Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Staying organized for less than $1

...or $23 if you want to get real fancy.

I've tried different planners, phone apps, and a myriad of different systems to keep my life in check. I have never been known to keep things orderly, but contrary to popular belief, I love to have things organized. Things just get piled and then the piles get moved and they build up and seem like way too much to deal with. Such is the life of an underachieving perfectionist with Adult ADD.

Pretty sure this sums up my thoughts on keeping things organized with toddlers around.
Looks impossible at first glance, but turns out it IS possible.

However, over the past couple years I have figured out a system that works for me. Best part is: it's incredibly cheap. For the most part I have two tools that I use to stay organized, but I've added a couple more to the list that have helped me along the way (but aren't as vital to the system as the two):

1. A composition notebook ($0.88 from Walmart) - I started using one college ruled notebook for blogging ideas, sketching home decorating layouts, planning birthday parties, and organizing a capsule wardrobe. I called it my "idea notebook" (thank you Schmidt from New Girl). However, the more I had it around or in an easily accessible place, the most I used it for all of my ideas and planning: packing lists for trips, scheduling out long-term plans (hello, first month post-baby), making estimates for house projects, etc. 

I know you're jealous of my 3 week old manicure. It's cool.

My old system was to write everything down on whatever piece of paper was handy: the back of a used envelope, a post-it note, or a piece of loose leaf paper. However, those quickly became lost in the shuffle or accidentally thrown away, along with any plans that I had made in the moment. Boo.

The pages were never in the right order, but all I had to do was add a little "cont'd on page ##" in the corner and then proceed with my thoughts and sketches there. Joel had the brilliant idea to index the pages in the back to make it easier to keep track of everything. Because it's not a super nice notebook, I have no problem ripping out pages that don't apply anymore (old packing lists, room decor plans that have changed, and so on). I ended up filling one notebook and moving on to the second with an easy transition: keep them both in the same place and label the dates I used them on the cover. Easy enough! 

This didn't even take forever to do. Promise.

Fun fact: my idea for this post was written on a list of ideas for posts in said idea notebook, so, if that says anything.

2. A paper wall calendar (free from most churches, many workplaces, and pinterest printables) - Our wall calendar was a Christmas gift from family (Shutterfly collection of family photos throughout the year) but we have used free printables and calendars from the back of church before.

My super cute in-laws on the new family calendar :)

The calendar goes on the wall in the command center in the kitchen, in a spot that is easily accessible and readable for the two of us in the house that can read. All personal events, appointments, meetings, irregular hour work functions, and family visits go on the calendar. I like it better than using an electronic calendar because I can see with just a glance (even when the batteries are dead on my phone and computer) where everyone is each day, what events might overlap, and what is coming up for the rest of the day/week/month. Each day gets crossed off after its passed so I can see the date with just a glance instead of searching for it. Super simple, right??

Pardon my sloppy crossing-things-off and whatnot.

Bonus!: a magnetic notepad (about $2) - Our magnetic memo pad does NOT leave the fridge, unless it is to more easily write on and then it does directly back to its place. The current list of grocery needs is then in one easily-findable place. Anytime anyone says "we need more (insert food item here)," it gets immediately written down on the master fridge list. Then, when someone leaves the house (or orders groceries online to be delivered like ROYALTY), a new sheet is automatically replaced. Again, that means one master list in one place, so no worries about phone batteries dying in the grocery aisle or forgetting what comes from which store. 

**Exception to the rule: if Joel is bringing home food on his way home from work, I send him a picture of the list and once everything is accounted for, I take it down and start a fresh one.

Another bonus!!: a plain dry erase board (about $5) - I have one board for all of my daily tasks/goals I want to accomplish, with different marker colors for different things to remember. Black is for a quote or motivational phrase or verse I need to see often. Red is for medicine schedules and temps for when someone is sick. Blue, my favorite color, is my to-do list for the day.

It's not necessarily an all-encompassing list, just the basics of what I want to get done between pouring my morning coffee and turning in for the night. The more things I can break down, the more likely they'll be finished and crossed off. I like to only write down things with a concrete end point because it makes it that much more fun when I can put a big line through it on the board when the task is accomplished. You guys... it feels real good.

Yet another bonus!!!: a basic label maker ($15) - As nerdy as it is of me to say, my label maker has totally changed my life. We bought this one on our honeymoon (because we're dorks) and it spent two years being totally ignored in the back of a drawer. However, We finally busted it out when we sorted through our file cabinet and all of the files just looked so nice and uniform... I wanted to label all the things.

Then it became a fun new game: what different closet or drawer can I organize with labels?? I mean, it's one thing when you sort things out into binders or tubs, yeah, yeah, yeah. But when you're in a hurry going out the door and you need to find a two matching gloves, instead of going through the whole closet like a madwoman, there's an idiot-proofs place labeled "gloves" with exactly what you need. Doesn't that sound just heavenly? If it does, you probably could use a label maker. If it doesn't, it's probably because you already are used to the splendors of a well-labeled, organized closet because you've been labeling things for years. Good for you.

Welp, that's all I've got! What do you use to stay organized? Any tried-and-true tips for this frugal mom?


Monday, February 13, 2017

Binge-worthy & cringe-worthy ep. 2

We watch quite a bit of TV around here. I'm not ashamed of it; I try to keep a healthy balance. We watch very little when the kids are up, but when I get into a show, I really get into a show. It's a big way that I unwind, especially because it's hard to me to find the patience to read books all of the time, and even then, sometimes it's easier to follow along in the book when I can put a face to the characters (because I've already seen the movie).

Here on my thoughts on what's been on our "Recently watched" list...

Man in the High Castle: Binge-worthy (Amazon Prime)
I was a little hesitant to get started on this one, but about halfway through the pilot I was sold. The show is based on a 1960's novel about what could have happened has the Allies lost WWII. There are a few story lines going on at the same time, so it's definitely one you'll need to pay close attention to. I love the complex characters and the constant cliffhangers and surprises. Warning: it does have some pretty graphic/realistic violence, but nothing like The Walking Dead or anything like that. Still highly recommend.
You might like this if you also liked: Mad Men, Lost, Sherlock

Hart of Dixie: Cringe-worthy
...unless you're looking for something light to have on in the background. It's a typical CW show, with quirky, stereotypical characters (that all have likable qualities) and a spider web of relationships between most of the main characters. It's predictable, but entertaining and still cute. I wouldn't watch it for the quality, but it was still fun.
You might like this if you also liked: Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars

The Crown: Binge-worthy
I definitely Googled different members of the British royal family (and their staff) way more than I'd like to admit as I was working through this one. I have no idea how much is actually historically accurate or Queen Elizabeth II's thoughts on the epic, but all of the acting is amazing. This show is very raw and regal, if there's any way to put the two of those together seamlessly. My only complaint is that any time Matt Smith was on screen, I was just waiting for him to stop pretending to be the Duke and all of a sudden be the Doctor again.
You might like this if you also liked: Downton Abbey, Mad Men, The Bletchley Circle

Gilmore Girls: Year in the Life: Binge-worthy
...if you were into the original series, which is also on Netflix right now. I really enjoyed revisiting the town of Stars Hollow, but I was a little disappointed in where most of the characters were in their lives after ten whole years since the series finale. However, if you've missed the fast-talking, pop culture referencing, and homey small town drama, it's definitely worth picking up again. It made me want to revisit the whole series, which will probably take me forever at this point. 
You might like this if you also liked: Gilmore Girls, Hart of Dixie

The Bletchley Circle: Binge-worthy
Post WWII England (I've been on a kick, apparently), these brilliant women who served the Allies in secret are teaming up again and solving mysteries. I love the girl power (who can't get behind women working together and using their brains. Rock on, ladies!), I love the intricate and detailed story lines, and the style. It has a little bit of a thriller element, so if that sort of thing gets you worked up, you might not want to watch right before bed. All in all, I've already gone through it twice and I strongly recommend to whoever is in charge that the series be revived.
You might like this if you also liked: Sherlock, Law & Order, Man in the High Castle, Death Comes to Pemberly (movie)

Is it unfair of me to cross-reference shows in the same post for the "you might like this if you also liked" recommendations? It's a question I get a lot when talking TV shows and I want to give the best reference points I can. 

To check out my first list of recommendations, click here.

What has been on your watch list recently? Anything worth checking out? Let me know what you think! Happy watching! :)

Monday, February 6, 2017

And Clive makes five: a birth story

My dearest friends, it is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that I proudly present to you, our son, Clive Anthony Rauch!

We had known from the beginning that he would come via scheduled c-section at 39 weeks, so his birthday was already penciled in on our calendar a while back. There was a chance he would come early, but given he was scheduled for 39 weeks instead of 40 and I never went into labor with the girls, we knew it would be a little less likely we'd be meeting him early. Just in case, I waited to order another birthstone charm for my mother's day necklace Joel gave me last year.

In anticipation of Groundhog Day (yes, Punxatawney Phil did see his shadow predicting 6 more weeks of winter), I was determined to be as prepared as I could for the transition to having a newborn and life with three under three. I scheduled out help for the next few weeks,  planned his baptism and reception, stocked up on disposable dishes and paper products, made freezer meals, washed and stocked his clothes, cleared out the girls' room (to eventually become the shared room for all three kids), and shopped. I should probably be honest here: not all of my motivation came from my need to plan and prepare in hopes of a motherhood gold star... most of it was just because I was excited and stir crazy and nesting and couldn't stop watching the clock. I guess there's something about knowing the exact date and time of your child's birth months in advance that makes time craaaawl.

I didn't end up showing any signs of labor beyond Braxton Hicks contractions (starting about 29 weeks and never really grew painful, just annoying and uncomfortable). All in all, leading up to his cesarean was pretty uneventful, which I guess is a good thing (it just makes for a much less interesting blog post).

So let's talk about his name...

We love old-timey names of our grandparents' generation, like Arthur, Francis, Theodore, and Wyatt. We wanted something that was easy to pronounce, easy to spell, sounded good with our last name, and didn't have any obvious nicknames that weren't our taste. Bonus points for any names that are after or influenced by someone of particular importance to us, like a family member or saint. Oh, and it also couldn't be a repeat name on my side of the family, which ruled out about 70 names (no biggie, right?). Surprisingly enough, this task proved a little more difficult than we had expected.

After a few weeks of scanning baby name books, Sancta Nomina, Baby Name Wizard, and Pinterest (obviously), it still seemed like we were no where closer to agreeing on a name. Until finally, Joel had a breakthrough. He doesn't remember what inspired the train of thought, but as he was mentally sifting through names of authors, theologians, and teachers that inspired us, he remembered Clive Staples Lewis, more commonly known as C. S. Lewis. I'm assuming my initial reaction to the name was much like some of our family's when they heard. "Clive? Clive? Where did that come from? Really? Clive. Ok, maybe I could see it.... Actually, I kind of love it!" We went through our criteria it had to pass: check, check, check, check, check, check, check. Clive it is!

It was important to us to also include a family member in one way or another. We started a list of family names that we particularly liked and played around with some of those, but even that got a little tricky. On my mom's side of the family we generally don't repeat names (even though we are rapidly growing ha ha!) but on my dad's side (which is 100% Sicilian) it's a huge honor to have names repeated. Joel's family doesn't really make a huge deal about repeating names as far as I understand. It didn't take us long to figure out that both of our fathers have the middle name Anthony, which is also an Italian name, which is also the name of St. Anthony of Padua (saint of miracles, doctor of the Church, finder of lost things, patron of women who cannot conceive). In using his name, we're offering Clive a patron saint AND the legacy of carrying on his grandfathers' middle name, which we thought was pretty awesome.

During my semester studying abroad in 2009, I visited Padua and we became besties.
I might as well caption this, "Hey, can I name my firstborn son after you in 10 years? K sweet thanks."
Ok back to his birth... his surgery was pretty uneventful (except for him being born OBVIOUSLY). It was a little harder on me this time around and I was totally wiped. The anesthesia side effects were rough, so I spent most of the first 24 hours sleeping and/or on Benadryl, so it was quite the effort to keep my eyes open. All the same, our first time all together as a family of five was a joy. My heart has never been so full!!

I know this was a little short, but I wrote quite a bit about Clive before he was born (way back when we were still calling him "Ender") so here's when we realized we were pregnant and when we found out his gender.

In the mood for a trip down memory lane? Here's Celine's birth story and Monica's birth story.

Please pray for us as we take a little time to adjust to our new head count and get to know our little man. Thank you for all of the well wishes and sweet messages so far.. I haven't been able to respond to all, but we read and appreciate every single one.

And I heartily promise to share more baby pictures soon ;)

God bless!!