Organizing Tip: Little by Little

I worked at Camp Fireside for a couple of summers when I was in college.  We would sing a song that went “Little by Little every day, Little by Little in every way, Jesus is Changing me . . . ”

Ever since then it is a mantra that I have used to remind myself that most things happen just a small bit at a time.

I love being organized, but the truth is it only happens a little at a time.  And sadly the way I organize it always seems to get much worse before it gets better.  Ever since I was little I have been pulling things all out and getting into the details of things . . .

Not so this month.  I did not have time for dozens of side projects.  We have done little projects all throughout the month and I learned to be pleased with what was accomplished and just note if there was more I wanted to do later.

An example is our kitchen drawers.  Throughout the month I would notice even if they were just bit disorganized.  Here was our worst offender:

One night after dinner, I just asked Andrew if we could take a few minutes and go through this drawer.  And with his accountability, it really only to a couple of minutes to go through this drawer, editing out what we don’t use, what we rarely use (went to another spot) and what we use regularly.  Then this drawer looked like this:

It only took a couple of minutes for that drawer, but then I had to do all the drawers.  That is pretty typical of me.  But Andrew was there and kept us on track and soon all the drawers were done.  Here is our silverware drawer:

Last Organizational Trip: Little by Little – Tackle it one drawer, one corner at a time.

September is over, as is Organizational Month for us.

Next month is 40 for 40 for me . . . I don’t know how often I will post.  If you are interested in the 40 for 40, let me know.  I will post if there is interest.


Reflections on Going Green(er)

As the leaves around us begin to go from green to all different colors, the Sharpteam is coming to the end of Low Impact month.  While it was a challenge, we leave September having made less negative impact on the planet and we are taking a few lessons with us.

1.  Lesson 1: Going Green Takes Time

I found that there was a good deal more that I could recycle but had not in the past because it took time.  Throughout September I cleaned out plastic containers for yogurt and all kinds of other things and found that it took extra time.  Similarly those plastic diapers are fast and easy compared to the cloth diapers Cole is sporting now.

But somehow I found that recycling slowed me down.  It made me think more, appreciate more, and pause more.  I would be washing out my yogurt container and thinking that it would be so much faster to throw it in the trash, but then make myself think about the landfill it would enter when it does not need to.  I found I was less rushed around Cole.  We began to find a new rhythm when our days were not filled with disposables.  And we all liked it.

2.  Lesson 2: Going Green Takes Planning

We had to shift the way we do things around here.  We had to plan new systems.  Where would all of the recycling go?  What would we do with the dozens of wet dirty rags that we were using during the day instead of paper towels?  How does one switch over to cloth diapers?  We had to continuously come up with new systems together this month and it has been a shift.

The planning has been good for the Sharpteam.  We really do enjoy strategizing together.  And it was a new area of our lives that we adventured into together.  We discussed these things often and it was good to question how we were living, and it was good to choose together how we wanted to live differently.

3.  Lesson 3: Going Green Takes Commitment

Once you have said that you are going to do something, there are dozens of circumstances that seem to justify not living green.  It took commitment not to grab the paper towel or to recycle that small piece of paper.  The commitment was to something bigger, but it was also to something intangible, and there were times when I faltered.

After a month of focusing on making less impact I am definitely more conscious of all the impact we do have.  It has changed us both.  We both are committed to continuing to work to make less negative impact in the days, months and years ahead.

Adventures in Discipline

I am a pretty disciplined person . . . though as a child, I was not disciplined often. This contradiction has made me unsure of how I will navigate the stormy waters of parenthood.

I love that I grew up with parents who encouraged me, empowered me, loved me. I adore that rarely was I told that I could not do something, and that my parents trusted me to make good choices.  I want to parent like my parents did . . . I just have no idea how that applies to disciplining a one year old.

So Andrew and I are testing the waters together, and we decided to “make a rule” for Cole.

The rule is that when he is eating or drinking he needs to be sitting.  It is partly for  his well-being, he is very likely to run into walls or trip and fall when he is drinking and running around.  It is also a rule to teach him self-control and manners.  We agreed, for a toddler, it is a good idea to be seated when drinking.

Nalgene Grip ‘n Gulp

So one afternoon we decided to dive in and explain this to Cole.  We had his Nalgene bottle filled with milk, and he wanted to drink it.  We explained he would need to sit down and drink.  He thought that was rather novel, and happily obliged.  He sat, we gave him the bottle, he took a sip and then stood up to go play . . . with the bottle.

I took the bottle.

He looked at me, horrified in disbelief.

“You have to sit, Cole.”

“Milk, please!”  He said in his baby voice signing both words.

I wanted to give him the milk, he was so good, he had used his words and said please.

“Sorry, Cole, you have to sit.”

He ran away and came back.  He looked me in the eye, saw that I was not giving it to him, and proceeded to throw himself on to the ground in absolute despair.  He sobbed.

We let him.

Eventually he got up, crying.

“You have to sit, Cole.”

More crying, whimpering now, and he sits.  We give him the bottle, and silence as he drinks, downing as much as he can.

And then, he shifts on to his knees, drinking, watching our reaction.

“We sit and drink Cole . . . ”

And he is up and trying to sneak off with the bottle, and the entire drama plays out again and again for almost fifteen minutes . . . sobbing, head on the floor, crying and drinking in between when he is seated.

And then the bottle is finished, and the crying is done and he is off and playing.

In the days following there are still some tears, though more often there is sitting.

As I prepared to share this story in a devotional on discipline for our small group, I thought I would video tape him to show the group his struggle with discipline. Here is Cole and his bottle of milk . . .

Decorating a Mantel

We love having a fireplace.  Almost everyday last winter Andrew would put a fire in the fireplace in the morning.  Cole’s first months with us all began by a cozy fire.  We are anticipating another cozy winter (as Andrew posted last week).

However, my husband almost rolled his eyes when I mused that I was thinking of changing the mantel decor . . . I say almost because I am married to the most amazing man on the planet, and he is always so respectful and open to whatever ideas I throw at him.  He thought our mantel was fine.  Here is what it looked like this morning . . .

It was fine, but it was a too summery, and he could give me that.  It was time to change out the beachy hurricanes . . .

But he let me give it a try . . . I am no decorator, but we both are pretty pleased with the little changes we made and the feeling of autumn that is now in the air in the living room.

We played around with it a bit together and decided that we wanted to go with symmetrical, because we are simple and we are novices at this.  We just did a couple of groupings.

We changed the picture with a painting.  And added Cole’s rocks of blessing from this summer (we dedicated Cole and each person painted a rock with a blessing for him).

Here is our first foray into seasonal decorating.  We both love that it isn’t permanent and that we are marking a new season together in a tangible way.  We are still staying true to who we are, it is simple, balanced, and was easy to do.

This post was inspired by  Where it is linked to Fall Mantel Party

Final Week of Low Impact: Going Green(er)

Andrew and I took the month of September to try and transform our living to be a bit more green.  You can see our goals and posts here, here, and here.

This is our final week of setting goals.  We have been adding to our green lifestyle cumulatively  throughout September, so as we are deciding what we want to continue doing we have only one goal for this week.

Week Four:  Eat Sustainably

Goal: Buy Only Local Fruits and Vegetables

No Impact Man chose to Eat Locally.  All of his food had to be within a 250 mile radius . . . we were going to try that for a week, but  . . . after trying to wrap our world around that we decided to go with this one step toward that big one.

We have been learning a ton . . . and look forward to sharing our lessons and our future goals with you.  May you too have less negative impact on the world materially and more impact on it in grace and peace.

Organizing: Preparing for Hospitality

Image from Real Simple

Andrew and I want to have a home that is ready for guests to stop by.  One of the simple things that makes us both feel comfortable inviting people over at a moments notice is having beverages.  It sounds like such a little thing, but it is lovely to be able to offer people a variety of beverages, with a higher chance of us having something they will like.

Image from Country Living

One place that caused us stress in the past was after dinner.  We do not drink coffee, so we bought a little coffee maker and were never sure what to do with it . . . not very hospitable.

So this year for Christmas our present to each other was a Keurig.


Usually we give each other experiences for holidays (a trip, an adventure, something that we do together).  This was an experience we wanted to give our guests . . . a good cup of coffee.

So we always have coffee and tea options for our guests, and they have been in little mismatched baskets.

You can kinda see the tea basket above Cole in this picture . . . he is a cutie!

So this week we found some bins that we liked at The Container Store and we reorganized a bit.  Here are the results:

What would you like?  Coffee?

Or tea?

Here is how it is looking.  The cabinet is makeshift, but we are making it work.

Organizational Project: Pull together coffee and tea options.

Organizational Tip:  Think through options that you would like at someone else’s house, then expand and add some options you would not choose.  We have all kinds of soda and coffee, we don’t drink any of them, but they are not going bad, they are just waiting to be chosen.

This post is part of We’re Organized Wednesday at Organize and Decorate Everything