Work Smarter Not Harder! A Job Well Done–The Revised Version!

Work Smarter Not Harder!  A Job Well Done–The Revised Version!

The title of this entry comes courtesy of my son-in-law, Cole and my daughter, Mandi–but more on that a little later…

"Work smarter not harder" image

…since getting home from my son’s graduation a few weeks ago, I’ve felt somewhat overwhelmed with trying to get caught up on everything that got neglected while my husband and I were away.  Besides going back to work, many household chores and yard projects needed our attention, as well.  I was also trying to get things ready for my son and daughter-in-law’s visit for a few weeks in their transition from dental school to Oklahoma, where Jake will do some advanced  training.  Forget a job well done, I was barely skimming the surface of everything I needed to accomplish!  My poor husband, who seems to take most things in stride–most men do, why is that, I wonder…it’s kind of exasperating!  Anyway, my husband would get home from work and start vacuuming in hopes that the hum of the motor and clean floors would lull my heightened anxiety level into a more zen-like state!  Even a mental reminder of my father’s sage advice to “have moderation in all things” just wasn’t working for me either.  Before drastic measures had to be taken to insure my well-being, I took it upon myself to seek the advice of trusted family members and friends and asked what they did to make their workload go more smoothly.  In doing so, I was able to calm my nerves a bit and ease back into more efficient productivity once again!

  • First, from my husband, I’ll title them simply–

Painting supplies        “Tom’s Tips”  

It’s all about preparation…blue painter’s tape, drop cloths and quality paint rollers, etc. are key to making the job go easier!

Also, be patient and take the time to broaden your knowledge base when working on a project…further frustration often comes from diving head long into a project (which is what I’m prone to do) and then getting blind-sided by obstacles that could have been anticipated by doing a little research up front.  By watching and asking questions from those “in the know”, Tom has tackled anything from expertly painting several rooms in our home, to “distressing” furniture projects.

Distressed furnitureDistressed table legs

  • Second, from my daughter, Malia and my son, Jake–

         It’s about making lists!

Making lists

I usually like lists too–I’m pretty sure I taught my kids to do them, but this time it seemed like I was like a character in an over-acted sit-com, scrunching up paper after paper and throwing them into an overflowing garbage can because my lists just got too long and intimidating!  Besides a “To Do” list, my friend Kellee, also gives her four boys a time frame to have the list completed–that way they have a little more freedom to choose when they want to finish doing the items on their list!  Kellee told me that when her boys have a little say as to when they could do their jobs, it made a big difference in the effort they put forth!  Just like my mom, Kellee, conducts inspections to make sure the finished chores meet her high standards!  These lists seem to work for Kellee, her boys are all hard workers!

  • Third, from two other friends, Janica and Sharon–

Don’t be afraid to enlist a bit of technology to help the job go quicker! 

Janica told me recently, that her most pressing project lately has been to finish a scrapbook for her youngest son, Brett.  The fact that she has completed baby books for her two older sons, but not for Brett, since she has been working full-time, has been a source of frustration for him.  Brett has been living in Alaska and informed his mom that his book better be waiting for him when he gets home–which is in a few weeks!  Janica said, “Thanks to modern technology and the magic of online photo books, I’m making progress!”  Janica also mentioned that this project has reminded her to “live in the moment and try hard not to procrastinate!”  

Sharon is another good friend, and she makes beautiful quilts.  Although this is a hobby for her, the patterns Sharon uses often need to be adapted to her taste or to the preference of the lucky person she’s making the quilt for; she said it has been “fun” (?) to figure out how to digitize all the embroidery on her computer, then transfer it to her sewing machine.  Sharon told me, “If I do it this way, I don’t have to do any of the sewing by hand!  Yeah!”  After all, it IS about finding a way to make a project easier!  Kudos to you both, Janica and Sharon!  (I’ll confess that for me, sometimes using technology doesn’t always make the job easier!)

“My Favorite Things” Quilt

made by: Sharon GrayMy Favorite Things Quilt

  • Now for the final “Coup de Gra’ce” from Cole and Mandi–

When I wrote to ask Cole and Mandi if they had any useful tips that helped them accomplish projects with a little more ease, Cole sent me an answer in his usual succinct style:  “Mandi and I have a motto in our family that we thought would be applicable…”

“Work smarter, not harder!  It’s all about efficiency…”

Love it!  Now what I need to do is figure out how I can do that on a more regular basis, and incorporate it better in my life!  Thanks Cole and Mandi!   

I’d love to hear some of the tips you have that help you work “smarter not harder”! 

–Mary

Thank Goodness I Had “The Meanest Mother”!

Thank Goodness I Had  “The Meanest Mother”!

I’ve had some requests to print a copy of the story, The Meanest Mother”.  As I mentioned in this previous entry, my mom was often invited to give humorous poems and recitations at various church and community functions while I was growing up.  My mother was normally quite reserved and gracious; I think doing these readings must have tapped into her alter-ego, because I remember that people would often stop her when we were out and about and rave about her funny, animated interpretations of these stories!

The Meanest Mother Reading

I doubt there is anyone out there who didn’t think their mom was perhaps a little “mean” once in awhile!  After re-reading “The Meanest Mother”, I think I will stand a little taller and maybe feel a tiny bit more pride, knowing that in the long run I was just trying to help my children do well.  After all, they are amazing adults and my dear friends!  Watching the news coverage of the havoc caused by the tornado in Oklahoma this week, it proves to be a good reminder for us, once again, to always let our children know how much we love them–even if we have to be “mean” once in awhile!

–Mary

Class Act And Fun Facts! How Well Do We Really Know Our Mothers?

Class Act And Fun Facts!  How Well Do We Really Know Our Mothers?

My mom, Merle Mecham Jorgensen, was the oldest and only girl born to my Grandpa and Grandma Mecham.  Six boys would later follow after my mother!  In the beginning chapter of my mom’s history, she includes a few sentences written by her mom–it seems even then that she was developing the sweet, caring personality that she was known for throughout her life; always a class act, to be sure!

“The morning of May 16, 1924, dawned on this treasured infant and her thankful mother–bringing to the mother a gift of heavenly joy, a precious daughter.  The air of the first few weeks of life in Bear Lake, Bloomington, Idaho was perfumed with spring apple blossoms from the orchard.”  

Mom as a baby

My mother continues the introduction of her autobiography in a clever first person perspective, based on facts I’m sure my Grandma Mecham shared with her.

“Summer days flitted by full of interest for me.  And why not?  I had learned to smile and coo, to notice and play with bright, interesting objects in my ever-expanding world.  Everyone around me loved me and I proved the love was reciprocated by smiling and sleeping for them, as a good baby should.”  

A Special Assignment: Getting To Really Know My Mother!

vintage news reporter hat and cameraMy favorite elementary school teacher, Mrs. Larsen, gave my third grade class a brilliant, special assignment that forever changed my view of my mother! At first glance, you’d have thought that Mrs. Larsen should have retired long before she was my teacher in third grade.  All I know is that her love for her students and innovative approach to teaching the lesson subjects, always seemed to inspire me to work hard and love school even more than I did already at the time.

I recall that it was around this time of year, the first part of May, and our class had been studying great women in history for Social Studies.  (I doubt that it was mere coincidence that my teacher decided on this topic of study around Mother’s Day!)  When I walked into our classroom one Monday morning, I saw several felt hats stacked on a table by my teacher’s desk.  Thick ribbons were laid out by the hats along with slips of paper with the words “Press” written on them.  Later, when the ribbon was wrapped above the brim of the hat, we were then instructed as a class to place the press card securely between the fold of the ribbon and the hat.  Normally, I might have felt a little sheepish with the idea of wearing something that seemed so masculine, but Mrs. Larsen’s enthusiasm for our “special assignment” was infectious and we were giddy with excitement!  Mrs. Larsen then passed out official-looking clip boards with a few sheets of paper attached titled, “Fun Facts”!  It was then that I learned I was to become a rookie reporter and would be asking my mother a series of questions while pretending that I was meeting her for the first time and didn’t really know her.  Our class was further instructed that everyone’s answers would then be published in our third grade newsletter and presented to our mothers at a special “Press Release” luncheon.  The anticipation might have waned a little in our classroom when we realized it would be our mothers we’d be interviewing!  I have to admit that it crossed my mind to fill out the “Fun Facts” questionnaire on my own, since in all my astute candor at the age of nine or ten, I thought I was a pretty good expert on my mother!  However, knowing that she would be attending the luncheon, I fulfilled my assignment as a novice news reporter.  How grateful I am that I did the assignment, because I really did get to know my mother better!  It’s a dearly cherished experience to this day.

Vintage mother picture

Fun Facts About My Mother:

1.  Starting at a young age, my mother gave poem and story recitations at various social functions.  It started with a few short verses and grew to satirical humorous readings.  (One entitled, “I Have The Meanest Mother” was renowned in our community!)  Who knew my mother was a stand-up comedian of sorts!?  Here is an example of one of her first readings she gave when she was four years old:

“Beautiful hands are they that do, the work of the noble, kind and true!”

Also, “I’ll help you and you help me, and what a helping world this will be.”

(This last one, was actually quite familiar, as my mom quoted it often when some family members needed to be convinced that doing our chores was a worthwhile thing to do!) 

2.  My mom loved to practice the piano!  At age seven my grandma gave my mom piano lessons.  “Mother had me practice an hour each day.  Most of my little friends were playing outside, so it was quite a temptation for me to shirk my practicing and join them.”  My mom went on to further explain that her mother devised a way to keep her interested by creating a chart where she earned colored stars for the days and weeks she practiced; at the end of the month a gold star was given for uninterrupted practice time and a reward of her choice was earned!  “I liked to watch my chart grow and soon became so interested in my music that no device was necessary to keep me at my practice.”  My mom later became the pianist for her school orchestra!  (This is not a story I could relate to my children.  I was very creative at figuring out ways to get out of practicing the piano!)  

3.  My mother loved Halloween!  She recalled some of the fun costumes she created when she was young and how much fun it was to “traipse” through her neighborhood with a large group of friends and most of her brothers!  The real revelation for me was that the tradition for celebrating Halloween was carried on well into her adulthood!  When my mom was in college she belonged to a sorority, and at Halloween time the sorority girls invited friends who didn’t belong and together they designed costumes and scavenger hunts and invited dates.

“It was just as if ghosts had really been turned out on the street…after we returned home with our brains full of funny experiences that had been encountered that night, we all sat down to a delicious meal and shared our stories.” 

4.  My mom had a secret weakness for caramel popcorn!  It makes me chuckle to know that the queen of healthy eating, who usually served at least two or three vegetables at each meal, had a sweet tooth!  (Our family’s favorite Caramel/Cashew Popcorn recipe will follow shortly in an upcoming entry!)

5.  My mom was a business major in college and was chosen as the Valedictorian of her entire graduating class!  I’d heard a bit about this while growing up from my dad, since that is where he first saw my mom, but my mother never made a big deal about this honor.  In her history my mom wrote,

I was announced as the college Valedictorian during spring quarter of 1945.  I felt honored and worked hard to write and memorize my talk.  I had studied hard, but enjoyed the learning and maturing college life afforded me.”  

My mom also stated that her graduation was a time of great rejoicing for several reasons.

“World War II started during my first quarter of college in 1941.  The war in Europe ended on V-E Day (Victory in Europe), May 8, 1945, during my last quarter of college.” What I’m learning now is…

In really getting to know my mother, I relish the fact that everything seemed so lovely and enchanting during the early years of her youth!  Like most mothers, she was happy to assume the role of caretaker and loved her family deeply.  What I’m learning now is that we can learn a lot about ourselves as we take the time to really get to know our mothers!  Getting to really know our mothers, as well as other women we know, aside from their roles as wives and mothers, can also create strong bonds that are sure to enrich our lives!  My mother was always genuinely interested in others and learning about the fun facts that made them unique!

Surprise your mom and make some time for a little impromptu interview with her and learn some “Fun Facts” about her that you may not have known before now.  Write a few down on some special paper, (you can find some here to download at bottom of entry) along with your own special memories of your mom!  I’d love to hear about some of the fun things you learn, if you’d like to share them.

–Mary