Wednesday, October 17, 2012

:: A Journey In Minimalism ::

I've never liked having a lot of stuff.
That won't come as a surprise to most people that know me well.  I'm a "keep only what is useful" and an "a place for everything and everything in it's place" type of girl.  If there isn't room for something, I first decide if I need it and if I do, then something else usually goes to make room for it.
That being said, I haven't really applied those principles to my girls' stuff.  I've never felt like they had too much but I also felt like they had enough.
A few weeks ago, my SIL sent me THIS.  A good friend of mine had done something very similar just before summer started.  Her daughter was being destructive and not showing respect for her things, so she took them all away.  I remembering asking her, "What does she do all day??".  I had no concept that children can function without stuff.
When I read the article, I felt challenged.  But I had a hard time figuring out in what way I was being challenged.  I really didn't feel like I needed to strip my children of everything but it did make me take a good look at how much my kids have.
Over the days following, I started realizing how much time my kids spent fighting over toys and how much time I spent frustrated that they couldn't seem to put them away properly, despite the fact that they all had a specific and organized place to go.
One day, I lost it.
It wasn't pretty.
I grabbed their whole storage unit of toys and everything that was in the closet and moved it to the spare room.
The change was instant.
They hardly fought, spent time reading together and came up with the most adorable and creative games to play together.
After a few days, I decided I needed to make a decision.  I ended up going out and buying a bunch of clear plastic storage bins; one for each toy or toy set.
I ended up purging their room and selling of more than enough stuff to cover the cost of the bins and made more than enough room in the closet to store them.  I sold a playmat, a rug and their 12-bin storage unit as well as a couple of other things.
I felt so much lighter!  Some of the stuff had been stuffed under their bed for over a year.
I was left with this......
I'll be honest, when I finished packing everything into the last big bin on the bottom, I remember thinking to myself, "Woah.  That is a lot of stuff".
Now, for the sake of well-roundness, here is a link to a blog post I did just after the girls moved into (what is now the spare room) the room they first shared together.  It gives you an idea of the amount of toys we had in May of 2011.
When the girls moved from that room into what was the playroom back in early summer, I knew I had a lot of toys to get rid of in order to fit it all around the space taken up by their bunk beds.  I weeded through and passed along about 50% of their toys.
You can visit that post here.
Then the storage unit went away and into the closet the toys moved.
That brings us to now.  All of their toys were neatly stacked in the closet and they were to ask permission before taking one out, and everything needed to be cleaned up before they were able to have a different one.
What I saw over the next week, was that they didn't even remember they were in there.
It was a very classic case of out-of-sight-out-of-mind.
Again, they read books more, colored more, played playdoh more and fought less.
I had been exchanging FB messages with a very close girlfriend of mine about a status I had posted about wanting to become a toy-free home.  I sent her the link my SIL sent me and in response she sent me this post from the Minimalist Mom.
I read through it, and found myself wanting to jump up and yell "PREACH IT SISTER!".
Do you ever find yourself facing a massive pile of laundry, a messy kitchen and pile of paperwork to do, and just not knowing where to start?
Imagine a child, who has much less ability to organize their chaotic little brain, staring at an entire room with toys all over the floor.  They become so overwhelmed they don't even know what to do.
After reading the list that Lorilee posted on the Minimalist blog of the toys that children should have access to, I felt further challenged to comb through the toys in the closet.
I went from the photo above to the one below.
I kept their bins of:
 My Little Ponies (the most played with toy in our house)
Mega Blocks
Dolls and Babies
Dress-up accessories (bracelets, old debit cards etc)(this bin was being played with when I took this photo)
Dress-up dresses
That's it.
The next two photos are from in the spare room......all of the toys that are out-of-sight and out-of-mind.
They don't even ask about them.
Now the place where their storage unit was, was very empty. 
Not a fan.
I knew I wanted to move most of their books (which were in the spare room that is now off limits) to where they could use them and put them away much easier.
The IKEA spice rack-turned-bookshelf has been a big trend and I knew it would the perfect thing for the girls.
I finally picked some up this weekend, painted them bright orange and got them hung up yesterday.

I couldn't be more pleased.....with everything.
I'll be honest, there is a small part of me that feels like they should have all of their toys back.  After all, the majority of them do get played with.  A part of me feels like I'm depriving them.
I've had thoughts like, "If I take away their piano, they will never want to learn to play when they are older", or "If I take away their puppy kennel, they won't want to be a veterinarian when they grow-up".
Some of the toys I have put away were gifts and I've had moments of guilt when I think about selling them or giving them away, because it seems rude to the giver.
But I also know that I can't live my life worried about everyone else.  I know my intention is to raise well-adjusted, grateful children in a home that isn't over-stimulating and cluttered and I know that this is how I need to do it.
  When I look at how much less overwhelmed they are, and TRULY how much they don't need so much stuff, I am affirmed and convinced that this is absolutely how I'm going to run my home. 
They are happier and much more content.
Do they still fight?  Yes.
Does the house and their room still get messy?  Yes.
But I feel like it's a step to making our lives simpler and less work.  We can spend more time enjoying each other and less time cleaning and putting away and tidying.
So that's my journey.  I truly hope it makes some sense and I truly hope you can take something from it.

{What I'm Wearing Wednesday}

It's today and this is what I'm wearing!
Hair needs a wash, hence and pony and hairband.....
Scarf: can't remember
Top: $4, used from a FB page
Leggings: Warehouse One
Shoes: can't remember
Happy-ness to you this Wednesday!

Monday, October 15, 2012

:: A New Creation ::

It happened totally out of the blue.
We had just gotten back to my inlaws from a dinner at my BIL's house.
It was late after a busy day.
We had the girls all tucked in their room and Denay started insisting she wanted to sleep in our room.
She got very emotional and was crying.
We calmly talked to her and explained why she was sleeping where she was.
We prayed.
She was still upset.
So I asked her, "Denay, why are you so sad?".
What I heard in response, was the very last thing I expected to hear.
(through tears and sobs) "I...I just.....I'm sad because I don't have Jesus in my heart."
I was stunned, shocked, speechless.
Completely out of nowhere.
I tried not to cry as I asked her if she wanted Jesus in her heart.
I asked her a couple of times and explained to her what it meant.
I prayed, she repeated (still through tears).
We thanked Jesus for dying on the cross for our sins so we could live in heaven with Him.
We declared we believed that he died and rose again and is living in heaven.
We said sorry for our sins and asked for forgiveness.
Then we invited Jesus to make His home in her heart and to help her to be more like Him.
This little girls name is now written in the palm of God's hand forever.
She then promptly informed us that her heart was full but her tummy was very empty and it was downstairs for a "midnight" snack.
Last night, before bed, she prayed, "I just thank you Jesus that you came and lived in my heart and I'm just so excited that I get to keep you for a little while".
October 13, 2012: the day another little soul returned home to her Father!

:: Elmo Birthday ::

This was two years ago.
{October 1st, 2012}
Mere minutes after delivering my second born....Miss Paisley.
That little Miss has, since then, fallen in love with Elmo.  So it was a pretty natural decision to have an Elmo-themed birthday to celebrate her turning two.
I found this amazing free invitation template online as well as the adorable font, and put the invite together in Picasa.  Poor baby cried everytime she had to hand them out to her friends.  She didn't want to let Elmo go.
We've got a big crew, so hosting it at out house wasn't an option.  We decided to hold it at our local Pizza Hut because they've got a crazy cheap pizza deal on Monday's.
My mom, Denay and myself all headed over there to set up about 45 minutes before the party started.
It wasn't much, but we had it all ready to go.....
.....and then, the power went out
After a little deliberating, and tears (of mine) and phone calls we packed up everything and, once all of our guests arrived, convoyed back to my parent's house.  Now, this was no small feat....we're talking 20 adults and 14 children showing up at my parent's with absolutely no notice.
Trevor waited at home with Paisley and ordered pizza (from Panago, obviously) while everyone scrambled to get things ready for the birthday girl to arrive.
And when I say everyone, I mean everyone.  I might have planned the party but my friends made it happen.  People were making punch, bringing chips and juice boxes for the kids, setting up plates and washing plates so we could eat cake.
Speaking of, my friend Alana of CAKE by Alana baked up this perfect Elmo cake with lettering that even matched her invitation!
The birthday girl arriving to a packed room....she didn't even know what to do with herself!
{birthday hugs from sister and Liv}
{elmo's in hand}
{happy birthday paisley!}
{post chaos, all partied out}
On the way home, all I wanted to do was cry.
I had had a super emotional day and was SO looking forward to a fun evening with some of the most special people in my life.  When we lost power at Pizza Hut, I completely crumbled.  I walked out with Paisley's helium balloons, to all of my waiting friends (whom the restuarant had locked outside) and cried and apologized.  I know the power going out was not my fault, but I didn't know what else to say.
When we arrived at my parent's house, everyone sprang to action.  Helping me decorate and hang balloons and just being awesome.
When one says "It takes a village", that is what they mean.
I have a great village.
We are village people.
I love my village people.
All-in-all, the night was a chaotic success and that birthday girl was very celebrated!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

{Fall's Front Step}

Now, I say fall very loosely, considering we haven't had a drop of rain around these parts for the better part of a couple months and it was 21 degrees yesterday.
However, I have my fall door all set up to enjoy our spring weather.
{my little "welcome to my doorstep" vignette}
Wish I could tell you what kind of plant that is, but all I'm concerned about is that fact that I haven't killed it yet.  The huge hurricane glass I've had for years, but up until it's recent rescue, it had been behind my television set (LONG story).  It came out of hiding back in September and, with the help of my MIL, found nice new home (complete with a huge LED candle) on the front step.
I've had this frame lying around for a while, and I thought to myself, "What a great cheap way to keep things fresh.  I can have a different graphic for all kinds of different seasons and occasions!".  So I went to spray paint it and then promptly ran out of spray paint.  You can't really tell from the photo, but it's got a sort of distressed, vintage feel about it. 
Hoorah for running out of spray paint. 
And you also can't see, but if you were to turn around that little (fake) pumpkin on the left, there would be a lovely set of teeth marks.....from my two-year-old....because that's what she does.
{my wreath}
I made this guy a few years back from a wicker wreath form and whole bunch of loose florals from Walmart.
Nothing astounding, but just it's just perfect!
And I think I put this post up just in time for real fall to arrive....*le sigh*
How many more months until summer?

Monday, October 8, 2012

{Insert Opinion Here}

Thank y'all for your encouraging comments.
After re-reading what I wrote the next morning, I was even more convinced that if anyone did still care to take the time to check up on me here, they wouldn't want to after that whateverthatwas.
Every time my email showed a new comment, I was at first, to be honest, surprised.  And then once I read all you had to say, I was uplifted by all of the cyber-love.
Thanks Mum for always being a fan.
Thanks Carmelle: your few words had a big impact.
Thanks Bettina and Holly: my across the globe friends.
Thanks Jessi and Kristin: even though our meetings are few (Kristin) and non-existent (Jessi, which I would also LOVE to change) I truly consider you friends.


All of that being said, I now need a favour.
Well, my bangs actually need a favour.
They need you to tell them what they should look like.
I've got a pre-Cranberry Creek season haircut coming up next week and I cannot decide what to do with my bangs.
Right now, they are in limbo.  When I had my haircut in August, they were past blunt-cut length but a little too short for side-swept.  Since then I've been fighting with them and mosting living bang-free with the use of hairbands and bobby pins.
So, the options are:

:: side swept ::
I don't mind this style, when it works.  I enjoy that I don't have to have them trimmed as often and that I can easily pin them back to achieve the bang-free look.

:: bang-free ::
Like I said, since the summer, I've been pinning and banding them back because they just didn't grow out right and the side-sweep wasn't working.  I love having a free forehead and not having to worry about trims, but I also feel like my forehead might be a tiny big to be bare.  I like that I can have my whole giant lions-mane of a head of hair completely off of my face.  Sometimes I feel like my hair is planning a hostile take over.
:: blunt cut ::
I like this look.  It feels like a fun accessory to me.  I don't like that it isn't very versatile and I REALLY dislike that almost every 2-3 weeks, they need to be trimmed.  The problem with that being, that even though I've been at my salon with the same stylist for 10 years, I have to pay about $12 for a bang trim.  Now, I'm hoping to be able to work up the guts to say something next week about how ridiculous that is but it will weigh on my choice if they won't start doing them for free.  I usually just do it myself, but that usually ends badly.
OR, then there is this option.
Right now, my hair is the longest it's been since I was a teenager and I've been growing it out since last summer.
But there is a small part of me (fine, it's a HUGE part) that gets bored easily and constantly likes change and switching things up.  So this fourth option is also intriguing!
This was me, about 34 weeks pregnant with Denay and some of the shortest hair I've ever had.
And HERE is another post I found from summer 2009 that actually looks shorter than the picture from the year before.  Food for thought.....

Drop a comment and let me know your thoughts, pretty please.
I hate making decisions like this for myself ;)

Saturday, October 6, 2012


I don't feel like I have anything to say.
I haven't planned or given this post any thought at all.
I haven't posted in two. whole. months.
We had an amazing summer (that incredibly, doesn't seem to be over yet on the West Coast) filled with boating and swimming and BBQ's and fun.
We entered into our September quite naturally, but wasn't expecting the month that followed.
As a family, our week usually consists of about one or two evenings per week at the most, where either one or both of us need to be somewhere.
All of September, we went weeks on end without an evening at home together.
Even though it was unexpected, it didn't feel foreign or "busy".  Looking back now, I realize that we simply entered into a new season of life and we've been enjoying all the new opportunities and responsibilities that have come our way.
September also involved a lot of house tidying and organizing.  I took on a room a day for about a week and went through each with a fine tooth comb.
I found the quote on Pinterest:
 .....and it's been messing with my mind ever since.
It's caused me to look at everything I "own" differently and re-evaluate all of stuff I keep.
It's forced me to get creative with storage and learn to up cycle things I already have to make them more useful.
Like this handy sunglasses holder I made from a picture frame, twine and spray paint that I had around the house.
God is continuing to challenge me and stretch me and is continuing to define what my life and the lives of my family will look like.
This is one big ramble and it makes no sense.
I don't know that anyone will read this.
It feels good to write again, to reflect and to see how God has been working our home over the past few months.
I don't know when I'll blog again.
I've been giving a lot of thought to what I want to use this blog for.  I feel as though this space has become quite boring and dull. 
I really don't think anyone cares to read about my kids everyday.
I don't feel like my life is interesting enough.
I digress.
That's where I'm at - unedited.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

:: Recap ::

{June 2012}
:: open house at camp qwanoes:
:: little girl's preschool end of year assembly :: 

:: saying goodbye to two very dear families.  two of my dearest and closest friends left (one to move to Calgary, one to head back to Fernie after six months on the Island) and it goes without saying that it was a sad, sad day.  we miss all eight of you so very, very much :: 

:: getting crafting for canada day ::

{July 2012}
:: canada day, in our matching handprint flag t-shirts, enjoying a picnic and fireworks in
victoria ::

:: a sunny summer weekend on the mainland with family ::

:: little big girl turns four ::

:: yearly pilgrimage to quadra island with family ::

 {August 2012 (so far)}
:: swimming, pool, lake, tubing, lake, swimming, friends, food ::
:: free VIP weekend long tickets to SUNfest with country sister Brittany.  Gord Bamford, Chris Young, Tara Oram and on the left, yup, that Dierks Bentley in the background (insert happy face here) ::

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Digital Organization

There is nothing safe from my organizational-itch.
Not even my computer.
Getting all my photos and videos organized and burned to DVD has been something I've wanted to do for a while.  We have a safe place where we keep our photo discs and videos discs but most of the photos are on CD's so I have about, a thousand of them.
It took HOURS and HOURS to upload, sort and re-burn all of the photos from the past seven-or-so-years but now, this is how pretty my "Family" folder looks on my laptop.
{The Videos folder}
{The Photos folder}
Each year folder is then broken down into months with the photos/video from that month stored inside.  When I need to find a photo, it is much easier than digging up the CD and trying to upload only what I need.
And now, instead of three dozen or-so photo CD's and at least a dozen video CD's in our safe storage spot, there are only about five DVD's and I know have everything backed-up on the laptop.
Cheers for getting organized!!