Sewing Studio Organization

I feel I need to apologize for my absence lately. When I’m not pulling my hair out trying to customize WordPress themes (seriously, I hate WordPress at this point in my life. Just FYI…), I’ve been diligently sorting through STUFF, leading mass immigrations of toys, and leaving randomly scrawled lists of “furniture needs” in my wake.

I now have an exclusive sewing room (for the first time in my married life!) and a dedicated play room, and the two are independent of each other! You cannot imagine my relief simply knowing I can walk into my sewing room and sit down to sew without having to blaze a trail through protected Lego habitats first 😉

You see, I’ve been hired to teach a sewing class. I am still in ecstatic disbelief over it. A month ago I sat staring at an email, randomly sent to everyone in my neighborhood. “Does anyone teach or know of anyone who can teach sewing lessons for my two daughters?”

I’m not even  embarrassed to say that five minutes hadn’t even passed before I replied to that e-mail!

“I know how to sew and would love to teach a class!”

So here I am. One afternoon a week four little girls show up on my doorstep, sewing machines in tow, and we spend an hour laughing, measuring, cutting, and stitching. I will share more of our class details later, but suffice it to say we are having a blast, and I am finally in my element, both in having a dedicated sewing room and in sharing one of my beloved passions with some very enthusiastic students!

Thus, my sewing room was the first organization project I tackled. It is still far from finished, and I have a long list of oddities I “require” to perfect my little studio. Things like a stand-up table for my own machines, a rolling kitchen island to mount my ironing board to, and a clothes rack for hanging projects in-progress (something besides the lamp!).

2015-sewing-studio[1]
A dear friend snatched a treasure from a yard sale for $10. She had no idea I was stressing over where I was going to find a table for sewing lessons! She also has no idea how often I walk into the room simply to admire the details in this table. I truly can’t get over how gorgeous it is and that it’s in my house. It’s so pretty, it actually seems out of place!

2015-sewing-studio-table
There was never a more perfect marriage between a Parisian parquet floor and an Old English pub table. I have far more ambitious plans for this table, but for the time being it will reside here and become part of the childhood memories of some special little girls.

I mentioned my latest venture to my beloved next door neighbor, and she promptly insisted I accept her sewing machine which has been sitting in a closet since its purchase several years ago! So Missy now has her own machine that doubles as a classroom machine when she’s not attempting to make stuffed teddy bears.

2015-sewing-studio-brother
God has literally showered me with blessings in the past month, and I am just shaking my head in awe as I take baby steps through each door He sets in front of me.

2015-sewing-studio-machines
I don’t know where this will take me, and I’m trying not to let my imagination run too far ahead as I bask in the joy of doing something I love. I haven’t felt much of that in the past couple of years as I’ve wondered, in the middle of school struggles and soccer schedules, what God has planned for me in this crazy life. I’ve been living at peace these past few weeks, finally feeling that I do have something of value to share.

2015-sewing-studio-bernina

 

Get Organized in 2015!

Hello, New Year! Welcome to the year of getting organized! This is my year. I just feel it!

get-organized

I had to go to the store the second week of January. It was my first shopping expedition since the New Year has begun. You wouldn’t have even had to tell me a new year had begun; it was obvious from the headlines on every magazine at the checkout: lose 20 pounds in two weeks! Get organized with one simple trick! Refresh your home in ten minutes a day! Look younger in 2015! How to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions! Grow your hair twelve inches in January!

Every single magazine was emblazoned with something related to self or home-improvement now that 2015 is in full swing.

I agree that a new year feels like a fresh start and presents the perfect opportunity to make everything around you feel fresh and new. I’m feeling that way about my own house. We’ve lived here going on seven years now and have added children and too much random paraphernalia over those seven years.

organized2015[11]

It no longer feels spacious and clean to me. Not that it’s dirty! Gracious, no! I am constantly cleaning and vacuuming. It’s the clutter and lack of organization that comes from having a full schedule with four busy kiddos and their invisible Lego Monster who vomits all over the house on a daily basis.

Organized2015[1]

At least that’s the only conclusion I can come to when I survey the fresh piles of Legos spilling across the floor! I mean, the KIDS don’t do it, you know. That’s what they tell me anyway… So it MUST be an invisible Lego monster…

organized2015[2]

There are also the stacks of papers and handfuls of crayons spreading like a disease all over the table and available surfaces in my kitchen. At least the kids admit to leaving those treasures lying around; they’re drawing pictures for me : ) But seriously, an entire ream of paper in two weeks?! Are they eating it?

organized2015[6]

Then there are the clothes. Sometimes they’re clean and waiting in laundry baskets for me to fold them, and other times I find dirty PJ’s and socks strewn down the hallway! Hello?! Who is getting dressed in the hallway? Seriously…

organized2015[3]

I can’t be too hard on my progeny because I’m guilty too. I have stacks of magazines in various rooms, a pile of jewelry-making supplies on the living room side table, and paint cans lined up on my kitchen counter. Don’t ask me about my kitchen island; I haven’t actually seen it in several weeks. It is completely enveloped in my painting projects. And– Wait. Is that my kitchen bar?! …I don’t even want to talk about it…

organized2015[7]

So anyway, all that clutter not only makes the house feel messy, but it is infuriating to clean around every week.

Part of the problem is lack of storage for all of our clutter-habits. We need bins for Legos (and maybe a bed for the Lego Monster since I can only deduce that he’s been sleeping on the couch as evidenced by all the throw blankets and stuffed animals I find piled there every morning!).

organized2015[4]

I could use shelves for my magazines (although, I kind of like the look of a neat stack of magazines in a decorative place. Have you ever seen magazine side-tables? Coolest things ever! I could’ve written that blog post, by the way…).

organized2015[12]

The laundry needs to be on a consistent rotation (and actually folded when it comes out of the dryer). And someone needs to tell these kids that it won’t kill them to be alone in the bathroom for the ten seconds it takes to throw clean clothes on… and toss dirty clothes onto the laundry room floor–or maybe even into an actual laundry basket. There’s a novel idea!

The kitchen island… well, that just can’t be helped unless/until I can build my own studio in the backyard. I’m always dreaming…

organized2015[13]

But there’s a second factor to our dilemma…

Maybe we simply have TOO. MUCH. STUFF. It is a very large and very real possibility with six people, and I’ll be the first to admit it! I abhor clutter. It makes the house feel small and visually busy. I like space and calm. Even bookcases crammed full of books and knick-knacks sitting around and walls covered in pictures often makes me feel like the house closing in on me. When I find myself retreating to my mostly-uncluttered bedroom more than usual, I know it’s time to do some major clean-up in the main part of the house.

So off I go! Follow me as I get my house organized this year.

organized2015[9]

What areas of your house need some attention to get the new year off to a great start? Please don’t tell me I’m the only mom with a Lego Monster hiding in her house…

 

Clean Your Garbage Disposal

This is not the how-to you’re expecting. I’m not going to tell you to make vinegar ice-cubes or obliterate lemon slices or buy those expensive garbage disposal deodorizers that always look like pretty orange candy (and I’ll bet they’d be really tempting to your toddler too if she found them anywhere near her eye level!). I’m sure those things do the trick and leave everything smelling nice for a little while, but they’re just band-aids.

cleanyourgarbagedisposal

I like bandaids. I have a whole bin in my bathroom reserved for band-aids. I’m even the “cool” mom who wears Spiderman and princess band-aids–Wait. Not ALL princess band-aids. I won’t wear Frozen bandaids. Is anyone else so over that movie yet? Can we revive Tangled or Brave? I’ll wear a Rapunzel bandaid any day : )

As with anything requiring a band-aid, you do eventually have to take it off and address the wound itself or you’ll end up with an infection. So let’s unwrap your garbage disposal today because I’ll betcha it’s got an infection!

I’m going to share the REAL way to clean your garbage disposal. Honestly, I don’t know why no one has blogged about this yet (that I’ve found anyway). It is seriously SO SIMPLE. In fact, it’s so simple it’s laughable, which is exactly what I did when my Grandma told me. I laughed. Hopefully you will too ; )

Walk to your sink.

Yes. Right now. Take your laptop (or tablet, or whatever gadget you’re reading this on) with you.

Now, reach down and grab that rubber flapper-thingy that you should NEVER push through with your hands! Just a friendly reminder when you’re disposing of scraps and don’t have a long-handled-spoon handy : )

When I was a kid, I was always scared of the garbage disposal. My mom used to have me lay on the counter with my waist-length hair draped into the sink so she could wash it (women in their third trimester of pregnancy have to get creative with their tasks). I’d try NOT to think about the scissor-handed machine that lived down there just waiting to snatch my hair and chop it to bits!

Don’t laugh. Those are legitimate fears when you’re only nine years old! I still think of that almost-daily when I run my disposal! You never know what is living in the dark depths of your sink. I should mention that I also suffer from an over-active imagination…

Anyhoo…

Give that black rubber thing a tug. You may have to give it a pretty hard tug the first time you do this. I did because it was “glued” to the sink with fifteen-years’-worth of gunk! Totally not kidding. This house was pretty gunky in multiple places when we moved in.

cleangarbagedisposal[2]

See? How easy was that! It comes right out, and suddenly those “dark depths” aren’t such a mystery.

Remember my mentioning “stuff living down there?” Well… I hate to say this, but flip that baby over!

cleangarbagedisposal[3]

Yep. I know. EEEEWWWWW GROSS!!! You can scream if you want to; sometimes I do. The worst of it is that this looks GOOD compared to how it looked the very first time I pulled it out. My grandma and I were both taken aback by the layers of slime. And the stench! Oh my goodness. It was bad.

That smell you’re always trying to eliminate with the expensive deodorizers and cheap DIYs? Well, friends, THIS is why those solutions have to be revisited on a very regular basis. They’re just masking the smell coming from all the super-happy bacterium that have set up their life-long estates on your rubber flap ; )

Now, before you’re tempted to toss that puppy into the trash (yes, I know. That was my first reaction too), give it a rinse in hot water. You can even spray it with some Basic-H2 to start penetrating the layers of gunk. Then throw it in the top rack of your dishwasher. You’re done with that grossness! The dishwasher will take care of it for you.

Wait! Where are you going?

Nope, you can’t curl back up in your favorite chair yet. We’re not quite done here. Look again.

cleangarbagedisposal[4]

More bacterial colonies encamped on the rubber gasket. Sorry, but you DO have to scrub that. I keep an old toothbrush under my kitchen sink for jobs like this. Again, get out your spray bottle of Basic-H2 or a couple drops of hand dishwashing liquid (or whatever you have handy) and scrub-scrub.

No more slime! No more nasty smell!!! Look how pretty!!! This is when I always wish I had an audience so I could show off my handiwork : )

cleangarbagedisposal[5]

Now your garbage disposal has NO SMELL! You can look down inside and see how it works too, which I always find fascinating. You can also see that the innards of it are solid metal, which slime doesn’t typically stick to, which is why all those garbage disposal cleaning how-to’s are totally missing the mark.

Alright, you can leave the kitchen now. Next time you run a dishwasher load, your rubber flap should come out looking almost brand-spankin’ new!

cleangarbagedisposal[7]

The white ring on mine is lime-scale from our infuriatingly-hard water. I’d love to buy a new one, but I always forget when I’m at the home improvement store since I’m usually in there buying paint or plants. Who wants to put a beautiful plant back just so she can buy a new rubber disposal cover? Not me! I’ll keep using this one and throwing it in my dishwasher once a month : )

So there you go, people, now you know the REAL way to have a sparkling and fresh-smelling garbage disposal. Let me know how nasty yours is when you pull it out for the first time!

 

Prolonging Christmas

Well, Christmas is over. Another November and December gone in flurry of decorating and gift-hunting, followed by all the anticipation and a sleepless night before Christmas, finally culminating in that blizzard of wrapping paper on Christmas morning. Then it’s all over.

Two month’s worth of rushing, wrapping, and trying to keep track of who got what for whom, all over in a two-hour unwrapping marathon. It’s always amazing how it can be over so fast, and how suddenly the joy of looking forward to it is snatched away like being awakened from a good dream. Everything shifts back to reality; the reality of a mountain of empty boxes and drifts of crumpled paper. The kids dash off to unpack new Lego sets, and husbands sprawl on the floor with the littlest children to assemble new toys. We moms clear away the debris and start looking around for space to house all the new acquisitions and scrounge up a meal for the now-hungry tummies.

122514[1]

In many ways it’s peaceful. I walked from room to room smiling at my husband and kids happily occupied. The quiet was refreshing after the stress of previous weeks. We ate pizza for lunch, then I indulged in a craft project for a couple hours while rewatching a few episodes of Downton Abbey. I haven’t had that kind of time to myself in months! Eventually, all the Lego creations were finished, and my family drifted into the kitchen one by one. We snacked on sweet Christmas treats and eventually had a casual supper before donning PJs and crawling into bed.

It’s also sad, those last hours of Christmas Day. You feel like something has yet to happen, that you’ve forgotten or missed something, that surely it should last longer. I no longer feels as exciting as I remember it being when I was a child. After all the anticipation, for it to be over so quickly, it’s almost cruel! I’ve learned to revel in the memories and replay the joy on my kids’ faces until New Year’s. I love the idea of Christmastide, or the Twelve Days of Christmas as it’s more often referred to. Those twelve days from Christmas Day to January 6th when, traditionally, the Wise Men arrived with their gifts in a special little holy day all its own called Epiphany. I wish we could have a real twelve days of Christmas during that time, days full of Christmas baking and gift exchanges between family and friends. Twelve days to revel in the peace and music and light of Christmas. As the kids get older I’ll try to put more focus on these in-between days, but for now, we take the long weekend that Daddy is off work and treat every day like Saturday. That means we eat a big, late breakfast and bum around in our pajamas and watch movies and play. Well, most everyone plays… someone still has to keep the laundry going and meals on the table. We will aim for a slower pace, and I even stocked the freezer with some organic pizzas and burritos. Yes, there IS occasionally a time and place for convenience food… I’m finding myself yearning for a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie to prolong the holiday as long as I can.

But first I have to fold the laundry that found its way into my living room chair last night…

Maybe Grandpa is right: anticipation really IS the greatest pleasure.

122514[2]

4 Tips to Survive the Winter Blues 2015

Happy Winter, everyone!

Just kidding. I hate winter. If you’ve known me even a short while, this should be no secret. Cold wind, bare trees, gray sky, drab landscape. What’s not to hate? I’ve told The Engineer multiple times, “I think I’m Kryptonian; I NEED the sun for energy!” I think I’ve been spending too much time watching Superman with my 10-year-old son! Super-hero-alien joking aside, it’s true; I absorb my energy from the sun. When the clouds hold those precious rays captive, my body goes into survival mode, slowing down to semi-hibernation to conserve energy until the sun can fight the clouds away.

I’ve always wanted a winter that looks like this…

122014[1]

I think I could handle that. Yes, it’s cold, but it’s white and bright, and the sun shines when snow isn’t physically falling from the clouds.

But I get stuck with this… for the better part of four months.

122014[2]

Blah, drabness for days, sometimes weeks, on end. The worst part is that it will look like this most of the winter yet never have the courtesy to grace us with snow! Yesterday the sun showed its face for only the second time in two weeks! I high-tailed it outside and did some puttering around in my gardens while I soaked up those weak rays of Vitamin-D. Today it’s back to blah. I slept in, gave my kids a protein drink and fruit for breakfast (their request!), then we called it a pajama-day, turned on the TV and have been reveling in couch-potato-ness since 8am. I can think of a million projects and activities that need attention, but my body says, “Nah, it’s a gloomy day. Be a bum!”

OK.

Technically, we’re barely fifty hours into winter. Knowing how unmotivated I am over the winter, I’m formulating a battle plan to get ahead of the curve. Maybe if I make specific plans to stay active and mentally engaged, I can combat the winter blues and finally win!

122014

Here are my top four strategies to beat the winter blues and possibly even thrive in 2015!

Continue a physical exercise routine. I’ll be using BURSTclub.com for my main workout. I love that I can burn 300+ calories in a mere 15 minutes and keep my sciatica at bay! Thank you, Nathan and Jenni! I’m also going to incorporate some of Wendie Pett’s restorative exercises. She uses isometric moves that can be done anywhere and anytime, yep, even while you’re waiting at a red light! One thing I’ve wanted to do for the past couple of years is establish a yoga practice using Tara Stiles’ videos on YouTube. I love her casual approach to yoga and always feel physically and mentally destressed after a 10-minute routine.

Stick to a routine rather than letting the weather determine the day’s activities. I really struggle with this. It’s so much easier to snuggle deeper under the duvet and go back to sleep when I see clouds and gloom out my window, but I find the more I do that, the harder it is to stare Winter in the face and beat those blues! I have plenty to keep me busy if I just have the gumption to DO it: helping kids with lessons, blogging, laundry, cooking, and of course my hobby projects.

Speaking of projects… That is the next step in my tactical plan. Find a motivating project! If I have a project that I want to wake up to, it’ll be easier to wake up, right? This winter I am committing to painting my kitchen. This is my seventh winter in this house, and my third winter pinning glorious white kitchens, and I’ve wanted to paint my cabinets since the day we moved in! If I’m dipping into crisp white paint every day, maybe it will boost my spirits. Stay tuned to find out!

122014[3]

Challenge the brain! My brain often goes into sleep-mode over the winter. Some of this is a vitamin-D deficiency, and some of it is simply me using the chill and lack of sunshine as an excuse to let my brain be lazy. The winter off-season is a perfect time to delve into my list of things I want to learn. I want to focus on learning some web and blog-development and brushing up on photography and Photoshop skills (so I can Photoshop myself doing all the things I’ve mentioned so far… I’m kidding. I promise not to use Photoshop to make myself appear to be anything other than what I am).

Feed the body, starting with my favorite Vitamin-D supplement. 1,000 ml of sunshine in each of those tiny white tablets : ) THAT’S what I’m talking about! Everyone needs to keep this stocked during the winter. You can even order it directly from me and have it delivered right to your door so you never have to leave your cozy home!

122014[4]

I’m already very disciplined about eating a clean diet, but I’ve fallen off the Paleo, gluten-free wagon and am definitely feeling the repercussions of that, so I’m planning a cleanse and a return to Paleo after New Years Day. I’ll be recording my progress here. Wouldn’t it be nice to LOSE weight and feel GREAT over the winter? …OK, I’m willing to settle for merely NOT gaining.

I also reserve the right to occasionally set the thermostat at 80* and curl up in my chair with a quilt and hot chocolate to watch sappy movies all day ; ) What is your battle plan for chasing away the winter blues in 2015?

122014[5]

Christmas Gifts for My Husband

Is it just me, or is the entire male species extremely hard to shop for? I hope it’s just me because this really isn’t a trial I’d wish on anyone else. I have a feeling this is pretty common across the board, though. Men are just hard to buy gifts for!

Why is this?

Do they think we girls are equally hard to shop for?

My husband never seems to have any issues finding amazing gifts for me. Nope, the only real problem in that department is reigning him in! Not only does he procure a nice Christmas gift for me (and usually has it picked out in August or something crazy!), but he uses our kids as an excuse to find four MORE incredible gifts! One year it was a Kindle. Another time a pair of luxury silk pajamas which he refused to tell me the price of. As a postpartum baby gift he showed up with an iPad (I’ll admit, sometimes it’s tempting to have more babies!), and this year I’m getting– oh wait. I’m not supposed to know what I’m getting, but thank you so much to the manufacturer who thoughtfully printed it all over the outside of the box prior to delivering it to my doorstep! Seriously, what is so wrong with shipping things in a blank cardboard box? It’s no fun knowing what’s hiding under that shiny wrapping paper!

The no-longer-a-mystery gift… But shhhh… you’ll have to wait ’til Christmas to find out what it is… Cuz I’m ornery like that! Somebody needs to be surprised, right?

121114[1]
I stayed awake way too late the other night browsing Pinterest (which attempts to hold the answer to every problem in life!) for gift ideas for men and gifts for husbands. After two hours, yes, TWO HOURS, of browsing, you know what I concluded? Men must not like useful gifts. I can’t for the life of me imagine my hubby (or any guy I know!) even remotely enjoying cuff links with his initials carved into them, collar stays with a love note, a personalized tie with a picture of our kids, or a nap pod for his office at work? For real?! The majority of the gift suggestions assured me that most women are merely grasping at straws when it comes to finding the perfect gift for their men. Some of my favorites were:

A year of dates (all neatly planned and packed into 12 envelopes) – My husband is not a fan of dates as evidenced by our complete lack of them over the past 10 years.

A scrapbook of our love story – Well, considering he doesn’t like to pose for pictures either, this would be a very sparse scrapbook. Do guys even look at scrapbooks anyway? I think that’s more of a sentimental mom thing…

A cheesey wall plaque that reads like a Hallmark card – Trust me, my husband only notices the walls if I point them out to him. He couldn’t care less what I hang on them unless it was a life-size picture of myself or Kobe Bryant!

Masculine lotions and/or candles and beard-care kits – Really? I’ve never seen my guy put any kind of ANYTHING on his skin in all the time I’ve known him. Shaving cream and sunscreen aside…

Then there are all the inappropriate-to-unwrap-in-our-childrens’-presence gifts – Do couples really embarrass their kids like that on Christmas?! Besides that, my husband’s opinion of a new nightgown is, “Does it look good on the floor?” ‘Nuff said about THAT…

Then there is this stuff called Poo Pouri… Now that actually IS simmering away in my brain. I found a DIY recipe from Karrie at Happy Money Saver! That could be entertaining to leave under the Christmas tree, but technically it would be me giving a gift to myself since I appear to be the only one bothered by all those male odors emanating from the bathroom… Still, I will be mixing some of that up in the near future

 

121114[2]

The majority of gift ideas for men were the usual tools, grill gear, tech gadgets, and clothes. My husband isn’t a tinkerer, doesn’t have time to grill, researches his own gadgets, and does his own clothes shopping. Again, unhelpful ideas. The result of those two hours of searching was that I now feel like I am either incredibly uncreative or that there must be something wrong with my husband that he doesn’t want a Bearded Ski Mask or Silk Suit Pajamas. Oh my word! Who thinks up these things?! How bored do you have to get to think sleeping in a tie or wearing an overgrown chin-wig is a brilliant idea?

So far, three out of the four gifts from our kids were things that he told me to order. Yes, I am that pathetic at choosing gifts 🙁  Wanna know what I gave my own father for Christmas? …Long John pants… Yep. I think it’s safe to say that gift-giving is most definitely not my love language.

So what’s a girl to do?

121114[4]

Well, for now I am going to wrap the gifts from the kids, then I’ll probably spend too much time browsing one of my favorite catalogs, Uncommon Goods. They are chock-full of unique ideas. I wish people would shop for me from their catalog! Some of these travel-themed gifts are so cool! Scratch-off map, anyone? And I’ll take an Indonesian Batik Bag, thank you!

Next, I need to take a good look at my husband and who he is, not what gift manufacturers think he should be. He is obviously not the debonaire gentleman sporting custom cuff links and designer house shoes. Nope, my guy wears Batman pajama pants and Target-special slippers. He’s not a fan of public displays of romance; his idea of a date is kicking back and watching the latest release from Red Box from the comfort of our living room (look at it this way: at least I don’t have to shop for fancy date-night clothes… and I DO abhor shopping…). He’ll bring home fish-n-chips and the most amazing mac-n-cheese EVER rather than stand over a smoky grill and risk burning a tender chicken breast. He is a French-Californian. What that means is that he was born with a massive dose of French joie de vie along with a large side of California casual. It really is an amazing combination because there isn’t much that upsets him, and he is happy as a hibernating bear with the simple comforts of life: good food, cozy quilts, warm slippers, a cup of coffee, and a good movie. When he’s not exhausted from juggling work, soccer, and family he is quite the goofball. Case in point, he leaves little surprises like this in my camera roll if I leave my phone unsupervised…

121114[3]
Yep, that’s my husband : ) His priorities usually bypass appearances and settle on a peaceful and comfortable home life. So, rather than wearing myself out in the search for that elusive, “perfect” gift portraying romantic love, I’ll shift my focus to things that make our time together at home relaxing and regenerating this season. My love language may not be gift-giving, but it IS spending quality time with the people I love.

At the end of the day, I’ll just ask him what else he needs that he won’t buy for himself, after which he’ll send me an e-mail with links to a variety of the same item which I can then choose from and still partially surprise him Christmas morning. And we will all be happy : )

What are YOU getting your husband for Christmas?

5 Insider Secrets of a Soccer Mom

I am a soccer mom.

I just survived another season of youth soccer.

It was so nice to sleep in on a Saturday morning! …Oh wait, that was my hubby who got to sleep in. Me? Well, I have this annoying biological clock that wakes me up at the same time every morning whether I need to be somewhere or not. So there I was this morning, lying awake in bed at 6:41 trying to convince myself that I wanted to stay cozily tucked under the duvet reveling in the joy of NOT having a schedule to keep. But nope. My brain was already committed to being awake. Too many Saturday mornings spent waking early and rushing to get kids to their soccer fields.

I’ve been a “soccer mom” now for five years. Wait… REALLY?! It seems CRAZY to me that it’s been that long already! I guess that should make me a pro by now, huh? Well, I don’t exactly feel like a pro at being a soccer mom. In fact, I even resisted that title for a long time. Now I have accepted it and maybe even embraced it a little. Maybe… I’ve at least gained five years of experience and wanted to share a few of my own tips for surviving a season of youth soccer and life as a soccer mom. So put on your Soccer Mom hat and listen up!

IMG_6349

Tip #1 – Get new wheels. Seriously. No, I’m not talking some high-falutin’ people-hauler or the traditional soccer-mom-minivan (although, that is what I drive…). I’m talking wagon wheels! Real, heavy-duty, off-roading wagon wheels that can handle any terrain from gravel parking lots to thick grass fields. I spent my first few seasons of soccer-momhood pulling and shoving my baby stroller across lush soccer fields. I have some great arm muscles as a result, but it sure made for an exhausting ordeal. Last Christmas my attentive hubby gifted me with one of these Mac Sports Utility Wagons. Seriously, guys, if you find yourself entering the soccer-mom world, this is your new best friend! I can pile this thing high with bags, babies, and blankets and still get around the soccer park. Someone may occasionally have to push or steady the mountain of junk, but it’s nowhere near the wrestling match my stroller and I would engage in! My stroller has taken up permanent residence with the spiders in the garage ; ) Even Bitty had no complaints about the trade; she still has room to ride!

IMG_4353

Tip #2 – Plan your meals. I totally failed at this, and let me tell you, it makes ALL the difference in keeping your sanity. We are at the park three nights a week and every Saturday. Most practice sessions overlap our customary supper hour, and of course Saturday games often extend into lunchtime. With my family’s food differences, we don’t eat from the concession stand or dine via the food trucks that show up, so all of our on-the-go meals have to be planned, assembled, and packed into a cooler beforehand. I’ve done pretty well in previous seasons, so I don’t know what happened this season; I was just a miserable failure, and we ended up eating lots of chips and peanut butter sandwiches. Plan ahead. Get it down on a calendar which meals you will be eating at home and which meals need to be sideline-friendly! I am working on some ideas to implement myself and to share with you in the coming soccer season : ) Because you never know when you’ll be forced to eat a sandwich while sandwiched into a sleeping bag with your bestie!

IMG_4137

Tip #3 – Keep the car stashed with necessities. This is just common sense but especially important if you’re a sports mom who spends alot of time living out of her kid-hauler. Every season I involuntarily start stashing stuff. Hats, gloves, water bottles, random boxes of Kleenex and wet-wipes, blankets, bandaids in Ziplock bags, essential oils and Basic-H2 tucked into cup holders. Everything ready for whatever the soccer field may throw at us! I discovered this past season that it might be a good idea for me to keep extra pairs of cleats stashed under a seat somewhere… Mad dashes back to the house ten minutes prior to a game really are not my thing!

IMG_4087

Tip #4 – Learn to accept help when it’s offered. I’m really bad at this one, so pardon me while I preach to the choir. I’m one of those, “I’ll just take care of it myself so it gets done right” kind of people. But I learned, during a previous season when I was in my last trimester of pregnancy, that sometimes (most times!) it’s OK and even helpful to accept someone’s gracious offer of assistance. Let someone bless you, and in turn you can bless them by being grateful and returning the favor at a later date. I have literally had people run to move their car so I could have their parking space and had referees haul my stuff in the Gator or other soccer parents watch all four of my kids while I ran home for the cleats one of my children (who shall remain nameless) forgot. We are humans. God created us to need each other and take care of each other, so let’s fulfill that purpose by being humble enough to accept help and offer help at every opportunity : )

IMG_6519

Tip #5 – If you glean nothing else from this blog post, remember this: show gratitude to those people who are working behind-the-scenes to keep your local soccer/sports league running smoothly. Their job is unending, exhausting, unappreciated, and steals valuable time away from their families. They are literally volunteering their life to give your kids the best experience possible. Take the time to go out of your way and say thank you to the person who stayed up until two o’clock in the morning working the puzzle of game schedules or who rolled out of bed at 6 a.m. on a Saturday to set flags in sub-zero temperatures to make sure fields were ready for games. Show appreciation for the introverted volunteer who braves the noise and people to teach soccer to a group of energetic kids. Respect the fourteen-year-old boy who is trying to remember all the rules from his referee training while irate parents are yelling at him for a missed call. These are volunteers, the servants of the community, who do this out of passion for the game. Thank you, guys!

IMG_4289

How to Raise a Generous Child

If I knew the magic formula that would guarantee a generous child in every case, I imagine I’d be a billionaire. Or at least the most successful parent in the world! But I don’t. I don’t even have a fraction of a formula. All I have is one incredibly generous child who would probably give the shirt off his back if he encountered someone who needed it more than he did. I have no clue how I managed to instill this awesome quality in him. If I did, you can be sure I wouldn’t have three other children who were polar opposites!

Bitty Girl has been incredibly cranky today (OK, she’s been incredibly cranky for the last week, but let’s not dwell on the past!). By lunchtime I’d reached the end of my noise-tolerance for the day (this doesn’t bode well for our afternoon…), and after fifteen minutes of listening to her go on and on and on and on and– Well, she wouldn’t stop whining and wailing. I wiped peanut butter off her face, brushed crumbs off her derriere, and hustled her off to bed.

Silence.

Literally. I mean, how is it possible that one child, the smallest child at that, can be the sole contributor of the noise and stress of the day?! I think she was asleep before I even made it down the hallway back to the dining area where the other kids were rushing through lunch so they could have the promised cookies. One by one, they appeared in the kitchen to claim their cookies. As Mr. Generosity took his cookies, I raised my voice so they could all hear me, “Bitty doesn’t get any cookies today, so just eat yours and don’t say anything about it when she wakes up from her nap.”

Five minutes later I started to clear the table and noticed half a cookie waiting on Bitty Girl’s plate. Not only that, but it looked to be the larger half of a cookie. One of her loving siblings had given up their right to eat two cookies so she could have some too. Fighting back tears, I peeked into the play room and asked, “Who saved half of their cookie for Bitty?” My oldest son glanced up casually, “I did.”

Of course. The bottomless pit who loves second helpings and asks for more food an hour after a meal is over, yet who is also willing to share a special treat to make sure his younger siblings can experience the same pleasure he is. I love it! This isn’t the first incidence either. He is especially attentive when it comes to his baby sister. My space-cadet son who can literally walk from one room to next and forget why he left the first room to begin with, somehow inherited the generosity gene that attracted me to my husband so many years ago. He may forget where he dropped his coat and which direction to write his “b’s” and “d’s,” but by the grace of God his brain is the first to notice a need or a wish that he is able to provide for. I’ll take that over the ability to spell “b-e-d” any day!

111714

My Small House

I live in a small house. Well, small compared to most of my neighbors’ and friends’ houses. I have a little more than 2600 square feet, which is actually a mansion compared to many houses, and I know I am incredibly blessed with this house. It’s far newer and nicer and more beautiful than any house I ever imagined I would realistically be living in. However, this house has, in my opinion, alot of wasted space. Who really needs 100 square feet of foyer space? …Especially when most people I know come to the back door… Or a breakfast nook that is unusable because it is also the back entrance? We have a master closet that is larger than the secondary bedrooms in our previous abode, and my laundry room, while enormous as far as laundry rooms go, is such a funky layout that I can’t add organizing furniture or even hooks on the walls without blocking the entrance to the garage. All said and done, I figure I have close to 500 square feet of floorplan just going to waste! That’s alot of space!

There are six of us living here, and when I say living, I mean LIVING. We are literally here 24-7, and believe me, it starts to feel pretty small when Legos spew out of the bedrooms and the trains start tracking around the foyer. I guess that oversized foyer might as well be put to good use… My project for the next few months is to delve into the creative recesses of my brain and find ways to make all the wasted space work for our lifestyle. It’s going to require some outside-of-the-box thinking. Like turning my laundry room into craft-supply central. The breakfast nook will be converted into a reading nook, and maybe I’ll even transform the foyer into a yoga studio! We’ll see… Stay tuned because you never know what crazy arrangement I’ll try! I promise I’ll be posting pictures as I go : )

How to write a blog

I am by no means an expert at how to write a blog. Just scrolling down my meager list of posts should tell you that much! But I do know how to write, how to bare my soul, tell a story, and keep someone entertained for even a few minutes. Over the last week I’ve asked myself THE question: what should I write about? What are people interested in? What do I really have to offer people? It seems like anything I have to contribute to the world has already been contributed in this overly-inflated blogosphere.

Honestly? I doubt I have any advice or tips or recipes or reviews that haven’t already been offered up by another blogger (or fifty!). What I do have is something only I have… My experiences from my perspective.

Ernest Hemingway put it this way, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Think about that for a second. The best writing comes when you simply let go and let your soul bleed out on paper (or keyboard if you type faster than you can write – and I can write pretty fast!). That’s what my writing has always been for me; an outlet for my thoughts, questions, and ideas. That’s what I want this blog to be. Maybe I won’t change the world with it (but a girl can dream, right?), but maybe I can be an encouragement to someone when they’re stressed out, or make someone laugh in the midst of a trial. I don’t know. I just know that I have to write.

And all my writing comes with a disclaimer: I am not perfect. My house is not perfect. My kids are not perfect. My husband is — well, yeah, he’s pretty perfect. I don’t even have a beautiful house to take pictures of to make you think my house is Pottery-Barn-catalog-worthy! The one thing I promise is that I’m real. My house may be messy, my kids are often still in PJ’s when I get them ready for bed at night, and some days I forget to shower (yeah, good thing this is a blog, right, and you aren’t actually sitting next to me?!), and more often than not I lose my train of thought when a kid comes in to tell me (for the eighteenth time!) that he or she is hungry! AGAIN!

…Sorry, where was I?

Oh yeah, Ernest Hemingway… How have I never read anything by this guy? I am going to be checking out some of his work because he has some inspiring things to say, like this, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” Well, here’s my one truest sentence…

I am not perfect, but I am me.

This blog is my rambling journey through life.