About Common To Moms

There are many common life experiences we share as women, and sometimes life is less than glorious. That’s when we need a little inspiration to get us through the day. Welcome to Common to Moms, where we find motivation for meaningful living on our every-day journey as women, wives and mothers.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gettin' Creative

Thank you to Brittany and Lindsay for weighing in on my "playroom dilemma" where I outlined the problems I am having with storing the guest room furniture to make way for a new play space. After reading their comments and talking with the hubby a little, I have re-worked a few ideas.

First, I realize that by leaving the bed in the room I could probably do without a changing table since I could do diaper changes on the bed. This would be especially great since I don't actually have an extra changing table. :) By reorienting the bed, we can (hopefully) still have enough floor space for substantial play area.

Second, there is plenty of room under the bed for toy storage. Pull the toys out for play, and put them away where they can't be seen or gotten to easily without help from an adult. Perfect to keep little ones from ransacking the room without my knowledge. :)

Third, those DIY pillows I like will have plenty of "storage" on the bed. Great for cuddling on the bed while reading books or pulled down onto the floor.

As for the heirloom end tables, my husband assures me they will safely survive in the attic despite the temperature range. They will be safe while I use an old nightstand from my child hood that will stand up better to kid use. (It can also be repainted to a fun color!)

By pulling a bookshelf into the room from another part of the house, I will have room for books and more toy storage. I will also be keeping the chest of drawers that is in the room already to use for storage, but like the nightstand, I am hoping to give it a makeover one day also.

By this point, if you are anything like me, you are needing some sort of visual to really understand what I'm talking about, so here is my not-to-scale-at-all creation of the future playroom in Publisher. :)




Update: I should add that the top door is the doorway to the room, the bottom one is the closet door.

So basically you can see the art area clearly defined, reading could be near the bookshelf or on the bed and the middle of the floor would be the main play area. I haven't added the nightstand yet, but I'm pretty sure you can guess where that would go. Also, the hubby pointed out that if we really wanted to, we could move the bed when guests come to give guests access to both sides of the bed. This would make the room really feel more like a guest room than a playroom to them, but we can always move it back when they leave. How smart is he?!

Anyway, with the new furniture arrangement only the rocking chair and the hope chest are left needing a new home.

There is an old wooden vanity in our bedroom that I have been thinking about using as an art table/storage space for the play room. If I did that, there is the the potential to swap the hope chest for the vanity- although that would create a new storage/mirror dilemma in my bedroom. (Don't worry, I would detach the mirror from the vanity for play room use.) Then only the rocking chair would need a home, and as a bonus, I wouldn't have to spend money on a new table for the play room! Although it's not hard to find a short table at Goodwill for under $5 to use for art purposes... and I would still need chairs.

I guess the point of this now-slightly-rambling-post is that I am having a little bit of success thinking of some creative solutions to my dilemma. While the "art area" still remains undefined in my plan, I am looking forward to moving ahead with the playroom concept instead of letting old hang-ups slow me down!

Hopefully this means I will have an updated post for you soon- maybe with a picture of some furniture moved around! In the meantime, the suggestion box is still open- feel free to offer suggestions on the original post or on this one.

Thanks for contributing your thoughts!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Continue On

After four weeks of implementing and tracking habits, I have seen a little effort make enough of a difference to be encouraged. In the past, it has seemed daunting to try to "start small"- there are so many things in my life that really need changing. Just knowing that though, never made any difference. My refusal to fix one thing at a time meant that I fixed nothing at all, so in spite of all my awareness of things that were wrong in my life, nothing ever changed...

Until last month. Last month, I worked to do laundry, take a shower, and do a chore around the house every day. Then even when I didn't, it didn't matter, I just waited for the next day and jumped in again. I reviewed how I did each week and resolved that this week I would do better, and I did. By the end of four weeks, not only do I have some more habits (or almost habits), but my thinking is changed. I notice what laundry needs to be done or finished now (instead of just accepting the mounds of it as part of the scenery). I can tell more clearly what things in my life hold me back from productivity and true change (tiredness from lack of sleep is a big one).

One surprise I didn't bargain for though, is a craving to do it again. I want to re-create this system all over. I can see in sharp focus now, what things will be most beneficial to my life and I want a plan of action to implement them.

Since blogging about my attempts to change was more successful than anything else I've tried, I think it would be a good idea to do it again.

Will you continue on with me and keep me accountable to form some new habits? Will you keep cheering me on? .....

I'm going to assume your answer is a 'yes'... :)

So here is what I'm attempting to tackle this time.

Showering is already a habit- whoot!

Laundry is something I need to nail down, so I'm going for it again with gusto.

While doing my chore of choice, I realized that the biggest things that contribute time consuming mess to my house are laundry and dirty dishes. Washing dishes every day will keep my house looking much better!

Since fatigue is my biggest sabotaging influence for how well I do in life in general, going to bed at 10:30 6 nights out of 7 is going to be my truly new habit to try to implement- and one of the most important ones. (I am a night owl, so I will have fun giving myself one night of wiggle room :) )

My last habit is going to be one that is most frustrating to other people. I guess you would call it following through. You know when you get an email or a phone call, but you don't feel like you have the time/energy to respond? Then a day goes by and you forget... and then you get distracted, suddenly remember and then forget, and forget ... and well, you get the picture. My new goal is to spend 15 minutes every day following through with those types of things. Calling people that need to be called. Getting things ready to send at the post office. Making a deposit slip. Instead of letting those things build up, I'm going to see what's on my list and face it... I hope! :)

In addition to my daily habits, I have been working on a weekly task. You know, the whole clutter clearing thing. I can already see a difference in my living room, and I am getting excited to look ahead at next week's clutter spot to clear (who'd-uh-thunk-it?). So I think now is the time to add another weekly task to my routine, and I know exactly which one I want it to be. Vacuuming. I am only a sporadic vacuum-er, but with white carpet and my allergies to dust, it could really use a good once over every week.

So there it is- my four old & new habits to work on and one weekly task: Laundry, Dishes, Bed @ 10:30pm, 15 minutes of "follow through" (for lack of a better term), and weekly vacuuming.

I can't wait to start sharing with you how these things go!
Who gets excited to blog about adding new cleaning habits to their life? Apparently, I do! :)

Love,
Rachel

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Tile Table

Well, for this week of clutter clearing I only have one picture for you. Blame it on the hubby, I felt rushed to do it (he wanted some of the stuff in this spot to be put in the attic ASAP), so I forgot to take pics... until afterward. But before I show you the stunning "after", let me try to remember what was on this table before.
  • A huge plastic tub (or tote if you prefer to call it that) full of ballet leotards, tights and shoes from days gone by.
  • A basket of bibs for M
  • Mail
  • Trash
  • Things to give back to people that we borrowed

The first thing I did was put away all of the mis-placed items. We have a place for "things to return to people" so I put them there. We have a place for mail, so that got taken care of right away. After throwing some things in the trash all that was left was sorting through the big plastic bin of ballet clothes. I need some to use when I teach ballet this fall, but not all of them fit. So I sorted through the bin pulling out leotards, tights, a skirt and "teacher shoes", then back to the attic everything else went! So here is the after! :)



The only thing that remains on that table is the basket of bibs for Melody. She is free to play with the bibs and the basket at anytime, and there really isn't a place for the bibs in the dining room so it just works here. Otherwise there would be nothing on this space. The table is totally in reach of kids, so unless we are okay with it being broken or ripped it just can't be set on top of it!

Behind the table is a baby seat I use for child care. It gets stored there when the little baby is not around and when she is, I can easily pull it out to let her sit in.

So there it is, week #4 of clearing clutter! My living room is looking nicer and nicer. :)

What clutter have you been clearing?

Love, Rachel

PS- I just heard paper-ripping sounds coming from the living room. When I checked on M, she was ripping to pieces some coupons/ads I sat on the table I mentioned. (Fortunately they were basically junk mail.) This proves my point about not being able to leave much there. Haha! This is real life! :)

Forming New Habits #4

Today, I am checking in with my 4th week of working on new habits! Let's not have a lot of fanfare/chit-chat first, let's just see how it went, shall we? :)



Successes:

  • The shower habit did not deteriorate in spite of being sick last week. It stayed pretty strong.
  • I at least got started working on my "chore of choice" 5 times this week (and 4 times last week). This means, I have done more chores every week since I started!
  • 5 days of doing laundry means lots of laundry is caught up! Just to clarify the "I" usually mean that I washed and dried, but I didn't necessarily fold and put away. Then one day for my "chore" I actually folded and put away ALL the crazy laundry. :)
  • There were 4 days that I actually accomplished all the habits I was working on in one day (and only 2 times I did that last week). My ability to do that has gotten stronger and stronger!

Other items of interest:

  • I must have been worn out because I did not prep for the next day the night before at all this week! I definitely got up a little earlier on days that I needed to be somewhere, so it all worked out. Overall, I kind of tanked on this habit this week.

So here are the results from the entire 28 days!


  1. Showering- I did this habit 25 out of 28 days! I would say this is officially a habit now.
  2. Laundry- I did this habit (in some capacity) 15 out of 28 days! This habit still needs some work, but it is definitely an improvement.
  3. Do one chore of my choice- I did this habit in some capacity 14 out of 28 days. Again, this is better than it used to be, but still not a true habit.
  4. Being prepared the night before- The results for this one are a little strange since I didn't need to do it every day. The final tally is 5 out of 8 days. In spite of not getting ready the night before some days, I don't think I have a problem doing things that are "externally motivating", it's things that no one sees me do that are the real problem. So I have come to the conclusion that this area probably needs less attention than I thought it did- in spite of the numbers.
Overall, I am totally proud of myself for sticking with the effort and the tracking of these four new habits- even if they aren't all habits quite yet. I am definitely better off than if I had never tried. My laundry pile is almost gone, my living room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom can be "presentable" in 20 or 30 minutes (most of that time would be taming the dishes, haha!), and it just feels good to have made it to the finish line of the 28 day mark!

Thanks for joining me in this! I can't express how much of a difference it has made to have a few friends reading along and even sometimes offering words of encouragement.

There you have it, folks! The results of my attempts at forming new habits!

How are you doing with yours?

Love, Rachel

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Playroom Dilemma

I have been putting off creating a playroom since before I wrote this post! The birthday money mentioned there has long since been spent (I wound up using it for an "eating out" stash of $$, a few new clothes and some organizational things for my house). Why do I continue to procrastinate about getting started with this project?

A quick phone call with my sister this morning helped me figure out my inertia when it comes to the playroom. (I am a verbal processor.) In our guest room is a full size bed and frame, a hope chest, two end tables and a rocking chair- all of which are heirlooms from family members that mean a lot to me. We have a large shed for storage but it is not climate controlled and not entirely sealed off (which means sometimes little critters get into it- not to mention bugs and spiders, ick!) so you can see why I would not want to put our precious items into storage there!

Our attic is also not climate controlled or accessible to anything but boxes for storage (large furniture pieces won't fit up the drop down access to it). Loaning it out is also difficult to think about since these are family heirlooms that I desperately want to keep in good condition. I've thought about our parents' houses, but they are stuffed to the gills with nostalgic clutter themselves.

Then there are storage units. I have always disliked the idea of being the type of person who has a storage unit, paying someone to hold stuff that might not be in use for years to come. But what do you do when you sincerely want to hold on to that stuff for your children when they are older (as in they could use the bed, hope chest etc while they live at home), but you don't have space for it now?

I sincerely don't know the answer to this question. However, figuring it out is important to the next step of creating a play space for Melody and other kids that play at our house.

Hmmmm... off to think about creative solutions.

Any dilemmas you are trying to solve in your homes?

Love, Rachel


Monday, August 22, 2011

Playroom: Idea Stage

In the last week or so, I have mentioned that there might be some plans and ideas for a playroom coming soon. Today is the day for me to share with you all the fun things I have rolling around in my head for this project!

This is my first attempt at making an inspiration board, so if it looks a little amateur-ish... well, that's because it is. :)




Here is the break down of what you see pictured.

1. This fitted sheet from Target in "menagerie" served as inspiration for the room. The animals are too cute, and I loved the fact that it is gender neutral.

2. After lots of looking at paint colors and ideas on line, I think I have finally decided on orange stripes to go around the room. I also have this idea that if the play room ever needs to be Melody's bedroom or a shared girls rooms, then I will re-paint the orange stripes to be lavender. Along with the orange stripes there will be accents of blue, green and brown (as found in my inspiration sheet).

3. These are my ideas for an art corner in the room. A little table and chairs, some kind of chalk board (possibly painted on the wall or made out of a mirror) and a clever way to hang art work.

4. I found a wooden rocking horse a lot like this one at Goodwill a few months ago for $5.00!

5. This animal print goes perfectly with my jungle room themed play room!

6. DIY pillow mattress and round pillows would make great kid seating in a reading nook.

7. How cute is this DIY crayon art? Here is a tutorial about how to make it.

8. A changing table is a necessity with so many diapers to change! (Twice a week I keep 4 kids at my house- 3 of which are in diapers.)

Right now everything about having a playroom is in the idea stage since the future playroom is currently a guest room. And there are still lots of details to work out before I can begin work on this project. However, I will be sure to share the progress with you as I go along!

So what about you? Is there a room in your house you are just dying to make over?

There are a few in my house I can't wait to get my hands on. :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Forming New Habits #3

Week #3 is now complete!

Now, I know for certain that I have never tracked ANY habit for 21 days. And I will hint that week #4 is still going strong- so look out for the grand finale soon! Blogging is really helping me to stay focused on this, and I have to say it feels good!

So here is the chart for week 3. Get ready for a few surprises!


Successes:
  • This week I got a little more serious about doing my "chore of choice". Last week I only chose a chore to do twice. As you can see, I at least started working on a chore four times.
  • I also started to do laundry five times as opposed to four times last week. I mentioned last week that I realized it would take concerted effort to make these things happen, and the number of times I did these two chores I think shows that I took myself a little more seriously.
  • I also prepped for the next day all the times that I needed to this week.

Things that are the same:
  • The number of days I did both a chore of choice and a load of laundry on the same day was the same (2 days).

Items of significance:
  • I got sick this week. I added it in the chart so you could see how it affected me. I usually never shower when I am sick since illness usually depletes my energy level a lot. Unfortunately though, it almost knocked me off my course with that habit... Almost, but not quite.

I am loving tracking these habits to see how I am doing. And believe it or not, these habits are actually making a difference in my life. The dirty laundry pile in our laundry room/office is slowly diminishing (I should have taken a before and after picture) and we are having clean dishes more often. I am feeling less like a bum around my house, and it feels so good to have taken a serious step toward change.

Can't wait to give the final results about the habits I've formed next week!

Has anyone tried adding a new habit to their lives? How is it going?

Love, Rachel



Saturday, August 20, 2011

Birthday Randomness

Melody's first birthday was almost 6 months ago, in March. Here are some quirky facts for you.

  • I was due to be born on March 24th, but I came on March 28th.
  • Christian and I got married on March 24th- my due date and the week-end before my birthday. (We knew we wanted to get married in March and that was the only date that the church and reception area were both available.)
  • Melody was born on my due date and our 3rd anniversary- March 24th.

March is a busy month for us!

Would you kill your mom if you shared a birthday with her and she made you dress like this?



I think I will try to keep doing this until she is about 5. I wonder if one day, the fact that we shared a birthday party and wore matching shirts announcing our ages will make her feel bonded to me or embarrassed by me? Or maybe a little of both?

Do you have any random embarrassing birthday memories from your childhood?

Hope you enjoyed a little birthday randomness. :)

Love, Rachel

Friday, August 19, 2011

Behind Door #1

This week I cleared some clutter behind this door.

(By the way, welcome to Melody's nursery if you haven't seen it before. )

Are you ready for what's behind door #1? (I am assuming there will be much more closet clutter clearing in the future, so this is just the first one.) I feel like there should be horror movie music in the background for this one.


Doesn't it just look unsafe for Melody to be standing there?

Here's a close-up of the clutter.


This week it was time to pack away all of Melody's 12 month clothes. I know that it looks like mad-chaos in that closet, but there is some method to the madness.

In this bag, I throw in clothes as they become too small for Melody to wear. Eventually, the bag does begin to overflow.


I brought my box to put the 12 month clothing in...

Then I began to use my now tried and true method of sorting like items together. Dresses, jackets, pants, shirts, pj's, etc.


At some point I realized one box wouldn't be enough.

Enter box #2.

I closed up box #1 and marked it with a Sharpie and decided to leave box #2 open in case we find any stray 12 month sized items to add to it. (PS - not sure why Blogger is rotating my picture?!)


The surprise was that in the bottom of the closet, I found this!

So I taped up that box and labeled it, and I wound up with two boxes to go in the attic.

Now there is room in the closet to add these bags of clothes that are too big for Melody right now. (Yay hand me downs!) And the bag is put back ready for me to throw in 18 month clothes as she outgrows them.


One more spot down.

How is your clutter clearing going? Did you notice I was late with my cleaning my clutter spot this week? Oh well, I am still glad that I did it!

Love, Rachel

Thursday, August 18, 2011

House List and Recharging My Batteries

After a long day of watching kiddos, I came home tonight and put my baby in bed, then sat down to do some reading of blogs... which led to writing a post... which led to some browsing on pinterest... which led to some creative flow... and before you now it, the good ole' proverbial batteries are being re-charged!

The timing is off since it is already about 10:30 pm, but I can't help but get excited about the ever growing list of new ideas in my head for things to spruce up this house. After feeling more motivated than ever about caring for our home, here are some ideas (besides getting the place clean) I hope to get to somewhat soon.

A Wreath on the Front Door- I was walking down the street the other day with Melody and noticed a beautiful wreath on the front door of one of the neighbor's houses. I have never been a fan of wreaths- but I liked this one. It inspired me to check out pinterest and see what it would take to DIY one. I think this might be a good holiday project.



A Mirror in the Kitchen- I love this idea from YHL to use a mirror as a dry-erase board. We make so many lists on a tiny calendar dry-erase board on our fridge: grocery lists, honey-do lists, things not to forget lists, what we are eating for dinner lists. I would love to have one big fancy shmancy mirror in our kitchen that we can just write all over!



A Functional Playroom- More on that coming soon!

A New Bathroom Shower Curtain- is this self-explanatory? I really dislike the one we have now. It makes me feel like it's a kids bathroom. I will not even show you a picture.

Fix the Bathroom Ceiling- we were gifted money for this. There is no reason not to call someone in to help us with our paint issue.

Find Cute Bathroom Art- I never know what kind of art should go in the bathroom. I have not yet met a bathroom photo or artwork that I have really loved. It is just an awkward place to have art. Any suggestions? (The pic below made me laugh- but isn't really my cup of tea for in a bathroom either.)


Paint Some Rooms- I have fully decided on the paint colors (or least the general shades) for every room in our house now. What is keeping me from picking some paint swatches, buying some cans of paint and going to it? (Maybe the messy house thing?) Really though, I need to conquer the messy house thing and get to it!

Well, there it is... my "to-do" list of sorts- my ideas for new things to work on in our home. Some are large, some are small. I will be sure to refer back to these list as I make an attempt to take on some of these projects one by one.

What things have you been inspired to do around your home these days?

Love, Rachel

Motivation

I read this post by Katie Bower after Melody went to bed tonight.

After reading it, I am so inspired to care more about our home. I know there are lots of things I don't love about our house, but this is going to be Melody's home for quite awhile (and mine and my husband's). How do I want her to remember it? Hodge-podge? Always messy?

Definitely not. I want her to remember that it was small, but it was clean and beautiful. That we had enough room to be a family in it.

Katie's post makes me want to go buy a can of paint. And finish (start?) a few more projects. And wash the dishes. I'm not feeling inspired to care for our home because it's the home that matters. I am totally with KB that our place in this world is temporary- and so are our homes. But mothers do create the atmosphere in their homes. They make it joyful or stressful, content or agitated, orderly or chaotic. Sometimes I forget that I have that influence in my home. Actually, I often forget that I have that influence.

I realize now that I have been avoiding the difficult projects in our home. While I have painted the living room, hung pictures in our bedroom, made Melody's room adorable, I have avoided the difficult things altogether (like dealing with metal cabinets in the kitchen or the bathroom with the teal porcelain tub and toilet). There is no art or photos in the rooms that I don't like, no paint on the walls. It's possible that I am in denial that these "ugly" rooms are part of our house.

Not anymore. I am going to tackle them a little at a time. I'm going to do what I can with what little we have and try to love our home more. Because it is our home. It's what Melody is going to remember. My efforts can only serve as a blessing to my family, myself and those we love by opening our doors to them.

Here's to choosing to see our home as a blessing- not a chore,
Rachel

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Playroom in the Making?

In our house we have three bedrooms, and I have been giving a lot of thought lately to how they are used. Currently one is the master bedroom, one is Melody's and one is a guest room, but I have been wondering if that is the best use for them. We love having guests have their own special place when they come to visit, but that means our third bedroom is empty most of the time. Our living room is also fairly small, plus we do everything there except eat and sleep, so as time passes I am sure that room is getting smaller (cabin fever anyone?)- not to mention it's getting overrun by toys. My solution? I have been thinking about changing the guest room into a playroom.

There are lots of benefits to having a playroom to me.

1. Kids bedrooms stay uncluttered by toys. (I love the idea that bedrooms are just for sleeping.)
2. Toys all live in one place.
3. I keep children in my home part time, so having an extra room to play in would be nice.
4. Our guest room connects to our office, so M loves to play in there if I have work to do in the office. Currently, there is nothing for her to do in there except run around the bed.

So here is the break down of the switcheroo I am thinking about doing in our house.

The first row is our rooms and their functions now. The second row is what their functions would be with a playroom.

My plan for guests would be to have a spare air mattress (one of those really tall ones maybe?) to blow up in the play room, so that guests would still have their own space when they came to stay with us.

I have also been thinking about how this arrangement would work if we introduced a second child into our family. (We aren't "trying" or anything yet, we've just started thinking about it.) When I think about 2 babies, I love the idea them sharing one room for sleeping and having an extra bedroom be a play area. I know it is hard to have a baby that doesn't sleep through the night yet share a room with a toddler who does, so I have also been thinking about a "transition" plan for that too. This plan would require keeping another crib (we have a 2nd one) or pack-n-play in the play room and a bassinet or pack-n-play in the master bedroom.



*STTN= sleeping through the night

So those are my thoughts on how to best use the bedroom space in our house. Have I confused you yet? Lost you in boring details? Anyone relate that this is what moms who want more babies think about- how to logistically give your kids more room to play and room to sleep in your small home? :)

Look out for more about the playroom soon!

Love, Rachel


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Forming New Habits Cont'd

Week #2 of working on my four new habits is complete. For two weeks now I have been attempting to do one load of laundry, one chore around the house, take a shower and prepare for the next day the night before every day. Then I am posting how well I did publicly to keep myself on track and accountable. I think that tracking the same habits for more than two weeks may possibly be a record for me. So here is how week #2 has gone.

After reviewing the chart last week and realizing it didn't quite tell the complete story, I decided to add a couple of things to this one. First, I marked any thing I started to do but didn't finish with an "I" for incomplete. Finishing things can be hard for me, so I thought it would help me evaluate how things are going by recording when I tried to start something but didn't complete it. Also, I realized that there are many nights (at least currently) where I don't necessarily need to do anything to get ready for the next day. Instead of looking like I just wasn't doing that habit at all, I added "n/a" to show when it was not needed.

Now, I am able to truly tell when I really fell off the band-wagon with a habit. Here's how this week compares with last week.

Successes: I am still showering every day. By the end of 28 days, I am pretty sure this will be a habit.

Things that are the same: Apparently, I did about the same amount of laundry/other chores from last week to this week. At the beginning of week 2 I had very strong intentions of doing better, but obviously it didn't turn out that way.

Items of significance: See Day #13 there? Notice that I did everything? That day was a turning point for me. Although this may seem obvious, I realized that this was going to take effort to accomplish every day, and since I am serious about wanting to implement change then serious effort is what I should be giving. Hopefully, this realization means that you will get to see a difference on next week's chart. Notice that on Day #14 I was burnt out a little. I actually did so much work around the house the day before plus business work, etc that I had no energy left the next day. I went to bed early that night and felt much better on day #15, which you will read about next week!

Thank you for your support while I work on these habits! I feel very blessed to have a little cheering section in the blog world. :)

Love, Rachel

Have you tried starting any new habits lately?


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Update: Summer List

Remember my idea to create a summer list of all the fun things we should do? I thought I would give you a little update about how it's going. Everything in black is something we have accomplished.

* Try new a new food every Wednesday * Blow Bubbles * Read a book every day * Family Picture Day * Play dates * Shoe lace lids * Dance to music * Watch Ballet * Throw Balls in Baskets * Library * Go swimming * Visit Nana & Papa John * Have Grammy & Papaw come visit * Do a "mommy" activity every week * Eat an ice cream cone *


Melody prefers chocolate ice cream.

We've done a little more than half of the things on our list so far! Some things we have "almost" done. For example, Melody has tried new foods (she loves eggs!), but not necessarily every Wednesday. And we don't yet have many balls to play with to throw in baskets, and we have danced and listened to music, but I'm not sure if we've done it at the same time. We did take a family picture recently, but Dad was not exactly ready for it (he had just come in from a run), so I don't really think it counts. (But it is cute.)


Two things that are really important to me on this list are taking a family picture (or several) and doing something fun for myself each week and bringing Melody along. I know the second thing sounds a little self-centered, but really I think making myself put Melody in a car to take her to do something fun just keeps me from staying at home too much. It's just too easy to stay at home and not go anywhere since it's more inconvenient to go out. So really, I think that is about making me still "try" by looking nice and getting out of the house for something enjoyable. I want to be the type of Mom who has things she likes to do, so that a little girl has a mom she looks up to and knows that her mom has interests too.

Some special times we have had so far this summer are all the visits/visiting we have done with family, our trip to the pool last Friday, our stay-cation, and playing in our inflatable kiddie pool in the backyard. And I have loved having so much Melody and Mommy time. It has been a sweet summer.

What special things have you done this summer with your kids? As a family?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Clearing the Clutter: The TV

Here we are at week 2 of clearing clutter! This week was a little bit difficult in the sense that there are SO many clutter spots for me to choose from. Last week, I chose the spot to the left of my couch in the living room. This week, I worked on the spot to the right of my couch.

So here it is, the TV and TV stand that tends to be where I put a lot of random things.


This is one of those spots that Fly Lady would call a "hot spot". It's a place that even though I clean it, I tend to put things down on it whenever I pass by. I'm not sure how to break myself of that habit, but hopefully working up to a living room without clutter will help.

Here's what I did.

Step 1. I organized things into piles, putting like items together.

On the left are items to be put away. On the right are DVD's to make sure they are in the right cases and then put away.



On the left of this picture is a stack of papers to sort through (some to throw away, some to put away) and to the right are some random things for my husband to put away. (The little cardboard box looked like something of his, and I wasn't sure what to do with it.)
Step 2. I put away misplaced items, put away DVD's and sorted through papers.

Step 3. I put back only the items I thought "fit" on the TV stand.
Those items being: tissues, Gilmore Girls box set that is borrowed (don't want to put it away and forget that I have it), our current Netflix movie and the TV remote.

The whole area could use a good dusting/vacuuming, but at least the clutter is cleared!

2 spots down!

What spot are you going to de-clutter this week? If you blog about it, be sure to leave a comment and a link!

Happy Clutter Clearing!

Love, Rachel

Friday, August 5, 2011

Primers and Make-up

I am laughing already as I write this post. I know I shouldn't be- I am a beauty consultant after all, but if you knew me (which a lot of you do), you would know that if I don't have to be anywhere I tend to stay in my pajamas a lot. And with the exception of my new habit, I don't even shower during the day unless I am going out in public! Do you see why I am laughing a little to myself now? :)

All that being said, I had the idea in the shower today (see, I am still doing it every day!) to share some of my favorite beauty products/tips. First, let me say I will link you to the products I use. Yes, you can purchase them, but no that is not the point of this post. My point is to share with you what I do in my "beauty routine", in hopes that you might find something awesome for yourself too! You can use any brand you like and it won't hurt my feelings. :) Make-up is a hot topic for most women, after all- so let's talk about it!

Here we go... :)

Have you ever heard of primer? No, I'm not talking about priming before painting the interiors of your home, I am talking about primer for your make-up. This is my number one, absolute favorite product to use. When I discovered it 8 years ago, I was in love. Primer is amazing. Just like primer for your walls, it helps your make-up to go on smoother and stay on longer. Women are notoriously busy, so who really has time to re-apply? And if you do have time, who wants to use it staring at yourself in the mirror? Not this girl!

While it may take an extra few seconds to apply this while putting on make-up, you are definitely saving time in the long run. And you are saving face. Since your face stays looking nicer for longer. So here is the break down of primers that I love to use.

Eye Primer-
This was the first make-up primer I ever discovered. Like I said, I have used it every time I have put on eye shadow for eight years. Does your eye shadow ever crease and wear off? Mine did constantly until I discovered this. It keeps your color from creasing and it keeps it lasting longer. Brilliant.

Oh, and recently I have been using primer and and a cream eye color in one. So easy.

Lip Primer-
Can you guess what this lip primer does? Keeps lipstick on longer! It also keeps the lipstick from traveling up the age lines around your lips (I don't have that problem yet, but I have met people that do.) And oh my goodness, this lip primer is also anti-aging. Who doesn't want to have young looking lips as long as possible? As I long as I am kissing my husband, I will take that please. :)
Side note: Another trick to making lipstick last longer is to use lip liner of a similar shade to your lipstick and fill in your lips with your liner instead of just lining the edges. I do usually reserve this look for some Sundays, special occasions or dates with the hubby.

Foundation primer-
This is the newest primer that I have started using, and oh. my. goodness. Thank you. My mineral powder lasts so much longer now! Applying foundation primer creates a smooth canvas to start, then acts as a magnet to keep foundation on longer. A bonus- it feels like silk.

So there is a little of my "primer love" for you! And there will be more "beauty" posts, I am sure. Ones that scratch the surface and ones that go a little deeper. :)

Have you ever heard of or used a primer? What type do you love?

Love, Rachel

Whole

Go.

Whole. Complete. Who is? Not me. To be whole is to be joy. Incomplete is sadness, loneliness. There is a being that is Whole. A creator. Oh the Creator of this universe! I cannot even comprehend "wholeness" since to be Whole is something I am not, and the God who is whole is so much bigger than my capacity to understand Him! I keep thinking of the universe- the stars, the galaxies- as a picture of His wholeness. There is beauty and form and thoughtful intention in the grandeur of His creation and in the minute details; the dust, the dirt and the atoms that make us up. We are creation. We are a part of His whole. Only by God's grace do we have an understanding of Him and how full He has made all things that are living to be.

Stop.

Oh Geeze. Those thoughts were so beautiful in my head- there was a word picture happening and five minutes of stream of consciousness left them a little hard to follow as an outsider. Oh well! It was fun and a challenge. Oh yeah, why did I do this? I found this idea for a "Five Minute Friday" topic here. So I decided to link up with The Gypsy Mama for this exercise. You can do it too if you feel so inclined.

Here's how to link up (Gypsy Mama's Guidelines)
  1. Write your words without editing them.
  2. Tell your readers you’re linking up here and invite them to come and share their unedited stories too.
  3. And most importantly, go visit, read, and compliment the person who shared right before you.

Easy peasy. OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes for the prompt:

Whole…

So are you going to try it? You can link here too- I would love to read yours! :)

Love, Rachel

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

16 months routine


I'm not sure if this is of much interest to anyone, but we are struggling to move to a normal one nap schedule. Melody no longer does well taking 2 naps but is still struggling to be okay with one. All summer our routine has been pretty non-existent. I didn't mean for things to get so hap-hazard- they just sort of did. When I realized it was starting to take its toll on Melody (I was no longer anticipating her needs, but reacting to them which created much more frustration than usual for everyone), I decided to implement some change. For the last week and a half or so I have been really trying to stick to a plan. Here's what our routine looks like now when I am at home with Melody.


7:00 am Melody wakes up and does her "Mommy, come get me!" cry

7:30 am I finally go get her. Melody drinks a sippy cup of milk.

8:00 am Breakfast

8:30 am Play time/we might watch TV

9:00 am Melody has room time while Mommy showers

9:20 am Mommy finishes getting ready while Melody plays in the room with me -or-we play together with me in my bathrobe (just tellin' it like it is)

10:00 am Snack time (so hopefully her belly stays full during nap tme.)

10:20 or 10:30 am Reading time in Melody's room

Between 10:30 and 11:00 am Nap

1:30 pm Wake up and drink a sippy cup of milk

2:00 pm Lunch

2:30 pm Play time with Mommy, TV time or Errands

5:30 pm Melody Dinner time

6:15 pm Bath time (if needed)

6:45 pm Start Bed time routine

7:00 pm Melody bed time

The in between 2 naps and one phase has been a little difficult (the crankiness from being over tired drives me nuts), but this morning I had to remind myself of the fact that Melody is only 16 months old. A lot of kids don't drop the 2nd nap until they are 18 months, and although she is very tall and very smart for her age, she is not as old as she seems. Having a nap earlier in the day (while a little inconvenient) is perfectly acceptable and no reason for me to be frustrated with her.

For the last 10 days, Melody has done well on this routine taking 3 hour naps and is only cranky at specific times of the day instead of all day long. I had hoped by implementing more structure we would discover she is more ready to push that nap time back a little. Unfortunately, she's not but like I said above, it really isn't a big deal.

My other goals for Melody when I started this routine were to implement room time for 20-30 minutes every day and to get her on a more predictable routine. That is the big success here. For the most part, she is really enjoying room time. I also really can see a difference in her level of calm and contentedness with a more predictable routine.

My brain also seems to have gotten a break since I feel free to think about other things related to her needs besides when/if/how much she will eat or sleep now that our days have some structure. I am able to see beyond her basic needs now, like how she could use more active play (our house is small- not much room to run around!) and that she could use a wider array of healthy toddler-like foods to eat. (There will be more posts on food later!).

I also have come to enjoy her 3 hour naps when previously Melody would only nap for two hours at the most. It gives me the much needed chance to decompress, write and take care of myself, our home, etc. In general, we are both much happier with this routine. As I write this post a day ahead of time though, tomorrow is my first day back keeping kids so I am wondering how Melody will do with that! I am hoping that another benefit of our routine will be that Melody adjusts well to me (us) going back to work.

I will be sure to let you know how it goes!

Love, Rachel

PS. I am well aware that the best part about this post is the pictures. :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Forming New Habits

I mentioned in this post from the other day that I am working on forming some new habits. For the past week I have been attempting to do all of these four things every day: one load of laundry, taking a shower, any one chore around the house, preparing for tomorrow (packing diaper bag, laying out clothes, etc). I have read that the best way to truly change your habits is to track your actions. I have tried that before but tend to get distracted, so I am taking that advice a bit further and posting publicly! This is how my first week went attempting to do these four things every day.


Don't let this chart deceive you, there was some definite progress made in my life. Usually, I struggle to shower every day (and I am not pretty without a shower), but I took some advice from Babywise and implemented "room time" for Melody. We bit the bullet and bought a more expensive baby gate (one with a latch) to put on her doorway, and Melody happily plays in her (baby-proofed) room for 20- 25 minutes while I take a shower most mornings now. I should have done this a long time ago.

Also the whole "prepare for tomorrow" category is deceptive since many days we are just at home and don't really have a need to pack a diaper bag the night before or wear any specific clothes.

The one thing you can definitely tell from this chart, though, is that I dislike housework. However, that is the point in trying to form a new habit- to work on things you don't do well. Now that I have spent a week halfheartedly trying to change my habits, I can see why Fly Lady says it takes 28 days to form a habit for some of us. The first 7 were sort of a bust! (except for the showering thing). With 21 days to go, hopefully there is still a chance for some habit formation. Especially, since I am being held publicly accountable!

So what about you? Are you working to create a new habit in your life? Is there something that made your life easier with children that you wish you had implemented a long time ago?

Love,
Rachel

One Spot Down, millions to go?

This morning I cleared my first clutter spot! (Imagine me doing a little happy-Rachel-dance at my computer.) The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, right? For now, I will just be showing pics of the individual spots. Sorry that I can't show you a wide angle, but like I said, my house needs a lot of improvement in the area of tidying up. Hopefully, as I make progress I can show some more wide angles shots. :)

I started with this little spot by the couch. It has been cluttered since last Christmas. I hid all of my Christmas stuff there so I didn't have to go back and forth from the guest bedroom to retrieve everything for wrapping/Christmas cards, etc. Then I never cleaned up...

But I did today! Here it is before.




On top of everything was this bag of bags. I received so many gift bags from when Melody was born they wouldn't fit into the drawer I usually keep extra gift bags in. I thought I might use them, so I saved. them. all.



So step #1. Separated bags into piles. Ones I like (to keep). Ones I don't (to give away). Ones not fit to be re-used (throw away). Is this sounding like a mini-episode of Clean Sweep yet?



Underneath all the bags in the big bag were other miscellaneous items. Namely craft supplies and Christmas supplies. Step 2. I made two piles and kept like items together.




Then I returned to my corner. Underneath the big bag o' bags, it still looked like this.


Interlude: Melody found the box of crayons in my crate of stuff-to-do-with-kiddos-I-babysit. Luckily, she didn't try to eat them or color anything. (I haven't actually exposed her to crayons officially yet.)




Back to clutter clearing. Step 3. I put all the Christmas items in an extra gift bag . This is the the pile of gift bags I am keeping. They definitely fit into my drawer of gift bags and tissue paper now. I put the bag o' Christmas items in the guest room closet where the rest of the Christmas paper lives.


Step # 4- Put things away. After throwing many items away (including all the colored Dora pictures from months ago that you can see behind the couch), here is the finished corner next to the couch.


One last before and after:



So there it is folks. One clutter spot down, who knows how many there are left to go? That little crate could probably be cleaned out, but I consider that it's own clutter spot. See you next week for another one!

The little one is needing my attention now, so Happy Tuesday!

Love, Rachel

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Current Project

I've asked before if you struggle with cleaning the way I do. Some people really have a tough time with this, others don't. I am a person who really struggles with daily maintenance around the house. Big spurts of energy are what I use to tackle the mess in my life, followed by long lulls of inactivity.

I often visit a website run by the "Fly Lady". Her advice to start changing your chaotic home is to begin with baby steps. Fly Lady recommends working on adding the same habit for 28 days. It only takes 21 days to establish a new habit, but for distracted people (like me) it takes 28. An example of small routines to begin with could be trying to do three things in the morning and three things in the evening. These are things you do every day to begin to keep up with the maintenance in your home. (And the chaos gradually lessens.)

Even this though, seems too much for me. In the morning, I am not awake. In the evening, I lack motivation to do work around the house when I have spent all day running after a 16 month old (and/or other children), trouble shooting fussiness issues (is Melody sleepy? hungry? is it reflux?) and trying to work in time for me to get a few things done for my business or errands run for the family.

So a week ago, I decided to tackle 4 things every day for 28 days. Instead of focusing on trying to do these things the same time every day, I am just trying to do them every day no matter when it is. (My mind rebels against the idea that I "have" to do something every day. I am a rebel at heart. Not proud of it, but in this case, I am trying to work with that part of myself so I don't wind up hating my efforts.)

Here are my four have-to-do-them-every-day tasks:
1. A load of laundry from start to finish. Wash, dry, fold, put away
2. Shower. You would be amazed how you have to remind yourself to do this when you are just by yourself at home with a baby... or pre-toddler :)
3. My choice of any chore around the house. This takes away the excuse that I don't feel like doing anything, since it means I can do any one thing that blesses my house. ANYTHING is progress at this point.
4. Prepare for tomorrow, tonight! This makes me look at my calendar ahead of time and get ready for my day, so hopefully I can be more on time to things and more prepared for life in general.

In addition to this, I am also challenging myself to de-clutter one spot (doesn't have to be big, just a cluttered spot) around my house each week. If you do the math, one spot a week = 52 clutter spots in a year. I wonder if I have 52 cluttered spots in my home? Or if at some point I will hit them all? Here on the blog, I am creating a page where you can follow my progress as I declutter my home. As I go along, I will be sure to add before and after pictures of the places I choose to declutter.

I will also share an update post about how I am doing forming the habit of doing laundry, showering, cleaning something and preparing for the next day the night before in a few days.

This weakness of mine (leaving things messy) is something I have disliked about myself for, well... forever. Do you have something that you are dissatisfied with yourself about? Something that is completely fixable with a little effort? Is it time for you to do something about it? Or are you happy with the status quo?

Love,
Rachel

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

How I want to feel today

Joyful.
Thankful.
Energetic.
Focused.
Productive.
Happy.
Loving.
Loved.
Settled.
Clear.
Smart.
Like Singing.
All. Day. Long.