Guest Post: This Year Pinterest Is Going to Make Me a Better Person

P1040069_2Liz is taking a leave of absence from public education to care for her 18 month old and emotionally needy border collie. Before Liz stayed home, she taught every grade from Kindergarten to 8th, but loved middle school because that is where the real changes in life happen.  When she was working, her husband cared for their daughter and then he worked afternoons and nights. Being a mom to her daughter is the best job she has ever had.  Previously, Liz wrote the article Guest Post: Misconceptions about Motherhood.

I don’t remember how exactly I discovered Pinterest, but apparently it was at the same time that everyone else did, too. Even my own mother was telling me about things she was pinning. When I was teaching, I used it to keep track of all my summer and late night research. Then I gradually moved out of the education realm and into pinning things like recipes and garden projects. I just love the internet!

Since I have recently (in the past two weeks) become a Stay At Home Mom, I feel it is my duty to compete with all the awesomeness out there. There’s no awards for being a Stay At Home Mom and I am intensely competitive with myself. Of course there’s no need to go crazy here. I’ll never earn the title super mom and I don’t want it.

Figuring out this mom thing is actually kind of hard. Teaching middle school is sometimes easier believe it or not. I need some kind of structure in my day, which is why I’ve pinned all kinds of calendars and organizational ideas. There’s some great ideas on there. I’m already pinning and planning activities to do with my daughter. Her board alone has 124 pins! Where to start? A tractor made out of cardboard? Reading chairs made from inner tubes? Or a bunch of busy bags to make and toss in the diaper bag? I’ve got about 20 pins with lists of things to do with your toddler. Does that make me a good mother? Someday I’ll have time to read those.

The downside to Pinterest is it is a time sucking, black hole. There’s so many interesting things out there. So many people to follow, so many neat ideas. I’ve got 21 boards and 986 pins and I have tried to keep it down, believe me! If I do one thing a day, it will take me about three years. Of course I keep pinning so there could be no end to this.

I can do yoga with my daughter, that is assuming she stops running around in circles long enough to get downward facing dog with me. I can paint a chapter of a book on a wall, reorganize my pantry (wait, I don’t have a pantry), and make three months worth of freezer meals. I’m out of breath; the whole thing makes me a little manic.

I’ve got to get that kitchen herb garden going and start some seeds in toilet paper roles because it’s biodegradable. So far I’ve saved 4 toilet paper rolls and they are sitting on my soon to be organized desk. Perhaps my husband won’t mind if I build some inexpensive shelves in front of the kitchen window to hold all these plants. Ooh… I can plant tulip bulbs in water and we can watch them grow every day! There’s so much to do and so little time!

Breathe. . . .

Let it go . . . .

It’s just a bunch of pretty pictures and ideas on the internet. I’ll take it slow, one recipe and idea at a time, and if I don’t do all of it or any of it, it doesn’t make me any less of a person. One night I got extra creative and made beef and broccoli in the crockpot and Ramen, from scratch. That’s right, I even made the dough and rolled out the noodles.
Recipe thanks to Katie at the Kitchen Door: http://katieatthekitchendoor.com/2012/10/28/cookbook-review-and-giveaway-japanese-farm-food/

This year I’m going to be a better person. I’ll learn to cook, start composting, improve my garden, and find all kinds of ways to entertain and teach my toddler. Just as soon as I get organized.

English: Red Pinterest logo

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Letting go of the Stress with Cozi

As you all know, I’ve been stressed lately.  I’ve felt like things are spinning completely out of control and that I just can’t get my arms around everything I need to do.  Too many things to do, too many things to get, not enough time.  AAAAAAGH!

Enter one of my local radio DJs.  One of our local radio stations runs a segment on Must Have apps for your smartphones, and on Friday, they talked about this thing called Cozi.  Some kind of family calendar software or something with shared calendars and whatnot.  Hmmmm….

So I downloaded it, and asked my Facebook friends for tips and hints, which landed me an awesome link to a blog post about it!  This is the kind of info I’m looking for!  A basic overview to give me an idea of how a family has made it work for them.  Fantastic!

So I started playing with it a little more seriously, and here’s what I discovered:

I really like Cozi because it works across multiple platforms.  My husband has an iPod touch and I’ve got an Android phone.  We both use Outlook at the office.  There’s not a lot of “talking” that goes on between these systems.  But after I downloaded Cozi onto  my phone and his iPod, I was able to connect both effortlessly.  We don’t have to worry about it being Apple/Android-specific.  It works cross-functionally.  Apparently you can also sync Outlook with Cozi, but I haven’t tried it.  I don’t want all of our daytime meetings showing up on the family calendar.

Because the thing lives on a 3rd party website (unlike our outlook calendars), we can access it anywhere we’ve got an internet connection.  If I make a doctor’s appointment for the Grasshopper at the office, I don’t have to wait till I’m home to put it on the home calendar. I can pop open the website from my browser and enter it right then and there.  It’s then ready to view on my husband’s iPod, internet browser, or whichever device he happens to use.

We can also keep personal stuff off of our office calendars. Our Outlook calendars are viewable company-wide.  The last thing people need to know is that I’ve got an Midwife appointment at 2 pm on Thursday.  Blocked time?  Fine.  Details?  Not fine.  Plus, it’s difficult for Mr. Grasshopper because, while he may need to know that something is going on at a certain time for carpool planning purposes (like a 6 pm La Leche League Meeting or a 3 pm Dentist appointment for me), he doesn’t need to have that time showing as blocked/busy on his work calendar.  This way, we can coordinate the carpool without blocking time or inviting embarrassing questions.

Sounds pretty good in theory, right?  How about in execution?  How does it work?

So far, it seems to be working well.

Our Calendar

We’re able to enter all of our family activities here so we can plan our carpool and schedule appointments without having to guess at what is going on with the other person.  We tag the family members involved to make it clear which appointment belongs to which person.  We’re also able to schedule reminders for events if we wish.  Since my phone receives text messages, I set a reminder for Cozi to text reminders straight to my phone.  Mr. Grasshopper doesn’t have texting on his phone, so it will email him.  Convenient!

cozi calendar

 

The things I’m really liking about Cozi, though, are the lists.

There are To Do lists and Shopping lists, and within those lists, you can separate out individual lists.

Our Shopping Lists

For example, I’m able to maintain both a grocery shopping list for Mr. Grasshopper to have when he goes to the store, and a separate list for things that we get at other places, like Target.  We’re even able to create custom lists so I can keep track of the little odds and ends that we still need to get before the baby is born.

cozi shopping list

 

Our To Do Lists

Just like the shopping lists, you can create your own custom lists.  In this case, I created a Baby-Related To Do list (of course).  You can tag the To Do lists for a specific family member or make it a shared list for all family members to see.  In this case, I tagged the Baby list as shared.  As you complete items, you just check them off.  Simple.  If you want to get fancy, you can group items by headers like I did here in the Baby-Related To Do list:

cozitodo

 

All of these screen shots are from the Cozi website that I’m accessing from my PC.  Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a way to take screenshots from my phone so I can’t show you what the Android app looks like.  I will tell you, though, that it’s pretty spiffy.

Accessing Everything

My phone lets me install widgets to my screens.  This is more than just a little icon.  Instead, I can see an updated version of my calendar right there on my screen!  I’ve got widgets showing the calendar, the baby shopping list, and the baby to do list.  All right there in front of me.  I can simply touch to start adding or making changes.  No need to let the app load. It’s running right there on top and updating live.

I also took the… ahem… liberty of installing the app onto Mr. Grasshopper’s iPod.  So he’s got it, too, although, I don’t think Apple lets you do widgets quite like Android does.

Has it Helped?

Mr. Grasshopper was a little concerned that this list-making was stressing me out.  Really, though, I’m finding the opposite to be the case.  I’m able to write things down as they pop into my head and then set them aside.  Part of my stress came from intense worry that I would forget something vital.  Trying to keep track of all of this coordination in my head was making me feel a little unhinged.  I feel like I’ve been given a dose of sanity.

There are more features than what I list here.  I can’t really see myself using the journal feature very much.  That’s what my blog is for.  I’m also not too sure about the photo collage thing.  I’ve got Picassa for that and it works just fine.  There does seem to be a whole lot more to this program than meets the eye, so I’m sure there is a lot more for me to explore.

How Can You Get It?

For those of you curious about Cozi, you can access the computer version from www.cozi.com.  We got our mobile device apps from the Android app marketplace and the Ipod app store just by going through our mobile devices.

Want to know the best part?

It’s Free!

Yeah, you read that right!  It’s free!  I’m all about free stuff!  There does appear to be an upgrade option that offers more advanced scheduling options, but for us, I think the free version is perfectly sufficient.

So talk to me!  Who out there uses this?  How do you use it?  What do you find the most useful about it?  Do you have any tips or tricks for new users like me?