January 27, 2014

Being Useful

It's all fun and games until someone gets Sharpie on the sofa
One of my new goals for this blog is to post tips and strategies that have worked for me as a solo parent.  I'll be the first to admit that most of the time I'm learning on the go--staying only minutes ahead of developing chaos and disaster. But when things do go right, it's because I've listened to wise women who have walked the parenting path before me--sometimes their wisdom comes over the backyard fence, sometimes it appears on Pinterest.  Nonetheless, I wouldn't have made it this far if people weren't willing to share.  It goes without saying, I may tweak the ideas and adjust them to fit a one parent family but few if any of my tips are original.  I'll always try to give credit where credit is due.  How do you cite Pinterest, anyway?

As head of our household, I'm always trying to balance long and short term to do lists as well as our wants and needs as a family.  The problem is, much of time I can't see the forest for the trees.  Working full time, keeping up with Henry's school and Liam's daycare, keeping the kitchen full of groceries, driving to swim lessons, doing six loads of laundry each week, shoveling snow from the driveway and sidewalks--well, you get the picture.  All these things fill my head until there is no time to think about where we are really going.   Goals get lost in the shuffle.  Even fun things like sitting down to family game night once each week.  Or big things like putting the house up for sale.

A few years ago, I stumbled upon Stephen Covey's Four Quadrant planning chart.  Liam was almost a year old but I still hadn't had him christened.  There was just so much to be done on daily basis--I was back to work full-time, potty-training Henry and trying to keep our home from looking like something the village would condemn if given half the chance.  In desperation, I completed this chart with all the big tasks swirling in my head.  Within two months, I had thrown Liam's first birthday bash, had him christened, transitioned Henry to a bigger bed and purchased some much needed, practical furniture for our family room.

this format is from http://personalexcellence.co/blog/put-first-things-first/

I've returned to this chart several times.  It is especially helpful at the beginning of summer.  Teachers tend to save up personal projects and plans all year long, only to become overwhelmed and unsure where to start come June.  Or maybe that's just me.

With the boys approaching five and seven next month (parties already in the works), they are moving into age brackets which offer much more access to activities.  I certainly do not want to over schedule them.  However, I do want them to try new things and become exposed to more than their school curricula and Angry Birds.  There is a developmental window that is only open for another five or so more years.  I'm going to sit down soon and complete another 4 Quadrant chart listing experiences and yes, lessons, I want the boys to try before that window closes.

Another parenting goal for this year is to prepare more meals from scratch.  I'm not a natural in the kitchen.  Even my youngest child will tell you that.  Actually, especially my youngest child.  Around here, many dinner recipes result in epic fails.  This is not one of them.  This one turned out delicious.

  Slow Cooked Candied Chicken 
6 skinless chicken breast halves
1 c brown sugar (packed)
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/3 c white wine vinegar
1/4 c lemon lime soda

Place chicken in slow cooker.  Add brown sugar, garlic and soy sauce.  Next pour in the vinegar and soda.  Cover and cook on low for 7 hours low (4-5 on high) or until chicken is cooked through.  We like this served over brown rice or couscous with a green vegetable on the side.

Wishing you a wonderful week, whatever your plans!


  1. Thanks for the idea! I am a natural planner so this is right up my alley. Tonight I got to the top of your inserted chart and saw the word Urgent and it jogged my memory that I HAD to do laundry tonight or my newly potty trained girl was going to have have to wear a diaper to school tomorrow. So laundry started and I'm about to head to Amazon to purchase one additional pack of Elmo panties!

  2. Love that pic of that boy! So cute! Thanks for the recipe not that many ingredients..(and ones that I really like)
    So have to try it! I will let ya know when I do! Hugs!

  3. I love the idea of you sharing things that have worked for you (especially since I'm going to have two boys myself very soon! LOL) The recipe sounds wonderful - I've bookmarked it to try when I'm on maternity leave.

  4. Hi there, long time since I've been around your blog to read. Life's hectic here too, so hectic I have little time to blog, but those 4 quadrants do wonders for me. I always focus on the Important but not urgent so I'm always ahead of the curve but laundry comes first. Liam and Henry look awesome!