Friday, January 27, 2012

House Goals

This has the potential to be one of the most overwhelming topics I could write about, yet it also helps me to organize and then prioritize the projects I would like to tackle. Something my husband would really appreciate.

The Nester had a link up awhile back so I'm really behind, but this is a year of big changes for us and our house is going to have to change as well in order to be up to the task.

In April we will meet our precious Zoe girl, and while we are SO excited about her, we are also feeling a little unsure of how our house is going to adjust to her being here. So, that's the top priority. Getting ready for Zoe. :)

(I will more than likely break these down into smaller posts and show the before and after pics later.)

1. Move Isaiah and Manny into the playroom.

(We have a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house. Right now the boys share the smaller bedroom, and the larger one is a playroom.)

{somewhat feasible boy's room inspiration}

2. Transform the playroom into their bedroom.

3. Make their old bedroom the nursery.

{We are re-using this bedding that we had with Manny.
We chose something neutral because we didn't find out what we
were having. I absolutely love it, but also feel it's my duty to Zoe
to girl it up a bit. I know, I know....she doesn't care.}

{I really like this room. Modern whimsy is sort of
what I'm hoping for. We shall see.}

{Is that not the most precious thing?}

These top 3 things can be broken down further to include:
  • clean out Manny's closet (his clothes are being stored in their bedroom, while Isaiah's clothes have been in the playroom)
  • clean out Isaiah's clothes
  • move Manny's clothes/shoes into the closet/dresser with Isaiah's
  • move the boys' books into their new bedroom
  • acquire and set up bunk beds in the new bedroom
  • reassemble the crib
  • make nursery cute
  • make boys' new bedroom cute

{I love the idea of them having a place to draw on the walls}

{closet inspiration}

{I just love this}

4. Paint hallway, living room and kitchen (or at least touch up a LOT)

5. Paint trim, baseboards and chair rail

6. Paint guest/boys bathroom

7. Paint side table in living room (either a glossy Tiffany blue or gray/blue)

{I wasn't really thinking distressed, but I'm loving the look of that!}

8. New window treatments in every room except kitchen (white with thick yellow horizontal stripes in living room)

{Kinda like this but with yellow}

9. Change out the armoire for a desk in our bedroom.

10. Do this to our bathroom mirrors:

If I stared long enough, I could come up with at least 10 more things, but I'll stop before I put myself into labor.

So, who wants to come help me? :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Journey to Simpler: The Home Management Notebook

{I'm working my way through Tsh Oxenreider's book Organized Simplicity. If you missed the first 2 posts you can read them here: family purpose statement and I'm spending 2 days a week on WHAT?}

I truly never thought I would EVER title a blog post that.

Moving on. Tsh thinks this is a good idea and since I'm giving this whole thing a fair shot, it was my next step toward living simpler. I must say, though (and she says this in the book), getting to a place of simpler living is hard work. It's much more than cleaning out closets and getting rid of clutter.

I've thought about having a notebook like this for a long time and even started to make it several times, but I was thinking about it all wrong and got easily turned off. I kept thinking of all things I should put in the notebook instead of what I would actually use it for. (Like I said before, if it doesn't serve me and the family.... notgonnadoit.) This is why I've left out a lot of sections that Tsh uses. I just don't need them yet and that's ok. I will add as I go.

A side note: it is very important to me that my notebook look cute....otherwise, I won't be as likely to use it. I discriminate that way. Not with people, just inanimate objects. So, useful and cute. My 2 very important things. I found this printable here.

Also, I had the binder, dividers and page protecters already so this little project was completely free!

Here are the sections I've added:

This is Tsh's daily/weekly/monthly cleaning list. I just slid into a clear sleeve and will mark things off with a dry erase marker as I get them done. Easy peasy.

Recipes I want to try in a section divider and my menu planning printable.

I'm working on getting enough meals into a rotation that I can just plug them into a monthly calendar. I drool at the thought of looking over a month full of meals already planned out. Brilliant.

The reason I get anything done all day. Daily Dockets. My family thanks you, Tsh.

I'm trying out a new way to budget online right now, but I may end up adding a section for it to the notebook along with a section for gifts ideas, kids activities and random work and blog ideas.

What do you think? Do you use one? Is it helpful?

...Is it cute? :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Surviving the Winter with Littles

Honest confession (I hope you're all ok with being my accountability partners): I ADORE my boys. I could write you a very long list of all the unique things about each one that sweep me off my feet and how I feel so, so blessed to be with them every day at home.

However... more times than I want to admit, I don't really enjoy doing the things they want to do. Maybe it's partly because they're boys, but I think it's mostly because I'm lazy and would rather do stuff I enjoy than engage with them. Sad, but true.

I have been really convicted of this lately and am trying to implement special times through out the day that I stop everything and am just with them. (I'm sad that I even had to write that last sentence.) One of the things we've been doing is having story time everyday after lunch...either on the couch or snuggled up on their bed. They each pick a few books for me to read and I always read out of the Jesus Storybook Bible. This has helped them calm down (a little) before nap time and I'm praying that it instills a love for reading in them.

We also do normal things like play-doh, coloring, activity books, etc but I find myself needing some more ideas, especially during the shorter, grayer winter days when going outside isn't as much fun. And, much to my chagrin, it seems that having a plan for what we're doing helps me.

Recently, a friend of mine wrote an article listing some great kids activities and it got me thinking. I thought I would share a few ideas of things we're either going to try or have tried.

This is first on my list to try. In our house, the bathtub is not just a place to get kids clean. It's a recreational activity and often my go-to when I need them contained or to just break up a somewhat boring day. Just shut the curtain and let them have fun!

Isaiah loves this. Manny loves to eat them. Win-win, I say.

(this website is chock full of great ideas for a large age range.)

Dollar store, here I come! And apparently, the bubbles really add to the experience.

(anything to do with angry birds is a big win in our house)

There would have to be some strict rules here (no chucking rocks at your brothers face...or glass), but they would go nuts with this idea.

6. Giving them a spray bottle filled with water and a rag and set them loose "cleaning"

Both boys are really into helping me clean these days. Especially if there's money involved. Manny is my duster and vacuumer. Isaiah wipes and scrubs almost anything I ask him to.

7. Fill the kitchen sink with soapy water, add a ladle, cups and bowls and let them do the dishes.

I find that on days that I let them "help" me in the kitchen, they inevitably end up at the sink with dirty dishes and water. They usually spend more time there than they do actually helping me.

8. Let them help me bake....and decide ahead of time to be ok with having an extra cup of flour thrown in somewhere. :)

How do you keep your sanity on stay-inside days with the kiddo's?

{linked to:}

The Girl Creative

A Marvelous Mess

"Don't Cry. Disney owns the rights to that emotion."

Random Sharing

A few things I wanted to share...

1. Recently made this recipe from Pinterest and it was SUPER. And healthy. And easy.

You just blend together 2 cuties (clementines), a frozen banana, milk or yogurt and a tsp of vanilla in a blender. DE. lightful.

2. Speaking of beverages, my husband has been making some amazing coffee in the mornings. Because he's getting such pure flavor from the coffee, this particular roast (Mocha and Java from Counter Culture) tastes like blueberries in a cup. I don't even put my flavored creamer or sugar in it. Just a little half n half and I'm a happy girl.

{Here are 4 reasons why you should try his nerdy method.}

(please forgive this grainy pic and the ones that follow. they came from my archaic phone camera.)

3. This just cracked me up. I walked in the living room this morning and saw this, but couldn't find Isaiah...

The room was silent and I kept asking Manny, "where is Isaiah???" Then, this appeared...

Silly boys. :)

4. And speaking of silly boys (don't you like all my clever segue's?), my mom got the boys the Tickle Monster Laughter Kit for Christmas.

They loooooove it! It has become almost a nightly routine for Josh or me to put on the "tickle monster claws" and have a tickle fest before bedtime.

It's charming, witty and best of all....rhymes! We laugh and laugh. I dare you read this to your kids when you're in a bad mood. It's the perfect cure....

...and I am now convinced it is the perfect gift.

That's all for now. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Journey to Simpler: I'm spending 2 days a week on WHAT?

I'm making my way towards a simpler way of living and chronicling the process for you (kinda like my own Julie/Julia project...except Dana/Tsh). You're so welcome. Here's the first post in case you missed it. :)

The next thing I started tackling as I go through Tsh Oxenreider's book Organized Simplicity is how I spend my time.

What was that? Did I hear a collective groan? Oh, was that just me?

I really, really, really do not like the topic of time management. Remember? I like to fly free. I don't like to be constrained. In fact, right now it's 11:34 and instead of getting lunch ready, my kids are eating candy in their pajamas while I, on a whim, type up this post. I do acknowledge that time management is good and necessary, but it has felt like prison to me in the past. I'm hoping to change that.

If I'm going to manage my time and keep up with how I spend it, then it better darn well be worth it. I will not do this unless it serves me and my family in the end. Bottom line. Selfish? Probably, but if I'm not honest about it, I will fizzle out quickly and lose sight of the purpose....thus, wasting even more time.....and then wasting your time reading this post... and ruining your life. You see how bad that would be, right?

So Tsh had me make 3 lists: a list of all the things I would like to be able to do in any given month (coffee with a friend, date night, blog time, etc) , a list of basic things I must do to live (eat, sleep, clean, etc), and a list of all the things I actually do in a month (it was a long list).

Then, you circle all the things in the 3rd list that weren't in either of the first two. These are your time suckers. Some of them were necessary and fine. Others made me nervous to write down (facebook).

Here came the fun part (ahem): of the circled items, try to estimate how many hrs you spend doing them each week. Then total for the month. I really highly recommend you do this.

I was not at all surprised to see that facebook, blogs and pinterest were taking up a lot of my time. What made my jaw drop was exactly how much time. I tried to be really honest about it and I'm hoping that perhaps I overestimated, but what I came up with was staggering.

Here's where it gets real, y'all. Don't judge, ok?

According to my calculations, I have been spending 29-42 hours a WEEK on the computer. I mean, that has to be wrong, right?!?

I still can't believe it. 1-2 days a week are spent on my freaking computer! Is this how my kids will remember me? Sitting on a chair in front of a screen?

Well, this has to change. Pronto.

I'm taking baby steps. The first one being to have a daily to-do list, a list of the 3 most important tasks (MIT's) that need to get done that day and a general time outline of how the day will go. I printed out Tsh's daily docket sheets to help me with this.

I love how she doesn't suggest that you write out every single hour and what you plan to be doing...that's overwhelming to me. Instead, it's just a general scope of the day.

Here's an example of a day earlier this week:

9:00 Take boys to my mother-in-law's

-walk with a friend
-organize Manny's shoes and start on cleaning out his closet

2:00 Pick up the boys

3:00 Boys nap

-work on orders
-finish MIT's
-start dinner

6:00 Dinner

8:00 Boys bedtime
-time with the hubby

I've been pretty good at completing my MIT's each day, but there is definitely a learning curve to this. For instance, I don't homeschool, my 2 boys are not going to school yet but are pretty independent during the day and, honestly, some days are just really laid back. Like today.

Yesterday was really busy and we were out of the house most of the day but today we're home, there aren't a ton of pressing projects (though there are certainly things that could be done) and so I've spent the morning blogging, which was on my list of things I want more time for, but maybe not what I should have done with the morning.

My MIT's for the day are to vacuum the house, finish the laundry and make a few phone calls. Of course there's always dinner to think about and the boys require attention, but there's still a lot of down time. Figuring out what exactly to do with that time is challenging. So, I'll just learn as I go. And maybe start by feeding my children lunch. :)

So far, it has been amazingly helpful to have a loose plan for the day and at least 3 tasks that will be done (hopefully) by the end of it. I have gotten so much more done, spent more quality time with the boys, I know what we're having for dinner and I'm just not as caught off guard by life's happenings in general...not that we can always avoid that.

I mean, I'm probably down to, like, 24 hours of computer time a week now. :)

PS....I've heard through the grapevine that the kindle version of Tsh's book is free right now on Amazon! If you don't have a kindle, here's a way to download the book to your computer. Run, don't walk, people!

My Journey to Simpler: family purpose statement

Simplicity has been a theme everywhere lately, and my brain is no exception. Here's why...

--In April, we will have 5 people living in a small house (1100 sq ft).

--We would like to move eventually, but that requires us to pay off debt and save for a down payment.

--I would love to not freak out at 5pm over what we're going to have for dinner.

--I want to stock our freezer with meals for nights when I don't want to cook and for when baby Zoe gets here.

--I want to read more.

--I want to have more people over and build deeper relationships.

--I don't want to get completely overwhelmed by the messes that are made in this house.

--I don't want things in our house that we don't love and/or are not useful to us.

--I want to have some idea of what the day will look like when my feet hit the floor.

--I want to be available for last minute play dates and people dropping by without losing my mind over what our house looks like.

--I want to engage with my kids more.

--I want to be available to meet needs around me.

--Bottom line, I want to be more intentional with this life.

So, I'm reading this book right now from Simple Mom's Tsh Oxenreider:

I wrote a little blurb about it here, and it has been really helpful to me. I'm not one to follow people's instructions (read: slightly rebellious), but I am really trying to do everything she suggests in the book so I can get the full experience.

One of the first things she talks about is drafting a family purpose statement. Honestly, that sounded a little hokey (and intimidating) to me, but as she explained that it is the measuring stick by which you will measure many little daily decisions and, therefore, live more intentionally, I was listening.

Though it felt uncomfortable and completely out of character, it made sense to me. Being able to ask the question "does this line up with what we believe our family is called to?" sounds really freeing and a great way to make decisions a little easier.

{from here}

It should be simple, timeless and general, but not too general. You want to be able to put real feet to it. She lists a ton of thought-provoking questions to ask yourself to help you narrow your purpose statement down so I answered them. Questions like,

--What are a few strengths of each member of our family?

--What are the top four priorities we want our family to value?

--If our home could be filled with one emotion, what would that emotion be?

Then she suggests that you have your husband (if you're married) answer the same questions and then come up with a statement together.

This is where we stalled out. I haven't given him the questions to answer yet, but she did give a few examples from her book of her's and other people's statements:

"As a family, we want to glorify God in all we say, do and are.
We will...
-Put each other first.
-Cultivate deep relationships with one another.
-Extend love to those around us.
-Live Simply.
-Be true to who God made us.
-Take care of our health.
-Be good stewards of creation.
-Be lifelong learners."

"To be focused on peace."

{from here}

So we're gonna try it (and I'll be sure to come back and share it with you!). I don't know how exactly it will end up serving us and I'm sure we will change it and tweak as we go, but I'm optimistic. :)

{from here}

Have you ever done this? Has it helped you? Does this sound completely crazy?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Fun Finds!

{I'm telling you upfront that this is a completely self-serving post. And superficial. And it makes me happy.}

So, Saturday I left the boys with Josh and ran out for a quick trip to Target. We had gift cards from Christmas and I had a list of storage bins I wanted for various things around the house.

I didn't find many of the storage bins, but I did find these....

Did you see the price? $2.98 marked down from $9.99. I withheld my public happy dance, but I was really, really hoping these would be there. I LOVE to grow things. I usually procrastinate and don't do it much until the spring, but I've noticed that having something alive and growing during the winter months really helps me fight the blahs.

So, I bought 6 kits. 3 Paperwhite kits and 3 Amaryllis kits. One is called a Minerva amaryllis...I think I just might start calling her that.

2 Paperwhite kits are started and one of the amaryllis' is now tucked in by a window.

(I swear I don't wonder around the house just checking in on them at least 8 times a day. Now, that's just taking it too far.)

So, if you live near me, the SuperTarget had a ton of them left so go get you some winter cheer!

Anyway, I left there slightly high and decided I would see if my luck continued at the Goodwill nearby.

Winner winner chicken dinner! I found this chair for really cheap and in great condition so into the back of my van it went.

I'm a sucker for chairs. I like to buy them cheap and promise to turn them into the princess of the ball. I feel that we have a very special relationship.

And Josh just loves this about me. Especially when they sit in the garage for 6 months.

But who doesn't love tufted leather?

And who can resist a brass nail-head trim?

Not this girl anyway.

I've been thinking of painting her wood a lovely creamy, glossy white. But then I look again and I kinda like her like this. It's just that we have so much dark wood in that room.

And the thought of it makes me tired. What would you do?