Month: March 2012

  • [Edition Three] – Tricks of the Trade


    I’m writing from a strange computer in a familiar place.
    Back “home”, which is Pennsylvania.  
    There are a myriad of mac computers, which are quite complicated to me.
    Control + C doesn’t copy. I don’t know how to paste.
    And I love my little shortcuts on a normal computer.
    I’m behind the mac-times like that.

    But I am finding myself in the midst of a quiet afternoon, all alone in the house actually.
    Sister-to-be-married is getting some beauty things done :)
    Other sisters took one of my girls,
    mother took the other on another errand,
    brothers and father are gone,
    husband is still in the south and will be arriving over the weekend.

    It’s so fun to be here, to have time to spend with the family before the busyness of the wedding next weekend.
    It’s harder to be gone from husband with two little children for a longer amount of time,
    but he was gracious and my family is so helpful.
    The Little Love is due is less than five weeks, so we are not giving him/her any options but to hold tight until after the wedding. :)

    There hasn’t been a wedding in the family for almost 7 years, when Ben and I got married,
    so this is high excitement.
    I get to be in on last dress fittings, wedding details, reception decor,
    and I love it. :)

    But I can’t show too many pictures yet and give away the bride’s wedding detail secrets!
    Later. :)

    But I wanted to do the third [and last] edition of the Tricks of the Trade!
    There have been some wonderful contributions, and I love it!
    Thank you so much to all of you who sent in pictures and ideas!
    I was a little nervous at first that I’d have some blank posts, and no responses, but it’s been wonderful.
    I am very much indebted to you!

    So enjoy these last ideas and tips! :)  

    And it’s with a resounding cheer that I bring you these lovely ladies!



    i LOVE organizational bins!boxes!jars!labels!

    (if i had a label maker and laminator? i would need an intervention for sure.
    nothing would be safe. i’m a dork that way.)

    and yet. while i can point at what i’m working on. there’s so much more…haha. that i’m not.
    and should be.

    but this is all about sharing. learning. and fun. right?

    my top three fav things are:  
    (my favs are directly related to staying sane efforts.)

    1. my bin labeled “too small”

    my kids grow out of stuff left and right.
    it gives me a place to stash those items out of the way,
    till i can sort what i want to share with friends or give to the goodwill.

    2. my box labeled
    “things i am not wearing but cannot part with yet.”

    sounds dumb.
    but. it gets my odds and ends out of the way.
    while i pray for a re-purposing brain cell to suddenly activate in my head.

    3.color coded cups and folders for my kids.

    seriously. before color assignments for precious children?
    we would have used 20 or more drinking glasses a day. made me nuts.
    the folders are mine to keep important school info, report cards etc. throughout the school year.
    handy because i can read colors faster than words. ;)

    i want a bulletin board for my kids…but till then…
    old frame (needs to be painted. what do you think?) for free.
    thick dollar store foam board. (can you guess how much?)
    hemp string and clothespins.
    cheap with acmoore coupon
    free map and i now have a…
    a place in addition to my fridge, doors and walls :) to hang my kid’s masterpieces!

    i am loving making tags and labels using old book pages.
    i use alot of cardboard boxes for bins that i got for free.
    (the bigger bins here are for shelves above our desk.)
    bought brads with coupon at hobbylobby. cheap.
    covered boxes with fabric scraps. free.
    using spray adhesive. cheap.
    i like writing free.
    sorry ’bout that.
    or paper and glue sticks. which are cheap.
    i like writing cheap too.
    sorry ’bout that.

    if you haven’t thought *dork* already, this one will do it.
    but trust me. i have very good reasons.
    our house is old, we heat with coal, our closets were built on stone walls.
    let’s just say dusty, dirty and damp.
    so to save my shoes, i keep the boxes (yes. space hogs i know)
    and when i was weary of digging through boxes…
    i *blush* had a photoshoot with my shoes and pasted the pictures on the boxes.
    like colors, i read pictures faster than words.

    the remainder of the pics are just misc for toys, shoes, ribbon etc.



    and this one is seven recipes taped to the inside of my kitchen cupboard.
    it’s my “save my procrastinating butt” approach to dinner. :)
    all of them are ways to use one pound of hamburger
    and have a meal ready in about 30 minutes or less. 





    I love our spices like this.  Years ago we’d done the lazy-susan idea but we never could find what we needed fast and we’d tried the stair-stacking idea but then when you get one in the back all the rest would fall down.  Here we used the spice racks from the container store.   I love ours like this because they’re right by the stove and I can quickly get to them and they’re put in there alphabetically so their easy to find too.  Actually the ones we use the most don’t even have labels on them because they’ve worn off.
    If you had more room on your door and did it just right you could probably figure out a size of spice you buy at the store and just use those jars instead emptying them into glass ones.  We just didn’t have enough room here and it works fine.

    Next up is our teeny tiny corner closet.  Literally its not more than like 1 foot by 3 feet at the most but its 9 feet tall. 
    What do you do with such a closet?  You make it into a wrapping “center” 

    The wrapping paper is held up along the outside of the shelf at the top of the roll
    by jumbo rubberbands fastened onto long nails sticking out in the corners. 
    So all we have to do to get it is slide it out and its easy to put back too.  Hope that makes sense.  
    (though right now weve got a couple wrapping papers that are either to long or too big that dont fit too well.)

    Second Shelf is bows and ribbon

    Third is gifts and packaging stuff

    Fourth is bags

    Tissue paper is on the door in ziplocks nailed on the door with pins


    Here’s my mom’s card/craft room.  She just recently organized this and I thought I’d show it off. :)
      Again this is a really tiny room. It was hard to get pictures.   It’s actually one of the 3 dormers and right off a bedroom and closet.



    Here’s where we keep the stamps, idea books, paper and some supplies. 
    The ribbon and glue and ink pads are in old sewing machine drawers.


    And lastly laundry, that thing that all mothers seem to talk about and that’s never caught up.  Growing up we had baskets labeled for whites, permanent press, towels, jeans, and maybe a few others.  Even little kiddos can do this. Every morning people would bring their clothes to the laundry room and sort them out.  Then, when the washing was done, each person had also a box-you can kinda see the big brown boxes at the bottom of the picture and that’s where all the clean clothes would go.  They could then empty them out whenever they got around to it.  That means all the laundry would stay in the laundry room unless it was put away.  Nowadays since there is only 3 of us we each have our own baskets and then a whites and towels one and a few extras.




    Organizational theory #1. Put everything in its place right away instead of making a pile to take care of later. It might mean a couple extra steps now, but will save time. Which leads me to. . .

    Theory #2: If it doesn’t have a “place”, it might need to be gotten rid of. That theory either motivates me to find a space quickly or take a trip to the thrift store.

    Theory #3: Be a minimalist. I hate clutter and since I live in a two story row-house with two closets and no attic, storage place is precious. It has turned me into a bit of a minimalist. I seriously look at my overflowing closet full of clothes, sometimes and just want to rip out half of it and give it away. And honestly, I can live with way less. 

    P.S. Just a side note about the minimalist theory. After a trip to Ikea’s showroom one day, I lay in bed that night freaking out about how much stuff and space we really have. I figured out that we could totally live on our first floor (if we had designed things different during the remodel), and we could divide our upstairs into two rental units . It would be so practical. Crazy, yes, but practical. :)



    Thank you so much! All you who contributed, and those of you who encouraged those who contributed!
    This was such a fun thing for me to do, and I was often in open-mouthed amazement
    at the wonderful ideas that came in! Some of these I will definitely be trying in my own home!
    Many many thanks! 





  • Pink Cupcakes & a Treasure Chest


    So these are some of the busiest weeks and months that I think we have ever had as a family…

    Weeks of locking keys in the car at Walmart and sitting on the bumper [7 months pregnant] with two little girls running around, waiting on a rescuer.

    Weeks of preparation for my sister Jana’s wedding the end of this month, where Zoe and Olivia are flower girls and I’m the matron of honor [at 8 months pregnant :) ].

    Weeks of meetings at church where the Spirit of God met us and convicted us, and where we were exhausted and rejuvenated at the end of a late-night week.

    Weeks of family visiting and sisters-with-fiances coming and lovely family times.

    And there are My Faire Lady orders to make and final wedding shopping and bill paying and card writing and bed sheets to order because they developed huge holes and menus to plan…

    But on this Tuesday, life doesn’t feel overwhelming, thanks to my sweet mother-in-law, who so graciously offered to watch the girls for the night Sunday night and part of Monday so I could catch up on rest. I feel like a new person, after sleeping until, well, I won’t say how long I slept. :) But with a little second-born that wakes up around 7am every morning, let’s just say that sleeping in isn’t a regular part of my life. Which makes it all the more special when given the opportunity!

    So after a restful morning, and some very quiet time alone, my soul AND body are refreshed. The combination of the two hasn’t happened in a long time. :) And I missed my girls… Times of rest like that are so refreshing, and it also makes me realize how much I love being a mommy. Even though the house stayed clean and no toys were strewn around and the Ever Appearing Little Blue Chair did not follow me around the kitchen, I miss them.

    I was editing a few pictures yesterday from the past month…
    And I do know that it’s March, and long past Valentine’s Day, but we had so much fun making little cupcakes again this year.
    Last year it was just Zoe and me, and we made special little wrappers and spent more time on the pretty end of things.
    This year Olivia was delighted as could be to join in the helping, and we kept the baking quite simple.
    But fun, oh so fun!

    [matching aprons from Auntie Ervina ♥]

    Seriously, having two little girls is the most fun ever.
    Sometimes I feel like the big sister of two cute girls. :)
    And then I look at my 34-week pregnant stomach and no, I’m no big sister. I’m a mother all right!


    Little [goodwill] cowgirl boots make the baking go better.

     High doses of sprinkles, by mouth or on cupcakes…



    Tomorrow marks 34 weeks of pregnancy.
    If any of my pregnancies has ever flown by, it’s this one. There have been times I’ve lost track of where I’m at in weeks, it’s been so fast! This week was one of them. I knew I was between 32-34 weeks, but the definite number eluded me, and I had to count back in my planner several weeks. It is definitely different than the first pregnancy, when every week seemed to take a month to by go. This time, it seems that every few days a month passes me by!

    I leave next week for my sister’s wedding, and will be gone two weeks.
    By the time I return, the due date will be 3 weeks away.
    I’ve gone very late the past two babies, so I sort of expect that again.
    But if I would happen to go early, I would probably have to stop at the store on the way to the hospital because I have no baby things ready!!

    But for now, I’m a Treasure Chest.
    Not in labor. :) And hopefully not going to be until after the long trek up north and back!

    During my first pregnancy, when I was right at the end and feeling as big as a whale, a dear older woman just bubbled over about how she always felt like such a treasure chest when she was pregnant. I mean, yes, you’re big, you’re uncomfortable, you’re giving your life for this, and you’re carrying a treasure. a LIFE within you.


    [photo shoot by my sister Ervina]

    I suppose I’m realizing in a new way that mothering is a pouring out of myself for my children.
    It’s not about feeling like a cute mom, a cool mom, a put-together mom.
    It is about giving myself for them, giving my life for them, really.

    This has not been the most easy pregnancy.
    I can think of scores of women who have had it harder,
    and scores who have had it easier. :)
    It’s been morning sickness, back pain, round ligament pain.
    Exercise is usually a big deal to me when I’m pregnant [and otherwise]
    but this time it’s too painful most days to even do a short walk.

    I’ve not felt the “cute & pregnant.”
    It’s felt all pregnant and no cute. :)
    I’m not saying that to generate sympathy, please.
    In some ways I don’t even like to say this because I don’t want a pat on the back.
    But I write this because I think there may be other women that have felt this way too…

    This pregnancy has really pushed me toward God in new ways…
    It’s not about my physical image, about having the ideal pregnancy body.
    It’s about drawing my worth and security from God Himself,
    even when I feel far from attractive.
    Even when I feel like I have the “pregnancy waddle.”
    My worth comes not from appearances.

    It’s not about me.
    It’s about giving my life in full surrender to God.
    And it’s about welcoming a new life into the world.
    Giving myself for another.
    I feel that I’m just starting to learn about this…

    And my prayer has been,
    God, as my stomach grows because of this life within me,
    let me not focus on how big I’m getting,
    but rather let my love for You and this child grow…”

    Pregnancy shows the giving of life for another so drastically.
    The food I eat, the vitamins I take, the rest I need… it all goes for the baby.
    And with young children, my days are spent caring for them…
    … endless supplies of food for their bodies, endless cries to God for wisdom for their souls.

    It really is a sacred responsibility.
    Far greater than who I am.
    My source of wisdom and strength can come only from the Lord,
    and that comes not from a theory of child-rearing, but from a daily abiding in His presence.
    It is only then that my children can be taught in the ways of God.


    And with labor…
    It is still 6 weeks to my due date, but my record has not been fast or easy labors.
    Approximately 20 hours and 50 hours, respectively.
    I hear some women speak of the worship experience labor and delivery was for them, and I’m in awe.
    I love to hear that, I wish for that.
    But for me, labor felt like mere survival. All I could think was, “God, help me!!”

    I’ve tried not to think of labor too much yet,
    but when I do, my prayer is this,
    “God, in the area of what feels like one of my greatest fears, BE STRONGER.
    Meet me in my greatest physical weakness…”


    And all that said, I may add that we are greatly looking forward to the arrival of this little baby!

    I think this may be the most anticipated baby so far, because not only is it Ben and me looking forward to meeting him/her,
    but Zoe and Olivia are both soo excited!
    And seeing the excitement of little girls wanting to meet their brother or sister is priceless!
    [can you tell I'm a fan of big families? :) ]

    LIFE is such a gift, and I know of so many who pray fervently for the chance of carrying life within them.
    Along with the physical challenges of pregnancy, I also view this as an amazing gift, one I’m unworthy of.
    Why me, to carry this child?
    Why us, to experience life, when so many have known miscarriage or losing a child?

    To turn all of life back into worship of God, that is what I desire…
    As Ann Voskamp has written,
    “Worship is a way of seeing life in light of God.”
    I have that written on my chalkboard, to be reminded of daily.

    Be blessed in HIS life today!