Monthly Archives: September 2013

Countdown to an Organized Christmas: Welcome

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Hello!  It was about a year ago that I started reading blogs.  Yeah, I know — I’m not sure where I’ve been hiding either.  Anyway, that’s not my point.  My point is that one of the first blogs I happened upon was doing this “31 days” thing.  I was curious so I clicked on the source link.

It was amazing!  Over 1,200 bloggers taking every day in October to write about one subject.  I was hooked.  It was then that I decided that I wanted to start my own blog.  And so, even though I was scared (What will I write about?  What if no one reads my blog?  What if I’m not any good at it?) I took a plunge and started my own blog a few months later.

I really wanted to participate in The Nesters 31 Day blogging event this year — even though I didn’t have a single clue what I should write about.  After a bit of contemplation I decided to write about something I was already involved in doing:  creating an organized Christmas.  

So join me each day in October as we work on making this Christmas season a fun, stress-free (or at least less stressful), enjoyable time.  It can be done.  Are you ready?

Day 1:  An Overview
Day 2:  The Calendar
Day 3:  Gift Ideas
Day 4:  Budgets
Day 5:  Gifts Purchased
Day 6:  Gifts to Make
Day 7:  Christmas Card List
Day 8:  Addresses
Day 9:  Recipes
Day 10:  Order Tracking
Day 11:  Gift Closet Inventory
Day 12:  Traditions
Day 13:  A Day of Rest
Day 14:  Stocking Stuffers
Day 15:  Entertainment
Day 16:  To Do List ~ Housekeeping
Day 17:  Holiday Cleaning Schedule
Day 18:  Party Planning
Day 19:  Holiday Meal Planning
Day 20:  Holiday Baking
Day 21:  Shopping Lists ~ Food Items
Day 22:  Wardrobe Planner
Day 23:  Freezer Inventory
Day 24:  Pantry Inventory
Day 25:  Christmas Light Viewing
Day 26:  Items Needed for Next Year
Day 27:  Notes for Christmas Future
Day 28:  Thank You Card List
Day 29:  Storage Solutions
Day 30:  Binder Prep and Organization
Day 31:  Wrap Up

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This post is linked to:

raising arrows   Thriving-Thursdays1    BetterMondaysLinkup    LivingWell    notjustahousewife.net    proverbs14verse1   TeachMeTuesdaysButton

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Goals for the Week: September 30 – October 6

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Goals for the Week

Here were the goals for last week and how I did on them:

Continue daily the Habit of the Month {September: Getting Dressed to the Shoes}.
I feel confident that this has become a habit.  Now I feel weird if I don’t have shoes on during the day!
~ Finish reading The Virtuous Woman by Vicki Courtney.  Seriously.  Get it done.
I made progress but I didn’t finish it.  I think I’m going to back off from the Proverbs 31 Bible study right now.  I’m currently participating in a study on the book of John at my church and I’m not sure I have the time to add another one right now.
~ Complete five days in my Disciplined Life challenge.  (You can read more about that here.)
I think I’m going to have to put this on hold for a while.  Too many things going on and I don’t have time to devote to something new.
~ Establish AWANAs work (she’s a Cubbie!) into C’s morning routine.
We’ve been working on this and doing pretty well.  Her teachers said she’s doing great!
~ Exercise about 300 fitness minutes.
Done!  Need to make my October fitness goals soon.
~ Continue/finish reading one of my books/ebooks.  I’m currently reading The Virtuous WomanHealthy HomemakingLapbooking Made Simple and 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life.
Read some of them.
~ Do October’s budget.
    Done!
~ Finish detailed cleaning and decluttering of the utility room closet.
    Done!  

And these are my goals for this week — I’ll only have eight goals for a while:

~ Continue daily the Habit of the Month {September: Getting Dressed to the Shoes} {October: Declutter 15 Minutes Daily}.
~ Daily Bible reading – Bible study on the book of John.
~ Complete the first six posts in my 31 days of posting challenge.  {Eeek!  I’m nervous about this!}
~ Focus on reading to both children every day.
~ Exercise about 300 fitness minutes.
~ Continue/finish reading one of my books/ebooks.  I’m currently reading The Virtuous WomanHealthy Homemaking, Lapbooking Made Simple and 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life.
~ Clean out and organize my computer files.
~ Finish decorating for fall.

Have you written down your goals for the week?

The Independent Preschool Binder

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I ran across this post from Littlest Sweet Pea a few days ago which talked about “Mommy School Binders”.  Is that not the best thing ever invented?  I mean, seriously.  My daughter would benefit so much from something like this.  She loves to “do school” and especially loves anything she can do by herself… and if it’ll keep her occupied for a while so I can have a cup of coffee in peace put the baby down for a nap then I’m all for it.  Plus, you know, it’s educational and stuff.  That’s the real reason for them.  Not the coffee in peace thing.

Ahem.

Anyway, moving on.

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I already had a few things we were using daily that I could use (in what I’m calling the “Independent Preschool Binder”) that were just floating around without a proper home.  And there were so many printables I downloaded from the Littlest Sweet Pea post that would help C.  After I started researching and digging around I realized I probably had more printables than I needed and had to pare it down a bit to keep from overwhelming my little one!

The brilliant thing about these binders is the versatility.  If your child “outgrows” a section, take it out and replace it with something harder.  Or switch things out occasionally to keep boredom from setting in.  There are no limits to the possibilities.  And there are so many awesome bloggers out there these days that have the gift of creating these printables that you and your children can use.  And a lot of them do it for free!

How I Put Together Our Independent Preschool Binder

The Supplies:

  • sheet protectors (a must if you want to reuse papers) AND/OR
  • laminator/lamination sheets (I laminate for durability)
  • 1″ 3-ring binder (or whatever you want to use to store your pages)
  • manila folder (or whatever you want to use to store extra/future pages)
  • printables (see more in the section below)
  • dry/wet erase markers (C loves having different colors to choose from)

The Printables:

  • From Mama’s Learning Corner — the Preschool Calendar Notebook — I put all of those pages in the binder except the “This is How I Write My Name” page and the future calendar month pages, otherwise they would all be filled out tomorrow instead of in the following months. 🙂
  • From 3 Dinosaurs — Prewriting Practice — which I spoke about in this post.
  • From Littlest Sweet Pea — Name Tracing Practice — I made one with C’s first name and one with her last name.
  • From Education.com — Letters of the Alphabet and Trace the Alphabet.  (Note: This website allows 10 free worksheet downloads per month.  You can buy a subscription for unlimited downloads.  I just mark it on my calendar to remind me that I’m eligible for 10 more downloads each month.)

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After I had everything printed and sorted it was really easy to put all of the printables in order, stick them in sheet protectors and let C have some fun.  We have worked through it together a few times and she is able to do most of it by herself.  We had never gone over the days of the week before so she still needs some help with that, but I think that printable is a fun way to teach them the days of the week.  {I also like the song here.}

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I chose not to put in any color activities.  I don’t like to waste ink and C is comfortable with all of her colors anyway so there really was no point.  When I have a bit more time I would love to find some lower case alphabet tracers — I usually teach her lower case letters first so having those printables would be awesome.

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As soon as she is more comfortable identifying numbers I would like to begin teaching her how to tell time (I’m sure I could find a nice printable for that to go in our little binder).  I will also be adding some “What Letter Is Missing” printables when she can easily identify and write her letters.

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Like I said, the options are endless!

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Can you think of an area I’m missing for our binder?

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This post is linked up at:

raising arrows    LivingWell

Goals for the Week: September 23 – 29

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Goals for the Week

Here were the goals for last week and how I did on them:

Continue daily the Habit of the Month {September: Getting Dressed to the Shoes}.
    I’m super pumped — I’ve been doing well with this habit!
~ Continue reading The Virtuous Woman by Vicki Courtney.
    Didn’t even pick it up.  I don’t know why I can’t seem to stick with this book!
~ Complete five days in my Disciplined Life challenge.
    I completed 3 days.  Better than nothing?
~ Take a nature walk with C and J.
    We actually took two of them this week.  One was just C and I and the other one was with my whole little family.  We had fun!
~ Finish decorating for autumn.
    Done!  Until I change it around or buy something else…
~ Exercise about 350 fitness minutes.
    Done!  Quite a bit of outdoor activity this week since the weather has cooled off.  I love it!
~ Continue/finish reading one of my books/ebooks.  I’m currently reading The Virtuous WomanHealthy Homemaking and 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life.
Read some of 21 Days and I also started a new book!
~ Do October’s meal planning.
    Done!  Can’t wait for beef stew weather!
~ Detailed cleaning and decluttering of the utility room.
    I’m finished with the utility room itself; now I just need to work on the closet in there.  It’s my catch-all.
~ Finish cleaning the office.
    It’s done for a minute.  At least I can see my desk again!

And these are my goals for this week — I’m paring down to eight goals for a while:

~ Continue daily the Habit of the Month {September: Getting Dressed to the Shoes}.
~ Finish reading The Virtuous Woman by Vicki Courtney.  Seriously.  Get it done.
~ Complete five days in my Disciplined Life challenge.  (You can read more about that here.)
~ Establish AWANAs work (she’s a Cubbie!) into C’s morning routine.
~ Exercise about 300 fitness minutes.
~ Continue/finish reading one of my books/ebooks.  I’m currently reading The Virtuous WomanHealthy Homemaking, Lapbooking Made Simple and 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life.
~ Do October’s budget.
~ Finish detailed cleaning and decluttering of the utility room closet.

Have you written down your goals for the week?

Our Adventures in Homeschooling: Week 5 Review

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our adventures in homeschooling

{View previous posts in this series here.}

The letter for this week was “T” — like T for tent, but more on that in a minute.

Thankfully the weather has been a bit more accommodating for us this week, especially later on this week, and the temperatures are nice enough now that outside work is enjoyable.  {In fact, I’ve just come from out on my deck where I enjoyed a nice cup of coffee with only the deer and birds to keep me company.  Ahh, pure bliss.}

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C and I had fun going out and having a nature hunt.  She asked a lot of questions about  pine cones, trees, acorns, and the like.  The acorns and pine cones are now part of my indoor fall decorations… I opted to keep the leaves, twigs and dirt outside, much to C’s dismay. 🙂

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It’s a T!  Well, first she said it was an X.  {To be fair, from where she was standing it was an X.}

I enjoyed teaching about Abraham, and even though I’d just read the story a few months ago in my Bible reading I had already forgotten just how much he and his family had to move around!  I was quickly reminded when we were moving our “tent” (a light blanket held up by whatever was handy) around during the Bible time on Day 2.

She loves that she has her own flashlight to use while we’re “exploring” — I put one in her Explorer Kit from Week 1 — and had a lot of fun using it with her “star cup”.  {P.S.  I had no Styrofoam or plastic cups in my house!  I had to stop by Sonic on the way home from church last Sunday night to get one!  *Sigh* It was such a chore having to drink that whole cherry cheesecake shake.  Although I did have help drinking it.  And it was a small one.  Just a little disclaimer there.}

007C thinks pipe cleaners are one of the best things ever.  They’re fuzzy and can be shaped into pretty much anything.  Really, what’s not to love?

006I changed up this Number Match activity a bit.  I glued the numbers onto blank index cards and then drew the corresponding amount of dots to the other side.  I then cut them in different ways so she’ll instantly know if she’s right.  I plan on using this activity a lot.  C needs to work more on identifying numbers and I believe this could help.

002This is one way we practice and learn shapes.  I got these cards from the Dollar Tree (I love that place) several months ago — I’m sure you can find them at WalMart, Target, etc as well.  I mix them all up and then ask her to find all of the triangles (or whatever shape we’re working on for the week).  Sometimes we name each card and put them in their own piles (as you can see from the above picture).

She enjoyed making the paper tent for Abraham to live in.  Which may or may not have been destroyed by J before I was able to take a picture of it.  We also had an Abraham coloring sheet from What’s In The Bible — they have loads of coloring pages and other activities.

Oh, and we started on a new activity binder this week.  It should help C learn to identify numbers, days of the week, months, seasons, how to write her name, etc.  Once I get it tweaked I’ll show you what I mean — probably sometime next week!

P.S. — We’re taking next week “off” from school so there won’t be a weekly review post.

Thankful Thursdays

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Today I am thankful for a few things that I don’t have pictures for:

The giggles of children — so sweet and innocent.  Well, usually innocent.  Well…. sometimes innocent.  🙂  I just can not help but smile when my children are laughing that full, infectious laugh that they have.  You know the one I mean.  It just fills my heart to bursting!  Thank you, Jesus, for those sweet giggles from my precious children.

My health.  Although I am overweight (and I’m working on that!), I am healthy and strong.  I am able to do the things that I need to do throughout the day.  I can keep up with my kids and keep a (relatively) clean and inviting home for my family.  Thank you, Jesus, for my health.

What are you thankful for?

Crockpot Applesauce

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A few weeks ago during homeschool we focused on the letter A, and of course you can’t talk about the letter A without eating an apple or two.  Or ten.

And I’m pretty sure we ate more than ten.

But anyway, in our quest for all things apple I ran across this Crockpot Applesauce recipe and decided that we needed some good applesauce in our lives.  And as a fairly new “homemade homemaker” I had never made my own applesauce.  This recipe is so easy I have no excuse to ever buy store bought applesauce again!

Since we had several apples to choose from I used a few different kinds — all sweet tasting.  The bulk of the applesauce was made from Red Delicious apples (because I had a lot of those) and I think it turned out well.  I did peel the apples since they were not organic and I was trying to make it as healthy as I could.

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With the word “crockpot” in the title you know it’s not going to be a quick recipe.  But from preparation to end result was less than 5 hours (with a three year old “helping”), so that’s not too bad.  I like smoother textured applesauce, so I used a handheld submersion blender instead of a potato masher when it finished cooking.

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My 11 month old son (J) loved it.  The three year old (C) wasn’t as fond of it but she’s a rather picky eater anyway so I didn’t expect her to like it.  (She still ate a few bites so I can’t complain.)  I ate more than my fair share of it!  It reminded me a lot of my grandmother’s recipe which was lost when she passed away because a lot of her recipes weren’t written down.  I’m very happy to have this one as a replacement!

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And what’s better than the smell of cooking apples??  Ahh, I love the smells of autumn!

Enjoy!

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This post is linked at:

Thriving-Thursdays1    BetterMondaysLinkup    LivingWell

Goals for the Week: September 16 – 22

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Goals for the Week

Here were the goals for last week and how I did on them:

Continue daily the Habit of the Month {September: Getting Dressed to the Shoes}.
    One day I didn’t wear shoes all day… and my productivity significantly decreased.  I don’t know what it is about those shoes, but they do help!
Continue reading The Virtuous Woman by Vicki Courtney.
    I am on schedule to finish this next week.
~ Complete five days in my Disciplined Life challenge.
    I am ashamed to say that I didn’t make this a priority and I have not completed all of my assignments.  
~ Locate the nearest zoo and take a field trip this week or next week.
    The nearest one is 1.5 hours away, but I did locate it and we did go! 
~ Birthday party planning for J.
    Nothing major — just some family.  But I still want it to be special.
~ Exercise about 350 fitness minutes.
    I feel like I accomplished this just on the zoo day!
~ Continue/finish reading one of my books/ebooks.  I’m currently reading The Virtuous WomanHealthy Homemaking and 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life.
I read some of The Virtuous Woman and 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life.
~ Complete flower arrangements for family wedding this weekend.
    Done!  And the wedding was beautiful!
~ Finish cleaning out the pantry.
    It’s mostly done.  As done as a working pantry ever gets kind of done.
~ Detailed cleaning and declutter of the office.
    I did a lot of decluttering — files, old binders and office supplies, etc.  This week I’ll focus on cleaning.

And here are my goals for this week:

~ Continue daily the Habit of the Month {September: Getting Dressed to the Shoes}.
~ Continue reading The Virtuous Woman by Vicki Courtney.
~ Complete five days in my Disciplined Life challenge.  (You can read more about that here.)
~ Take a nature walk with C and J.
~ Finish decorating for autumn.
~ Exercise about 350 fitness minutes.
~ Continue/finish reading one of my books/ebooks.  I’m currently reading The Virtuous WomanHealthy Homemaking and 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life.
~ Do October’s meal planning.
~ Detailed cleaning and decluttering of the utility room.
~ Finish cleaning the office.

Have you written down your goals for the week/month?

Our Adventures in Homeschooling: Week 4 Review

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our adventures in homeschooling

{View previous posts in this series here.}

I know I’m a few days late posting this, but better late than never, right?  It’s been a crazy few days.  Like, a never ending and completely exhaustingly crazy few days.  (Is “exhaustingly” even a word?  No?  Ah well, it still fits.)

Since this week was all about the letter Z I decided on a rather spur of the moment trip to the zoo… Granted, spur of the moment for me was planning it two days in advance.  But before you start shaking your head at my lack of spontaneity you must know that the closest zoo is a 1.5 hour drive from here.  And anyone with children can tell you that a day trip with munchkins in tow can not be completely successful if it’s not planned in advance.  Can I get an amen? 🙂

I was at least able to pair it with a trip to the closest Hobby Lobby (PS. I love that store.  It’s probably a good thing that the closest one is 1.5 hours away.) to get flowers for my sister’s wedding which was this weekend.  And no, I was not procrastinating about doing the flowers.  They decided about 10 days ago to get married.  Apparently she got all of the spontaneous genes….

But anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, the zoo.  We had such a fun time!  C’s favorite animal at the moment? Zebras!  And that fit right in with learning about Zs.  She was super pumped about the whole experience — as was my 11 month old — and seems to have taken quite a bit away from the experience.

I won’t bore you with pictures of our zoo experience… you know what the animals look like, I’m sure. 🙂

I finally ordered the Wee Sings CD, which was recommended to go along with the GLE curriculum.  It came in at the beginning of this week so we were able to listen to “Who Built the Ark?” every day.  {I personally am not a huge fan of children singing on sing-a-longs, but so far I’ve liked what I’ve heard of this CD.  I’m glad we got it and my daughter loves it.}  By the end of the week she was singing along, especially with the chorus.  Now if you ask her, “Who built the ark?”, she responds with, “Noah! Noah!”

The second day while we were listening to the song we got out all of her stuffed animals (and any other animal we could find) and lined them up in her room.  Her rug became our “ark” and she placed all of the animals in lines on the ark.  I hadn’t realized how many toys she had until we did this activity…. some may have to find new homes soon!

018We enjoyed eating animal crackers as a snack this week.  They even became a learning experience, although it didn’t turn out quite as I had anticipated.  I asked my daughter, “If you have two animals up here and three animals down here, what does that make?”  Her answer?  “A smiley face!!”

Apparently I should have rephrased my question.

027We also made a lion from a paper plate on day 2.  I drew the mouth but C did the rest.  Now she goes around trying to scare her brother by hiding behind it and growling.  So far it hasn’t worked. 🙂

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A few weeks ago I discovered that 3 Dinosaurs has some awesome prewriting practice sheet printables for preschoolers.  Since C isn’t that fond of trying to write her letters I decided to try this with her.   She loves them!  I originally printed them out and put them in sheet protectors (like you see in the above picture) but we use them so much that they’re starting to get crinkled already.  I laminated them today in hopes that they’ll last longer that way.   We work with them a several times a week now and I can already see an improvement in the way she writes.

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She’ll even trace letters for me a lot more willingly now!

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Speaking of learning games, we love the Alphabet Strips from Teachers of Good Things as well.  So versatile!  Right now we’re just using them to match letters, but I’m sure we’ll soon start using them in other ways mentioned on her website.

026I bought some animal stamps at the Dollar Tree a few months ago.  They were definitely worth their price this week when we made our own zoo.  I told C that I wasn’t sure if putting the tiger and the crocodile in the same cage was a good idea but she was adamant.  But so far they’re behaving themselves.

Other things we did this week:

  • We created and began a chore chart, but I’ll have more about that in a separate post.
  • Pretended to be all sorts of different animals.
  • Practiced writing her name.
  • Made Playdoh Z’s.

C had a little bit of trouble saying the letter Z at first.  She kept sticking the tip of her tongue between her teeth so it made more of a “C” sound.  We kept practicing and she got it down pat — what really helped her figure it out was when I told her she needed to hold her mouth like she was brushing her front teeth.  Now she has no problems with it!

That’s about all I can think of right now.  Since I’m running behind on posting this it’s not all still fresh in my mind!

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This post is linked at:

Thriving-Thursdays1raising arrows

Goals for the Week: September 9 – 15

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Goals for the Week

Here were the goals for — ahem — week before last and how I did on them (Labor Day got me all off schedule last week):

Continue daily the Habit of the Month {August: Eat a Healthier Diet, September: TBD}.
    I decided that Getting Dressed to the Shoes should be my habit for September.  
~ Continue reading The Virtuous Woman by Vicki Courtney.
    I’ll be honest.  I never picked up the book.  I will have to do better this week though.  I plan on finishing this book and starting the new Bible study before this month is over.
~ Complete five days in my Disciplined Life challenge.
    I have had two weeks in which to do this and I still didn’t make much headway.  I must do better.  It’s obvious that I need this book. 🙂
~ Have a makeup makeover and princess dress up morning with C.
    This is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this before and she loved it.  
~ Make spaghetti and let J feed himself.  (Did I mention I’m a bit uncomfortable with food messes?  This is a big step for me. :))
    This will not be a daily habit but we did get some messy cute pictures out of it and J seemed to really enjoy himself so I guess that’s all that matters, right?  
~ Exercise about 350 fitness minutes.
    Done!
~ Continue/finish reading one of my books/ebooks.  I’m currently reading The Virtuous WomanHealthy Homemaking and 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life.
I did read a bit of Healthy Homemaking and downloaded a whole slew of new books that I’m now going to have to find the time to read. I think I need a tablet…

~ Make September’s budget.   Finish September’s menu plan.
    Done!  You can read more about my menu plan here.
~ Clean out the pantry.  Little hands have been “helping” me put away groceries.  I love it, but now I can’t find anything!
    I’m about half way finished with this… it’s taking a bit longer because C keeps wanting to help me (and I haven’t the heart to tell her that she’s one of the reasons I needed to clean it out in the first place!)
~ Finish baseboards.
    Done!

And here are my goals for this week:

~ Continue daily the Habit of the Month {September: Getting Dressed to the Shoes}.
~ Continue reading The Virtuous Woman by Vicki Courtney.
~ Complete five days in my Disciplined Life challenge.  (You can read more about that here.)
~ Locate the nearest zoo and take a field trip this week or next week.
~ Birthday party planning for J.
~ Exercise about 350 fitness minutes.
~ Continue/finish reading one of my books/ebooks.  I’m currently reading The Virtuous WomanHealthy Homemaking and 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life.
~ Complete flower arrangements for family wedding this weekend.
~ Finish cleaning out the pantry.
~ Detailed cleaning and declutter of the office.

Have you written down your goals for the week/month?