Category Archives: Simplify Your Life

2014 Resolutions

I really hate new year resolutions. I always have. In the past, I’ve always broken those resolutions by February, and then spent the rest of the spring trying to remember what I even resolved to do more or less of in the first place. Guilt follows, and then you usually end up backsliding even further into whatever bad habit you were trying to break. For these reasons, I haven’t made a new years resolution in many years.

But this year I’m doing things a little different. I realize that there are two types of resolutions: Those you want, and those you need. This year, I’m not resolving to do things I want. I’m resolving to do things I need.

For instance, resolution #1– I want to lose about five {twelve} pounds. Instead, I’m going to not worry about numbers and say that I need to get more active. I need to ride my bike, jog, go for walks with Buggy, etc. rather than worry about numbers on a scale. That’s a much easier resolution to stick to than restricting my beauty and self worth to some magic number that tells me when I can finally be happy with my body. That’s stupid. I just need to be a little healthier.

Resolution #2- I want to be more organized, but really, I need to be less stressed. Organization will definitely help with my stress levels, so this week before Travis returns to work, I’m going to organize closets, cabinets, and shelves so we can start this next semester off with a little more peace. Beyond that though, I’m not going to kill myself for the rest of the year trying to have a Martha Stewart closet. In the past, I’ve downloaded binders full of checklists and helpful tips on how to keep a better organized home, and then I end up not following the tips {because they aren’t specific to our family} and I beat myself up for it. I’m not gonna do that. We’ll start the year off as fresh and tidy as possible, but beyond that, I’m not going to stress out about it.

Resolution #3-
Our school year usually starts in January in our household. It’s the perfect time for new beginnings and fresh ideas, and I just love starting school at the beginning of the calendar year. Usually I have all of these plans for unit studies, books, and skills that I want to tackle at the start of the year. I find myself on Pinterest late at night finding adorable crafts and activities for Buggy, but then reality sets in and we usually don’t have time to do even half of the things I wanted to do. I have two other children at home who have various therapies and appointments, and I try my hardest to work in what I can with Buggy, but last year a great deal of time was spent in my head feeling angry with myself and worrying that I had let him down.

I realize now that I did not let him down, and that from our little hiatus from school he learned so many other invaluable things. And still, we took time to play games, snuggle, tickle, laugh, read books and sing songs. So this year, instead of focusing on all the cutes stuff I want to do, I’m going to focus on the simple things I need to do. I need to read with him more. I need to stop doing the dishes sometimes and sit down to make train tracks with him. I need to have tickle fights. I need to watch “Curious George” in the mornings. My spirit needs that, he needs that, and I need to not live in guilt over the things we didn’t get done.

And lastly, resolution #4- This year, I need to slow down and stop beating myself up. I need to realize I’m a great mom, a loving wife, and a mediocre housekeeper who at least keeps things from reaching that unlivable level of dirty. I’m proud of us fostering. I’m proud of us homeschooling. I’m proud that we are different from other families that we know. I’m resolving to cherish this chaos that others don’t understand and often criticize. I’m resolving to be even less conventional than we already are, and I’m resolving to love it more than I already do. I’m resolving to not compete with other families and worry over what one kid is doing that mine isn’t. I want to go at his pace, at our pace.

This year will be about simplifying, saying “no” more often, and cherishing what we have here. This is the year of focusing on what our spirits need and worrying less about what others say. It’s about doing things to feed and grow our family rather than what we want or desire. This is a year about taking things as they come and not fretting over the future {which is very hard to do in fostering}. This year I need to feel the Lord’s peace around me and let out a big sigh of relief that I don’t have control and He does.

I hope that 2014 brings a sweet simplicity to our home as well as yours. I hope it brings you peace and joy and calmness. What are some of your resolutions for this year?

Kat

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Filed under Personal Posts, Simplify Your Life, Stay at Home Moms, Uncategorized

Simplify Your Life: The Anti-Pinterest Christmas

This post is a confession about my Christmas-based mommy guilt and the actions I’m taking to fix it. I came to the realization that less is more after reading this incredible article from VitaFamiliae. So put down that glue gun and turn off The Grinch and relax a little, moms. It’s okay…

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Oh, the Boards!

Yesterday as I was searching through my Pinterest boards looking for a crock pot lasagna recipe I wanted to try, I scrolled past the board full of Christmas crafts for kids. I also have a board titled “Ornaments to Make,” because I’m a sucker for those sketchy ornaments made of pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks that fall apart over the years.

Oh, and there’s my board of Christmas crafts for mommy {different from the one for children}. This board consists of Hobby Lobby-esque decor for me to DIY all by myself. And there’s the Christmas quilt board. I have a cabinet full of unused Christmas fabric that is screaming for a sewing project. I love Christmas, I love making memories for my kids, I love crafts, I’m addicted to Pinterest…You get the idea. I have a problem.

My Problem

My problem really isn’t the amount of Christmas themed Pinterest boards I have. Okay, maybe I am addicted to Pinterest. But really my problem is the guilt these pins bring me.

You see, I have found myself stuck in a vicious cycle of envy that happens by looking at other mom’s blogs. I see their cute blogs and their perfectly clean and smiling children engaged in imagination-sparking and memory-making activities, and I instantly feel gripped with fear that my kids won’t have the same special memories with me. So I pin the idea. It’s a cute idea. I get visions of sugar plumbs dancing in my head when I picture my three cherubic children seated ’round the dining room table building a fortress out of gingerbread and icing. They smile and giggle and politely pass the gum drops…

Crashing back to earth, Buggy’s usually screaming and bossing at the other two. Miss Priss is whining because she can’t reach the roof, and her obsessive nature insists she MUST work on the roof and nothing else will do. And the baby is screaming and crying, covered head to toe in icing. It’s bad, ya’ll.

But the pins I pin don’t tell the real story of how it will work with my three. The pins just make me feel warm and fuzzy and happy and Christmasy.

Through the Years…

Our family has changed quite a bit over the past three years. Three years ago, I could dive head-first into all of those adorable crafts. But then, three years ago, I didn’t have a Pinterest account to make me feel guilty and horrible for skipping out on something. Last year I had a 3 year old and a newborn. I also had loads of guilt and bad feelings associated with the oh-so-perfect crafts I should have been doing.

I was exhausted, drained, delirious from lack of sleep and stress associated with having our first foster placement, and I beat myself up every single day thinking my son was never ever going to be whole unless he made those stupid handprint ornaments I pinned. Oh, and the coffee filter angels. And the felt Santa hats! And we had to get tickets to see the Polar Express! The list went on and on, and my blood pressure went up and up.

This year, I have three children under the age of 5. Starting on Saturday, we’ll be doing respite for another foster family for several days while they go out of town, so I’ll add a 6 month old to my crew for a little while. And yet, despite this obvious insanity that is my life and passion, yesterday when I ran across those Christmas boards, I felt a tingle of guilt in my stomach.

I want Christmas and the whole season to be perfect for my kids, and Pinterest has convinced me that the only way for it to be perfect is by doing more with them. As much as I can. Activity after activity. Craft after craft. Scripture-based Advents. Nativities made of clothes pins. Christmas movie marathons.

And I realized last night that none of that stuff really matters. My son really doesn’t enjoy crafts that much. He would much rather sit in my lap and read a Christmas book with me. The two little ones have never had a real Christmas, so even the simplest thing is exciting to them. No need for all the extra flash and fun. Picking out her very own stocking from the craft store the other day was enough to send Miss Priss into an excited/overwhelmed fit of happiness. It was enough to make me forget the fact that hers wasn’t handmade.

Stop Pressuring Yourself.

It really is okay to NOT do all of the adorable things you’ve pinned. Pour over them during nap time if you want, but remember my gingerbread house reality? That’s probably yours too. It ain’t pretty. Or fun. And it’s not good fodder for precious memories as a family.

But you know what is good memory fodder? Snuggling in your jammies with a book on the couch. Looking at your Christmas tree together and telling the stories behind each ornament. Looking through family photos of Christmas’s past. Writing letters to Santa. Reading from the book of Luke. Teaching your kids all of your favorite Christmas carols while you fix {a simple} lunch. THAT is worth remembering when they’re old and we’re long gone.

I’ve decided to put away the Pinterest boards for Christmas this year. There won’t be any crafts done. No ornaments made this year. Buggy loves the Elf on the Shelf tradition, so I’m doing that. It’s not something that stresses me out or makes me fret.

Most of all, I’m taking the pressure off myself to make everything look and feel perfect. The picture I shared is from Buggy’s first Christmas. We were so poor. We lived in a one bedroom apartment. His gifts were all either made or used. The wrapping paper didn’t match. In fact, I ran out of wrapping paper and just used newspaper for the rest of the gifts. We didn’t have very many ornaments on our tree, so we used some of the baby’s toys and tied strings around them and hung them from the tree. And that Christmas was absolutely precious to me. It was simple and wonderful.

Each year, I’ve put more and more pressure on myself to match or top that year, and I needed a serious wake up call. The simplicity is what made it so wonderful. So this year, we’re going back to simple. Back before I had Pinterest to stare at and blogs to enviously pour over. I’m not going to feel the pressure and guilt that I felt last year. I’m gonna relax.

I’ll tell ya right now, if you come to my house, don’t expect my gifts to be perfectly matching in parchment paper adorned with beautiful yarn ribbons like the pictures you see pinned on my board. I’m gonna buy that ugly snowman wrapping paper Buggy and Miss Priss went nuts over when they saw it at the Dollar Store the other day. And I’m doing it because it makes them smile, not because it’s picture-perfect or Pinnable.

Taking the pressure off myself this year makes me feel relieved and excited. Now I can focus on what really matters and who really matters. Not pins. Not trying to impress anyone with my craftiness. Just making my kids smile. That’s all I really wanted to do anyway. I just now realized it’s much easier than I thought.

Do you ever struggle with guilt from blogs or Pinterest pictures? Have you put pressure on yourself this Christmas to make it perfect? What steps are you going to take this year to simplify the holidays?

Kat

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Filed under Christmas, Holiday Tips, Holidays, Simplify Your Life

Kitchen Table Classroom: Learning The United States

Little turned four 2 weeks ago {I cannot even believe it!} and we had a fabulous pirate party {post coming soon}. We also took a trip to California last week and had a fantastic time together as a family enjoying Disneyland, Hollywood, Santa Monica beach, and Beverly Hills. I have so much to post on! I’m sorry I’ve fallen behind.

A New Routine Continue reading

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Filed under Kitchen Table Classroom, Learning at Home, Simplify Your Life, Stay at Home Moms

Holiday Mail for Heroes 2012

Last year my family and I participated in the Red Cross’s Holiday Mail for Heroes program and we really loved knowing we were doing something special for our troops. These cards DO make it to the soldiers {despite what some internet rumors have said}. I even checked on snopes.com 🙂

All you have to do is buy a simple card {or make one yourself}, include a personal note of thanks or holiday wishes, sign it, and mail it to the following address:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

Last year when I introduced this idea to my family, I was worried they might think it was a little cheesy, but I think everyone genuinely loved the idea of taking time out of our Thanksgiving day to thank the men and women who have sacrificed so much for us. I passed out cards to everyone at our Thanksgiving lunch, each person filled one out, then I bundled them all together in one large mailing envelope. We will certainly be doing this again this year. What a better way to teach our children how to reach out to others and show true gratitude?

Visit the Red Cross website {I linked to it above} for more details regarding the do’s and don’ts of your holiday cards. It doesn’t take much to make a soldier feel closer to those of us at home and to know that they are remembered this Christmas.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kat

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Filed under Activities, Holiday Tips, Simplify Your Life

How To: Prep a Prefold or Flat Cloth Diaper

Prepping prefolds or flats is SO simple. Prepping the diaper before you use it is absolutely essential to getting the best level of absorbency possible. If you order unbleached hemp prefolds, they still contain the natural oils of the hemp and must be washed to make them soft and absorbent. If you purchase bleached cotton prefolds, you still need to wash them to clear out any possible left over residue from their original processing and {again} add to their softness and absorbency. Washing = absorbency. Remember that. Continue reading

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Filed under Budget-Friendly Parenting, Cloth Diapering, Preparing for Baby, Simplify Your Life

20 Ways to Give Back This Christmas

 

Every year at Christmas, our family looks for ways to practice generosity and selfless service. This year though, there have been so many causes on my heart that our budget simply can’t reach out to them all. We always donate to a local toy drive in our little town, as well as the Salvation Army Christmas Angel program. This year I’ve wanted to do so much more. I decided instead to share with all of you the wonderful ways I’ve discovered to reach out to those in need this year. Continue reading

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Filed under Creative Ideas and Crafts, Holiday Tips, Simplify Your Life

Holiday Prep Day 10: Make Those Lists

Thanksgiving is TEN DAYS AWAY!

Part of me is super excited, and the other part of me needs to put my head between my legs and breathe because there’s still so much to do. How many of you out there host a big meal at your own home? Yeah, me too. I ~Love~ hosting for the holidays. I truly truly do. But the first year I hosted, I remember feeling so lost and so overwhelmed, I could barely get up off the couch. Continue reading

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