balancing the old and new me

Something amazing happens when you have your first baby.  You are changed.  There are so many changes, and they come all at once.  Many of them are hard changes.  At least they were for me!

The hardest change for me was time.  There are still 168 hours in the week, but the way I used those hours changed dramatically.  Gone were lazy Saturday mornings of watching the news and drinking coffee with my husband.  I’m not saying the change was a bad thing, it absolutely was not.  But, figuring out how to use my time, not waste any second of it; that was more of a challenge.

I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday while I was watching a youtube video on file organization – yes, I was really watching a video on how to organize my filing cabinet!  As the lady was going through what she does, I thought to myself, “huh, that is exactly what I used to do before I had children.  Why am I not doing that now?”

My word for this year is Intentional and I have been working really hard at using that word for every aspect of my life.  My time with the kids, the amount of planning I do for homeschooling, organizing my life, finding time for activities that feed my soul, my marriage, the food we eat; everything. 

I started the beginning of the year wanting to get back to the basics.  What I knew about myself before having kids, and how I can fit that in with my life and how I am now.  It all seems to come back to time. 

If it is important to me, I need to make the time.

Of course, if I was telling myself these things four years ago, I would have laughed.  Making time seemed absolutely impossible!  I was walking around like a zombie, not sleeping, having to stay on top of raising a two year old and a new little baby.  Making meals and snacks, cleaning and organizing the house – ha!  It was challenging, to say the least. 

Even now, with two older (6&4) and one baby it is hard.  But, I have finally realized that I can’t be the best version of myself if I am not making that time.  It means saying no, it means waking up early or staying up late – but definitely not both, it means letting my kids do messy crafts so I can make dinner, it means going through and de-cluttering the house so there is less to take care of.

I’m finding the new version of me to be confident and happy and that is a good thing.  I have spent too many years being on the pessimistic side of life.  Realizing how amazing my life actually is, and seeing all the blessings that God has bestowed on my family is humbling.

I am blessed to be able to stay at home with my children, and I am thankful that I get to be with them every day.  However, I also need me time.  It isn’t me being selfish – although I definitely felt that way for a while.

One thing that I started doing that has helped spark my creativity lately is to get more into planning again.  I have always kept a planner.  A paper planner.  I have tried multiple times to get into using an online system.  Google calendar – I’ve tried it, I can’t seem to get it to work well for me.  I do like having it available on my phone, computer etc.  But, I don’t update it the way I do with a paper planner.

Last yearI finally bought an *Erin Condren Life Planner*.  I absolutely love it!  And it has allowed me some easy creative time when I am planning on my week.  I never realized there was such a community of planners online, but I guess you can find just about everything online.  You can get $10 off your order by clicking here.

My older two, especially Emma, have jumped on this planner bandwagon as well.  They are now about all things washi tape and stickers.  I have to say that it has given us all a creative outlet during the day.  It is nice to have something, even as small as planning, become a fun activity to do with my kids.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?  Do you have any tips to share on how to keep the creativity flowing when your schedule and life seem to be non-stop?

*Edited to add currently Erin Condren is running a sale on her 2015 Life Planners - 40% off!  Click this link and you will get an additional $10 off!

There may be affiliate links in this post.  If you click on a link and purchase something, it will support this little blog and not cost you anything extra!

Finding Time for Creativity

There aren’t enough hours in the day, right? With work, helping the kids with their homework, preparing meals, cleaning up after everyone and putting yet another load of laundry on, there’s very little time for sleep – let alone DIY and crafting!

But do you look at that bare wall in the den and that tatty tablecloth on the kitchen table, and just wish you had a few hours to do something about them? Or do you browse through those wonderful crafting successes on Pinterest and think to yourself that “one day” you’ll have a few more minutes to yourself so that you too can create something incredible?

You’re not alone – there’s a huge community of people out there who are feeling just as frustrated as you are!

Thankfully though, there’s an exciting new product to help you quickly and easily get into (or back into) the creative projects you’ve been desperate to start. It’s called The Ultimate DIY Bundle, and it’s a collection of carefully curated DIY and crafting eBooks and eCourses from the world’s leading authors and bloggers in the industry.

For the crazy low price of just $34.95, you get access to a carefully curated library of over 69 eBooks and eCourses.

And let me reassure you that this really is great value: the Ultimate Bundles team (who produced the resource) has spent MONTHS seeking out the most respected experts in the industry and asking them to contribute their premium-quality eBooks and eCourses. These really are the best of the best when it comes to DIY and crafting advice and information.
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  • Handmade gifts
  • Homemade skincare products
  • Cake decorating
  • Photography and photo-editing
  • Paint colors and interior design
  • …and a whole lot more (69 eBooks and eCourses in total) – to help you be inspired or get started with your next DIY or crafting project!
There’s no need to worry about information overload though: The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with a complete guide to getting started, so that you can know exactly which resource to use for your specific crafting or DIY project and jump straight into it with confidence!

Hurry though! The Ultimate DIY Bundle will only be on sale for 2 days – from 9am EST on Monday, March 31 until 9am EST on Wednesday, April 1.

You can buy with complete confidence because you’re covered by the Ultimate Bundles 30-day money-back guarantee. That means you have a full 30 days to enjoy all the eBooks and eCourses in the bundle, and if you don’t think they provided enough value, you’ll get a full refund.

Not only that, but The Ultimate DIY Bundle comes with 4 awesome bonuses, worth over $150. That’s 4x the price of the bundle alone! These include:

A free $15 Store Credit PLUS 8×10 Art Print from Hope Ink ($43 Value), a free online class from Craftsy (up to $71.95 Value), a free sewing pattern PLUS a Premium Video Class from UpCraft Club ($19.99 Value), and free, full digital copies of Where Women Create Magazine and Greencraft Magazine ($20 value) from Stampington and Co.

So, don’t miss your chance to grab The Ultimate DIY Bundle, and get 69 incredible eBooks and eCourses for just $34.95. All you need to do is take action by 9am EST on Wednesday, April 1!

This amazing deal ends in just…

Pick up your copy right now, before it’s too late. Or, learn more here.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

Sunday Quotes

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.
~Doug Larson

31 Bags in 31 Days Update

Have you been wondering how my 31 Bags in 31 Days project is going?  I haven’t abandoned it, in fact, I am going strong!

I realized that my family had an awful lot of clothes to get rid of.  It was kind of crazy to see all that we had, and to realize that we only liked half of it and only wore half of that – at least that is what it seemed like!  After going through the kids clothes, my clothes, and even Matt jumping on board to pare down some of his old clothes, I think I met half of my 31 bags goal.  OK, perhaps not that many, but it was significant.

After going through the clothes and the toys, I wasn’t quite sure where to go next.  I had already filled 20 bags.  A lot of that was going to different homes, but there was a significant amount of stuff I trashed as well.

It was, and still is, time to get to the more difficult stuff.  

The first stop I made was my yarn stash.

I love all things fiber.  Actually, all things crafty, but we will get to that in a bit.  I have had a lot of yarn for a long time.  I love it all.  But, I realized there were several skeins that I was never going to use.  Some were skeins I thought I would love, but then couldn’t get into knitting with them, and others were pretty but not practical for what I actually will knit.  So, it was time to start getting rid of some of it.  And I did.  One bag of yarn out the door.

I got through the yarn and then looked over at boxes of fabric and a huge scrapbook organizer.  I knew it was time to start weeding out what I don’t use. 

I started scrap-booking about 15 years ago.  And unfortunately, it has essentially stopped at this point.  I don’t have the time, or I don’t make the time, to work on scrap-booking.  When I was able to leave all of my supplies and scrapbook pages out in a craft room, I was more apt to work on it.  That room has now been taken over by my children!

I am sad to say I haven’t gone through my scrapbook supplies in a couple of years.  Instead, they just sat in a travel organization system in my room.  Once I finally made the time to go through it, I realized there were a lot of stickers that were no longer usable as well as a bunch of other stuff that I wouldn’t use in the future.  Out went a bag full of scrapbook supplies.

Once I went through my scrapbook supplies, I thought the next logical place to go would be my pictures.  This is what I have been working on for the past few days, and it is a lot more difficult than I imagined.

I literally have pictures from when I got my first camera, way back in 1990 – at least that is the date on the back of the pictures. 

Obviously this has slowed down my 31 bags project a little bit.  I’m not planning on throwing away all of my pictures, however, I am weeding out the pictures.  I have always been someone who hangs onto everything that might have a memory attached to it.  But, I am finally in the frame of mind where I can get rid of a lot that isn’t meaningful to me anymore. 

It is going to be a long process to get all of those pictures organized, into albums, and on the shelf; one that needs to be done.

I think that I am pretty close to hitting my 31 bags goal, but I have a feeling that this project is going to continue into April…I made the mistake of going into the attic to look for something.  That is my husband’s domain, and I can tell there is a lot that is just being stored at this point, not used.

How are you doing with your de-cluttering?  Have you found areas that you don’t usually look at when de-cluttering, but have finally decided to take on the challenge?

knitting and reading

I was confident that I would have a FO to show off today!  I got Lucy into bed, I came downstairs ready to watch 19 Kids and Counting and finish up this little shrug for Emma.  Unfortunately, I ended up staying downstairs for about 15 minutes before one of my older kids started having a meltdown - we are all sick again.  So, instead I went back upstairs to be a mama.  

But, I only have to finish the border and then sew up the arms, so I think I should have it finished this afternoon!

My reading is essentially the same as last week.  I am still reading the John C. Maxwell Leadership book.  It is really good.  I am on chapter nine right now, and have spent a good bit of time underlining the previous eight chapters.  I hope to have a full review up sometime soon.

With the kids, I just started Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  I absolutely love Harry Potter.  I jumped on the bandwagon the summer before number five was released, and have read all the books numerous times.  I actually read the series aloud to Emma when she was a baby - I got tired of reading fairy tales and board books, so I started reading what I wanted to read to her.  But, now I am reading the first book for my oldest two and they actually understand it.  They seem very interested, so we will see how far we get.  The books definitely get dark as they move along, so I don't expect to read the entire series to them.  

What are you knitting and reading this week?

Summer Travel and Staycations

It seems like winter really is on its way out.  And for that I am thankful!  I know that I am looking forward to opening up the windows and turning the heat off!  Feeling that warm sun on my face is what I am most looking forward to in the next several weeks. 

When it starts to warm up, I start to think about summer, and the endless possibilities of staycations.  We live in New England, and I often say that I would rather stay in New England during the summer months – it is literally the most wonderful weather ever, and makes up for the extremely long winters.

Whether you plan to go away on vacation this summer, or stay close to home, there are many apps available to help with your planning and for when you actually get to your destination.

I love the fact that there are so many travel apps available.  I can easily go on my phone to Expedia, Orbitz, or Kayak to look at the best deals for the all-inclusive travel experience.  Honestly I like to go on and randomly check how much it costs to fly to Orlando just to dream about my next Disney vacation! 

If you are getting on a plane, the iPad Air 2 has over over 10 hours of battery life and 128 gigs of memory, which means there is plenty of room for movies and music – and books – to get you to your destination.  Also, the urBeats In-Ear headphones are wonderful for noise-cancelling on those long flights. 

Once you get to your destination you can use the awesome app Around Me to show nearby restaurants, banks, and other amenities.  Also, I love using Google Maps to figure out where I want to go.  My husband and I love to just get the kids in the car and go for a long drive on the weekends and having the US Cellular 4G LTE network available makes figuring out where the heck we are a lot easier!

It is also nice to be able to document your whole trip – whether on Instagram or just in pictures kept on your phone.  Easily upload them to snapfish to make albums and keep your pictures in folders to show to friends later on.

And if your kids are becoming more independent and doing some travel on their own - make sure to get the Parent/Child cell agreement so that everyone is on the same page with cell usage.

I know I can’t be the only one excited for warmer weather.  Are you planning any fun getaways this spring and summer?  Or do you prefer to stay in your area (like we do) during the beautiful summer months?

This is a sponsored post by US Cellular.  I am a member of the US Cellular Blogger Brigade and was compensated for this post.  All opinions and information are my own.

Sunday Quotes

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility.  It's easy to say, 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.'  Then there are those who see the need and respond.  I consider those people my heroes.
~Fred Rogers

Spruce up the kids' wardrobe with Carter's

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Carter’s. I received a complimentary gift card to facilitate my review and thank me for my participation.

Happy first day of Spring everyone!  I, for one, am happy that winter is on its way out.  However, considering we still have a couple feet of snow on the ground, I am not sure exactly when the winter door will shut.

As the seasons change, I am thinking more about spring and summer clothes for the kids.  We live in New England, where there are 4 very distinct seasons.  That means new clothes every few months!  It is amazing to me how fast the kids grow out of their clothes, and we are already looking for new things.

One area that I am especially thinking about this year is bathing suits.  My fair skinned children need as much protection from the sun as possible.  We try to stay in the shade, but when swimming shade isn’t really an option.  

I love the selection of swimsuits from Carter’s.  They have long and short sleeved varieties.  I especially like that they have introduced sizes 7-12.  My oldest is moving into those big girl sizes, and I have been looking for quality clothing that is cute, and still modest, for a while without luck.  The fact that Carter’s is now offering these sizes makes me so happy!  Finding a long sleeved top for a swimsuit for a young lady is no longer an issue.

With all the shopping we had to do, we decided to hit up Carter’s for some fun new fashion – which, by the way, is my 6 year old’s favorite thing.  Right now through the 25th they are running a great sale when you buy two or more t-shirts or shorts they are $6 each.

I was able to pick up some really cute onesies for Lucy as well as bathing suits for the older kids and some adorable tops for Emma.  We had a great time looking at all the cute Easter looks.  I love to have new outfits for the kids to wear on Easter Sunday to church, and Carter’s does not disappoint!

If you are looking to spruce up your child’s wardrobe this weekend, head out to Carter’s and check out what they have.  A great way to welcome in the new Spring season!

Now, if the snow will only melt, we can go outside and play!

You can connect with Carter's on:

Are your kids growing as fast as mine?

Tips for Multi-Tasking WAHM's

Please welcome Shai Ford, author of Rock Your Shop.

'Rock Your Shop: A Guide to Building, Branding, and Rocking Etsy' is a one-stop guidebook for both newbie and veteran Etsians alike. From creating your shop all the way down to branding and SEO, Shai Ford pulls from 8.5 years of selling on Etsy and 4 years of social media marketing and branding, along with interviews, tips, and examples from successful sellers, to walk you step-by-step through creating, branding, and marketing your own shop. 

As a creative, running a business isn’t easy. Being a mom, quite often, turns that task into an obstacle course style marathon, smattered with carpools, invoices, Post Office trips, emails, and digging Play-Doh out of the carpet. 

While I didn’t include any mommy tips in my book, Rock Your Shop: Building, Branding, and Rocking Etsy, I wrote it with the multi-tasking WAHM in mind. 

As a WAHM, I completely understand what it’s like to barely have time to make our products, much less photograph them. Researching how to take those stunning photographs you see in high-profile Etsy shops? Forget about it! Having time to sit down and figure out what SEO stands for and maybe, possible, how to use it to generate more sales? Not so much.  So I’m here, today, to share some of my favorite tips to being a multi-tasking WAHM: 

Write down a list of things you need to do or focus on every day. 

Prioritize, not by importance, the size of the task, or the time it will take, but by how profitable that task is. Then, focus on the top few and work your way down the list. The next day? Don’t pick up where you left off! Start back at the top, with the most profitable. With profit you can continue to grow your business! 

Delegate, delegate, delegate. 

I personally am such a perfectionist that I almost never do this and, I promise you, it has come back to bite me in the tush on more than one occasion. Every holiday season, however, I am so slammed that I have no choice but to pay, barter, and/or bake my way into the hearts of my dear friends and have them help me out with my shop. Have a Bloody Mary Sunday (if you drink - Shirley Temples if you don’t!), and invite all of your closest girlfriends over to talk, sip, and put together your packaging. Kids love to help out with the family business when they’re young - what can you hand over to them? My daughter loves oxidizing the pieces after I stamp them.

Trade babysitting services with girlfriends, mom groups, or relatives! 

This isn’t something you have to do often. However, when you do set something up, try to plan for a specific period of time and tackle one large task that you can’t do with the kids around. Buckle down and turn off all distractions, except maybe some motivating music, and focus only on sewing/designing/packaging and getting as much done as you can in a small amount of time. 

Use little chunks of time as you can. 

Baby down for a nap? Take a few minutes to print labels. Cooking dinner? Whip out your phone and respond to customer emails. You actually get more done if you work in short bursts, anyway. Set a timer for 10-15-20 minutes and work until the timer goes off. I know my daughter takes 20 minute showers. Water bill withstanding, I know I can also use that time to get the last of my noisy projects slammed out before she goes to bed. 

Running a business with kids isn’t a cake-walk. It is, however, worth it. Once you get you and your family on enough of a schedule that you can get things done and stay productive, you can start allocating that time to grow your business and further support your little ones with your amazing handmade products!

Shai Ford is a 29-year-old mom, social media campaign manager, and Etsy veteran. She currently runs her own Etsy shop as well as, and offers one-on-one business coaching for Etsians and other small business folks, targeting everything from product creation to social media marketing. As an artist, and a peace and social justice rights activist, Shai loves helping and watching 'the little man' succeed and reach their dreams. 

You can follow Shai on twitter, facebook, and find her at her etsy shop, blog or on her facebook group.

knitting and reading

I was hoping to be finished with this shrug today!  But, alas, I am not.  Seeing as how this is a birthday present and said birthday is not until May, I think I will be OK.  I do like that the pattern was easily memorized and I can knit a couple rows here and there without totally losing my place - I'm not so good at keeping track of where I am in a pattern!  Maybe next week this will be completed!  I can feel I am so close!

In keeping with my Pride & Prejudice theme, I just finished His Good Opinion by Nancy Kelley.  It is Pride & Prejudice from Mr. Darcy's perspective.  A lot of the book is obviously repetitive to Pride & Prejudice, but I thought it was really interesting.  To see the progression of Darcy's love for Elizabeth.  It was very good, I definitely recommend it!

I also started The Leadership Handbook by John C. Maxwell.

There was a time when I read a lot of business centered books, but it has been a while.  I read one of John C. Maxwell's books in college for a small business management course I was in, and enjoyed it.  I have heard a lot of good things about his other books as well, so I figured I would jump in and read one!  It is taking me a little time to get back into reading this type of book, but so far it seems like it has a lot of practical advice in it.

What are you knitting and reading this week?

A lovely weekend

We have had such a nice weekend - despite another snow storm.  My sister-in-law, niece and nephew have all come for a visit.  We haven't seen them for several months, so it was nice to finally get a chance to visit!

My newest little niece is just four days older than Lucy, so it is exciting to see them together, the differences and the similarities.  It is unbelievable how big the girls have gotten, and it does not look like it will be slowing down any time soon!

I especially enjoyed watching Jack take his roll of the "big boy" pretty seriously.  He wanted to make sure that his little cousin felt comfortable in his home, and was immediately showing him all the cars and trucks that he has to play with.

There is a bit of an age gap between them, a little over two years, but I think that Jack loved having a little boy buddy that he could play with!  He is surrounded by girls most days between his sisters and mama, and then Emma's little friends.

Overall it was a lovely visit and I wish we were able to have more of them!  

The fact that it helped take my mind off of the weather outside was definitely a big perk as well.  I can't believe that spring is supposed to be here in a few short days, nor the fact that I usually plant peas in two weeks.  A lot of melting will have to happen before I can even access the damage that has been done to the garden beds over this winter.

How was your weekend?  Did you do anything fun and exciting?

Rhythms Routines and Cleaning

When I sat down to start re-working my home management binder, I realized that I needed to put more thought into my daily rhythm and routines.  Obviously, since I have been talking about finding a better rhythm since the New Year!

I have always been less of a “what time are we finishing a, and starting b” and more of a “let’s do b after we finish a” kind of person.  That seems to work well with my kids, especially with homeschooling.

There are days when Jack wants to do math for an hour, and there are days when he will only do one lesson.  I have Emma complete a task before going on to the next one. 

Instead of having a schedule with time limits, we like to work with anchors.

I first read about anchors being used throughout the day over at FIMBY.  The premise is that there are certain things that happen during the day, and they happen at about the same time.  And then we work everything else around those anchors.

The biggest anchors in our house are meal times.  It is relatively easy to then block off time for each group of activities we need to complete throughout the day.

For example, we do all of our schooling in the morning.  It is after breakfast, and we are finished by the time I am ready to start fixing lunch.  The kids know what to expect during this block of time, school.  There aren’t any surprises, and so we are able to easily work through that time because everyone knows what is expected. 

Now, that doesn’t mean that school itself is always easy – it most definitely is not.  But, everyone at least knows that we will be doing school during that time, and have come to expect it. 

Once I have those blocks of time tied to the anchors of my day, it is easier to fill them up with what needs to be accomplished.

These anchors help sculpt my daily rhythm.

Every day seems to be a little bit different from the last.  This is where the Daily Planning Sheet comes in handy.  I am able to map out where I want our day to go, and by having it written down, it gives me a guide to follow.

Now, if you like to have every hour scheduled, by all means do that!  Whatever works for you is the important thing when creating a home management binder.  What would be the point if it doesn’t work for you?

I have a separate binder that lists out what I want to accomplish during the school hours, so on my Daily Planning Sheet I block off a few hours as “school” – genius, I know!

Some days everything goes smoothly, but more often than not the urgent interrupts the important.  I am working on minimizing the urgent, but with a new baby, and even 4 and 6 year olds, stuff comes up…a lot.

My goal with having the Daily Planning Sheet is to know what I want to get done throughout the day, and helps take away the constant decision making process.

If I have the meals and snacks listed out, I don’t need to think about what we are going to have for dinner.  Instead I can use that brain power for something else.  If I know that we accomplished most of our schooling at the beginning of the week, we can just spend some time doing read-alouds, and not worry about having a big chunk of time for school during the day.  It also helps me to have an idea about where and what I should be cleaning during the day.


There is a lot that I can say on cleaning; mainly that it doesn’t get done.  Or rather, it does get done, but seeing as how I am at home with three kids, it doesn’t appear that there is ever anything tidy.  I am working on it, and have been working on it since we brought our first baby home.

I try to tidy as we go throughout the day, but every time one toy is put away, another is taken out, and since I am a big proponent of open ended toys – that means lots of little pieces…everywhere.

I tend to do laundry every other day it seems, and it is typically three loads every time.  It is a lot of laundry, part of that is having kids, and part of that is having a paper free home.  We have rags, washcloths, cloth napkins, towels, and they are used frequently.  I joke to my husband that we would have to buy cases of paper towels each week if we went back to paper. 

There are loads of cleaning schedules out there that you can use.  But, they never seem to work for me.  I think that in this life stage, I am just trying to keep it together!  Making meals from scratch, homeschooling, finding time to pursue my own passions (reading, writing, knitting), leaves little time for cleaning.  As long as there are clean clothes, clean dishes, and my floors are somewhat swept, then I am happy – just don’t look under the couch!

I still keep lists of cleaning tasks in my home management binder, just in case I am in a cleaning mood and want to deep clean the house, it gives me ideas.  But, mainly I try to take 15 minutes here and there, set the timer, and clean as fast as possible, so that I can get back to living.

I like to remember that no matter how much cleaning I do, it will never be clean enough; there will always be something else to clean.  Instead, I try to look at what is good enough.  Enough to make sure I am not driving myself crazy, but not too much so that the kids think that all I do is clean!

knitting and reading

First I would like to say a big thank you to all of you who left comments and sent me e-mails about books I should read.  Thank you so much!  Of course now I have a very long list that I need to take to the library, but I think that is always a good problem to have.

I am still working on the shawl, I think I am a little more than a third of the way done.  The pattern is actually for an adult, and since I am making it for Emma, who is just a little peanut, it won't need to be nearly as long.  It is supposed to be a shrug, so I really only need to make it long enough to be the width of her body after I sew the sleeves together.  I think it will be perfect for spring, and plan to give it to her as a birthday present.  Since her birthday isn't until May, I have a bit of time!

I finished The Fringe Hours this week.  I really enjoyed it.  I am also going through the videos each week with the Bloom Book Club which is equally as good.  I like how the author really makes her hobbies and personal time a priority.  If we never fill ourselves up, how can we continue to give to others?  Overall, very good book!  And it continues with my whole theme of self-care and self-reflection this year!

I grabbed the above book, Attempting Elizabeth, off of Kindle unlimited (hey, you get a free 30 day trial!).  I don't think I realized that there is pretty much an entire genre of books about Pride and Prejudice.  I mean, I realized it to some extent since I have read other books like Austenland, but I didn't realize there were so many re-writes.  This was a quick read, kind of cheesy, but cute as well.  Something easy to read after all the non-fiction I have been reading as of late!

Are you reading anything new?  What projects are you working on?

Involving Kids to Downsize Toys

There once was a time when I fit all of the kids’ toys into one toy box.  It was a glorious time.  They had a few stuffed animals, some blocks, and some play food to go with the little kitchen Matt built for Emma.

Then one day, there was an entire room full of toys.  The kids loved these toys and would play with them, but there were so many and not organized in any good way that the kids would take the toys to other areas of the home.  Areas where there was clear floor space.

It was at this point when I decided I needed to start weeding out the toys.  And that is what I did.  At 9 months pregnant.  Maybe it was pregnancy hormones that made me want to clean out the majority of the toys, but it was the start of downsizing the toy collection.

We homeschool.  A large portion of my “curriculum” is play based.  I want my kids to have the opportunity to play and use their imagination.  Make elaborate block towers, use LEGO to make a zoo and learn about animals, play Monopoly to learn math, work on puzzles together.

I found that we had a lot of toys.  A lot were open ended, and the exact type of toy I wanted my children to have.  A lot were not.

There were broken toys, favors from birthday parties, toys that the children never used and just sat in a pile.  

We needed a toy intervention.

I decided to involve the kids because I always think it is best to involve them when it is something I want them to take ownership in, and their toys are definitely something I want them to take ownership in.

I label a donate bin and I get a trash bag, and then we do it together. 

This is an ongoing process.  My kids only have so long of an attention span before they start playing with the toys we are trying to weed through.

One thing I had to get over quickly was saying *no* to toys they wanted to donate.  

It was something difficult because I did not want to hurt someone's feelings if they had purchased the toy, and I didn’t want my feelings to be hurt because I had purchased the toy!

We wait a bit to see if a particular toy is needed the next day, but after a week or so it seems the toy has been forgotten, and the kids decide to play with the many toys they have left.

I have been trying to instill in my kids how much we have, and how there are others that don’t have as much as us.  In their little brains they want to make sure that another little boy has Captain America figure, because it isn’t fair that Jack has one and another boy does not.  It is sweet to see how giving they are, and how much they want someone else to have even their most prized possessions.

My hope is that this giving spirit continues as they grow older, and that perhaps I can learn from their generosity.

We are moving back towards more open ended toys, and downsizing the amount of toys they have in general.  I would love to do a rotation system; unfortunately we do not have the space to store extra toys.  Instead, we will try and pare down what we have until it is a manageable amount.  The kids will be able to take ownership of their toys, and learn to take care of what they have. 

Do you work on downsizing kids toys with your children?  What type of toy organization system do you use?

Linking up with One Project at a Time and Hip Homeschool Hop

Sunday Quotes

The point of simple living to me has got to be:
A soft place to land
A wide margin of error
Room to breathe
Lots of places to find baseline happiness in each and every day.
~Leo Babauta

31 Bags in 31 Days - Day 5

When I first told Matt that I was going to do this project, he laughed at me.  He laughs at most of my ideas actually…he didn’t think that there was any way I would be able to fill up 31 bags in 31 days.  The reasoning behind this is because I am constantly getting rid of stuff, so he couldn’t grasp that we would still have more to get rid of.

I knew better.

Today is officially day 5 of the challenge.  So far I have been able to clear out three bags of baby clothes – and those were only the newborn and 0-3 month sizes.  Luckily I have a very dear friend who is expecting a little girl any day now, and with two older boys she needs all the little girl stuff she can get!

I was also able to get rid of one bag of Jack’s old clothes.  They went to my littlest nephew.  I know that I have more for my oldest nephew, but I am still sorting.

We have been blessed beyond belief the past year with clothes from friends for the kids.  I love hand me downs, because the kids wear things out so quickly.  Besides a few nice outfits for church, my kids seem to go through a lot of clothes. 

While I like to see the clothes go out the door, I know that this will not entirely fix my clutter problem.  I thought that it would be the easiest place to start.  I had to go through the clothes and make room for new sizes anyways, so having them count towards Project 31 seemed like a good idea.

My plan is to finish up going through the clothes this weekend.

After clothes, there are many many toys that need to be sorted.  I am sure there are many broken toys we will unfortunately have to throw away, and things that the kids don’t play with, and I am interested to see how they are when we go through the toys.

I also plan to take this time to organize the toys that we have left.  Gone are the days when all the toys fit in our one toy box (sadly).  With the toys becoming smaller (LEGO, princess dolls, cars, puzzles), the storage solutions I have used in the past are no longer working.  I think we are going to move towards clear plastic bins for toy storage.  Then each category of toys will have its own compartment, with a lid!

So far I have 4 bags down, and 27 bags to go!

What hit me hard was the fact that I am giving away four bags of clothes.  And that isn’t the end of the clothes re-organization.  I understand that our kids are going to go through a lot of clothes.  They seem to grow out of clothes every couple of months, but Matt and I have a lot of clothes as well.  Do we need as many winter coats as we have?  Well, maybe this winter we have!

I have been feeling a lot of guilt about all that we have lately.  I think that is due to the book 7 byJen Hatmaker that I recently finished.  There are days when I feel like we don’t have *enough* and instead fall into the comparison trap.

We have more than enough.

Part of the reason I am doing this Project 31 Bags in 31 Days is because I want to donate what we do not need to people who are in need.  I want to be a blessing to someone else, the same way that people have blessed us. 

How is your Project 31 coming along?  Have you been able to find excess in your homes that you can donate to someone else?

knitting and reading

I am knitting Emma's shawl.  All was going well last week after I cast on.  The pattern was easy and I could mindlessly work on it while I tended to other parts of our day (mainly school with the kids).  Well, that all changed when I realized I had been skipping a yarn over in the pattern.  I tried to fix it when I realized what I had done, tried to make it work, unfortunately it just wasn't going to work.  I ended up ripping it all out and starting again.  So technically this should be at least twice as long as it actually is.  I've learned the error of my ways and have moved to not knitting while trying to do school with the kids!

My reading has been going great!  I finished up 7 by Jen Hatmaker.  Wow, what a powerful book.  There was so much in that book that resonated with me - the same as her book Interrupted.  I have read so much non-fiction this year, I am going to need to take a weekend and let out all of my thoughts on paper I think!

I just started The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner.  It is part of the Bloom Book Study for this month.  I am enjoying it so far.  She put in an awful lot of time for research on this book, which is interesting.  There are loads of quotes from other women who are trying to find those moments for the self-care that we all desperately need, but tend to put off until everyone else is taken care of.  It is pretty eye-opening, like most of my reading this year.

What are you working on this week?  And reading?  Please give me some fiction recommendations!!  I may end up reading only non-fiction this year if I don't find a good novel to get lost in!

Home Binder Makeover

I have wanted to update my home binder for quite some time now.  I keep saying that I am going to do it, and then I remember that I have a little baby and two older ones whom I want to spend my time with instead.  However, now that the dust has settled a bit and we are making our way into a new routine, I figured it would be the perfect time to update it.

If you think that I have already completed this project, you would be mistaken.  I am writing this update in real time!

First, you need supplies.  I use a three inch binder.  I like that it is large so I have plenty of space to put more paper in.  As long as the paper is organized, I am happy to have it in my life!  I also have tab pages to separate out each category, or section, that I am using.  I like to include pocket folders as well, to hold things like recipes and other pages I might take from magazines.  Lined paper and printer paper are the last two big items that I need.  I print out a lot of pages for the binder, and I also like to have loose leaf paper available for me to jot down whatever I need.

I am starting to think about what categories I need in my home binder.  My previous home binder had a lot of categories – one of which was coupons, and I do not use coupons, so that will be deleted!  I don’t want the binder to be overwhelming.  It needs to function well and not be intimidating.

If there is too much information, no matter how well it is laid out and put together, it will not be used.

The categories that I have come up with are as follows:

Daily Planning Sheet

I use the daily planning sheet pretty much every day.  It is something that I like to prepare the night before, just so that I have an idea with where I am going in the morning. 

The fewer decisions I make, the easier it is for me to complete what needs to be completed.

On the daily docket, I have my rhythm for the day – essentially what I want to accomplish and about the times that I plan to do those things.  If Emma has piano lessons, I will put that in the rhythm.  If we are doing a field trip, going to the library, obviously that all goes in as well, and helps me to arrange the rest of the day around those out of the house activities.  I also include an inspiration section, meals for the day, meal prep for tomorrow, my to-do list and blog ideas.  It is a good at-a-glance sheet to keep me on task most of the day.


I keep my current Bible studies here.  I decided to read through the Bible chronologically (hopefully to be completed in a year) and that reading plan is also included here.  I keep an ongoing prayer list in this section that I can refer to, as well as the two prayer calendars that Kat from Inspired to Action has on her site – one for my children and one for my husband.

Meal Planning

Meal planning is something I am working hard to improve, and including this section in my binder should help – that is what I am telling myself anyways.  I keep recipes that I want to try in a pocket folder as well as meal lists – meals that I can easily make from ingredients that I typically have on hand.  I plan to expand this section a bit; I will let you know what I come up with!


The financial section is obviously everyone’s favorite section!  It centers on budgeting – yay for budgeting!  We use a zero-based budget.  What that means is that for every month we sit down and look at the money we have coming in, and then we give every dollar a name.  At the bottom of the budget, your income minus expenses should equal zero.  Genius, I know.


The inspiration section is one of my favorites.  I love quotes – you may have noticed that I run a Sunday Quotes post every week.  I am also trying to work on Bible memorization.  It isn’t something that I am very good at, but the kids work on a Bible verse every week, and I feel like I should be as well.  Often when I am having my quiet time, a verse will jump out at me, and I underline it and then write it in my “inspiration” section of my Daily Planning Sheet to meditate on throughout the day.


These are the projects that we are working on.  And they mainly are associated with the house.  I mean, what other projects could we possibly work on besides house projects?!


Goal lists are something that I am a pro at – completing every goal that I ever have?  Well, obviously that takes a lot more work.  This section is where I list my goals, goals for my kids, goals for my family.  I also include the steps I need to follow in order to complete those goals.

Emergency Information

All of the doctor information, health information, kids vaccination lists, emergency contact information; all of that goes here, plus more.  There seem to be a lot of phone numbers in this section!  But, it is good to have all of this available easily.  Also, it is where I keep a sheet of information for a babysitter, to put on the fridge when we go out. 

These are the sections that I am starting out with.  You may be wondering about a calendar section.  I don’t include one because I have a calendar/planner that I use.  I am sure that as I go through each section and put it all together, more may come to me.  But, like I said at the beginning, I don’t want it to be overwhelming.  I am looking forward to going through this process here, with you.  I hope that you will join me!

Do you use a home binder?  Are there sections that I have omitted that are valuable to you, or a section you think should be included?