “Honey, you’ve been working hard. You need a break. Pack 5 things that you’ll need during your stay at Mommy Island.”

Five things? That’s it?  “It’s a single-engine plane, so there’s a weight limit.”

Ok, here it is then. The 5 absolute must-haves for me during my indefinite stay at this remote island.

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1. Books

I can’t just dig my feet in the sand and stare at the waves forever, even though that would be cool for the first few days. I don’t always get a good block of time to read books during this season of my life, so I would probably bring as many books as I can. I would bring a variety of reading material, but among those would definitely be the Bible and an island survival book.

2. Journal and Pen

I can’t not write. If there’s no blogging on this island, I can still write in a journal. Maybe once I get off the island, I can get a book deal and get it published!

3. Lindor Chocolate Truffles

I would go mad if I had to stay on a deserted island without an endless supply of these chocolatey treats. Need I explain more?

4. Ukulele

I can’t play, but my husband does. I would probably ask him to give me a crash course before my departure. There’s just something about music that lifts up a spirit.

5. Photos

I would just miss my family so much. Here’s something you don’t know about me. I spent about a week in the ICU years ago because of a serious infection. My husband would visit and bring me pictures of the kids. I could not have gotten through the loneliness without seeing their faces next to me.

So, there you have it. The 5 things I absolutely need during my time of isolation. What about you?

If you were on a deserted island, what would be in your survival kit?

 

*Man Crates is a new company that sends awesome gifts to men, all wrapped up and shipped in a manly crate with a manly crowbar to open it up. My husband looked at their products, and he’s already dropping hints at what he wants. If there’s a man in your life that you always seem to have a hard time shopping for, Man Crates may have the solution for you! Check them out!
 

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Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This is Not a Product Recommendation Post

The year: 2002. The place: Genova, Italy. Upon entering the room, I noticed right away the small balcony with a beautiful view of this town. Putting down my bags, I inspected the room to make sure everything was in order. In the bathroom, I saw something like this.

Bidet Mate!

At first sight, I had no clue what it was. Is it an extra toilet or an extra sink? Later on, I learned that it was a bidet (Look it up if you still don’t know what I’m talking about). Good thing I didn’t wash my hair in it!

I don’t know about where you live, but here where I’m from those things are just not common in the average bathroom. But I have seen these.

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It attaches to your toilet, and basically functions as a bidet. Toilet and bidet in one! Some people would say “I gotta get me one of those!”

If you are in the market for one of these bidet attachments, think real carefully first before you purchase, especially if you have a toddler in your house.

One fine day, when we were at someone’s house for a visit, one of my children went to the bathroom to do their thing. My youngest decided to follow his older sibling, and while this child was sitting on the toilet, my little boy turned the knob on the bidet. The poor victim of this incident screamed as if there was a fire in the house. And, when I went to investigate what the commotion was all about, I discovered that it was not a fire, but a geyser.

My little one must have turned it full blast because that water shot up from the toilet, hitting about 5 feet up the wall. I am not exaggerating. I wish I had a picture to show you, but taking pictures was the last thing on my mind that day.

After mopping up the wet floor and walls, we all had a good laugh about it.

What still baffles me about this bidet is why would anyone want or need to turn it on to the highest setting?

Has anything funny happened to you lately?

 

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Get a Free Photo Book! This Weekend Only!

After all my talk about my love for photo books, I’m so excited to share this deal with you all! The deal is only good for this weekend, so get those photos organized!

Get a FREE Classic hardcover photo book, a $29.99 value! Limited time only! Offer Valid thru 7/20

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You have to click on the link or image above to get this offer! Feel free to share this post!

Happy Friday!

 
(Note: This post contains an affiliate link. Click here for my disclosure.)

What Every Blogger Should Do Before Clicking “Publish”

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Blogs and social media have given people around the world the opportunity to connect in ways never before imagined. It has provided an outlet for many folks to express themselves where they would otherwise feel inhibited. But, is it really necessary for bloggers to share everything on their minds? Here are 5 reasons why I believe it isn’t.

Discretion is a virtue to be desired.

There’s a proverb in the Bible that says, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18) Having wisdom to know what to say, when to say, and how to say enables you to be a more effective communicator, both in the blogosphere and in your daily face-to-face interactions.

Self-editing is a skill in life, not just in blogging.

Most bloggers will edit their post before publishing. But, beyond checking for grammatical errors and typos, make it a habit to also check if you’ve just shared too much.

Tell me if this has ever happened to you. You’re in a conversation with a group of people. And, when you leave the party, you’re replaying the whole thing, all the while, kicking yourself for all the foolish things you said. Self-editing is definitely a life skill. Well, the plus side to blogging is that you have time to proofread before making a fool of yourself to the whole world.

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Gossip is a dangerous poison.

I used to have a blog, where I posted anonymously. It was a journal type of blog, where I often wrote about my family, so privacy was a concern of mine.

There is a temptation, though, when you are writing anonymously or under a pseudonym, to gossip about or slander others. You can even change the names of the parties involved, and you may feel safe in saying negative things about them from behind the computer screen. But, the wounds from hurtful words sometimes never heal. And often, the damaged relationships go beyond just the immediate persons involved.

If you have a private conflict with someone, be aware that discussing it in a public blog will only escalate it.

Your face-to-face relationships may be impaired.

When I first began blogging, I would tell my husband about all the nice people that I was meeting through this site. He totally supports me in this and was happy that I was making some meaningful connections. But, he also reminded me not to neglect the wonderful friendships I have been blessed with. If I am developing worthwhile connections online, how much more meaningful should my relationships be offline?

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Transparency is not the same as complete exposure.

To be transparent means having a willingness to open yourself up a bit. Part of the reason may be to help with processing your thoughts and emotions. But, the other part (and this is why you put it in a blog, and not in a diary) is to reach out to someone, who may also be in the same shoes.

I enjoy reading posts, where the writer gives you a window into her world, sharing both her triumphs and trials in life without necessarily disclosing everything. Just enough is shared that I am left saying, “That is exactly how I feel! I’m not alone!” That’s transparency!

Remember the 4 P’s

Anyone can start a blog and speak their mind. The possibilities seem endless. But, the next time you’re ready to unveil the next blog post … Pause and take a deep breath. Proofread but go deeper than checking for typos. Ponder if what you wrote is the best way to share with the world. And finally, you are ready to post.

What goes through your mind before you click “publish”?

 

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Wednesday Blog Linkup

Is Your Life “Crazy Busy?”

The other day, my daughter gave me a very sweet love note.
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Then towards the end of the note, my heart sank as I read this.
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It was as if that one word, “busy,” hopped right off the paper. Is that how my daughter (and my other children) see me? I don’t think she meant it as a complaint or a rebuke. She was just calling what she sees. I am a busy person, a “crazy busy” person.

I shouldn’t be surprised. I am fully aware of

  • the to do list that seems to never end.
  • the numerous occasions I have said to the kids, “Not now” or “You have to wait.”
  • the guilt of not spending enough time enjoying the children.
  • the pressure of balancing all aspects and areas of my life.
  • the constant feeling of being behind on everything, from chores to homeschool.
  • the countless times I feel just plain overwhelmed.

Do you ever feel this way?

In an effort to help us look at the issue from a biblical perspective and take solid steps to remedy this problem, my husband and I began reading this book together.

Crazy Busy:
A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem
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by Kevin DeYoung (Isn’t that a great title?)

According to the author, one of the main issues is not correctly assessing what you can really handle in a given time period. I know, for me, I tend to take on more than what I can really manage. The result can go one of three ways.

  1. I’ll somehow get it all done, but not without a lot of tears along the way. And, I’m no happy camper at the end of the road.
  2. I won’t finish everything, and I’ll feel like an utter failure.
  3. My plate will be so full that I have no room for flexibility. And that means having to say “no” to some things that may be more important.

In his book, DeYoung writes,

“We are here and there and everywhere. We are distracted. We are preoccupied. We can’t focus on the task in front of us. We don’t follow through. We don’t keep our commitments. We are so busy with a million pursuits that we don’t even notice the most important things slipping away.”

DeYoung is also a blogger, so he understands the amount of time it takes to keep up with a blog, and how that time can infringe on what should be for your family. There’s a quote from the book that just cut me to the heart as a mom and blogger. Shall I dare share it with you? If you’re a blogger, you might hate me for it. It’s one of those I-don’t-want-it-but-I-need-it kind of quotes. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we will be better in the end.

But … I’ll let you read it for yourself because I highly recommend reading the whole book rather than just a few snippets. And don’t say you’re too busy to read this. Make some time. It’s a short book for good reason.

How do you handle your “crazy busy” life?

 

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What Are Catalina Coupons?

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Do you know what Catalina Coupons are? They are the printed coupons that come after your receipt at the store is generated, that the cashier hands you, that you hurriedly grab and stuff in your wallet, that ends up in your wastebasket when you get around to cleaning out your purse. If this describes you, then you probably don’t know what a Catalina Coupon looks like (see picture above).

Supposedly, a Catalina prints out according to what you purchased. Every time I buy cereal, 99% of the time I get a Catalina coupon for cereal. Sometimes, it’s not an exact science, like getting a coupon for bladder control pads when I buy diapers.

Honestly, most of the time, I don’t use these coupons, unless it’s for a product that I buy regularly. These are not exactly high-value coupons, and I could probably find better ones out there.

But, once in a while, a nice Catalina prints out, so don’t be so quick to dismiss these and throw them away. Look closely below at one of the coupons I received from a recent trip to the store. See it yet?

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That’s right! A free photo book!

So, I told you a few posts ago how much I LOVE Shutterfly. I love their products, and I love them even more for the deals that they offer. So that homeschool yearbook that’s supposed to be finished by now (I’m getting there) can now be covered by this coupon. It’s nice when procrastination works out in your favor.

So, here’s the frugal tip for today: Don’t just check your receipts. Check your Catalinas. You never know what great offer you may get.

Have you found any good deals lately?

 

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