Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Home-keeping Keeps "Home" Happy, Part II


What Goes In Your Home Directory Notebook

Yesterday I promised that I’d post a list of the categories I have in my Home Directory notebook.    Categories for YOUR home directory notebook will probably not be exactly the same as mine.  In fact, they better NOT be!   Really…they should be tailored to the specific needs of your family.   For example, when we lived on a farm, I had a category called Livestock in which I listed animal feed rations, cattle records, and vets.   I had another one with the names of farmers from whom we bought hay.     So, please CUSTOMIZE your list!

Here's a customization I did recently.   

Since we’ve moved to West Virginia, near Washington DC, I’m adding a new category (actually a separate section) to our notebook called Sight-Seeing.   Back when we lived in Wisconsin (on that little farm I mentioned) we didn’t have TIME to go gallivanting.  But now we’re renting and have fewer home-owner responsibilities, so we’re making the most of it!   

The number of cool places to go around here is amazing:   historical, artsy, outdoorsy, cultural, biological and a slew of others!   Dear Hubby asked on Thursday or Friday “Where do you want to go this weekend?”  I had no idea—I mean the possibilities were practically endless.    

However.   Before the end of our second week here, Darling Daughter and I headed to the library (new library cards!!!) where I found a book with a listing of places on the eastern seaboard and DC-area.   Whoohoo!   From that list, I compiled potential sight-seeing destinations, sorted by state and localities.  Using the Excell spreadsheet program on our computer, I added columns to note entry fees, days & hours of operation, special passes needed, and which Metro line to take and the stop near the destination.   

Further customizations include a separate section to include recommendations from our friends.   Our Sight-Seeing list will be an on-going travel journal and a great resource for our out-of-town guests to plan trips into The City and the nearby attractions.   Now when Dear Hub asks that question, we pull out our handy-dandy Sight-Seeing list. 

So, your categories need to reflect your family (not mine—even though I’m sure you’d enjoy visiting us!).   Use these ideas for a springboard.   Don’t be a slave!


A QUICK EXPLANATION

Of all the categories listed below, the only one that is always in the same position is the Utilities & Household (because I use that one the most).  And it's listed first, on the first page--easy access!   When I update the notebook, categories sometimes get rejuvenated, so they fit on the pages neatly.     

Also I try to keep things together that “go together.”  For example, kid stuff like sports or school goes on one page together.   Coaches’ names or school things.   Clubs and leaders.  The “boring” stuff (like insurance and banking) goes on one page together.    All the utility stuff is grouped under Household.  

Here’s another example from our notebook—just to give you ideas—these are all from the category I call “Utility & Household Info.”    Also notice, under library, I’ve used a smaller font, to fit it all in within the column without squishing it too much.

Hospital – Martinsburg                                                                 
                City HospitalDry Run Rd                     304-264-xxxx   

Internet & Television – Satellite                           800-825-xxxx  
Comcast                                                                      304-725-xxxx
302 N. Mildred Street, Ranson WV 25438 

Library     Berkeley County PL                               304-267-xxxx
                101 W. King Street
                                M – T – Th ~ 9:00 – 9:00       
W – F –  Sa ~ 9:00 – 5:00       Su   ~ 1:00 – 5:00  
Shepherdstown PL                                       304-876-xxxx
100 E. German Street, Shep’town
                  Mon – Thur ~ 10:00 – 7:00
                  Sat ~ 9:00 – 1:00     Fri & Sat ~ closed
Nick –     (card numbers)
Deb –      xxxxxxxxx
Lis –        xxxxxxxxx        

Lawyer   Mr. XXXXXX                                    608-XXX-XXXX



ALRIGHT ALREADY!   HERE ARE THE CATEGORIES!!
Utilities & Household Info ~ contact info for all service provider names & phone numbers for cell-phone, electric, floral, hospital, internet & television/satellite, library [hours & days open, too; library card numbers], lawyer, City offices, utilities, landlord, appliance recycling & parts, transportation, postal & delivery, State offices like DMV and Education.
 Neighbors’ ~ names & contact info (include addresses & direction where they live from your house—I figure this is more of “emergency” information).

Insurance ~ Life, Auto, Health, Homeowners (including agent name & contact info and corporate info, account / policy numbers & coverage, contact info, make & VIN on vehicles)

Church - pastor & church council contact info (membership directory is filed in another section of the notebook)

Banking – various accounts (checking, saving, mutual funds, money market, retirement; contact info for our agents; account numbers)

Medical – contact info for chiropractor, dentist, medical, orthodontist, family practice, optometrist; include hours & days open; names of nurses who triage or screen their doctors’ calls

Education – homeschooling group contact info, names of teachers & their contact info, home-room teachers’ names, names & contact info for any special groups or clubs; locker numbers & combinations; children’s school and sports schedules are filed in another section of the notebook.

Sports / Clubs – team coach contact info (team rosters & phone numbers in back section with game schedules)

Animals – pet names with birth date, surgeries & shots, meds, vet’s name & contact info

Periodicals & Newspapers – titles of subscriptions, renewal or expiration dates (number of issues), account numbers, Direct Marketing Association and Publisher’s Clearinghouse (assist with forwarding mail on subscriptions)

Government / Politics – Federal and State lawmakers contact info (note party affiliations, local offices); legislative hotlines and Congressional Switchboard phone numbers; party contacts

Miscellaneous – cellphone passwords, social security account numbers, drivers’ license numbers, home paint color brand names & numbers, telemarketing “No Call” list & renewal dates, road conditions (State Patrol), Department of Tourism for our state.

Stuff ~ a list of major and small appliances owned, date purchased or received, make, model, serial number, and any “parts” information. Once you compile a list like this (it takes a bit of time to do), you only need to update it when you get rid of or add something new to the household (this list ends up being the one that is the most “work”—tracking down info—so save this one til last). This list will probably take up a whole page. But it makes a great inventory, and you can keep a copy in your safe deposit box at the bank—then if anything drastic happens… Well, then you have a list to file with your insurance provider. Train yourself to update this list each time you bring a new appliance or “toy” into the house. A new DVD-player? A bike? An iTouch? Computer? Write it down!

I hope that's enough to get  you started!    Work on one section at a time or for a set period of time (say 15 - 30 minutes while the kids are napping).    Remember to SAVE your info--and save/file it in an area on your computer where YOU will be able to find it again when you need to make an update.


Tomorrow I’ll share a list of other items you may wish to keep filed in your Household Notebook.   


Til then, Dear Friend, think on these words from the book of Proverbs, ascribed to Solomon, and let the wisdom pour over your heart and soul!

My son [or daughter], if you accept my words 
and store up my commands within you, 
turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 
and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 
and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 
then you will understand the fear of the LORD 
and find the knowledge of God.      
~ Proverbs 2:1-5

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Home-keeping Keeps ""Home Happy


Organizing Things At Home

Since our recent move to West Virginia, I’ve been busy with many things, getting our new home running efficiently.   My most recent project has involved my “old friend” named The {Family Name} Home Directory & Household Management Book.   

This notebook is the “brain” of my household, has been in constant use for about three decades now, and contains all our important information in one easy-to-use location.   With a busy household like ours, having all the info consolidated in one place has saved me HOURS of time.   The homeroom teacher’s phone number or the softball coach’s address—right there at my fingertips!  I love not digging through our files looking for an obscure account or phone number.  

With moving to a new state, of course, ALL of our “local” information has changed as well as our auto and health insurance.   So I’m in the middle of a major overhaul on our notebook—almost like starting from scratch.  Putting a home directory notebook together requires some effort on the front end of the deal.  But after that, it’s just a matter of keeping it updated—and that’s only needed when you can’t stand the messy notes in the margins anymore!    


GETTING STARTED IS THE EASY PART

Gather the materials.   In fact, you probably have most of what you need already available.    Here are the main ingredients: 

          a three-ring binder (I prefer white with a clear cover)
          a nice piece of 8.5 x 11 stationery (copy paper will work) for the cover page
          copy paper (white or colors, speckles, whatever) for inside pages
          tabbed dividers, semi-optional…to keep things organized
          page protectors, optional… to keep things neat & clean

Get some pretty stationery or scrapbook paper from your local craft store for the front cover.  A sheet might cost you 50-cents—go ahead and splurge.    Themed with your home d├ęcor you’ll think you’re something special every time you use it!   Give yourself permission to buy nicer paper for the inside pages.  I used white stuff with speckles in it one year, and creamy ivory another year.   I felt like a real CEO—a home executive, that is!  


THE HARDEST PART

Gather the information that you’ll keep in this book.   Locate your utility bills, bank statements, school calendars, team rosters, phone books, and websites (etc).   Lots of the things posted on your fridge are great sources.   

Then, using your computer, type up a document using the documents you’ve gathered from your files and your desk and the fridge.    Use underline and bold format options to organize the info.   Then arrange in two columns (sort of like a phone book or a dictionary) so your listing doesn’t waste space on the paper.   Mine looks like this: 

Medical

Chiropractor                                                                989-XXXX
                Dr. Brian Brost, Blair

Dentist                                                                                             .                       
                Dr. Kevin Cook, LaCrosse           1-608-782-XXXX
                Dr. Bill Baxa, Independence                  985-XXXX

Notice I’ve formatted the category heading in a larger fancy font (“shadow” format) so it stands out, and is EASY to locate when I’m on the phone (distracted) or in a hurry.   I also enter the names either in order of how much we use them or in alphabetical order (with the city location).  All of this expedites retrieval.    Multiple entries are listed separately like the one for our dentists.   Include account numbers in this area, too, if you like.


MORE ON FORMATTING YOUR DOCUMENT

Leave a one-inch margin around the edges, plus some “white-space” between categories because it’s visually pleasing and makes locating info easier.   I like mine to be justified on the right margin—rather than ragged.

Also when entry info has changed, or when I learn the doctor’s assistant’s name—while I’m still on the phone with the agent or appointment desk (I actually say something like “could you hold for a moment so I can update my files?”—and they always are polite about it!), I pull the page out of the protector, jot the new number or name in the margin near the entry (using arrows and stars to make sure it’s noticeable).  Then the next time I make a call or when I update the directory (yearly), the info is right where I need it.  


BEFORE HITTING “PRINT”

Proof-read and double-check details.    Clean up the margins (if that sort of thing bothers you).     Add some clip-art if you like that sort of thing.    Add a frame around the page.   Whatever you like---it’s your book!

Once printed, insert the new sheets into page protectors (back to back), then into the three-ring binder.   Page protectors keep the papers neat.   If you don’t use page protectors, then just three-hole punch them on the left side of the paper and in they go!  You might want to add hole reinforcements (little white stickers that encircle the punched-hole).   

Yes, it was that easy.


SAVING THE DIRECTORY

Because you’re going to update this thing from time-to-time, make SURE—when you go to save it—that you give it a name that you’ll remember!   One folder in the word processing section on our computer is called “Deb’s Stuff.”   Within that folder, among other things, is one that’s called “Home Organizer Notebook.”   This is where I file my Home Directory Notebook document as well as a slew of other documents that go in my notebook!     More on that another time.


Tomorrow I’ll post the various categories within my Home Directory Notebook.   So check back for that.


In the meantime:  here is  verse or two from Proverbs 31, to remind you of WHY doing this is part of your job description as a wife and mother:

“A wife of noble character—who can find?  …. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value….She sets about her work vigorously.…She sees that her trading is profitable….She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.   She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness….her husband…praises her.” 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Love & Marriage: One Man + One Woman = A Lifelong Commitment

A recent FaceBook conversation with my niece brought up the topic of listening to the ideas of others who offer different opinions on social topics.    The conversation revolved around the recent excitement over the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of the military  concerning a person's sexual preference.    After reading my comments to this sweet niece, Dear Hubby suggested that I post my comments here.    So, this is my response to her.... attempting to raise her consciousness of how civic standards are affected by the liberal media (rather than the Bible) and also how our standards affect the moral fiber of our country.

I am thinking of when I was in the military....and there were lesbians living on my floor and how that affected dorm-living. NO ONE who was straight wanted to be stuck in a dorm room with a lesbian. We couldn't even use the lounge when the one *couple* was in there, because of the way they behaved (making out, lascivious remarks).

I worked with and played softball with some of them, and the majority of the ones I knew were aggressive and mean-spirited. Several of them were what I would call predators.

Sweetie, I realize that kids now-days are more informed or worldly (not that this is necessarily a *good* thing) than we were back in the last 70's. Likewise, I am sure that the level of predation has gone up since then, too.

My room-mate and good friend from Minnesota came home from work one afternoon and related how her homosexual co-worker OPENLY talked about how well-hung he imagined his male co-workers must be, slavering over them. He would FOLLOW them into the latrine hoping for a peek while at the urinals. Disgusting!?!!! And this was in the Air Force, where we had privacy in the bathrooms and showers.

My Minnesota friend/room-mate wanted me to see what she had to put up with every day, so she invited him to join us for lunch one day, and I saw for myself the perverted mind working. Throughout lunch he commented on the other men-diners and the waiters at the restaurant. Partly he was doing it for the shock value--we were two young farm-girls from the Midwest--and I'm sure the shock registered on our faces--I know it did on mine. But he was seriously trolling for a partner, too.

Imagine guys (like your cousin) on active duty in a war zone, living in very simple circumstances with open barracks and latrines. Bad enough that he's being shot at by the enemy. He doesn't need extra worry that an "out" tent-mate might be drooling over him or hoping to grope him in the shower.

Patriotism is great. Homosexuals and lesbians can sign on the dotted line just like the straight guys and gals. Fine. Shut up and serve. My "issue" is with the POLICY of giving homosexuals or lesbians permission to run around and declare that they are homosexual or lesbian--basically giving them *special treatment.* Straight people don't get special permission to declare who they love or live with!

"Sex" and so-called *sexual preference* is a private issue and should remain so. "Don't ask, don't tell" is a two-way street that protects the command authorities, their subordinates, and co-workers. That is: the privacy of EACH person--not just the perverted.

I truly, honestly, with all my heart believe that homosexuality is wrong. It is a perversion of something that is meant to be between one man and one woman. The liberal-minded media has convinced a large portion of our young citizens that because homosexuals want to live a certain way, the rest of us *must* agree that, yes indeed, they have the *right* to do so.    We have been desensitized by movies, books, videos, music.  Your generation has grown up seeing this all the time, and the liberal media is pushing this agenda as fast and as furiously as they can--to get the rest of us to agree to their perversions as *normal*--to change our thinking.

If we cave on this point, they we'll have to give in to the pedophiles who prefer to have sex with children. And to plural marriages--and to all sorts of immoral sexual perversions. Yes, that is how the dominoes will fall. One thing goes, and all the rest -- given time and opportunity -- will soon fall, too.

We ALL face a variety of choices every day: should I get up at 6:30 or 7:00? Should I have a bagel or a bowl of ice cream for breakfast? Should I do the dishes or go on-line and view porn?

We face choices every day...but we don't have to act on them. It is NOT hereditary, it is a choice. There are standards for everything in life. Some are low standards, others are high. Just because someone *wants* to do something doesn't make it a good choice nor something he should necessarily follow through on doing. And certainly not every choice made needs to be condoned by society.

Here's an assignment--something I would STRONGLY urge you to read, to become educated to the FAR-reaching consequences of this LGBT *movement.* Find a copy of this book (below), please, and read it:

*Same Sex Marriage: Putting Every Household at Risk* by Mat Staver, Broadman & Holman Publishers, c2004.

I located copies at these booksellers (fairly cheaply...$1.99 & up,used)

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Same-Sex-Marriage/Mathew-D-Staver/p/9780805431964/?itm=1&USRI=putting+every+household+at+risk

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=2974663584&searchurl=kn%3DPutting%2BEvery%2BHousehold%26sortby%3D17%26tn%3DSame%2BSex%2BMarriage%26x%3D53%26y%3D17

http://www.amazon.com/Same-sex-Marriage-Putting-Household/dp/0805431969

Sweetie, I love you, and I'm not trying to be "in your face" or anything. Many of our young people are being led astray by popular media and icons with very low standards.
Love the sinner--hate the sin. Jesus died for us all. He also said, "Your sins are forgiven. Go, and sin no more."  

When I read her first post, I hesitated to respond.   I get along good with the nieces and nephews, and I don't want to come across as a boring ol' fuddy-duddy who wants to spoil their fun.      I also don't want to be seen as a know-it-all or an in-yer-face opinionated bore.   I want to be able to influence their thinking in a God-pleasing way, and it's a fine line between "telling it like it is" and going a little too far and turning them off completely.    So.  Before hitting the "comment" button and sending my response into CyberSpace, I said a quick little prayer and asked God to *bless my words so she will see the wisdom.*   

And so, I plant the seeds and trust God to send the rain and sunshine and warmth to make the plant grow.  

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My First Blog – As Exciting As Having A Baby!



This seems like an auspicious occasion—one which should perhaps be preceded by a celebratory trumpet blast or a banner flown behind an airplane across a clear blue summer sky.

But alas, adding gifs and jigabytes and such are beyond my abilities!   Don’t despair, though—all is not lost!   What I lack in techno-geek skills, I more make up for with sparkling wit and grammar.  <wink!> 

Oh, wait.   What IS this in my bag-of-tricks?  A heart glad to serve the Lord and a strong desire to share my home-keeping and family-raising experiences with other women.  

So, let us begin.   First of all:  I feel like I should share with you how all of this started.    And because some people like to know what motivates others to take on an endeavor like this.

To begin with, you should know that I like to write.   And I like studying my Bible.  And what I like about studying the Bible is that no matter what I read or how many times I read it, there’s something new every time.   Cool how God does that!   I also like being a wife and mother.  

I was a still a fairly young woman when I became an overnight mother by virtue of adopting three half-grown foster sons and a daughter.   Being a wife was great, but becoming a mother really added a new dimension to my life.   Then God, in His infinite wisdom, answered my prayers, and we had three babies of our own, too!     Most couples start with babies and THEN have pre-teens, but our family came about according to God’s plan.    And what a ride it has been!

The idea of passing along motherly and wiferly wisdom first wiggled its way into a quiet corner of my mind many years ago—long before blogs were even a twinkle in a techno-geek’s eye.  Kind of a vague idea, sandwiched between the recipes for Chocolate Chip Cookies and Tater Tot Casserole.

But, you know how life goes.   My big kids needed school supplies and a ride to somewhere.   My little ones needed bathing and a story before bed.    Dear Hubby needed clean underwear and his back rubbed.   Not to mention the house and garden and kids’ sports and activities—not to mention heart-breaking obstacles along the way—and, oh yeah, for a few years in there, I was working full-time, too, editing the church newsletter, teaching Sunday school, and singing in choir! 

Why, before I knew it, months turned into years.  The kids grew up (mostly) and got married, and we added in-laws to our family and eventually grand-chicklets.   Plus, I added a few sparkly hairs to my head along the way which (I guess) means I grew up some, too!    

Well.  Here I am today.   Only one child at home, which—by the way—has NEVER happened in our family before!   And what is this?  I actually have <whispering hopefully> TIME FOR WRITING!   

The writing idea gathered strength (and weight—as in a burden) with each new female addition to our family.   And as my own faith matured (and continues to mature), the desire to lead, teach and encourage other women grows stronger, too. 

One thing that is great about our God:  He doesn’t lay a burden on you without ALSO giving you a way to carry the burden!    So it’s neat to see how He works out the details—according to His own timeline—giving me now the time to write, after first sending friends and family who heartily cheer me on.          

So—let’s get cracking.   What IS this all about anyway?

TITUS TWO FRIENDS.   I’ve had a few of those in my day, and am very thankful I did.    They made a difference in my life, in my marriage, and with my children.  Their Godly examples taught me how to love my husband and my children.  They taught me that being happy at home whether I was changing a diaper or peeling potatoes was a God-pleasing way to occupy my time.  

Titus Two Friends:   a two-way relationship between older and younger women, to pass along God-pleasing wisdom concerning marriage and family life;  older women (teachers) encourage younger women (students) to see the joy of loving and serving their families.   

Looking at the essence of the passage (see above by the official title up-top), we see that older women are to “train the younger women.”  That doesn’t mean go do what you do and hope they catch on.   The use of the word “train” means a deliberate, purposeful act with thoughtful consideration of what is being passed along.

The Amplified Bible says it like this:  “Bid the older women …. to give good counsel and be teachers of what is right and noble, so that they will wisely train the young women …to love their husbands and their children…”

One other thing:   Titus Two Friends have a long and lasting effect, and may alter the course of someone’s eternity.    We live in dangerous times.   It is important work we are doing in our families and in our homes.        

May God bless the efforts of this endeavor, and like the ripples on a pond when we throw in a pebble, may the words I write today and in the future bless you and those you love, through the ages, into all eternity.