Super Quick and Simple Sewing Project

For Christmas, my husband gave me a sewing machine. That may seem like an odd present, but it was exactly what I wanted. Now, I had no idea how to use such a machine. I barely knew how to thread a needle! But I desperately wanted to learn how to sew. I got the notion when I was pregnant with LJ last year; I wanted to make clothes for my girls (matching, of course). That is still the goal, but I've come to accept that it won't happen quickly. I have so much to learn!

For the past few months, I've been tackling small projects to get a feel for different techniques and build up my confidence. I've made a stuffed cat (that looked nothing like a cat, lol), wallet, a clothespin bag, a ton of table runners out of burlap (for my sister-in-law's wedding), a bib for LJ, and some reversible fabric headbands for me and C. Oh! And a wool cover for LJ - its super ugly but very functional. Every project has taught me something, and so far I absolutely love learning to sew.

I know about 12 pregnant women right now. Almost every one of my closest friends is expecting sometime this year. How crazy is that!? Many of them are on their second child, so they don't need a lot of stuff. So I thought it would be neat to make them some baby gifts. Nothing too ambitious, but some useful and cute stuff. Some things I obviously  need a trial run on, just to make sure they turn out okay and I know what I'm doing. Today's project was a trial run, but it was also something I needed.

I've been needing a diaper changing mat for the diaper bag. For some reason, I've never had one. That was fine for C, but I guess I travel more with LJ, so I've been wanting a mat. The ones in stores have way too many bells and whistles for my taste, and they're so bulky. My diaper bag is pretty small, so I needed something compact. I didn't need pockets and extra compartments; just a flat, clean mat to lay the baby on so I could get her diaper changed. I looked up a few tutorials online and found one I really liked, but today I decided to just wing it and create my own. I'm happy with it, even though its not the most attractive thing in the world!

This was my first time working with vinyl, and I have to say, its not my favorite material. But obviously, a changing mat needs to be able to be wiped down easily, and I saw iron-on vinyl in Wal-Mart recently, so I decided to try that. Adhering it to my fabric was really simple and basically fool-proof. Keeping it aligned with my backing fabric while I sewed the two pieces together was a different story. I'm sure I just need more practice and experience. I used a ton of pins to keep it all in place, but the vinyl was so slippery the fabric didn't stay like I wanted. I made it work, but it wasn't easy and its not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.
The tutorial I found on another blog used bias binding and added a strap to the mat. I don't see the need for a strap, but I think my next one (that will be a gift for someone else) will have the binding, just to give it a cuter look.

Also, I decided not to use any "stuffing" in my mat. I don't think its necessary, really. Its not like the baby stays on the mat for more than a few minutes. I may add a really thin piece of foam or batting to the next mat, though, just to give it a little cushion and substance. My mat folds up super thin and is perfect for my diaper bag, though, so I'm happy with my decision.
Basically, all I did was cut out my fabric (I think my measurements were something like 13" x 25"), iron on the vinyl to the fabric I wanted to be on top (you could do vinyl on both sides but I thought that might be too slippery on public bathroom changing tables), then pin the fabrics right-sides together, sewed them, turned them right side out, and then added a top stitch. Oh, and I threw on some velcro, though I really should have done that before sewing the fabrics together. It was really super simple! I kind of wish I had put the velcro on the other side, though. That way, when the mat is folded up, the vinyl side is facing out. Which would put the cloth side (the side that comes into contact with the nasty public changing tables) is in the inside and won't touch anything else in the bag. The vinyl part will be wiped off if anything gets on it, so it'll be clean - at least a lot cleaner than the other side! So I may need to change that up. We'll see.

For now, I'm happy I've completed another sewing project! Even better, its something I'll get a lot of use out of. Next up, I'll be covering a travel wipes case with fabric and then making a small bag to hold a few diapers. I think that'll be a cute baby shower present!


Cloth Diaper Catch-Up

The last time I talked about cloth diapers on the blog was way back before LJ was born. Which is kind of funny, since she's been in cloth diapers since she was 6 days old! I used Pampers on her the first 6 days because a few people had given us some. On that 6th day, though, I put her in one of her newborn fitteds and was instantly hooked.

So cute!! And holy crap, I can't believe she was ever this scrawny.(These are Clover fitteds and a Thirsties newborn cover.)

Because she was so small, most of my diapers didn't fit her yet. All she could wear was the newborn fitteds and covers I bought. And I only had 12 of those, so she wore Pampers part-time for a few more weeks. I tried to put her in cloth as much as possible, though. Once I ran out of disposables, I decided not to buy more and just make do with the cloth I had. And it was fine! It didn't take her long to grow into my one-sized stuff and prefolds.
I mean, I can't even. Tiny LJ, cute Rumparooz newborn cover, and still-big post-partum belly. Bliss.

Before LJ was born, I was washing C's cloth diapers once every 4-5 days. Since she was only wearing one diaper a day (overnight, actually), I just didn't have much diaper laundry. Sometimes I'd stretch it to once a week. But once LJ started wearing the cloth, I started washing diapers every 2 days. Once she fit into most of my stash, I had enough to go several more days between washings, but she was going through so many in a day that the diaper pail would get full quickly. Its not a good idea to wash too many diapers (or clothes, for that matter) at a time; they need room in the washer to get clean.

Washing every other day really wasn't a big deal. Maybe because I was already used to diaper laundry. Honestly, though, everything about this baby has been kind of low-key. I think a lot of it is because I'm not a first-time-mama anymore, and have more confidence in myself. Whatever the case, nothing seemed like a big deal this time. (A good example is the night feedings. When C was a newborn, I knew she'd be nursing every 2-3 hours round the clock, but every time she woke up to nurse in the middle of the night, it was a huge deal to me. I felt exhausted all the time, it was so hard for me to get up and do what needed to be done, etc. When LJ was a newborn, I had a different mindset. Instead of the "woah-is-me-my-baby-won't-let-me-sleep" mindset, I got in my head that she would be waking up every 2-3 hours and need a diaper change and a feed, and that was normal and unchangeable. And it was easier. I had no problem getting up and taking care of her. I was still tired during the day, but it didn't slow me down. And no, I didn't go back to work, but I also quit taking naps around 3-4 weeks post-partum, so its not like I was catching up on sleep during the day. I have just truly found the second baby to be easier on me. I guess I'm just lucky!)

I've used Eco Sprout laundry detergent since for LJ's diapers. I used All Free & Clear for years, but once I tried Eco Sprout there was a noticeable difference. My diapers were clean before, but now they're CLEAN. I'm not in love with having 2 separate detergents, and the Eco Sprout is not the cheapest thing ever, but its worth it to me.

C is no longer wearing cloth diapers, by the way. She does still need a diaper at night (she has an immature bladder and just can't hold it all night, and she doesn't wake up during the night to go potty - and I am not about to wake her up!), but I finally gave in and admitted that cloth wasn't working for her anymore. Nothing I tried was containing all her urine and she was waking up soaked every single morning. So I tried her in Good Nites training pants and they are wonderful. The actual panty part is reusable, which I love. She just gets a new insert every night, which is basically a huge, thick disposable pad. It holds an impressive amount of urine, and she's never had a leak in these. They're expensive ($18 for the starter kit which includes 2 pairs of the panties and maybe 5 or so inserts, and then $8-9 for a pack of 18 inserts), but hopefully she won't be in them too much longer. And it still beats having to wash her sheets every day!

Anyway, LJ grew out of her newborn fitteds around 11 pounds, which sucked because they were supposed to fit until 13 pounds. She got chunky very quickly! I'm so glad I didn't do the newborn rental option at Sweetbottoms like I had thought about. I would have had the diapers for 3 months, and wouldn't have really gotten my money out of them, since she was about 2 months when they quit fitting. I was able to use my regular size prefolds on her after that, and they were bulky but fit fine.

This is a bumGenuis pocket diaper. She was around 2 months old here, and I had it almost as tight as it would go to fit her. All my BGs are used, though, so they're a little stretched out. I feel like a new one-size BG would have fit her just fine, and probably sooner than mine did.

I have more pictures of her in cloth diapers, I'm sure, but at the moment this is all I can find! LJ is now almost 8 months old and hasn't seen a disposable diaper in several months. I think November was the last time I put one on her, and she got a terrible rash from it. These days, I wash diapers every 3 days (unless she fills up the diaper pail sooner). I'll get some more photos and do another update soon!

Next Saturday is the annual Great Cloth Diaper Change, and I'm super excited! Our location won't be participating in the Guiness aspect this year, but we're still doing the change and raising awareness. And we'll be getting swag bags and the chance to win prizes, so you can't beat that. To gear up for the Change, I've been participating in an Instagram photo challenge every day. #GCDC2015 takes you to some great cloth diaper-related shots!


The Liebster Award

Last night I mentioned that my friend Jessica over at Stitches, Seams, and Sass nominated me for the Liebster Award. Its pretty cool. Other bloggers nominate small-time blogs they like as a way to gain more readers and honor the blogs. I'm down with that, even though my posting here is sporadic at best. ( :

Its a pretty award. ( :

Here are the "rules" that go along with this award:
I'm gonna have a hard time with nominating 5-11 blogs. Especially since I've quit reading so many blogs religiously. The blogs I do follow already have huge followings, so they're not eligible - well, except for Jessica's blog, but she's already been nominated for the award. So what I'll do is when I run across a small blog I like, I'll come back and edit this post to nominate them for the Liebster Award. That'll work, right? ( :

Here are my answers to the questions Jessica asked on her blog...

1. Why did you start your blog?
I've kept a blog for 10+ years now, but my first blog is now completely private and I use it to record life events that are more personal, like a diary. I started this one a few years ago because I thought it would be fun to try to have a blog that people actually wanted to read. I live in the South, out in the country on a farm, and I do a lot things a little differently than others around here, so I felt like I had a lot I could share. Not that I think my way of doing things is any better than anyone else's. I'm "crunchy" but I'm not overboard about it. I use cloth diapers and feed my family Hamburger Helper. It is what it is. ( :

2. If you could have any job for a day, what would it be?
Professional equestrienne. Though I'd want to do it for more than a day! Years ago, I had the opportunity to be the manager of a huge new horse barn. I had worked at the owner's barn for a few years, and she got a new property and made her company much bigger. She asked if I would go be the manager at the new place, but I turned her down because it was about an hour away from home. (I know lots of people commute that distance to work, but I didn't like the idea of being an hour away if an emergency arose with my horses, and as manager I would have been in charge of a LOT of horses. I feel like a barn manager should be near the barn.) Now, the farm seems to be quite successful. It attracts reputable dressage trainers and produces horses with awesome bloodlines and potential. I don't exactly regret turning down the job, because I don't think I'd have my girls if I worked there, but I always wonder what if I had taken her up on the offer? Would I be riding a fancy dressage horse in some big-time show? Would I be traveling up and down the east cost with a slew of show horses? Who knows. Its a dream. I have three horses here, but I have managed to ride exactly once in the 7 months that LJ has been here. One day I'll ride regularly again, but until then, I dream. ( :

3. What is your favorite color and why?
Green. I love the spring time when green starts popping up everywhere; its a symbol of new life for me. Its also a calming color for me. I love it so much that I painted my living room a bold shade of green. ( :

4. What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?
 Is it strange that I don't have a real bucket list? There are a few things I've always wanted to do - ride a horse on the beach (I can't believe I've never done this), go ziplining (there's a new place in Raleigh that I intend on visiting this year to accomplish this goal!), and visit Europe. Specifically Ireland, Scotland, England, Spain, and France. My husband won't fly in a plane, though, so I'm gonna have to get a friend or family member to go with me on that trip. Maybe when my girls are grown it'll be a fun mother/daughters trip. ( :

5. What is the craziest thing you have done/almost done?
 I'm pleading the 5th on this one. ( ;

6. What would you do with your lottery winnings?
 First, I'd build us a bigger house. We're pretty cramped here.We don't need a mansion, but it would be nice to have our families over comfortably. And you know, have space for another child one day down the road.

7. Apple or Android?
Android for sure. I had an iPhone through my old job and loved it, but its just so "mainstream," and I hate doing what everyone else does, haha. I also had an iPad that I used daily. I kinda miss the iPad, actually. But now I have a Droid phone and really love it. I don't think I'll ever go back to Apple.

8. What is one thing you most want to get better at? Sewing. I desperately want to be able to sew my girls some clothes! I'm obsessed with them wearing matching dresses but they are incredibly hard to find in their sizes (5T and 12m), unless you want to pay an arm and a leg for them, which I don't.

9. What is your favorite quote?
"We are more lost and sinful then we ever dared believe, but are more loved and accepted than we ever dared hope." Don't ask me who said it. I read it in a book in college and it has stuck with me all these years. I can't even remember the book!

10. What is the last book you read?
"The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers." It was really good! I highly recommend it for all mothers.

11. Are you right or left handed? Left! Though I can't write much at all these days. I have a cyst and a bone spur on my wrist and it makes doing a lot of things really painful. :( I need to have surgery, but I'm putting it off. Cause how on earth will I handle these two kids with one hand for a while?? I've tried, and I just can't change a diaper with one hand. But one day I'll do the surgery and get rid of this pain I've had for 15+ years!!

Now for 11 random facts about myself...

Thanks for nominating me, Jessica! I'll be on the lookout for other small blogs that I can nominate. ( :


Long December

There's a Meme (I think that's the name for them!) going around on social media lately that says something like "I respond to every text message in my head...and then forget to actually respond. I'm working on that." That describes me perfectly! I compose a million blog posts...in my head. And then life happens, and I never type them up. I even take pictures of things with the intention of blogging about it...and then don't. My biggest life goal over the past several months has to be more intentional. I can't say that I've hit the mark every day, but I have learned to let go of a lot of things that aren't necessary for me.

Before LJ was born, I was following a LOT of blogs. I mean A. LOT. I don't know exactly when I quit reading them all. Maybe it was gradual, maybe one day I just didn't click to my blog reader page. I honestly can't remember. But now I have only four blogs that I check daily, as I am pumping in the morning (yep, still having to do that). Just FOUR. Occasionally, I'll read a few others, but I don't get upset if I miss a post like I used to. That used to really irk me, when I missed a blog post from a blog I followed. Why? Don't get me wrong, I totally support the blogging profession. Bloggers are awesome. I know how hard it is to keep at it, and how impossible it is to be successful at it (which is why I don't and I'm not, haha). But reading so many every single day was really wearing me down. Not the actual reading, cause I love to read and would read all day nonstop if I was able to. But just reading about everyone else's seemingly perfect lives just really brought me down sometimes. Why can't my home be as nice as hers? Why can't my kids always be dressed perfectly and let me take awesome candid shots of them? I know in reality no one's life is perfect, no one's life is any better than my own. But that doesn't stop the little voices in my head sometimes. (What, is that just me?! No one else has voices...? haha)

Anyway, I read my daily blogs while pumping in the morning, or if I'm bored and nursing LJ during the day and that's it. I'm intentional about how I spend my time online. Mostly. I've become a little addicted to Instagram lately. I love following Etsy shops and seeing all their adorable creations. Though the past few days I've been heavily editing my "following" list. I check in on facebook occasionally, but I don't spend hours scrolling through like I used to. That actually was kind of forced on me earlier this year. Our modem for the internet broke one day and we were almost over our data limit for our phones. It took 2-3 days to get a new modem, so I was basically offline for several days. That was so freeing! After that little break, I realized I didn't need to read what every single person on my Facebook friends list was doing. I miss a lot, but I figure eventually I'll hear about stuff anyway. And the people that really matter tell me things personally. So I guess I'm more intentional about social media, too. Though I need to cut down my Instagram time more. I really don't need to follow quite so many shops...lol.

I try to be intentional about my time with the girls. Some days its hard. Some days I'm not gonna lie, I pop in a move (usually "Frozen," ugh) and I just tune out. I'm not ashamed to admit that. Some days I forget to do a devotional with C. I do manage to have at least one conversation with her every day about God and what Jesus did for us. On days when I really have it together, we start our preschool time by reading her devotional for the day, then we work on a Bible verse to memorize, then we'll do a quick study of either a Bible story or one of the subjects in the Child Training Bible. Its really important to me that my children are immersed in the Word. C and I pray together, and I absolutely love hearing her sweet little prayers. Does all that Bible study time make her a perfect child? NO. Far from it. I hear all too often "bad Mama!" or "I hate my Mama!" (Yeah, no one told me these behaviors started so soon...I don't remember being so hateful until I was a teenager.) It sucks, and some days I just want to give up. Some days I feel like a total failure as a mother. And then some days C wraps her little arms around my neck and thanks me for reading to her or doing some other simple thing, and its all worth it.

One of my best friends constantly tells me I'm Super Woman. Ha. I do feel like it sometimes. Most often not though. I worry constantly that despite my best efforts, my girls will grow up to hate me and be terrible members of society. Okay, I don't actually think that'll happen, but we mothers always go to extremes I think. I do worry that they'll turn out "bad," despite everything I do. And on days when C and I just can't get along and she's back-talking to everything I say to her and stomping off to her room and kicking her wall...I feel like I've already failed. Then I remind myself that she's FOUR, she's still figuring out her emotions, she's still learning so much every day. And I have to remind myself that its not about me and I can't take it personally. I know she doesn't really hate me, even when she says it. She just has big emotions and doesn't know how to express herself well.

That sounds like a cop-out, huh? My kid is incredibly smart. I'm not bragging, its just a fact. But despite her being so smart, she has a hard time with her emotions. From what I've read, this is totally normal. So I try my best to just roll with it. Meaning, I try  not to let it really bother me. I don't let her get away with bad behavior. I'll take away a toy in a heart beat. And we are constantly having discussions on the proper way to behave and how God wants us to act. And praying that God gives us patience and makes us act nicer. I think we all need to say that prayer!

All this is to say that, my life is pretty much the same as it was back in October, when I last posted a blog entry. I'm still striving for improvement while not beating myself up when it doesn't happen.

I'm savoring this time at home with my girls full-time. Next month, I start a part-time job. I'm excited about it, but I'm dreading it at the same time. I haven't been away from my girls much at all in the past 7 months. Sometimes C spends the day with one of her grandparents, and even though I need a break sometimes from her, I miss her the whole time she's gone. It'll be interesting to see how our days go once I'm working away from home a few hours every day.

I should have a ton of things to blog about. I do, really. Its just a matter of putting pen to paper...or fingers to keyboard, I guess. There are so many things I do that are different than a lot people around here (cloth diapers, babywearing, baby lead weaning, etc.), and I have a lot to stay on these topics. For Christmas, I got a sewing machine, and I've had so much fun learning to sew. I can't say I'm good at it yet, but I am improving. And really, having something fun to do is the goal, not getting good enough that I can make money at it. My goal is to get good enough that I can make matching clothes for my girls. I have a long way to go! My photography business is doing pretty well. It went basically dormant over the winter, but I expected that. I know 10-11 pregnant women (I know, right!), and several of them want me to do their maternity and/or newborn pictures, so soon I'll have a little business boom. I even have one friend that wants me to be her birth photographer! How cool is that! My mother is opening a restaurant next month, so I'll be working there some to help out. The Great Cloth Diaper Change is coming up. My sister-in-law is getting married in 2 weeks, and my girls are the flower girls. I made their dresses and they are BEYOND cute! So yeah, I have a ton to blog about. I'm really gonna try to get back into it. Blogging kind of holds me accountable. Even if I don't have any loyal readers, if its out there that I'm getting up at 6am every day and having "me" time before the girls wake up, I'm more likely to keep doing it. (For the record, that hasn't happened since....December? Ugh. I have GOT to get back into that habit.)

Plus, my friend Jessica over at Stitches, Seams, and Sass has nominated me for the Liebster award, so I pretty much HAVE to get back to blogging! Which is what prompted me to open up the laptop tonight. ( : I'll be back soon with details on that!


Super Simple & Quick Drawer Organiziation

Back in the summer, I was really gung-ho about getting certain places in my home organized before The Bean (now LJ! haha) made her appearance on the scene. I was pretty successful, actually. I had a list on my phone called Things To Do Before Baby, and I completed every task except for two - I never did prepare any freezer meals as I intended (though that turned out okay, as it wasn't too hard at all for me to find time to cook, which is amazing considering I wasn't able to do that with C for a LONG time!), and I didn't get to make LJ a tutu dress or skirt. I have plans of making her a rainbow tutu to match the one I made for C on her 3rd birthday last year, and I thought it would be adorable to have their pictures taken in their matching tutus. But then I ran out of some of the colors of tulle that I used in C's dress, and I decided that a newborn in tulle is not the most practical idea ever, so I put it off. (I now have a new idea for LJ's 6 month photo shoot. The day I went into labor with her, I completed a gorgeous tutu dress for C that has a baby pink bodice and a tulle skirt of pink, mint, and white. I have enough materials to make one for LJ, too, but I want her to wear it when she's able to sit on her own. How precious will that be!) Considering how long my to-do list was, though, I think I did pretty well!

So, a while back I posted about how I redid the closet in the girls' room. I'm happy to say that its been about 4 months now and the closet is still very organized. It pretty much looks exactly like it did when I finished it in June, except now there are more baby clothes in there! And that annoying hanging organizer is still on the back of the door. Its very useful, but so annoying because you have to watch it when you shut the door. Maybe one day I'll do something to replace it...

Not long after the closet was done, I tackled the dresser in the room. I think I've actually "organized" this dresser before, but it didn't stick. See for yourself. Here's the top drawer:
Sigh. I can't even tell you how much random junk was in that drawer. It was a mess, and I had no idea exactly what was in there.

First, I took everything out (and threw away a bunch of mess), and decided what needed to be in there: C's underwear, tights, and socks. I also decided to put the newborn fitted diapers in there, since the diaper section of this dresser was overly full (that has since been organized as well, but its not much to look at, so no pics of it - its just nice that I finally know exactly where all my diapers are and can easily grab what I need quickly). I only had 12 newborn fitteds, and they fit perfectly in the drawer.

Anyway, once I knew what needed to be in the drawer, I played around with fitting it all in neatly.
Then, I cut up a cardboard box and made dividers so everything would stay in its designated place.
 Of course, after that, I had to make the cardboard pretty! So I covered it with some wrapping paper I had on hand.
So simple, but so efficient! Here's a shot of the drawer in the dresser:
Don't mind the random stuff on top; I found a new home for all that!

This drawer is still perfectly organized, I am happy to report. It has had a few changes, though. Mainly, LJ grew out of those fitteds, so now that space holds the diaper covers, wipes, and Best Bottom inserts.

It always amazes me how such a simple change can make such a huge impact!

Stay tuned for for home organizational updates I've completed lately, including the medicine cabinet! ( :


I Have Been Blessed

I have seriously been blessed, ya'll! The past 10 weeks have absolutely FLOWN by! LJ's birth story is up on the blog (under the "Birth Stories" tab - you have to scroll down past C's story). Actually, its been up for quite a while now, but I haven't had a spare moment to write a regular post. Life, of course, is crazy. And beautiful. I wouldn't have it any other way! I've been blessed to be able to stay home with my girls so far; I quit my job! I'm not sure how long this will last, so I'm savoring it as much as I can. I can't say I savor EVERY moment, though. People who tell you to do that don't have a preschooler, haha. Every moment is not awesome, and I'm not gonna lie and say I enjoy every minute here. But just to be able to be here, to witness all the cute things my 3 (almost 4!) year old says and does all day long, to watch my not-so-newborn growing daily and taking in the world around here, its priceless.

It is currently 7:30am. I've been up since 6. This is my new routine, getting up before the sun, and I'm used to it now, but when I think about it, it still makes me laugh. I am NOT a morning person, and I do NOT get up before the sun! Yet here I am. LJ has for the past month been sleeping from 10pm-6am (I know, what a good baby!). So when she wakes up for her 6am feeding, I nurse her, lay her back down (where she'll sleep until 9-9:30), and then I get up and start my day. I've found that if I go ahead and get up, my whole day just feels better. Since she's sleeping so long, I'm having to pump as soon as I get up (ain't nobody got time for clogged ducts or mastitis!), so I do that while I'm eating breakfast and watching the sun come up over the trees. Then I do my daily devotional (I'm still working on The Excellent Wife Day by Day that I started well over a year ago...yeah), get ready for the day, and tackle a few chores around the house. Usually by the time C gets up I'm ready to go, though occasionally she surprises me and wakes up super early. Having an hour or so of "me" time is key, though. Key to my sanity, and key to having a productive day.

Since I'm a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) now, I'm trying hard to prove every day that its beneficial to my family. I, of course, know without a doubt that it is, but men need more tangible proof of things, you know. I'm no longer bringing in money, so I have to make sure he sees the worth in other ways. For the past 2 weeks I have been on a major organizing spree around here, which I intend to blog about. Its been almost a year since I intentionally meal-planned, but starting today I'm getting back into that. I'm doing what I can to save us as much money as possible while I'm not working. I think being more organized in general will help tremendously - if you're organized, you  know where everything is and you won't be spending money on stuff you already have but didn't realize cause it was lost.

I recently organized our 2 freezers in the house (one of a huge stand-up freezer and then we have the tiny one on top of the fridge). I'm so proud of the big freezer! I also took inventory of everything in there and in the pantry. What I learned is we have WAY too much food in this house. Food that we'll never eat before it expires. Food that was purchased with a specific recipe in mind, and then was forgotten about. So I told DH we're (mainly HE) not allowed to purchase any more food items (except things we go through regularly like bread) until I cook through everything we already have. So for now, I'll be planning our meals based on what we have "in stock." Once we've made it through all that, I'll be meal planning based on grocery store sales, and will only purchase what we need. Hopefully, it'll make our freezers and pantry much easier to navigate. And of course it'll save us money. Currently, if you want a can of green beans from the pantry, you have to move about 20 other cans first. Ain't nobody got time for that! I spend more time looking for ingredients that I know we have on hand than I do cooking! That's ridiculous.

Okay, this wasn't intended to be a post about food. That's coming. ( : This is just a general, life-updating type post.

Today, I will start a true preschool regimen with C. I'm so excited! I think it was last year that I bought a preschool book on clearance from Target, and since then we've done a few pages here and there, but nothing scheduled. I took my maternity leave from my job 2 weeks early (I officially quit a few weeks after LJ was born), and I had one full week with C before I went into labor. During that week, we made some real progress. She started writing letters and was learning to write her name. Of course, after LJ was born that all stopped. I think I figured out how to fit LJ into our lives pretty quickly, but its taken me until now to really get everything back into a groove. The other day, I worked up a schedule for me to loosely follow every day. I'm including time for preschool. A friend told me about a website (www.abcjesuslovesme.com), and after looking around on it, I knew that was the curriculum I wanted to follow. Its free, and with it children learn regular preschool stuff PLUS Bible stories. I love that! I can't wait to get started with C later today.

I think being more intentional is my new goal in life. Making sure to get up early, getting things done around the house, making time to do my devotional every morning, making sure to do a devotional with C every day, scheduling time for preschool, scheduling time for our daily walks, etc. (We started 2 weeks ago going on a daily walk, me and the girls, and I absolutely love it. We only walk a mile, but the road that we walk on has a few decent hills, and when you're pushing 50+ pounds in a stroller, a mile is strenuous!) Every day I have a goal in mind, and most days I'm able to accomplish that goal. I've also learned to cut myself some slack, though. If I don't get everything on my list accomplished that day, its okay. Everything will still be here tomorrow.

Having 2 daughters has for sure taught me so much. I feel like superwoman most of the time, since I've learned to do things I never thought I'd be able to do. DH is only here a few hours in the evenings (he leaves for work pretty early, and the girls are still asleep), so I do pretty much everything on my own. When C was born, it took me a really long time to figure out how to be a mom AND a wife and everything else. But this time around, I've taken on my new role (mom to a newborn in additional to a mom to a preschooler) much easier. With C, I pretty much didn't get off the couch until I went back to work, and it was almost a year before I figured out how to cook supper and stay on top of cleaning the house with her around. She was a very different baby than LJ, I'll admit, but I have learned to do things quicker this time. At the same time, though, being a mother of two has really humbled me. There is SO much I have yet to learn, and so many areas that I could improve upon. That's a post for another day, though.

All this to say that I'm back, and hopefully I'll be back to blogging somewhat regularly. I really enjoy going back and reading my old posts, so I'd like to keep it up. So here's to fitting more writing into my crazy, beautiful life! ( :


Girls' Closet Redo

Baby Girl #2 (or The Bean, as I'm calling her, as she doesn't have a name yet) is due to arrive in about 7 weeks, and I've been working hard to prepare for her arrival! Since her and C will be sharing a room, I knew the room needed some major reorganization. So far, I've made great progress, though there are still a few things that need to be addressed. The closet was by far the biggest issue, so I tackled that first.

Here's a "before" shot so you can see what I was working with.
 C insisted on being in the picture, haha. Here's a shot without her cuteness in the way:
 Yikes. Its hard to believe that last August I thought this closet was organized. Of course, it really was, compared to how it started out! I knew this closet needed to hold clothes for 2 kids, though, so it needed some major work. After wracking my brain for a while, I decided on a completely new closet system. I went to Lowe's last Friday and purchased a Homefree system, which had great reviews and seemed super simple to install. I anticipated being able to makeover this closet for around $100.

Well, of course, I spent well over $100 at Lowe's. I used a cool feature on their website to help me figure out which kit to buy, and how much "extra" stuff I'd need. I was pretty shocked at the register when my total was almost $180. But I had a feeling I had purchased too many "extras," and I knew they could easily be returned.

Last Saturday afternoon, me and C completely emptied out the closet. Again. Why am I always amazed at how much STUFF this little space holds?! I should have taken a picture of the room with everything in it, but that was scary.

Luckily, almost half of the clutter in there was immediately able to removed from the house completely. All those Rubbermaid containers and the space bags went out to the shop. Finally!

Once I got everything out of the way, I tackled removing that shelf. Pesky thing! Apparently, everything for mobile homes is way different than things for regular homes. (Our house is a double wide trailer.) I had a time getting that shelf out, and ultimately, my husband had to come inside and do it for me! Most of the problem was with the drill. I just had issues with it. Plus, I  kept having to climb up and down a step ladder to reach everything...not so good when you're heavily pregnant. Anyway, DH got it out in a jiffy, then went back outside to finish mowing the grass.

So I proceeded with the installation of the new closet system. I laid out all the pieces in the box...and immediately felt overwhelmed!
 The instructions were pretty clear, though, so I got right to work. Naturally, it wasn't quite as easy as I thought. Again, I had drill issues. And climbing up and down that dang ladder was killing my hip. I was getting so frustrated. At one point, C ran outside and told her daddy that he HAD to come in and help Mama cause she was struggling! lol

I eventually decided to give up. Maybe if I hadn't been 8 months pregnant this would have been easier for me. But it just wasn't happening.

DH was exhausted that evening from a very busy day, but I was insistent that this closet get installed before C's bedtime. I mean, her clothes were everywhere, and now I had nowhere to put them! He seemed to understand my urgency and frustration, though, and got to work on it. (Its so funny to me how pregnancy makes me get things on my mind and have to get them done RIGHT NOW!!)

The closet system is not quite as simple to install as the instructions make you think. You have to do a ton of measuring and planning in advance. The online tool I had used to help me create the optimal arrangement of shelving was WAY off, even though I used the measurements of the space. I realized after DH had installed the 2 vertical bars that this arrangement that I had come up with online would not be ideal for the space, after all. But at that point, we were both so tired and frustrated that I just let it go. I knew I could make it work.

Here's what we ended up with:
 Technically, I have 3 rods for hanging clothes now. However, the space between the top rod and the middle is not really enough to hang anything, not even newborn clothes. But if we put the middle rod down any further, it would become useless for hanging clothes. As it is now, at least we can use half of the top rod. The bottom shelf and rod are as low as they can possibly go. I wouldn't want them any lower, anyway, or C's clothes will hit the floor. I may eventually go back and make the top shelf and rod a little higher. I'll lose some of the storage space on that shelf, but I think I can live with that.
 I'm sure this space will continue to evolve over time. That is one good thing about this closet system, you can easily move the shelves around to suit your needs.

So here's how it looks now, after everything was put back in:
The top shelf is for stuff that we rarely use or won't use for a while. The middle shelf holds a few bags that we use quite often, and the shopping car cover (which I used a lot with C, so I'm sure it'll get used again soon with The Bean). On that top rod are C's winter/fall clothes that she'll be able to wear again this fall and winter. Most of her cool season clothes are in storage now, but there were a few things I think she'll be able to wear again. (We also have a ton of clothes for those seasons stored in the wardrobe. That is a project to tackle another time, though!)

On the middle rod I've hung newborn stuff. You can see that even though those outfits are tiny, they still take up every bit of that hanging space. Which means it won't be long before that rod won't be useful for the baby's clothes. Which means I'll have to adjust things in here. Looking at these pictures now, I'm thinking maybe get rid of the 2nd shelf altogether, and move the top shelf down a bit. That way, I'd have 2 full rods to use for hanging clothes, and plenty of space up top for storage.

On the right side of the middle shelf I have all C's bottoms: long pants, shorts, and skirts. I originally wanted to have a slide out drawer to hold all that stuff, but we just couldn't make it work in the space. I'd like to have a basket or something, but for now this is working just fine. Its been almost a week, and I haven't had any problems accessing her bottoms every morning when picking out her clothes for the day.

Finally, the bottom rod holds all of C's current clothes. Yes, she definitely has way too many! But this is ALL of her clothes. All of her tops are hung up, except for her PJs.

So far, I'm pretty happy with the system. Its very organized and is easy to use. C loves it, too.

Oh, for right now I've got that hanging shelf hanging on the inside of the closet door:
Its really nice to have that extra storage (its holding all of C's current and next season shoes, her dance clothes, and some baby blankets), but it gets in the way when I open the door. That might be because of my huge belly, though. I will probably eventually replace it with someone more compact that doesn't stick out quite as far, or have DH install it on one of the side walls of the closet.

DH is also going to build a few small shelves for the side walls. He'll have to custom build them, since we only have 8-9" of space to work with depth-wise, but it'll be great to have more storage. I'm really trying hard to make the most of this space!!

Since I moved all C's bottoms to the closet, I freed up one and 1/2 drawers in the dresser. I intend on using one drawer for onesies and bottoms for the baby. This weekend, I plan to tackle the dresser and completely redo it, though. I need more space for diapers once I add the newborn stuff to the mix. So I'll be back soon with an update on that!