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Home management tips

Renee Ellison's tools for effectively managing your home--including finance and domestic skills..


Tuesday, 23. October 2018 by Renee Ellison


You can never get much of anything done unless you go ahead and do it before you get ready to do it.

Our ship would come in much sooner if we’d just swim out to meet it.

Think what others ought to be like, then start being like that yourself.

Business is like a wheelbarrow—it stands still unless somebody pushes it.

The smallest good deed is better than the grandest intention.

No farmer ever plowed a field by turning it over in his mind.

We make our future by the best use of the present.

You can’t make a hit with the bat on your shoulder.

Works, not words, are the proof of love.

There are still a few people who believe in gittin’ up and gittin, while a great many prefer sittin’ down and sittin.

After saying our prayers we ought to do something ourselves to make them come true.

The world has finally achieved perpetual commotion.

There are 4 steps to accomplishment: plan, prepare, proceed (action), persevere.

It is simply remarkable how the apostle Paul covered so much territory and accomplished so much without a car!

You cannot control the length of your life, but you can control its breadth, depth, and height.

You can’t get anywhere unless you start.

Do it now! Today will be yesterday tomorrow.

It doesn’t do any good to sit up and take notice if you keep sittting!

Doing beats stewing.

No thoroughly occupied man has ever been known to be miserable.

Knowing without doing is like plowing without sowing.

No one ever climbed a hill just by looking at it.

Happiness is a by-product of achievement.

Choice not chance determines one’s outcomes.

If you want a place in the sun, you will have to expect some blisters.

We are known by what we finish not merely by what we attempt.

Some fellows dream of worthy accomplishments, while others stay awake and do them.

You can’t make a place for yourself under the sun if you keep sittin’ in the shade of the family tree.

Today’s preparation determines tomorrow’s achievements.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Too many cooks? Tips for sharing the kitchen

Sunday, 07. October 2018 by Renee Ellison


For most homeschoolers, training our children in domestic duties is one of the skills we want to pass along to the next generation. Sparks may fly, however, when Mom and someone else are working the kitchen at the same time. Often, the clash is simply due to a difference in personalities and the fact that there is more than one way to do things. If that is your situation, you may want to try these strategies for solving the problem:

Separate your times in the kitchen. Plan it so the two of you are in the kitchen at opposite times during a day. Totally assign to one or the other the complete holiday preparation for a special holiday. This lets one of you be the Queen of your domain for a day or for a special meal, without having to go through the other one’s psyche’s to do each step. Either you totally take control and do things yourself, or your mature daughter (or son) takes over and tackles it all; you alternate back and forth. You are available in the background, in some other place, to give advice or assistance if requested. Then, rave about the other person’s accomplishments and render great respect and gratefulness for the work she or he did. You can thoroughly enjoy the meals someone else cooked—and let each other know that via lavish praise. Sometimes, especially when one person’s mind is totally occupied with other things, she may ask you to cook and she does the dishes—splitting the workload in half, but the two of you are still not in the kitchen at the same time. This can lighten your load and brighten the atmosphere of your home if the kitchen is a scene of daily conflict. For some families and multiple daughters kitchen work is not a source of contention.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Marriage is a skill

Thursday, 20. September 2018 by Renee Ellison


Marriage is a skill that we learn by doing. A good marriage is an achievement, not an entitlement. Getting married is not like falling into a kind of Disneyland or waltzing into a permanently glittering ballroom, like our culture relentlessly and erringly touts. We must learn to square ourselves with the fact that all too often our culture is obsessed with shallow trappings rather than real essences, and its pathways invariably end in disillusionment and depression.

It often takes ten years for a marriage to wake up from this delusion and settle into what a marriage really is: staying lovingly and profoundly connected with one person for an adult lifetime. God designed this relationship to be long and to require something big of us, in order for us to even begin to understand what godly love really is all about.

Faithfully staying in the game, doing the “daily round” of family duties and responsibilities, shapes and molds us far more than we can imagine. Duty is both our challenge and our learned victory. It builds within us the maturity of self-denial. And it progressively teaches us the skill of being able to marshal our wandering disparate selves into towers of intention and accomplishment.

Devotedly loving ONE, teaches us about love for ALL. And oddly, the path to such knowledge requires a continual and determined focus of forsaking all others—trading toying and flirting with what is not ours for engendering new love for the same person day after day. Fidelity becomes our hallowed path and joy. Why? because our Lord did it first towards us, showing us how to love unswervingly even unto death…til death do us part. He perhaps designed marriage so that we, too, as mere mortals, should “have a go at it”—to see what such love “takes.”

Make no mistake, God wants every marriage that He authors to “make it”—and thus He adds a good amount of appropriate and helpful glue via sexual enjoyment, shared mutual achievements and aspirations, and joint offspring from the combined DNA.

God’s glue quietly and unconsciously grows the marriage into a nice sure familiarity, too—a familiarity that breeds comfort and security. C. S. Lewis said this phenomenon can even exist with something as ordinary as getting used to the neighbor’s cat always on your property; finally the cat works his way into your emotions, against your better judgment, and you find yourself anticipating the rub against your legs as you sip tea and read on the front porch…and eventually you might even get up and feed that cat!

Applying supernatural glue is God’s part—but our part is just as vital. You build a marriage. You don’t just inherit one. And much of what the marriage becomes depends upon you. What kind of marriage would you like? Build it.

Yes, making a good marriage is a skill, just like learning to play a musical instrument. It comes with a steep learning curve. At first, everything about it is new, sometimes hard to navigate, perplexing, awkward, even unthinkable, perhaps. Playing an instrument requires lots of practice initially and a determination to stick with it, until it eventually yields a lovely sound more easily. You can either casually fiddle with your marriage (furtively wishing you could change instruments—continually rolling the idea around like hard candy in your mind) or choose to master THIS one.

Here is another helpful picture. A good marriage can be viewed as a grand junction of two roaring rivers. The two very different lives at first make a huge clashing spray (first of infatuation and excitement, but not long afterwards, perhaps in irritation and incompatibility) at the junction where the two join, but downstream become calm and steady, gentle and beautiful. So surviving the clash becomes IMPORTANT!

A good marriage can also be pictured as a fine Swiss watch, well oiled, which ticks on and on with a steady dependability. Marriage is an adventure in adjustment, ever fine-tuning our lives in light of the other one. This unknowingly gets done so well (‘tis one of God’s ordinary miracles) that eventually, in our older marriages and in our older years, even a grain of sand in the works can be noticed (hey, it’s a SWISS watch)—something a clunky, less destined clock wouldn’t even alter its clang for.

By staying in the game, we begin to see how vast another human being actually is, and that love in the last analysis has no measure. It will have to grow deep and wide to encompass the complexity of any human being. Marriage dethrones the deep-seated love and satisfaction of self and powerfully and deftly enlarges one’s own soul.

Loving endurance (i.e. commitment) is vital to marriage. That is both its context and its oxygen. It is only through love’s LONGEVITY that we finally grow to know a wee bit what it is all about. We have eternity to learn the rest of the way love works. For now, though, let’s pass THIS test. Saddle in; buckle down. None of this “eyes darting in every corner looking for a way of escape.” God’s designs are extraordinary. Trust Him. Embrace them. Do what YOU can do today with what you have.


To read more by Renee Ellison on this topic, order Wise Womanly Ways to Grow Your Marriage. Available as a bound volume, as a downloadable ebook, and in Kindle format.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Navigating hubby challenges: Tips for wives

Monday, 23. July 2018 by Renee Ellison


It is wonderful to know that, in God’s grand design for marriage, a wife is given (via the Holy Spirit) coping strategies and intuition that are totally unique to her relationship with her specific husband.

There may be times when she is at a loss to know what to do. But in prayer God will lead. A husband may have a response to something, now, that comes from hard-wiring that happened long before she ever met him (the same is true of her wiring, too!)—wiring that began to be formed in childhood and in adolescent responses to other conditions and circumstances, far outside of the marriage relationship and the couple’s life today.

Through prayer God may simply give a wife only an enlargement of understanding of what IS—even if there are never any changes whatsoever in her husband’s behavior.

At times, however, a good wife can lovingly and delicately help her man introspect (that is part of being a gentle help-meet for him)—but it has to be when things are calm, at a time when other things are going well. As most all wives know, one can wait a long time for those more ideal moments to transpire. When they do arrive, she may be able to escort him into a little bit of introspection for his own emotional deliverances.

Her aid in helping her hubby understand the value of introspection (what do you suppose triggered that? to what END do you withdraw? what are you hoping to accomplish?), may be the first help he has ever had in being able to do that to good benefit for both of them. Whatever the area that is needful of introspection, it must be packaged for HIS advantage—how it will do HIM good. You can show him how the increased objectivity upon himself can bring more rest to his soul, increase his bonding potential with a child or two, a neighbor, you.

God tenderly wants to coax each of us in the art of falling forward into the marital relationship via conflict rather than shutting down or escaping it. To learn to “fall forward” in one’s only intimate relationship is one of the deepest things the Lord is accomplishing in the marriage relationship. It is the art of love at its zenith.

We all have miles to go in understanding love’s longevity, and love’s spaciousness for the other to just be. In this sense, marriage may be far more of a spectator sport than we realized at first. As my dad said on my wedding day, “Marriage is an adventure in adjustment!”

Here are three more tidbits to add to these thoughts:


Love doubles-down and loves anyway, loves in spite of…finds a way through the maze to be even more loving towards the spouse in and through the difficult challenge. Mature, seasoned love continually finds new ways to express itself. We can learn to rummage around inside the Trinity’s long love and discover MORE of how it acts. We can learn to experience love by expressing it at greater and more insightful degrees—to surprise the beloved that it YET comes forth and to enlarge our own souls.


Because a woman is first, last and in-between a responder (as Elisabeth Elliot pointed out), her husband’s cold-shoulder, shut-outs, or shut-downs can be very painful because she can’t help responding—she was build that way even anatomically. Therefore, the woman must pull herself out of the trenches and re-define herself as a responder to the Lord Himself, and find something there to respond to. If she can change the source of what/who she is responding to?—built up vertically—this will free her up to continue to love afresh horizontally.


....and let us not forget to be deeply grateful for what a man is. Let us be grateful for our men. Heaven help us without them. As women, we may tend to be overly confident that we have far more relational savvy (or at least elasticity), but that is not the only yardstick by which even God measures human strength (otherwise He would have made man a duplicate of woman—something women’s libbers desperately and shortsightedly think they want).

Let us be deeply grateful that our men can often pierce through to the heart of a political, church, technical, functional or even relational issue (many of our best counselors and theologians have come up with stunning leaps of insights) out of the blue, or to muster incredible single-focus to protect our nation, as our Navy SEAL teams do. Try living through just one of their days. A man is able to shut off the infinite latitude of relational sensitivity and move the domestic ship forward in quantum ways, or harness unbelievable testosterone or endurance when a crisis requires it, where perhaps the woman might be blind-sided, weakened and/or encumbered by a preoccupation with less overall significant matters at that moment.

Many ordinary godly men are marvels. Men may actually “see” life differently. Adam knew he was sinning; Eve was deceived. This is not always the case, and may seldom be the case, but if it happened once, we need to be humbled by it, and realize that it happens again and again in large ways and small in the wide, wide world; we need to respect this possibility. There may be profound levels of this. The Virgin Mary pondered all of these things in her heart, but her husband Joseph got up and took them to Egypt! Our womanly evaluation of things may not be the last word—though the dominant culture today will never tell you otherwise.

Listen to even a young man in the Lord. Down in his gizzard, he may know something you/we don’t. Sometimes we do well to sit in the bleachers and realize that life is far larger than our knowing. We do well to walk softly amidst the mysteries of the husband/wife relationship.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Mom’s Day Out Workshop

Monday, 05. March 2018 by Renee Ellison


Want to be queen for a day? Have a personal mentor all to yourself? Come to Renee’s “Mom’s Day Out” one-day workshop and you’ll never be the same.

You’ll expand your own skills in one to three vital domestic areas. You get to select one of these skills, or have a combination of two or all three. Not only do you learn them yourself, you also will be able to turn around and teach them to others.

With these highly focused streamlined remarkable methods, you can teach these skills to your children, or make some extra spending money from home via teaching other moms and daughters in your area.

Your own personal satisfaction, delight and expansion with your newly found skills will be your biggest gain. You’ll go home filled because someone invested in YOU, for a change, like you do with your children and others every day. Pamper yourself AND grow capable, in one day.

The three skill areas:

· Personal and domestic organizational tips and tricks

· Beginning sewing skills

· Beginning piano chording

The workshop fee is $99, and includes two free nights of simple sleeping accommodations, meals, and free pick-up and drop-off at the DRO airport for those who need to fly in. (The Durango-La Plata County Airport is just ten minutes away; no need for a car rental.) Bring a friend and/or your daughter, 12 years or older only; one fee per person. Make your reservation now via email.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Thoughts on committed love vs. sentimentality on Valentine’s Day

Wednesday, 14. February 2018 by Renee Ellison


I think it is most interesting on this Valentine’s Day to observe our culture’s mania over engaging in sentimentality and materialism, all too often with a series of transient lovers (beginning in Jr. High, continued at the office, and ending in Senior retirement communities of multiple divorcees and re-marriages playing crib together) in preference to gripping the real foundations of a lifetime singular love.

Such a solitary love is built upon an increasing fidelity, loyalty, having each other’s back through thick and thin, focus, selflessness, self-sacrifice, adjustment to another human being in all of its delicacies, promoting the other human being in others’ eyes, believing in them, working side by side in various life projects, etc. One Chinese man built for his wife a stairway up their mountain of 500 stairs, made of rock, presented them to her with pride, and walked up and down them with her over the remainder of their crippled old lives together. She was his entire horizon.

As a culture, on the other hand, we would far rather throw money and tinsel at the situation with a temporary love than do the work of love’s longevity and depth of “knowing.” The old hymn expresses real love so well in its words: “He shall hold me fast.” That is the lead pipe of human love as well:“I shall hold thee fast.”

Filed Under: Home management tips

Two tips for successfully managing groups of children

Thursday, 11. January 2018 by Renee Ellison


At social gatherings and even at church after the service is over we often forget that children need adult supervision at all times. Without close management, unsupervised children, running in herds, tend to descend toward deviant behavior, property gets damaged, and/or someone gets hurt.

There are two wise avenues of establishing a wholesome triumphant group life for children at a moment’s notice. They are found in the teaching concepts of “gathering” and “pre-positioning.” Let’s look at each.

Gathering all the children involved in an event to sit quietly at an adult’s feet will coalesce a group in good directions. The instructions given at the time of gathering provides children with clarity and security. Children need to know, at all times, that some adult is at the helm and that an authority figure can be found swiftly should he or she be needed.

Pre-positioning further provides specific guidance for boundaries. Standards are set in this way that help define the event and set the tone of the atmosphere.

The gathering and pre-positioning are where you set (and communicate to the children) the boundaries. When in groups, children need three kinds of boundaries—spatial, activity, and behavioral—for them to function at their best. Following are examples of boundaries of all three types.

One (spatial): “You may play in this area, but do not go out beyond X, Y or Z.”

Two (activity): “You may use this equipment, these objects, these games. You must put them back where they belong before going on to the next activity.”

Three (behavioral): “You must conduct yourself with kindness, looking for ways to serve or help others. Think of others more than yourself whenever you are in a group.”

These two simple management strategies of gathering and pre-positioning children are both wonderfully proactive, and are based on the fact that “an ounce of pre-planning and prevention is better than a pound of chaotic cure.”

Let us value our children and their social events by remaining attentive to their needs. Let us determine to provide protection and security for them at all times. There is no time when children are unimportant. Each social arena is a place to continue to tend, to train, and to treasure our offspring. Parenthood is all about vigilance. Do it carefully and prayerfully for just a few short years, a sprint across time, and you’ll reap the rewards again and again in years to come.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Some thoughts on the care of our elderly loved ones

Thursday, 09. February 2017 by Renee Ellison


Our care of the elderly is really three-pronged:

One: Protection
from the cold, cruel world. The physical shelter alone and the food one provides, at far less expense than any commercial solution anywhere, gives their life a SURE context/structure/dependable fortress.

Two: Psychological stability

You are there to diffuse many and relentless anxieties right at the “letting out of waters.” You embody comfortable, familiar sameness from their past. Also, you and your family’s presence provides variety by the rush of life that swishes past them, rather than abandon them to gaping, no-ending loneliness, of absolutely nothing happening, long day after long night.

Three: Nursing

Since the very condition of old age is that the body starts falling apart in little ways and in big. You are constantly mitigating that pain/discomfort by immediate alternative solutions as much as possible. When left alone, they let maladies of all sorts go until they reach crisis/hospital stageEVERY time.

The one driving thought that should give us tender endurance along the “care-taking” way, is that someday we, too, are likely to be in the same conditionwanting any and all kindnesses. It is hard work, but God never said it would be easy. There are secret silver linings behind all of his just dispensations, if we look for them. Our lot in life is hand-picked FOR us. Even if we COULD design our own lives, would we even WANT the job? Surely, with limited sight we would craft for ourselves bigger messeswith less noble outcomes.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Lifeless amusements

Sunday, 25. December 2016 by Renee Ellison


An alarm: At a time of year when daylight is shorter and outdoor recreation opportunities are more restrictive, understanding some key principles could affect how much time you’ll let your little ones sit down in front of any type of visual media (TV, DVDs, movie theaters, YouTube videos, video games, etc). Get these insights under your belt and you’ll be less apt to be duped into passivity over this vital mental (and spiritual) issue.

Muse means “to think,” but “a-muse” means NOT “to think;” our families are dangerously swimming in long hours of such mindlessness. The alarm is that we think this is normal. This blog post is an attempt at tossing some life preservers into this tidal wave. When viewed historically, it becomes obvious that our modern proclivity for amusement is not normal—it has an insidious undertow. Consider these thoughts drawn from Neil Postman’s book, Amusing Ourselves to Death.

The problem:
  • Too often, entertainment does not lead to any meaningful action. Instead, it provides pointless quantity, and its audiences are overtaken by irrelevance and novelty.
  • We have almost an infinite appetite for distraction. We’re after applause, not reflection.
  • Standards have become a slippery slope of objective truth. One person’s PG-13 rating is another person’s R.
  • TV courtrooms are filled with—? Reading, on the other hand, trains us in delaying arriving at a verdict until the entire argument has been presented, from multiple sides. To be true, justice needs to abhor contradiction, be deductive, and have a tolerance for delayed responses. In other words: justice is the good fruit of jurors who are detached, analytical, and devoted to logic.
  • We are afflicted with pleasure (and with pleasure-seeking). We soothe the deep regions of our discontent with entertainment. Books, on the other hand, require quiet scrutiny; they even require something of our physical bodies. We have to sit long enough to read an argument through.
  • Pictures can never get at the larger abstractions of truth, honor, love, and falsehood.
  • Seeing, not reading (much less, thinking), has become the basis for believing.


  • “You press a button; we do the rest.” Such a phrase would have been unthinkable in our past history. What does this mean, really? Has media data, delivered in such a manner, actually told or taught us anything?
  • TV-disseminated information often is so random and disparate in scale and value as to be incoherent, even psychotic.
  • Entertainment offers fascination and triviality in place of complexity and coherence.
  • TV raised the image and instancy to a dangerous perfection, superseding rational thought.
  • The public has adjusted to incoherence and has been amused into indifference.
  • Information about celebrities and entertainers has become serious cultural content. Even politics and policy making has become entertainment. Too often, the populace has voted based on style, looks, and great one-liners, rather than judgment, justice, wisdom, discretion, rationality, deduction, inference, character, and a habit of being prudent. A mindless democracy could release an undisciplined individualism.


  • We hear news without consequences. The “and NOW this” tells us that what we have JUST heard and seen has no relevance with what we are ABOUT to see and hear.
  • From media we get clues about how we are supposed to respond to the world around us. What sort of clues?
  • Endless pictures and imagery short-circuit introspection.
  • News commentators are overrun with ingratiating enthusiasms as they report on earthquakes and mass killings.
  • The viewer is not permitted to pay attention to a concept, a person, or problem for more than a few minutes (with the exception of politics, perhaps—and then it is an overdose, from one slant or another).

Media church:

  • The high praises of God are sandwiched between commercials. Huh?
  • People will eat, go to the bathroom and do push-ups during media church.
  • Alluring visual imagery replaces the Ten Commandments. Nothing is required of you; there are no demands.
  • A preacher’s close-up televised face makes idolatry a continual hazard. Despite the references to the great HE, the focus is on the “he” in front of you.
  • We have grown accustomed to receiving our politics, our news and our church all in the same way.
  • Edwards, Finney, Whitefield, on the other hand, spent long hours in their studies. Their sermons were so profound, they went past reason into regions of conscience. The modern tel-evangelist requires nothing of the watcher, no demands of the soul; no adherence to the Ten Commandments—only alluring visual imagery and modern sounds.


  • For the sale of products, too often emotions rule over reason.
  • With the exception of store items online, decisions about advertised products tend to be made from images rather than from specs/facts/claims (tests of truth).
  • Capitalism used to be a rational market of mutual self-interest, but now we have shifted from product research to market research.

TV education:

  • Does away with sequence and continuity. Thou shalt have no prerequisites to your thinking.
  • Depends upon brevity of expression and instancy; it disdains exposition.
  • Reading and writing are exchanged for t-shirts and cookie-jars.
  • Media is all about the present, with no access to the past except when it is perverted to serve an agenda.
  • The modern mind has grown indifferent to history. We are distracted by trivia.
  • Education was always supposed to free the student from the tyranny of the present. Shows like Sesame Street, on the other hand, do not encourage children to love school, they encourage them to love TV.

Problem solving:

  • Uncertainty is intolerable in a culture that is dictated by the mass media.
  • All problems are solvable, they are solvable fast, and technology and chemistry are the only means of solving them. No reference is made to patience, prayer, delay, etc. as agents of problem solving. There are no photos of Abe Lincoln smiling. Perplexity and complexity are avoided, because they have become a superhighway to low ratings.
  • We believe that being sold solutions is better than being confronted with questions.


  • The fiber-optic cable has replaced co-presence.
  • People don’t get to know their neighbors when they stop interacting face to face.
  • Social media has replaced large amounts of real sociability— particularly in our own families.

What’s the conclusion?
We have a problem. We’re sinking away from reality in our homes via this long hobnobbing with popular mass media. Think: as a result of the influence of the world’s media in our homes, is eternity a lesser reality or a greater reality for us? Where IS eternity in the media? Who is shaping the mental diet of our children? To what ends?

Suggested solutions:

Awake and see that our exposure to popular mass media is a problem. Most of our culture sees NO problem. For us, more time spent in the printed word and, especially, in HIS Word can insulate us from being totally taken underwater on this point. TV doesn’t ban books, it just displaces them. It encourages us to watch continually, rather than to evaluate, analyze, cogitate, pray…

Keep in mind that when you take away vast quantities of media you must fill the void with something better. Reading good missionary biographies and other histories is a good start. Indoor exercise bikes and little rebounders are also great productive uses of time, and promote health. Family cooking projects can be great sport and can provide togetherness. Entrepreneurial advances marshal stray hours into good purposes. Visiting the elderly —offering joy to someone else via your attentive listening—is a wonderful use of time. Playing a musical instrument (practicing stimulates the brain in meaningful ways) and family singing in parts is another positive avenue. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not have access to the media, and they did not die from its absence. They lived meaningfully and progressively under God’s good guidance. Enlarge your perspective and keep it enlarged; you’ll not regret it.

Filed Under: Home management tips

Steps for conquering sorting old family photos without feeling overwhelmed

Tuesday, 24. May 2016 by Renee Ellison


Do you have boxes of old family photos that seem overwhelming for you or your aged family members to sort and identify? So it was for my mom, too—until we came up with a system for overcoming the overwhelmed feeling and plowing through the project to completion. These are the steps that worked for us.

# 1: I largely did the bulk of it for my elderly mom, and away from her, so she didn’t have to feel overwhelmed, even for one minute. I only asked her about two kinds of pictures:

1) about persons I couldn’t identify. If she couldn’t remember or didn’t know, we pitched those (figuring that if they weren’t meaningful to her, they wouldn’t be meaningful at all to her progeny). If she did recognize them and they were significant to the family tree, I wrote some brief identifications in pencil on the back of them.

2) about some select keystone pictures of her own childhood, so she could amplify the events and feelings around those pics. Mom enjoyed this part immensely. I only showed her a few of these pictures a day, so it didn’t feel rushed.

#2: I removed all of the photoprints from the old albums, because those old albums take up enormous space, the pages turn brittle, and the covers break off. I had to pull some of the photos out of decaying sleeves with a pair of small needle nosed pliers (this worked great, and was fast). I set all of them in shoe boxes; they condensed wonderfully down to manageable size. We went from large, heavy boxes of chaos down to super-organized little boxes, all neatly labeled and organized, that could be stored on a shelf in anyone’s hall closet.

#3: I threw out all pictures that were of only scenery or wild animals, or were far-away shots or cloudy and unclear and underexposed shots, or unfavorable shots of a person—a photo the person would feel embarrassed about or unflattered for posterity to see. Not all pictures taken are worth keeping; just because they exist doesn’t mean they have to remain existing and use up people’s time viewing them, down the road, in future generations.

#4: Next I went to a high-end shoe store and asked for as many shoe boxes as he would give me—boxes with removable lids on them—and sorted the pictures into those boxes by person. All pictures with only one person in them went in these boxes—each box labeled with only one person’s name on the outside, in huge print. All group pictures went into that particular family’s box.

#5: After all of the pictures were sorted I then arranged the contents of each box, further grouping those pictures by event or time period—filing them in the box by grouping events or time together—and then stuck 3x5 cards tall-ways with little titles on them stating what that section of pictures was about. The viewer then pulls just that section of loose pictures out of the box to view them, and then puts them right back in the box, under that section’s title.

#6: Mailed pictures (or full picture boxes) to each individual who would treasure them. (An option would have been to take a quick photo via cell phone, to email someone who could then reply if they wanted to have the originals.)

#7: I distributed the grandparent and great grandparent pictures to their descendants as evenly as I could, so each person had “roots” pictures. smile

#8: I collapsed—and rejoiced that it was done for all time and that the job was so meaningful.

For more on this topic, order our guide for preserving your family papers and photos.

Filed Under: Home management tips