Category: Everyday Life

Summers are Our Jam

Summers Are Our JamWe’re starting to dream about warm summer days, long stretches of afternoon with nothing we HAVE to do. When school is out, we’re all like–  FREEDOM!!!!!

Well, except me. I’ll be working. 🙂

But because half of my heart is still at home all day, and because Jake is so awesome as to let me speak into the summer schedule, here are some of the fun (and helpful) things we’ll be doing this summer:

We will play outside. Explore. Ride bikes. Dig in dirt. Play basketball. Swing. Chalk. Picnic. Maybe work a little on our Park Challenge (visiting every park in our city). Anything that involves being outside of our cute and cozy apartment and basking in the warm summer sunshine. The kids are doing local camps this summer, which will give them a little bit of freedom and structure outside as well. (more…)

Parenting as an Art (and sometimes art gets messy)

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It’s been awhile since I’ve shared an update on our Year of Positive Parenting.

To be honest, it’s been really hard.

There’s nothing more I want in life than to get this parenting thing “right”. And of course, the reality of parenting is that there is no “right”. Math problems have right answers. Jeopardy questions have right answers. Parenting does not have right answers. (more…)

I Got Stitched!

After spending months seeing some of my favorite people model their Stitch Fix boxes on Facebook, I decided to jump in and give it a try. I had some extra birthday money, and thought- why not?

Here’s how it works:

  1. You sign up for a Stitch Fix account and walk through the steps. They ask you a bunch of questions about your clothing sizes and style preferences. It probably takes 15-20 minutes.
  2. You choose when you want your first box delivered.
  3. You choose how often you want a box delivered (every month? every 3 months?)
  4. You wait! 🙂

My waiting ended TODAY. I’ve been down with a cold, and so when Jake came in with my Stitch Fix box, I had a very important question to answer. Would I get off the couch to try these clothes on? Or just wait until tomorrow because I had big plans of laying on the couch all night and watching Gilmore Girls after the kids went to bed?

Stitch fix won my internal battle, and here is what is inside!

(more…)

The Book to Read When Your House is a Hot Mess

Once upon a time, before I had a cute hubby and a gaggle of kids, I was a really tidy person. Everything in its place and a place for everything? Oh yes indeed.

These days? I just can’t keep up.

I tell myself that a messy house is the necessary byproduct of fun and creativity and love. And I can believe it for a couple days.

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But soon the adorable lovey dovey cards and paper bag puppets and castle cardboard boxes suddenly transform, and where I once saw creative exploration, I now see trash and chaos. My blood pressure starts rising and my brain feels like it’s going to explode.

It’s real weird.

I get a huge burst of energy and immediately begin tidying and cleaning like I’m on 2x speed. When the muttering under my breath begins, Jake and the kids recognize that the end has come. Jake rallies the kids and family clean-up begins.

The other day I was telling Jake that if we had less stuff, I’m SURE we’d have to tidy less. Jake wasn’t so convinced. He told me that we’d probably be tidying less in about 15 years when we no longer have 6 people living under one roof.

Good point.

Nevertheless, I’ve been reading up on the art of tidying. And who else would I go to than Marie Kondo, who wrote a bestselling book on this very topic a couple years ago called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She shocked the world with the preposterous idea that the key to keeping a tidy house is to have. less. stuff. Everything should have a place, and everything you own should bring you joy.

Spark Joy

Recently, Kondo published a follow-up book called Spark Joy: an illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up. In this book, she gets into the details of HOW to declutter and then organize every part of the house, as well as teaching us to recognize what brings us joy.

The key to purging is knowing what to keep and what to get rid of. For the KonMari method, the secret is this: hone your sensitivity to joy. 

Do you have some clothes that you wear, but always feel uncomfortable or self-conscious in them? Get rid of them.

Do you have 6 ice cream scoopers, 3 pizza slicers, and 8 wooden spoons? Keep what you need (one of each?) and get rid of the rest. It will bring you joy to open your drawer and not have to dig through a gazillion utensils to get to the one you need.

Is there a sweatshirt you own that is SO UGLY, but you love wearing it? Keep it! It brings you joy.

After figuring out what items to keep and what to get rid of, Kondo equips readers with detailed methods of storage, organization, and folding.

She gives detailed descriptions and pictures of how to fold everything- regular shirts, shirts with decorations, tights, socks, UNDERWEAR for goodness sake.

She also offers some great advice on all the miscellaneous items that we have no idea what to do with. My personal trouble spots include jewelry, papers, and toys. I can’t seem to get a wrangle on a good organization method for any of them. Here’s what I learned:

Jewelry but no jewelry box? Place in dividers inside of a top drawer.

Papers? Discard everything. If you haven’t looked at the papers in several years, you’re probably not going to ever again.

But toys? Ah ha. She doesn’t offer a solution;  she only calls attention to the fact that toy organization is truly complex.

Spark Joy has given me some great ideas on how to tidy up, and has given me the  encouragment I need to give away some old clothes, throw out a crate full of magazine articles (organized by theme, of course), and think more broadly about what kind of home brings me joy.

The truth is, a home that’s full of the people I love brings me joy. Even if they are a bit messy.

 

Tripping Our Way Towards Gender Equality

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On the way home from dinner tonight, Aly was telling us how a classmate gave her candy in celebration of Polish Girl’s Day.

Isn’t it so fun that girls in Poland have their own day? But that got us wondering– is there a Polish Boy’s day too? And of course, since it is International Women’s Day, I was quick to tell them all about it and the kids were intrigued. Why did such a day exist? What about an International Men’s Day?

These kinds of conversations are some of my favorites to have with the kids. I love their natural curiosity and how unhindered they are in talking about the world as they see it. I’m also curious as to how they perceive the world. I know the version of the world I’m trying to point out to them; but as we all know, it doesn’t always translate how we hope.   (more…)

The Gift Drawer: 20 Birthday Party Gift Ideas for Under $10

THE GIFT DRAWER_

Your child comes bursting out of the school doors and runs to you. In her hand is a bright purple envelope and as she climbs into the car, all out of breath, she excitedly tells you that one of her classmates invited her to a birthday party!

It’s the 3rd one this month.

I know some parents’ mojo is to ignore the invitation altogether. Grace and peace to you.

But us? If we can get our kid there and they want to go, we try to make it happen.

Because, well, you know this already- I love birthdays. I love celebrating others. So the idea of a kid throwing a birthday party, only to find a bunch of his friends aren’t going to be there? Soul crushing. And while I can’t help what other families do, our kids will be there, rain or shine. For better or for worse. It’s what friends do.

Which leads me to the topic at hand- presents. (more…)

What I’m Into {February 2016}

This month marked my first full month of working out of the home all day. We’ve been talking a lot about rhythms and babysitters and schedules and after-school pick-ups. Jake and I have texted more than we ever have, both to connect with each other… “you are never going to believe what I just read” and also to help smooth out the many transitions that speckle our days- “what time will you be home so dinner can be timed right?” and “hey will you grab the boxtops from the school office today at pickup?”

My window for hobbies and creative outlets is shrinking quickly. This month I’ve had to start sifting through all the “stuff” I did before working outside of the home all day.

Which ones are important? All of them.

Which bring the most joy? Um, all of them.

Which one can I not imagine NOT doing? Uhhhh. none of them?

Needless to say I’ve been awesome at figuring out new rhythms. 🙂

BUT whatever, all of that crazy work for another night. Tonight? I’m going to share all the little awesomes of the month. (more…)

Date Night In: Puzzlemania

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One of my goals for this year is to be intentional about spending time with Jake. A big way we do this is by setting aside Friday nights for Date Night In.

We’ve done a variety of things for Date Night In, but if we’re not intentional about thinking up something creative to do, we end up on the couch snuggling and watching Netflix. While this is not a horrible way to spend a Friday evening after a long week of work and school, it’s always a good idea to change things up.

Date Night In Idea #1: Puzzlemania

This may sound lame to some, but listen– it’s NOT. (more…)

February Positive Parenting Challenge: No Yelling

No Yelling

I have a teensy bit of a confession.

When pushed towards familial chaos, my instinct is to start hollering.

And while I know why my first reaction is to do this, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I figure out ways to take a deep breath, count to 10, and with respect and firmness, speak calmly to my children.

Always.

And while I know we won’t be batting 100% on this one, that’s the goal. Because it really, truly matters that our home is a place of love and respect. And yelling quickly drains a home of those two things.

Does this mean we’ll never fight? No.

Does it mean we won’t have to ask forgiveness, sometimes multiple times a day? Nope.

Does it mean we’ll be all rainbows and roses and laughter? Ha!

It just means that we’re all aiming towards kindness and respect and love.  (more…)