Posted in Homeschooling

The Great Ant War of 2015

I feel like I haven’t written in months. Between getting sucked into good books and spending too much time in homeschooling online groups which then evolved into spending too much time reading prepper message boards… add in some work and volunteering, some travel to a conference and not much time or inspiration has been left for writing.

One of the things that have kept me busy is an ant invasion in our home. We had seen a lot of the tiny sugar ants for a while but it wasn’t a huge problem and they were easy to manage as they responded to all of the “home remedies”.

We went away for a weekend to attend the LLL Parenting Conference and we come back to a full fledged invasion. The tiny and friendly ants had been replaced by some mutant, oversized ones that were immune to peppermint, black pepper, garlic, salt, cornstarch, vinegar, etc. They were excellent swimmers and simply refused to drown or even let go of the cloth that I was trying to wipe them with. It was a declaration of war!


I usually have a “live and let live” approach but these aggressive ants did not allow for happy co-existence. I had to let go of my moral conflict and go on the offensive. Thankfully I keep a spider friendly household, I safely evict big spiders and let the Daddy Long Legs live in peace (I’ve even given some of them names, lol). So I told the spiders to earn their keep and relocated them to the ant trails. It was a feeding frenzy! We got a homeschool science lesson out of it and the spiders were happy to help the cause. We had happy spiders with full bellies; but there were many more ants than spiders, it just wasn’t enough. I was done trying the natural and homemade remedies.

After hubby went to Home Depot and bought one of each ant control products we had relief within 24 hours. I was finally able to declare my house ant free…. ant meme

Until I went to outside. It looks like all of the ants have moved to our front yard. I counted 9 separate colonies when there had only been one for the 2 years we’ve lived here. It looks like they are preparing for a siege and invasion. I don’t think that I have enough spiders to handle that army. I had to bring the “guns” outside.


The war continues…


Posted in Homeschooling

Balancing Homeschooling with the rest of life

I have been asked: How do you handle homeschooling, work, volunteering and house cleaning?

My answer?Good-Moms-Have-Sticky-Floors-Messy-Kitchens-Laundry-Piles-and-Happy-kids-
Not very well.

While I have gotten my homeschooling, work and volunteering balance down packed; cleaning is an eternal struggle. I don’t blame homeschooling for it though, I have always struggled with it.

I tend to gravitate towards the tasks that I like and find any possible excuse to procrastinate on the rest. So I keep up with cooking, dishes and laundry. But everything else is done on a “spot” or desperately needed basis. I may scrub the toilet but not get to the sink until another day. I may mop the kitchen floor but only sweep the rest of the house.

Right now my house feels very cluttered but every attempt at reining it in just ends up with a bigger mess because I just don’t have a big enough chunk of time available to dedicate to that task until completed.

I have fantasies of a no expenses barred shopping trip to the container store or Ikea to have an easy storage system where everything has its place and I know where everything is. That scenario will remain in my dreams for the foreseeable future.

11372209_793517717436452_689163840_nIn the meantime I take pride in the fact that while my house may not be visitor ready, my kids are happy, learning and making memories.

Posted in Bandora

Life Organization for SAHMs, WAHMs and everybody else

I like to have a variety of projects on going at any given time but I also have horrible memory. The only reason why I don’t leave my head behind when I leave the house is because it’s attached to the rest of my body! Add to that the fact that motherhood requires keeping track of a lot of information such as appointments, classes, bills, contacts and let’s not get even started on homeschooling!

So how do I keep track of it all? Evernote to the rescue!

Evernote is a fantastic FREE tech tool that can help you keep track of all the loose ends in your life. You simply install it on your computer, smartphone or tablet and it will quickly develop into your digital file cabinet. While they have a premium version, the free version has met all of my needs for years.

I first downloaded Evernote 4 years ago to use for writing drafts for my several blogs. Over time I realized it’s great potential and now use it to keep track of practically everything in my life.

If there were to be some catastrophe where I loose all of the data in my computer and all of the records in my home I can rest assured that the important information is saved.

These are some examples of ways I use Evernote in my everyday life:

To do and shopping List:
It’s so easy for me to forget what has been done/is still pending. With Evernote’s easy checkboxes I can easily keep track.

Medical Records and Important Documents:
I’ve heard too many times of a catastrophe such as a hurricane, fire or earthquake destroying important documents such as birth certificates, passports and more. Having an electronic backup will save stress and money if the unthinkable happens.

I am notorious for loosing health insurance cards. To solve this I took pictures of the front and back of the cards and they are always accessible. You can do the same with shot records/exemption forms and all other important documents. For an extra layer of protection, I use encryption on files with personal information such as social security numbers.

Password Log:
Update:  I use LastPass for most credentials but for some super important passwords I also save an encrypted note in Evernote.

Get out of the house list:
Tuesday nights/ Wednesday mornings used to be very stressful for me. With taking both kids with me to work I found myself running like a chicken without a head trying to gather everything I would need and every week, without fail, I would forget something important. Now with Evernote I have a “Work Packing List” that I start to check off on Tuesday night and by the time we leave on Wednesday morning I am confident that I have everything the kids and I need to get through a day at the office.

Vacation Planning:
Planning a vacation for a family is no simple task. Finding a place to stay, making travel plans and keeping track of the paperwork. Not to mention the work to get everyone out the door. I keep all my lists such as itineraries, budget, packing list and reservation confirmations in Evernote. It is so easy to share notes. I can send them over to my husband too.

I hate having too many papers, I loose papers and don’t like it when papers get smudged or crumpled. Evernote helps me do lesson planning, tracking and even keep track of the progress on what we’ve done. When my kids get older enough to require a homeschooling portfolio. I will be able to use Evernote to put it together and attach scans and pictures of their work.

Organize Food Recipes:
While I use Pinterest to find recipes, I don’t love it for organizing. I find that using the Evernote Web Clipper to save recipes that I find online works better for me. Plus I can never remember off the top of my head at what temperature and for how long I am supposed to bake things so an easy search in Evernote from my phone while in the kitchen gives me the information I need without having to navigate through Google results every time.

Babysitting File:
While it’s been a while since we’ve had a babysitter (that is the subject of a whole different blog post) I have a note with all of the instructions, emergency contacts, routines and house rules that I can I just email over the info to the babysitter or print out to give when she arrives. This is especially handy in the event of an emergency.

Gift Ideas:
It’s hard to remember all birthdays, anniversaries and milestones. And even when remembering it’s not always easy to know what type of gift to get. For that reason I have a list of all of the important dates and a gift idea list so with Father’s Day coming up I can remember what hubby hinted at, looked at with interest at the store or mentioned a need for.

Managing your home:
There is massive amounts of time to be saved by tracking all your home information through a paperless system. You can put warranty info, appliance info, leases, paperwork, pictures, and repair contacts all in Evernote. This allows you to easily and promptly deal with any home situation that occurs. I also keep details such as air conditioner filter size and window measurements for easy reference if I find myself at Lowe’s/Home Depot and they are having a sale on filter or curtains.

Kids’ Artwork:
I love all the awesome artwork and projects that my kids create, however, I can’t stand all the clutter of the paper. I save the absolute best of the best. The rest I snap a photo of, save in Evernote and throw it away guilt free. For extra cool points, you can append an audio recording of your kid telling you about his artwork!

Party Planning:
From venue research, to decoration shopping lists, food planning and guest lists. I keep track of it all with Evernote.

I keep track of my charitable donations, mileage and volunteer expenses for easy access at the end of the year. Additionally any receipts for tax purposes can be photographed or scanned.
I also save the PDF of our tax return.

Volunteer and Consulting Gigs:
I volunteer for several organizations and Evernote not only lets me keep track of what I need to do but also of what I’ve done. For example, I use a web form to log all of my breastfeeding help contacts for easy reporting to La Leche League but also for when a mother calls me to follow up I can easily search by date, number, name or keyword and remember what we had discussed previously.

I sometimes get consulting jobs doing web design or bookkeeping projects and I use Evernote from start to finish to create proposals, engagement agreements, project progress and time tracking for billing.

All of my templates are organized and accessible from any device so if I need to send a membership renewal notice or website proposal I can easily do it from anywhere I am.

I keep all ideas, images and quotes for future posts in Evernote so I can work on my posts whenever the muses visit me and when it’s time to publish it’s just a matter of copy and paste. I could get fancier and use a plugin to automatically publish a blog post from Evernote at the touch of a button but I like to tweak the layout on WordPress before it goes live.

This has saved me so much time and sometimes I may have a post in draft mode for months and this ensures that I don’t lose my old ideas.

The challenges of doing a self paced study program is that you have to be extra organized to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks, setting up my syllabus in Evernote and linking notes with the individual chapters and projects helps me accomplish that. I also have all my lecture notes, homework assignments and research papers linked and easily searchable by keyword.

Reference Data:
I receive several electronic Breastfeeding publications and E-magazines that I may need to reference in the future when helping a mother. Adding them to Evernote allows me to search by keyword later and easily find the issue that talked about that study on newborn jaundice without having to search issue by issue.

Dr. Jack Newman also posts interesting information about breastfeeding on his Facebook page. Unfortunately it’s not easy to find old posts on Facebook so by exporting them into Evernote using the Web Clipper I can easily access his thoughts on breastfeeding issues.

Other uses:
– Inventory of anything (house items for insurance purposes, books, DVDs/CDs, business inventory and more!)
– Send any e-mail to your Evernote e-mail address to keep forever

evernote-all-the-thingsSo, what other lists and notes do you store on Evernote? I’d love to hear how you use this tool to make your life easier.