And a Happy New Year....

Happy New Year!

Hope this post finds all of you surviving and thriving. We had a great Christmas, and now we are home enjoying some quiet days in our pj's.

I have begun my major winter clean out and declutter. I do this every January, and I find that it always needs doing! Every year. It's a good time to move some stuff out since the flurry of new toys from Christmas and a couple of birthdays has arrived. Yesterday, I began sorting through children's clothes, starting with the youngest and moving up to the oldest. I'm convinced I could clothe 10 little girls under five. It is so hard to let go of good clothes in good condition! Plus, I'm sentimental.

But, I love being free from the burden of too much stuff. I like knowing what I have and using it. One time I let a whole season's worth of great hand-me-downs sit in a box just because I was so overloaded. I LOVE hand-me-downs, so now I'm much more on top of my children's clothing. I'm convicted that not owning too much is being a better steward of our resources.

Another reason I like decluttering is the house is much easier to clean.

And most importantly, I'm much more likely to engage with my children when I'm not constantly managing our things.


I'm not making any resolutions this year. I'm more interested in forming good habits....little by little. Eat well, exercise regularly, read more, stop yelling at my kids....these are all things I would like to implement indefinitely, gradually, and permanently.

A few months ago, I read Better Than Before. Loved this book along with all of Gretchin Rubin's books.


Though I don't have resolutions, I do have a word and a theme of the year. The word is MATURITY. Something about being in our thirties and having a fourth child has really brought out the adult in me and my husband. I'm hoping, praying, and working toward continued maturity in 2016. I (we) are the grown ups, and I think it's so important that we act like it. To me, I think maturity covers deep, spiritual growth as well as things like...staying up to date on doctors appointments, being organized, not staying up too late, fulfilling our commitments, and sticking to a budget.

My theme of the year is "the most frugal and thrifty year ever." I feel like I have grown over the years to finally...want less. Also, with year after year decluttering there are so many things I "had to have," and now I'm hauling them off to Goodwill. I feel like years of exercising frugality and thrift are finally paying off and 2016 is the year I'm looking forward to putting so many lessons into practice.


So curious, do you have a resolution? A word or theme of the year? Do you like to declutter as much as I do?



Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

This summer, I was dreaming of a non-Disney or commercialized Christmas. I was thinking baby dolls, non-battery powered toys, and a stack of classic, hardback children's books. I added this darling wooden toy food set to my Amazon wish list.

But after considering my children's actual interest, I have altered my plans a little. I'd like to think my 1950's vintage Christmas dreams will meet in the middle with the tacky, commercialized, battery powered Christmas of our modern day. Can you mesh the two? I don't know.

I still like to use the want, need, wear, read as a guideline for buying gifts. (We've done this for a couple of years.) It's plenty! Especially when our 4 gifts are combined with the gifts from grandparents and cousins and the few extra happies they get in their stockings.

For stockings this year, I'm giving the older three children some new pajamas, Scotch tape, candy, and a $5 Starbucks gift card. My kids always ask for chocolate croissants from Starbucks, but they are expensive! So I'm thrilled to be giving them an "experience" to look forward to and not a thing. Yes, we can go get croissants!


We do Santa to the extent that some gifts are mysteriously under the tree on Christmas morning, and the kids assume they are from Santa. Whenever my children ask me specifics about the North Pole and Santa....my answer is always....I have no idea, what do you think?

This way, all the Santa stuff is in their imagination. I don't like to fabricate the issue. This is mostly from a place of laziness than a moral issue. 

 sure, leave your Clementine peel there, I don't mind cleaning it up.

I'm not going to lie, Christmas has been a tad stressful to me this year despite my attempts to keep it super simple. There are so many extra social events and things at church and school. All good, but extra on top of normal which is pretty chaotic in itself. I've tried to just do one thing at a time without losing it, and every now and then I stop and have a cup of decaf tea by myself.

It's my coping mechanism these days, tea.

I did not buy Christmas pj's for my kids this year. Everybody is wearing an old pair of pajamas that somehow work or have Christmas colors in them.

Just because it's kind of a thing to buy your kids Christmas pj's...or do Elf on a Shelf....or go see Santa...or surprise your kids with a trip to Disney on Christmas morning.....or ____ fill in the blank, you don't have to do those things. You can pave your own way. You can do some of it and not all of it. It's easy to feel so much pressure to do the big, exciting things that everybody else is doing.

But if money is tight, or you are tired, or stressed or newly pregnant and feeling sick...go smaller. Don't do and spend in Christmas futures. I promise, nobody cares. Like I've already said, there is already so much extra going on this time of year without you thinking up more things for your family to go and do.

And don't you ever, ever....EVER...buy one of these for your kids for Christmas like I did one time. Bad idea.


Star Oranaments + What I'm Into These Days

George made this one.

Merry Christmas!

Are you ready? As of yesterday, I think I am.

Today, I had the best time making star ornaments and reading Song of the Stars with my 4 year old's preschool class. These ornaments are so easy to make. It's basically a craft for a non-crafter. Popsicle sticks, Elmer's glue, sequins, twine. Let your imagination run wild.

The older our family gets, there seems to be more Christmas-y details that fall under my umbrella of responsibility. To my benefit, I'm not a holiday fanatic, and I don't try to do it all. This time of year can get totally out of hand, but I have held my ground and made sure to have a lot of normal days.

Here lately, I've been enjoying some great walks. Our weather has been unseasonably warm.

I've been listening a few episodes of this podcast, Slow Your Home. I love the hosts' Australian accents.

I'm all about this tea! I'm seriously crazy for tea because I'm trying to stop drinking afternoon coffee, and I'm cutting out alcohol during the week. It all messes up my sleep.

Speaking of sleep, Stephen and I have been staying up way too late watching season 3 of Mr. Selfridge. I'm loving Jeramy Piven almost as much as I'm loving tea right now!

The last thing on my to-do list today is to finishing ordering items to complete my winter capsule wardrobe. I'm pretty sure this Gap scarf is going to make the cut. I'm all into capsule wardrobes these days.

What are you into these days?!


Life Hack...Birthday Gift Box

We go to a BA-jillion little people's birthday parties. And it's so fun. Lots of friends, lots of people to celebrate. My kids live for it!

But you know what takes the wind out of my sails?

Running the errand to buy the birthday gift. Ain't nobody got time for that!

I am literally kicking myself when I don't plan ahead and end up buying a gift in desperation on the way to the party. I overspend. It adds needless stress. It cuts into my Saturday mornings.


To keep this mayhem from happening, every couple of months I stock pile children's birthday presents. All from my beloved Dollar Tree. And because it is truly the thought that counts, I try to keep costs to $1- $2 per gift.

This past Saturday, I restocked the gift box.

A few of my faves...

For the 3-4 year old boy...

And the 4-5 year old girl...
Beads and twine... love it.

Stickers and a shiny notebook. What 4 or 5 year old girl wouldn't appreciate these? This is good stuff!

I didn't find much for the 6 -7 year old boy age range.... but some glow in the dark bracelets and necklaces. Everyone is crazy for those. Glow sticks and a pack of gum. That would be a great gift for a 7 year old boy.

Also, I think the Little Golden books are nice gifts, especially for first and second birthdays.

So, do you have a gift box? You need one.

This is one of those life hacks that I have learned the hard way. Trust me. Ask my husband. He's seen me flying out the door one too many Saturday mornings....cursing the whole way.


Big Boy Bed

This week, we moved G into a big boy bed. He turns 3 this month. Besides one big thud around 11pm on night 2, the move has been seamless. That's G, easy with life's transitions and milestones.

I'm a big believer in keeping babies in their cribs for as long as you can. All of my children have crawled out at some point, and we disciplined them for it. (And they responded well to discipline. I know that's not the case for everyone.) When we've had new babies, we bought or borrowed a second crib.

The crib is a safe haven. Plus, the thought of moving an 18 month old into a real bed was a battle I never wanted to fight. Also, the crib is a perfect place to put a toddler that is having a melt down. When a two year old can't deal, I scoop him/her up and stick them in their crib. My thought is... if you are going to have a fit, you can do it alone in your room.

When G fell out of the bed (poor fella), I immediately thought of this idea. It's genius.

I didn't have any pool noodles, so I rolled up some blankets and tucked them under the fitted sheet.


Super Food Soup

My mother in law served a soup like this a few weeks ago at a family gathering. And it is glorious. It is healthful and filling, and as soon as I made it, I knew this recipe was a keeper.

Super Food Soup
(Turkey Sausage - Sweet Potato - Kale - Chick peas) 

extra virgin olive oil
1 onion diced
minced garlic to taste
1 lb turkey sausage
chicken broth or water seasoned with chicken bullion (enough to cover all the other ingredients)
2 sweet potatoes, diced into bite sized pieces. Tip: use a very sharp knife. Sweet potatoes are tough.
1 can chick peas
1 can diced tomato
bunches of handfuls of kale
salt and pepper to taste

Coat bottom of pan with olive oil, add diced onion and turkey sausage. Cook until sausage is thoroughly done. Reduce heat. Add garlic, stir. Add broth, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. Cook until sweet potatoes are tender. Lastly, add chick peas and several handfuls of kale and a little salt and pepper if needed.

Soup is forgiving, so this is less of a recipe and more of a guideline.

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