Simplify and Enjoy Holiday Decorating

posted in: Creating Home, Family, Seasons | 0

Simple Decorating
 

I wrote a post about taking your time creating new traditions last week. You can take the same concept and apply it to holiday decorations, especially Christmas, since it’s the one we feel the most pressure to really go all out for.
 

Our wedding was in the middle of November, so when we got back from our honeymoon, I was a new bride with absolutely zero Christmas decorations and not much money to get a lot of anything, especially the nicer stuff, so I grabbed plastic Christmas balls in a huge assortment of colors from a thrift store for a few bucks, cheap dollar store ornaments and fake berries, and different holiday knock knacks.
 

The result was that nothing was very meaningful to me and there was no cohesive color scheme. It was a kaleidoscope of bright red, lime green, dark green, pinks and blues, silver and gold. A mish mash of styles and colors that didn’t make me happy.
 

We used those for a couple of years, only adding a few items each year until last year, I read Kendra’s post at The Lazy Genius about decorating for Christmas. It totally inspired me to decide what I “actually” like, and that less can be more. More peaceful, more like yourself, easier to look at, and not as stressful. It’s ok to love over the top decorated houses, but you can totally get your fix by visiting one of those holiday home tours or a friend’s home instead of trying to re-create that in your living room.

 

Christmas Lights

 

Definitely check out her post for more ideas in that regard, but here are my tips.

 

1. Take some time to really decide what kind of style/colors YOU like.

And not just like, but that you want to live with in your home for a month (or more if you are like us and it takes you a while to take it down! Lol). There is a big difference between liking a “look” on Pinterest or in someone else’s home and LOVING it in your own home day in and day out. I’ve learned this the hard way. Trust me.

For myself, this means lots of natural elements (wood, greenery, metal, woven items, etc…), zero Santas, more neutral colors like silver, gold, greys, and green with just a few small pops of red here and there, lots of twinkle lights, and as few decorations as I can get away with that still give me the impact that I want.

Neutral Christmas
 

2. Get rid of everything you don’t LOVE and doesn’t fit your style.

Life is too short to be digging through tubs of decorations every year to find the few things you actually want to use. Get rid of them and breathe a sigh of relief at the extra lightness you feel. I gave away pretty much all of my cheap bright colored ornaments, and other knick knacks that didn’t work for me and only kept a select few that I love.
 

3. See how many decorations you really need

Maybe you get rid of what you don’t love and you realize that you aren’t left with much and you would really like to fill in some gaps. That’s totally fine! Or maybe you realize that you still have too much stuff and you want to pare back even more. It’s completely up to you. Only you can decide how much is the right amount for you and your family. Maybe there are some decorations you don’t love for yourself but want to save for your kids when they move out. That’s great too! Pack them in a separate box so you don’t have to dig through them every year.
 

4. It’s ok to take it slow

Please don’t rush out and buy a whole bunch of stuff just to fill a space. That’s what I did when I first got married and then I’ve spent years purging most of it because I didn’t really love it. It was just ok and it didn’t have any meaning for me. Holiday decorations, like a home and life in general are meant to be added to over time.
 

5. Think about making something yourself

Maybe you are really crafty and you already do this, or maybe you want to make more things but it feels overwhelming and you are unsure of your ability, or are a bit of a perfectionist and don’t start because you aren’t sure you can do it perfectly (this is usually where I fall, but I’m working on getting over this and creating anyway. I’ll probably be doing a series on this in January or February), or maybe you are just not interested in making anything yourself AT ALL. And that is totally ok too!

But if you secretly wish you could, then pick something small and easy and just try it! The worst that can happen is you chuck it, or let your kids cut it up with scissors.  Lol!
 

6. Relax and enjoy the process

Put on some Christmas music, make some cider or sip some wine and just enjoy it!  It’s supposed to be fun remember.  And if it’s not fun for you, it’s ok to decide not to do it or just do it super minimally this year.  It’s more important for your family to have a happy mama than a perfectly decorated house.

 

 
 

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

 

God bless,

Heather
 

Related Posts You Might Like:

Creating New Traditions: It’s OK to Take It Slow

How to Embrace Seasons No Matter Where You Live

The Importance of Re-evaluating Your Season & Holiday Planning

Things I’m Loving: Fall/Winter Edition

Creating New Traditions: It’s Ok to Take it Slow

Pumpkins on doorstep
 

Seasons. By now, you’ve probably realized how important I think it is to evaluate what your current season is. And that’s because it affects pretty much everything.
 

Creating new traditions is one of those things. There are a lot of reasons you might be in the season of needing or wanting to create new traditions.
 

I’ve been through several in my life. My father and grandmother died within three months of each other, so Thanksgiving and Christmas were inevitably different after that. My grandmother was the person who hosted Thanksgiving and held all of the family branches together. Sometimes traditions are inexorably tied to one person. The Creator, or perhaps the Initiator. Without them, it fades away and is unsustainable for whatever reason.
 

When my mother moved a few hours away, and my brother got married, traditions had to shift or be created anew again. I got married and had children and even though we’ve been married for 5 years, (I can’t believe it’s been that long already!) we are still working to create our own family traditions and culture.
 

When we first got married, I remember feeling this pressure to come up with ALL the traditions all at once. What would we do with the kids? (even though we didn’t have any yet). How would we celebrate all the holidays, what would we do for birthdays?
 

SO MANY THINGS. The options are endless and overwhelming. And at that point you are still learning about each other and what your new family looks like and what your family culture is.
 

It takes time to learn and figure out those things. It takes experimentation. Sometimes you have to try something and see if you like it and if you don’t, be ok with chucking it.
 

Our bent towards comparison and pressure to create Pinterest worthy memories, makes us feel like we have to have it all together. Our holidays have to match some imagined expectation. We have to do the huge cool Advent calendar with all the cute little ornaments hidden inside, or the elaborate themed birthday parties for the kids with all the matching decorations, food, and favors.

 

Party Decorations
 

I know I harp on You Being You, but it’s so important, especially in creating meaningful traditions that reflect your family culture and personalities.
 

You may be super crafty and the huge Advent calendar or the big themed birthday party are right up your alley and delight you. AWESOME! Feel free to make me one while you’re at it!
 

Or you may be a musical family, or an adventure and experiences family, or love reading and board games, or any other combination of things. EVERY family is different. We are all given the unique puzzle pieces of personalities and people that are ours to work with. To build on and create something with.
 

YOU DO YOU
 

The point isn’t to take all the other cool ideas you see and try to fit yourself into them. It’s to use all the other cool ideas for inspiration, filter out what doesn’t fit your personality or family culture, and then pick the ones you love the best and that FIT IN YOUR SEASON OF LIFE RIGHT NOW.

 

Christmas cookies
 

There is a time and place for Christmas caroling, and doing a big cookie exchange, but if you are pregnant or have a new baby, this year may not be it.
 

There’s also this pressure (at least for me) to find the perfect tradition and then do it every year for the rest of time, Amen. But that doesn’t allow for the changing of seasons, kids development and interests, family growing and/or shrinking.
 

Traditions can be flexible, adapted, put down and picked back up later, or quit altogether. Don’t paint yourself into a corner and feel like you have to keep doing something that isn’t bringing you and your family joy.
 

And let’s not get too serious with it. Some of the best traditions are the ones that started spontaneously, sometimes as a result of a difficult circumstance or having to adapt to something last minute. I place in evidence, the Thanksgiving episode of This Is Us. The worst Thanksgiving EVER turned into some of their most cherished traditions. (If you haven’t seen the series, it’s sooo good but just know going in that you’ll shed buckets of tears.)
 

In the end, it’s not so much about the tradition itself, as it is about the intentionality of being together. So please, give yourself grace and the space to let them grow.
 

Thanksgiving table

 

Here are some ideas that might help:

 

1. FIRST decide on your priorities

What do you and your family enjoy doing? What is important to you? What personalities are reflected in your home and how can you respect/reflect that in the traditions you choose?

2. Get some inspiration

Maybe you feel stuck and are having a hard time figuring out what you might want to do. I’ve found that reading/listening about other people’s traditions can give me inspiration to think outside of the box, and come up with things I may not have thought about on many own. Just MAKE SURE you did step 1 first. Otherwise you’re going to be overwhelmed and feel like you should do everything. Be choosy about what fits your family.

3. Assess your season.

I know I talk about this a lot too, but use the printable and do a quick check to see what kind of season you are in before spending time deciding on a bunch of traditions that may fit your family but not your season.

4. Pick a few to try

Start small. Don’t try to do and change everything all at once. Pick a handful, maybe spread them out over the year, so instead of 3 Christmas ones, pick a Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday, 4th of July, etc…. Less overwhelming and more manageable.

5. Evaluate them

After Thanksgiving is over, spend a few minutes and write out what went well, what recipes you liked or didn’t like, what you thought of a new tradition you tried. Do you want to scrap it, or just tweak it? Doing this now while it’s fresh in your mind will help you so much next year when Thanksgiving is approaching and you’re trying to remember all these things. Spoiler. You won’t. Trust me. (You can write it in your bullet journal, have a holiday folder, notes on your computer, whatever works for you as long as you know where to find it)

6. Be intentional about your time

There are ways to add little traditions, little intentional present pauses into our lives without it requiring a lot of time, effort, and craft glue.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundane grind, putting one foot in front of the other, drifting through life and going through the motions.  We don’t realize the pockets of opportunities we might have to do something a little special or have a little fun.

Sometimes, just putting down the phone, or closing the computer and being present with the people we love can give us some of the same benefits of traditions. Intentional time spent with family.

See where you are already spending time and think if there is a way to spend it more intentionally or with a bit more fun together.

I started realizing that we tend to just float around in the evenings, not really spending any intentional time together.  It’s an area we are working on, but it’s not perfect and we are still trying to figure it out.  Finding our rhythm, what it looks like in the world of working from home.  Where are the boundaries and how to we do this?

Some things we are planning on trying out are having board game evenings, or going for walks together, or reading aloud with hot chocolate as it gets colder.

I’m having tea time with the kids some mornings and I started baking something with them once a week or so.  Every so often we’ll do a picnic breakfast at the park if Daddy is going to be gone early. Sometimes the intentional time just looks like drawing or doing puzzles with them because that’s all I’m up for that day.

It doesn’t have to be anything big, or time consuming, or involve lots of craft supplies.  Our lives are made up of the little moments.  And all the little ways, the little choices we make to be present with our people will add up.

 

 

I hope this helps you to breathe a little more deeply this holiday season.  Let the tension seep out and instead of taking it so seriously, have a little fun with it.  Give yourself permission to experiment, try things out, and take your time.  See what fits, tweak it if you want, and chuck what doesn’t work for you.

 

Practice being mindful, noticing, and just being with your family.  That’s really what counts the most.

 

I’d love to hear what traditions you are creating!

 

God bless,

Heather

 

    Other posts you might like:

 

 

How to Embrace Seasons No Matter Where You Live

posted in: Creating Home, Family, Seasons | 1

Red Leaves

 

For those of you who live in places where you experience the actual changing of seasons, this may not strictly apply, but I think the concept is useful even if you do have fall leaves and a real winter and spring.
 

I’ve lived in the desert all my life. And all my life I’ve dreamed of living somewhere that I can experience the changing of the seasons. Feel the deep cyclical rhythm of nature. But alas, I have only “cook an egg on the sidewalk”, “burn your fingers on your steering wheel while trying to drive” (this is not a joke you guys) kind of summer that turns into a snowless cold (and by that I mean like 40’s for a low) kind of winter. Spring and fall are almost non-existent.

 

At first glance, it may seem like we don’t have any “seasons” as is traditionally recognized. But that means we have to look closer. Past the large and obvious changing leaves and piles of winter snow.
 

There are still changes happening. Some are small, barely noticeable in the landscape around you. Some are larger social shifts. You just have to pay attention and have the eyes to see.
 

If you live in the Phoenix area, then here are a few things that I’ve been able to finally tune in to.

 

March: The orange trees will start to flower and their blossom scent will start perfuming the air.
And it’s a prime time for planting (although here you can do it almost year round)

April: The wildflowers will start coloring the mountains and sides of freeways. Our Empress tree is shooting up like a giant and her enormous leaves are unfurling and looking glorious

May:  School is winding up, flowers are still blooming, and the mornings are still cool so enjoy them!

June:  Kids are out and it’s the time for lazy days, swimming, popsicles, going to the movies, taking a vacation, and any indoor activity you can find!  Savor the peaches, berries, cherries, corn on the cob, and the glorious tomatoes and basil!

July: Summer vacation is in full swing for most people and we are swimming as much as possible (partly because it’s fun and partly because what else are we going to do outside when it’s 118 degrees?). Our Empress tree’s large leaves are now withering away in the heat, crisping up and turning yellow before they fall off and leave her looking bare and straggly. Other plants are also looking wilty, yellow, and sad by this point.

August: For us, it’s a a month of birthdays and seeing what indoor home projects we can do because you know, it’s melting outside. Oh and more swimming.

September: The first hint of a cool morning again. Kids back in school, and a hopeful light at the end of the endless heat of summer tunnel. For me, it’s when I start wanting to settle back into being at home more and re-establishing a routine. Again, a planting season is coming up, so garden planning starts. Where we live in Buckeye, we start seeing the cotton growing.

October: The mornings and evenings are cooler, but it’s still pretty warm during the day. The cotton is blooming with white puffs. Pumpkin spice things start cropping up and we pretend it’s cold outside by baking fall things and pulling out a few decorations and drinking warm fall drinks as long as we have the A/C going. The garden has been planted. Things are starting to green up again and some plants start blooming again.

November: Still waiting for it to be cold enough to wear a sweater during the day, but the nights are getting colder. We start walking to the library again and spending more time outside. The cotton plants are turning brown now and the getting close to harvesting. As I see the cotton ripening, I know my wedding anniversary is getting closer.

December: Finally it’s sweater time! Out come all the Christmas things, we bake our traditional Christmas cookies, drink eggnog, think about planning for the next year, evaluating and assessing and remembering our year. Oranges, grapefruit , and lemons are all ripe and plentiful, so I indulge as much as I can!

January: A fresh start, however that looks like for you. Some years I’m clutter busting or doing “spring” cleaning, we might go up and see the snow, and I’m thinking about settling back into rhythms again after the holidays.

February: Start planning the garden again and enjoy the cold weather while it lasts.

 

Taking pic of leaf

 

Ideas for Observing:

 

1. Seasonal calendar.

Get a cheap calendar, or print out one and anytime you notice something seasonal write it down. It may be, “Basil sprouted” or “planted the garden”, or “The baby birds hatched”, or “The wildflowers started blooming”. It can be anything. It could be what food is in season, or what people are doing, or even how you are feeling, or things you want to do. Whatever comes to mind. Then at the end of the year, you can flip through it and start to anticipate what’s coming and be looking for the changes.

2. Keep a garden journal.

If gardening is your thing, you can grab any kind of notebook or journal and write down what you planted and when. How long it took for them to sprout, flower, be ready for harvest. If you like it or not, if it did well or not. Maybe the cantaloupe choked out your tomatoes, so note for next year, don’t plant them so close. What worked and what didn’t.

3. Log it in your phone.

Maybe analog doesn’t work well for you, so find an app, or even just jot down in Notes, your observations.

4. Set a reminder on your phone.

You could have it go off once a week or however often you like to remind you to look around for any changes. Sometimes we just need a nudge because “Mommy brain” and “Decision Overload” and ALL THE THINGS.

5. Use the “Embrace Your Season” calendar.

If some of those options seem too time intensive, you can print out the calendar from the “7 Steps to Embracing Your Season” printable that you get when you subscribe and keep it in you homemaking binder (if you have one), or anywhere else that makes sense for you. You can jot down some things that you want to enjoy or use to mark the changing of the seasons and then refer back to it at the beginning of each month to see what you might want to prioritize or keep an eye out for.

P.S. If you haven’t gotten it yet, you can sign up at the bottom of the post!

 

Your seasonal map of the year may look totally different then mine. You may live downtown with not a cotton field in sight. Or noticed entirely different things that I haven’t seen yet. But tapping in to whatever small changes you find, can help tie you into the cycles and rhythms and that connection can make a really big difference in living fully. In embracing the season big or small.
 

It’s made my life feel fuller and helps me see with more gratitude and less complaining. Cultivating the wonder and living more present in the moment reminds me that God’s creation is magnificent, and the only thing I truly have control over is how I respond to my circumstances. So how much better to have fun, cultivate joy, and choose cheerfulness and a grateful heart?
 

I still long to experience the traditional changing of the seasons and maybe one day I will, but for now I’m going to work on living fully where I am. It’s a work in progress but it’s worth it!
 

Do you have any ideas to add? We’d love to hear!
 

God bless,

Heather

The Importance of Re-evaluating Your Season & Holiday Planning

Fall Leaves

 

Do you ever feel like things are going along smoothly and really clicking and then suddenly everything is harder or out of sync?
We tend to think of seasons as large chunks of our lives. College, single, young married, young kids, starting a new business, etc…
 

But there are more types of seasons than we may realize. Some of them can be quite short as a mother with young kids can tell you. Just when you get them into a good routine, they grow and develop a little more and suddenly, the old rhythm isn’t working now.
 

That’s why I’ve discovered that re-evaluating periodically is a super valuable practice. I try to do it at the very least, every quarter but I also try to keep in tune with our rhythms and if something starts to feel off or like it’s not working anymore, I will stop and reassess.

 

Desk

 

It helps me notice things that I may not realize otherwise so I can course correct or come up with a different approach to get back into more of a sweet spot. For example, we just finished summer and are now solidly into fall. As we hit September, I was realizing that I just REALLY did not want to go to they gym and swim anymore. It was a huge effort for me whereas just a week before, I was excited to go and it was bringing me life.
 

I had to stop and assess, and what I realized was that I ONLY like swimming during the summer when I can do it in an outdoor pool. And once fall hits, I just want to spend more time at home and re-establish the rhythms and routines but taking a 2 hour chunk out of my morning or afternoon to drive to the gym, swim, shower, and drive back was getting in the way of that.
There were other things that were changing, some of them larger vision and purpose changes, and others more child related, but the act of stopping and taking stock and deciding what I needed to tweak, made a big difference.
 

It’s also something that I find necessary to do before the holidays hit, because the season I am in makes a big difference in my holiday game plan. Knowing it beforehand helps me to make decisions on holiday activities and all the other things that go along with it that won’t leave me overwhelmed and wanting to hide in a closet and shove my face with ALL the Christmas cookies.
 

That’s why I created the 7 Steps to Embracing Your Season worksheet and printables as a tool to help walk you through the evaluation process. You can snag it at the bottom of this post, print it out and take a few minutes to see where you are at and what’s important to you.

 

Embracing Your Season Worksheet

 

It is so important to think through your limitations and the realities of your season before rushing into the holidays. Ask me how I know! I just finished filling mine out again before I make my holiday plan.
 

And in case you don’t follow Kendra at the Lazy Genius Collective, (which you totally need to do because she’s awesome!) I’m linking to her blog/podcast because she’s doing a whole Holiday Series that is going to help you with ALL THE STUFF and being pro-active to prioritize, create margin, and have a good mindset so you can enjoy your holidays without turning into the Grinch.
 

Some of the things that we are prioritizing for our family this year are going to the pumpkin patch farm down the road with the extended famlly, baking our traditional Christmas cookies, going to the Christmas Boutique thingy right around the corner from our house, making hot chocolate for the kids, and observing Advent (though I’m still working on what that actually looks like for us).

 

I’m super enjoying her series so far and it’s the perfect way to walk through of the process to yourself set up for the holidays after you go through the Embracing Your Season worksheet.

 

So here’s your holiday game plan.

 

1. Sign up below to get your copy of the Embracing Your Season worksheet.

2. Get yourself a cup of tea or hot chocolate and find somewhere cozy to fill it out to see what your starting place is for the holidays.

3. Click on the link to Kendra’s blog, read her holiday posts and listen to her holiday podcasts and snag the printables for them to help you game plan your holidays.

4. Breathe a sigh of relief. 😂

 

Now go forth and conquer the Holiday Crazies.

You’re welcome. 😉

 

 

God bless,

Heather

A Favorite Fall Recipe & What’s Been Going On

posted in: Food | 0

I can’t quite believe that it’s almost October! In case you missed it, I was hosting a 30 Day Wellness Challenge and we had a great time in the private Facebook Group, deciding on our goals, encouraging each other, and doing a quick daily check in (although even for me, there were days I didn’t make it on to check in! #lifewithlittles)

 

30 Day Wellness Challenge

My wellness goal was to do a Whole 30, swim and/or do pilates 3-5x a week, and basically take a bunch of supplements and NingXia Red to support and nourish my body.

Our philosophy was that choosing progress over perfection is not only more life giving, but helps you to just go ahead and take the small steps to keep moving towards your goal, even if you stumble!

It’s been great to hear from people about what they learned during the challenge and how their progress is influencing other areas and goals! And the encouragement and accountability for me as well was such an amazing support and motivation!

 

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month already! I’ve been so encouraged by my progress during this challenge. Way more than I thought I would be. I’m amazed by how making small, meaningful changes can turn things around for us. One good decision makes the next one so much easier. We don’t have to do it all at once to make progress. I have the most success when I do something really small that I can actually stick to. Thank you for hosting this challenge. I look forward to the next one!

 

If you missed this Wellness Challenge, don’t worry! We are going to be doing another one in January and I’ll post the details about it in plenty of time beforehand so you can join our private Facebook group and get your goals figured out so we can start the new year strong!

It’s something like 92% of people fail to keep their New Year’s Resolutions, so let’s work together to made good goals to begin with, set ourselves up for success, and encourage and motivate each other along the way! =)

 

For now, we are going to start deciding on our goals for October so we can capitalize on the momentum we’ve gained in September.  To help with this, I am starting a 12 week year goal setting group.  It’s based on the book The 12 Week Year which talks about setting goals quarterly instead of yearly and how to do better at executing.

I’ll be posting in the group about how to set up your 12 week goals and break them down into Monthly and Weekly actions.  If anyone needs specific help figuring out their goals, I can work with them on it.
Then we will do a Weekly Check In to see how we are progressing.  I’ll be doing a Live video 2-4x a month and giving some tips and encouragement. =)
Here’s the link to join the Facebook group if you are interested or just want to check it out!

 

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I just taught a Fall & Winter Wellness class and here’s the video link if you would like to get your natural wellness arsenal set up before all the winter ickies descend!

 

 

 

We go over gut health, ways to boost your immune system, sleep, nutrition, my go to preventative routine and what I do if someone in my family does get sick! It’s so great to have tools to keep your family healthy and it has made such a HUGE difference for my family.

 

 

Super Customizable Baked Fruit

Baked Fruit Dessert

Ingredients:

-Enough sliced fruit (apples, peaches, pears, nectarines, plums, apricots) to fill whatever size baking dish you want.
-Lemon juice (about 1 lemon or if using a bottle of lemon juice, just splash a good amount over the fruit. Maybe 2 Tablespoons?)
-Cinnamon (a lot)
-Nutmeg (if you want)

Wow….that was really detailed and helpful right?

 

Directions:

1. Slice the fruit thinly. I leave on the skin cuz #idontgottimeforthat but if you want to peel them, go right ahead! =)
2. Dump the fruit into the baking dish
3. Splash/drizzle lemon juice all over the fruit
4. Sprinkle a GOOD amount of cinnamon all over the fruit.
5. Sprinkle a little nutmeg if you have it and want to use it.
6. Mix the fruit around to get all the fruit coated with the spices.
7. Preheat oven to 350
8. Pop in the fruit mixture and bake for 45 minutes give or take.
9. Enjoy all the wonderful smells coming from your kitchen!
10. Eat by itself, with a little whipped cream, or ice cream (if you’re not trying to be healthy), or my favorite lately, spoon some over a bowl of plain or vanilla Greek yogurt.

Here’s the video I made to help with the vague measurements. lol!

 

It smells so fallish and it tastes just sweet enough that it’s dessert without added sugar, stevia, or the fake stuff. It’s the perfect fall dessert fix for me!

Bonus tip: If you have kids that leave half eaten fruit laying around, don’t throw them! I toss them in my fridge in a bowl and when I have a spare minute, I cut off the eaten part and slice it all up and it totally SAVES all that wasted fruit! I feel like a boss when I do it too. Lol! And I use whatever fruit we have laying around. Sometimes it’s a mishmash of pears, apples, peaches, etc…. Other times it’s just apples. Like I said, super customizable! =)

 

Here’s the finished product!

Baked Fruit Dessert

I hope you had a wonderful September!

God bless,
Heather

Expectations & Vacations

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I have been learning over the last few years (you know, since marriage and kids) that my expectations can tank a day faster than I can blink.  And I’ve really experienced this during vacations with little ones.  Come on mama’s, who can relate?  =)
My husband got a great deal a while ago on a hotel in Flagstaff at the end of February.  Which ended up being the days that they got like 6-12″ of snow.  And our hotel only had 1 queen bed in a tiny little space.  And my daughter is used to sleeping in a pack n’ play in the closet (don’t ask), which of course hotels don’t have and the only space to put her pack n’ play is right in front of the sink about three feet from the bed so sleep for everyone seemed like a pipe dream.  And what can you realistically do in Flagstaff with a 3 & 1 year old when it’s snowing?

But, because I have had some really high expectations of vacations with littles before that were dashed to a smithereens, I intentionally entered into this one with VERY LOW expectations.  Like, we’ll play in the snow at least once, the baby will probably cry all night and we won’t get any sleep for 3 days and we’ll be stuck in the hotel room watching Curious George most of the day, every day.

And you know what happened?

First, we decided to move rooms, because at 4pm, we had the people below us come knock on our door and tell us the “STOMPING IS REALLY LOUD”.  Ahem.  I may have had to choke down a, “Well, ma’am, it’s a hotel and that kind of comes with the territory,  and it’s pretty hard to get a 3 and 1 year old walk quietly or keep still apart from tying them down and then you’ll have to deal with the screaming unless I gag them, and might I mention that it’s four in the afternoon? You can’t reasonably expect it to be super quiet at that time of day and can I offer you a pair of earplugs?”

I may have had to pray and let go of some stuff after that encounter.  Especially since we had already unpacked everything and now had to repack it all.  BUT…I knew it would be better than barking at the kids every 2 seconds to “Be quiet!  You’ll disturb the lady downstairs!”
Night one, I got like 2 hours of sleep in between trying to nurse G to sleep because she refused to sleep in her pack n’ play, and not wake her up as she’s sleeping sideways in our bed, but I asked the Lord for energy and I actually felt pretty good that day which was completely supernatural (because I get pretty grouchy at the 6 hours or less mark!)  Also I was taking Super C, and Inner Defense capsules, and dousing myself in oils preventatively, which I think really helped also!

But, the second and third nights were MUCH better.  I may still have had to sleep across the foot of the bed because G was taking my place in it, but still…many more hours of sleep than I thought!

We bundled the kids up (with our ragtag makeshift snow clothes cuz Phoenix dwellers!) and let them enjoy the snow three or four separate times.

 

Joseph so excited about whacking people with snow chunks. Mostly he would just rub it into your back!
Joseph so excited about whacking people with snow chunks. Mostly he would just rub it into your back!

We got everyone in swimsuits and bundled up and walked across to another building that housed a heated pool.  Before the trip when I heard they had a pool, I was planning on swimming everyday while we were there.  Once we got there and realized that it was in a separate building with no bathrooms, or changing rooms, and it was SNOWING, I re-evaluated and decided I still wanted to embrace the adventure and do it, but ONCE was enough!  =)
I am sooo glad we did though because it glass all around and super steamy inside and we could see it snowing and piling up as we were swimming which was pretty cool.  After awhile as as those piles of snow started falling off the roof, we decided we should probably head back to the safety and warmth of our room!

 

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There was some Curious George watching, but we also made copious amounts of hot chocolate and cooked fajitas in our room (don’t tell anyone!) and enjoyed the heck out of the free hot breakfasts they offered, and drove around and played in the snow, and threw snowballs, and laughed like crazy.

 

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Little princess in the snow

And before we left, we went to a park still covered in snow and swung and climbed, and threw more snowballs and overall, it was a much better success than I had hoped.  If I had let my expectations for it pile up though, I would have been grouchy and disappointed and frustrated.  Instead, most of the time I was able to embrace it and push through some of the wet, sometimes frustrating and uncomfortable things and just enjoy it.

 

Swinging in the snow!
Swinging in the snow!

 

Be careful of expectations.  I know firsthand where they can lead, but if we change our perspective and ideas about it, we can cultivate a grateful heart and a flexible spirit.  I’m not perfect at it by any means, but I’ve come a long way from a few years ago (in this area at least) and in looking back at this trip, I can do so with fond memories of making the most of what we had and enjoying each other.

 

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A few practical tips:

-Mentally prepare and change your mindset to focusing on enjoying all the bits and pieces however they come and whatever they look like.

-Plan ahead for what food/toys/books/ect… you are packing for the car.

-Have enough but dole them out ONLY as needed!  Let them use their imaginations or zone out if they will.  Save the stuff for when you are going to pull your hair out or you have to keep one from waking up another!

-Have some HAPPY music and put it on when you need some extra energy or to help get out of a funk.  It really helps me.  Also, singing worship songs together helps me refocus.

-Be realistic about sleeping.  Mistake I made that first day was nursing G and she fell asleep on me for two hours and then wasn’t tired enough to sleep well that night.  Night sleep is the one you really want to go well.  If you have to skip a nap to make sure they are tired enough, so be it.  But, it also may take trial and error to figure out what is going to work.  So really, just don’t expect to sleep much!

-If you don’t sleep much, see if you can work it out with your spouse to take turns watching the kids so the other one can have a nap!

-Realize you probably can’t do all the things you would like to do.  Keep a list of options that you can choose from but DON’T expect to get to everything.

-Try to keep your room at least a little bit organized.  It helps with the chaos when you’re stuck in your room all day and trying to find the one lone sippy cup, or book that they wanted.

-Take a “Mommy Timeout”.  Even just five minutes to refocus can help me shift my attitude away from the grumpy place and back into the enjoying our time together and being grateful place.

-Reset the car before you go.  Clean out the trash, get everything re-organized and ready for the trip back.  You’ll be happy you did, I promise!

-You will probably be more tired when you get back than when you left.  Plan for that in your schedule.  Give yourself some down time after you get back so you can recover and re-enter.

-Give everyone grace.  Yourself, your husband, your kids.  Everyone is likely to get a little on edge at some point, but this is where we can practice extending grace!

 

What are some of your tips for traveling with little ones or letting go of expectations?  I’d love to hear some of your stories!

 

I hope these give you some helpful ideas for enjoying your next trip with littles or bigs even more!  =)

God bless!

Heather

Whole 30 Tips for Busy Moms *Repost*

posted in: Food, Seasons | 0

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Hi Everyone!

I just started my second Whole 30 last Friday, and went back to reread this post so I could remember the things that helped me through the first one.  I figured if any of you are doing one now, it might be helpful.

I also wanted to add a few resources that helped me out with it.

  1.  The Modern Mrs. Darcy has several Whole 30 posts.  This one was really helpful.
  2. Well Fed & Well Fed 2 Paleo cookbooks.  Well Fed 2 has a Whole 30 section in it and her meat + veggie + seasoning combos in Well Fed were great to help make quick meals.  I just checked them out at the library.

 

I also want to emphasize how important seasons are.  I did the last one when I felt peace about it and it went really well.  My second one I am contemplating quitting or modifying because I’m not sure it is the season for it.  I’ll let you know what I decide and the reasons for it.  But whether you do the Whole 30 or not.  Or start it and quit because the timing is not right, please give yourself grace and be conscious of your season.
If you could use a little help figuring out what season you are in and how to embrace it, subscribe to Living in Jubilee and you will get a FREE copy of 7 Steps to Embracing Your Season with printables and journal pages.  I go through it periodically to reassess my season.   Hmmmm…..actually, I should probably go back and do it again now!

 

I hope some of these resources can help you on your journey!

 

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*Repost from February 2016*

My husband and I just started the Whole 30 last Monday.  Traditionally, I do terrible with anything “diet” related.  Of the NUMEROUS things I have tried, I usually only lasted about 2 days but sometimes less before I was binge eating ice cream or bread or chocolate! 

I tend to do better when I practice moderation and focus on eating more nourishing, healthy things, adding more fruits, vegetables and water.  Focusing on deprivation of certain foods makes me want to gobble down an entire package of Oreos. 

So, while I was interested in the Whole 30, I waited to try anything new until I felt a peace about it.  Amazingly, I was really excited to try it and even more astounding to me was how easy it has seemed! 

I had a mild headache on one or two of the days, and felt a bit tired (although, I do have a baby and toddler, so that might have a lot to do with it too!) but really didn’t have any problem with sticking to it, or even with cravings.  But the last couple days I have been really wanting some stir fry or greek food, so they are on my radar for after we finish the 30 days!

After giving some thought to what I think has made this week pretty easy, I have come up with these seven tips.  Hope they help in your Whole 30 journey!

 1.  Tailor it to what your family already likes

My husband loves Mexican food and meat but dislikes most soups and salads.  He’s a meat and potatoes (or tortillas) kind of person.  He doesn’t need a lot of variety.  Instead of trying to look up a bunch of different recipes, I looked at what we already ate and figure out how to make it Whole 30 compliant.  Chicken fajita salad instead of in tortillas, taco salad, grilled chicken/steak/fish with veggies.  I added a bunch of avocado and the vegetables he will actually eat, like sauteed/steamed broccoli or green beans and radishes and cucumbers with lemon and garlic salt.

2.  Make it Easy

I have a two year old and a six month old who can now crawl all over the place.  I need things to be easy.  I don’t have a lot of time to spend making meals.  If something takes a lot of prep time, I usually won’t do it.

I have come to terms with the fact, that while I enjoy feeding people, I don’t enjoy the extra time to make time consuming, elaborate dishes.  There are other things I want to do. 

So if I have a head of lettuce in the fridge and I have to wash and dry and tear up to make one salad, I just won’t eat the salads.  Or if I have to wash, and cut up the broccoli or green beans and then figure out a way to steam them when I don’t have a steamer, I probably won’t do it.  And then I will watch as they go bad in fridge while I keep telling myself, “Tomorrow, I will make them tomorrow.”  And it’s no surprise that tomorrow never comes! 

So I buy the pre-washed ready to use spring greens for super quick salads, plus a bag of romaine hearts that I will rinse and chop for fajita or taco salads.  I also found frozen broccoli and green beans at Sam’s Club that come in one pound steamer bags that you pop in the microwave and five minutes later you have your vegetables ready to eat.  (Soooo worth it inmy case!)

3.  Prep Ahead

Prepping ahead was key for my success during our first week.  If I get to the kitchen to make dinner and the meat is not thawed or I’m starving and nothing is cleaned and ready to go for lunch or snack time, then I am in definite jeopardy of cheating!

Do things like:

-Grilling up a bunch of meat on the weekend and freezing it for quick dinners and lunches during the week.  Just today I realized that I forgot to look at the meal plan after being gone all morning so I pulled out some grilled chicken breasts from the freezer.  Add a steamer bag of vegetables and a salad and avocado and we are set.

-Make a batch of soup for the week and freeze.  This is my go to lunch.  I freeze the soup in two gallon Ziplock bags and take one out on Monday and the other one Thursday or so.  I alternate between the soup and salad or a baked sweet potato and salad.  Both are super quick and easy.  If I’m going to be gone all morning, I have the soup because I don’t have to chop up a bunch of toppings.

-Prep fruits and vegetables for snacks.  I usually make sure to have at least one cucumber already cut up and ready to go.  Sometimes I will cut up oranges and keep them in baggies, or portion out some nuts for convenience and portion control.

4.  Be Prepared

If I’m out and about and forget to pack a snack, I’m in trouble.  I try to make sure to look at the schedule to see when I’m going to be outside the house and make sure I have enough with me to make it until I get home.

-Larabars.  I keep a bunch on hand for emergencies.  I never leave the house without at least one in my bag.  I try to use them sparingly but they are perfect for when I’m on the run and need something easy to eat.  (If you are one of those people who has extra time and will actually make them yourself, then go for it!)

-Bottle of water.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  Especially because I am still breastfeeding. 

-Baggie of nuts or fruit.  Sometimes I’ll grab a banana, or chop up an apple or orange for the road along with a little baggie of nuts.  Plus, it’s great in case the kids get hungry!

5.  Make a Detailed Meal Plan for the Week

It is ok to reuse it every week if you want.  Like I said, my husband does not care much about variety, so he’s fine with Chicken Fajita Salad every week, or the piece of meat and veggies.  The more variety, the more ingredients you need, and the harder you have to think about it.  I personally didn’t have the mental energy to have to make four different meal plans, so I am mostly reusing the same one.

-Keep it basic.  If you want to change something up, you always have that option, but if you have a week’s worth of quick easy basic meals already in place, you are set in case you get behind and don’t have time to think about meals before the next week is upon you.  (This is me most of the time)

-Keep in mind where you will be and what days need something really minimal prep, like a crock pot meal, or breakfast for dinner, etc…

6. Clear Out the Pantry/Fridge

It really helped me to know that basically everything in the fridge I could eat. (Minus the milk, cheese, and yogurt that I was keeping on hand for Joseph)  I also boxed up most of the beans, pasta, grains, chips, etc… in the pantry that would tempt us and I put it in our guest bedroom.  Out of sight, really out of mind.  There is a much better chance that I will stay with it if I am not staring chips or pasta, or sourdough bread in the face everyday.

7.  Keep Your Meal & Snack Times Regular

In trying to figure out why this felt so easy for me, I started to realize what an important role, regular snack and mealtimes played in it.  Before I started this, I felt starving ALL THE TIME!  I would stuff myself at lunch and dinner, wolfing down my food as if I hadn’t had a meal in a week.  But when I started the Whole 30, I was being super mindful about having a mid morning and mid afternoon snack.  And for the first time in a long time, I was able to have one medium bowl of soup and feel full as opposed to scarfing down 2 huge bowls and then feeling obnoxiously stuffed thirty minutes later.  The few days that I accidentally skipped a snack, I would overeat at the next meal. 

Perhaps, this is accentuated for me because I am breast feeding and need more calories, but if you find that this is a problem for you too, I would encourage trying the regular snack times.  It really made a world of difference for me!

So there are my seven tips and tricks for an easier Whole 30!

** P.S.  I’ll be posting my Whole 30 Meal Plan: Week 1 in a day or two, so check back, or subscribe by email so you don’t miss it!

God bless,

Heather

Things I’m Loving: Fall/Winter Edition

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1.  Wearing an apron

I think it was Edie Wadsworth that first opened my eyes to the happy homemaking power that comes with putting on an apron.  I haven’t worn one in a long time and this fall I finally donned my cheery red and yellow ladybug apron and immediately felt like the world had instantly improved and all the domestic kitchen chores that we do over and over again to keep our people fed and our homes in order were a good deal more enjoyable.  I’m not sure what it is.  This mystery of the apron’s powers, but I am a fan!  So let the homey holiday feelings come and try wearing one.

 

2.  Chocolate in my coffee

 

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Oh my goodness.  This totally takes my coffee to the next level.  I need my coffee sweet and milky and I’m a back and forth coffee drinker, so sometimes I just cut it out altogether instead of settling for just ok tasting coffee.

Right now though, it’s fall and I just want fun drinks!  So this is my “recipe”:

-Put about a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder in the bottom of my mug.

-Pour coffee over the chocolate.

-Add your sweetener of choice.

-Pour in a nice glug of half & half ( or heavy whipping cream if you’re feeling really indulgent)

-Find a quiet place and SAVOR.

For me, this is making it so much better than just regular coffee.  More of a hot chocolate with a shot of coffee.  =)  And since budget constraints rule out a Starbucks run, this has become my treat to myself.

 

3.  The Holiday Instrumentals station on Pandora

I am highly sensitive to noise and music, even good stuff can quickly become noise to me, especially if I am trying to do or concentrate on something else.  This channel lets me have my Christmas music in the background without getting twitchy and irritable.

 

4.  Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God”

I LOVE this album!  Take my advice and go listen to it.  It’s broad and encompassing and fun and folksy in places but totally brings me to tears in others.  And it is such a unique perspective.

 

5.  Poldark

I wasn’t sure about this show at first.  It’s set in Cornwall England post Revolutionary War (which isn’t traditionally my favorite time period)  But it is such a great series!  We watched Season 1 on Amazon Prime and Season 2 is currently airing on PBS.

  It’s based on books by Winston Graham which I started reading and was amazed to find how closely the show follows the book.  There are some minor characters and scenes left out but nothing is really changed.  I think it’s probably the first time where I am enjoying the book and the show equally.

It’s a fascinating look at this time period in this particular area and there’s lots of galloping around horseback and amazing views of the sea.  I totally want to go live in Cornwall now.  And then I’ll go stand on the cliff overlooking the ocean while the wind whips my hair and dress….

 

6.  Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

 

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This is a great recipe!  Chock full of healthy ingredients, lightly sweetened with honey and perfectly filling.  The kids and I both love them and I made two or three batches before getting wise and tripling the recipe and freezing a bunch of them.  It was awesome.

It’s pretty flexible too.  I didn’t have quick oats so I ground up regular oats in my blender instead.  I also ran out of pumpkin seeds so I used sunflower seeds.  And I left the flax seeds whole instead of ground.  All the variations were great!

I take them to the park for snacks, or use them as a special treat for tea time.

 

7.  Tea Time

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I was inspired by Sally Clarkson to start doing tea time with my three year old son.  He has his own special Peter Rabbit tea cup and plate and we use the aforementioned Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies as our tea time treat. 

He LOVES it.  He gets to help put the tea bags in and pour the water and take the bags out and he gets milk and a couple ice cubes in his tea and we sit at the kitchen table and read something while we sip our tea and eat our cookies.  It’s been great.  I don’t always get to it everyday, but the times we do we totally enjoy it.  Of course, he’s a three year old boy, so attention span is short (the food helps with this a bit) and inevitably tea gets spilled and sometimes there’s fussing but overall it’s been a great little resting place routine for us.

 

8.  Target Dollar Spot Paper Chains

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I don’t think I’m alone in my love/weakness for the Target Dollar Spot.  A few weeks ago, I found packs of paper chain kits (in pretty shiny paper) and bought a couple.  Last night we put them together with my son and it was so EASY and added instant pretty fullness to the tree.  If you want to have a  long enough one to put around the whole tree, I would get at least 5 or 6.

In this season, I am all about simple and knowing what to do yourself and what’s not worth the hassle.  I could probably have cut the strips and stapled/taped them without too much trouble and I still might, but I like the pretty glittery paper and Joseph had fun.  So I’m calling it a win.

 

9.  Minimal Christmas Decor

 

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Last year I read Kendra’s post over at the Lazy Genius Collective about decorating without wanting to punch something and it was awesome!  I went through my box of Christmas decorations and got rid of everything I didn’t like or that was in colors I hated.  It didn’t leave me with a lot of stuff you guys.  (I’d only been married for a few years so we hadn’t amassed a huge collection yet)

So this year, I pulled out my one large Christmas tote, and put a few things out.  Just a few.  And those few things have been MAKING MY DAYS!  I’m telling you, it’s amazing what a frosty garland, a centerpiece, and a couple TINY Christmas trees (one with lights, and one for $3 at Target) do for my downstairs/kitchen.  I’m loving it.  Over the last couple days I have pulled out a couple more pieces as I’ve felt like it.  But it was super easy, simple and not overwhelming.  Again, I’m calling a win!

 

10. My new Young Living Starter Kit

 

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Last year, I had a c-section with my daughter and my immune system tanked.  Two days after we left the hospital, I ended up with a blood clot and we had to load up everyone and go to the ER, which led to spending another night in the hospital (on my birthday no less!)  Then a few days after that my body went crazy with hives EVERYWHERE, I caught hand foot mouth disease from my son (which let me just tell you is NOT FUN as an adult!), and I was pretty much sick on and off for the entire fall/winter season.

 

This year, heading into September it felt really important to focus on building my immune system and being proactive about our health and wellness heading into fall.

I had already been using a few essential oils from Sprouts for about four years or so and knew about their benefits, but my use of them was spotty at best and mostly they just cluttered up my drawer.

I took a class at the library on essential oils for kids and got to try some of the Young Living oils.  I knew that I wanted to get their Thieves blend which is excellent for boosting the immune system and their Stress Away blend which smelled divine!

That’s when I saw an Instagram post by Edie and she was telling her Young Living story so I decided to go ahead and get the Starter Kit.

 

It is the BEST investment I have made for my health and wellness and I am totally LOVING it!  Along with a great variety of 11 oils, you get a couple on the go packs of their super antioxidant drink Ningxia Red (which deserves it’s own “I’m Loving It” for the energy it’s given me from Day ONE!), AND a diffuser.

I can totally tell the difference of quality in these oils from the ones I had been using.  It took me by surprise at how well they are working and what a difference they are making in how I feel.  And having such a variety means that I can use them in so many different ways all the time.

I have been diffusing Thieves and their Christmas blend pretty much 24/7 since I got it and it makes me sooo happy and my house smell sooo good AND as a bonus, I get to boot out a bunch of toxins in the candles and cleaners I would have been using!

 

Right now, they are giving a FREE bottle of Christmas Spirit to everyone who orders a Premium Starter Kit!

 

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If you would like to order a Premium Starter Kit and get wholesale pricing of 24% off all future orders, click here.  It will automatically fill in my ID #10338448 for Sponsor and Enroller.  Then you just choose which Starter Kit you want (I HIGHLY recommend the Premium Kit!) and you will be on your way to reaping the benefits of essential oils!

If you have any questions, email me at hlion23@gmail.com

 

And that is what I’m loving right now!

Let us know what you are loving in the comments.  Or hop over to my Facebook page and tell me!  =)

 

Have lovely Advent season!

God bless,

Heather

Do You Need to Reassess Your Expectations

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Are you finding yourself increasingly frustrated and perhaps not really knowing why? Or feeling as though you are failing to “get things done” that you think you should be doing?

 

Sometimes we enter into a small season change without realizing it and suddenly we are mad, frustrated, depressed, etc… (or like me this week, spiraling down the dark hole of despair wondering what the heck initiated it)

 

We make more elaborate To Do Lists or try and figure out where we have some extra chunk of time to squeeze in more things. Or perhaps we feel as though we just need more discipline to stay on top of things.

 

But maybe what we really need to do is to stop and reassess where we are. Has something about our season changed? Do we have new limitations or demands on our time that we haven’t accounted for and are simply going about expecting to be able to produce the same amount of results even though we do not have the same amount of time to work with?

 

Or perhaps, like me, you realize that even though you don’t necessarily have more “things” to do with your time, the time you do have is not able to be utilized the way you had previously.

 

For example, my daughter is now crawling super fast, pulling herself up on everything, not staying put, and just in general getting into everything. I didn’t see at the time that even though her schedule of waking and sleeping was still about the same, my ability to walk away and clean the kitchen or file papers, or scrub the toilet pretty much vanished or was severely crimped.

 

My attention has to be much more focused on her and what she is doing, or what her brother is doing to her! And after my day in the “pit of despair” (cue the creepy albino guy from The Princess Bride), I finally realized that I had crossed over into a bit of a different season, a “mini” season if you will and I needed to stop and reassess my expectations.

 

So I sat down and made a list of the bare minimum “Must Get Done” things. You know, things like feed the children, change diapers, brush teeth, wait outside the door for ten minutes while my son goes to the bathroom “BY HIMSELF”, make sure we have clean clothes to wear, and clean dishes to use.

 

Then I wrote out the things that I “Really Would Like to Get Done”. Things like keep the surfaces cleared off, and pick up toys before Daddy gets home, and maybe do some writing.

 

And then there was the “Everything Else” list to dump the rest of my To Do items that eternally kept getting written down and never done.

 

Now having decided that my goal is simply to do the “Must Get Done” things, if that is all I do in a day, the day was a SUCCESS.

 

If I do something off of the “Really Would Like to Get Done” list, then BONUS! It was a REALLY GOOD day.

 

If I do all that plus something off the “Everything Else” list, then it was an I AM A ROCKSTAR day.

 

Now I could say goodbye to that pesky feeling of failure for not getting enough things done and instead feel a sense of accomplishment for even the regular days that are filled with dishes and diapers and laundry and potty training.

 

As my sister says, our To Do lists and schedules and routines, and all of those things are simply tools. They work for us, not the other way around. And if something isn’t working, then we need to remember that it is only a tool and it’s ok to find a different one.

 

DON’T let your To Do list rule you. Use it how you need to and revamp it when it becomes obsolete or burdensome.

 

DON’T think that you have to do everything in every season. And some seasons change more quickly than we might think.

 

I know that realistically, I only have 6 months to a year of this hyper watching season (even though it feels like that will be FOREVER, it really isn’t).

 

I know that my husband will be out of school for the summer, so all the projects like painting our furniture, and decorating Gabrielle’s room, and going through all the papers in the house can wait until then. And it will be like 115 degrees here so I’ll be wanting to stay inside anyway.

 

So it’s ok to spend my days taking the kids for walks or to the park or the library, because we won’t be feeling like doing much of that in a couple months.

 

I’m feeling so much more at peace now that I’ve revamped my own expectations for myself to match the current season.

 

Maybe your season looks like taking on new projects at work, or extra classes at school, or wedding planning, or growing a baby, or extra commitments for your children.

 

Whatever it is, think about whether your circumstances or time commitments or limitations have changed and if you have adjusted your expectations accordingly or if you are still charging ahead trying to match the same output from before.

 

If you are feeling frustrated or anxious or depressed about what you may not be getting done, you might not be matching your expectations to your reality. And take it from me, there is so much more peace when you do.

 

And here’s a little food for thought…

“If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there…” -Elisabeth Elliot

 

How many of those items on your To Do list are ones that He put there and how many are ones that you’ve added over time?

 

There are a lot of GOOD things out there that may not be the BEST things for right now. Take some time to ask God which ones they may be.

 

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

So take heart and some time by yourself to listen and pray and maybe you’ll find that there is more freedom to be had right now than you thought.

 

God bless,
Heather

The Tidy-a-Thon and the Beauty of Logical Order

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My husband is on spring break this week. So last week in preparation I was trying to figure out all the things I needed to do beforehand so we could really enjoy his time off. This led to an overwhelming To Do list which I ended up cutting back on last week in this post.

 

I’m sure that you have probably heard about Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I have seen it on more blogs than I can count and so I ended up reading it. Aside from what other people are calling the “woo woo” factor throughout some of the book, she does have a really great system for tidying up and then keeping it that way. Essentially, purge everything first by category, not room and then afterwards, find a home for everything.

 

In the last couple years I have probably purged three or four times getting rid of more and more stuff. It is starting to feel like we are getting to a comfortable amount of belongings that are useful and beautiful and “spark joy” as Marie’s second book is titled.

 

I just finished reading Spark Joy, An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up and I like this one better than her first. Plus it has some diagrams and happy little pictures so how can you not like it?

 

So as I sat looking at my huge list trying to figure out what to do first, I realized that I needed to find the logical order. In her book, Marie talks about the importance of purging BEFORE you find homes for stuff. If you go around trying to put things away before you’ve gone through them then you’ll have to do it all over again afterwards.

 

For me, I kept thinking that I needed to clean things because my Mom who is also a teacher was coming to visit us and I’ve already talked about how our bathtub had an actual dirt ring around it courtesy of a certain little boy, and I couldn’t let my mom take a shower in there!

 

But I decided to take another look at my list to see what made logical sense for me. This is what I came up with.

 

  • Purge first (The less stuff I had to work around, the better!)
  • Organize/find homes for all the stuff (It’s hard to pick up the surfaces to clean if there isn’t a designated place for things)
  • Clean (Now that everything is put away and our surfaces should be clear, I can really get to cleaning)
  • Grocery List and Meal Plan (Because the other things will have taken most of the week and we need to eat)
  • Order books from the library for Joseph (These will take a few days or week to get in so I want some waiting for us)
  • Hang some things for Gabrielle’s nursery (Now that there is a spot for everything and her room doesn’t look like a dumping ground, and the rest of the house is in order, I can think about doing the pretty decorating things)

 

So after coming up with the order, I proceeded to ignore the food encrusted kitchen floor (because Gabrielle is working on solid food now and Joseph is working on table etiquette which means not a meal passes without food littering the ground) and the dirty ringed bathtub and started going through all of our stuff by category.

 

Marie says you should purge in the order of clothing, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous household), and then sentimental items. I did the clothes, and books, but instead of purging all the papers (because I only had a week to do this) I simply gathered every piece of paper in the whole house and piled it on our file box, made a “Pending” file that I could stick things in that needed to be dealt with as I came across them, and called it good for now.

 

Then in my notebook I wrote out every category I could think of for my komono (household stuff). This is another place the book came in handy because she has most general categories laid out for you and how to break them down, etc…

 

I started gathering things up from each category and went down the list purging and putting away. There were a few categories I skipped for now. My crafty/hobby stuff I had already organized pretty well and was contained in a closet so I’ll get to that one later. And all the garage, recreation stuff I will let my husband do at some point.

 

Being the pen and paper kind of girl, I grabbed a purple highlighter and crossed off as I went and I was able to get it done in about four days. It helped that I had purged pretty ruthlessly the last couple times we moved so there wasn’t as much to get rid of, but still we ended up with several large bags and some totes full of stuff to donate.

 

It felt so great to see things starting to have a home and when I finished the kitchen and saw how clear my counters were I almost swooned!

 

I corralled every single toy in one place, put all the sets together and put away a certain amount for toy rotation. Now with fewer toys out and designated homes for them, our living spaces feel so much cleaner and more open and Joseph seems to play better too. And the great thing is that I can now tell my son to pick up all the toys and he is able to do it by himself. Hallelujah!

 

My Mom was coming down on Sunday, so that left me Friday evening and Saturday to work on the cleaning part and yes I FINALLY scrubbed the tub. But it was my husband who scraped all the dried food off the floor.  (Because he’s wonderful that way!) I vacuumed and mopped and wiped down bathroom counters and toilets and you know, that is as clean as I need it right now. I got the spring cleaning bug but not enough to want to wash base boards or anything that detailed. Maybe later….maybe….or not. I have better things to do with my time. Like write this post for you guys!

 

Now we are halfway through spring break and the house is still feeling so much better and more organized. I am able to move onto the other items on my list without the mess driving me crazy!

 

So, if you aren’t sure where to start with prioritizing a list, try looking at what order makes the most logical sense.

 

And for those of you who are more driven than me, Happy Spring Cleaning!

 

Have you tried the KonMarie Method for tidying and organizing? How did you like it? Let me know in the comments!

 

God bless,
Heather

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