What I Learned About Communication From A Railroad Crossing


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What I learned about effective communication from a railroad crossingI must have passed these signs on the pavement on either side of the tracks hundreds–if not thousands–of times and yet…it wasn’t until just a few weeks ago that I saw the message in the words.

Listen, look, stop three key elements in great communicationThree simple words written in white paint. Well, really six if you count the fact that they are written on either side of the tracks.  LISTEN. LOOK. STOP.

take time to really listenListen to the words the person is speaking to you. Really listen. Don’t get distracted by your smartphone, the TV, the thoughts swirling in your head. Give 100% of you attention to every word.

look at the whole pictureBefore you respond–look. Take a moment to look for clues of what might be going on behind the words. True, they could just be words, but often there is more behind the words that we are missing. This is where I think social media fails us. We read a status update and see just a dozen or so words painting a picture that truly needs thousands to be fully explained.

Look at body language, look at history, look at the emotions in the words. Never once have I regretted taking time to look before I have jumped into respond–but oh, the times I regret having jumped in without looking! Those I cannot count.

stop and look at the whole pictureSTOP! This was the last word on the trail before the tracks, yet really in communication it should be first and last, and even in the middle.

Stop and listen. Stop and look. Stop and pause before you respond.

When I see stop as it relates to communication I think of the verse in the Bible

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
 Philipians 4:8

This verse is talking about thoughts we are to let our mind think on, but I think it also applies to our speech.

If the words we are about to speak are not true, are not noble, are not right, are not pure, are not lovely, are not admirable–if they are not excellent or praiseworthy–they shouldn’t be said.

These 3 words on the pavement. Hard, hard words. I stumble. I fall. I plow through when I should have stopped.

Which brings me to a 4th and 5th words I wish were on the pavement. Forgive & Grace.

These two words cannot be separated. Forgive and give grace to others when they stumble and neglect to remember these 3 words when communicating with you. And if you know you have stumbled ask forgiveness and give yourself grace.

Look. Listen. Stop. Forgive & Grace.

If you are interested in friendship building, you might also like these posts:

A great book on the topic of friendship that I read and loved: Friendship: A Gift To Give

Follow Victoria @Snail Pace Transformations’s board Friendships on Pinterest.

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10 Ways Thrifty People Save Money On Children’s Toys


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My children are all teenagers  so I currently don’t buy many toys anymore unless they’re for baby shower gifts. However, I still remember all the tricks I learned through my years as a mom of little ones for saving money on toys and today I thought I would share them with you.

10 ways thrifty people save money on children's toys10 Ways Thrifty People Save Money On Children’s Toys

1. Buy Less

The number one way to save money on toys is to make sure that you don’t over buy. Children don’t really need that many toys. In fact, in my years as a daycare provider I often found that having too many toys caused stimulation overload in children, making them cranky and unable to really concentrate on playing with anything.

I suggest setting physical limits on your child’s  (children’s) toy collection. Perhaps no more than can fit in one toy bin, or a small book shelf with bins. You decide what works best for your family.

2. Buy Quality

Inexpensive toys break fast and simply are not worth the low price tag. In fact, I think you can find quality name brand items on sale or gently used for the same or lower prices than inferior toys. You just have to know how and where to shop.

Good quality toys are not just well made, they also stimulate the imagination of the child. They usually don’t do all the work for the child–meaning they require imagination instead of batteries. Wooden block sets, Lego’s, and quality molded plastic animals are just a few examples.

3. Buy Gently Used

Another benefit of buying quality toys is that they are long lasting and therefore you can find them on the secondhand market. My favorite place for finding gently used toys for my own children when they were younger was yard sales, but you can also find them in thrift stores, on eBay, in Facebook Buy & Sell groups, consignment stores, and more.

I would suggest you study up on the sale prices of new items first before you search the secondhand market as I found some sellers wanting prices that were as high as the items went for when they were new on clearance.

4. Buy On Clearance

I found that the best time to find awesome markdowns on toys was after Christmas. When my boys were into Lego, every January at either Walmart or Target I would find Lego sets marked down to as much as 50% off. I would stock up on them not just for gifts for my boys but as birthday gifts for their friends.

5. Trade or Borrow Them

Especially in the infancy stage, little ones go through toys quite quickly. The rattle they used in the first 3 months of life becomes boring and they are ready to play with something just a bit more developmentally advanced. If you happen to have family or friends who have children just a bit older, they might be okay with you borrowing their children’s outgrown toys, especially if they are planning to have more children and you keeping the toys a while means they don’t have to find a place to store them in the mean time.

A toy swap could also be done with friends who have children similar ages. Especially mid-winter when the kids are suffering from cabin fever and playing with something new would ease the crazy that sometimes comes with being stuck inside during weeks of freezing temperatures.

6. Use Discount Gift Cards To Purchase Them

If you are planning to buy a birthday gift, or Christmas gift new you can save yourself a few dollars by buying a discounted gift card from Cardpool before you go shopping. It does take a bit of advance planning but the savings can add up, for instance Cardpool frequently offers Toys R Us gift cards for 7% off, Build A Bear gift cards for  up to 21% off and American Girl Gift Cards for 7% off.  You can then stack the gift card savings with sales and coupons to save even more.

7. Buy On Sale

Department stores typically run big sales on toys during the Christmas season. Amazon often runs toy sales not just at Christmas but through out the year on various brands. You can increase your savings by combining the sale with a coupon and paying with a discounted gift card.

8. Use Coupons

I  often see printable coupons available for toys, card games, and board games. In general I see them most often during the Easter or Christmas season but I have seen them at other times too.  The site Money Saving Mom often lists them, as well as what sales to combine them with to increase your savings.

9. Use Cash Back Programs

Cash back sites offer you money back on your online purchases when you go through the links on  their site to the site you want to shop at (providing they offer a cash back deal for that store). I think it is best to be a member of a few different cash back sites as it increases the chances of getting a cash back for the store you want to shop at.

Here are a few cash back sites I am a member at…

  1. Ebates: Offers a huge selection of stores. I like Ebates because it offers fairly high cash back offers from time to time.
  2. Top Cash Back: I like Top Cash Back because it doesn’t have a minimal cash out limit which means you can cash out your rebate the moment it hits your account regardless of the size of the cash out.

Here are a few point programs that offer cash backs the I am a member of…

  1. Swagbucks: With cash back being one of 24 ways to earn SB points you can easily top off your account to the 500 SB needed to get a $5 e-gift card by doing things online that you are already doing, such as doing web searches.
  2. My Points: What I love about My Points is that currently they still offer physical, hold-in-your-hand gift cards as a cash out option for points. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer these to paper, print-out ones.

10. Make The Children Save Up & Buy Their Own

Once my children were old enough to start doing a few basic chores I started paying them a set amount for each chore they did. I also had them set a savings goal. When they were little that goal was often toy based. As the children got older the goals got bigger, with my daughter saving up for her very own American Girl Doll at age 8 and my eldest son saving up to buy an Xbox 360 at age 14.

We still buy them Christmas gifts and Birthday gifts, although as they have gotten older they have often asked for cash instead of a gift so that they can combine our money with their savings to buy a bigger item than we would have bought. I am okay with that. It thrills my thrifty heart to see my children reaching their saving goals.

For more information on how to save money on toys check out:

10 Toys With Excellent Play Value & How To Save Money On Them

15 Family Favorite Board Games & 7 Ways To Spend Less On Them

Follow Victoria @Snail Pace Transformations’s board Saving Money Tips on Pinterest.

If you found this post to be useful, make sure you don’t miss my latest posts! Have them delivered to your inbox by signing up for my weekly newsletter. Get to know the blogger behind the blog by following me on Facebook or Instagram.

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52 Weeks To A Simplified Home: Week 39


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week 39 beforeLast week I put endless hours into completing the Christmas On A Zero Budget: Printable Plan and so I am still trying to catch up on other chores and blogging responsibilities I put aside to get that project done (go grab your FREE copy here) .

Having been so busy I gave myself grace and went through one last small area in our master bedroom before I attack the pile of stuff I don’t really want you to see (yes next week will be humbling for sure).

This bag sits on my side of the bed and to be truthful I haven’t used a single thing in it in well over a year.

week 39 duringIn the bag and box below I found my Message version of the bible that I have spent months racking my brain as to where I last left it. I also found this yellow baby blanket my mom made for my daughter when she was born. I put it on top of the lap blanket of her’s I found last week. As I said last week, I don’t follow a paper pattern when I knit—instead I follow a visual pattern–that of the item I am actually trying to copy.

The rest of the bag was filled with things that needed to be put else where as well as a few trash items.

week 39 doneThe empty space looks so nice. Our master bedroom is feeling so much more relaxing–even though I am dreading to show you the pile along one wall that I am going to attack next, I am looking forward to having the master bedroom completely decluttered and being the relaxing space it is suppose to be.

What area of your home did you declutter this week?

Grab the plan and join along as we declutter our homes one inch at a time.

You can also join The Snail Pacing Goal Achievers Facebook group where you will find  the support you need to keep decluttering one inch at time.

Sign up (here) with Yerdle and receive 45 Yerdle Dollars.

Yerdle’s mission is to reduce the number of new things we all need to buy by 25%.

So how does it work?