Saturday, February 28, 2015

On Tidying Up

Think I may need to read this book - enjoyed reading this blog from HeadHeartHand- convicting and challenging and I certainly need help in this area!

The top-ranked book in the self-help section of the New York Times bestsellers list is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. That’s right, a book on tidying up has become a bestseller. I suppose anything with “life-changing” in the title is going to attract attention, but that doesn’t fully explain its popularity. I believe that the book’s success is more about the “tidying up” part of the title than the “life-changing” bit. Like all best-selling books, it reveals something about our culture, about our personal lives – that we are in a mess!
A study of middle-class families in Los Angeles found that just one in four families could fit a car in its garage. It also found that mothers’ stress levels rose as they described their household mess.
Too Much Stuff
We all feel we’ve got just way too much clutter in our lives – too much in our heads, too much in our homes, too much in our offices, and way too much data everywhere. And it’s hurting us – we’re stressed out over all the stuff that’s encircling and enveloping us. But how to stop it? How to drive it down and out? We have the occasional cathartic clean out, but a week later, we’re back to messy (and stressy) central. We sense that there’s peace on the other side of the mounds of papers, clothes, boxes, tins, toys, and electronics, but how do we get there…and stay there?
Enter Marie Kondo with her welcome book on the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.
Family Crusade
Once I read the book, I bought copies for my wife and family. Not all of us have read it through yet, but we’ve had a couple of tutorials in which I summarized the key points of the book and we are all now one month into a crusade to clear out our clutter and prevent it re-invading – and even my teenage sons are on board, piling up the bin bags.
Although Kondo goes over the top in an OCD kind of way when she gets down to the details, the general principles are simple and do-able.
The basic thesis of the book is: Start by discarding. Then organize your space, thoroughly, completely, in one go.
The bit we usually ignore or short-circuit is the discarding. We start organizing without discarding, or without sufficient discarding, which makes it virtually impossible to organize anything in a way that will produce permanent clutter-free results.
But the second sentence is also quite revolutionary in that it swims against the general tide of advice on the subject which is to do a little bit of tidying every day. No, says Kondo, “tidy a little a day and you’ll be tidying forever…[Whereas] if you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set.”
If you use the right method and concentrate your efforts on eliminating clutter thoroughly and completely within a short span of time, you’ll see instant results that will empower you to keep your space in order ever after.
The third part of her text that we should exegete is “in one go.” By that, she doesn’t mean “in one day.” She means determined, concentrated, and sustained focus on the job until it’s done, which in her experience is usually about six months.
Although, as I said, she goes over-the-top in certain areas (like folding socks!), the book, especially the first half, has 5-6 basic principles that even the worst hoarder can put into practice:
  • Do not start putting away until you’ve got rid of everything you want to discard.
  • Tidy by category rather than location. For example, clothes today, books, papers.
  • Start with the easiest stuff to discard and build momentum and skill to tackle the harder decisions (clothes first, then books, papers , miscellany, and lastly, mementos.)
  • Focusing solely on throwing things away can only make you unhappy. Rather, choose what you want to keep and keep only what you love and makes you happy.
Despite four Saturdays (and four bonfires) spent on this, our family is probably only halfway through our discarding phase. However, we already feel significant psychological and even spiritual benefits, motivating us to press on to minimalist bliss. As Kondo said:
A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming. When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too.
It’s common sense, isn’t it? But it’s also biblical sense. I view it as my contribution to the cultural mandate (Gen. 1:28), and part of my imaging of the God who is a God of order and not of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33).

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My girl's Frozen Party

I have never really had a party before for either kid. It's always family stuff and usually hosted at the Grandparents' houses. Which is Fantastic....
Until yesterday!
Of course there are the regrets of checking Pinterest for ideas, especially when this party coincided with me slipping down some stairs and having a sore back and legs. I was still up on chairs hanging tulle and balloons like a crazy person.
But to see those girls having a blast, getting their hair and nails done, singing Happy Birthday to Lucy, eating cake and drinking juice boxes and frozen fruit snacks, coloring elsa pages, pinning the nose on Olaf and belting out Let it Go, it was all worth it!

Here are some pics of the day :)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Creamy Ham Potato and Corn Chowder

I had a TON of ham leftover from Christmas so I have enough in the freezer now to make this soup a few times this winter and spring. It was very good and everyone in the family loved it, which is rare. Hang on to this recipe for Easter ham leftovers too!

Recipe and photo from Cooking Classy

Creamy Ham Potato and Corn Chowder
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Yield: About 6 servings
  • 2 cups cooked ham, diced into small cubes (I used left over ham roast, ham steak works too)
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 5 1/2 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced (3/4 cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced (3/4 cup)
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 5 medium red potatoes (1 3/4 lb), diced into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or heavy cream (I've tried and like both versions)
  • Chives for topping
  • In a large pot, melt 1 1/2 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery and saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Add chicken broth, potatoes, oregano, thyme, and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper to taste (slightly under-season with salt as the ham and bacon will add more saltiness to soup). Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium, cover with lid and allow to cook until potatoes are very tender, about 17 - 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce to warm heat, stir in ham and corn.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt remaining 4 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook mixture, stirring constantly, 1 1/2 minutes. While whisking, slowly add in milk, and whisk vigorously to smooth lumps, season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture to a boil and allow to thicken, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, stir in sour cream or cream. Pour and stir milk mixture into soup mixture. Serve warm topped with bacon and chives.
  • Recipe Source: Cooking Classy, inspired by Damn Delicious
Creamy Ham Potato and Corn Chowder | Cooking Classy

Friday, February 13, 2015

Three Truths for the Tired Mother

A must read from the True Woman Blog
Here is the original blog post

Three Truths for the Tired Mother

Elisha Galotti
Elisha Galotti | 02.09.15
Twitter: @ElishaGalotti
I don't know exactly when it happened, but at some point in the last couple of years, I transitioned from being an exhausted mama of babies and toddlers to being a rested mother who speaks from memory. I miss having babies! Yet, I remember that it can be discouraging at times, too.
Loving, nurturing, and caring for your baby is immeasurably valuable.
My children are now 3, 5 and 6, and, though obviously still young, the practical part of life already looks very different. All three get themselves dressed in winter gear without any help. Bundling the children up means I say, "Okay guys, we're leaving in a couple of minutes. Please get all your stuff on!" Getting buckled into car seats means I say, "Hop in and buckle up!"
I remember when it wasn't so simple, though . . .
I remember being exhausted in the mornings from waking up with a nursing baby and comforting a scared toddler and changing the wet sheets of a potty-training preschooler. I remember what it felt like to think a full night of sleep would be the most blissful, sublime experience in the world.
At the time, it seemed like that season would last forever. Then, one day, you realize with this ache of nostalgia that you're sleeping through the night, no longer buying diapers, and your children no longer need help buckling themselves into their car seats.
Young mother, if you're tired, if you're discouraged, if the days stretch long and the nights pass with little rest, here are some truths to remember:

Productivity is measured differently in motherhood.

For many women, this simple truth takes time to realize but is incredibly helpful during what can feel like repetitive work day after day, night after night. For many women, productivity prior to motherhood was measured in concrete, objective terms: goals achieved and things accomplished. Suddenly in motherhood, the measure of productivity is completely different because loving, nurturing, and quietly caring for a baby doesn't produce anything visible to check off of a to-do list.
Don't forget that this work of loving, nurturing, and caring for your baby is immeasurably valuable. All the hours spent holding, feeding, and changing your baby are not mundane necessities, but are communicating to this little person entrusted to your care that they are loved, cared for, protected, and safe. When you're comforting that fussy newborn night after night, the work you're doing is immeasurably valuable.

The challenges of motherhood are real, but you're blessed to know them.

Sometimes if I'm frustrated or discouraged about something with one of our children, my husband will gently say to me, "Elisha, let's figure this out, but let's remember how incredibly blessed we are to have this problem." This has been simple but helpful for me in many different moments of motherhood. It doesn't mean that the challenge or the emotion or the fatigue isn't legitimate. But it's helpful to pause, broaden the scope, and remember during the tough times that children are a blessing, a gift, and a sweet joy. Yes, motherhood brings challenges, but in those challenging times, don't forget how grateful you are that you've been blessed with children.

It's true what you've heard, that the days seem long but the years fly by.

I'm not sure where I first heard this description of motherhood, but it rings true. It seems like just yesterday that I was pacing the halls of our small New York apartment with my firstborn baby boy, Jacob, while he cried and I walked back and forth, singing the same song over and over, night after night. At the time, I remember being so very tired and thinking those nights would go on forever. But the days passed into months and into years, and that little baby boy is turning seven years old soon. I look at him now, so big, so confident, and I can barely wrap my mind around how he grew up so fast.
I've heard people say it's cliché and unhelpful to remind young mothers to enjoy the quickly passing time with their babies, but I disagree. I needed to hear it when I had babies and still need to hear it now. Life passes quickly. Our days are numbered. Winter will give way to Spring, and if all we do is wait for the warmth of the next season, we'll miss the beauty of today.
Tired mother, the days and nights with babies sometimes feel long, stretching out in front of you in what looks like ceaseless repetition. But before you know it, your baby grows into a boy who grows into a young man. This is the day the Lord has made. Even when you're tired, rejoice and be glad in it.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ultrasound and 20 week update

We had a good report that all looks good & normal on the ultrasound and we can't wait to meet this little one in June!

How far along: 20 weeks!

Best moments this month: Our ultrasound for sure. Such a neat experience and better equipment and quality of picture than we were used to. Always love seeing the baby on the screen and then hearing a few days later that all looked well and normal. So thankful to hear that.

Food cravings: Fruit, Popsicles 

Gender: A June surprise!!

Belly button in or out: It's about evenly in and out at this point. which is crazy bc I had the most inny belly button ever before kids!

Labor signs: nope

What I miss: Not being congested all night long :(

What I am looking forward to: I look forward to each month - knowing the baby is getting closer to a safer age to be born. Looking forward to celebrating Lucy's bday this month, Joe's next month and spring arriving :)

Milestones: Making it to the halfway point!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Give yourself Grace

A blogger I follow posted this blogpost from Where my heart resides - a reminder for herself since she just had a baby a couple weeks ago. I want to read it now and maybe again every week after I have baby #3