Thursday, October 16, 2014

31 Days of Life Simplified: Closet Frustrations & Smaller Chunks

Man.  Every time I get a wave of motivation it seems that life just slaps me right back on the couch.  I'm not complaining.  Truly.  I just think we've all been there - geared up, ready to jump in...and then the reality smack.  You know the one.  The "you can not do everything" back hand in the form of some poo hitting the fan, the stress bomb exploding, or your body calling it quits. 

I haven't shared too much about this pregnancy on the blog, because (based on some comments and looks we've received in lieu of baby #4) people tend to make a lot of assumptions about this pregnancy.  I think I've been a little defensive and protective of us as a result.  I don't have the need to justify our family, but I think it's also kept me from sharing part of our family's life that I normally would here on the blog.

So, here's a start.  I've mentioned that we weren't sure our family would grow anymore after Jack, and that's partly due to a back injury (two degenerative disks and one bulging disk from a tear) coupled with an umbilical hernia (at the belly button), which was surgically repaired after I had Jack.  The back issues have been with me for all the pregnancies and were mostly kept in check thanks to some physical therapy.  But the mesh hernia repair = new territory. 

Some doctors won't do the repair until you're sure you are done having kids and others don't see follow-on pregnancy as problematic at all.  If you visit any online discussion boards about pregnancy after hernia repair, you will get the whole gamut.....from "I had no issues" to "I was in excruciating pain with all sorts of horrific complications".  The truth is that we just didn't know how another pregnancy would affect my body.  Fortunately, my doctor has had several patients with this same issue and all successful births.....she just told me to "expect some discomfort".

Until about a week ago I was doing a premature little happy dance thinking I might actually be in the clear, but hello 3rd trimester and large belly.  The "discomfort" has arrived.  Sometimes worse than others and mostly after a really active/busy day. 

What does that have to do with closets?  Oh, right.  I knew that if I was going to have issues, it would probably be in later pregnancy, so we deemed this month as the "get the house ready before I can't do anything" month.  It seems we were just a couple weeks late on hitting that mark.  There was no way my body was having a closet clean-out sesh today.

My body telling me enough, doesn't mean I can't do anything.  It just means I have to prioritize....which for now is getting food in my family's tummies and attempting to give them some sort of education....and I need to tackle things in much smaller chunks.

Sure, I could give myself a nice pep talk and get pumped to tackle the closet tomorrow.  But you know what's going to happen?  I'm going to get the kids breakfast, probably get through 2/3 of our homeschool schedule and then need to plop my body down someplace.  Because who knows if making lunch might do me in.

And you know what?  It's OK.  Slowing down to take care of myself and this baby is OK.  It doesn't mean I have to abandon all plans to address the areas that are driving us crazy, but it does mean a different approach and letting people help.  #saysthecontrolfreak

So, here's a genius idea.  I'm going to have the kids help me with the closet.  It occurred to me that they are skilled in the art of taking out all the things and leaving them everywhere, so why not give them a new zone to destroy?  Emptying out this closet will no doubt create the mother of all messes. So, I'll do a little directing but let them do the work, and they'll think it's funnest of the fun. James will help with the putting it all back together part.

In all seriousness, they have been great little helpers for husband is a rock star who picks up the slack like no other....we have incredibly generous friends offering all kinds of support....and we just feel really loved.  Loved and thankful that in the big scheme of things, this is simply a little bit of pain.  We have a healthy baby girl and she's not affected by my issues at all.  We'll carry on at a slower pace and let go of the stuff that doesn't need to happen.  I'm always amazed at the gifts that can come from a good God in the midst of our struggles, and this one is no exception.

*This is part of the 31 Day Series of Life Simplified....catch all the posts right here!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
 photo f1_zps95f50ae9.png  photo f2_zps8e4c66fe.png  photo f4_zpsabace950.png  photo instaw_zps951d8ab3.png

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

31 Days of Life Simplified, Day 13: Dividing The Home Office

One of the most loved and most used rooms in our home (by me anyway) is my recently finished home office.  
fantastic DIY office makeover!

I realize that I'm completely spoiled to even have 10x10 ft of space dedicated all to myself, but our newest little miss will be here before we know it, so it's time to transition this space over. 

The challenge is addressing the multifunctional nature of the room - namely my mammoth sized desk.  It's actually three pieces fitted together to form a large L-shape and each section is a designated work zone:  craft/sewing, writing/blogging, household management. 

Unfortunately, it's just too big to simply plop down someplace else in the we're not just breaking up the pieces, we're breaking up the zones. 

We have this built-in desk in our kitchen/great room.  It's sort of a catch all for school stuff at the moment, but I think it's going to be the perfect location for taking care of household management items.  We already sort our mail near here and it's in the central hub of our home.  One of the drawers is even a filing cabinet.  

A photo from moving day.  Because I don't have an updated one (hangs head in shame)....

She'll probably get a fresh coat of paint, some new hardware (which I already have), and possibly a new top.  But either way, it's a nice large surface with plenty of storage.  That's one down!

The other zone I think I've worked out is my personal writing/blogging/emailing area.  Do you remember when I moved my small white desk out of the office to make room for the mega-L?  I put it next to my bed to act as a nightstand.....where it has since taken on the role of pile-magnet. 

It does not look like this picture.  It's much worse.

I kept meaning to really set up this area, but am now glad that my procrastination is reaping some benefits - it's about time! 

My laptop fits here perfectly and I'll still have room for a lamp, some books and whatever else nightstands have.  It also has a shallow keyboard drawer that will give me a little storage.  I have another chair to use with the built-in desk downstairs, so my current office chair will probably end up here too. 

Who knows, maybe we'll eventually paint some walls and work on a headboard.  Maybe.  But hey - that's two zones taken care of!

The third zone is the hardest, because it's comes with the most stuff.  It's not just finding a surface for my sewing machine but finding a place for the sewing cart, and fabrics, and craft supplies, and basically all the crap in my overstuffed office closet.  I'll be purging through that stuff soon, but I'm thinking the guest bedroom in the basement will probably be the best solution.  Do I sound convincing?  Yeah...I'm still at a loss.  I figure purge first, then deal with it. 

Once we finish the terrifying task of organizing the coat closet, setting up these zones will be the priority.  If I survive the initial clean out, a coat closet update will be next.

Do you have a dedicated home office?  Is it a separate room or have you stolen space from someplace else in the house?

*This is part of the 31 Days of Life Simplified series....catch all the posts right here!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
 photo f1_zps95f50ae9.png  photo f2_zps8e4c66fe.png  photo f4_zpsabace950.png  photo instaw_zps951d8ab3.png

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

31 Days of Life Simplified, Day 12: My Favorite Room

I know I missed posting yesterday, but I found myself tempted to throw something together...and that's not really fair to you or me.  So, back on track today!

When I was tossing around topic ideas for this series I wrote down a bunch of post/project ideas that I already had brewing for the coming months and tried to identify a common theme.  Captain Obvious waved a flag of desperation as he drowned in clutter and chaotic spaces. A good dose of purging, organization, and purpose was clearly needed in so many areas of our home.

Now, you will never hear me tell you that you should keep your home sparkling clean at all times.  Homes are meant to be lived in and while a clean home is nice, attempting to keep it perfect around the clock is likely to make you crazy instead of put you at peace.

However.  I absolutely stand by a space that has a clear purpose and is organized to best serve its function. Why have the coffee grounds on the opposite end of the kitchen as the coffee machine, that's far from the water, further from the filters, and the all important cream and sugar?  Having things set up to efficiently serve the way you work and move in a space saves time and sanity.
 coffee station

Over the years, we've also found that living with less has been a huge blessing. Sometimes it's a responsive push back against that cultural need machine (whispering that we need just one more thing to make us happy)...and other times it's an intentional effort to pare down and live more simply.  Less attached to our stuff and to keeping up with the Jones'. 

Whenever I'm asked about our most popular posts, I'm hesitant.  They've topped the view charts thanks to Pinterest and they're all about toilet rings and purging down to a minimalist wardrobe.  Nothing to do with home decor...or DIY...or even the crafty result of some creative epiphany.  I never felt they showcased the DIY side of our blog, which is what I felt was the expected I usually site our kitchen makeover (number 3 on the list).

Yet, my most popular posts remain those that help with household management, living on less, and yes, battling toilet rings.  Our big makeovers are popular too, but it's funny how you can ignore the large blinking lights when you don't want to see them.  I think the vision I had for the blog and our home was just different that what it was intended to be.

Last year I finally gave up on wanting a picture perfect home.  Because in reality that's not the kind of home I want to live in.  It was so freeing to have the "aha" moment of realizing that I didn't actually want all of that beautiful glitz and glam and vintage modern in my own house.  That I could admire it from afar and as well as those who wield their amazing home design wands to bring those visions to life in their homes.  But I wanted something different in my own.

I've even been scared of straying from my self-dubbed color loving ways.  Even though I've been pulled to a much more subdued color palette since my whole house epiphany.  

But no more being afraid.  I want my home to be warm, comfortable, inviting...I want it to tell our own unique story....I want it to have some quirks, because we're all a bit quirky....and I don't want it to hide the fact that children live here. 

Aside from how it looks and feels, I want it to be the place that grounds us and brings us peace when we enter it's doors from the fast-paced world outside.  Hopefully, all the projects we do around here serve that purpose - they either help simplify our day-to-day routine, restore order, or add meaningful beauty to our space.

My favorite room in our house is the living room.  Why?  It feels calm and serene to me, even though it's not "finished". 

It's purpose is clear and there's nothing in there that doesn't serve that purpose....we snuggle up for stories on the couch so there's a basket of our favorite books nearby.....I like to try to steal a few quiet minutes here in the morning, so there's also a small side table with books, journals, and's also a music room, so our piano and guitars are here...along with a large cabinet that houses extra music books, other small instruments, and our regular decor that we store during the holidays.  And a basket of play instruments for the little ones.

Everything has a designated place, so when it gets lived in and loved, as it should, it's fairly easy to clean it up at the end of the day.

I wish I could say the same for the rest of the house, but that's what we're working towards!   It's the heart of this 31 Day series and after a little weekend away, I'm ready to get back to it!

What's your favorite room in the home?  What makes it your favorite?

*This is part of the 31 Days of Life Simplified series....catch all the posts right here

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
 photo f1_zps95f50ae9.png  photo f2_zps8e4c66fe.png  photo f4_zpsabace950.png  photo instaw_zps951d8ab3.png

Sunday, October 12, 2014

31 Days of Life Simplified, Day 11: Make The Decisions Easier

We're back from our oh-so-spontaneous trip to Notre Dame (says the planner).  It was such a great weekend.  We're exhausted, but it was so worth it.  Kids were in bed by 7:30pm tonight and we have tomorrow off for Columbus Day to recover before heading back to the grind.

Since we had already started purging some areas of the home, we returned to piles of stuff on every surface.  I'm trying really hard not to let the mess get to me and just trust that it's all part of the gets-worse-before-it-gets-better part of purging and organizing.

Apartment Therapy had a great article with tips to make the decision process a little easier when it comes to getting rid of stuff.  There are some good ideas in the comment section too. Check it out here and enjoy the last bit of your weekend!

*This is part of the 31 Days of Life Simplified.  All the post in the series are right here.

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
 photo f1_zps95f50ae9.png  photo f2_zps8e4c66fe.png  photo f4_zpsabace950.png  photo instaw_zps951d8ab3.png

Saturday, October 11, 2014

31 Days of Life Simplified, Day 10: Getting Away

Maybe, on occasion, I can get a little over ambitious. Especially when it comes to working through our project list.  And you probably know that "our" project list is really "my" project list.  I just have a good man that goes along with my crazy.

At the beginning of this past week, we had the opportunity to head up to South Bend for a football weekend with some of our extended family.  James and I had been wanting to make a trip up to the campus during the fall, BUT.....

.....this was supposed to be our month to get the house organized - we would lose a whole weekend of making progress around the house

.....we would have to leave in four days

.....we were signed up to do the Halloween mini-trail at the park this weekend

......the timing is not great

.....this prego belly is getting big

......this was supposed to be our month to get the house organized - we would lose a whole weekend of making progress around the house

Well, guess where we are?  

In beautiful South Bend, spending a rare weekend with some of our extended family.  Exactly where we are supposed to be.

Sometimes, you just need to throw the plans out the window.  It's been a busy, stressful few weeks of home/work/life and I didn't realize how much we needed to get away until I saw my husband's excitement as we started planning for the trip. 

Strangely, house projects do not give my husband the same joy and satisfaction as they do me.  Did I mention I have a good man?   

We couldn't have asked for a better fall weekend.  It's absolutely beautiful here and been so nice to spend time with some family we haven't seen in awhile....especially when there's football and tailgating to be had!

And the bump is doing just fine.  (The kids and I came back to watch the game at the house while everyone else is at the stadium.  Because naps for all).

Maybe the best thing you can do for your to-do list, is to put it down for awhile.  

*Pics a la iPhone and grams a plenty aqui.  Once upon a time we also wrote a post full of tips for traveling with young kids.  That gem from the archives is here.

*This is part of the 31 Days of Life Simplified series....catch all the posts right here!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
 photo f1_zps95f50ae9.png  photo f2_zps8e4c66fe.png  photo f4_zpsabace950.png  photo instaw_zps951d8ab3.png

Friday, October 10, 2014

31 Days of Life Simplified, Day 9: A Purged & Organized Closet

The first space on our purging radar for this 31 Day series was our master closet.  I have no idea why....

...the shame!

...the horror!

My goal for this closet was to simply get it purged of clothes that didn't fit or that I didn't wear and to get it organized....worry about the pretty stuff later.  There were my regular clothes, maternity clothes, and all sizes in between.  Turns out a little editing down and organization can do a world of good in the pretty-up department.

The only things in this closet now are items that will take me through my last trimester or regular clothes that I can still use as layering items (i.e. regular flannel unbuttoned over a maternity tank).  The rest went into storage bins under our bed.

Let's all breath a collective sigh of relief...
The drawers hold shirts, sweaters, pj's, jeans/pants, workout clothes, undergarments, and socks/tights/leggings. Everything else is on a hanger.  I also moved my summer shoes to the top cubbies.  The shoes I wear most days are downstairs in our shoe cabinet.

I found that if I tried to create stacks of clothes on the shelves they just ended up in a heap.  I couldn't tell what was clean or dirty because nothing stayed folded.  Now that all clothes are either on a hanger or in a drawer, I can leave this space open for accessories or who knows what.

This side of the closet was the biggest improvement.  We ditched the catch all shelves and my long dresses can now hang freely and my taller boots have a place to land.

How about a side by side for that one?

I'm using a pant hanger to corral my scarves but would like to change this up eventually.

I still need to address my belts and jewelry, but it's a huge relief to know that I can actually wear everything in this closet.  I like that there's extra space to breath and miraculously, the nervous twitch that used to strike when I walked in here has vanished.  Now, onto that coat closet!

I would love to hear how you keep your closet from turning into chaos!  How do you keep things organized?

*This is part of the 31 Days of Life Simplified series...catch all the posts right here!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
 photo f1_zps95f50ae9.png  photo f2_zps8e4c66fe.png  photo f4_zpsabace950.png  photo instaw_zps951d8ab3.png

Thursday, October 9, 2014

31 Days of Life Simplified, Day 8: The Coat Closet That Could

I've got a post coming tomorrow on how we reorganized our master closet.  And as we wrap that one up with a nice "done for now" bow, we're setting our sights on our next victim:  the coat closet

We're lucky to even have a closet in our front entry, but it's a straight up disaster.  It's not small (almost a long/narrow full size) and yet I feel like it's failing. 

Because remember this:

Shameful, I know.  I'm just going to tell myself that every coat closet known to man has this same issue.  It wants to be great and help out it's beloved family, but it's just can't.  It doesn't have the right tools. Or competent homeowners.

But we're going to help our dear closet.  What we really need is space to hang multiple bags, sweaters, and coats....a place for wet shoes to dry....a spot to store some out of season items and make the current ones accessible....a place that doesn't make me cry and where I can see the floor.

As we started thinking about how we can maximize this space, my mind immediately went to this coat closet makeover I've always drooled over by House of Smiths.

Incredible, right?  But after seeing what a bag lady family we've become (bag for piano, bag for soccer, bag for school, bags, bags, I love bags) and the need for a place to set our wet boots during this place that gets real snow that actually sticks to the ground....a bench was a no-go.  We really need any and all wall/floor space.

We're thinking something along these lines would better suit our needs...


Except we plan to keep the upper shelf and just ditch the long closet rod.  Sort of like this beauty from Classy Clutter:

I picked up a couple of boot trays, trim, and hooks - armed and ready to tackle the beast!  I think.  No don't think about it....just do it.  Who's with me?!

*This is part of the 31 Days of Life Simplified series...catch all the posts right here!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
 photo f1_zps95f50ae9.png  photo f2_zps8e4c66fe.png  photo f4_zpsabace950.png  photo instaw_zps951d8ab3.png