7 Minute Life {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

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I love God things, don’t you?  Recently, I had the opportunity to review The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner through the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I have to admit, I was kind of “meh” about.  I had a planner I loved.  It’s been replaced.

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7 Minute Life Planner


The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner is a 90-day spiral bound planner created by Allyson Lewis of The 7 Minute Life.   Studies have shown that adults have short attention spans; maybe even as low as 7 minutes!   The idea is that in 7 minutes of planning a day, you can do the most important things and stop JUST doing the urgent.  Set up in 90-day increments because 90 days is enough to see progress and to reassess if things aren’t working.  Coming from a sales background, this planner has several features toward sales goals including contacts, thank you notes, voicemails, and 7 Minute Life Connections.  It also has a notes section, sleep, exercise & water tracker, appointment section and more.  Each 270+ page planner is $24.95.

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Likes & Dislikes


So.  I am a productivity & planner junky.  I have used GTD, Franklin-Covey and dozens of others over the past 15 years. Honestly, I wasn’t even looking for a new planner because I had one I loved.  I love this one more.

Before I could use it, I had to spend a few days thinking about the big picture. Really, it was overdue for an update; I last did it a few months before my 15 month old was born.  She went about it slightly differently with values/character traits as your first step.  It was an exercise I had not done before.  After that it was mission statement time, which I also reworked a bit.  I got a little stuck on goal-setting but after thinking on it for a week or so, I realized I had more 90-day goals than I thought.

I used The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner to track all aspects of my life–home management, work, writing and the teaching portion of homeschooling.  I loved that all my hats were in one planner instead of 4.  The most life changing part was the 5 before 11.  In my case it was usually 5 before 5, but my kids are 6, 3.9 & 1.  Sometimes there are other issues, you know?  But I know the difference between lazy and otherwise occupied.  There is a “did I do what I said I would do” checkbox.  Even though everyday was a no, I’m still closer than I would have been because I did several important things.


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I still haven’t FULLY adapted it to suit my needs yet, but I spent my entire 10-day vacation pondering it in the downtime.  The beginning has 12 months of smaller calendars (3 to a page) for long-term planning.  I used that to note important things like trips, classes, etc. that need to be planned around.  Then it has 12 months of larger calendars, 1 per page.  This annoyed me at first.  Who needs 2 sets of too small calendars in one book?  Then I figured it out.  The first is long-term planning.  The second set would be great for a blogging editorial calendar.

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The appointments, 5 before 11, voicemail, spending record, and daily summary were no brainer and used as you would expect.  I used unfinished tasks for less important to-do’s like errands.  The other feature I adored were the two big unfinished work tasks & unfinished home tasks (4 & 2 pages, respectively).  I loved parking projects there for the 90-day period, to revisit later.  Like the goals, I didn’t fully understand the value until a week or two into use.  I had work projects, writing projects, and blogging & reviews quickly filling my work tasks and completing random things filling my home in completed tasks.

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As an introvert, I love the 7 Minute Life Connections because I truly need to be that intentional about adult interaction.  I’m one of those people who has no “best friend(s).”  I’m still trying to determine what I should do with the Contacts section since I don’t sell.  I honestly can’t wait to stalk everyone else’s reviews to see how they have tweaked theirs :)!

Summary


Overall, I thought the principles and habits in The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner were excellent ones and I’m really glad that I was picked for this review.  I like that the pages are undated and so I don’t feel like I’ve wasted 1/3 of a book while on vacation.  I love the short term (90-day) goals.  I like that it really focuses on people and the really important things and not just tasks.  I love the task pages and the whole idea.  I end the day feeling like I’ve done some really important things, even if I only get 2 or 3 of the 5 accomplished.  It’s a great way to focus with my very limited time.

I’m looking forward to tweaking it a bit more and want to look into their big fancy package with the books, binder, cd’s, more planners, etc.   I have a few other learning things I’m finishing up right now and I’m trying to divert funds to feed the travel bug.   But it’s on the short list!

Overall, if you are doing any sort of work at home, The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner is fabulous.  If you “only” manage a home and/or homeschool it might be a bit overkill unless you are a type-A planner addict like me :).  But if you run a business too, whether that’s freelance work, etsy or blogging, the 7 Minute Life Daily Planner can help keep you balanced & focused.

Hubby read through the beginning planning pages and thought it was all good stuff but he needed an app; he will never use a paper planner.   Hint hint :).  You can check out sample pages here and videos about how to use each section of The 7 Minute Daily Life Planner here.

 

Click here to read what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of The 7 Minute Life(TM) Daily Planner!

Jen S.

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5 Ways to Fit in Exercise with Littles

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Before I had kids, I was a duel-certified personal trainer, black belt workout junkie. Then I had kids. I’m up to 3 now, from ages 6 to 1. Over the years, I’ve had to find several creative strategies for fitting in exercise with multiple little ones.

Some of those years are leaner than others, in both friendship & money, so I’ve tried things on various budgets & with various amounts of help. Hopefully you will find an idea that might work for you.

First thing

Once the babies settle into a routine (around 6 months or so), you may find that they are up for the day & are content for about 20 minutes. I used to put Itty Bitty in her play gym and use a 20 minute DVD. She ALMOST lasted through the stretching :).

Quiet time

Is there a time when all the kids are all quiet? Nap time? Just after lunch? Is there a natural lull in your day?  A few months ago, mine happened to be at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, right after the baby woke up from his nap. I put him in his jumpy thing and the girls each get a corner of the living room to watch me do an exercise DVD and join in, too!

Stroller

A good stroller is worth its weight in gold. A 2-kid jogger, if you can swing it, is soooo nice. If not, the oldest can walk, the middle can go in a stroller & the youngest can be in a sling. I walked a mile every day like this with #1 & #2.  There are also classes using a stroller as well as stroller exercise routines from FitDeck.

The Playground

take your kids to a playground. And then play, too! You can either simply play with them, or do an exercise routine using the playground equipment. I love the FitDeck Playground Expansion Pack for this.

Videos

I have a small library of exercise DVD’s from my exercise junkie days and love to use those. There are also online classes, YouTube videos, the library or even friends.

 

With all the other responsibilities moms (and especially homeschool moms) have, exercise can seem like luxury.  Exercise is good for your physical AND mental health, as well as your marriage.  Plus, it sets a good example for your kids–they do what you DO, not what you preach.

Remember to start small and slow and build up. If you are too whipped to even start, get a physical–many moms are low on iron & other nutrients and aren’t even aware of it.  Find something you love to do & be creative about making it happen!

How do you make time for exercise with your littles?

Jen S.

Need more ideas?  Stay tuned for 6 MORE ways to fit in exercise with little kids!

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A Grand Design {Book Review}

Dislciamer:  I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

 


Have you ever been to a place where the historical significance was so thick you could smell it?  Or so beautiful, you considered moving there?   For whatever reason, Mackinaw City & Mackinac Island do that to me.  As a child, a trip there was always at the top of my birthday wish list and I dreamt of working there in the summers as a teen.  When I had the opportunity to review A Grand Design, a new Quilts of Love novel set in my favorite place in Michigan, I had to ignore my self-imposed fiction embargo, and share it with you.

A Grand Design is a Christian romance set in modern times.  It does, however, take place on Mackinac Island.  If you are unfamiliar with it, it’s an island that has left time behind–there are no motor vehicles of any kind.  You either use horses, bikes or walk.  And a busy career gal from Grand Rapids has just won a “honeymoon” package on the island.  That she entered on a dare.  It’s a total God thing because her grandmother lives there and she used to be there all the time.  Until.  Until what? You’ll have to read to find out, but it comes back to haunt her.

While she is there with her BFF, she goes on a quest to all her grandmothers old friends collecting quilt blocks for a friendship quilt.   And the driver her grandmother hires is pretty special ;).  But special enough to stay?  Hmmmm.

LOL!   As you can tell, A Grand Design was a fun story.  The island culture and background were pretty spot on.  The author did take liberty with a few things I’m not sure I liked.  Like to Grand Rapids to Mackinaw train.  I’m sure it existed at one time, but not in my lifetime.  I’m also not sure how I feel about the part of her past coming in.  Would he really care 15 years later?  Maybe.  That end of backstory was tied up fairly quickly.  I read it 3 times and I’m still not sure I fully understood how the brooch thing played out.   I think she did several things on purpose though, because they were mentioned in the discussion questions at the end.

Overall, though, I did enjoy reading A Grand Design. I love Christian fiction but HATE when it feels like an after thought; it wasn’t.  The characters were interesting, the setting fabulous.  The romance at the end was pretty awesome, too ;).  If you are still in need of a beach read, go it out!

 

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Don’t miss this month’s Quilts of Love book, A Grand Design by Amber Stockton. Who hasn’t struggled to let painful memories go and move into God’s healing? You’ll be sure to love this heartfelt and encouraging tale set on historic Mackinac Island.



Celebrate August’s release by entering to win a Kindle from Quilts of Love and RSVPing for the “Fall into Fall” Facebook author chat party.


Quilts of Love Kindle HDX Giveaway, Amber Stockton, A Grand Design

One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle HDX
  • A Grand Design by Amber Stockton
  • Hidden in the Stars by Robin Caroll

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 16th. Winner will be announced on the Quilts of Love blog. Plus make sure you RSVP to the October 7th author chat party with Amber Stockton and Robin Caroll for an evening of book chat, quilting tips and tricks, prizes, and more!


RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on October 7th!

 

Good luck!!

Jen S.

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3 Date Ideas for Busy Parents – September 2014: One Last Hurrah! A Summer Date Idea Round Up {Serve Your Spouse Saturday #31}

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

 

Date Ideas for Busy Parents - September 2014

Even in the great white north we can count on at least one more nice day before it snows. Your job this month is to check the weather forecast for the next summer day. Cut the tags off that summer dress you bought but haven’t worn (ahem!) and go out with the hubs!

The September date ideas for busy parents theme is One Last Hurrah — A Summer Date Round Up!

If you missed the opportunity to do one of our other summer themed date night ideas, you can check those out here:

For Free

In need of some free entertainment that’s a little “out of the box?” Try these ideas:

Vacation Planning Date. Are you in need of some R&R? Even if you aren’t in the market or have the budget for a vacation, plan one. Find out the price to winter somewhere warm or go on spring break. You might find it more affordable than you thought. Even if you don’t, you at least have a goal to save for. For a challenge, see who can find the coolest destination for a certain number of days for the best price for your whole family.

Hike/Walk. Go for a beautiful walk or hike. You can find a simple nature trail, a beach, or even do a full fledged hike. Nature lovers? See how many plants, trees or animals tracks you can identify. Not so much into nature? Listen for birds and then look for them. Or check out a sunset or even the stars.

Garage Sale Scavenger Hunt.   This super cute date idea is all laid out for you courtesy of Dating Divas.  They do an awesome job!

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For Cheap

If you just can’t get a sitter and have to do an at home date, here are a few fun ideas:

S’mores Date.  Another Dating Divas idea with printables and plans.

Star Gazing. If you have a smart phone, you can find some awesome stargazing apps. Try to find constellations or make up your own. Don’t forget the stories (a la Shrek with donkey)!

Backyard Retreat. Make a romantic candle lit retreat in your back yard. Use Christmas lights or candles with a screen tent, camping tent or a canopy. Or perhaps over a two-person hammock in the trees. Make a comfy nest of blankets & pillows and snuggle, talk & dream. You could even combine this one with the star-gazing date!

For Fun

If your date night happens to include kids staying overnight at grandmas, try these extra special date night ideas:

Be A Tourist in Your Home Town.  Pretend you’re visiting. Go and do the things adults would do there you live. Where I’m from, we ‘d do winery tours, eat at a foodie restaurant, visit some microbrew pubs and maybe hit up some music somewhere. Can’t afford dinner? Try a progressive dinner & do fancy apps & dessert :).

Discover a New Town.   Another touristy spin from Dating Divas.

Mystery Spot Date. Find a map of your state or region. Close your eyes & point. Then drive there. I would LOVE to do this one someday!

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Try to put off fall just a little while longer and give summer one last hurrah before you pack it all away.

What is your favorite summer date?

Jen S.

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On The Road to Joyful Motherhood {Book Review}

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

I read a lot of books. And I read a lot of books on motherhood. Frankly, its the area of my life where I feel I need the most work; being a good mother comes naturally to some people, but I am not one of those. So of course when Jessica Fisher over at Life As Mom asked for people to review On The Road to Joyful Motherhood eons ago, I said yes.

One of the things I like best about this book is that its a 30-day journey to joyful motherhood. I don’t have to read a whole book. I can read a few pages and do a simple activity and begin to bring back the joy. It’s so easy for the joy to get sucked out of you. One snotty argument about bedtime can erase a whole day of fabulous behavior amiright? Or maybe potty training isn’t quite finished. Sigh. I need to revisit being a joyful mother. Daily. Or hourly. Or on a bad day, by the minute.

Obviously, I didn’t get to the readings daily. It look me 4 months to get through 30 days of reading. It’s been awesome to go through the tips and realize that something is out of control. Again. In fact I got stuck on simplify for about 2-1/2 of those months. The kids have NOTHING right now. It’s all locked away. If they don’t care about it enough to pick them up, they obviously don’t need them. Plus, it’s summer. So go outside. Ahem. They are happy to not have toys everywhere and not have to pick up much. Plus, mommy isn’t nagging them all. Day. Long. Ask me about this again in winter :).

On The Road to Joyful Motherhood is set up as a journey, complete with mile markers to number the articles. She talks about aspects of motherhood like simplicity, accepting parts of life that will not change (like boys, noise & wrestling), gratitude, going outside, reading good books and more. My favorite was the section on words. I felt very convicted to change after reading it and added to more resources to specifically help me change my ways. It’s really that big of a problem for me.

If you are feeling like you are in need of a reboot, the beginning of the school year is a good time to step back and reassess. Even if your kids are signed up for music lessons, 2 sports & youth group, it’s still not to late to calm down life. It might be too late to recoup your money outlay, but which is more important, $100 or your families happiness? Which will matter more in 3 years. Go check out On The Road to Joyful Motherhood. Then come back & share.

I’d love to hear what changes your family has made!

Jen S.

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