Holiday Survival Guide (aka Simplifying!)
We’re only four days into December, and I already feel like I’m ten days behind in holiday preparation! Ahh! Ok, ok, I know that seems crazy (um, maybe I’m crazy?!?), but there’s so much to do and so little time! I finally sat myself down and gave myself a pep talk. No really, I did. (Yes, the craziness has been confirmed.) With all the hustle and bustle of the season, I’m attempting to make it stress free by simplifying! Key word: attempting. 😉 I always overschedule us this time of year, but this year I’m determined to take it own a notch. Just a notch. 😉 Here are five ways I’m simplifying this season:
Simplify the To Do List:
Let’s face it, I loooooove lists. Sometimes I even add “wake up” and “brush teeth” just so I can cross off more things. 😉 However, I’m trying to simplify all the “musts” this season. This includes everything from overscheduling and toning down my plans for big holiday parties. Ha! We’ll still stick to our favorite holiday traditions (like temple square lights, small holiday gatherings!) but maybe not baking cookies for every house in the neighborhood like a mad woman. 😉
Simplify the Décor:
We have boxes filled with Christmas decorations in the garage and this year, I’ve decided to simplify just a little bit. Instead of my entire house decked out in Christmas stuff, I’m trying to keep it to a minimal. The banister is lined with stockings,our tree sits in the corner, and one banner hangs in our dining room. I switched out a few of our photos for Christmas photos of the girls and a few prints from the shop, but other than that, I left the rest in the garage. There’s still that comfy, cozy feeling in our home, but it’s not overboard! We have plans for dinner parties and dessert nights, and as much as I want it o look pinterest worthy, I’m sticking to the basics this year.
Simplify the Mess:
Oh man, is it just me or does the mess seem to increase over the holidays? Extra goodies, mail, pine needles galore! I’ve been working hard on uncluttering each room in our home. Throwing away or donating anything we don’t need, don’t use, or don’t want (including toys! I always feel the need to deep clean the playroom before Christmas morning!) As for those pesky pine needles, I’ve been using my Hoover Cordless Vacuum every day (sometimes multiple times a day. A little three year old I know loves playing by the tree 😉 I love that it’s easy to pull out of my laundry room, turn on (no cords!) and it switches from my laminate floors to rug with one push of a button. I keep the interchangeable battery charged at all times, so when mixing, powered sugar goes off like a bomb and covers the floor (true story!) or when we have friends and neighbors over, the clean up is easy and fast.
Simplify the Sweets:
This is the HARDEST one, hash tag all my teeth are sweet. ; ) But, I’m trying to make an effort to eat less sweets. Doesn’t mean I’m cutting them all out completely, no siree! But I am trying to avoid eating treats around the clock…like I typically do this time of year! I have ten times more energy if I eat less sugary, more filling foods, and with the amount of sleep we’ve been getting as of late, I need all the energy I can get. Ha! 😉
Simplify the Gifts:
We implemented the something to want, wear, need, read system this year when buying for the girls, and Brian and I are only filling each other’s stockings with a few small, inexpensive gifts, no big presents. We are hoping by simplifying the gifts and “stuff,” we will be able to focus on the real reason of the season. And save some $$ too! Addie’s list has a big box of diapers on it (need! 😉 and I can’t wait to get Ellie her very own Book of Mormon for primary next year! I’d sill love to do a small gift for some of our neighbors (any good ideas?) Here’s to surviving the crazy holiday season…and enjoying every minute if it! 😉
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
On a blustery day last week, we opted for some indoor playtime. (Probably because Ellie was hanging out in just her pajama shirt, and Addie was sporting her diaper. 😉 Ha!) Ellie pulled out the train set and immediately caught Addie’s attention. She was desperately trying to squirm out of my arms. I always forget that she’s not a tiny newborn anymore (cue the tears!) so I softly set her down near Ellie. And holy smokes, was she ever excited!
As Ellie played, Addie had some good ol’ fashion tummy time. Which turned into trying to scoot herself forward. And so it begins! I don’t think I’m ready for this yet! Very slowly, she work on propelling herself forward to those out of reach trains. She grunted and kicked and reached her cute little arms out until she was close enough to pick one up. Every few minutes, Ellie would pause playing to cheer her on, with a proud big sister smile on her face. Then Ellie would place another train just out of Addie’s reach so she could do it again and again. I sat quietly to the side, watching these two sisters play. It was the sweetest scene!
Now that Addie is getting a bit more mobile, we’ve switched from our regular Huggies diapers to Huggies Little Movers Diapers. As Addie is kicking and moving and rolling, these diapers allow for comfortable movement while still preventing leaks. Moving and grooving just got easier for baby…and mom!
(Tag your photos and videos of your cute mobile baby using #SetBabyFree for a chance to be featured on Huggies social media pages!)
And just for fun, I found this post of Miss E when she was the same age. (Can you tell they’re sisters!?)
Our Nighttime Routine
Since writing about our morning routine a few months back, I’ve been meaning to post about our nighttime shenanigans. We’ve been working to make bedtime more peaceful and less stressful. Our bedtime routine is not perfect and I am by no means an expert, but it works for us. Oftentimes our routine gets adjusted due to company visiting or when the little ones are sick, but we have found some things that assist in making bed time smooth! Ellie and Addie are totally different when it comes to sleeping, but we’ve found that these helpful hints (and things like this!) that help the process…and don’t make us want to pull our hair out when bed time comes around! 😉
FOR TODDLER / PRESCHOOLER:
Ellie’s never been a big fan of bedtime, but we have found several things that help in the toddler department! Making sure she is good and worn out is one of them. 😉 Preschool days tend to make her more tired, but if she’s snuck in a nap on the car ride home or seems to be extra awake, we like to take her to our neighborhood park and let her run around for an extra 20 minutes. She’ll zip on her scooter or climb the playground and that little extra playtime is exactly what she needs to settle down for the night. And multitasking during bedtime? Doesn’t work! We try to put our phones down, save that “one quick email” for after she’s in bed, so she can have our full attention. Having a nighttime chart has also been extremely beneficial. She knows exactly what she needs to do and has the ability to choose which option to do next.
Bath time is one of our very favorite ways to begin our bedtime routine. While ideally I’d love to have it happen every night, it happens about every other night or so. It helps both Addie and Ellie (who loves to get in the bath with her sister) begin to wind down and relax. We always make sure they both go to bed in soft pajamas and, for Addie, a fresh, clean diaper. Both Addie and Ellie have been prone to diaper rash, especially when they started sleeping longer stretches at night. We always make sure we have some of this cream on hand. The first time Ellie had a diaper rash, I had no idea what it was or what to do. Hashtag first time parent, ha! Now, I always keep some Desitin Diaper Rash Cream near our diapers and apply it at the first sign of redness or irritation. It begins working immediately, I swear by it!
^^ That pouty face! She loves to dress herself 😉 ^^
Keep a consistent routine. We’re not perfect in this department and try to be flexible when things come up, but having a consistent bedtime routine is key! We start before actual “bed time,” usually right after dinner. Brian and I take turns, one of us takes the kiddos and the other one cleans up dinner. The little ones go with us upstairs to make sure all the toys are cleaned up, bath time and pajamas, and set out clothes for the next day. The lights start to go off one by one, and if it’s still light outside, the blackout curtains get closed. (Those curtains saved us this summer!) This wind down period helps a ton! Since having Addie, we usually split up their bedtime, typically Ellie goes down first. We brush teeth, either read a few books or sing a few songs, say our prayers, and one of us lies next to her in bed. She’ll usually drift off pretty soon (though we have been known to fall asleep in there with her when it takes awhile!) I really love this time of night, because she tells me funny stories about preschool and always cuddles or holds my hand. Addie gets swaddled up and has one last feeding before she goes to sleep. And then Brian and I sing HALLELUJAH! Sweet, blessed bedtime! 😉
Have any good nighttime tips or tricks? I’d love to hear what works well for your family at bedtime in the comments below!
P.S. Next time you’re at Target (and if you go as often as I do, you’ll be there this afternoon!), pull up this Target Cartwheel coupon to save 25% on Desitin Diaper Rash Cream!
Life in Photos
My camera card is currently holding over 2000 photos. I know, INSANE! #obsessivephotohoarder ha! I’m currently in the process of transferring them to my hard drive, but I thought I would share a few random ones here. You know, a little photo dump 🙂 I can’t believe how fast both Addie and Ellie are growing. Seriously, let’s just pause time for a minute or two, please! But since I can’t, a bazillion photos will just have to do 😉
^^ Ellie got some festive Halloween hand-me-downs and I told her she has a month to wear them, so this is what her outfits look like every. single. day. Ha! ^^
^^ Sneak peek of the painting my sister made for our master bedroom. It looks so good above our bed! ^^
^^ Cuddled up in the guest bed while I cleaned up ^^
^^ Cleaned out the garage and found a million photos and journals from our dating days! ha! Also, have you checked out my friend Bonnie’s new shop? Seriously, the cutest jewelry around! ^^
^^ Classic camera/mirror shot. Oh those squishy baby cheeks! ^^
^^ General Conference printables on our fridge. ^^
^^ Spent a morning at the aquarium with some good neighbor friends. We were there for a few hours, the kids were in heaven! ^^
^^ Time for a thrift store or Ikea run, I need a frame for THIS print. Also, this gold foil temple print is one of my favs on our shelf. ^^
^^ Babies at the aquarium. These little ones are all just a few weeks apart! ^^
^^ Still wearing my favorite sandals and its October. OCTOBER! I’m totally jinxing it right now, huh? ^^
^^ Miss E loves playing with dolls and this cute princess doll is no exception. Love her imagination! Also, this entire post was typed one handed. Hooray for holding sleeping babies! 😉 XO ^^
A Playful Home
When we moved into our townhome, I knew I wanted to make it a comfortable place for our kids to play. Ellie was about 9 months old when we moved in, and for the first few days before our carpets were cleaned and rugs were laid down, she played in a big moving box because I wouldn’t let her touch the nasty floor! Ha! Poor girl. Since then, we’ve put down new flooring and made a fun space for play. Our playroom houses a slide and fun playhouse/crawl space, our ottoman opens up into a ball pit, and we’ve made sure every room in our house is ball tag friendly. 😉 I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect swing for awhile, and I have finally found one! I wanted something both the girls could eventually use and this fabric swing from Rockabye Colbie has been the PERFECT addition. Now that Addie has more neck strength, she has started to try it out, too! I’d say from that smile on her face, she adored her turn.
The swing can hold up to 50 pounds, so both Addie and Ellie will be able to enjoy it for a long time. It’s perfect for indoor AND outdoor use, and can easily be moved around our home to different rooms. I love that it’s extremely padded and comes with a pillow for extra support. I only wish I had one in my size!
You can find these adorable swings over on Rockabye Colbie’s shop, facebook, and instagram! How do you make your home kid friendly?
Master Bathroom Before & After
This shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CraftedExperience
I have been so excited to show you our master bath makeover! It’s been a long work in progress…and we still have a few touch ups to finish, but for the most part, it’s done! You may remember that when we moved into our townhouse, it was an utter disaster (see here!) Our master bathroom was no exception, but alas, I don’t have any before disgusting photos to show. (I think you all would have barfed!) After we had it cleaned, I took a few before photos. The bathroom was plain. Plain, plain, plain. It definitely needed some added character! The tile in the shower and the floor is nice (though if I could, I’d change up the floors for something like this!) So, we got to work! Or should I say, Brian got to work. 😉 I did a lot of the painting but Brian really did the rest!
First, we painted those walls! We picked a super dark gray that would contrast with the white wainscoting well. (Before the wainscoting went up, the room looked like a black hole. It was crazy dark and kind of scary! 🙂 Brian then used some baseboards to create a frame for the mirror. It was a super easy project and makes a huge difference! We also used some cheap boards and L-brackets to create two shelves above the toilet. I really wanted some more space for storage and that did just the trick!
We added a few pops of color with some paintings (how awesome is that silhouette floral piece my sister painted!?) I’m loving the stark contrast between the dark grays and whites!
My top priority in this bathroom redo was making sure we had enough storage for everything. Though we have another bathroom upstairs, this seems to be the bathroom we flock to. The girls bathe in here, Ellie gets her hair done, and Brian and I get ready here in the morning. I found that its easiest to keep our most used items on the bathroom counter. It makes detangling Ellie’s hair and quickly getting ready in the morning so much easier! We found these great red bins at Gordman’s and they’re perfect for keeping lotions and hair products available and organized. This ceramic toothbrush holder from Walmart matched our white/gray look perfectly and allows our toothbrushes to have their own spot (instead of a random drawer or the bottom of our red bins!)
Since our hall closet is tiny, I wanted to have a space for toilet paper and extra bath towels. These wire baskets from Target were the perfect addition to our shelves! Not only are they cute, but practical too! The larger basket holds extra bath or hand towels, while the smaller basket can fit several rolls of Quilted Northern Ultra Soft & Strong® Bath Tissue. Quilted Northern® is a 100 year old brand that is designed to be strong, flexible and soft. During our last trip to Walmart, we picked up another pack. I swear, we have gone through so much more toilet paper lately due to potty training! Anyone else feel that way?
And thus concludes the tour of our (almost!) finished master bath. How do you organize your bathroom? Under our sink needs some help! (Hence, not pictured 😉 The very last thing we’d like to finish up is the cabinets (and something to hang on the wall above our towels!) I’m not a huge fan of how orange-y the cabinets look next to the dark gray. What do you guys think?! Should we stain them? Paint them? Leave them? I’d love to hear your opinions!
And just in case you wanted to know:
White Towels: Target
Hand Towel: Walmart
Toothbrush Holder: Walmart
Wire Baskets: Target
Striped Rug: Target
Black and White Shower Curtain: Target
Red Bins: Gordmans
Fake Plant: Ikea
Floral Silhouette Print: Erin’s Shop (coming soon!)
How to Clean Your House in Under 15 Minutes
You know that panicky feeling you get when you find out that you have unexpected visitors coming over? Because, oh yeah, your house is a wreck and you’re still in your pajamas. I’ve had this happen too many times to count (I’m fairly certain all my neighbors have seen me in my pajamas!), so I’ve picked up some quick cleaning tips along the way. It’s totally possible to have your house looking clean without spending too much time doing so. In fact, if you work fast enough, you’ll even be able to change out of your pajamas before said guests arrive 😉
Set a timer
Growing up we always did “ten minute room rescues.” My mom would set a timer and we would each choose a room to clean up within ten minutes. It almost became a game to see if you could clean the entire room in a short amount of time. I’ve learned that I work harder and faster with a timer set and am far less prone to distractions (hello checking instagram!)
Focus only on rooms guests will see
Typically when we have guests over, they’re only in our main living areas – living room, dining room, kitchen, and if they have kids, playroom. When I pick up before guests arrive, I focus only on these areas. If I have time to straighten up the bedrooms I will, otherwise I simply close the doors. (Most visitors won’t open closed doors!)
Clear the sink and countertops When dishes aren’t piled up in your sink and mail scattered across your counter, your kitchen instantly looks cleaner! Quickly load dishes into the dishwasher, or if you’re really lacking time, at least rinse and neatly stack them in the sink. Clear off and wipe down all countertops for a fresh appearance. (This sometimes means I take all the mail piled up and shove it on top of my dryer and shut the laundry room door!)
Sweep and Vacuum
With dark laminate running all through our house, we see every speck of dust that hits the floor. When we first moved in, I was sweeping three times a day to keep up with it! Finally, we found the perfect solution for our laminate and rugs – the Dirt Devil® 360° Reach™. It vacuums and dusts my laminate floors with ease, then I simply switch the attachment and vacuum all our rugs. If I have extra time, I can also use the stair attachment (easiest way to clean stairs ever!) or upholstery attachment to rid our couch of all the crumbs (life with a two year old 😉 You can purchase the Dirt Devil 360°Reach at a special package price of $149.99. It is available here (plus it includes an additional attachment package valued at $75, while supplies last!)
Don’t forget the bathroom
Murphy’s law says that if you clean your bathroom, no one will use it. But the one time you forget that your two year old unrolled the entire roll of toilet paper and it’s still strung from the toilet to the sink is the one time your quick house guest will need to use the bathroom! You don’t have to deep clean the entire bathroom. Wipe down the mirrors and counter, make sure the toilet looks presentable, and add a fresh towel.
This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Dirt Devil, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #DirtDevil360Clean http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV
Gold Foil Prints + a Giveaway!
I am SO excited to share these gold foil prints with you today! I’ve been wanting to add a few gold foil prints to our house for sometime but haven’t quite been able to find the perfect ones. My friend Brittney, from OAKY designs, recently added these to her adorable shop and I just about died! They are seriously perfect (and amazing quality!) She made a few custom ones for us and I’m loving having them in our home. I picked up a few thin gold frames from a local thrift store (can’t beat 75 cents!) and Ellie helped me hang them up throughout our house a few weeks ago. Love! The best part? She’s offering TWO gold foil prints (custom or non custom) to one lucky reader! Hooray! You can enter the giveaway below. All entries will be verified, so please be honest. In addition, Brittney has also offered 15% off your entire order! Simply use the code ALEXA during checkout. Good luck and happy shopping! xo
DIY Dress Up Corner
I found this post in my drafts recently – can’t believe I never published it! Ellie loves her dress up corner and has since added several necklaces and hats to her collection. She may love bugs and mud and cars, but she’s all girl when it comes to clothes and shoes and dolls!
Ellie is just starting to get into the dressing up stage. We don’t have too many girl dress ups…yet, but she certainly loves to try on all her shoes, wear her backpack and camera, and adores trying on necklaces. These things were piling up on her dresser, so I decided to make her a little dress up corner in her room.
On one of our frequent trips to Ikea, I found this darling, white cabinet in the clearance section. It had a slight chip on the corner, so they were selling it for $5. $5 to save me a trip to Lowes, cutting the board, and an afternoon of painting? I’ll take it! I found some clear, glass knobs at Hobby Lobby for 50% off (note! the knobs and hooks go on sale every other week!)
Brian fixed my marks on the board (I was just going to wing it, he was going for perfection 😉 and drilled four holes into the board. Then we screwed each of the four knobs into the board.
The screws on the knobs were a little too long, or my board was too thin. Either way, we had to fix the problem! Brian had a lovely little hand saw and it took awhile, but we trimmed down the screws! After, Brian added a thin piece of board to the back (since the screws still stuck out a little with the washers) and added hooks to hang them.
Voila! Project done. Now Ellie has the perfect place to hang her treasures and try on all her pairs of shoes. After taking these pictures, I added a full length mirror to the corner (you know, those really cheap ones from Target!) I frequently find her playing in her tiny corner, taking pictures of herself in the mirror, wearing mismatched shoes. 😉
Knobs: Hobby Lobby
Necklace: Miss Lex Beads
Canvas Paintings: DIY