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.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I think a change (a change)... would do you good!

Is Sheryl Crow stuck in your head now too? Good. :)

Welcome to the last installment of Blogiversary Week!

In my last post, I promised to reveal some upcoming changes for the blog, so let's dive right in...

Common to Moms is not about being "common".

It's about the fact that we have "common experiences" in life as people and particularly as women.

Remember that verse in Ecclesiastes, "There is nothing new under the sun"? Someone has been where you are. You are not the only one going through what you are going through. I truly believe that when we function as community we can glean experience, knowledge, support and love from one another no matter what we face.

Woah... that was an intense start. I'm not sure if I meant to do that. Let's do a wiggle dance now to lighten up the mood. You dance, I'll wait...

Go ahead... wiggle, wiggle...

One more time- Get your wiggles out...

Okay... I'm feeling better. How about you?

What I mean to say is that the "common" in "Common to Moms" is about common experiences. As I stepped into celebrating one year blogging I began to really question what this blog is about. Why do I spend my time writing here? Reading others blogs? What keeps drawing me back to the online community?

And then I found it.

The obvious answer.

I am an inspiration junkie.

Confused? That's okay... Allow me to expand on that thought. I personally have a mental block on most daily life things. Folding laundry, washing dishes, stacking blocks and singing "wheels on the bus" is just not very stimulating or exciting. I know in my head these things are important for my family, but sometimes just knowing that it's important in the moment isn't enough to keep me going. I need... INSPIRATION!

OR... I have deep desires that will also bless my family. Desires to decorate our home, to make it beautiful and clean and a place to invite others in. Again, I need.... INSPIRATION!

OR... Sometimes I am selfish, going through a hard time, confused about God, in need of a friend- whatever it is internally- so I go on a search, a bit of a quest (without leaving my seat of course!) for motivation, answers and... you guessed it... INSPIRATION!

And that's where Common to Moms fits for me. The connecting thread to everything I write here is my personal quest to find inspiration from others who have been there and have come out where I want to be.

I am excited to finally see the clarity in this for myself, because now my goal- Common to Mom's new focus- is to turn that around back to you. My mission, my desire for this blog is to offer writing and resources that serve as inspiration for daily life to you!

Since I am apparently in a list making mood this Blogiversary! week, let me show you in list form some of the changes that will be happening (or have happened) here at Common to Moms. (I am so giddy about these... there are butterflies in my stomach!)

The Blog Itself...
  • Have you noticed the new mission-type statement at the top of the page? Take a minute to read it- it has changed! This is the FOCUS of what Common to Moms is about now. Basically, Common to Moms is less about me now and more about you.
  • The 'About Me' page. Not for narcissistic purposes, but to let you get to know a little bit about the person behind the writing. Seeing info about me in one place makes me feel the blog is a bit more organized.
  • The 'About Common to Moms' page. (This will be coming soon.) Common to Moms has changed a lot in the last year and in the name of organization and efficiency, I think it will be helpful for you to have one place to read about its beginnings and where it is now all in one place.
  • A FACELIFT! (Coming soon if it's not already here by the time you read this post.) After a year of the same colors and backgrounds, I figure it is fitting to try out some new "cosmetic" changes to go along with the new focus and ideas that are coming! Disclaimer: I love change, so I reserve the right to change the look of 'Common to Moms' at a whim!

The Writing...

  • I am excited to announce "Inspire Me, Mondays" where I will compile inspiring posts from across the blog world to give you a lift for the beginning of the week. (Don't we all need one of those?) However, I may use some creative license here, so it could look different from week to week (Examples, I may use only one story or personal events to "inspire" you on any given Monday.) But basically the gist is, you can stop by Common to Moms each week to fight your "case of the Mondays".
  • Books! They inspire me, whether they are fiction, non-fiction, self-help, whatever! I am excited to begin sharing them with you (without overwhelming you- Common to Moms will not be turning into an all about books blog!) and to encourage sharing inspirational writing with one another.
  • A more clear focus in general. It is so much easier to write knowing what your purpose is. I am just plain excited about that!

The Money...

  • Okay... this is a bit of an awkward subject, BUT- hear me out! I am pretty sure I have made the decision to monetize the blog. This won't happen right away (I kind of want to make sure it is worth the trouble first), but since I really want to offer writing that is focused and intentional, I think this is an appropriate move. Here's the thing though- I WILL NOT be bombarding you with ads. And this will be a GRADUAL change. (I really don't know much about the whole advertising thing so I will be learning as I go.) Basically, the blogs I am personally inspired by to the right of your screen- those are my role models for monetizing. I would be blogging whether I made money or not (which I haven't for the past year, since I'm not monetized now and never have been- so you know I want to be here!), so I want you to know my intention is simply to give myself the option to make a teensy bit of money for my writing efforts. And if for some reason it turns out to be a waste of time for Common to Moms, I will happily return to the world of blogging solely for personal motivation.
  • Part of wanting to monetize is my desire to use some of that money to turn around and sponsor some Give-Aways! This is an aspect of a lot of blogs I love since it allows us to give something back to the readers. I know that often you don't have to pay for your own Give-aways, but just in case I can't find people in the next few months to offer items to you for free (or I am too chicken to ask a company, etsy shop owner, etc if they want to sponsor one), I have no problem sponsoring them myself to give a little something back to you. I'm not sure when these will begin to happen, but you will obviously be aware when they do!

What will stay...

  • Of course some things will stay the same here on the blog. I still want this to be a blog you as readers feel comfortable to share your ideas and your own inspiration for life.
  • Sharing about my family- particularly my daughter. I still plan to chronicle life at home with my family and share things that I think are fun. Inspiration often comes from family!
  • ME! I am the same me whether I am focused, monetized or anything else. Sharing from my heart is what I have been doing and what I hope to continue to do.

Now, after the longest post in the history of posting... What do you think? Did you actually read all of those lists? Do you like the new look?

Love, Rachel

PS. A little foot-note about spirituality for those that are wondering. Obviously I am a Christian and God inspires me, but I have a bit of writer's block when it comes to sharing about God and my faith sometimes. Know that He is my ultimate Inspiration, but I often find that difficult to put into words. So even if I am not saying it outright, it is there. Any inspiration I find in the world, I believe it is God created and rooted in His Goodness.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Flowers, Diet Coke, Cookies and Ferraro Rocher

I just realized I added another March birthday/anniversary to my life. Not only is my birthday, my daughter's birthday and our wedding anniversary in March, but now Common to Moms Anniversary (Blogiversary!) is in there too!

Here's the run down of how 4 celebrations occur in an 8 day period in our household:

March 20th
Happy Anniversary to Common to Moms!

March 24th
Happy Anniversary to Christian and me! (5 yrs)
Happy Birthday to Melody! (2yrs)

March 28th
Happy Birthday to me! (28 yrs)

My gift to myself is a broken toe. (A couple of days ago I tripped running toward the 30 year mark... that was a [bad] joke.) I really did break my pinky toe on Monday though... It is surprising how much a broken toe really hurts. As I write this, I am realizing this is also my first broken bone... random!

Even though my birthday was today, I still worked baby-sitting during the day and then taught dance tonight (hobbling around in the studio was more like it, tripping some more and generally looking older than my 28 years).

In spite of working, I tried to take some time to enjoy myself by (get ready for another list again) ...

* making chocolate chip walnut oatmeal cookies with one of the kids while the other little ones napped away. (recipe found here)
* made a banana smoothie for lunch
* made a diet coke ice cream float during kids naps
* getting surprise flowers and Ferraro Rocher candies from my husband after he got home from work.
* reading all the Happy Birthday messages on Facebook
* getting an impromptu Birthday serenade from the girls at the dance studio and lots of phone calls and text messages from friends! (Thank you, friends!)
* choosing books off of amazon to order with birthday money from my parents. (Thanks Mom and Dad!) I think I am buying 8 or so?

All in all, it was a great birthday.

Thank you to everyone for making it a great day! Thank you to God for making bananas that made my smoothie and all the ingredients to make those cookies, the makers of Diet Coke and Ferraro Rocher, Facebook and of course my wonderful husband, my daughter and all of my friends!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Good Old-Fashioned List

For some reason making a list on the blog makes me excited. To me, it's as though by writing things down and sharing them with the world, the things on the list are more likely to happen. (I know it's really up to me to make these things happen, but a girl can have her warm fuzzy moments, right?) So in a throw back to this list from several months ago, I'm creating a new one. Think of it as a preview to coming attractions on the blog in celebration of Blogiversary Week!

Here's what you can expect to see in the next 3 - 4 months on Common to Moms.

Some Exciting Changes!!
Including but not limited to a stronger focus for the blog and a little bit of a face lift. More to come on this later in the week!

Melody's 2 year birthday celebration
It was great last week-end! Lots of fun, family and friends!

Guest Room/Play Room Transformation
I was not able to complete this in time for Melody's birthday party, but I am definitely excited to keep moving forward with it.

Make my own summer dress
So excited to attempt this!

Keep De-cluttering
I will be continuing on this adventure as always.

Spiritual Bathroom Art
I've got you hooked, don't I?

Attempts to Save Money on Groceries
You've already seen my small attempts at couponing here and here. I also have some other ideas that I can't wait to try and then of course, share the results!

Book reviews of some kind?
I put a question mark there because I'm not sure what this will look like. I love to read, and while I don't want this to become a blog all about books, I would love to find a way to recommend some to you and also find out what you are reading also!

I'm not sure where all of this energy is coming from, but I am so excited about tackling some new projects this spring. It must be all the warm weather and sunshine going to my head! I am also giddy with excitement about the new focus for the blog that I will be sharing with you at the end of the week. It will be an exciting reveal, so stay tuned!

What projects are you tackling this spring? Spring Cleaning? Painting? Something else?

As always, I can't wait to hear from you!

Love, Rachel

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Common to Moms Blogiversary Survey!

Wow!! Can you believe it?! March 20th of last week marked one year of blogging!

First off, a thanks is in order for all of you reading along! (I think there are 10 of you?:-)) I know I can be pretty scatter-brained and sometimes inconsistent, but I love that you check back in with me, leave comments and contribute your insightful thoughts to the discussions here. Without you, I would write to a blank cyber-space style wall... which would still be therapeutic, but not nearly as fun.

I am also aware that there are a few of you who read that I know in "real life" and a few that are blog friends (Lindsay calls them "blends"). Some of you even fall into both categories!

So in honor of one year blogging, I would love to hear from you! (Since I am usually the one rambling on!) I know there will only be about 2 answers to this post (one of which might be my sister), but still, I would love for you to leave a comment answering a quick five minute survey... That way I get to know you and you also get to know each other! To be fair, I am answering these questions too.

Here are the questions:

1. What is your name? General location? Field of expertise? (i.e. banker, stay at home mommy/writer, etc)
I'm Rachel (as you hopefully already know) and I was raised in Kentucky but now live in Virginia. I am a part-time nanny, ballet teacher and a mommy. I majored in French in college and still love the French language.

2. If you could change one thing about your personality what would it be? (Don't think too hard about this one... think interesting tidbit- not soul searching, otherwise you might get too psyched out to leave a comment!)
I would be more driven to achieve goals and accomplish things... oh and I would be more organized for sure! (... that is technically two things... oh well!)

3. What is your favorite part of your personality?
That I am laid-back (well... sometimes) and like to enjoy a slow pace of life. I am able to enjoy the moments in life as they come without rushing them. (Interesting how the thing I love about myself and the thing I would change are a bit at odds. I guess finding the balance is difficult for everyone!)

4. What are your THREE favorite blogs/websites to find inspiration for life?
AHHH!!! Just three?!?! That is so hard to choose! Every blog I have listed over on the right is one I have gleaned something from so you should definitely check them all out one rainy afternoon when you have nothing to do... But the 3 I find the MOST inspiration from life about would have to be Young House Love, Bower Power and Little Bit Funky.

So now it's your turn! Add a comment with your answers to the survey. I can't wait to hear more about each of you!

Love, Rachel

Friday, March 23, 2012


That's how much I was able to save using coupons at Target tonight!

After checking out this website and reading WAY too much info about coupons, I took the plunge and went shopping for my daughters birthday party. While I was at Target I stacked my coupons (that's official coupon lingo right there) and got some great deals on Country Crock Margarine Spread, Scrubbing Bubbles and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! They were all things I was out of and needed to replace anyway and now I am stocked for the month. Saving money is a good feeling.

One note about coupons though...

It is definitely easy to go overboard. Staying up late and checking out every new site, trying to figure out how many stores you can do this for... not that I've been doing that or anything (cough, cough)... it is definitely something you can get lost in!

So I'm going to try to stick to printing coupons from coupons.com and target.coupons.com once a week. In the meantime, if I'm really wondering if there is anything new out there going on, I can check Hip2Save's website quickly and let her do the work for me. After all, that is the whole reason the author has a couponing blog, is it not? Oh yes, and convincing the hubby to get a Sunday subscription to a newspaper may also be on the list of things to do to save more money.

I also have some hopes to one day add CVS to the list of stores I learn how to save at, but I am just not super confident in my ability to make the ECB (more coupon lingo) roll the right way to save money.

Right now though, I think it is important to be satisfied with a little bit of progress and to be content in taking baby steps to save my family money on food. As I alluded in an earlier post this week I am excited to try some new things to save money on grocery shopping very soon in addition to learning all about coupons. I will keep you posted! (punny, punny!)

As a side note, the lady in front of me at the check-out in Wal-Mart today saved A TON of money using Wal-Mart's price matching policy. She had tons of fliers in her hands and had to have a manager come approve everything. (Who knew so many stores had lower prices than Wal-Mart?) Then, she used coupons at the end of her transaction on top of the money she had already saved. I was in awe at her mad money-saving skills!

What have you been saving money on lately??

Monday, March 19, 2012

Do You Coupon?

I never really have. In fact, when I have mentioned it, the hubby has declared it a waste of time. However, reading over at Little Bit Funky has peaked my interest. (Click over to Crystal's blog on the right.)

So today I started small. Super small. I went over to Coupons.com and browsed. I found a handful of coupons for my favorite items.

Country crock margarine
I can't believe it's not butter
Silk soymilk
Scrubbing Bubbles

I know that often times store brands are cheaper than brands + coupons, but for those few items that I prefer a specific brand for (like those mentioned above) a coupon is a nice thing to have!

I have been thinking about lots of ways to save on food lately, so I will be sharing them with you as I go. Coupons is one thought I have, but I plan to start (very) slowly.

So how about you...

Do you coupon? Where do you find coupons? Online? The newspaper? Blogs? I would love to hear about your sources!

P.S. Can anyone tell me what doubling your coupons really means? Does it mean you can have double the savings on one item? Or does it mean you can by many items using the same coupon? I have a lot of confusion in the coupon world!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Closet Reveal

It has been over a week since I posted last... yipes! But I really wanted to wait to post until I could give you the closet reveal that I promised.

Today, friends, I finally conquered it.

Now, understand that our closet is not big. And yet, it is the largest closet in our house. It has to house more than just my and hubby's clothes. Through the years it has gotten bad. No, no... it is really bad. And I must be crazy because I'm about to show it to you.

Welcome to the world of our closet.

This view is looking at the shelf in the top of our closet to the right...

And looking at the shelf to the left...

What you are seeing is mostly blanket, sheets, sewing and comforter/pillow storage... We currently have a lot of dirty laundry, so this is not even the worst of it.

Here is the bottom of the closet. I am not sure at all what lives down there...

And for the honest view when I open my closet door...

Excuse my towel hanging on the door and the dirty laundry to the side of it. In all honesty, my whole bedroom needs a good cleaning. You know what they say though, right? If you aren't putting things away, it's because there is no where to put them. That is so true in our bedroom. That' s why I'm starting with the closet. Our clothes need a home.

So here are the rules I went by to clean out our closet.

1. I am not cleaning out hubby's stuff- only mine. He can go through his own clothes/stuff.

2. I am getting rid of things. I am in the mood to get rid of things.

3. Find solutions. Don't just re-organize junk.

That being said.

Here is Problem #1. We have a ton of sheets and comforters and seasonal clothes with no where to store them except the attic. (We don't even have the ability to store clothes under our bed because of the type of bed frame it is- and no money to buy a new bed frame.) Have I mentioned before how I hate storing clothes in the attic? I am always so sure they are going to get mildew-y or bugs in them.

Enter Solution #1.
Vacuum seal Bags!!!

One day my hubby decided we needed these and he brought them home. They have been sitting around for a month or two now. They were not exactly cheap. I think they were between $11 and $17 a box (my hubby bought three!) but now I am glad that he did. Saving space is so important in our teeny house and this will certainly help us do it!

Problem #2. Too many clothes that I do not wear anymore or are out of season/the wrong size.

Solution #2. Time to sort: Too small/too big (needs storing), Give away, Wrong season (needs storing) And thanks to my vacuum seal bags I have a place to store all of the clothes that needed storing.

This is my highly advanced system of sorting on my bed. Blankets I can store on the top right. Clothes to give away as you move counter clockwise to the left, clothes that are sentimental but don't fit to the left of that. Clothes that are the wrong season or maternity below that and extra hangers after pulling all of the excess stuff out of my closet. Yay, extra hangers!

Here is what I wound up taking out of my closet

* one bag of clothes, etc to give to Goodwill

* two space saver bags full of wrong season clothes, blankets and comforters

* several small bags of fabric, etc that can go in the attic with other stuff just like it
* 2 wal-mart bags of trash
* a handful of important things (my rec center ID, my birthday card from our honeymoon, a checkbook, etc)

And this is the beautiful finished closet!

First, the shelf. My sewing machine and supplies are up to the right.

A basket where sheets and blankets (that we currently use in the right season) has room to live up to the left.

In the bottom of the closet remains our luggage, some duffel bags, a few wooden shoe stretchers (a request has been made to hubby to find a way to get rid of them) and a tripod. This all fits on the left side of the closet floor so that you can actually see the carpet now!

Here is the whole closet at a glance.

Much emptier? Check! Organized? Check! Problems solved? Check!

Oh yeah... I even organized my clothes there are on the right, so I would know how many clothes I actually have. You know how we all have the "I feel like I don't have anything to wear!" syndrome? I now have special event clothes furthest into that dark corner on the right, next is professional wear clothes/dressy clothes, followed by church-wear type clothes (which is even less dressy than professional wear) and every day mommy/baby-sitting clothes. So I finally understand why I have a full closet, but nothing to wear! I have a ton of special event clothes (old bridesmaids dresses) and a lot of professional wear clothes, but much fewer ever day clothes!


I wish I could say that I was done with the closet, but like I said, I am woefully behind on laundry. When our washing machine broke and then I got a really bad stomach bug a couple of weeks ago, I got behind and have not caught up yet. So I have three baskets full of clean clothes waiting to be sorted into put away, store or give away categories.

And if that looks overwhelming, there are MANY more dirty clothes than that hanging around the house waiting for me to take care of. But at least now I have room in the closet and spare hangers for them. I even cleaned out my drawer in our chest of drawers, so there is room to put away my clothes that fold.

Even though I am not completely finished with this process, putting away laundry and sorting it really is the easy part. Going through the other junk in the bottom and top of the closet and deciding what to do with was much harder. So I feel accomplished. Christian even said he is going to go through his own clothes now soon. Whoot! Whoot! I am doing a little "go me" dance in front of my computer now and giving myself a pat on the back.

Oh and perhaps the most important part... What was my 2 year old doing while I accomplished this great feat?

While I sorted the closet Melody...
* played with my skin care and lost the cap to my foundation primer (I found it later)
* turned my bedside table lamp on and off until I got suspicious that she was staring at the light bulb directly and might be ruining her eye sight for life.
* pushed her sock monkey in a stroller around the house and finally parked it and put a blanket over monkey so it could sleep.
* "read" her Bible in her room (she can look at the colorful pictures in her Adventure Bible for an unusually long time for a toddler).
* managed to put in a new DVD into the DVD player, turn the TV on and press PLAY on the DVD player to start watching a show without my knowledge. I thought I was crazy hearing music somewhere in the house and came out to find her Houdini skills with technology.
* generally played and entertained herself.

This is important because I am always worried that when I start a task or a project that Melody won't have anything to do and I won't be able to focus on what I'm doing. Today, Melody showed me (and I showed myself) that she is independent enough to play (without having to watch TV- I turned it off after she turned it on ;) ) and entertain herself while I do something else for a large chunk of the day.

After I finished with the closet, I took time to sit with her and play trains, blocks and pretend with her. Then we ate lunch and we both took a nap.

It was a good day. :)