I blinked and it is over! And you know what that means....time to turn in your points. If you are new to Home Sanctuary, you'll quickly find that I believe in small successes, daily progress, and playing games. Honestly, sometimes these things are the only ways I can motivate myself off the couch and into action. Have I mentioned how much I love naps?
Small Successes ~ Daily Progress ~ Playing Games
How I Roll.
And to this end, each month I give you a chance to earn "points" by participating in the daily Small Things. At the end of the month (today) I ask you to tally up your points and send in your totals for a chance to win a wonderful prize.
This month, the Most Points Winner will get to spend $50.00 on Premier Designs Jewelry. As a bona-fide cheapskate and sacrificial martyr who rarely spends any money on such frivolity for myself, I am EXTRA excited about this! I know you'll feel like a princess when you get to pick something like this:
Go check out the website to see all the gorgeous pieces to choose from. Premier Designs
Now, everyone who participates at least once this month will be eligible for a Random Drawing prize....no point tallies needed.
The February Random Drawing winner will receive a bracelet from me - via Premier Designs jewelry! I'll ante up and order one as a gift for you - a personal "thank you" for participating. So, not only will you be creating sanctuary, you'll look fabulous doing it. ;)
So here's how this goes down:
This is an easy two-step task:
1. Send me an email (rachelanne (@) homesanctuary.com) with either your Point Total, or your Random Drawing entry. I love seeing photos of your completed Tally Sheets if you want to include them, but it's not required.
2. Leave a comment, letting us know which was your favorite Small Thing this month! This encourages our fence-sitting Company Girls to go ahead and jump in for next month and it's just FUN to see which tasks you enjoyed!
POINTS: 40 for doing the two-step Small Thing, good towards Feb. total. You will have until midnight Friday (Mar. 1) to get your emails to me and comments posted. I'll announce the winners on Monday, along with new prizes and a new Tally Sheet!
Since we've been in the kitchen this week, let's keep it going....
There's one appliance in your home that's just cooler than the rest. With an air of indifference and the ability to compartmentalize his feelings, he stands tall, yet slightly square, in the world of electric household devices. He lights up as he opens his arms to new friendships, and he gladly takes whatever is given to him. His crisp drawers and his slick exterior give you the impression that he's cold hearted, but the truth is coiled up where no one can really see what really makes him run. He'd give all the condiments in the world to let you know how much he appreciates being right in the middle of your family life, tirelessly serving in that aloof manner you've come to love.
Of course, I'm speaking of your refrigerator. THAT guy.
I was talking on the phone in my kitchen yesterday, and my eyes wandered over to that strong, silent appliance I'm so dependent upon. He's a white boy, but in his soul I do believe he'd rather be an appliance "of color." Stainless steel would be his first choice because it's just so....cool, but I think he's rather jealous of my Harvest Gold oven because of its 60's James Dean aura. But he doesn't let it get him down, he just keeps humming along, hanging out with the milk jugs and slick butter sticks. He's a good influence on the fruit and vegetables and really keeps them from going bad. I appreciate that because there's nothing worse than a bad apple to spoil the whole bunch.
You've got to hand it to a guy who takes abuse all day long and then lets children decorate him with neon letters without complaining. The grocery lists and photos of family friends that hang off his face cause him some embarrassment, but he's pretty proud of the children's artwork that he gets to hold. He just wishes you'd respect him enough to remove the old magnetic calendars from 2004 and give his shoulders and head a good rub down every now and then.
But he'd never tell you that, because he's too cool.
Today's Small Thing is to tidy up the outside of your refrigerator.
If you have photos that are curled up and falling off, maybe there is another place to display them. I personally like a clean cut look on my guy, but I know that some of you prefer the rugged look that only a couple dozen magnets can give. Regardless of your fridge's fashion preference, spruce up his look by giving him a nice wipe down with a damp cloth, paying attention to the handles and top. Since I'm too short to see the mess that collects up top, that's an area I forget to clean.
POINTS: 50 for giving your fridge's outside a good cleaning...but don't expect a big show of gratitude in return. Cool gadgets like refrigerators don't wear their hearts on their sleeves. They'll just stand a little taller and act like they don't care. But they do. Oh, they do.
Have you been playing along and collecting "points" for participating this month? Get ready, 'cause tomorrow, we'll be turning in your totals for a chance to win a $50.00 gift certificate to Premier Jewelry!
Cathy Helms, one of our Company Girls, is a Jeweler with Premier, an amazing company which provides opportunities for women to have their own successful businesses. Cathy is our sponsor this month!
If you would like to earn great income by becoming part of Premier, contact Cathy Helms directly at cathyhelms41 (@) gmail.com. As a mom of 6, she loves sharing this opportunity with other women, and can give you all the info you need. In just a couple of evenings a week, you can have a significant income - and she can help you get started! This just might be the answer to your prayers.
Yesterday's task might have been a little overwhelming. Maybe by the time you got done reading all about Minimum Maintenance you were too tired to put it into practice. I've been there...and I'm STILL there many days. Hang in there, don't get discouraged....today's Small Thing is super easy and I promise...your heart will go on.
You know, some days you just wake up with that sinking feeling that you are drowning in a sea of flotsam. Oh, the wreckage! I had a busy work week last week and I keep looking at the same items that seem to move from one spot to another...never really getting put away or cleaned properly. Where are the little faeries that are supposed to magically help me? I'm heartily disappointed to find they've apparently jumped ship.
But Company Girls are survivors! We just keep going, don't we? I really like that about our little group of friends :)
I think the thing that keeps our spirits buoyed is realizing that good things can happen if we just keep after them. We've found that one small thing can lead to another, just like one kindness leads to another kindness. And before you know it, we're awash with positive things happening all around us. I really live for that, don't you?
Today's Small Thing is to fight the sea of despair by simply scouring your kitchen sink.
Since we already spend a bunch of time in the scullery, this easy task is one that always feels super great when it's done. I hate to think of the germs that live in my sink, just biding their time for the dishes to come and soak in their smarmy ooze. But not today, I tell ye! Today my dishes will descend into the depths of sudsy cleanliness.
POINTS: 40 easy ones for a quick scrub of the kitchen sink. It's like catching the last life raft to sanity.
What's your favorite cleaning method/product for the sink? Mine is to use LIQUID TOILET BOWL CLEANER on my porcelain sink. IThink about it: if it's good for ONE porcelain bowl, it works wonders on the other!
Today's Post is one I wrote long ago and I linked to it as recently as January. But I'm bringing it to the forefront again because we have so many new Company Girls each week...and I want to keep reminding all of us that Sanctuary is possible in really, really small consistent steps.
If you're mired in chaos and on the verge of a meltdown due to the state of your home, this is the post for you. Come now, dry your eyes and read on:
First, you are in good company. Millions of smart, capable and attractive people struggle with creating order in their homes. Lack of organization does not mean that you are less intelligent orless worthy than those whose homes seem spotless at any given moment. Let's just say that we ALL have our issues.
Organizationally Challenged people are often perfectionists, needing the right containers, proper storage and ample time to put things in order. When none of these planets align, they cannot complete the tasks at hand. I fall into this category.
Messy people are often "People" People. Our social obligations and personal desire to meet the needs of others outweigh the need to clean. If someone needs a shoulder to cry on, this is the person for the job because organizing can always wait.
We are savers. We want to hold on to precious memories of our children, so we keep burp cloths and broken toys, and every scribbled picture and craft they ever made. We keep old Halloween costumes and Christmas outfits, just because they were soooo adorable in them. We hang on to Grandma's baking pans and Aunt Martha's sewing machine because we are keepers of the family mementos. But all that stuff can keep you from enjoying life when it starts suffocating you.
We are busy. Family activities are important, but they can wreak havoc on household management.
OK, we have some bad habits. We think of our homes as a place to "relax and hang out," like when we were kids. We let things go so long that it seems impossible to even begin. We see housework as drudgery.
And maybe we lack focus. We start cleaning one thing, see something else that needs our attention, and before you know it, the original item is long forgotten.
Sometimes we simply see housekeeping as not worth the effort. It will just get messy again, so why bother? Besides, there are so many more important and interesting things to do, it is hard to take the time to do such boring, menial tasks.
There can be scores of reasons that your house gets out of control, but the result is almost always the same. Disorder affects your family's ability to function, it brings friction to your relationships, and robs your family of peace.
If it's any comfort, most people struggle in this area to some degree. But we Company Girls want to be free of this, and that's why we're here!
So where do we start??
Today, we'll start with a prayer. If you are like me, you might be sick of bringing the same "GOD HELP ME!" prayer to Him, but we need to realize that He really does care about us. He wants us to come a million times to Him, if that's what it takes, because He knows that dependence on Him is a good thing. He WILL help you. He wants you to have peace and joy in your home.
Next, institute Minimum Maintenance. Minimum Maintenance is the simple idea that:
There is a minimum amount of effort that goes into each day to make it work.
It's not a LOT of effort, but it IS effort. I'm really liking the word "minimum" right about now, how about you?
I've talked about this before, but we could all stand to review it regularly because it's easy to forget.
Take a few minutes to read about it, and then get out a timer. It is important to keep your activity swift, short and consistent. Don't hyperventilate: Did you notice the word "short?"
What I'm telling you is this: In about 20 minutes a day, you can have your house whipped into shape. If you have able-bodied helpers around, you can actually divide and conquer, cutting your MM time down even further. Now, I'm not talking about a germ-free level of clean here. This is just NICE. TIDY. GOOD. I can live with that!
When staring at a full-blown explosion in every.single.room. of your house, I realize that the first few times might take a little longer than 5 minutes per room. But here is my challenge:
Today's Small Thing is to see how much you can get done in 5 minutes.
Make a game out of setting a timer, and move like you've got a fire lit under your butt feet to straighten/put away/remove/and tidy.
THAT'S IT! Once things are tidy, it is SO MUCH EASIER to keep it nice.
POINTS: 50 for doing a 5 minute blitz in one room
BONUS POINTS: 30 for simply reading the posts about Minimum Maintenance
BONUS BONUS POINTS: 40 for doing a 5 minute blitz in at least one other room.
Wow, Rachel Anne! That's 120 points for about 15 minutes worth of effort!
I know. But this is the 15 minutes that's gonna rock your world!
Have you started implementing Minimum Maintenance in your home? Do you get your kids to pitch in for daily "5 Minute Blitzes?" Tell me how this is working for you.
This weekend, I'll be going to Lifeway's dotMOM2013 conference in Frisco, TX! I'm excited to hear the lineup of speakers (especially my friend Priscilla Shirer) and attend the breakout sessions that are planned for Saturday. I had a last-minute opportunity to register (surprise gift from a friend) and I'm feeling a little giddy at the prospect. I don't attend many conferences and retreats, but when I do I always feel refreshed and energized for "real life." Perhaps just getting away and getting poured INTO is just what my soul is thirsting for.
Anything "MOM" is right in my wheelhouse...so this conference should be great! If you are, by any chance, going to be there as well, MESSAGE me on twitter (@RachelAnneRidge) or email me and let's meet up!! I'd love to hug your neck!
Now, how 'bout an easy and satisfying Small Thing?
A few years ago I learned a very valuable lesson. My son was helping with a big fundraiser for camp - a church-wide garage sale, and it was the night that everyone dropped off their stuff while the kids unloaded and got everything set up. Just before we were about to leave the house to head for church, I thought I should take a look at the informational flyer that was sent home with the kids.
To earn camp money,
Each kid was required to work 4 hours over the weekend. Check.
Each kid was required to bring 4 large trash bags full of donated items for the sale. No check.
I shoulda read the fine print earlier! I didn't know about that part.
Normally, it would not be a problem to come up with 4 big old bags of stuff to get rid of. But I'd been trying real hard to declutter, and I'd just donated a ton of stuff to a local charity not long ago.
I grabbed 4 bags and headed upstairs to the closets. I checked my watch. Only 15 Minutes before departure? I'll never be able to do this.
Imagine my complete surprise to EASILY, EASILY fill three bags before running out the door! The fourth bag would have to wait until later, but after seeing how fast the first three went, I knew I could do it.
Today's Small Thing is to take ONE trash bag and fill it up with either TRASH or STUFF to donate.
I am living proof that it can be done very quickly...and without tears, I might add. Perhaps the ticking clock helped me fight sentimentality as I stuffed the outgrown clothes into the bags, so you might want to consider limiting your time to about 10 minutes. Don't, I beg you, DON'T spend too much time on this!
POINTS: 40 for filling one (13 gal) kitchen bag Aw, why not get some BONUS POINTS? 20 each for filling two more bags
You could earn 80 points today, just for saying bye-bye-bye to some of your junk!!
Link up for some coffee time love with girlfriends! I'm using a new linky that allows you to upload a photo thumbnail, but don't let that intimidate you. Just follow the directions and post away. Have a great weekend, sweet Company Girls!
One of the biggest challenges I face when writing a motivational blog that rewards specific, measurable tasks at home, is that so much of motherhood - and life - is filled with things that cannot ever really be measured.
I know, we're all trying to get organized and find important papers and open the refrigerator door without fear, but in the big scheme of life those things are barely even significant. Not when you compare them to the ways we should love one another, how we should speak to each other, and make room for each other's faults and celebrate small moments of beauty. Or how we should trust God in the midst of trials, or model good character to our kids day in and day out.
Do you know what I'm saying?
How can you ever measure the importance of letting cleaning wait so you can gaze into your baby's eyes and stroke her tiny fingers as you feed her?
You could you never put a number on the patience it takes to listen to a nine-year old tell you a story that appears to have no end...and no point. And yet you smile and nod and notice how his freckles are so darn cute and his smile is just a little lopsided.
You certainly can't put a price tag on staying up late with your teenager to eat popcorn in the kitchen and talk about boys and hairstyles, and you couldn't ever know the value of just one more bedtime story or a kiss on a forehead or that look you give your child that says, "that just about enough out of you, sir."
No one gives you points for the things moms do to smooth squabbles, feed tummies or wipe bottoms to the best of your ability. Checking behind ears for dirt, playing This Little Piggy, doling out discipline and forever wondering if you're doing a good enough job...not one task can be measured because each child, each circumstance, each day is different and requires every last ounce of a mom's best energy and attention. And don't even mention watching clouds and chasing fireflies and finding rainbows....they'll never get checked off anyone's list, but they're some of the moments that truly matter - and only come when you're willing to drop your To Do's to catch them.
The truth is, although our lists fill our days with busy tasks, it's the things that rarely make our lists that make life sweet and good. It's when we look up from our phone apps and emails and measurable tasks and see the little people (and big people) who need us to BE with them in the moment, fully present and engaged, that everything comes into clear focus.
The things that can't be measured are worth our very best efforts, our highest goals and our strongest pursuits.
Love and faith and grace should be the whole point of all our other tasks - that perhaps in reprioritizing them we will leave room for the immeasurable joy that comes when we're simply...available.
Looking for the moments that connect us to each other and with God.
Today's Small Thing is to do something that can't be measured or checked off a list.
Hold a hand in the car on the way to where you're late to, sprawl across your child's bed and whisper in the dark, or look - really look - at your son or daughter as they speak. It doesn't matter what. You choose. You grab hold of the moment. You give it the attention it deserves.
Intangible, immeasurable, uncountable, unfathomable. Today, let love and grace fill in the spaces your To Do list cannot possibly reach...and simply enjoy what comes.
POINTS: 50 - because in real life you never get points for doing the immeasurable.
One of my favorite games to play on a rainy afternoon or during a long car trip is "Would You Rather?" It's a great conversation starter and a fun way to use your imaginations. Mostly, we made up our own "would you rather" questions, but there are hundreds of them online that make the game really fun. Here are five I picked randomly, just for example:
1. Would you rather drink a bowl full of gravy or have a large spider caught in your hair?
2. Would you rather write a best-selling novel or be an expert at picking stocks?
3.Would you rather have the details of your romantic life be made into a hit sit-com or have every one you meet know your personal finances?
4. Would you rather be able to fly or turn invisible?
5. Would you rather go 30 days without refined sugar or 90 days without caffeine?
Today's Small Thing is to choose your own tasks by playing "Would You Rather?" by selecting from four questions:
1. Would you rather dust your living room while walking like a chicken, or cluck like a chicken while folding laundry?
2.Would you rather do the dishes while singing the theme song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, or sweep the floor while singing "Just a Spoonful of Medicine?"
3. Would you rather sweep your front porch in heels and pearls, or wear an apron all day long?
4. Would you rather do the Hokey Pokey for no reason at all, or do some version of the Electric Slide while picking up in one room?
OK, here are the rules. You can pick one task from each question for 50 points each. You don't have to do all four...you can do only one task from one question if you like, but to earn the points you got to honestly DO one of the choices.
You could earn up to 200 points today....just for playing a game.
Say, sly mama! Get your kids or spouse to help you earn them - as long as SOMEONE in your household picks one "Would You Rather" task from any or all of questions. :)
So, let's play! First....what are your answers to the first five questions? And...want to share which tasks will you take on from the final four? Finally, do you want to pose your own "would you rather questions" in the comments and see who will answer? C'mon! I'll play.
I have a pretty simple Hoover Wind Tunnel - the bagless kind. Well, the belt broke several weeks ago and I kept forgetting to order a new one....so I didn't vacuum in the entire month of January!
Or the first. two. weeks. of. February.
Now that I really think about it, that gives me the creeps. Gross.
(Thankfully, we are dogless right now, or it REALLY would have been gross.)
The belt finally arrived in the mail and yesterday I went to town on the carpet. I went over every square inch of this old barnhouse I absolutely could NOT BELIEVE how much dust and dirt came up! I emptied the canister and cleaned the filters several times until everything was clean. No wonder our allergies have been off the chart!
Our Small Thing today really sucks. Now, correct me if I'm wrong but do I think it's been awhile since we've taken out the vacuum as one of our tasks and yes, and that truly DOES suck.... doesn't it? We should be getting Company Girl credit for easy things that need to be done regularly! What have I been thinking??
Today's Small Thing is to vacuum one room.
See, sometimes I put off vacuuming a room like the living room, because I feel obligated to do the entire house. But nothing could be further from the truth. Vacuuming ONE room is perfectly acceptable and even DESIRABLE, because it means that you pay attention to the details. It means that you don't mind getting in there are doing a "quick run through" to make things nice.
POINTS: 40 for vacuuming one little room.
How about you? Do you put off doing sucky things because you think it will be too hard? A task, an errand, an apology? Once you decide to do it, it's usually much easier than you think it will be.....and ALWAYS worth it in the end.
I love Downton Abbey. The costumes, the setting, the writing, the characters....and even the heartbreak. Every episode is a feast for the eyes and is brilliantly, beautifully done. OK, I'm upset about the ending of this season...but I doubt I'll let that disappointment keep me from tuning in for season 4. I can't help it.
Have you noticed? Meals and taking tea are big players in the lifestyle of the aristocracy, but even those in service, who eat in the kitchen, have a sense of proper manners. Just look at this table!
Setting a proper table seems to be a bygone art. I'll be first to admit that I've relaxed my own standards over the years and most nights dinner is a "dish up at the counter and grab your own fork" event. When my kids were school age, I was so much better about having them set out silverware and plates - the way I was raised to do it (thanks, mom!) By the time sports and school events invaded our lives, we didn't sit down together - at a set table- nearly as often as I would have liked.
Can you relate?
Today's Small Thing is to pick one night this week to set a proper table and eat your meal together.
You don't have to do this tonight....any night this week will do....but just once, set out the silverware, plates and napkins and enjoy a Downton inspired dinner.
Even if it's pizza.
Here is a lovely little guide for "Thanksgiving Dinner" place settings. You probably won't need all those forks and glasses...but this "informal" style below is what you should aim for.
POINTS: 50 for setting the table and eating a "sit-down" meal together.
Do you regularly set the table for meals? Is this something you can do this week? I encourage you to teach your children how to set a proper table - and how to have the kind of manners a proper table should inspire!
Yes, but it's Friday and I'm feel like having a points party, whadaya say? Hop, Skip and Jump your way to joy with me.
I'd LOVE to know: what are you hopping to, what are you skipping, and what activity will you employ for jumping?
Now, if anyone would like to share a cup of virtual coffee, feel free to link up below! I only made it to a couple of blogs last week and I hope to do much better THIS week! I know you'll love getting to know these awesome ladies.
I'm trying a "thumbnail" version of the linky tool today....let me know if it works and how you like it!