enjoying

One thing I’ve learned as I’ve grown is how important it is to slow down and refocus myself often. I am too easily caught up in “we need to get X, Y and Z done, go go go!!” and it ends up turning into a stressful situation. My kids don’t want to spend the entire weekend watching/ helping us clean and sort things in the house, so they now help during the week when we break our projects into more manageable pieces.

For example, this past weekend, I wanted to finish cleaning our dining room. There isn’t much in there besides the table & chairs, the kids’ craft shelf, a skinny bookshelf with a few odds and ends and a small table in the corner for a few special knick knacks. When the kids heard me talking about the weekend project, they took it upon themselves to plan a few crafts that would help to empty shelves and they reorganized the drawers to make it more manageable. Below is a craft set up by our 10 year that we all got to do together :)

Decluttering can be much more enjoyable (I know, that sounds like a bold faced lie, but I PROMISE it’s true) when you don’t turn it into a giant chore. Watching the kids not only clean but also take charge of the project was wonderful. I sat on the couch with my coffee for the 15 minutes they spent focused on “Do you need this?” “No, we can add this to the donate box”.

I really enjoy the little things so much more now that our house is a more relaxing space. It may not be perfect (now or ever!) but the journey is enough to bring us joy.

Now if only the laundry would fold itself, I’d be really happy.

xo Caroline

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Declutter

((Check out the beauty outside our back door today! We haven’t had much of a winter and this snow is much-loved.))

When I originally started this blog many years ago, I was blissfully unaware of IMPACT.

Our impact on the environment with our waste.

Our impact on each other with our actions.

Our impact on our kids’ lives by our example of living.

For the past year or so, I’ve been on a journey of rediscovery, simplifying and focus. I realized that we were living in our home, but not truly LIVING here. We were surrounded by clutter, small and large, business and personal, stuff that belonged to kids and adults. I didn’t pay much attention to it until I had a glass-shattering moment, ala How I Met Your Mother (the episode called “Spoiler Alert”)- I realized that if our house were to suddenly be gone, there were very few things I’d be devastated about.

With this realization, Terry and I began to evaluate what was in our home. We consulted a variety of decluttering “experts”, including blogs, books, audiobooks, the list goes on. I craved more inspiration to start purging and simplifying. I was ready to bag up 80% of our possessions right then.

It was so daunting.

I was so overwhelmed.

I stared at my bedroom closet, the laundry room, the garage. Each time I walked into a room, I was anxious and had no idea how to start. I didn’t see a large, neon sign pointing at my belongings, shouting in blinking lights “MINIMIZE THIS FIRST” and I froze. I stressed, I worried, I felt guilty considering throwing our toys, papers, knick-knacks, anything that someone might say “what happened to X?”

As I battled inwardly on how to get rid of stuff, I stuck to my normal routine. As I was folding laundry, I saw one of Terry’s T-shirts had a hole in it, beyond the point of quick repair. “Time to turn this into rags”, I thought. And then it hit me. This was how I should start!

Luckily, it was the weekend and Terry was home to help, so we emptied all the clothes from our closet and dressers. The kids stared at their crazy parents, then went into their rooms to empty their own closets and dressers (well, Linc had a little help from his sisters). This follows the KonMari method (though I didn’t start following her system until later). We sorted out anything that was ripped, stained, out of style or hadn’t been worn in 6+ months. We made an exception for special items (my wedding dress, etc) but otherwise we were tough on the sorting.

We rid ourselves of two massive black trash bags worth of clothing plus a box stuffed full of donations. None of us ever missed a single item.

Feeling liberated, we relaxed for a moment. Then, Terry and I looked into our closet and saw how much non-clothing stuff had infiltrated. How had this happened?

Easily, unfortunately. Company coming over? Just toss it into our bedroom to hide it. Oh it’s bedtime and we didn’t clean it up? Just toss it into the closet and we’ll take care of it tomorrow.

TOMORROW.

Tomorrow turned into the weekend which turned into 6 months later and the stuff is still there. We were too close to bath/ bedtime and there was no way we could tackle this project on the same day, so we begrudgingly hung and folded all of our remaining clothes to return to the closet/ dressers and closed the door.

We eventually tackled the closet (though it’s become a catch-all AGAIN) as well as plenty of other spaces. We methodically worked through one room after another and while we aren’t 100% where we want to be, we have really made progress.

Are you ready to start on your decluttering journey and not sure where or how to start?

Try this: pick one room, one space, one focus. Take 30 minutes and remove all the trash/ recycle from that space. If you still have time left in your 30 minutes, remove anything that does not belong in that space and return it to it’s “home”. If you STILL have time left, look around the room/ space and decide what is important for you to have in that place, determine what belongs there. Make a list if you need to. Don’t overwhelm yourself.

Start small and don’t let yourself get caught up on the “there’s so much stuff!” aspect. Focus on pieces of the puzzle and it will all slowly fall into place!

More soon,
Caroline :)

Summer lovin’

Summer is both my favorite and least favorite time of the year.

All four of my kiddos are home, which means we can sleep in longer and slowly move through our mornings. I enjoy an entire hot cup of coffee without trying to fill in agendas or checking homework that the kiddos forgot to show me the night before or having to referee clothing fights (because, no, you cannot wear your gymnastics shorts to school).

We function on minimal summer plans simply because it is easier. The kids spend their hours creating art, building with blocks, playing in the yard, reading, but we do it all with no schedule.

However.

Summer also means HEAT and if you know me, the only thing I like hot in the summer is my coffee. Humidity is not my friend. Sunburn is a constant companion, even with 1,000,000 SPF sunblock.

The upside to the extremely warm weather is that I have to get more creative inside, which results in quilt ladders, crocheted blankets, new bookshelves, etc.

Happy June!

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fresh starts

When I originally started my blog, it was nothing more than a place to share a few photos and memories, an opportunity to have a small connection to the world outside of being a stay at home mom.

I’ve taken several long breaks from blogging but I have to admit, I always miss it. I long to spend an hour or two in the morning with a hot cup of coffee and my iPad Pro, writing eloquent blog posts, but that is not how being a SAHM works and that’s okay.

In the mornings, my older kids wake to an alarm clock that goes off at the same time as mine. We make beds, bring laundry downstairs, help the younger kids with their bedroom cleaning, eat and spend a few minutes together before I’m rushing all four kiddos into the car. If I’m lucky, I’ll have time to make coffee and pour it into a to-go mug.  If not, it’s a long morning until my 8:45 cup ;)

The younger kids love to build and create, which normally frees up my morning (I adore their independence) but I can’t just leave the clean baskets of laundry sitting in the entry hall, the dishes won’t do themselves and rumor has it my kids enjoy eating on a schedule.

Will I be blogging again full time? No, but writing this single post is a step in the right direction.

xo,
Caroline

P.S. Check out this beautiful sign made for my newly-painted bedroom! A friend made this for me and it speaks to my soul.

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putting a 5 year old to bed

(in 35 simple steps)

1. Tell her “it’s time for bed!”
2. Send her up to brush teeth and get in PJs.
3. Explain that if she doesn’t brush well enough, the cavity creep she learned about in school will invade her mouth.
4. Console her.
5. Apologize for reminding her about cavity creep before bedtime & assure her it isn’t real.
6. Send her up to brush/ get in PJs for real.
7. Send her back up because there is no way she brushed her teeth and got in PJs in 37 seconds.
8. Read 6 stories to her.
9. Answer 932 questions about each story.
10. Make mental note to get rid of all books with more than 10 pages/ complicated plots.
11. Give her 3 hugs and a kiss on each cheek, then one more hug.
12. Hug all four of her stuffed animals. Wait, not the giraffe, he’s in time out.
13. Turn on the fans because it’s hot.
14. Turn off one fan because it’s cold.
15. Turn off other fan because she needs both on but they need to be turned on in a different order.
16. Help her get her blankets.
17. No, not the white one, c’mon, seriously?
18. Oh hang on, the white one is softer than the purple one. Switch them.
19. Turn off light and say goodnight.
20. Remember that you promised she could stay up an extra 20 minutes because she ate three helpings of salad and skipped dessert.
21. Hope that she doesn’t remember.
22. Yeah, of course she does.
23. Send her into the playroom with her favorite stuffed animal and blanket so she can pretend it’s a baby.
24. Beg her to stay quiet because the baby is sleeping.
25. Go downstairs to finish dishes.
26. Begin watching a movie.
27. Realize that it’s been 2 hours.
28. Find 5-year-old asleep on playroom floor, wrapped in her blanket and snuggling her penguin.
29. Call husband to carry her to bed.
30. Husband attempts to have her walk since she has the ability to weigh 9,043 pounds while sleeping.
31. Hear husband whisper-yell for you to bring up a camera.
32. Discover that, when woken up, a confused child who falls asleep on the floor in the wrong room will attempt to climb into her “bed” aka the trunk full of play clothes.
33. Laugh and take a photo.
34. Force husband to actually carry the exhausted 5-year-old to bed.
35. Blog about it and post a fabulous photo.

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Dear mama

Dear mama,

You work so hard. The dishes. The laundry. The meals. Heck, successfully dressing the kids at 5:30 am should win you some sort of medal. You keep the house running and sometimes you even manage to take a shower before dinner.

Some days, things fall apart. The kids won’t stop fighting. The dog destroyed yet another back door screen. The cat scratched up the dining room table. The fish died and you have to choose between telling your kids or trying to replace it before they notice. And you just realized that you put dish washing liquid into the dishwasher instead of detergent, which is a mess you aren’t ready to deal with at 7 am.

Some days, everything is perfect! That craft the kids have been begging to do is finished and proudly displayed on the wall. There aren’t any dirty clothes on the bedroom floors. No one spilled milk in the kid’s play kitchen for you to discover three weeks later. The windows are open and there’s a beautiful breeze in the house as you snuggle the baby. You drank your entire cup of coffee without having to warm it up three times.

There is no magic formula to being a mama. Maybe you just use your good mama instincts. Or you might prefer to read inspirational stories of moms who somehow always manage to look like a million bucks. You may take advice from your “been there, done that” mom friends. Or you could use all of the above things and make parts of them work for you and your kids.

One thing is for sure though: You are freaking awesome. Keep on doing you. Turn the dryer on for a third time just so you can avoid folding clothes. Play angry birds on your phone instead of cleaning while the kids nap. Hide in your closet and eat that chocolate bar (but do it fast, the kids are probably onto you).

No matter how many times the kids screamed at you, despite the fact that you ate PB&J for dinner again (just forget the fact that you slaved over the stove for an hour making chicken alfredo, roasted potatoes and a caesar salad), regardless of the water all over the bathroom floor because the kids hate the shower curtain being shut, they love you and you love them.  At the end of the day (aka bedtime, which is a whole ‘nother story), that love is what matters.

Be amazing, just like always.

Mama on, mama.