Thursday, January 29, 2015

If You Had Spare Time...


Spare. 

Is that word even in your vocabulary? I sometimes wonder if "spare" will ever be in my schedule! Do you ever feel like if it is not one thing it's another? One thing I have learned is that I am a "get it done now" person. I am far from the definition of a procrastinator - why do now what you can do later? I am a get it done now so that I don't HAVE to do it later person. Now, even though that makes it sound like I get a lot done, I sometimes do not know how to be okay with "spare" time.

In preparing to have our first child in March, there are many things that I have wanted to get done. Everything from organizing all of my pictures onto a USB drive, to going through every inch of our home and finding things we do not need or are in the wrong place. In other words, I have spent a lot of time moving, reorganizing, and purging things that are no longer needed. Meanwhile, also making room for the influx of baby items that are now filling up our home. I have not spent much time doing other things...

Things I would do in my spare time.

That thought hit me when my husband said to me one day when I said I was tired, while trying to move all of our games and cds to a different location. He said "Is that really something that NEEDS to be done, or something you WANT to get done?" Bam. Enough said.

Why am I not okay with "spare" time? I spend so much time trying to always be caught up in life, but really, there is never a point when I will "arrive". 

Why do I not take time to do the things I want to do? The solution? The other day, I decided to pull out a puzzle. It is that time of year when I do not go outside as much because it can be so bitterly cold. So for me, choosing to take time to do the things I enjoy, I find so rewarding. Of course I could always be doing something else, like making some frozen meals, organizing something, getting rid of something else, etc. But that is when I need to choose to do the things I want to truly do, versus the things that I "think" need to be done right now. 

One of the healthiest things for me is to go on vacation, with no access to internet or a computer. I always think there is something else I could be doing (and there probably is) if I have the chance to go on the internet. Though while on vacation, it always takes my husband and I a day or 2 to get into the mode and schedule (or lack there of), on vacation. One of the best decisions we made on one of our last vacations we took, was to head down to our destination the night before. Granted it was cheaper to get a hotel room than to fly down the next day. We were heading to the Florida Keys, but we spent the night before in Fort Lauderdale (where we flew into), and then the next day, spent our time driving down to the Keys. Best decision ever. We did not do that the 2nd time and we could tell! We now know that taking that "spare" time to make time truly enjoyable, is worth the extra effort! 

If you had spare time, WHAT WOULD YOU DO? I would love to hear what is on your "want to do list". What are some of the things YOU enjoy doing if you had some extra time to spare?

If you had a day to spare, what would you do?
If you had a week to spare, what would you do?
If you had a month to spare, what would you do?
If you had a year to spare, what would you do?

I find that the way I answer those questions, actually shows what I value in life. 

So again, how about you?

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Monday, January 26, 2015

52 Places In 52 Weeks: Organized Recycling


When it comes to food preparation, by the end of the meal-making process, do you find that your counters are absolutely cluttered with plastics, cans, and wrappings? Do you just leave your garbage can out, hoping that it will all fit without you having to take a break and take the garbage out in the meantime?

This is where I find that living in an organized home means finding the right home for everything. Even when it comes to recycling. Am I an avid recycler? I don't know if I would go as far as to say I am obsessive, but when I think about how much "trash" I take to the recycling center each week, it would be another large bag that would fill up our trash can.

What are some benefits of recycling?
  • Allows items that would be thrown away, to be reused, or turned into something else
  • Saves the environment
  • Preserves energy
  • Creates jobs
  • Conserves raw material
  • Reduces the amount of garbage that is sent to landfills, preventing their increase in size
I understand that not all areas offer recycling. I also know that some have to pay a hefty fee in order to take care of the earth. I find that very unfortunate. Also, some centers only take certain numbers, so that plays a factor as well.

So how do you create an organized home when it comes to recycling and trash?

1. Find out whether your area offers recycling, the charge, and where the nearest drop-off location is. For example, our small town does offer recycling on Saturday mornings. We are often not home Saturday mornings, so when I am out running my errands for the week in the larger town 25 minutes away, I also take my recycling because it is always open (and free). It is not an inconvenience since I am in town anyways, and with the system I have, it takes maybe 2 extra minutes; max.

2. Figure out if recycling would actually SAVE you money. The way our trash is set up, is you can "buy" different sizes of trash cans. We started out with the smallest one, but realized that even paying a monthly fee for that size, was more than we needed because we filled it up every 2-3 weeks. That is when we realized recycling actually SAVES us money because we fill up our trash can less frequently. Then we heard about the blue bag program, where you can just put your trash in the designated bags that you can buy from the local gas station, at a 1/4 of the cost per month, for what a trash can would cost. So instead of paying $16/month for trash, we pay $13 every quarter. And it's all because we chose to recycle and really look into what we are spending for something as simple as trash/recycling.

3. Find a recycling system that works for you. You may have seen those who bring barrels upon barrels of unsorted recycling. I almost feel sorry for them as they walk from bin to bin, separating each kind. We have a very simple system that consists of ONE rubbermaid container. I keep 3 plastic or paper bags in it each week - one for glass, one for aluminum, and one for plastics. The "paper" bag I keep in a separate location right outside of our kitchen because we are constantly recycling paper! What I love about this system (and everyone's will look different), is that when it comes time to bringing the recycling, I just have to grab that certain bag and dump it in the appropriate container. It is quick and easy! Then the next week, I put 3 more plastic bags in the bin, to fill up again. HEre are some other ideas:
  • Laundry baskets set on the floor or in a closet
  • Rubbermaids with paper bags set inside to divide the different types
  • Garbage can under the sink, except designate it as a recycling bin
  • Bin in the garage
  • Boxes
4. Make sure you know WHAT you can recycle. Like I mentioned earlier, there is a number on each item that indicates whether it is recyclable or not. At first, it may seem overwhelming, but trust me, you learn quickly and most things I find, ARE recyclable! For instance, I didn't know we could recycle paper at first, but after looking at the options, I jumped on that because I would say that is the one item we recycle most. Just think JUNK MAIL!

Even though recycling may seem like one more thing to do, I have found that it has actually helped our home become MORE organized because I recycle things I would normally hang on to or even throw away. For example, if I have a container that I know wouldn't be worth bringing to a thrift store, instead of hanging onto it, I recycle it! So in this instance, recycling has helped us DECLUTTER our home.

So the next time your counters are overflowing with recyclables, take the time to sort and save space and money in the process!

Do you recycle? What value do you see in recycling? How has it helped YOU have an organized home?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Pregnancy Update - 32 Weeks!

For all of those who have been following our personal story, I thought I would give an update on what has been going on! You can read about my 21 week update here and our pregnancy announcement here

I am now 32 weeks pregnant and feeling amazing! I am definitely starting to look pregnant as you can see (though I feel I was showing pretty early on regardless). Despite this pregnancy being high-risk because of my heart condition, everything is going incredibly smooth! The biggest concerns that my doctors have are swelling and high blood pressure, in which I have neither. What an incredible blessing! I wake up at night to adjust, but can still get a full night's sleep. I am still able to do my daily activities, such as working, helping my husband with youth group, and coaching girl's JV basketball. The 1 1/2 hour bus rides get long (bus seats seem a whole lot smaller than I remember them to be as a kid), but I am so thankful I can still do what I love! We honestly thought I might be on bed rest my 3rd trimester, so any day that I can get up and walk around and live life, I am thankful. 

Our baby girl (yes, we decided to find out the gender) is also very healthy thus far! There was some concern that I would pass on my congenital heart disease, but after a fetal ECHO, it was determined that her heart is perfectly healthy. What an answer to prayer! She also is growing at a rapid rate, but if you would see my husband and I, you would understand why. I am 6'1" and my husband is 6'3", so she will be tall! In fact, at my last ultrasound at 30 weeks, she measured in the 98th percentile for leg length! She also weighed 4 lbs. 2 oz. at 30 weeks, which is a bit more than usual, but we are chalking it up to her still being all leg. So it will be interesting to see really how long she is and how much she weighs. All we really care about, though, is that she is healthy. We have been praying for a healthy child for so long and so that is why we just couldn't be more thankful! She is also a mover and has her awake and sleep times already, I think. When she is active, she is active and when she is sleeping, she is sleeping. If someone wants to feel her move, I try to get her to move, but usually without any success. I don't always like to wake her up because I know her sleep is valuable too! It's the middle of the night movements that I love, as she is probably stretching, trying to get comfortable as well. I just treasure every moment I can with her! In fact, the other night, she was extremely active and my husband was able to feel her move crazily for almost a 1/2 hour. You could feel her little feet, little hands, just moving all over. Those movements steal her parents' hearts every single time!

My due date is March 17, but she is currently measuring to come into this world March 3. We typically just say March when people ask when I am due because like any pregnant woman, really, we have no idea! We are starting to get the room set up, which is something we have looked so forward to! We have a crib, dresser, ordered a chair, and I also made curtains, since I couldn't find what I was looking for. We are starting to get some clothes and it has been fun washing what we know we will keep, and folding her little clothes. 

If you think of any birthing or first-week advice, let me know! As you know, I am always open to ideas and suggestions. Not that we live off of what everyone else does, but why reinvent the wheel? We are still going into this process without many expectations because we want it to just be what it is - the story of our life and what God is doing in it. This whole journey has been a complete miracle to us (as we see every baby being), and we are just so thankful to God for the blessing of this child! Little does she know how loved she is already!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

How To Have A Stress-Free Pregnancy: Enjoy Every Moment


Over the past few weeks, I have been spending some time talking about pregnancy. This has been a learning experience for myself, being a first-time-pregnant-mom. Trust me, I am FAR from having it altogether. In fact, the reason I share this series, like learning how to let go and where to begin, is everyday I am learning something new and I figure there are many others who walk in the same shoes. I sometimes thought that being pregnant would be a stressful experience and that there would be so much to do and figure out. Really though, pregnancy can be such a beautiful time in life, if you choose to make it that way. That is why I wanted to share with you a few more ideas and things I have learned while on the pregnancy journey.


  • Read what is recommended. Again, I think your doctor knows best. Each office may give out a different pregnancy book, but I find the books they give you for free, are worth their weight in gold! I have truly read every single word thus far because almost every question I've had was answered in the book. When you think you are not normal, you realize how quickly you are! From itchy skin, to dry mouth, to leg cramps, you realize that those little changes in your body are absolutely normal and there is no reason to panic. Don't walk through your first pregnancy constantly wondering!



  • Something that I find a lot of value in also is looking at the rating when it comes to big ticketed items for a registry. I figure why try to figure out if it is a good product just by looking at a picture on the internet, when there may have been 100s or even 1000s who have reviewed the product? Of course no product is ever perfect (why do you think we have 1000s of items to choose from?) For example, when we were researching cribs, we knew we wanted the 4-in-1 style, but realized there were so many options. We decided that if it had a 4 star and above rating, that it would be quality. I believe the one we ended up going with had close to a 5, and taking those few extra minutes to read a few reviews, is well worth your time! I learned quickly that there were some strollers too that were NOT made for tall people just from reading the reviews, though it obviously would not say that in the description of the item. Why stress over something you do not have to, when the ratings tell you what you need to know!


  • Take time to talk about new beginnings. Lets face it - having a child starts a whole new chapter in life. An overwhelming feeling of excitement and maybe some apprehension tied into those feelings, creates a whole new mindframe. Take time to talk with your spouse about what having a child will be like. Your hopes. Your dreams. Dream away! Talk about what will change so that when the changes occur, you aren't completely shocked. Talking about change (though many try to deny that things will change) is one of the healthiest things you can do as it will be a huge change for all - even baby!

  • Take time away. This one may be the hardest one to do, but also the most rewarding. I know that not everyone has the ability to do this, like go on an extended vacation, but even taking time to go out on dates, is important. Not that you won't ever be able to do this again, but life changes (for the good!) With my husband's job, to truly take a break, we need to get away. By all means we love what he does, but getting away is something we keep at a very high priority because of the nature of his position. We knew that we would not be able to take another vacation away just us two for a little, so we headed to Florida during the off season, on the cheap, for one last getaway. We spent much of our time talking about what life will be like when the baby comes, but also how we want to keep our priorities straight. Our marriage does come first! Taking time to also go on a little date, is valuable time together. Life will always be pulling you in every direction - that is why it is important to take control of your time because believe it or not, you do have control and this pregnancy can be stress-free!

  • Take time to enjoy the moment. Being pregnant, there are many changes that happen within your body  - one of them being the growing belly! Okay, maybe as you see the needle on the scale creep up, you may be wondering where all of those pounds are coming from, but when you realize what is happening in your body, it is worth every movement of that needle. Enjoy each subtle kick. Enjoy the times you wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or adjust. Enjoy the little aches that may come along with being pregnant as this too, shall soon pass. My husband and I have waited many years to be able to experience a pregnancy, so all the little details we do not want to let slip by, as they are precious gifts and reminders of what is truly happening within. Even more so, they help you enjoy the little moments that make it all the more stress-free!

Having a stress-free pregnancy may seem impossible to have, depending on the health of the baby and yourself. But I find that as a first-time-being-pregnant mom, that these little tidbits have been incredibly helpful as we have learned to adjust to this new phase in life. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

52 Places In 52 Weeks: Paper Clutter


Does the paper trail ever end?

Even though I have to say we have a pretty good grasp on paper clutter, I still have to admit we keep WAY more than we need to. In preparing for our baby girl in March (maybe you could call it nesting), I decided to try and rid our house of the unneeded and unused. One of the areas I dreaded going through were our papers. I have a black filing system that I use for all of my loose papers and then binders for categories, such as my organizing blog, Norwex, basketball coaching, etc.

As I was going through all of my papers, I realized that I had numerous papers from college still. I graduated college 8 years ago (I know, I am getting old!) and realized I never looked at them. I went back and forth on whether or not to get rid of them, but I decided it was time. It was time to part with the past and realize that most of the information I wanted to keep, was either in a book I had or could be found on the internet.

There went piles and piles of paper!

So how do YOU clear the paper clutter?

Think about these questions:

  • When was the last time you looked at it?
  • What do you need it for? Is the information available on the internet?
  • Is the information pertinent?
  • Is it worth the space it takes up?
  • Is there a better place for it?
  • Are you keeping it for the "what if's" in life? If so, has that "what if" ever happened?

Here is where you can start:
1.  Find all of the papers you have lying around the house – they may be loose, they may be in folders, they may be stuffed in drawers. Locate all of them so that in the end, they will ALL be organized.


2.  If you do not already have one, buy or find a filing bin that you can store your papers in.


3.  Purchase folders. You can even MAKE YOUR OWN DIVIDERS! Here are a few label ideas:  
  • Banking - registers, extra checks, checking and saving statements
  • Car - insurance policies, maintenance bills, payment stubs
  • Computer/Internet
  • Credit cards – statements, credit card info, points information
  • Home Insurance
  • House - mortgage papers, home improvements receipts
  • Loans
  • Retirement/Investments - 401(k), mutual funds, and statements
  • Medical – shots info, health insurance papers, health insurance payment
  • Life insurance
  • Taxes – anything you gather throughout the year for your taxes, put in this folder, like deductions you plan to
4. Make sure to weekly file papers weekly to avoid pile-ups.

How to organize your papers as they come into your house:


1. Decide if you can take care of it in 2 minutes or less. This may mean filing it in the appropriate place, quickly paying a bill, or sending a reply.

2. Toss/recycle whatever you do not need. Shred those that have personal information on them.

3. Put magazines and newspapers in their appropriate place (like a magazine rack)

Hopefully this gives you just a glimpse of how you can organize the paper trail coming into your own home! The picture below is sadly of all of the papers I recently got rid of! Think of it this way - every time you clear the clutter, the more organized your home and spaces IN your home will be! 


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Why I Did Not Make New Year's Resolutions




Now that the new year is here, did you start the year by setting goals for yourself? Any new year's resolutions? 
I have decided to not set ANY. This is probably the first year that I have not set up some sort of goal for myself to accomplish in the new year. Honestly, it has been the best feeling and the most refreshing.

So why no goals or resolutions? 
I want to be a MAINTAINER. This is where my desire to continually grow in ALL areas of life, should not be effected by the turn of the calendar year. Of course, yes, I am doing a series on organizing and decluttering our homes, but the reason I am doing it throughout the year is that changing is a continual process - it takes maintaining. Some things are more set in stone, like losing weight (once you reach your goal, you reach your goal), but it's the maintaining that matters. Same as decluttering and organizing - you may get to a point in your home when you have decluttered all you can, but now the task of maintaining the organization, is the challenge.


Do not get me wrong. I love the idea of resolutions. I really do. In fact, last year I made blogging goals for myself. I enjoyed reaching some of those goals and feeling the sense of accomplishment. But when it comes to my personal life, I want to just keep striving to be the person God created me to be. Setting a goal and then letting it go by the wayside after I accomplish it, is not the life I want to live. I want to keep working TOWARDS and MAINTAINING the life I feel called to live. 
And that's just it - your life is going to look MUCH different than mine! I do not want you to compare yourself to me. I am far from perfect. Sure, use my ideas for organizing and simplifying as inspiration, but I realize that everyone lives a different life, lives in a different size house, lives in a different area, and has different ideas of how they want to live their lives. That is why it's important to look at your own life and think about how you want to be the person you feel called to be. 

WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE? Decide today to not necessarily set a goal to reach, but a standard to live up to. For me personally, my standards are to live up to what the Bible says and to mirror Christ's image. I will never fully accomplish this goal until I reach Heaven, and so that is why I am working towards maintaining the faith I have, while also striving to continue to grow in my faith as well.


So this year I do not have any "written" goals for myself. I just want to continually grow. It's as simple as that. Grow in all areas of life - maybe that's a goal, but I feel goals are accomplished, where this goal is not accomplished until I reach Heaven.
Again, do NOT get me wrong - goals are NOT a bad idea! If you have set goals for yourself this year, I'd love to hear what they are! What do you hope to accomplish in this new year? What areas of your life do you want to maintain and keep working towards?

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

How To Have A Stress-Free Pregnancy: Where to Begin


Having a child is supposed to be a fun  and exciting time. Yet for some, the thought of having a child may bring an utter sense of fear and apprehension. When you consider all the things that "need" to be done, with your to-do list the size of a thick novel, you may wonder if you will ever be ready for this child?

I remember having feelings of apprehension early on, wondering if I was doing everything "right". Wondering where to even begin? The day after we had a positive home pregnancy test, I remember talking to a friend and she suggested that the best way to ease any nerves, is to just go in and get a confirmed pregnancy test done by the doctor.

Wisest advice ever! Seems like the most simple thing to do, but having that initial appointment right away, helped ease my mind, while having many questions answered - especially the question:

WHERE TO BEGIN.

I am not an expert. I am not a doctor. I am have not even given birth to our first child yet. So take these thoughts for what they are worth.  What I do have, is the perspective of a first-time mom. So what are some simple steps you can take now, while pregnant, to ensure you have a stress-free pregnancy?

  • Find the right doctor for YOU. Typically recommendations are helpful, but know your body and know your situation. For example, the whole reason we waited so long to have children was because my heart was not healthy enough. When we found out it finally was (through many prayers), we knew that it would still be a high-risk pregnancy. Yes, I would have loved to have kept my family doctor, but knowing my situation, I knew that seeing a high-risk OB was necessary. That is when a long-time nurse suggested seeing one of the best OBs in town. And to this day, it was the best choice we have made! 

  • Listen to your doctor. They probably have helped with 100s of deliveries. In fact, they have seen it ALL. They have been asked every question in the book. Don't ever think there is a "dumb" question because I almost guarantee you that they have been asked it in the past! They also know what they are doing - I find that putting trust in them, takes a lot of worry off mom. If my doctor isn't worried about it, then why should I be? For instance, I wondered about sleeping on my back. He kept telling me my body will let me know when it's not okay and to not worry about it. I didn't understand that, but he was right. Children are born healthy, even if you find yourself waking up on your back. I have also learned it's not always comfortable, so he was right. If they aren't worried, then you are to not worry!

  • Talk to your friends who have been there. Sometimes the last thing people want is another opinion because the opinions are all different (hence them being an opinion!) What I have found to be incredibly valuable is talking to the friends who are closest with you. I find I value their opinion because my friends are somewhat similar to me - in thinking, in lifestyle, etc. So hearing about their experiences and thoughts, has helped me decipher what is normal and what is not. Friends are such a gift and don't take for granted the friendship you have with them - even while pregnant! Be ready to open yourself up - and when you do, be ready for some incredible advice!

  • Don't wish away time. Okay, that first trimester is interesting. Your body is going through so many changes, your appetite is everything well, BUT an appetite, and your pillow never sounded so good. But in the midst of all of those changes, there is something that is constant - a growing child inside. In thinking about some of those days when you wonder if you will ever feel up to par again, just remember the big picture. Soaking in every feeling, every moment, and every thought of that child inside, makes the process and those feelings worth it. Don't let the negative outweigh the miracle of the big picture!

  • Take care of yourself. Believe it or not, I found that even though food was hard to eat at times, it was WHAT I ate, that made a big difference. Listen to what your body is telling you. Fatigue was huge for me - doing the simplest of tasks, I felt like I ran a marathon. Then I read in one of my books that yes, being pregnant, with all of the changes, can be the equivalent OF running a marathon. I didn't see that as an excuse, but as confirmation that I was NOT crazy, but did need rest. I know that many do not have the chance to sit or even listen to their bodies as much as they would like,  but do what you can. If your body is telling you no, you probably shouldn't do it! Your baby is already smarter than you think!

  • Exercise if you can. Even though exercising was sometimes the last thing I wanted to do (especially in the first trimester), I knew it wasn't only good for me, but my baby. Staying active I think is very important and drinking enough liquids, can make or break a day. Even if it's something as simple as walking around the block. I stuck with my jogging routine until about 17 weeks (now I am strictly walking), but I am so thankful I did. Staying healthy and staying active in my mind, helped me sleep better at night and I felt energized even if only for a few hours at a time.
These are just a few tidbits from a first-time mom. Again, I am NO expert and I will never claim to be one. I hope you find these simple yet useful truths to be helpful! Stay tuned for more thoughts on how to have a stress-free pregnancy!