December 31, 2010

leather couches.

we have leather couches.
and, sometimes they drive me crazy...
like when the kids scratch pictures on them with their nails...
or put boogers on the arm...
or when i can see the arms or cushions are fading.
I dream of covering them with WHITE slip covers.
But, my bigger dream is buying new white couches like this...

for my living room.
and, keeping my leather couches for my family room.

Anyway, the arms were fading... and i have conditioned and cleaned but it doesn't help the fading.
So, yesterday I took my husband's shoe polish and polished them.
yes.  I rubbed the arms and cushions with shoe polish.
And, i love the difference it made.

I'm not sure this is what the manufacturer would recommend... but it works for me!!

kids love Oatmeal!!

chocolate, cranberry, almond and cream oatmeal... mmmm!
last night we had oatmeal for dinner.
it was fun.
i pulled out tons of toppings...
apple butter, raspberry jam, whipping cream, chocolate chips, nuts, blueberries, etc.
Then, I let the kids "create" their own instant oatmeal mix...
i reminded them of peaches and cream, maple and brown sugar, apples and cinnamon, etc.
They had fun creating and naming their oats... so much fun that they FORGOT they normally complain about eating oatmeal.

Just an idea... on how to make oatmeal fun!

December 30, 2010

birth- singing.

i've been reading a lot about natural births lately.
i could never have a home birth.
but, i am hoping for a VBAC after 2 emergency c-sections.
and, i want to labor without being induced (i have NEVER gone into labor)
and, i want to labor without an epidural
and... i want to sing.  :)  if only i married a guitar player... and could sing.

something about this video makes me cry...
you can just feel the spirit of the room as she sings.
i want my baby's birth to feel like this.
love it.

james 1:5- religious art for boys...

Yes, I'm organizing.
But, I'm not an organized soul.
I'm a creator.
So, yesterday... I made this poster.  For my boys room.
I'll show you it all done up when I pick it up from Sam's club.
(I printed out the top one for my boys... it seemed more boy.  But, I really like the bottom one.)

Fun, huh?

[easy- i just made a black .jpg and uploaded it to picnik where i cropped to 8x10 for a 16x20 poster and added text.  it was quick and fun.  And, i'm so sick of thinking of ideas and NOT doing them.  just do it.  i tell myself.  and i did.]

House of Order- Holiday Decorations

What's in your attic??
You may be surprised how EASY it is to clean out crap.
Because really, it's not that hard to tell you will NEVER wear that again... and neither will your kids.

Hard things for me to sort are SENTIMENTAL things. 
I'm very sentimental.
But boxes of decorations and clothes and books and junk-- easy to sort.
Why haven't I done this sooner?

I was dreading this.
How am I getting stuff done when my husband is out of town and my kids are out of school?
It's really not that bad.
I spend the morning doing chores, dressing and feeding.
Then I encourage them to play while I begin my project.
They play till lunch- by which time I'm a bit frustrated with my MESS.
I feed, put the little girls down for naps and send the big kids outside.
Yes, they see "treasures" in every box I open.
Yes, they take the Halloween costumes and wear them and bring them all around the house.
But, it's not too bad.  Because, my house is clean to begin with, and I leave some room in my boxes.
So, at night when I'm putting them to bed and I find Casper's mask, I just slip it into my Halloween box.
None of my boxes are back up in my attic yet... I'm leaving that for the professor to do.
Honestly, NOTHING is cleaned up till 9pm when my kids are in bed.
The worst part is taking my pile of trash and sticking it out back, and bringing my pile of Goodwill stuff to my car... because by the end of the night I'm exhausted.
But, the best part is drinking hot chocolate on my couch at night, looking at my SUPER organized attic boxes and knowing this is something I have wanted to do for YEARS and have NEVER done.
It feels good.

1. Gather them-- I found every holiday thing I had.  Although I am sort of organized, I had holiday stuff in my attic, on a shelf in my garage and in a basket in my laundry room.  Sometimes I find the lone turkey that I missed when I cleaned up my decorations.  I just stick it in a basket in my laundry room of "stuff to put in the attic".  I also found a bag of Easter decoration in my laundry area that I bought at 90% clearance and hadn't put with my Easter stuff.  Really, this time, I think i've gotten everything.  I also started a box of House Decorations-- this is for stuff that doesn't fit with a holiday but that I seem to rotate.  I have a shelf for home decorations in my garage-- but when I went through holiday decorations, I found more house decorations.  So, I just put them in a basket to deal with later.

2. Decide on BOXES-- Honestly, this is my hard part.  I have used big, rectangle, clear, Sterilite boxes for my holiday decorations.  But, stuff doesn't always seem to fit right.  IF I had money, I believe I would have made ten trips to the store today to find the 'PERFECT' storage solutions.  Instead, I used my brain and made what I had work.  Ughh.  Really, it was hard for me.  I decided to keep the big rectangle boxes and combine holidays.

3.  WHAT to keep-- Some things are obvious.  Don't keep broken things.  Don't keep things you didn't put out last year.  Don't keep things you don't like.  And sometimes, don't keep things you kind of like but are hard to store.  Some things are harder.  For me, Halloween costumes were the hardest.  Because I'm sentimental.  And, I love that my kids love dress-up.  We have an overflowing dress up box of stuff they wear daily.  And we had 2 boxes of Halloween costumes- that I can never find when I'm looking for new Halloween costumes any way.  I always recreate- so why do I save?  Because I'm sentimental.  I decided to keep only handmade costumes... and unique things, like masks and witch socks, that were easy to store.  Two boxes down to one. 

4.  Layer-  My favorite solution of my day, was my Valentines/4th of July box.  I didn't have enough decorations to fill a huge box with either of these holidays.  And, I was hesitant to combine them in one big, messy box.  And, I had a few bigger wreaths and decorations that I couldn't fit.
My solution-- I used smaller Tupperware for each holiday... and I had the wreaths standing on the side.
Like this...

Now, I can just pull out the smaller Tupperware for Valentine's day, and not have to sort through the 4th of July stuff.  And, all my holiday decorations are in the same sized Tupperware for easy stacking and packing.

5. Wreaths-- I love to change out my wreaths for the seasons.  I had a couple square Sterilite boxes that i hate for other things because they are too big.  But, they worked PERFECT for my smaller Christmas wreaths.  I still have a few larger wreaths that I have to find a solution for.  In the past, I have just used black trash bags-- but I kind of hate this option.  Any ideas?

 6. Duh-- I know these are dumb things to write down, but I realized them while I was packing.  First, I like to use the edges for cute things.  If you have a choice, put the eggs or the turkey facing out so your boxes look festive. 

Second, use the very top of your boxes.  Sometimes I thought big things wouldn't fit.  But, when I tried them on the very top-- Whaaah Laaah!  So, don't forget the top is the biggest spot.

7. Trash-- Honestly, I am always surprised at how much trash I find when I'm sorting.  Broken decorations that i couldn't bear to throw away so I just packed them... old Halloween costumes-- like a HUGE turkey tail made out of cardboard, that I know we will never use again.  Old coloring books that my mom saved for my kids-- the pages are yellowed and falling apart.  Why do I have these things?  Guess what?  I DON'T HAVE THEM ANYMORE.  Oh no, my house is a house of order.  NO TRASH is filling up my storage areas.  I feel ten pounds lighter.

Today, I am working with my kids in the morning.
Sending them to the park (to go fishing) with their dad.
Organizing all my KID CLOTHES.
And inviting friends over for the afternoon, while I sort.
Yes, friends and neighbors see my piles.
But I'm OK with that.
My rule is- come over ONCE when my house is CLEAN.
After that, I don't care what mess you see.
Can I tell you how excited I am to organize all the KID CLOTHES in my whole house/attic?
I'm SO excited.

December 29, 2010

i NEED this.

I need this.
For my girls' room.
books on top.
a small drawer for each girls' treasures.
a big drawer for Barbies and Poly Pockets.
This is from Ikea, Hemnes-- $375.
I may be able to afford it with my tax return... but I can't afford the $350 shipping.

Any ideas??
Anyone going to Ikea in Dallas anytime soon?
Anyone taking a trip to Utah with room to bring me home a big package?
Has anyone seen something like this here in Lubbock for a reasonable price?
I think I need one.

December 28, 2010

House of Order- Christmas Clean-up

Oh what a feeling!!
I had a GREAT day today.
It was slow starting- i think i was a bit overwhelmed by my task.

Every year, I put away Christmas.
This year, I ORGANIZED Christmas... I gave it my BEST efforts and really tried to be super organized.
I sorted.  I purged.  I labeled.
I got rid of 2 mismatched Tupperware.
I used bubble wrap to protect some of my more breakable items.

Here are some organizational things I've done this year that I don't always do...

Christmas Clean-up 2010
That's her in all her glory!!
1.  Christmas Cards-- I took all the Christmas cards people sent me and typed the return addresses into Microsoft Word Avery 8160 labels for next year-- saving it as Christmas Card Labels for 2011

2.  Computer Files-- Yup, I cleaned out my COMPUTER files.  Now I have Jen's Stuff.  Under Jen's Stuff I have Church- Nativity, Church-Young Women's, PTA- 2009-2010. etc...  I also have Family- Christmas, Family-Easter, Family- Teaching, Family- Quotes, Family-Organization, Family-Recipes, etc..

3.  Christmas File--  In my Family-Christmas File, I made sure I had a copy of my Christmas Card labels, the traditional recipes we use, my Merry Moss-mas labels, 12 days of Christmas labels, my Christmas songbook, etc.  So, next year I will be able to easily find everything I need.  I also copy any online ideas I see into this file for remembering.

4. Wrapping Paper-- I had 2 wrapping paper Tupperware under my bed.  One holds just the rolls and one holds bags and bows and tissue paper.  I sorted and donated ALL my old rolls of half-used Christmas paper to Goodwill.  Honestly, I hate mis-matched cheap paper.  I got rid of ALL the holiday bags I didn't use this year and probably never will.  I got rid of lots.  And, it feels SO good.  I decided I like the Sterilite rolling container better- it holds bags and paper.  Why haven't I cleaned out my wrapping paper boxes more often?
I did NOT use my Rubbermaid wrap and craft.  It's a bit big and not all that useful.
I LOVE my Sterilite under the bed container.  I also use these to store old VHS videos under my bed.
to Goodwill... i even taped them closed and put them into a bag neatly for them.
5.  Empty Container SORT--  So, my house was all decorated and I still had Tupperware full of Christmas decorations.  Umm, if I didn't use them, why do I keep them?  Well, some I still kept because I'm sentimental.  But, I did empty ALL my boxes, wiped them down, got rid of MOST the unused stuff and determined what boxes I wanted to keep and what boxes I wanted to get rid of.  I decided I wanted to try to get rid of two big clear Tupperware and use only the RED ones that I had.

6.  Collect and Pack--  I gathered a piece of paper, a pencil, a pack of bubble wrap i found when cleaning my wrapping paper (but, newspaper or even Wal-mart bags and Ziploc would work), scissors, and tape.  Then, I grabbed all the decorations from around my house (tree was last).  I wrapped, packed and jotted down what I put in each box.  I really tried to have a pile for Goodwill.  When I did my tree MOST of my decorations I just packed into a large Ziploc inside my big Tupperware box.  A few more breakable ornaments I packed separately.  Oh, my boxes are snug and orderly.

7.  Label, Label, Label--  When my boxes were packed, I took my scratch paper to my computer and printed out my Avery Christmas Labels.  I put a wreath on them just so I would know they were all Christmas.  I printed 2 of each label-- so that 2 sides of my boxes have labels on them.  And, I stuck the labels on the boxes.  NOTE- I still need to buy clear packing tape to put over them so they don't fall off in our attic or our move.
Can I tell you how satisfying it is to label a box? 
Here us a link to the labels I used.  (They are nothing great.)
I think you can import them into your own Microsoft Office and edit them.

8. Room to Grow--  I left one box with some room in it.  I do like to hit the after Christmas Clearance sales.
This is what I like to look for--
Bags or containers for 12 days of Christmas next year. 
Paper and stickers for our Christmas Card letter. 
Hobby Lobby Wrapping Paper (black and white or red and white). 
World Market has GREAT old fashioned ornaments they mark way down. 
And Target has 75-90% clearance by the end of the week. 
I need another snowflake stocking holder for baby #7. 
If we were in a real house, with money, I would be buying some new house lights (ours were hung, but they NEVER worked.)
One thing I've learned--
Even if it normally cost $100 and is marked down to $1. 
And, If i LOVE, LOVE it (and I have the money) then I should get it. 
Because I will still LOVE, LOVE it years from now.
One LOVED item that may be a bit more expensive is better than 10 cheapo clearance items that I don't love.  (But, LOVE a cheapo clearance item and then you are win-win!!)
And such is my "room to grow" box... and my dreams of what may fill it someday.

Taking an extra moment to finish up...
Trash to the TRASH and Goodwill to my car trunk.

There is JOY in really ORDERING.
Every year i endure Christmas Clean-up... this year I owned it.

You know how people say, "Being a mother is such a thankless job.  You take your kids grocery shopping, and it's hard, and you get no reward."
Well, I don't believe that is true.  The times when I go to the grocery store, with a list, and a goal of buying healthy food.  When I sing cute songs with my toddlers, or teach them to count while we're shopping, or take a moment to teach them to be more mannerly and helpful and well-behaved at the store.  When I buy tons of groceries, come home, and put them away-- I feel AMAZING. 
There is a spiritual reward that comes when you know you've done your best. 
Even if no one is around to pat you on the back.

And, that is how I feel tonight.
I didn't just ENDURE Christmas Clean-up...
I really used my brain and ORDERED some small part of my home.
And, it wasn't just a job... it was a pleasure.

Tomorrow-- Guess what I'm doing?
Yup-- ALL of my holiday decorations.
I went up in my attic when I finished my Christmas stuff and pulled down Valentine's Day, Easter, 4th of July, and Thanksgiving/Halloween.
Tomorrow I'm going to sort, purge and label.
I'm so excited.

This is my attic... all waiting to be sorted, purged and labeled!
Actually, if the truth be told... I went into the attic, with my pencil and scrap paper and did an inventory.
I pulled down EVERYTHING that needed to be sorted/purged/labeled.
All that's left is some canning jars, some baby equipment and suitcases.
It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. 
Really, I'm going to get my whole house in order and I'm not going to die doing it!
(Well, I did ALMOST die... my husband and oldest are on a winter camp out... so it was PREGNANT me and my little kids balancing boxes down from the attic.)

Have I told you that ORDERING my HOME makes me feel POWERFUL?!!

Questions Answered--
What kind of boxes do I use?
I am a Tupperware (ie. plastic box) freak... 
Actually, I'm a Wal-mart Sterlite freak. 
Clear with White Lids.
Except for my Christmas ones... those are RED.
For my big Christmas stuff I have 2 Rubbermaid Big boxes.
And I have 3 smaller, flatter boxes.
I do have one box of Christmas decorations... this box hold my Willow Tree stuff that comes in boxes, and other squarish containers that don't pack well into the rounded edge Tupperare.

For kids toys I LOVE the big boxes with lids attached... the lids open in the middle. 
Melissa from 320 Sycamore likes these...
november 2010 029 1
My favorite thing to do is find something that I need to store, write it down, and SHOP around for cute storage options.
But, I don't often have the money to do this.  Luckily I have two shelves full of empty Tupperware in my garage-- because I move stuff around a lot.  So, most of the time I'm shopping my garage and using what I have.
I hardly EVER use a regular cardboard box for things I'm going to use- like toys, kid clothes, decorations, etc.
The only boxes I have in my attic are 5 boxes labeled BOOKS- Keep.  These are from the professor.
I was tempted to take them to Goodwill while he's gone... but they're too heavy for me to lift.

bloggy love.

i don't think i have ever referred people to some one's blog before.
although i love a lot of blogs...
but, Heather and I have been friends for a long time.  :)  blog friends.
people have told me i would love her blog.
but, i think it has always been private.
and, I'm a social weirdo who has issues requesting permission to view some one's private blog.

anyway.  it's not private.
and, it's BEAUTIFUL.
Heather has amazing quotes and images and just looking at her blog makes you smile.

so, go check it out-- here is the link!!  Seriously!
(i'm sure she loves me copying all her images!! don't you love them?!)

moments i love.

i was productive today.
my kids did their chores, played with each other, played outside, and started the BBR-- "Beautiful Biker Riders" Club with our neighbors down the street.
we ate dinner- baked potatoes and leftover ham.
i cleaned up.
i folded and switched some laundry.
and, my sweet kids spent the evening reading.

i LOVE nights like this.
i LOVE my kids.
life is good.
ps.  the professor took my jakob on his FIRST winter campout.
i hope he isn't too cold tonight!!

December 27, 2010

House of Order- tips on LABELS

ready, set, go!
2011 is almost here and i can hardly wait to get started organizing!!

A House of Order- is my effort to create a more ordered home.
I am pregnant with my SEVENTH child.
I am trying to sell my house.
I am moving into a rental until we find our new home.
This year has got to be a super organized year for me.
I am already a fairly organized person.  But, I'm taking things to a different level.
Want to organize with me? 
Blog about your more ordered home and leave me a comment with your blog link.
It's so much more fun to clean with a friend!

First thing on my brain... LABELS.
i have a place for many things... but i am the only person who knows where this place is.
With lots of transitions- changing seasons, moving, rental first then house... i believe labels are going to save me.
I spent the day researching...
label makers like this

And planning my attack on closets, cabinets, shelves, holiday decor and the stuff in my attic.
soon, my life will be a bit more... labeled!! 
just you wait and see.
My super organized friend gave me a few tips FOR GOOD LABELS..
1.  Label BOTH front and back of your boxes.
2.  Cover your labels with clear packing tape.
3.  Just pick a room, write down the labels you need and print them out on your printer.
4.  For younger children, use pictures.
Here are some examples she emailed me...

Here's a link to cute spice jar labels...

I also found these LABELS FOR KIDS CLOTHES online.

Tomorrow I'm putting away Christmas... 
I'll keep you updated on the extra organization things I'm doing as I put stuff away!

December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010!

oh what fun!! 
i hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!!
if i wasn't REALLY excited for March to come, I'd be OK to REPEAT December.
i really LOVE december...
but here's to a happy 2011!!
(see you then!)
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