Thursday, October 30, 2014

Painfully [Good] Timing

Let's just be honest.  Being sick sucks.  Being pregnant and sick sucks more.  Being pregnant and sick with a hernia that threatens to re-open every time you sneeze sucks a lot more.  I know #crybaby

My little buddy Jack and I have had some sort of respiratory "thing" since Sunday that's had us hacking and using up all the kleenex in the house.  We got some medicine yesterday and finally feel like we're on the up turn.

But let's back up to that darn hernia. Funny thing...

A few days before I got sick, the site where the hernia was stitched/repaired was really bothering me.  I got up from the couch and felt something actually tear or rip or something.  Fortunately, the kids were in bed so they missed the slew of expletives that followed.

I had an appointment with my OB a couple days later that confirmed I do have a "minor re-occurrence" and you can feel where the area has opened back up.  Dang it.

But here's the funny part - since then, the hernia hasn't bothered me nearly as much as it did before.  It's almost as if the rip/tear/whatever relieved some of that stretching and pulling.  Before that, to cough or sneeze was torture and I can't even imagine how awful these past five days with continuous coughing/sneezing/general hacking would have been. 

I don't think it will stay that way for the remainder of the the discomfort returned this evening for a visit, but I can truly say I'm thankful that it tore when it did.  My OB said there's a chance it will heal on it's own after giving birth (I have a large mesh in place and right now the opening is fairly small).  If not, they will go in and repair it again.

So, that's where I've been this week.  Trying to rest....sipping tea....

And thankful for the strangest things, like my abs that refuse to stay together at the right time.....and less strange but still rare things, like a rockstar husband who has been picking up ALL the slack.....

He even managed to get the doors off, rods down, and trim up in the front hall closet. 
The contents of which are still in various piles around the living room.  So, hopefully next week I'll be able to finish my end of this little project.  In the meantime, we're hoping at least the kids are well enough to go beg for candy from the neighbors and that the potential SNOW flurries (whaaaaa?!?!) stay away.  If the weather is not cooperating, we're going to have to come up with a plan B.  Ideas for trick-or-treating indoors anyone??

What are your plans for this Halloween/All Saints/All Souls weekend?  Do you dress up or let the kids have all the fun? This is our first Halloween in the Midwest and it took this west coast girl awhile to figure out what the heck "Beggar's Night" was....and how it's on different days in different towns.  Steep learning curve here ;)

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

31 Days of Life Simplified, Day 16: Nursery Essentials & Mood Board

Now that we have a general plan for relocating my office, we get to have some fun putting together a space for this little girl

When we moved to Ohio, we didn't know if more kiddos were in our future.  Not wanting to pack, move, and store a bunch of baby/maternity stuff for "maybe", we gave it all away to other mommas that were actually living that season of life.  I gave all my maternity clothes to a pregnant friend, offered our baby toys and gear to friends with tots, and donated or sold the rest. 

And here we find ourselves expecting baby #4 with nary a boppy in sight.  Do I regret giving all that stuff away?  Not. at. all.  The thing is when you have friends with young kids and growing families, eventually it all comes back around.  I'm so glad those things went to people that needed them at that moment.  We didn't.  And I can't even begin to explain how good God has been in providing for us this time around....both tangibly and with a fresh perspective.

With our first, we got ALL the baby things.  We were excited.  Our family was excited.  And the bambina was showered accordingly.   Having done this a few times I think we have a much different idea of what we truly need to survive with a baby....although, it's been a couple years, so we might be completely delusional. 

I'm working on a series of baby/maternity posts with this minimalist, more simplified perspective in mind.  Today, I get to dream about nurseries.  I know not everyone has an entire room to dedicate to one child, but this can easily be adjusted for whatever corner you carve out for baby in your home. 

Our babe's room is pretty small at 10ft x 10ft, so minimal is sort of essential here.  This is what we have in mind for her space....

The three main pieces of furniture we're bringing in are a crib, chair, & dresser.  Not much else will fit, but not much else is needed. 
Babies need a safe place to sleep, and this is probably most important.  We actually use a pack n play with bassinet attachment while the baby is still bunking up in our room, but we often do naps in the crib before the baby moves on out for the night. 

This birch crib by Oeuf is waaay over our price range, but I think you can find something of good quality for much less.  Aesthetically, we probably won't find an exact match, but we can still find something with simple clean lines and that light, natural feel without blowing our this option from Amazon or this one from Ikea.  We look for a sturdy crib that meets safety standards, non-toxic finishes (because our crazy babes like to snack on wood), an adjustable mattress, and toddler bed convertible to get the most bang for our buck.

If you really need to keep costs low, check out craigslist, garage sales, and second hand stores. Or be patient for those holiday sales.

A comfy chair isn't totally necessary for a nursery, but it sure is nice.  Especially for those 2 am feedings.  If you're going to invest, think about a quality piece that can do double duty someplace else in your house once the baby is older.  Or something that can double as a reading chair in a big kid room.  Gliders and rockers have come a long way, but they can also get really pricey. 

The Sleepytime Rocker pictured above is out of our budget, but I'm hoping to find something similar.  We also tried to jog our out-of-practice-infant-parent-brains to remember if we really used the rocking/gliding motion that much.  You can find quite the handsome and comfy stationary chair for a lot less.  We're going to keep our eyes and options open. and Amazon seem to have some decent options, but we'll be trolling craigslist and some of our local stores too.

If your nursery room has a closet you can probably get away without a dresser.  We've always used one and had it pull double duty as a changing table.  I have some back issues so I appreciate being able to work my diaper skills at a comfortable height.  A dresser also gets a lot more longevity that route since you can just remove the changing pad once you bid goodbye to diapers.....and it gives you more choices for style and finish.

This aqua number on the mood board is a refinished piece by Anneke over at This, That & Life.
I love the way a fresh coat of paint gave an old piece new life.  We have an awesome neighbor that GAVE US an amazing old dresser for this baby that will look amazing with a little paint.  I'm thinking something minty fresh.

The rest is just for fun! The Oriental Weavers Kaleidoscope Rug is something we already have and is inspiring the colors in this room...along with that gorgeous mint wrapping paper.  I'm thinking we'll frame out a piece or wrap some storage boxes with it. 

I'm hoping to find a reasonably priced pouf to use as a foot rest/ottoman...something like this white one from Land of Nod

I stumbled on this animal hamper and thought it was such a fun touch of whimsy (holding out for a sale!) and I'm in love with this  Psalm 139 Elephant print from Naptime Diaries.

I'm still completely on the fence about fabrics, but that beauty on the bottom is Manchester Ecru by Premier Prints.  I'm thinking about it for curtains, but whatever we choose needs to address the light factor and help with the heat/cold....since our windows on that floor are paper thin.

I have a post coming next week on all the other baby essentials that may or may not actually be....essential. But this is how we're approaching a very basic nursery, without all the extras.  What are your main essentials when it comes to a space for baby?

*This post 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!
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

31 Days Of Life Simplified, Day 15: Simplifying The Daily Routine

Thank you so much for your sweet words of encouragement about our pregnancy last week...both here and over on Instagram / Facebook.  I never want to complain about minor issues when there are those fighting much harder battles.  However, this is our current reality and we're trying to adjust. 

I'm also trying not to freak out since the stretching/growing/pulling up to now (28 weeks) has caused some issues and I tend towards enormous in the 3rd trimester.  Our babies are......large.  Mia - 9 lb 8 oz (10 days late),....Sully - 8 lb 9 oz (5 days late).....Jack - 9 lb 7 oz (one day late).  Thankfully, I have a husband that can talk me down from the sanity ledge and a doctor who I trust. In the meantime, there's a whole lot of this happening.... 
Look, Mom - that's me resting and NOT doing things!

It's probably clear that this will not be 31 days of consecutive posting for me.  I need to slow down and I'm trying to be a good girl by not pushing myself....BUT!  I'm not at all abandoning this series!

It's very timely for us as we get the house ready for our newest bambina, albeit at a slower pace, and we still have lots to chat about when it comes to paring down and getting things in order.  Sometimes I feel like I'm forcing the content just to meet the day's deadline in a challenge like this, so hopefully spreading it out will make for a better series all around.

This hernia issue sort of snuck up on us...earlier than expected anyway.  So, James and I had a little pow-pow about how we plan to scale back and make things work between now and the baby's arrival.

These "reevaluate talks" are something we've had to do multiple times throughout our marriage.  Life has busier and more difficult seasons than others, which often require a good ol' reality check of priorities.  We looked at our schedule for the coming months and here's how we're attempting to simplify our daily/weekly routine.

Figure out what's not necessary and ditch it.   

Since busy/active days tend to aggravate my hernia site more than the low key variety, we're trying to limit the extras we put on the calendar.  It's crappy timing with all the fun holiday events coming up...but given how crazy our last holiday season was, this might be a nice change of pace for our family. 

I'm most concerned about the things I'm committed to helping lead or teach.  I just have to take my own advice and not worry about letting people down.  I'm not bailing on anyone right this instant and have enough time to help find a replacement.  I need to check my ego and accept that I'm not the only one who can do the job.  There are many other gifted and generous people out there that may not otherwise step up, if not given the opportunity. 

Identify the crazy inducers 

It's not just commitments outside of the house that can wipe me out.  We tried to narrow down the areas of the day that are most stressful and physically challenging.

Chart topper is the dinner hour.  Even though our boys still nap, I'm beat by the afternoon.   We usually hit up Kroger on Saturdays, so James is going to help with some food prep for the week on Sundays.  He loves being in the kitchen and doesn't mind chopping vegetables or throwing a few extra meats on the grill.

Pregnancy brain has officially taken over and even if I can get to the grocery store solo without 3 little distractions helpers, I still manage to forget at least 3 things on our list.  Since my brain is mush, James has done the grocery shopping the past two weeks and it's been awesome.  Somehow, he manages to get everything on the list and spend less money than I would.  Sure we may be eating a few more processed items, but I'm zipping my lips because we have a food and don't look a gift horse in the mouth.  Or something.

Aside from that, we'll be cooking some double portion meals, so we can freeze half for a later date.  I'm going to do the remaining daily dinner prep in the mornings when I have energy and I think it's time I get reacquainted with our crockpot. Funny, we wrote a post all about that right here.....guess I should actually get back to using our own tips, eh?

Build margin into the schedule

This one's for you, Mom. That wise gal has always told me that I need to leave more margin in my life.  I have a tendency to leave little cushion or room for error.   As in we try to get out the door by 4:00 for a 4:30 lesson, but I know that my drop dead time to pull out of the driveway without being late is we pull out of the driveway at 4:13.

I know that if we have a busy morning running from one activity or errand to the next, I will be really hurting by the afternoon.  And if we have an afternoon commitment on top of that, then I'll be paying for it that evening and into the next day. 

So right now, margin for me is not so much about leaving myself enough time to get places on time, but about not overloading our day/week simply because the time is there.

Stop being so stubborn and accept help

Why is it so hard to just let our friends do things for us?  Am I embarrassed they'll see the dilapidated state of my house?  Will they think I'm needy and that they can't count on me when they need it?  There are some things we simply aren't mean to do alone.  It really does take a village and I wish we lived in a time where that was a more natural way of life....instead of Supermom mentality.

We have such wonderfully generous friends that have offered to bring meals, help cook, watch the name it.  And I would joyfully do it for them in a heartbeat if the tables were turned, so I need to check the pride at the door and be honest when we could use a little help.

The rest of our conversation was about other things we can do if things necessary - James can work from home a couple hours a day or adjust his schedule to be at home during key times.  We might look into having someone help with the cleaning every couple of weeks and maybe even have a mom's helper come hang out with the kids for awhile.  

We're really thankful to have these options and to have support here, especially with our families so far away.  It's just all much easier to say than to do.  I'm a great list maker and an average list, I'm going to try to up my game on this one.  Or lower my game since I'm supposed to be doing less (??).  Now that's just confusing. 

I would love to hear from you!  How do you cut back when life deals up an ugly hand?  What about when the regular schedule all of a sudden becomes packed and do you get things back on track?

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

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

31 Days of Life Simplified, Day 14: Frustrations & Working In 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!
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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!
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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!
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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!
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