Mission Organization: Paperwork Edition

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Our family command center

It’s back to school time, which means it’s time for the copious amounts of paperwork. Some paperwork needs to be completed and returned to school, some paper needs to be displayed prominently to serve a reminder and some paperwork needs to be organized and filed for future use. How does a busy mom juggle all of this? Well, if you are like me, you have an entire system devoted to paperwork so that every permission slip, every finger painting and every sticky note can easily be found.

With paperwork from school and mail, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer amount of stuff that comes home. Stay on top of the paperwork daily and weekly and it shouldn’t become too overwhelming. I sometimes don’t even open credit card offers I receive and I immediately place them in the shred box. Why waste my time opening mail I know I don’t need?

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One of the two drop file boxes.

My system has evolved over the years due to improvements in technology and the addition of a husband, kids and dog. When it was just myself, I had a portable drop file box filled with bills to be paid, paid bills and one for important documents. It was simple and I always managed to stay on top of it. At it’s worst, it was maybe 12-15 pieces that needed to be filed on a monthly basis. I shredded whatever was confidential but didn’t need to be kept and filed the rest.

When my husband and I first got married, I was introduced to his file cabinet system of organization. I wasn’t a fan of this method, but it sort of worked because we lived in a one-floor condo so it was fairly easy to access the file cabinet. Then we moved to a two-story home and the file cabinet went upstairs and wasn’t as easy to access. I implemented my drop file box system to keep track of paperwork on a daily basis. On a yearly basis we would go through the file cabinet and toss whatever paperwork was no longer relevant.

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Storage bins for each of my girls’ artwork.

Along came our three daughters and ENDLESS amounts of sometimes useful and sometimes useless paperwork. I remember adding a section to my drop file box for each of our girls and that’s when I realized that I needed to update our system. Medical documents, school documents and more art projects than all of the art museums in the world currently own. This is when I purchased large plastic bins with lids to house the art projects and also downloaded an app on my iPhone called Artkive. If you’ve never heard of Artkive, the concept is pretty cool and it’s easy and free. Simply use your smartphone to take a picture of your little Picasso’s artwork and save it to your child’s file in the Artkive app. There are options to order books and other projects to commemorate the pieces but sadly, I have yet to do this. They also offer a concierge service in which you send them ALL of your child’s artwork and they archive it for you! My drop file box became two drop file boxes and I micro-organized everything. My files included things such as an individual medical file for each family member (dog included) and individual school files for each of our daughters. Other files include things such as homeowner’s insurance, car insurance, HOA documents, coupons and I even file my Bed Bath and Beyond coupons in their own file because I have so many. My husband and I also implemented a “screen shot” system of important documents, just in case we can’t locate a document. Taking a screen shot eliminates the need to hold onto items that may be useful, but probably aren’t.

When we moved in 2017, I set up a family command center in our kitchen. The placement was perfect because it was in the hallway of the kitchen, which everyone passes to get to the garage to exit. You can’t miss it, so it’s easy to double-check the wall calendar and the wall folders. On a weekly basis, I check the wall folders and either complete and return the paperwork to school or file it in its appropriate file folder. I update the calendar for the next month at the end of the prior month. I keep dry erase markers close by so that I can add events and I even color coordinate for each family member because I feel like that helps everyone see what they have on the calendar. For myself, I keep an agenda planner. I carry it with me in the car so that I’m able to write down items as I receive them. I transfer items from my agenda to the family calendar. My husband and I go over our schedule monthly and then weekly. We have a lot going on and we don’t want to forget anything. We even remind the girls in the morning of what is on the schedule for the day, so they’re not surprised when I tell them we have back to school night or a dentist appointment.

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My agenda from The Happy Planner.

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A glance at a typical week.

As for the paperwork that doesn’t need to be saved, we shred it. Sometimes paperwork contains confidential information that you don’t want to compromise, so it’s always best to properly destroy it. I also purchased a stamper to block out information, but we usually end up shredding that document anyway.

Here are my top tips for keeping all of your paperwork organized:

  1. When you receive something, read it and decide if you want to keep it. If you need to keep it, file it immediately and if you don’t need to keep it, place it in the shred box.
  2. Do a little each day and stay on top of it, otherwise you may end up with a mountain of paperwork.
  3. Find a system that works best for you! Our system works for us, but it may not work for you.
  4. Share your system with your family so they can participate, too!
  5. If you implement a new system and it doesn’t work, quickly change it so you don’t fall behind. Your system can and should evolve.
  6. Find an app to help archive your children’s artwork.

Happy organizing ladies!   

  • Kimberly Lasher – SAHM to three beautiful girls, reality TV junkie & ISR advocate. 

DIY Farm Table

So I’ve been watching a lot of Fixer Uppers, and have wanted a farm table for some time. After looking up the price points, it was pretty clear that I wasn’t getting one…

Or was I?
I took a look at my current dining room table. It was given to me used, and had been very loved. It was a sad looking table after it had been adopted by my family. Bubbles from spills, paint from crafts with my kids that would NOT wash off… So I had an epiphany! I’m gonna turn my own table into a farm table!
After looking up several posts on Pinterest, I kind of took a general idea of them all, came up with my own plan, and got to work. I did some measuring, made a list of all materials I would need, and we headed to Lowe’s.
My materials list consisted of:
2X6s
Stainable wood filler
Liquid nail
The stain of my choice
Matte finish poly
Sand paper
We already had an electric sander, screws, white paint, and paint brushes.
I had my husband cut the wood long enough to have about an inch an a half-2 inches over hang and set them aside.
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We sanded down the whole table.
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Flipped it upside down, and pained the bottom white. I wasn’t super careful with the bottom because I was going to sand over the paint, anyway.
We let the paint dry, flipped the table back up, and glued down the boards with liquid nail to the sanded (and wiped Free of dust) table top.
We did run into a little issue here, as my husband put down WAY too much liquid nail on the table top. It took a long time to dry, and before it was fully dried, it caused the boards to sit funny. So, if I ever do one again, I will put a small amount of liquid nail on each board and apply instead of the liquid nail all over the table top. After a couple days, the boards sat flat as we wanted them to.
Once that was dry, we used stainable wood filler for the cracks between the boards. I had seen this on Pinterest, so assumed we wouldn’t have any issues.
We did.
The wetness of the wood filler expanded the wood in the cracks, raising them higher than the rest of the table.
When it was fully dry, I sanded it down even, and then it started cracking which defeated the entire purpose of using the stinkin wood filler.
So far I’m feeling like I’ve ruined our table…
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I sanded down parts of the painted table bottom, and then got to staining the entire table. The table top, and over the painted legs. The stain gets into the sanded parts of the paint to give it a rustic look.
If you’ve never stained anything, the stain is applied and wiped off.
I did a couple coats of stain on the top to get it the color I liked.
I let the stain dry a couple days, and then decided I needed to do something about the cracked up wood filler. The only other thing I had, was some clear caulking by Gorilla Glue that was supposed to work with wood.
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I applied one coat of Poly, let it dry and sanded it. Once it was wiped down, I put down painters tape on the edges of the boards and filled it with the clear caulk.
I forgot to pull up the tape when it was still wet. When I pulled the tape off, it had a little bit of an overhang which I was not happy about, but I used an exacto knife to carefully cut those off.
I let the caulking dry overnight.
Once it was dry, I put the remaining layers of poly on top and let it dry a couple of days before bringing in the house.
With all the road blocks I ran into, I was thinking it would turn out to be a disaster, but I am very happy with how the table came out, and have gotten several compliments on it!
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Now I’m going to build a matching bench seat and refinish a couple of our chairs to match!
                       Becky Phillips
                          Mom of 2
  You can find more of my posts on                Workingwifemommalife.wordpress.com

Community Spotlight: Waterset in Apollo Beach

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Waterset is not your parents’ cookie-cutter neighborhood.  You do not hear the song “Little Boxes” as you drive along these streets.  This exciting Newland Communities master-planned development is currently home to nearly 1,000 beautifully crafted homes, with amenities the whole family will love.

First opening in 2012, builders are currently in Phase 3 of construction in this desirable Apollo Beach community.  There is a large selection of floor plans available among seven builders selected by Newland to deliver quality new-build homes to residents.  If you prefer a move-in-ready home, there are a number of inventory homes and resale homes also available.  Continue reading to find out why once you move in to Waterset, you may never want to leave home again!

Located south of Big Bend Road between US 41 and Interstate 75, the first thing you’ll notice upon turning on Waterset Boulevard, is the scenic half-mile tree-lined drive into the community.   Pride of ownership is displayed throughout Waterset, with clean streets and common areas, well-maintained homes and yards, and outstanding amenities.

Waterset Amenities

The Landing

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The Landing Club & Café is the social hub of Waterset.  Complete with a staffed information center and meeting room, The Landing Club & Café offers residents and visitors a delectable café menu of made-to-order food, smoothies, and drinks including a selection of wine and beer.

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Designed with a modern flair, there are several tables and booths available for patrons, as well as an area with two couches.  Perhaps best of all, there is an area dedicated to children, loaded with toys, books, and games.   That’s right; parents and friends can gather and relax while the children entertain themselves indoors without making a mess in your home.  Grab a glass or mug, sit back, and relax!

Just outside, the Landing also includes a fitness center, shade pavilion, outdoor playground, community pool, and a pier overlooking a lake.

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But wait, Waterset offers even more…

The Lakeside

Centrally located within Waterset is another set of amenities, appropriately named The Lakeside.  Situated next to a 32-acre lake, this fun spot includes a children’s splash zone (two actually; one large and one smaller splash pad), a spacious playground for children of all ages, a dog park, outdoor fit stations, a picnic area with grills, plenty of lounge chairs for sunning, and benches or hammocks for relaxing in the shade.  The Lakeside is also home to the Grand Lawn, where community events are held, including concerts and parties such as the fabulous Independence Day celebration, Concerts for a Cause, Wine Down Friday, and more.

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Playground at The Lakeside in Waterset

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Splash Pad at The Lakeside in Waterset

What more could you ask for?  Well, I’m glad you asked…

Future Waterset Club

Located on the southern end of Waterset, construction has begun on another massive play area for families.  The Waterset Club is scheduled to open in 2018 and will include 2 resort-style pools (a lap pool, and a larger pool with slides), another indoor fitness center, tennis and basketball courts, pickle ball, game room, and gathering room.

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Rendering for the future Waterset Club amenities

Scattered Throughout

Waterset has plenty of scenery with many bodies of water, an abundance of trees, and large green spaces to run and play.  This pedestrian-friendly community has small parks located among the neighborhoods, and miles of trails throughout the community, perfect for walking or jogging.  The Fit Trail is a 2.5 mile trail featuring six outdoor fit stations with exercise equipment.

Area Schools

If you’re familiar with Apollo Beach, you’ve likely heard praises about SouthShore Montessori Preschool located within Waterset.  Kids-R-Kids Learning Academy has a daycare/VPK campus nestled in Waterset, plus another location just outside of the community, across Big Bend Road.  Waterset Charter School (Kindergarten – 8th grade) is nearby, as well as Doby Elementary, Eisenhower Middle School, and East Bay High School.  There is also a proposed school site within the southeastern corner of Waterset for future plans.

Apollo Beach Growth

Waterset will continue to grow, with Newland planning to build up through Phase 5 of construction with approximately 5,000 homes total, possibly up to 6,000.  Also on the drawing board for the future, are plans for a Town Center site and a proposed County Sports Complex site.  Waterset is a shining star in Apollo Beach, attracting more commerce to the area.  You will find plenty of shopping, restaurants, businesses, schools, daycares, and medical facilities nearby.  St. Joseph’s Hospital South and the YMCA South County are relatively new to Apollo Beach and are less than three miles away from Waterset.  Travel in the opposite direction, and you will find the TECO Manatee Viewing Center, also only a couple miles away.  Work in the city?  Downtown Tampa is a 20-mile drive via Interstate 75 and the Selmon Expressway.

The Homes

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(Current Watersest Builders. Information subject to change.)

Current New-Build Inventory

There are many inventory homes available now or in the very near future.  Current builder inventory homes range from 1,524 to 3,518 square feet, and are priced between the $230s and $450s.

Current MLS Resale Listings

Active resale listings are currently priced between $212,900 and $550,000, ranging in square footage from 1,747 to 4,028.  Some of these homes even include a private pool. These are not new-build homes; I call them pre-loved.

HOA & CDD

Waterset offers single family homes, townhomes, and villas.  This is a HOA and CDD community, with a fee schedule dependent upon the type of home and lot size.
– 2017 Annual HOA, $73
– 2016-2017 CDD Fiscal Year Fees, range from $965 to $3,076
– 2017 Limited Maintenance Homes, annual fees range from $1,056 to $2,149

Feature Resident

I want to send a special thank you to Everyday Moms member Julie Ann P. who so graciously showed me around her community of Waterset.  Julie Ann currently resides here with her family and is also building a beautiful new home through Homes by Westbay.  She explained that her favorite feature of Waterset is the community involvement.  There is so much to do in Waterset with all the amenities and special events, but the people are more than just residents, they are a true community.  They communicate and cooperate to make living here a wonderful experience – and it shows.

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Julie Ann and her daughter with their new-construction home

Just for Everyday Moms

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As your Everyday Moms Real Estate Contributor, I am planning an exclusive small group tour of the Waterset community in the upcoming months. Please contact me today to be included in the group. We will explore the community amenities and builder models, and discuss all that Waterset has to offer while enjoying lunch on-site at The Landing Café, provided free of charge. Limited space is available for this tour; however, I can also assist you individually. Contact me at ChristinaEdwards@kw.com for more information.  I am a licensed Florida Real Estate Agent.

What does community mean to you?

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I am highlighting some of the most sought-after communities in the Tampa Bay Area, as well as some of the smaller hidden gems around us. Do you love your neighborhood? Contact me to share your community experience for a chance to be featured in our Everyday Moms Community Spotlight blog.

Everyday Moms Contributor, Christina Edwards, Realtor®

I am a homeschooling mom of a kindergartner and have been with my husband for 17 years. As a life-long resident of Hillsborough County, it wasn’t until after I had my son that my love for this area was truly realized. Motherhood brought life experiences to a new level; with so much to do here and with community connections growing stronger than ever, this is a wonderful place to call home. I am a USF graduate with a background in business finance and new-build construction. As a local Mom and Realtor® with Keller Williams Realty, I am able to share my love and knowledge of the entire Tampa Bay Area with you!