May 20, 2015

Project Simplify Part 2

I've been having a lot of fun finishing up the different projects from my little book I mentioned a few posts ago. It feels super nice to clear things out for REAL and pare down. I have no desire to fill every nook and cranny with 'stuff' anymore. Here is some of what I've been working through.

1. Laundry room: laundry and a few random supplies, girls' backpacks and coats, drying racks, hooks, and four colored bins, one for me, Ben, the girls, and towel/sheets. That's it.

2. Kitchen cabinets. Only have one set of stoneware dishes that can be used for all occasions. All of our dishes are in this cabinet, except for drinking glasses.

All the pots and pans. Got rid of a large one that I didn't really need so I could fit the electric griddle down there. How many pans do I really need?

All the baking dishes:

All the baking food items:

I tried to organize the spices by letter I'm that neurotic.

3. Media. These two drawers hold all of our DVDs and VHS (yeah, we still have some of those). Got rid of everything that we did not really love or want for the future:

4. This is every single 'adult' book in the house!!!! It's so easy to accumulate book after book, but when it comes down to it, there are so few books that we will end up reading or going back to. So we saved only our favorites or meaningful ones. The first shelf is mostly fiction (Narnia series, Francine Rivers) and autobiographies or biographies. Second shelf is spiritual growth and teaching. Third shelf is favorite parenting and marriage books (not every one we've ever read). Fourth shelf is random but a few practical how-to books. Last shelf is my childhood scrapbook, extra copy of our wedding album, a Spanish 101 textbook, etc.:

5. Linen closet. Just kept one set of flannel sheets and summer sheets for each bed and an extra pair for the girls' bed. Towels- don't need that many. We keep ours in our bathroom, but even then it's only a few. Then beach towels, kid bath towels, and pillowcases. Anna's nebulizer medication, bath time shampoo and stuff, and a blanket:

6. Girls' closet. Top shelf are their travel bags and beach bags with swim stuff. Kimmie's dresses, then shirts, then Anna's dresses. They can wear the same size shirts which is nice. Definitely have more clothes than we need, but almost all are used or hand me downs that we really do love. I have bins in here with diapers, more hangers, and all their clothes that are too small (to hand down or consign) or too big. I like to keep them nearby so I can occasionally see if anything new fits. I also don't like storing clothes in the attic; my goal is to have everything that we use, except Christmas decorations, sports equipment, outside toys, and suitcases/coolers in the room where they are used.

Anna gets the top drawer and Kimmie the second. I just keep short, pants, and skirts in here:

Last drawer is for underwear, underclothes, and junk clothes for outside:

PJs go in the bottom of this hall tree. We probably have way more than we need:

7. I limited little trinkets and smaller items to what you see here. A couple of pictures, the shells from the girls baptism, her crown from Disney, and some hats.

The homemade bunny house found it's home in here! The girls have some sort of obsession with taking their clothes off. And I'm the one stuck putting them back on.

8. My work desk, in the closet.

So far, so good! I think I only have a few areas left: kids' toys, attic (ugh I hate going up there so I might skip this one), coat closet, keepsakes, craft supplies, and paper. I highly recommend this little book! It's been fun.

May 12, 2015

Evolution of the princess

You know how they say that everyone is a parenting expert until they have kids? Well, I always used to say that my kids would not become princess fanatics nor would they ever have Barbie dolls. Well, as you can see below, both of those things have failed to happen:

I'm not sure how this collection happened. It started with two Christmas gifts from a relative- their first 'Barbies' (though at least these aren't Shop n Drop ones or anything), another for birthday, and so on and so forth, until somehow we collected almost every princess out there. And you know what? Anna LOVES them. When she was littler, I tried to steer her away from princess stuff. We didn't buy any, we didn't watch any movies or TV about princesses, so I thought she would be immune. But every time we went somewhere with a princess picture, she was immediately drawn to it. Despite my own desires, she became a lover of princesses. I tried to fight it for a while, but I realized that I can't dictate what my children find joy in and what speaks to them. So, I decided that I just had to go with it. So somehow we ended up with princess dolls and dresses. We've watched Cinderella, Tangled (our favorite), Frozen, Sleeping Beauty (one of my favorite classics), The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin. That doesn't mean we will be buying any true 'Barbies' in the future other than these classic princesses (I have to draw the line somewhere, right?).

Though I knew it wasn't possible to change the draw to the princess, and it wouldn't be right to 'deprive' (ha sounds so dumb) her of that aspect of play, I decided that what I could do was help her develop a healthy view of herself and build character; this can be done through almost anything, including princesses, I decided. I take every opportunity I can to point out the character qualities of the princesses- their hearts, when they are hard-working, serving, loving, strong, brave, and show perseverance, forgiveness, and self-sacrifice. There are some fine qualities about some of those girls. To me, Cinderella shows the epitome of sacrificial love and humility, rising above pain and maintaining a soft heart. Rapunzel is one of the sweetest, most loving, courageous heroines (I have a secret crush on her), and Aurora's gentle and grateful spirit, even while living as a peasant girl, drew others to her. It's harder for me to find the admirable qualities in, say, Jasmine, but I try, or at least focus more on the other princesses, ha.

When Anna talks about how 'beautiful' they are, I ask her what truly makes someone beautiful (their heart, their kindness, how they treat people, etc.) We talk about this a lot. Loving others, treating them with respect, finding ways to help people in need, showing affection, and recognizing when something can be done for someone else as a gesture of kindness. We talk about how the outward appearance is one thing, but God looks at the heart, and no matter how beautiful one is on the outside, it can never make up for an 'ugly' inside. We talk about loving people who are mean and unkind, because they are usually the ones who are hurting most and in need of love and acceptance.

I hope that my daughters can balance their love for beauty, princesses, and sparkly things with the way that God adorns our heart when we follow and obey him. I hope that somehow I can use the paths they tend toward, be it princesses or ninjas (somehow I doubt that will ever be the case), to see themselves in light of Christ, to see the beauty and image of God that is evident in all people.

I can't dictate what my kids love or who they are, but I can steer them in the right direction, guide their hearts, and build their character. That's my job as a mother, and I take it more seriously than any other responsibility I've ever had.

May 10, 2015

Semi-DIY Silhouettes!

I LOVE silhouettes. I think they are super classy, and I love how they are a reminder of the beauty and individuality of your loved one. I saw these pretty frames at a stand when we were at Downtown Disney. They are made of plastic but look like wood, and decided I would finally try to get some silhouettes. I looked all over on Etsy and they sold for over $30 each. Some were up to $75! Whoa! Way too much for us! I happened upon one shop where she provided you with a digital silhouette for just $5. I figured it was worth a try. So far, I've had good success with using my printer to create high-resolution images/artwork for my house. Often people can't tell the difference. You can buy lots of digital art on Etsy at a great price. So I sent in my pictures of the girls and they came back within a few days. I printed them out on cardstock paper in high quality. They turned out great, and you would never know they were printed off from my own computer! They look just like they had been painted or cut out. I hung them on the wall in the hallway and I love seeing the girls when I walk by! Yay!

May 8, 2015

Project Simplify

I'm always into simplifying, but lately I've been wanting to take it to the next level. Especially when I looked at my closet. I think (maybe?) compared to the average person in the US, I keep a lot less 'stuff.' But yet, every time I try to simplify beyond the point I'm at, I sort of hit a wall and have trouble deciding what should go and what should stay. Well, I got this fantastic little book that has totally helped my mindset and figure out what is really worth holding on to, and the benefits of living with less: less clutter, less choices, less desire to buy more 'stuff' (since you've worked so hard to get rid of it!), and realizing the joy of living with less.

The book goes through every different area of your home so you can take it slow and hit each section as you want. Instead of going through your stuff and picking a few things out to send to Goodwill, for example, she encourages you to take everything (literally, everything) out and go through it piece by piece. I really love the questions she has you ask yourself. For clothes- is this something I would take on vacation? Do I have something to pair it with? Do I have another one of these? How often do you do laundry? (who needs two black shirts if you do laundry every week)? I realized that so many of the clothes I hung on to were ones that I didn't love, just tolerated. I went from thinking my closet was pared down to literally getting rid of 50% of it after reading the book. The goal is to have only clothes that you 'love' to wear. It also sets a standard so you don't buy whatever you find on sale, just because it's cheap. If you don't absolutely love it, you won't buy it, because you've worked so hard to keep your wardrobe a 'love it' wardrobe. I can fit all of my seasonal clothes out at once (except I put sweaters away), so I don't have to go through boxes every season. I like that.

Here is my pared down closet. It's kind of embarrassing because I know that so many people around the world would think this is extravagant, and it is. But at least compared to what it was, I think it looks pretty good.

All my warm weather tops (just what's hanging, the blue bins hold 1. bathing suits and 2,3. camisoles that I wear under cardigans):

All my cold weather tops (minus a bunch of heavier tops and sweaters):

All my shorts, capris, jeans, and casual pants. Still feels like a lot, but I wear all of them.

All my dresses and skirts for all occasions:

All my work or nicer pants (four pairs):

My gym bag:

I pared down all my shoes (how many pairs of dress shoes do I really need? What would go with the most?) I saved three pairs of dress shoes- one nude, one black, and one silver. All of these and my work shoes are on the floor shelf, and all my sandals and casual shoes are on the hanging rack. It still feels like I have a lot of shoes, but a lot less than before.

 I also kept only two purses and two belts (black and brown), and two hats:

Here is the extent of my makeup collection after getting rid of unused items. Bare Minerals foundation, concealer, and blush, brushes, mascara, eye liner, an eyebrow pencil, a pencil sharpener, and an lash/eyebrow comb (no curler). It all fits into this little bag that I can roll up to take with me on trips.

And here is all of my jewelry. One side has earrings and bracelets, the other necklaces. It also packs really well:

I don't know if this still is a ton of stuff, but I feel like it's as simplified as I will probably get! Either way, I feel proud of what I've done so far.

Here is my simplified nightstand. I love how the author talks about why having a simple nightstand is a good idea and how to decide what to keep on it. A light, a coaster, one picture frame (my late father), one current book/devotional, and box with a few of my nighttime essentials (glasses and lotion).

More to come on the other areas! I've already done the kitchen cabinets and dishes and bathroom cabinets. There wasn't anything to do in the dining room because there was nothing in it to begin with!

May 5, 2015

Leg #4


Today we received Anna's fourth leg. She's had her current one for 14 months, which is a really long time for a growing child. Her new leg is a little bit more advanced than her previous one. It has a foot with mechanics that allows it to bend a little bit side to side and front and back, which means it will give her more shock absorption when she puts pressure on it (jumping, running, etc.) and will be easier to manipulate. We wanted to go ahead and move forward with the next type of leg even though the foot only came in a size that was a few sizes too big for her other foot. This means that the leg is a little bit bigger than her other one, but still just as functional. We know she will grow into a 'matching' size soon.

Test socket

Test socket

May 1, 2015

Disney and Allergies

My parents took us to a Disney resort for two nights as a big family birthday gift. I had heard that Disney is a sort of "forerunner" in the food allergy world, and I was excited to try it out. The only place we've taken Anna out for food has been Chic-Fil-a. This is for a variety of safety reasons, including a lot of lack of education that's out there. But after reading about Disney, I was super excited to try eating out as a family and (the best part) getting ice cream together as a family for the FIRST TIME! We have always brought our own food or avoided going out as a family, so this was amazing!

 Disney was AMAZING in how they treated us. Instead of acting like we were a burden or high-maintenance, they were so accommodating and willing and helpful. As soon as you check in to your restaurant, they see your allergies in their system and would say, "I see you have an allergy to milk, eggs, and peanuts. Who has the allergy?" Then they informed us that the chef would be out to talk to us soon. The chef would come out and ask us what we wanted, and then explain that he could make a version of whatever it was (hamburger with bun, spaghetti, waffle, etc.) egg and dairy-free in their 'allergy kitchen.' They knew allergy safety and we had no worries whatsoever.

They had soy milk wherever there was regular milk, allergy free versions of so many different menu items, and they knew exactly what was in their food. You would then get your food with a little identifying label, just to be extra sure.

Anna is super into princesses right now, and since we didn't go to any of the parks (just hung out at the resort and Downtown Disney), we decided to do the Bippidy Boppidy Boutique, which is where they do your hair and makeup and treat you like a little princess. You get your own "Fairy Godmother". It was so fun and Anna felt so special. We wore a Cinderella dress that we had from home to save money, and just had them do the hair (and 'nails'). Not something we would normally get into, but it really was special and fun. One thing I love about Disney is how much attention they pay to details. Everything runs so smoothly and has all these special 'touches.' Here are a few pics from our time.

Asking for her autograph. She can write her name now!

Wanting to dance with Daddy

Our "Royal Princess" room!

Selfie with my eldest!

Mom's doing great! Two years post-diagnosis and she looks awesome!

 Anna is getting her fourth leg on Monday! We are so excited to share it with you soon!