Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why I don't cry on the first day of school

Our school was the last in the area to begin school this year. Part of me felt like the the last week of summer lasted FOREVER and I wondered if I was going to survive (I might still not, pre-k doesn't start for another week). But part of me got all super nostalgic and I wanted to cram in everything we didn't do over the summer into four days. I resisted. I realized we'd done enough and my children's summer memories were already made.

One other thing I noticed this year was the amount of tears from Mamas all over the country as their precious babes returned to the hallowed halls of school buildings all over. Granted these are Facebook and Instagram tears, so the figures may be skewed. I thought about the motivation behind these tears. Was it tears of regret, time passing too quickly, sheer happiness of a returned schedule? I hugged a crying mama at the bus stop this morning sending off our first graders (I know this mama, she's not just a stranger at the bus stop) but also felt a little guilty, I have no tears. I kinda just want to do a little happy dance!

It's the first day of school! There's new pencils and notebooks and new teachers and friends. There's the smell of new books! There's the joy of making it to another mile marker in the road of life without any trips to the emergency room and so many memories were made!

I decided that me not crying showed a couple of things about me.

One. I love school! I love that my overly social and extroverted little kids can have 7 hours of asking someone else questions. I find a huge value in our public school system and choose to show my kids that school and education and all the things that entails are something to be excited about and hunger for instead of sad about. Being a teacher at heart, I still get excited when the school supplies show up in the Target aisles and still have dreams (sometimes nightmares) about being in the classroom.

Two. I'm not overly sentimental. About my kids anyway. I get super sentimental about old movies, and babies, and smells that remind me of something. But not my kids. I love them with a fierce and enduring kind of love, but their baby scrapbooks may never be finished. 

Three. I value the time I have with my kids so much more when we have time apart and I love them having their own little experiences and interests. I'm the kind that needs to miss something a little to value it all the more. I love hearing their little stories and watching my little people become big people in this world.

Now comes all my disclaimers. Crying on your kids first day of school is not terrible, horrible, or make you a bad mama. :) Also, I haven't cried yet, but I'm leaving myself the grace to change my opinion at any time.... isn't that what being a mama and doing all this parenting stuff is all about?

All that being said, here's the obligatory first day of school picture. It was promptly followed by a sprint to the bus stop because the bus was FIVE minutes EARLY on the first day. Seriously. FIVE.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Organizing You - Not just a book review, but a heart review

I have a friends list on Facebook full of weird acquaintances. Unless you are diligent about unfriending people, then you probably do as well.

I have a friend, Megan, that I went to high school with. We were in orchestra together and had overlapping friend circles (imagine a Vinn Diagram here, it's high school). I believe she was a year ahead of me (but maybe two). Now, I love our Facebook interactions, we possibly know each other better through our posts on facebook than we did in high school. Her family seems like one that I would totally want to hang out with, her kids are adorable, and she just remodeled her kitchen. I love Facebook for it's ability to have relationships with those who we normally would not.

Megan still lives nearish to where we grew up (much closer than I) and belongs to a MOPS group. She contacted me about a friend who is a speaker and writer and connected me with her.

Reading Shannon Upton's book Organizing You: Finding Your Spiritual Clutter and Using Organization to Clear It Out started as more of a preview to see if the MOPS Mamas in my group might be interested. I honestly didn't expect to get much out of it. I'm an organizing junkie. I mean I've got Pinterest boards with all kinds of ideas and life hacks. I've got bins in all my cupboards and most of them are labeled, I dearly love my day planner and use it daily. I've got a messy counter here or a secret drawer there, but who doesn't. But yearly, when planning our meetings, my MOPS leadership team clamors for more organizing tips and tricks.

I didn't realize what this book would do for me. Shannon doesn't give you tips to keep your desk top cleared, but instead uses a Biblical framework to attack the clutter in our hearts and minds and souls. And really if we are focused on the inside, the outside just tends to follow suit, in my opinion.

And then I suddenly got the title.... Organizing YOU. Ah! I get it.

Shannon uses old school organization techniques to help clear and process the millions of things that go through our Mama brains at any second and gives them a place and a purpose and commits them to action. She gives multiple ways to do this and shares her whole strategy.

Here's what I love.  I was able to easily incorporate what I know works in my life and finish off what was already working to clear the rest of the clutter from my head and heart and allow me the freedom to plan to get things done.

One way she does this is through organizing days of the week into types of tasks. Assigning days like with pioneer times (Little House reference!) with modern applications. Adam just wishes that I'd scheduled a Baking Day like Ma did back on the prairie. For instance, I'm writing this on Monday because Monday is my correspondence day. I'll be blogging this morning, responding to emails, cleaning out my Dropbox, writing bills, sending thank you notes, planning my Sunday school lesson. Correspondence.

Normally one or two of those things would get done a day, but this way I can sit down, get it all out, and knock it out, not fret about it all week and cram in a bit of Sunday school planning late Saturday night (or to be more honest during breakfast on Sunday). I've planned it out, I knew it would be sitting here Monday morning, and my anxious heart has been calm about it.

All in all, Shannon is intentional about assigning tasks and time. To borrow a Dave Ramsey idea, she takes her time and tasks and assigns it a place and a name. It's the little tweak I needed to give me a little more guidelines for this school year. But her focus is to do what's important to our faith, our souls, our responsibilities as Christians.

Shannon's got more tricks up her sleeve, but I'll leave that to the book. What I truly appreciate about this is that Shannon is not a writer. She has a clear and distinctive voice, but she's not trained in writing. She's a mom.. She's got a wonderful idea. She's passionate about what she does and wants us all to be better JesusMoms. And it shows.

Here are some of Shannon's ideas being put to use. Along with my to do lists. Don't look too closely, you might faint.