A day to do less and live more…

Hello everyone!

I am lucky enough to be writing this from beautiful and very snowy Colorado. As of this morning, snow totals in my city were at 16 inches, which earned us our second snow day today.
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I sit here on a chilly Tuesday night, looking back on these fun four days home with my babies.

The weekend was wonderfully busy. We had my niece and nephew over for a sleepover one night and went out with friends the second night. Sunday rolled around and with it came the snow… and the announcement of a snow day! Ahhhh, man. I thought I loved snow days as a student. They are even better as a teacher and parent!

I woke up on Monday morning with the day stretching out in front of me.

I had more options than hours, of course, and so I sat in my favorite spot with my cup of coffee and started to prioritize.
favorite spot
The cupboard that holds the tupperware, my makeup shelf, our nightstands, my bra drawer, and then of course blogging about all of these…. These were all projects I wanted to tackle with my found day.

I started to map out the day as I listened to my little cuties hop down the stairs in their footie pajamas.

And then…chocolate chip banana pancakes happened. Then the Magna-tiles came out. Then books, costumes, giggles, and tag. Next was a blissfully quiet hour of reading and tea for me while the kids played together. Then the snow gear went on and we all played outside. The neighbor kids joined in, which turned into a hot-chocolate-and-marshmallows date at our house while jackets and mittens dried by the door.
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I got the pot roast in the crockpot while the kids relaxed, then they helped me make homemade bread. After dinner, a movie, and snuggles, it was time for bed.

It was a fantastic day.

But early in this wonderful day, my projects started nagging at me. I was having a blast with the kids but I was thinking about all of the decluttering projects I wanted to get done.

And then I remembered… What is the POINT of all this decluttering?

The point is to get rid of The Noise to make space for what I love.

So if I am lucky enough to find myself in the situation where I am doing EXACTLY what I love… well then, the projects can and should wait.

And with that simple realization, the nagging thoughts disappeared. The projects would be there tomorrow. (And they were! Today I decluttered the Tupperware, bakeware, and nightstands while the kids played in their snow day fort.)
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There is nothing more important than enjoying my family and my life. I won’t always have the chance to enjoy snow days with my kids, so I did my best to make the most of them.

And I just found out… another snow day tomorrow! WOOHOO!

Mama’s Peanut Butter Granola

I have had a couple requests for the recipe for the granola that makes breakfast easy in this house:)
Here it is!

In a large bowl, mix together…
1 cup Peanut Butter
1 t vanilla
2/3 cup TOTAL maple syrup and local honey (I do 1/3 of each, adjust to your tastes)
1/4 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar (key for texture)
2T Chia seeds (Don’t bother measuring… that’s about what fits in a cupped palm – close enough!)
2T Flaxmeal
1t Cinnamon
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Stir…

Then add 8 cups uncooked regular oats. Mix VERY well… you don’t want any dry oats. Add a bit more maple syrup if you need too.
Add 1/2 cup sliced almonds if you want… mix again.

Then bake at 325 for 8 minutes. Use a spatula to flip and stir a bit, and pop back into the oven for 3 or 4 more minutes… be careful, it burns quickly!

If you let it cool in the pans, you will get some nice yummy chunky granola.

Hope you all enjoy it as much as we do!

Yes, you have to wear pants. How and why to declutter your kid’s wardrobe.

The other day, one of my dear friends called me with a confession.

This undisclosed friend had just spent an undisclosed amount of money buying new clothes for her daughter.

She explained that her eldest daughter had zero fall/winter clothes, and that this year, she was doing things different. My friend explained that she realized that her daughter had 5 or 6 favorite shirts, a couple beloved dresses, and a few leggings that she wears constantly… and that’s IT. So, this year instead of her normal habit of buying a ton of cheaper clothes that my friend really liked, she bought just a handful of outfits that she knew her daughter would love (fun prints, colorful), and bought them at a higher quality store. We talked for a while about what we thought that sweet spot would be for each of our kids. How many pairs of pants does a kid really need?

What started out as a tongue-in-cheek confession ended up as a great lesson!

I couldn’t wait to get home that day and hit my son’s room. You see, I am ridiculously lucky and I have several friends that have passed on entire wardrobes of little boy clothes. In the past when he outgrows a size, I go through all these boxes of generosity and pick out all the clothes that fit him that season, and literally, his drawers were overflowing. But recently, I have noticed that the same 6 shirts come out of that shirt drawer and go back in, folded and clean for the next week. In order of importance these are: Darth Vader shirt, Spiderman shirt, T-Rex shirt, other T-rex shirt, other other T-Rex shirt, and in a pinch, he will settle for his Paw Patrol shirt.

Try to say no to this face.
Try to say no to this face.

After the conversation with my wise friend, I fully realized how unnecessary this is.

My goal was to simplify his wardrobe down to what he loves and wears over the course of one warm weather week, one cold weather week, and a few items he might need for the occasional dressy event.

1. SHIRTS. I went to his shirt drawer first… I picked out a week’s worth of short sleeve shirts (see above list), and a week’s worth of long sleeve shirts. In what situation would he need more than that?
shirts
That’s what I ended up keeping. Here is a photo of the shirts I gave away.
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The pile on the left is all shirts to donate!

2. PANTS. Next, I was on to the pants drawer. Let me start by saying my son has an opinion about pants. Mostly he finds them unnecessary, but after losing every argument about why undies should count as pants, he has some rules, people.
Rule number one: No buttons. Don’t ask.
Rule number two: No “cold pants.” Cold Pants are the adorable track suit pants. He has four such suits and he avoids them like the plague. #nocoldpants
Rule number three: I will choose between pants and shorts. Not Mommy. Not Daddy. Not the weather. ME.
So yeah, I’m not fighting it. I took all his adorable track suits, , all khakis and jeans save 2 pairs of each for dressing up or cold weather, and I packed them up to give away.

3. JAMMIES. I picked out just enough favorites to line the bottom of the drawer. This way, he can pick out what he wants without making a messy drawer.
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4. OTHER. In the bottom drawer, I kept two sweaters, two zip hoodies, and his beloved West Point sweatshirt. He mostly wears his spiderman hoodie everyday anyway… the rest are to tide us over in colder weather or laundry day.
5. SOCKS AND UNDIES. No reduction here. If you have a 3 year old boy, this needs no explanation 😉
And that was my adventure with my son’s clothes! How do you feel about the numbers here? Too many items? Too little? How many clothes items does your child need?

Kids’ Art Corner… Decluttered!

If you ask my five-year-old what she wants to be when she grows up, she will usually tell you she wants to be an “Astronaut Artist.” If she can’t be outside playing with her buddies, you can almost find her inside at her beloved art table.

I used to go to great lengths to organize this well-used part of our home. I put two bookshelves there to hold toys and puzzles, and bought a large plastic bin for paper, art supplies, and coloring books. I collected all the stickers, markers, crafts, etc and found homes for them tucked somewhere in the art corner. Despite all my organizing efforts, this little corner was basically in shambles every night. This has especially been true every since my 3-year-old discovered the joys of “making confetti,” with his tiny scissors. I just repeat to myself… “HesdevelopinghisfinemotorskillsHesdevelopinghisfinemotorskills….”

The other day I found myself in the rare circumstance of being home alone for a couple of hours, so I decided it was time to bring minimalism to this little corner of our world.

First, I took everything off the shelves and out of the drawers to get my head around what I was dealing with here. As I emptied the drawers I found all the art supplies my kids had lost over the past few months, along with a bunch of random junk. Noted. As usual, there was just TOO MUCH STUFF and it was keeping my family from enjoying this area as much as they could.

Then I used the same strategy with the art corner that I used with my jewelry drawer.

1. Pick out the keepers. I started by picking out the really good stuff that my kids love AND use frequently. There were a handful of puzzles, white and construction paper, markers (each checked to make sure they are not dried up), crayons, scissors, gluesticks, and a small set of blocks.

What was left on the table was this:
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What. Is. This. Stuff.

2. Toss the rest. Whenever I am confronted with a pile of stuff like this, I freeze. It’s daunting to imagine putting each of these random pieces away. But then I remembered, I’m not an organizer anymore, I’m a minimalist. So I checked over this pile one more time for keepers, got an empty box, and I took my arm and swept the entire pile into the trash. It was glorious!

3. Create a functional space. Next I put away our seriously reduced art supplies. I made sure that the kids can access everything easily and put it away themselves easily. I got rid of so much rarely used stuff that after putting away the good stuff, this the storage that we no longer need:
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4. Admire! When the Littles got home, I immediately took them over to their art corner. My daughter gasped when she saw it and said, “I love it! I can SEE ALL MY STUFF!” She knows I threw the rest away and she couldn’t care less. Even my 5 year old immediately saw that her beloved art corner was so much better with all the clutter out of the way.
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Isn’t that amazing! Woohoo!
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Turns out my kids don’t need a million half-completed dollar store crafts. They need the basics. They LOVE the basics. And my husband and I love NOT picking up the art corner every night. Except, of course, the occasional confetti 😉
art supplies