Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Not what I expected

Do you ever have these expectations for a certain event or season or day and find that your expectations were so far off the mark of what actually transpired? 

Last year our Christmas season was amazing.  I think it met pretty much ALL of my expectations and then some.  Somehow.  Not sure how.  Our Christmas day was one of my very favorites.

And perhaps it is because of the fabulous success of last year that this year I am feeling a little less Christmas-y.

Don't get me wrong.  I am enjoying this time with my family.  And perhaps the three teeth I had pulled last Monday, the two weeks of tooth ache prior and the recovery this following week have naturally dampened my spirits and hindered my ability to be as active about things this year.

But still.  We're having fun.  Mary and Joseph have moved slowly around the house and while there have been a few nights that Mary wasn't feeling well enough for travel (ie I completely forgot about them) they have amused the kids with some of their antics.  Last night they ran into a giant stop sign.  Last week they spent time playing a card game and another night read a Christmas book about Santa.

We managed to get out and do a few little light em ups a couple of weekends ago passing out a few candy canes and taping quarters to a little snack center at our local grocery store.

We had a really fun and magical Polar Express movie night this past weekend. 

And so it's not that I can't find the magic and fun times we've had this season.  I think it's more that it doesn't feel constantly like Christmas is coming.

I'm feeling the time crunch when I realized last night that Christmas is only a week away!  I have capes to finish and a quiet book to finish and I haven't wrapped a single gift yet.  One week!  I'm not ready.  I'm not ready for the Christmas season to be over.  I'm really really not ready.  It's not what I expected.

But it has been blessed and really in the end it's not about how I feel.  It's about how Jesus came into our world.  For the sole purpose of dying to save us from ourselves.  From our sin, our ideals, our expectations.  He wasn't what people were expecting either but He turned out to be pretty darn spectacular and so likewise I have a feeling this remaining week of the Christmas season will do the same.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The struggle

True story.  I struggle.

I struggle with being patient with my children.

I struggle with giving them the focus and attention that they need from me.

I struggle with being the role model they need to see.

I struggle.  A lot.  And I know in my heart of hearts that I'm struggling.  When I'm doing something that takes away my time or energy from my kids but is not truly more important than them, I generally know it.  I know I'm doing it.  I know I shouldn't be.  I continue most of the time anyway. 

I really really struggle.

I struggle even more with the internal war when one of my children makes a statement that tells me they know I'm struggling. 

My children have been asking for another baby for months.  Months.  And the one child who is probably the biggest proponent of another baby told me tonight that he would pray that I wouldn't have any more babies so that I wouldn't have to be irritated by them anymore.

Break my heart.  No seriously.  It broke my heart.  My poor, sweet, kindhearted child, I do not deserve him.  I do not deserve to be his mother or to receive his love.

This Christmas season I have been so focused on making it happen.  I lose focus on what I'm supposed to be making happen and find my focus so placed on the plans.  The lists.  The growing to-dos.  I was so excited for December first this past weekend.  I just knew that some magical switch would be flipped and it would be amazing and then, well it was just another Saturday.  We did some fun things together and it was great family time.  But there was a sense of feeling let down when Monday hit and it was just another day, in just another week, in just another month.  In what is traditionally my very most favorite time of the year I found myself feeling quite blah.  I've spent the past three days trying to figure out why and figure out how to shake it off.

And I think that tonight I've found my answer.  I've found my answer in some personal reflection after conversation with my two oldest children and what was meant to be a sweet request.  See I don't want my son to pray that I don't have more babies.  I want my son to know that I am home with them every day because I have chosen to be.  Because I want to be.  But the only way he will ever know that is if I act as though I want to be here with them.

I struggle with needing to find that awesome project or activity to do on pinterest and spending hours there rather than just creating a project out of supplies I already know we have.

I pin lists of must read books and yet the dozens upon dozens of books we have sitting on shelves throughout the house go mostly ignored.

I plan these elaborate ways to teach my children to give when really it's just so simple to create something together without all the planning and forethought and go and do.  I experienced that one Sunday in November.  The random opportunity to reach out and give kindness to a stranger who nobody else seemed to see. 

The resources are nice.  Don't get me wrong.  Lots of great ideas swirling in my head BUT when I'm spending more time scouring the resources than I am using them with my children they are no longer of any value to me.

Yesterday my house was a disaster.  It needed cleaned.  Dishes needed caught up, laundry needed put away, floors needed swept and mopped.  Yesterday I pulled out the Christmas stickers, construction paper, and crayons, I layed a folding table flat out on the middle of the living room floor (with the legs still folded under) and I let my kids go to town.  I flipped on a Christmas movie and I sat on the couch and was present with them while they colored, stickered, created with love cards for grandparents they miss.  It was one of the BEST afternoons I've spent in a long time.  One of the absolute best.

And I reflect on that and I reflect on a lot of things from the past few weeks and I sit here and still I struggle.

I just had to share.  I had to get it out.  I feel convicted.  I need to DO better.  Not just WANT to do better but to actually DO.  So if you don't see me around too much in the coming weeks or even months then it's probably a good sign that I'm struggling less. 

My Christmas gift to myself and my children the next few weeks is to focus on them.  Making sure they know by my actions and attitude that I love being here with them.  That I love doing things with them.  That they are not an inconvenience to me.

Win it Wednesday! Bow winner!

The bow giveaway has ended.  Thanks to all who entered the giveaways these past few weeks!  The winner of that adorable bow is Jenn R.  Jenn - I will have Caroline contact you asap about your prize.

Have a great Wednesday friends!

Friday, November 30, 2012

December - a flurry of activities

Oh friends!  I'm so excited for tomorrow I can hardly stand it!  It's December 1st tomorrow and with it we begin a month of fun, giving, and memory making as a family.

We do try to do these things all year round but I really love being able to specifically focus on them for this month of December.

I posted oh about a month and a half ago about our 24 advent activities and promised I'd post a complete list and links when I finally had everything worked out.  And I just sat down this morning and finalized everything.

My first piece of advice for you in making out a list is to look at local activities to you.  We have a community paper called "The Shoppers Guide" and the free activities are almost always listed in there each week.  Facebook friends are another wealth of info on fun free or low cost local activities.  Fill those in on your calendar then fill in the rest.

So here is what we ended up with and remember that a few of these are local things.

December 1st - Bethlehem Marketplace - at a church about 20 minutes away.  This is our third year going and we're super excited.
December 2nd - free Magic Show in the next town over
December 3rd - make snow playdough I looked for a no cook recipe but the only one I found called for ingredients I don't have on hand.
December 4th - make Christmas cards/write Christmas letters for long distance relatives - for us this is grandfathers and a couple of aunts.
December 5th - play Christmas bingo - I printed off Christmas bingo cards and laminated them last year so we'll just pull those out but I think this is where I got them from.
December 6th - string popcorn and cranberries - we've never done this but it just seems like fun. I think we might wrap it around our porch railing for the birds and squirrels.
December 7th - Quincy Lights - a local thing
December 8th - make Christmas cookies - frosting in condiment bottles is GENIUS!
December 9th - make other fun treats for neighbor treat packages
December 10th - make dog biscuits for neighbors' dogs
December 11th - take treats to neighbors - chocolate dipped candy canes, pretzel snacks, chocolate dipped marshmallows maybe.  We made the pretzel snacks last year too and they were simple and yummy.  Even the youngest children can help with this one.
December 12th - a Christmas craft - I'll pick something fun and simple from pinterest
December 13th - Read Christmas books together
December 14th - make Christmas shape pizzas and have a Polar Express movie night
December 15th - Polar Express train experience sponsored by the local library
December 16th - Children's Christmas program at church
December 17th - start building lego nativity
December 18th - finish building lego nativity
December 19th - make and give gifts to awana teachers
December 20th - color nativity pages
December 21st - mini van express and put the colored nativity thank you pages in the mailboxes of houses that display the REAL reason for the season.
December 22nd - make gingerbread houses
December 23rd - Birthday cake for Jesus
December 24th - watch the Grinch Who stole Christmas (grinch floats anyone?) and visit Grammy's house for special Christmas eve present.

December 25th - a quiet day of opening gifts, playing with gifts, watching favorite Christmas movies, and just enjoying each other.

It's going to be a full month of fun!  I tried to keep the busier activities balanced with simpler things on other days.

Tomorrow we will also be starting The Truth in the Tinsel devotions with the kids.  I invested in the printable ornaments too - they are just pictures that the younger set can color rather than all the hands on gluing, cutting etc of the regular ornaments.  I'll have the older kids make ornaments and print these for Sierra and maybe Sawyer.  Super excited to have a way to include Sierra too in a way that is age appropriate for her.

AND I've been inspired by this to make one similar for Jay.  I'm going to spend a bit of my afternoon today getting that put together.  I want to have it hung up in our bedroom when he gets home tonight.

I'll be back next week with a list of the homemade gifts I'm making for the kiddos for our handmade holiday.  Don't forget to get entered to win this week's giveaway!  A gorgeous hair bow!

I'd love to read about what your family does for the holidays too so please feel free to comment and leave a link to your own blog/website so I can check it out!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Win it Wednesday: Mod Dot winner and BOW giveaway!

Welcome back friends to another Win it Wednesday!  I was so excited about this past weeks giveaway as it was something that I myself would love to have won.  Obviously it would be a serious conflict of interest to enter my own giveaway so I refrained but I'm happy to announce that Kelli J won the mod dot ornament!  Kelli - Lisa will be contacting you shortly to get that ornament out to you!

And this weeks give away is another one I wish that I could enter to win.  It's an adorable bow from Caroline's Bow Sweet Bow shop on Etsy!

Her bows are adorable.  This one is a permanent top but check out her etsy shop for magnetic tops for which you can purchase a variety of bottle caps to switch out for all occasions.  Seriously cute.  So without further ado enter the giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

So much to do... only 27 days to do it

Wow!  We had a marvelous Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  Hope all of my readers did too!  My sister in law came to visit and joined my mom and I on our black Friday shopping adventures.  I think we've got her hooked.  Hoping we make the whole thing a yearly tradition!  So.Much.FUN!  She fit right in with the two of us sleepless crazies. I mean that as a compliment (in case she reads this).

But now, now the weekend is over, KOJ is back to work, SIL is back to her home far away, FIL back to his, and it's me and the kids roaming the house.  I made headway on the cleaning yesterday but it will take me all week to get the house back the way I want it.  I'm just that slow and I don't want to miss out on living life with the kids in between.

This week I need to prep our advent adventures to start on Saturday.  I'm actually really happy that the 1st falls on a Saturday as we're down to one car but having KOJ home with the van on Saturday will make it possible to do a family Christmas fun activity and get out and do something to Light Em UP.  I think we'll stock up on candy canes to start with.  So excited for the coming month of fun with the kids.

I'm also in the final three weeks of crafting for Christmas.  I have to sew up the last three big capes for cousins, all four mini capes for our stuffed pets, four dresses, four or five nightgowns (Sierra might get two), three pairs of pj pants, the binding on my quilts, and Sierra's quiet book pages.  Phew.  What am I thinking???  Oh but first I need to cut out the dresses and nightgowns and pj pants. lol  Fortunately I can do that part during the day and I shall because I'm running out of evening hours.  This week I have almost zero evening hours to work on things because I'm doing something else with those hours.

I also need to have the kids draw names and then work with them one on one to craft something for a sibling.  I think I'll create a pinterest board of simple projects they could make for each other and let them choose from there unless they have their own idea.

How are all of you doing on your holiday prepping??

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What I would say to a first time mama

If I could summarize in a simple way what I think is the most valuable "advice" a first time mama of a newborn should hear it would be this:

Relax and trust yourself.

Relax and trust yourself about feeding.  Right, left, two at one feeding, one at each feeding, it doesn't matter, just relax and go with your baby's flow.  This one might like one at each feeding and the next might want both. You will figure it out, you will know the right thing to do.

Relax and trust yourself about sleep.  Your baby will find their own rhythm and sooner than you realize you will intuit that and go with it.  Sleep the baby during the day in the common areas of the house so that they can get used to sleeping through noise.  Hold the baby while she sleeps if you want.  Snuggle her next to you while you catch a nap too if that sounds good.  And generally once she finds a pattern and sticks with it for a couple of weeks and you are finally on top of it, she will change it.  But it's ok, just follow her cue and trust yourself.

Relax and trust yourself about her crying.  It's so hard I know, we want to fix it all and make it all better.  But sometimes even now as adults all we need is someone to hold us while we cry and sometimes that's all our baby needs too.  Sing to her, tell her Jesus loves her, tell her how beautiful she is, and if all else fails, cry with her.  Trust that you are meeting her needs.

Relax and trust yourself.

You are NOT going to screw up that precious baby in the first month of her life.  She's never going to remember the first month of her life and it will all be a sleepy blur to you by the time she has her own babies.  Follow your gut.  If something is working for you then ignore any further advice about that subject.  Do what works for you.  Do what works for your baby.  Trust yourself!

Hold her, love her, gaze at her for hours on end because it really is just too fleeting.  One day she will be sassy and independent and confident in who she is.  But first you should relax and trust yourself.

I remember all too well becoming a mama for the first time.  My baby cried a LOT, ate more, slept only when latched on or in my arms, and drained me.  I was so uptight about him getting enough sleep at the right times and not being dependent on me for a pacifier.  I was so worried every minute of every day about ruining him, about permanently screwing him up.  I most definitely did not trust myself to be a good mama to him.  And in the end I think it was my tension that has caused him to be my most high strung and tense child.  If I could go back in time and tell myself as a first time mama one thing it would be this.  This post.  Relax.  Relax and revel and TRUST yourself!  One day that child is going to be a sassy, opinionated, stubborn, seven year old who thinks he knows everything.  One day that baby boy who fits in the crook of one arm will be taller than you.  One day you will realize that you missed out on so much of his newborn days because you didn't simply relax and trust yourself.

So dear first time mama friends, one friendly piece of unasked for advice.  Relax.  Trust yourself Rest in God, rest your baby in God, and enjoy THIS moment one hour at a time.  God made you this baby's mama for a reason.  If you can't relax and trust yourself at least trust that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Win it Wednesday: Diaper winner AND Ornament giveaway!

Hello friends!  It's so exciting that I get to announce the winner of our diaper giveaway this morning!  It's even more exciting that I get to open our next giveaway and announce the one to come next week!  Exciting times on this Thanksgiving eve.

So without further ado the winner of the free diaper from Meg is: Caroline H.  I will be contacting you via e-mail with Meg's info so you can pick your diaper from her.

Thanks to everyone who entered!

And now onto this weeks exciting giveaway!

Isn't it gorgeous?! I love this Mod Dot ornament.  It will be personalized for the winner by the amazing Lisa from Little Painted Polka Dots.  She has lots of other amazingness in her store too.  Do go check it out!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter now and share with all of your friends!  And come back next Wednesday morning to see the winner announced and our next giveaway put up.... mamas of daughters will LOVE next week's giveaway!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tis the season to feel overwhelmed

Ya'll I'm so overwhelmed over here.  Now usually when I feel overwhelmed I just ignore things that I meant to do, planned to do, wanted to do, sometimes even promised I'd do.  I ignore them and bury my head in proverbial sand.  But not this time.

Partly because one of the major overwhelming factors is my handmade holiday.  I knew what I was getting into and it's not even that I've been lazy about it.  I work on something at least a couple of nights a week, some weekend days locking myself in my room with a good movie.  I've made some solid strides even.  I've started on all but Sierra's block puzzle.

I've got the capes 1/2 done.
one of the boys' capes and Sierra's cape.

I've got the quilt fronts sewn together and I've begun pinning the batting and backing on.
two of the boys' quilts and Sierra's quilt

I've got Sierra's quiet book about 3/4 of the way done.  It's one last page and then minor details left to do.
just a few pages, there are twice this many.

I've got some of the masks cut out and the spiderman mask done.  

I've got so many plans rolling around in my head for jammies and dresses and nightgowns.  I want to desert the projects I've been working on - the capes, the quilts, the quiet book, and run along making dresses and shirts and jammies for Sierra.  But alas.  I cannot.  But when I can I'm going to make some super cute dresses out of this pile here:
I'm going to make ruffle layer dresses for Sierra and my nieces out of this material and I'm super excited.

And so I shall continue to endeavor to complete these projects in plenty of time to sit back and enjoy the month of December with my kids.

Another element of feeling overwhelmed is my house.  I just feel like no matter how much cleaning I do there's always more.  I think this sums it up for me.
So I've got some thoughts going on for ways to deal with this issue.  Also two of my kids need bed frames and really what I'd like to do is make these and move Kayd and Colton into a room together.
Bunk beds - free plans by Ana White
And next week is Thanksgiving.  I'm so looking forward to it but at the same time I'm having a small behind the scenes breakdown (but I'm trying to do it ahead of time so that when the day actually arrives I'm all calm and collected).  I host Thanksgiving.  I LOVE hosting Thanksgiving.  I just feel like I need to get some plans down on paper or something.  I mean I've planned the food but the timeline for the food, the black Friday shopping, what to serve for breakfast where to get all the crock pots I need.  Ya know, little things like that.  But it will all come together and in the end we will all be thankful and have a fantabulous day together.

And so I took time out of feeling somewhat overwhelmed with my holiday gifts, my desire to move my entire house around, AGAIN, and my emotions about Thanksgiving and cleaning to write this post.  I even managed pictures.  This blog is just another element to the list of things I'm juggling.  I think too that it doesn't help that with the latest weather shift I've again got some sinus gunk going on.  I hope it stays cold this time because I hate this part of the changing season.  And with this post I will be offline until next week.  Tomorrow I need to dedicate to my insanity (cleaning - see picture above). Friday I have a mommy playdate in the morning and my nephews and nieces in the afternoon/evening.  Saturday I'm at the craft show at our church.  Don't forget that you can order through the e-show!  Sunday we have church in the morning and I'm spending the afternoon at my grandma's working on the quilts.  She's a master quilter.  I'll have to get some pics and post them sometime.  She's not online but I am sure she wouldn't mind me sharing her work with the world.  Maybe I'll get her to write a guest post.  Ooh... great idea.

And this ends this post.  Have a great weekend people!  See you on Monday!  And don't forget that the giveaway will continue until 12:01am next Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Win it Wednesday! Cloth diaper

Welcome welcome friends and newcomers! Welcome to my first of three Win it Wednesdays!

Last Wednesday, I posted about supporting small businesses this holiday season.  Today we're going to give away a free diaper of your choice from one of the WAHM's I mentioned last week.  You can check out all the great diapers Meg makes at her page Sow Much Love.

Meg and I are so excited to have this giveaway for my readers - new and old.  So fill out the rafflecopter below to enter and we'll announce a winner next Wednesday when we announce our next giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 12, 2012

The joy of giving!

This post has a two fold purpose today.  I've been planning to post a list of things we hope to attempt for our "giving project" this year.  We had so much fun last year but I feel like we can take it so much further this year.  And I have pored over some lists and jotted things out and have lots rolling around in my head so I could sit here and list out all the great things we hope to do.  But instead I'm going to link you to a post that has incredibly inspired me, that has a nice printable list, a printable family meeting plan, and a printable page where you can write in the things you want to do.  With 100 ideas for ways to bless others this Christmas season there's sure to be something for everyone on there!  So go check out this year's Light Em Up! project.  And stay tuned in December for update posts about what we're doing and loving.


In light of this giving thing I have decided to post about an event my church is hosting this weekend.  Each year our church sends a mission team somewhere.  One year it was El Salvador, last year it was India.  India has so touched the hearts of our church that they've chosen to go there again this coming spring.
The organization our team helps at while in India
And each year our church does fundraisers to help with the financial costs of the mission trip.  Some years we've done a baked goods auction (and we may still do that again this year, I have no idea) but this year someone took the time to organize a craft fair.  So this coming Saturday, November 17th our church is hosting it's first ever (to my knowledge) craft fair.  Each of the vendors are pledging an amount of their profits to the mission trip.  I am going to be hosting an Usborne table and donating 50% of my profits.  The joy of giving! 

I have been on a mission trip.  Two actually.  I went to South Africa when I was 16yrs old and spent a month there.  It was one of the most eye opening and life changing events.  I can close my eyes and still see those people, their faces, and know that I was able to share love with them.  The following year I took a two week trip to the Dominican Republic.  Again it was a great experience.  I love missions and I admire people who make it their life's work and I admire people who go on these short term trips to make a difference.  I am at a point in my life where I don't feel that I could pick up for a week or two and leave my children, neither do I feel called at this time to do that.  But I LOVE to be able to support those who are called and who are willing to go.  It certainly is not without it's sacrifices.  But it is always so worth it.  I've never heard someone return from a mission trip and say "Gee I really wish I hadn't gone."

The reason that I'm tell you, my readers, about this whole thing is that I have opened an e-show on my Usborne site in conjunction with the craft fair. 50% of all of my personal profits from both the e-show and the in person craft show will go to the mission team heading to India next spring.  So please, you may not be at a point of going to India yourself but do consider supporting those who are being called.  And really in return you'll be purchasing amazing books for your kids or grand kids, or you could buy a book or two for your own church or your local library.

The free books I get as hostess gifts will be given to my church nursery, the local library, and children in need this holiday season.  So let's do a good thing here.  If everyone chips in, marks off one or two things off their Christmas list by purchasing a book for each child we'll make a bigger difference than we can even imagine.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Setting the Scene

Thanksgiving is rushing up to meet us this year!  I'm always ready to move onto the Thanksgiving mentality the 1st of November but life has conspired to make that pretty impossible so generally about the 11th of November I'm finally able to move onto the Thanksgiving-ness of life.

As you'll recall (if you've been reading my blog regularly) Kayd had his birthday October 30th, then Halloween the next day and then once I've nearly recovered from those events boom, it hits me, Sawyer's birthday on November 10th.  So I can't really move onto the holidays fully until Sawyer's birthday has come and gone.  But I've been gearing up for them mentally, with lots of lists, invites to friends and family to come join us for turkey, and this morning I finally did a little bit of fall decorating.

I pulled out my fall decor a couple of weeks ago but I didn't really do much with it.  I wasn't quite ready yet.  But I installed fresh ink in our printer last night so I was finally ready to print those free Thanksgiving printables I found on pinterest.  Printed off two of my favorites, stuck them in frames, pulled out the rest of my decor and went to work.

What do you think?  The mini pumpkins were colored by the kids on halloween.  The wooden pumpkins we decorated as a family last year.  I left Sierra's blank until she was old enough to do it herself but I haven't gotten around to doing it with her yet this year.  I made the felt leaf garland last year too.  I think it turned out nice.  It makes me giddy to look at it.

As I said I found the printed pieces on pinterest.  For the Scripture printable go here.  For the subway art printable go here.  And for more fun Thanksgiving stuff - food, kids activities, decorating ideas etc feel free to check out my Thanksgiving pinterest board.  And I just pinned a ton more Thanksgiving decor printables on my For the Walls board so check those out for more variety.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sew Saturday: a wet bag

So last week I shared the peek a boo book I made for our friends soon to come baby.  This week I'm going to share the wet bag I made for her.  I made her a large wet bag for the dirty diapers and a small wet bag to hold her wet cloth wipes.  Yes, she's planning to cloth diaper.  A kindred spirit and I LOVED it.  So I stumbled across a super simple tutorial on pinterest.  The mama at Adventures of a Rookie Sewer showed us how to make a simple wet bag with printed PUL.

So I ran out to the nearest Joann Fabrics and grabbed a yard of this awesome owl PUL.
I came home and cut out my pieces, pinned on my zipper, and got to work.  I followed her tutorial and it turned out well.  I had one issue and that was solved by putting in a heavier duty needle.  So if you're having trouble keeping the stitches in the material try a heavier duty needle.  It did the trick for me.  I stitched up some simple cloth wipes to go in the smaller wetbag too.
So that's my sew Saturday today.  Go grab some PUL and give it a try!  Seriously, wet bags can be used for so many things and you can make it any size you want/need.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Random Friday happenings

It's Friday.  I feel like I need to write a post.  My head is spinning with so much.

Last week my oldest son turned 7, this week my youngest son turns 4.  Tomorrow.  I'm struggling to deal with it.  I'm still recovering from my oldest getting older.  I guess, given that they were due on the 8th and 9th of November respectively, I should be thankful that their birthdays didn't end up closer together than they did.

It's also that season.  Winter gear season.  Now I will admit that in the past I haven't bundled my kids and sent them out in the snow often.  Though I think they spent more time outside last winter than in winters past it was a very mild winter and snowpants/boots were rarely required.  I have a gut instinct that we're going to have a VERY cold and VERY snowy winter this year and I'm trying to figure out who needs what.  I save things from year to year because generally speaking my kids hand things down from one to the next each year.  I may have given away some of the 2t stuff though thinking it was boyish and Sierra needed girly.  Seriously.  I'm an idiot.  I don't really care what color her winter coat that she might wear once a week during the season is.  What was I thinking?!?!  Fortunately I have great friends and she's all set for a coat and I did keep the blue 2t snowpants.  Phew. 

Boots.  I hate boots.  I have to get at least one new pair of boots every winter.  This winter it's Colton who is in need of boots.  Though it makes more sense I think to have him wear the slightly too big pair and get Kayd slightly too big boots that might last two winters.  I had all the kids trying on pants and coats and boots and Sierra thought for sure she was going to play outside.  Poor girl was so sad when I told her to take off her snow stuff.

Then I delved into the hats and mittens.  Mittens are worse than socks in this house and we have enough trouble with socks.  I laid out all the mittens, matched up those that matched and then just tried to match based on size and not actual color and about 3/4 of the mittens I have did not have matches in size or color.  Where are all these mittens at??  Seriously, there must be a mitten monster.

We don't use our winter stuff often.  Since my kids don't go to public school and don't have outdoor recess every day it isn't vital that we have a ton of extra snow stuff on hand.  I do like to have two or three pairs of mittens for each child because those get wet and cold quickly and that way I can change them and let them play outside for longer.  But really I have at least a dozen hats here for four children.  Do children really need 3 hats each??  Their coats all have hats as well.

I'm trying to declutter this house before the holidays.  The clutter just makes me feel boxed in and anxious and blah.  There's just so much STUFF with a family of 6 but I'm certain that some of it could go and we wouldn't miss it a bit.  Just gotta figure out what and get it out of here.

Those are my random thoughts today.  Going through our winter stuff was part of my decluttering project.  I did find a few things to pass on to the local coat drive and so I'm happy about that.  I also culled out several hats and VHS tapes we haven't so much as looked at let alone considered watching in more than a year.  With Thanksgiving in less than two weeks I really want to get things in shape as we have out of state visitors coming to spend the holiday with us.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Support small businesses this holiday and upcoming give away!

I like small businesses.  I don't always like that sometimes the prices are a bit higher than something you could get at a big box store or popular online shopping sites.  But I love that I'm actually supporting a person who is working hard to provide for their family IN the USA.

Here's how I see it, it's all connected.  I've recently begun my handmade Christmas projects (ok so two months ago I began, lol) and I've been purchasing fabric and thread and other pieces for different projects at stores like walmart and joann fabrics and meijer.  I do shop at the big box stores.  BUT for the work at home mom they buy their supplies at the big box stores and you buy their finished product from them and it supports all links in the commerce chain in the end.  But I think that the small businesses are often neglected.

I am privileged to know online and in real life some fantastic small business moms.  I am one of them even but I'll talk more about that later.  First let me introduce you to my mom friends.

First up is Megan.  She's a mama of two and a military wife.  She recently began selling cloth diapers and cloth wipes that she makes while she's home with her babies and her husband is deployed serving our country.  I was happy to support her when looking for a gift for a dear friend of mine who is due to have her blessing any day now.  She sells her diapers through her Sow Much Love facebook page.  Go check them out.  They are totally cute.
Next up is my friend Lisa.  She's a mama of one precious blessing but her store predates motherhood.  She's even semi local to me, living in the same state a few hours away.  She sells jewelry, ornaments, customized decorations for baby's room.  Her site has TONS of greatness.  She sells her stuff through her Little Painted Polka Dots website.  She also has some totally cute Christmas ornaments that can be customized just for you!

There are also those small business mom's who sell things like Mary Kay, Avon, Stampin UP!, Pampered Chef, Scentsy, and my personal fave at the moment, Usborne books.  Buying from these women still helps them support their families.  The previous links are to personal sales websites of other friends of mine.  Personally I like to shop from people I personally know when possible so if you already know someone who has a business through any of these companies and you are interested in their products please speak to your own friends about it.  

I am, personally, an Usborne Books and More demonstrator and I love these books.  I mostly signed up with the company because the sign on package is a good deal.  I also loved that there are no minimal sales requirements to remain a demonstrator.  You can check out what Usborne Books has to offer at my demonstrator website.

Please, this holiday season, consider supporting a small business, a work at home mom, or both with your dollars.  

And exciting news!!  A giveaway people!  Not just one giveaway.  Not just two giveaways.  But THREE giveaways!!!  Next Wednesday, right here on this blog you will have the chance to enter a giveaway for one of Meg's great diapers!  The following Wednesday you will have the opportunity to enter a giveaway for something from Lisa's fabulous collection.  And the Wednesday after that I will be a giving away some Usborne products.  So come back next Wednesday to learn more about Meg's diapers and enter for a chance to win one! 

*I was not paid for my endorsement or opinions of these women, their companies, or any other companies mentioned in this post.  If you shop through the Usborne link I will get a commission from those purchases.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Christmas, giving, family fun, and handmaking it

I have a number of things going on for Christmas this year.  It might be optimistic to think that I can make this much out of a single month.  Oh, but I totally intend to make it happen.

There will be the giving project.  We will do something for a random act of kindness or giving to our friends/families each day for the first 24 days of December.  There are tons of resources for great ideas for this online.  I've found several lists through pinterest and will link to everything at the end of my post for anyone interested in doing something similar.

This year the idea of doing a fun Christmas activity each day also appeals to me and feels doable.  Sierra is getting a bit older and if I nap them the kids tolerate being up late pretty well so we have a little more leeway than we've ever had in the past.  Again there are tons of lists going around on pinterest for this too.  Again I will link to those at the end of this post but also come back because once I have my list compiled I will be sharing it here!

A third thing I want to do each day for the first 24 days of December is The Truth in The Tinsel.  I saw this last year but funds were tight.  This year I got it as part of a great sale I caught on various e-books for homeschooling etc.  I have already printed it out and put it in the Christmas part of my day planner.  I'm going to start collecting the craft supplies in the next few weeks so I'm all set for December.  I plan to collect the items each day into a bin we can pull out in the evening and work through this as our nightly devotions with the kids.  I really like this because it is very similar to the Jesse Tree idea but everything is laid out for us.

And finally a fourth note on Christmas this year.  I've mentioned it in passing in other posts but I wanted to expound on it a bit.  We're doing a handmade Christmas this year.  I decided back in September when inspiration struck me in the form of pinterest.  We are going to sit the kids down right after Thanksgiving and talk to them about our handmade Christmas this year so they won't be blindsided on Christmas day at the lack of store bought gifts.  I hope to get them involved and encourage them to make something for their brothers/sister.  I think I might have them each draw a sibling name and make something for that sibling - with my help of course.  I will have a more detailed post with links and pics of what I'm making for the kids.  And I will probably still have NO idea what I'm making for KOJ.

How do I plan to make all of this happen??  Well, for one, we take most of December off from school.  It's part of why we start so early in August.  Our giving project will constitute our social studies for the month.  I will probably have Kayd continue in his math, grammar, and spelling (much to his dismay I'm sure), but I plan to add in a lot of fun hands on projects, activities, and fun printables like mazes and crossword puzzles as I find them for him.  For the month of December though our priorities are going to be the giving project, Truth in the Tinsel, handmade Christmas projects, and the fun holiday activities.  So yes, it sounds like a lot, but since we can forgo school without pushing us into July at the end of the year I do think it will be completely doable and hopefully a fun and memorable holiday season for the kids.

Ok link time.  I found these links on pinterest but I'm linking directly to their sources.

Giving project/Random Acts of kindness links:
Random acts of kindness printable
Free printable RAK'd card
A great list of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness
Light Em up!
RAK for the school classrom - LOVE this for my teacher friends

Christmas family fun activities links:
Christmas books
50 things to do at Christmas
Advent Activities
Making an Advent Calendar

101 things, tips, and tricks for Christmas

Again you can always search keywords on pinterest.  My searches pulled these and so many more great ideas up.  And remember to come back here for my own lists in the coming weeks. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sew Saturday: Peek a Boo book

A quick post from me today.  I mentioned in a recent post that we attended a baby shower for some dear friends of ours.  When I began working on my homemade Christmas projects back in December and decided to do a quiet book for Sierra I KNEW right away that I wanted to do a quiet book of some kind for my friends' new baby as well.  The thing is that the quiet book for Sierra has taken hours and hours.  So I began searching around for a quiet book idea that would be simple to make, be made of fabric and sewing, and be something safe and fun for a baby.

I stumbled across a peek a boo book here at Oopsey Daisy and thought it was perfect!  But I wanted something a little less holiday themed.  And I needed to work with what I had on hand.

I do not have pictures of the process but it was pretty simple and the final product mostly speaks for itself.

I began digging through the mounds of scrap flannel I have in my house at the moment and found that animals was a common theme on a lot of them.  So I dug out my favorite ones and cut out the animals.  While digging I found this great black fabric that has kind of a velour feel on one side and silky feel on the other side and I thought it was perfect for a baby experiencing new textures.
I took my felt and cut it to size.  Then I took the black material and cut out squares for the flaps.  I sewed two squares together for each flap taking care that I would end up with a velour feeling side and silky side on each one.  I used my zig zag stitch to sew the animals onto each page then I sewed the black flaps over the animals.  Some of the flaps opened up, some down, some left, and some right. I added the name of each animal in freehand cross stitch.  Not my favorite thing to do but I think it added a cute touch mostly.
The last page of the book was my favorite.  I had found a template for a penguin finger puppet on pinterest and I sure did enjoy making him.  He was super cute.  I attached ribbon to the book page at the same time as I attached the black flap on this page and I attached the other end of the ribbon to the penguin's head.  This way the baby could pull it out and play with it and my friend wouldn't have to worry about it getting lost.
Once each page was made I sewed two pages back to back again using my zig zag stitch.  Then I put eyelets in the top left corner of each double page and I put a book ring through all the pages to make the book.
And that is this week's sew Saturday project.  Come back next week to see the wet bag I made her.

This post is linked up at

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November goals, cleaning, handmade holiday, and a thankful heart

It's a new month.  A month that I think tends to fly by when we're not looking.  Much like October did.  I got a lot accomplished in October and I hope to be able to say the same about November.  This is really just an ideal goal list.  I'm not going to beat myself up if I miss something but I think it will be helpful to review it and update my readers every week to help keep me on track.  I mentioned in a recent post that I've begun using a weekly planner and it has been super helpful to my productivity level.  I will continue to use that this month.


1. keep up with regular house work
2. work through the 31 days to clean e-book to deep clean the house for the holidays.
3. get rid of at least three bags of stuff to goodwill.

Handmade holiday - a note on this: we are doing a handmade holiday.  The boys will be getting a big tub of legos from us with a homemade lego building idea book, but only because I found these at goodwill and couldn't pass up the deal, legos are expensive when bought new!  Sierra will be getting a leapfrog toy that I bought on clearance after Christmas last year.  They will get a gift from Santa and their stockings filled.  Everything else from us will be handmade.  We're also doing handmade for our extended family members and really I'm very excited about the whole thing.

1. Finish capes
2. Make Sierra's and Emily's photo block puzzles
3. find a gift for KOJ
4. finish Sierra's quiet book
5. paint peg people for kids
6. finish I spy quilts
7. Finish sibling gifts

I finished our parents and my SIL's gifts today.  Other than the photo block puzzles I've begun all the other projects.  I will also be making pj pants for the boys and nightgowns for Sierra, Emily (my baby sister), and two of my nieces, but I will wait until after I get flannel on black Friday.


1. have the kids do some projects on thankfulness, including writing/drawing in journals about things they are thankful for.
2. post something I'm thankful for either on FB or here on the blog every day this month.

It's going to be a GOOD month!  I just know it!

Halloween 2012

Well this is going to be a short post.  We love Jesus and we do Halloween.  I let my kids dress up and we go trick or treating.  They are never allowed to wear scary or gory costumes but we do let them dress up.  I'm ok with this.  Normally we go to a trunk or treat event that a local church holds.  I like this for a few reasons. 

1. We see a lot of people we know there.
2. One stop and it takes up the entire 1.5hrs that the city gives us to trick or treat.
3. There are little games to play at most of the trunks along the way.

But because the weather was drizzly and COLD last night we decided to go to the safe trick or treat at the school in the next town over.  Only then at about noon my mom messaged to let me know that this had been canceled.  Bummer.  But there was a church there that was having an indoor event so we decided to head over to that.

We loaded up our two spidermen,

Bob the builder,

Little Red Riding Hood,

and made our first stop at a friend's house where instead of candy she was taking professional digital photos, we reloaded and headed over to the church in the next town over.  That event only took us about 30 min or so and the kids really wanted to keep going.  Being the super smart mom that I am I had tossed their warmer coats into the car when we left home so we went back to the van and bundled up and headed out.  Being the super smart mom that I am I sent KOJ back to get the car and park it at the opposite end of the street we were venturing down.  This way tired, freezing children wouldn't have to traipse back to the car several blocks.  We went to maybe 10 houses but I sorted out the candy today and found that they got a decent haul in my opinion.

I sorted the candy out and divided it by types evenly into baggies for the kids to eat out of for the next week or so.  I sorted out most of the non-chocolate candy to take in to our church for the Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes we put together as a church.

Kayden turned 7 and his skyscraper cake!

Two days ago the son who made me a mother turned seven.  I look back at the seven years and we have made so very many memories and yet I look at my tall, slender son and wonder where on earth has the time gone?  Where has that little baby gone?  I remember with fondness rocking him to sleep, snuggling him during his babyhood, reveling in him learning to walk and finding his independence.  I even very vividly remember the first time he dumped an entire box of cheerios on the floor and began eating them one by one and I just laughed and took pictures.  The second time it was a little less funny, and eventually became completely unfunny altogether.  

He is the son that I made most of my mistakes on so I could parent better with the next ones.  He is the son who made me appreciate how easy of a baby my next one was.  He is the son who amuses me with almost everything he says.  I LOVE to hear the way his mind works and hate that my laughter hurts his feelings, because that is most certainly never my intent.

I'm so thankful to have been made a mommy by this son.  This big brother of all big brothers.  He's so great at his role.

For his birthday we let him have a friend over on Saturday and did a few special things.  
Super yummy caramel apples with caramel.  I found this caramel "recipe" on pinterest.  Ha, I spend a lot of time on pinterest. lol  You just take a can of sweetened condensed milk and stick it in a crock pot - put something under it, I used foil, you could use a saucer, but the can will leave rust marks if you don't put something under it. Cover it completely with water.  It has to be completely under water or there is a danger of exploding.  Put it on low for 8hrs.  Cool completely for several hours before opening.  I rinsed mine in cold water and then stuck it in the fridge for about 4 hours before opening.  It was perfect.  Honest.

Then ON his birthday he asked for pumpkin pancakes which were really yummy.

Then we took the kids to the children's museum where we were the ONLY people there besides the employees.  We had so much fun.
Came home for presents.

Spaghetti and meatballs is what he asked to have for dinner.  That was followed quickly by the much awaited "City and skyscraper" cake that Kayd had requested.  I think I pulled it off ok. I was pretty proud of the whole thing.  Tried my hand at marshmallow fondant even.  Seriously people - SUPER easy.  Very sticky, but SUPER easy.  Just search on pinterest.  I read about 5 different blog tutorials about it and they were all pretty much the same.

And then the day was done.  After he went to bed I told KOJ that I felt like the day was not a good one.  I felt kind of detached from it, like I was just going through the motions because it's what I'm supposed to do.  He told me I get slightly depressed on all the kids' birthdays.  Who knew?  Well, regardless of how I felt or viewed the day Kayd assured me that he had a great birthday.  I'm so glad he did.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Busy life and a month in review

Hello blogland.... real life is BUSY!

I know, I know! It's been a couple of weeks again since I've managed to post a blog and it's not for lack of trying.  I've begun at least four posts that just never got completed because real life is busy.  And it's not busy in an "organizing the kitchen for no reason other than I felt like it" way.  It's busy in a "four kids, schooling, fall fun, birthdays, and life is taking over" kind of way.

During the monkeys' waking hours I've been busy schooling them and trying to keep up with housework (which as I have concluded previously just never ends, esp when we're home all day, every day).  Once they're in bed at night I've been working on Christmas gifts for them, and the past week I've been working on stuff for Kayden's birthday which was yesterday.  He turned 7.  I will post about that tomorrow.

October has just flown past and completely disappeared.  I have no idea honestly where most of it went.  It was here one minute and gone the next.  I'm just going to post in list form some highlights from this month.

1. I took up sewing again.  With a new machine as my old one kept jamming.  It's amazing and I love it.  I made Sierra a nightgown the other night.  It amazed my mom who has been sewing since she was 8.  I made a few gifts for our dear dear friends who are expecting their first baby in the next few weeks too.  Those I'm going to dedicate a whole post to.

2. I held my first of what I hope to make monthly Mommy Play dates here in our home last week.  Two good friends came over with their kiddos and it was just nice to have conversation with grown adults.

3. I was blessed with a good deal on two spiderman costumes (what both Kayd and Colton wanted to be) for just a little more than the cost of one spiderman costume at another store.  Additionally they only had two left on the racks and they were exactly the right sizes for my two hero monkeys.

4. We spent the afternoon yesterday at the children's museum.  We were the only people there the entire time (besides employees) and they had lots of new exhibits out since the last time we visited so the kids had even more FUN.  Though for some reason they all head first thing to the never changing grocery store.  And Kayd got some independent play time for his birthday.  He's so much like his mama sometimes it cracks me up.  I told KOJ on the way home that it made me wish I had a giant finished basement that I could set up in centers like that for the littlest ones and he says "No, what you wish you had was three people to go around cleaning up after your children" referring to the employees. lol  I agreed that I wouldn't be bothered by that either.

October also included a girls night with my mom and sisters, a playdate with my sister and her kids this week on Monday while her kids were out of school for an inservice day, a free showing of Madagascar 3 at the local theater on Saturday morning, and lots of regular school work and house hold duties.

Oh and I also began using a day planner.  I am really liking it.  I hunted down printables on pinterest and put it together myself.  I have a binder with monthly and weekly pages in it and a smaller folder with daily docket pages.  I have found that I tend to prefer the weekly pages.  I like seeing what I'm doing all week, moving things around if I run out of time on a given day etc.  I have it set up with a monthly calendar page where I jot down appointments, play dates, and other plans.  Then behind that I have a weekly menu planning page with spots for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the other page is a weekly planning page with all 7 days and a spot for extra notes.  I really like it.  I check off the meals I've used so I can see where I'm at with the meals I've planned each week, and I check off the tasks I complete on the list page.  It has kept me way more productive this month than I've been in a LONG time.

And on that note, it is Halloween and here in the spirit of keeping it real I will tell you dear readers that I need to go get a shower and try to do something about our kitchen before I feed and dress the kids in costumes to head out for some trick or treating fun tonight.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Parenting: attach it, detach it, DO IT!

I read an article this morning in which the author was rather high and mighty and incredibly judgmental.  She felt that somehow because her three year old daughter had slept through the night by 6 weeks old that she had figured it ALL out and that her parenting style was THE right one.  She was incredibly judgmental of what she termed the attachment parents she knows.  I read the article shaking my head.  I read the comments shaking my head even more vigorously.  I had so much just bursting out of me in response.

Let me start with this - we do a bit of attachment parenting.  I breastfeed my babies until they self wean when possible, I wear my babies in a sling at the super market (um hello, keeps me hands free to chase down the other ones!), our children sleep in our room until we think it's a good time to move them in with the older siblings.  I am by a lot of peoples' definitions an attachment parent. 

I do a bit of detachment parenting (I guess that's what people are calling it these days) in which I teach my kids to throw their own dirty diaper in the trash or hamper depending on diaper type as soon as humanly possible, my kids get out their own dishes at meal times, they put away their own laundry in their drawers again as soon as they are able, my husband and I go on dates without them.  I am by a good amount of peoples' definitions a detachment parent.

Now I will tell you what kind of parent I am, and what kind of parent I think YOU should be too.  Yes.  I'm going to tell you how to parent.  Are you ready for it?  Don't stop reading, I promise you'll like what I have to say here.

I am a parent who loves my children, learns their personality, meets their needs, and parents by instinct based on what seems to be working or not working for each individual child.

Sure we have house rules that all of the kids are expected to follow once they are old enough.  We discipline.  We give grace.  We totally screw up.  We love our children.


The one thing that struck me most while reading the previously mentioned article this morning is that the author has one child.  Ha.  One.  So basically she won the easy going first child lottery.  My sister won that lottery.  I did not.  My oldest was fussy, and clingy, and used me as a pacifier.  When I was pregnant with my second child at the same time as my sister was pregnant with her third she reminded me not to think that my second baby would be an easy baby.  I reminded her that my first baby hadn't been an easy baby and I was really sure it couldn't get worse.  Colton was totally winning the easy going baby lottery contest.  He was my best baby and is still my most easy going, easily adaptive child to this day at the age of 5.

Here's an example of why parenting intuitively for each child is so important.

Kayd - 8 mo and supplemented formula the whole time, continued with a bottle of milk before his daily nap and bedtime until about 22 months when he started refusing it on his own.
Colton - 11.5 mo, stopped cold turkey and went straight to sippy
Sawyer - 15 mo and going strong, made him stop because it hurt too much during my pregnancy with Sierra.
Sierra - 15ish mo and self weaned

Sierra - sleeping in a wrap while on a field trip to the fire station

Co-sleeping/sleeping in crib:
Kayd in crib at two weeks old - he and I kept waking each other up at night, I snore and I would wake at every little sound he made.  Slept through the night at about 6 weeks old - and by through the night I mean like 10 or 11pm until about 5 or 6am.
Colton - slept in the pack n play in our room until 8ish months then moved to the crib in Kayd's room.  Slept through the night by 3 weeks old, would wake around 5 or 6 and sleep with me a few more hours until about 8ish.
Sawyer - slept in a pack n play in our room until about 9 mo or so, moved to his own room, still waking several times a night, moved to his brothers' room at about 15 mo, slept through the night for about 6 mo and then started waking in the night again.  Goes periods of time without waking and then periods where he wakes and still comes to our room.
Sierra - slept in the pack n play in our room until just after her first birthday, moved in with her brothers and immediately began sleeping through the night in the crib.

my niece and Colton soundly sleeping in a local bookstore

I didn't intentionally do anything intrinsically different with each child but each of my four children is VERY different with different personalities.  Kayd was a super clingy baby but the minute he could crawl he became fiercely independent.  A sling would've been incredibly helpful with him as a baby.  Colton was snuggly and super easy going.  He could sleep in my arms or wrapped in a sling just as easily as he could be laid down awake and go to sleep on his own in a bed.  Sawyer was a mix of clingy and snuggly, slept well in his own bed for periods of time but just seems to need more snuggles and physical reassurance than the older two boys did/do.  When I began writing this post he walked up and demanded to be held for a minute.  It didn't stop him from walking at 7.5 months old or potty training himself just past his 2nd birthday.  Sierra, she is a creature unto herself that I could not even begin to put labels on.  Independent but still a toddler who needs her mama, she knows what she wants and doesn't want and goes at life accordingly.

So if you hear anything today hear this:  You are your child's parent.  God made it so.  Follow your God given instinct and parent each of your children in the way that works for that child.  Forget about labels like attachment and detachment parenting.  The RIGHT way to parent is the way YOU are doing it that works for YOU and your particular child.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Kitchen re-organization

Every 6 to 9 months I feel possessed to rearrange the kitchen.  We've lived in this house for two years and sometimes I just get to a point where I say to myself "This setup just isn't working."

Now not everything was wrong with my kitchen.  The cans work great where they were and I liked the kids' snacks and potatoes in the cabinet where I had them.  But the bakeware was a problem as was the limited counter and drawer space.  I had also had an idea that I wanted to find space to implement.

I have this giant shelf in my kitchen that is open with no doors.  My mom suggested I put curtains there but to be honest I would HATE the hassle of moving curtains to get to stuff.  Lazy?  Perhaps but at least I know this about myself and didn't waste time with curtains.  When we first moved in I used these two shelves for pasta and cereal and canned goods as well as our plates and bowls and cups.  But it was messy.  No matter how "organized" it was it got messy quickly and was just an eyesore.

First before picture

old after picture

Moving the bakeware out where I can see it (and KOJ can see it) makes it easier to get what I need when I need it.  I also think it looks neater than the food stuff that changes on a regular basis.

The next thing I had to tackle was the counters.  I just felt like they were always so clogged and I needed more counter space.  So I did something a little bit radical and I took the microwave out of the kitchen.  I put it in the laundry room, near an outlet so we could still use it as needed, but it freed up a TON of counter space.  In the above pictures you can see that the toaster oven used to be underneath that shelf but now it's not.  This is what I did:


Moving the crock pot over here with the toaster oven also freed up more space on the counter near my mixer.  There is only ONE spot in my kitchen where my mixer can go because of it's height so I can't really move it around.

The food processor is now stored in the laundry room and the knife block is on the black coffee shelf.

I was able to move my sugar and flour canisters onto the baking counter next to my wooden spoons, spatulas, and measuring spoons.  Measuring cups are in the drawer on the right and hot pads and trivets are in the drawer on the left.  The cabinets underneath hold my extra flour, sugar, etc and our griddle which we use at least once a week.  The cabinet above has my regular baking ingredients - baking soda, cocoa, baking powder, salt, etc.

Above the stove I added this:

Which I bought at IKEA back in May.  It looks great and it opened up the drawer directly to the right of the stove for the hot pads and trivets.

I did a few more things but the last thing I'm going to mention in this post is the idea I had a while back but hadn't found space to implement.  I thought it would be cool to have an area where I could put stuff for our weekly meals all together so I didn't have to dig through the cabinets at the last minute.  So I did this:

The kids lunch stuff used the be on the bottom shelf with some old baby food.  I put our breakfast stuff on the top shelf with my cookbooks and the bottom shelf is our meal shelf.  I divided it evenly into 7 and labeled each space - meal 1, meal 2, meal 3 etc.  Now when I put away the groceries each little section gets the non refrigerated items for each meal put in it.  I'm still getting used to having this shelf - both when putting the groceries away and when getting out my stuff for supper.  But I think in the end we're going to LOVE it.

I also moved the kids' plates/bowls/cups and found a new space for our leftover storage containers but I'll do a 2nd post on those areas one day next week.  I also added a fun change to the cabinet where the kids' snacks were stored that I will share in that post as well.

Hope you enjoyed the changes I made to our kitchen organization and maybe got some new ideas for your own spaces.