Treasures In Totes of Gray

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My husband is a self-proclaimed pack-rat.  There are a lot of reasons for this, and I will admit that sometimes his boxes of odds and ends do come in handy.  (Usually to make something I saw on Pinterest.)  But he definitely likes to hold on to his stuff when he gets it.  Not only that, but he loves to keep little odds and ends that remind him of people or events.  Movie ticket stubs, little rocks or pinecones from trips, and things like that.  More treasures!  More stuff!  Unfortunately, my children have started the same treasure storing habits! Every craft, piece of paper and toy becomes a treasured memory. Over time these items have started to pile up. These blessings have started to become more of a burden. When we have friends over our basement floor becomes a dumping ground for each and every treasure they have ever received.

We Have This Treasure…

This past week we went through all our “treasures” in our basement toy rooms. We are moving out of the baby stage and are starting to move into the big kid stage so the time has come to purge the remaining baby toys and move on to the foosball table and crafts. I was utterly shocked at how easy it was for the kids to sort through what stayed and what went. As we went along they got excited about slimming down the amount of stuff we had to take care of and started brainstorming different people we could pass things on to. I learned a lot from my kids that day.

Continue Reading…

Traveling Food

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Feeding the Hungry Bears

It is hard to keep kids full, especially on the road. And keeping them full on the road can be very expensive.

We just got back from a five day vacation to the Branson area. This time I thought I would try some new and creative ways to try to keep the food expenses down. The kids and I got busy and made several things to take with us.

Unfortunately the hotel we stayed in did not have a free continental breakfast so the first thing we took was our breakfast. We made egg muffins, blueberry muffins and oatmeal raisin cereal bars. We also took cereal and milk as another easy option.

Three evenings we were at a water park and didn’t want to take the time to leave to eat, so I took food that could easily be cooked in the microwave in our hotel room. One meal I warmed up already cooked taco meat and we had walking tacos. (Fritos in a single-serving bag, meat, lettuce, cheese and salsa). Just make sure you take a glass bowl or a container that you can use to warm up the meat in. Another day we had Easy Mac and hot dogs.

Two of the days we went to Silver Dollar City Amusement park and I took in food to create meals on the go. One day we ate meat, cheese and crackers, yogurts, cuties, veggies with single serving ranch dressing. This got us through lunch and dinner and allowed us to splurge a little and get some fun treats for the evening show. (Side note–don’t forget to take your water bottles or else you will have to buy a drink. We ended up buying one souvenir cup and kept refilling it with water. When I went to get a discounted refill the guy ended up given it to us for free. Gotta love a free large blue raspberry slush!!) The second day I took in a container of peanut butter and tortillas and made up “sandwiches” that didn’t get smashed throughout the day along with fruit and veggies.

For the night we camped, I took hotdogs, baked beans and chips. We also did marshmallows and Keebler Fudge striped cookie smores 🙂 For breakfast we did eggs and bacon.

The sides/snacks we took to fill in throughout the week:

  • Fruit: apples, grapes and cuties
  • Veggies: cut up multi colored peppers and cauliflower
  • Chips: can of Pringles and then snack sized variety bags of chips from Sams
  • Snacks: trail mix (peanuts, raisins and m&m), cheezits, fruit leathers, cheese sticks, yogurts, applesauce in the squeezable containers, beef jerky and slim jims.

It was so helpful to have a tupperware container and one cooler full of food to feed my growing monkeys whenever they needed food. We didn’t have to hear whining about how hungry they were. We got to eat nice relaxing meals in our hotel room without having to wait to be seated or all the work of keeping excited kids in the booth. (Going to restaurants is not really all that relaxing for us at this stage in life…it was nice to have another option for most of our meals!)  It also allowed us to give our kids healthier options full of fruits and veggies that would not have been as easily done at a restaurant.

What have you done to cut expenses and made traveling easier and healthier??

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Vacation – Keeping the Sabbath – A Lost Art 

Budgets: Eating Out/Entertainment

Budgets: Grocery Shopping

Traveling: Toys and Movies

Traveling: Snack Bags!

Traveling: Packing Clothes

Traveling: Unpacking



Goal Post

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This blog post is about goals.

I’ve often thought that if my boys go pro in the NFL, I would want them to be kickers. Great paycheck, potential for a long career, and with a low likelihood of concussion.  Pretty simple.  But I know it isn’t easy.  There is a lot of practice and a lot of pressure that goes along with that tall yellow goal post.


If you don’t have a goal, you’re just randomly kicking a ball around.  You won’t be challenged. You won’t know when you fail.  You won’t know when you succeed.  You won’t ever get any better.  A goal draws into sharp focus whether your discipline matches your passion, leaving no room for fuzzy wishes.  It gives you something concrete to strive toward.  And not only that, but goals also build on each other over time.  In 2007 one of our goals was for Hannah to learn her ABC’s.  Today she is in 3rd grade, and I’ll bet she would know her ABC’s by now, regardless of whether we set that goal or not.  But that does not mean that the goal was a waste.  The goal itself was practice.  The goals have since progressed to ‘sit and learn,’ ‘read,’ ‘overcome fear,’ and ‘gain confidence in math.’  The annual discipline of setting goals has helped us to guide her through each phase of development.  We have improved our parenting, year after year, through the setting of goals.


The second thing about a goal is that it can make all the difference.  You either kick the game-winning field goal or it goes wide right.  And sometimes this truth is just as harsh in real life.  You either save enough money for a down payment on your dream home, or you don’t.  You either invest in that new family at your church, or they feel disconnected and go elsewhere.  You either encourage your buddy to keep fighting, or he despairs and divorces.  This is real life, and achieving your goal matters!  You are on earth for a purpose, and setting goals is a great way to make sure you accomplish it.

The NFL may not be in your future, but the practice of setting goals will help you meet the pressures of this crazy life.  And now is a great time to start!

Posts You May Like:

With a website call Our Purposeful Life, you can bet that we have a lot to say about goal-setting.  Here are some of our favorite posts on the topic.

Growth and Goals

Personal Goals

Marriage and Parenting

Goals for Kids




We just got back from an awesome trip seeing college friends. I love seeing family and friends, but do not look forward to coming home and putting everything away. We travel a decent amount, and I have this packing thing down! (If I do say so myself!) I know what to take, and how much, and where to put it into a car. We have a great system in place.

However, unpacking and putting things away is another story.

In the last year I have done a better job of having the kids put their toys and books away the night that we get home, and that definitely helps the de-cluttering of the living room. My main problem now is getting the suitcases completely emptied and put away. There have been times when 2 weeks later the suitcase is still sitting in our bathroom begging for someone to take the final five things out and put it safely back into the closet.

So this trip I set out to do better. Continue Reading…

Moving: Logging Boxes

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Here is my next moving tip. Thankfully this was given to me by a friend before I packed more than two boxes!!!! Okay, I admit this is really type-A, but it has been a life saver!!!!!!

I ended up doing this just on paper instead of taking the time to put it into an excel spreadsheet.

This is what I did to make me not completely lose my mind and make it so much easier to unpack my house; I color-coded, numbered and logged every box that I packed. Don’t be scared – it is much easier than you would think, and it really didn’t add any time to the packing process. But let me tell you, it has saved me so much time on the unloading and unpacking side!! Let me explain…

Each room of the house was assigned a different color. The Kitchen was orange, the Girl’s room pink, the Basement lime green, the Office black and so on. It doesn’t matter what color you choose for each room – just that you use different colors for each.

Then I started with the number one and packed up until 133. After that, things just got thrown into a box and taken to the new house to be quickly unpacked. (On the last two days, some of the rules just had to be relaxed  🙂 )


On my sheet of paper I listed the number, the room and a brief description of what was in the box. Some examples are:

7- Office: Pharmacy Books, State Books, Preschool Sunday School Books

17-Basement: Easy Bake, Choc. Fondue pot, Bread Machine, Cupcake stand

42-Basement: Puzzles, Bug catching stuff, Jake’s Books

109- Girls Room: Books and stuffed animals

129- Kitchen: silverware, plates, knives

Once the bag was packed and sealed, I then took a notecard and wrote the number and room in the appropriate color and taped it to the side of the box. This was so important for five reasons:

  1. When you accidentally pack a library book or a book your husband needed to write a post, you can check your handy dandy list and find the correct box with only two tries instead of ten.
  2. When you are moving and you have a group of 11 awesome guys helping you unpack the truck, they can quickly read the room name on the box and take it to the correct room in your house instead of dumping it all in a random pile in your living room. (FYI- 11 guys were able to load and unload our U-Haul in 2.5 hours)


3. When you are unpacking and organizing your room space and need to find that one thing that you were going to put in this room, you can quickly check your list and open the correct box.

4. When you are trying to decide where to begin to unpack, you can look at the list and know what is inside each box and decide if you are up for tackling those items before removing the tape.

5. When you are able to quickly know the location of any item in your house, it lessens the anxiety and frustration you can so easily feel when your house is in chaos. I just wished we would have boxed up our coats so that we could find them 🙂

On Move Day, I wrote the name of the room on a 5×7 card in the appropriate color, and then I taped the card to the outside of the room.  We had a bunch of friends helping us move, and these cards helped the guys  know what room was  without me walking throughout the house the whole time.


I also wrote the name of large pieces of furniture (desk, piano, bookshelf etc) on a card and taped them to the wall behind where I would like that item placed. This way the heavy furniture got placed in its exact location the first time and I didn’t have to try and move it later.


By the grace of God and with the help of lots of friends, we felt like our move was a success.  Still stressful, but much better than it could have been if we hadn’t been so organized.

Feel free to share this idea with anyone that you know is moving.  And we and our readers would love to know – what tips do you have for packing boxes and making a successful move??



Moving: Pre-planning

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Today I am going to make it “blog official” that we are in the process of moving. For the last month I have been sorting, packing, and throwing away all our stuff. It is amazing to me how much stuff six people can accumulate!! Packing a 4 bedroom house is overwhelming, but it can be done. Here are a few tips that I have learned while going through this process. Hopefully a few of them can help you de-clutter your house or help your moving process go smoother.

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Organization: 5S

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Clean Garage

Today’s post is a brief introduction to a “sophisticated” business strategy that is probably something that your mother taught you when you were 5 years old.

5 S is a strategy taken from Toyota, which famously rose from mediocrity to worldwide fame.  Their leadership practices contributed to their achievement of such success, so for a while it seemed like no business meeting would be complete without someone saying Kaizen or Kanban or Go to the Gemba.  Many books and consultant sessions have been sold as a result!  One of the practices in these books is a methodical way of organizing your workplace to improve your efficiency.  They break down this process into 5 steps, which conveniently start with the letter S, both in the original Japanese and in the English translation.  Keep in mind that this was designed for factory work with many employees, so it may not neatly fit into your work or your personal life.  However, I think the general principles can provide a helpful framework for how to think about any processes you carry out routinely. Continue Reading…

Traveling: Toys and Movies


Traveling with kids can either be wonderful or extremely painful. Really, it could go either way, and unfortunately it is not always in your hands to decide the outcome. However there a few tricks you can have up your sleeve to help steer the trip in the right direction.

These are 4 guidelines we try to follow when we travel.

1.)     Make car trips the one time that all food rules get left at home. See our post on snack bags last week for more details. If I plan ahead, I also try to pack a meal to eat on the road. This allows us to not take the time to stop and eat especially if we are leaving close to a meal time. Even if you pack all the sides and just have to stop for the main dish (sandwich) you will save yourself time and money!

2.)    Make car trips the one time that all movie watching rules go out the window. (not types of movie rules but quantity) Make some of the movies spiritual or educational to mix in with the fun movies. Don’t forget the library has a lot of free DVD’s to rent or I am sure you have a friend you can borrow a “new” one from. Books on tape are also a great option instead of DVD’s. We have a rule that for the first hour of our trip you have to play and read. If that is done without complaining then we will watch a movie. If there is a lot of arguing and complaining during a movie then it is shut off and they are to play with their other toys. Each kid gets to pick 2-3 movies to take with us depending on the length of the trip and we rotate who gets to pick the next movie. We never get through all the movies, but on our 900 mile Thanksgiving and Christmas trips we get close.

3.)    When you stop, make it count. Continue Reading…

Traveling-Snack Bags


Figuring out what do to about snacks on trips has been one of the best headache savers yet! Between the four kids we get asked for food about every 30 seconds, I mean minutes. (It definitely seems like every 30 seconds!) I can handle maybe 2 asks on a good day but by the 6th time I have a hard time not getting annoyed. You also have the frustration of which snack we are going to open and passing them around the car without something getting spilled. This year I came up with the perfect solution for us. Individual snack bags. I get a gallon storage bag for each kid and write their name on it. Sometimes I made two per kid, one for the trip to and one for the trip home. Then I get all our snacks out and split them up between the bags. If they are not already individually wrapped, I put them into snack bags.

Putting crackers in Snack Bags

Putting crackers in Snack Bags

Continue Reading…

Traveling-Packing Clothes


Since the holidays are approaching we thought we would share some of our traveling tips that we have picked up over the years.  We have not lived in the same town as our families since we have been married. Therefore, most major holidays, some minor holidays, and a few weekends in between we are on the road. Thankfully our kids are wonderful travelers! They have been doing it since birth and so it is a normal part of their lives.

Little by little I have been working on making our packing and traveling go more smoothly. Since we do it about every month to month and a half I want it to be quick and efficient. Of course, my husband reminds me that there is a Walmart in all the locations that we frequent, but it just kills me to buy something that I know I have 6 of at home! The one time I didn’t feel bad was when I had to buy long sleeve shirts and pants for my girls for a July balloon festival that end up being abnormally cold. Who would have guessed a cold front would come through in the middle of the summer?

So that was an exception, but to prevent me from forgetting simple things like underwear and toothpaste… Continue Reading…

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