Friday, February 18, 2011

My Birthday Wishlist

To Whom It May Concern,

My birthday is next week. It's my magic birthday where I turn the number of years that my birth date. Namely, 24 on the 24th. As we approach this momentous occasion, I just wanted to give you perhaps some ideas on what you can get me for my birthday. I like gifts and I like providing people with opportunities to give. It's mutually beneficial, ya know.

I only need $25 more dollars for my pocket hole tool I want. Then I'll need lumber. Trust me, $5 from you goes a long way so this is my NUMBER ONE CHOICE.

One of these are would also be nice. JoAnn and I are BFFs you know (sorry, all my other BFFs out there.... we all take our turns).

I've begun a love affair with Target as well. Does that mean I have to stop seeing Goodwill and Home Goods and Old Time Pottery?

I DO have a free option for you all. Go to They are giving away 100 free samples EVERY DAY starting at 9am central. I don't know when it ends and it's only one per household. It is COMPLETELY FREE. Pick out your favorite color and then give it to me. :) Yup, I already got my sister to do it for me. And another sister said she would. And yet another sister said "Reed would want to keep it". Whateves. YOU SHOULD ALL GET ONE and look deep in your heart to make sure you don't want to hand it over to me.


Monday, February 14, 2011

An Organized File Box

When I thought further about my 2011 To Do List I realized that this year is all about making my house work for me instead of the other way around. I wanted to make it easy for me to maintain the house, meal plan, and not go crazy. That was a light bulb moment for me and really gave me momentum to get going.

Jen @ IHeart Organizing is having monthly challenges relating to different areas in our house and lives. What I love about Jen is how she doesn't just share what she does. She improves right along with the rest of us! If something stops working for her, she changes. Jen inspires me and my house thanks her. Her challenge for January was paper. I found her near the end of January and decided to jump right in even though I'm still working on a few aspects of her challenge.

This was definitely a good place to start as anyone who has been to my home can attest. I may not be the most cluttered house in the world but {several} stacks of paper in {several} various spots was not an uncommon sight. Is there a such thing as organized clutter? That's what it felt like to me. I usually knew what was in which stack and could find what I needed when I needed. Usually. It was still clutter.

The first thing I did was gather up everything I needed onto my dining room table (good thing we didn't have people over for a few weeks...). This included the stacks of paper, my file box, extra file folders, and music.

How did Lindey's Christmas stocking get in the stacks of paper? I'm not really sure. That really isn't all that bad. Except the box is filled with stuff too.

My original files weren't horrible. Sometimes my categories confused myself though. Really. If it's going to confuse the person it is for, something is wrong and must change. Why didn't I realize that before now? I set up this box three years ago!

I sifted through everything separating out into tentative piles different categories for files. It ended up being definitely tentative because I kept changing how I was going to file them. I pulled out everything in my current files and threw away the labels and started completely fresh.

I decided what to keep and what to shred or recycle. Old ads and coupons? Toss. Pay stubs from previous years that we've reconciled to our W2 or whatever you get for taxes? Shred. Old bank privacy statements? Toss. The shredder and I bonded. This pile does not really show how much of it there was. I got rid of a lot.

I decided that I didn't like the look of the labels and tabs that come with the hanging file folders so I used these labels instead. They are made by Avery and the top can be written on. I got them months ago as a product test but I have seen them in stores so I know it's okay for me to show them off.

I ran out of pink labels so I had to use blue. There is no other reason for the different colors.

The main categories that I settled on (after much internal debate) was the following:
bank accounts
pet information

As I put the papers into the folders, I put other file folders with sub-categories. I got all "must be aesthetically pleasing" and so I used only the middle tabbed folders (I managed to convince myself that ignoring the blue and pink mix'n'match was best). Some main categories on have one sub-category but I still gave it a manilla file folder. I don't really see the point of listing out my sub-categories but I could if someone was dying to know.

After all of that, filing all the paperwork was so easy! Can anyone explain to me that even though I will pretty much be the only one to ever touch these files, I still file them for a right handed person?

There is still plenty of room to grow. See?

Now I just need to make sure I set aside time each week to maintain this so the paper piles don't come back to haunt me.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A longing for spring

I worked on some projects over the weekend. I took pictures. I was planning on sharing today. But not anymore. Today is another grey day. And I'm feeling like pretty pictures of warm days where snow and ice doesn't cover the ground is much more appropriate.

Good thing I have pictures that I never blogged about ready for a moment like this.

One of our surprises of our house was this tree. We didn't know what it was except that it majorly leans (due to the massive tree the looms over it depriving this smaller tree of sunlight) and that it was poorly cared for (surprise? the house hadn't been lived in for a while).

We were both pleased to see that it is a cherry tree! A sour cherry tree but a cherry tree nonetheless.

It was such a pretty site to see its branches hanging low with the weight of all these cherries.

The tree is taller than my ladder reaches though. I wasn't able to pick nearly enough. I think I got a third of what the tree produced. Only a third! And that was everything within my reach.

 Hey look. There's the back of my house. Not so much a pretty view. The lack of windows astonish me.

One bowl full of cherries. Can you see that? No snow! Green grass!

And sunshine! And pretty cherries!

I washed the cherries. That part is easy. The time consuming part is pitting these babies. Sticky. Messy. Not exactly easy even with a cherry pitter (perhaps it wasn't a good pitter). No pictures because, well, I was rather sticky and messy.

I laid them out to dry because I didn't want them to stick together so much when I froze them.

I put them on a cookie sheet to stick in the freezer. Then I put them back in a bowl because I forgot to mix it with sugar. I put them on the cookie sheet. Again. Then I put them on the freezer for a few hours so they were mostly frozen. I put them in freezer gallon sized bags. I wrote down how much and what was in it on the bags and stuck them back on the freezer. They stacked nicely. And they tasted great slightly frozen with sugar on them. Yum!

I miss warmth, sunshine, and green grass.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2011 To Do #5: Complete!

5. Get Kaelyn to sleep in her own bed again.

This, my friends, is exciting.

Sometime around September, Kaelyn decided that our bed was the place to be. She would fuss and cry and cling something up a storm when we would try to put her in her bed. It got old. Fast. I don't completely mind co-sleeping. But there does come a point where your relationship as a couple needs to be prioritized a bit above your little one's desire. Plus the whole sleeping thing doesn't really work when you are constantly waking up because she is moving everywhere. Maybe her feet are kicking your stomach. Maybe her head is crowding yours off your pillow. Maybe her head is hitting the wall and waking her up. And maybe your husband develops this reflex that goes "shh! shh! shh!" when she starts making noise.

I came across this book by Tracy Hogg called Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers. My oldest sister expressed her doubts that yet another book would help me help Kaelyn sleep through the night. Well, that may be. But it certain helped us get her to sleep in her bed.

In early January, we started acclimating Kaelyn to her bed again. We would spend a few moments every day with some happy crib time. Yes, I made the incredibly hard decision to take down her hammock cradle (tears, my friends) and moved her crib back to "center stage". (We also weaned her which I talked about here.) I tried to make her crib as comfortable as our bed since that is what she's used to. I laid my crocheted blanket I got from my grandmother years ago (termed my nana blanket) for some cushy factor Then I grabbed a spare very flat pillow since she had started using one in our bed. I gave up my yellow blanket since it was the right size for her crib. She gets three stuffed animals in there: her turtle pillow pet, her original pooh bear, and her Christmas moose. She's not particularly attached to anything, but all these stay in her crib.

We also decided and stuck to a bedtime routine. We have only skipped this routine once or twice and it has always been when not at home. I love it. It is predictable for her and for us. At 7:30pm, Kaelyn gets a bath. Sometimes she stays in there for 5 minutes. Other times closer to 15. When she's done, we let her out. She doesn't have to stay in if she doesn't want to. We also don't wash her every single time. Sometimes her hair doesn't even get wet. (Note: 7:30 may be too late for some people. For Kaelyn it is perfect.) Then she gets a cuddle in her towel before her nighttime diaper and pjs go on. The other parent comes up and we read scriptures while Kaelyn gets an nighttime bottle of milk. Then we sing and pray. This is so predictable for Kaelyn! She knows after her bath she gets milk. She knows that we pray after we read. And she knows that after she is done her milk, she goes to bed.

So the crib is ready and we're spending happy time there and we have a predictable bedtime routine. Our next step was to purchase a blow up mattress. $20 for the mattress, $7 for the batteries (I was NOT about to blow the thing up myself... so we got a mattress with a battery operated pump). I blew it up, threw a pillow and some blankets on it and set it next to Kaelyn's crib. January 23 was our first night.

We didn't know how Kaelyn would react so we agreed to switch off nights so that we could make sure we had guaranteed sleep in between. I had the first night. We had a plan going into that night but we modified a bit based off Kaelyn's reactions. For example, we were going to pick her up and calm her back down when she cried. We were there for her and we wanted her to know that. But she has different kinds of cries (like all children do). She never used her "I'm so completely upset and everybody hates me" cry which is pretty much only heard when Vivi or another child gets really loud (this has only happened with one other child besides Vivi and it doesn't even happen with Vivi anymore). So after a few pick ups, I stopped. It wasn't going to help, I could see. So I just comforted her while keeping her in her crib. That first night it took her 37 minutes to go to sleep and 7 of those minutes were spent sitting up and nodding off. She almost hit her head on her crib several times. I comforted her 26 times. She laid herself down and went to sleep. It felt like a miracle! Okay, okay, so maybe not having a second nap that day helped (we still had 3pm church then) but still. She went to sleep! That night I slept in her room. She didn't have much trouble going back to sleep the 3 or 4 times she woke up except for one time.

The next night was supposed to be Jared's night. However he ended up needing to drive the missionaries home so I laid in her room while she fell asleep. 20 minutes, people. The only time she fussed was when Jared and I switched places so Jared could go take the missionaries.

I hadn't decided until we started this stage to put her in her crib all the time. I was even more wary about naps than I was about night. But we stuck to it. (I forgot to mention that she also doesn't get her pacifier except when she is in her crib. Maybe one day she will stop using it all together but otherwise, we aren't worrying about it.)

Let's skip forward to how we're doing today. It has only been 1 1/2 weeks since we started. 1 1/2 weeks. And yet she is now going to sleep without us staying in the room with her. We can lay her down and walk out. Sometimes we have to go back in there but it is becoming rare. Sometimes she lets us know she is sleepy (although we are not sure if she associates sleepy with pacifier or with actual sleep).

Lessons learned:
1. Predictability helps. A lot. The bedtime routine, the pacifier and crib staying the same... it all helped a lot.
2. Consistency helps. A lot. If we were inconsistent, we'd be sending Kaelyn mixed signals and we wouldn't be where we are today.
3. Kaelyn likes to be tucked in with a blanket but she usually takes it off for her naps (but not for nighttime).
4. When Kaelyn isn't ready to sleep, she usually kicks her feet against her crib slats or plays peek a boo with herself (and perhaps her stuffed animals?) with a small receiving blanket. A product of happy time in her crib.
5. Kaelyn can wake up happy! This was an exciting discovery and the reason for happy crib time. I have discovered that she wakes up quiet and will just lay there for a while. I'm not sure how long she lays there before she makes a noise to let me know she is awake but it is a far cry from when she would cry before her eyes were even open.
6. Kaelyn can put herself to sleep. Some nights she will fuss on and off for nearly 2 hours. Jared can't quite tell the difference between her cries but if we wait it out until we hear her "I need attention" cry rather than her "I'm just fussing" cry then she goes to sleep. She may not even be awake for all of this. We don't know. We stay downstairs. :)
7. Her average nighttime wakings is two. Not eight. Two. I attribute this success to no longer breastfeeding. TWO, people! This means I'm getting sleep too!

This is glorious, people. Tracy Hogg has my thanks for motivation and ideas and support. And her baby whisperer book for babies may or may not become permanent for my bookshelf.