Oct 222011

Note: This is the last of the Q&A posts. Whew! You guys had a lot of questions!

On Downshifting, and Debt Freedom

Our family is in serious need of downshifting and I would like to get your advice on where to start when the list of things to be done (to get organized/downshift) is overwhelming? I look forward to your reply and welcome any advice you may have.

It can certainly seem overwhelming, I know, but the best place to start is with a written, detailed plan. We wrote down our goals for the future, and we also made a list of all of our debts, from the highest interest rate to the lowest. It was pretty daunting to see how much we owed (well over a half million dollars), but we knew that we couldn’t live in denial either. We started selling stuff, and applying the proceeds to our debt, while I studied ways to live more frugally. Once the debt level started decreasing, and all the excess stuff began to disappear, we felt calmer and happier. A huge burden was lifted, and it was easier to keep going.

I’m going through the process of becoming debt-free, also a SAHM, and feeling like it’s never going to end! Any helpful advice for keeping my sanity?

It’s so exhausting sometimes, isn’t it? It took us seven years to get rid of all of our stuff, and dig ourselves out of debt, and I know that feeling of wanting to give up. But keep your eye on the prize! Think of how great you’ll feel when you’re free from the chains of debt! It may help to have a mantra. I particularly like this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“A man in debt is so far a slave.”

On Organization, and the Home Management Guide

I just wanted to know if you could get more detailed about what you put in the different categories. Like, for marriage, what do you put in there? Same with for the kids sections? Health and wellness?

I intentionally don’t go into great detail about the contents of each section of the HMG, because my goal is to give you a general idea of how to design an individual, personalized reference for your family. However, since you asked specifically, here is a list of what I keep in these particular sections:

– a list of scripture verses about marriage
– a copy of a couple’s Bible study that I did with my husband
– a love letter from my husband that always cheers me up when I’m down

-copies of social security cards and birth certificates
-immunization records
-growth charts
-vaccine information

Health and wellness
-Articles about exercise and diet
-Information about my personal health and medications
-My personal fitness database, where I record my weight and measurements, calories consumed, amount of exercise, etc.

I was wondering if you could talk about refrigerator organization. (Maybe you have a post on this, and I’ve missed it. I know you have one of freezer organizing.) Do you have a set day you clean out your frig every week? Do you have a ‘leftover’ shelf? I’m always struggling with keeping my refrigerator organized! Thanks!

I’ve never written a post on this subject, but it’s a good idea! I actually only clean out my fridge about twice a month, before I go grocery shopping, so that I have room for new stuff. I don’t have a designated shelf for leftovers, but I’m extremely diligent about using them up (see How To Be a Leftover Magician). I try to put them right in front, on the top shelf, so that I’m sure to see them.

I started to create a filing system after going through your post. But I wanted to know what sort of documents you put under the categories. Are they just bills or invoices that have been paid off or some other documents as well. For e.g. What shall I put in the utilities category…I am asking this because when I went through your finance section you have a seperate file to put all your bills.

I do have a separate file for unpaid bills, and once they’re paid, I file the invoices in the appropriate files. So, for example, when I pay our electric bill, the paid invoice gets filed under “Utilities: Electric.” In this file, I also keep any other paperwork from our utility company, such as the personal electric usage report they send us every year. It’s important to note, however, that part of the reason why I keep such careful records is because we operate a home-based business, and I’m required to keep documentation of expenses to substantiate deductions on our tax return. If you aren’t in this situation, you may not wish to keep as much paper. For more information, please see Your Important Papers: What to Keep and Where.

On Blogging

What advise do you have for starting out a blog “right”? What makes a blog a success and how do you go about getting readers?
I’ve written several posts on this subject that may answer your questions:

How I Became a Blogger
12 Tips for New Bloggers

I am a professional organizer and I am giving a talk to a MOPS (Mothers of Pre-schoolers) group and may want to quote parts off your blog to help enhance what I am saying or give them more ideas. If I quote you, I will also recommend for the moms to check out your site too. Can I do this?

I included this question here because I’m often asked for permission to use material from this blog (which I greatly appreciate!). You should feel free to quote, or to print any material you wish for personal use, or for distribution at Bible study groups, MOPS groups, or anywhere else where it may be helpful. I only require that you cite me as the author, and include my blog address. I also request that my written work not be altered.

Was just wondering if you think you’d ever make a book out of your blog posts. I just love reading your blog for organization ideas and how to be a better SAHM. Please consider it because I’d buy it in a second :).

Awww! Thank you. That’s really nice to hear, and yes…I consider it all the time (see Tuesday’s post).


My question is this I know that you did IVF before becoming a christian. How do you feel about the initial process now? I mean obviously not would you do it again because you would since you have your beautiful kids. Just do you feel different about the prossess now? 2 We are going though secondary infertility. We have discussed IVF our concern would be the leftover fertized eggs. Any thoughts on this would be great as we are praying through this process.

I really don’t feel differently, and here’s why…

God is in control. No matter how children are conceived, God is the creator – not man. I see infertility as a medical condition like any other. There are doctors with the God-given knowledge and ability to help people who wish to conceive, but if God doesn’t want you to have children, you won’t. If he does, you will. It’s out of your hands.

My Christian faith did influence my choices throughout the IVF process. Because I believe that life begins at conception, I refused to abort my child, even when my life was at stake. I refused to consent to the transfer of more than one fresh, or three frozen embryos at a time, because the idea of “selective reduction” is abhorrent to me. I elected to transfer ALL of my embryos, even though I had doubts about my ability to cope with another cycle of painful treatments, and also my capacity to raise three children. I wanted to honor God with my choices.

There are people out there (and some of you know who I’m talking about) who know absolutely nothing about the reality of IVF, but feel free to rant and rave about how people who choose it are ungodly, blasphemous, and even murderers. They seem to forget that God still rules, and they have no right to insinuate that control can be taken from His hands and placed in those of man. My children were lovingly created by the Heavenly Father, and they were meant to be here. The embryos that didn’t survive were not, and someday I’ll meet those children in heaven. These were God’s choices – not mine.

What I’m trying to say is, if God is telling you that IVF is right for you, go forward in faith, and trust that He will work it all out as it’s meant to be.

On Halloween

I am struggling this year with Halloween. I haven’t been able to find a way to tie Christ into this holiday at all. How do you handle this time of year?

I understand. I struggled with this for a long time too, and decided to teach my children that Halloween is nothing more than a secular holiday that we participate in in a minimal way, just for fun, and only in a way that honors God. This means that we decorate for fall, and not with scary decorations. We also don’t carve scary designs into pumpkins, or wear scary costumes (this year, the kids are going to dress up like Tigger, Tinkerbell, and Snow White). Nothing even mildly occultic is permitted. I actually wrote an entire post on this subject a couple of years ago, which further illustrates my position. Please see Our Take on Halloween.

On Homeschooling

I may have mentioned this before, but have you ever considered homeschooling? From your posts, I gather that Bee is very happy in school, but have you ever thought about it? You seem like a perfect candidate!

I’m actually asked this quite a lot, and I did consider it before Bee started school. My position is that, while I have great admiration for homeschoolers, I don’t believe that I would enjoy homeschooling, and my children are dead set against it. Unfortunately, I do receive plenty of emails from people who attempt to convince me that I’m making the wrong choice. Some are very friendly and polite, and others come right out and tell me that I’m wrong – I would LOVE homeschooling, and I should not allow my children to have any choices in regard to their education, because what do they know? They’re kids!

As you’ve probably already guessed, I disagree.

I think that to homeschool or not is a decision that every family must make. It’s personal, and there are many factors to consider. I’m fortunate to live in an area with a fairly large homeschool association, and I am thankful to have the option to homeschool, should we ever decide to.

Other Topics

I was wondering if you are bothered by having a cat box in the house. It has never bothered me but it disgusts my husband to know that the our kitty potties in there, walks around in there and walks around our house, sleeps on our bed etc.. What are your feelings on this?

I actually am not bothered in the least by this. I’m very accustomed to sharing my personal space with animals, because I’ve always had either a dog or a cat, ever since I was small child. Also, cats are, by nature, very clean animals – his majesty, Pumpkin, spends hours upon hours bathing himself. As long as the litter box is scooped and changed regularly, the germs that a cat may carry out of it and across your floors are no more dangerous than those you track in from outside on your own feet. However, I will say that we no longer allow Pumpkin to sleep on our bed, not because he’s dirty, but because he’s supremely annoying.

I have a little boy who just turned 1 and he’s ALWAYS sick. It makes me crazy and stressed and I feel guilty cause I think I’m doing something wrong. I have a 3 year old also and she doesn’t get sick as much he does and when she does get sick it’s not that bad. Have you experienced anything like this? My doctor says that it’s because he’s exposed to more germs but I just don’t think this is normal. What can I do?

It’s not unusual for infants, especially those who live with preschool-aged children, to come down with frequent illnesses, simply because little kids generally have poor hygiene, so they expose their family members to lots of germs. This happened to us with Cakes, when Bee was in preschool, even though I breastfed that child until age 2, and followed Bee around with hand sanitizer everywhere she went. I promise you’re not doing anything wrong, and as your baby gets older and builds up some immunity, it will get better. For now, just try to make sure that your 3-year-old, and everyone else in your household, practices good hand-washing, and feed your baby a nutrient-rich diet. Vitamin D is especially important to boost immunity. For more information, see this article.

I was wondering what you think about home economics majors in college.

I think that Home Economics courses teach many practical and important skills, and it’s unfortunate that there isn’t more emphasis on them in today’s secondary schools. However, your choice of college major is really dependent on your goals for the future. If you’re planning to teach after college, you could meet with opposition because many schools are eliminating Home Ec programs altogether. You may wish to look into other possible career paths for which a Home Ec degree would be useful. If you’re planning to get married and manage a home immediately after college, obtaining a degree like this would be an excellent (though expensive) form of preparation.

How is your hair coming along? I started the process and absolutely hated the color my hair was coming in. I’m naturally a dark blonde and it’s coming in a terrible dark salt and pepper with black hairs too! Crazy. I colored it again but can’t stand the texture of it. Yours is beautiful, though and it’s been a while since I saw a post about it.

I’m 7 1/2 months into the process now, and the back of my hair is completely dye-free. My stylist estimates that in another 4 months, I should be completely finished with the transformation process. This is what I look like today, after my haircut:

I’m a member of the ’11 Fall Semester 1 Newbie class at Going Gray, Looking Great. You can continue to follow my progress there, if you like.

Do you limit the number of Christmas and birthday gifts you give your children and do you try and give your children all the same number of presents at holidays? My husband and I are thinking that we may start to only give our two children 3 presents at Christmas and no more than 4-5 at birthdays but some of our family members thought we were crazy to limit ourselves to this – just curious your thoughts.

I do always try to give my children the same number of presents at holidays, in the interest of fairness, because they’re at an age when they notice such discrepancies, and I have a set budget amount for each child’s birthday and Christmas gifts. This year, I did increase my budget for both by $25, because the prices of pretty much everything have increased. I actually wrote a post called Christmas Contentment, which explains how we handle this, and I don’t think you’re crazy at all to set limits – I think you’re smart. You may need to adopt our motto regarding sharing information about your choices with family…. don’t.

how many laundry baskets do you actually own? I know you said lots..but I’m curious..weird I know..lol

I was amused by this question, but I didn’t know off the top of my head, so I went and counted. The answer is 7, not including the 2 that we use as bedroom hampers. I love laundry baskets. If you want to know why, please see Contain and Conquer.


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