Thursday, September 22, 2011

{Home Organization: Part One}

I admit it. I'm NOT a very organized person. If you pop over for a visit without any advanced warning, you will most likely see piles of mail on the counters, toys strewn about, and general messes throughout the house. Don't get me wrong: I LOVE a clean and orderly house! In fact, I enjoy hosting parties and having people over so I have the push to tidy up and get things clean. Yet, within about 24 hours the house is in shambles once again.
But recently I discovered several organizing blogs and websites that have completely inspired me to make changes in my own home. I'm tired of searching for things, of yelling at the girls because they don't know where their shoes are, and of living with clutter and knick-knacks that we don't need. So bit by bit, area by area, I'm cleaning things up. I'm determined to get this house tidy and organized so we feel a sense of peace and calm when we walk through the door.
My first step was choosing a few areas of the house to work on first. Obviously, I can't tackle the whole house at once. Organizing this place is goint to happen in stages and over a period of time. So I chose a few areas that cause me the most grief and, quite frankly, drive me batty every time I utilize them. I thought about how the areas would be best used and what I needed to purchase / do to make them work for us better.
Then I headed online to one of my favorite organizing stores, Ikea! I searched the site for the items I needed, wrote down the item numbers and prices on an index card, and planned my trip. Last Friday Dixon and I spent the day at Ikea and found everything on my list and more! It was such a thrill!
So let's check out two of the areas I tackled first.
First up is the girls' room. Their entire bedroom makes me break out into a sweat and feel panicky. It's an adorable room, but nothing is ever put away. Because we don't have a playroom, their bedroom houses all their Barbies, American Girls, and other toys. They have gotten better at cleaning up after they've played, but there are always little pieces and parts of toys on the floor, under the beds, on the nightstand . . . just everywhere. And don't get me started on the clothes. UGH, the clothes.
I decided to start with an area that cause lots of grief for us on a daily basis: the socks and undies drawer. I've always kept the girls' socks and undies in one drawer: socks on the left and undies on the right. But the girls dig around in that drawer looking for a certain pair of socks and it ends up a mess. Plus, I have a hard time letting go of things . . . even kids' underwear. So there were undies from size 2T - yep, the very first undies I bought for Sasha six years ago were still in there - up to size 10. Ridiculous.
Ready to see this mess? Here it is:
Insane, right? A drawer organizer was desperately needed. And I found the perfect one at Ikea! When I got it home and started sorting through the drawer I realized that the organizer was too big to fit into this drawer, so I needed to move things around. The pj drawer was in a different dresser and the drawers are bigger and deeper. Switcheroo! The socks and undies are now happily organized in what was the pj drawer. All of Clara's are on the left and Sasha's are on the right. And now there is room for tights, leg warmers, and slippers in the other half of the drawer - awesome! I filled a bag with tiny undies that we no longer need as well as all the patterned socks that are cute but look ridiculous when worn with most outfits. And the pjs are now in the former socks and undies drawer - only the ones that currently fit the girls. Here's the after photo:
I LOVE how it turned out! Something so simple has already made a big difference - I haven't had to hunt with the girls for a matching pair of socks or a pair of undies that fit since organizing these drawers. Awesome.
Next up are my cabinets that house drinking glasses, mugs, wine glasses, kids' cups, and few other random items.
As you can see, it's a mess. We have mugs that are almost 20 years old in there, complete with chips on the rims. Everything is mis-matched. And do you see the bottom left shelf? Yeah, those would be restaurant cups that the kids bring home - most of them from Moes. They use them almost 100% of the time. It's nice because they were free, reusable, and easy. But they were also taking over the cabinet.
We also were using the top of the microwave for "storage" of sorts. A basket of K-cups lived there, as well as a basket of old jelly beans (tossed), a box of sugar packets, and other little things. It was just a cluttered mess.
I found a shelf insert at Ikea that I knew would help this cabinet immensely. And I was right! I cleaned out all the shelves, got rid of the mugs that were chipped and lots of other cups and things that are never used, and wiped down all the surfaces. And those Moes cups? I threw away 16 cups and 25 lids! There were three packages of wine charms in there, so I removed them from the packaging and put them in a pretty jelly jar that I found at a flea market for a quarter. The cocktail recipe books made their way into a drawer and various other random items found new homes as well. With the addition of the shelf insert, I was able to put all the normal sized mugs on the bottom (including two Tastefully Simple mugs that have been in a box for years, unused), and all the tall mugs and travel mugs above them.
And those K-cups and sugar packets? They now fit quite well on the bottom shelf! The microwave area is totally cleaned up and tidy. Yay!!!
It's amazing what a simple white shelf insert can do for an entire section of a kitchen. Another look at the before and after:
I already have a few other projects in the works and I'm excited to complete them and start more. What are you organizing right now?

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Last Sunday, September 11th, all of the second graders at our church received a Bible during our worship service. What an honor it was to see all of the young people line up to accept their Bibles! As soon as Sasha sat back down she started to flip through her Bible and read sections of it. She even bookmarked a section she wanted to read more about when we got home. How wonderful it is to see Sasha grow in her faith, hungry for God's word, and learning what it means to be a Christian!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

{Goodbye, Pappy}

For most Americans, today is a sad day. It is the 10th anniversary of the terrible events that took place on September 11, 2001. If you are like me, you have been watching memorial services and documentaries that have been broadcast on almost every major network all day and the memories of our own experiences on 9-11 have come flooding back. I don't know if it will ever be easy to watch the footage of the planes hitting the WTC, the buildings falling to the ground, and all the personal stories of those who were directly affected by the terror of that day. I hope not. It shouldn't be easy to watch. But today I'm sad for a bigger reason. While my heart hurts for our country, it is breaking even more because today my family had to say goodbye to a wonderful man - my Pappy.
Pappy is my grandfather, my dad's dad. I have so many fun memories of him from the time I was a child and visiting my grandparents in State College all the way up to the last time I saw him at my dad's house on August 4th. He always had a smile on his face and knew how to make those around him smile, too. I always felt loved when I was with him - loved and very secure. And I have so enjoyed watching my own kids interact with him and seeing how much he loved all of his great-grandchildren. All twelve of them! It was a special thrill when Dixon was born on Pappy's birthday, April 27th, and then a year later one of my cousins had her little girl on that day as well. His birthday - and his life - will certainly never be forgotten.
So it is with a particularly heavy heart that I grieve not only with our country and all that was lost ten years ago today, but also with my family for the loss of a great man in our lives. I pray that he has been welcomed into God's heavenly kingdom and is healthy and strong once again, happy, laughing, and reunited with those whom entered Paradise before him. I miss you already, Pappy, and love you very much.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

{Birthday Girls}

Tis the season for birthdays - and lots of them! Many of my family members have birthdays during the August - December months so there are many parties and special dinners during this time. It gets quite busy! This year Cory and I decided to take it easy and have one combo party for Sasha and Clara. Their birthdays are just six weeks apart, so we picked one of the only free Saturdays we have (today, the 3rd) and had a simple pizza party in the backyard with our family.
I was actually out of state on Clara's birthday this year. :( It's always hard to miss a birthday and I think this was the third birthday of Clara's that I've missed because Tastefully Simple's National Conference fell over her big day. But she was a trooper. Cory made her entire birthday weekend extra special and she knew her party was coming soon. Sasha's birthday is coming up at the end of September, so she got a bit of an early celebration today. We'll still do something special on her actual birthday, too.
My little girl is not so little anymore - Clara turned 6 on August 13th! I'm so proud of her and her fearless personality. She is having a blast in kindergarten and has been reading quite well for the past year. She's very excited to be a Girl Scout Daisy this year and to add playing soccer to her list of activities!
Sasha turns 8 on September 30th! Where did the years go? Wasn't she just a 5.5 pound little pink bundle? Sasha is amazing in so many ways. She is very sensitive, very in tune to her own and others' feelings, very smart, and very much into everything girly and sparkly. She is now in the 2nd grade and loving it! She is also starting to play soccer this year for the first time - something she never thought she'd do, but she's looking forward to it.
So we invited all of our family members to come over for a pizza party this evening. It was warm and muggy, but the cousins all had a blast playing catch with a football, riding down a hill in a Red Flyer wagon, and just playing together outside. It was awesome to see so many family members together for a rather relaxing evening since it doesn't happen all that often. And moments like this one need to happen more often:
That's my grandmother, Mom-Mom, with my newest nephew, Jayce. I think they are playing patty-cake. So cute!
Clearly, the girls were excited to dive into their presents!
Many of the gifts will be shared, like this adorable chef's outfit and accessories for their American Girl dolls.
All of the gifts were perfect. Art supplies, Barbie and American Girl goodies, clothes, jewelry . . . these girls were wonderfully spoiled.
The last gifts that Sasha and Clara opened were from Cory and me. Clara has been asking for a GoGo and Me dog for a year. Actually, "asking" isn't quite the right word. "Begging" is more like it. It's the only thing she has really wanted and consistently talked about for a year. I didn't want to get it because it's expensive and honestly - we have two REAL dogs! She can walk and play with them! But I don't want her to be in therapy in twenty years talking about how her parents refused to get her the only thing she really ever wanted . . .
So here it is. GoGo and Me Fur Real Pet is officially in the hands of an ecstatic Clara!
I wasn't quite sure what to get for Sasha. I thought I'd give her a nice, introductory level digital camera since she likes to take pictures with my camera, but I couldn't find one I liked for less than $200. Not gonna happen. Then I happened to come upon Flip cams on clearance and "DING DING DING"!!! That was it! Sasha is always asking me to take her and Clara doing little skits and things, so this is perfect. She can make her own videos and will have a blast. She is quite excited and can hardly wait to start using her Flip tomorrow once it's charged.
Time for cake! I was going to make the girls' cakes this year, but when I asked them what kind of cake they wanted they requested "the cake that Dixon had last year." Well, it was actually a Food Lion cake! We got him a chocolate cake from Food Lion to celebrate his birthday on the actual day since his party was held on a different day. The girls liked that cake and remembered it. Works for me! Cory made three batches of ice cream (vanilla, Oreo, and mint chocolate chip) and I pulled out a triple chocolate fudge cake and a red velevet cake made by the fabulous "chefs" of Food Lion.
The girls were happy and the cakes were actually tasty!
Finally, it was time for the pinata. This was one of the only things the girls said they wanted to do at their party, so Dixon and I shopped for a pinata and stuffed it full of candy.
Ryan managed to crack that sucker open with his mighty swings and it was a candy free-for-all!
I have to say that this birthday party was great - at least in my humble opinion. It was so laid-back and stress-free. The kids had fun just being kids and the adults just sat back and talked and enjoyed the evening. I think this may be the way we celebrate from now on! The kids are now all snoozing away in bed . . . all three of mine plus my sweet niece Kari who decided to stay overnight. Fun!
Happy Birthday to my loveable girls! May this next year bring you happiness, fun, and many dreams come true.