Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Ok guys, it’s been a while. Sorry.

What have I been up to…what have I been up to?

I feel like I’m in a transitional phase. Maybe it’s the season change at hand. Maybe it’s the fact our house is getting closer to being done. Whatever it is, I’ve been in a kind of mental shift.

And I feel like that shift is taking up at lot of me right now . I’m less focused on the house overall. And more focused on our existence inside it. (And no, not in that poetic, getting my priorities right, it’s about who lives here, not the space…sort of thing. That’s nice. But that’s not what I’m talking about it, really.) I’m thinking through how we want to live inside this space. I want to try and make it a really good fit.

One of the biggest things I’ve been looking at is our Toys.

We used to live in a tiny 700 sq ft duplex, before we moved here.
To be honest with you, the size of that place often blessed me more than negatively impacted me. (I just hated that I couldn’t paint it or change stuff like the bathroom mirror and whatnot -- we were renting.) I’m someone who likes a place to be figured out. And so small makes that easy. I liked having a limit on how much stuff we could have around. I liked being able to vacuum my entire house without unplugging the vacuum! (Seriously that would entertain me and bless me every single time!)

In hindsight, the best part of that place I would have to say is the fact that our toys just could not overtake us. There was not enough room form them. We had to keep them in check. We had our toy cabinets and if they couldn’t fit in there I would either store them in the garage (I had maybe two small bins I would rotate out) or give them away. I adored that people would believe me when I told them we can’t accept many gifts, especially not big ones (You know the big toys like play lawn mowers, play grocery carts, kid sized play cars, play kitchens all those things…) People would see our place and agree in a heartbeat that we sure could not house those toys!

This room would get messy every day, but I could handle cleaning it, a good nice clean, every single night.

Since moving to our house here though…it felt like overnight the toys had doubled. I remember taking one night off from painting, right after we moved in and feeling just totally defeated by how much we had. It took me well into the night to get them in order (so the girls could stop asking me where it all was from the move.) I really just wanted to get rid of them because I couldn’t believe how much time and energy it was taking me to just sort of get them back into some kind of order.
And over our time here, we’ve been given lots more. It’s totally love motivated. Everyone is gifting us and it’s so sweet. But it’s more than we need. And we’ve been given all those big toys were didn’t use to have room for. (They were being saved for us, for the day we had the space.)

I was trying to come to an emotional place were I could accept them, figure out how to live with them and how to get them into a system I could function inside. Like how can I keep our house clean -- not just the toys, but the dishes and the bathrooms and the laundry AND the walls that still need paint and such…

Eventually I just had clarity.

I can’t.
I can’t do all that.

I wrote that post a while ago I called Balance. I didn’t keep up with anything I said I would in there.

I’m made in a certain way. And I’m always tempted to try and change myself to fit a mold. But the mold usually doesn’t fit me right. And so all my plans just go to waste because I can’t keep up with stuff that doesn’t work for me.

I finally got clarity on the toys.
I finally saw who I am inside that kind of space.

This might come across as selfish, but I mean it in a loving, best for all of us way.

I need less stuff.
We need less stuff.

Here’s the deal: Who I am is a person who loves (and needs) a beautiful environment. I adore design and colors and pretty.
BUT I also am a person who has a very hard time cleaning. It’s just entirely effortful and not in my nature.
 I’m also an all or nothing person, so to clean, I want to deep clean. I have a hard time surface cleaning.

Essentially that boils down to me needing to have a few gorgeous things around, and that’s it. That way  its beautiful. There is less to clean. I don’t need to clean it as often. And when I do go to clean I can deep clean easily because there is less of it to manage.

I’ve been noticing that about myself for a couple years now.
It includes my wardrobe. My dishes. My decorations (holidays included.) I want it all pared down to the right amount (small but not sparse) of lovely things.
This quote is so perfect. And ideally I’d love to have every thing be BOTH. Useful and beautiful, beautiful and useful.

I’d been trying to leave toys out of it, because I thought maybe that was selfish.

But I’m starting to realize a couple things.
1) It’s not selfish. Or wrong.
2) It’s the only way I’m gonna be able to find my stride as a mom.

Let’s talk about #2 first.
I’m constantly drowning in the day to day stuff of home life. Keeping house -- all that it includes, none of it is my strong point. And some of that has been made even harder than it would be -- like I’m not so prone to making meals everyday, but then add in the fact that I have picky eaters who are allergic to tons of food. Rough stuff.
The additional total-toy-chaos in my days it literally sends me over that edge. Not in like I yell and freak out. But in the “I give up” way. I can’t clean up the toys because I know they come right back. And i know it takes me hours to fix. So why not leave them a mess most the time.
But if they are a mess all the time so is my mind. And then my mind has no room to think of dinners free of allergens. And if we aren’t on top of food we aren’t really on top of anything. And so I feel more defeated, and even less inclined to clean up because what’s the point.

Now back to #1:
If I’m a better mom based on less-toy-stress, everybody wins --- on pretty much every level of our home life. So that can’t possibly be selfish when you get down to it.
Kids don’t need a million toys.
My kids don’t actually play with MOST our toys.
What ends up happening is, they riffle through all the stuff they don’t want to to find the couple things they do -- and all the extras wind up EVERYWHERE.
Literally most our stuff is just a waste of space.

A couple weeks ago I went through all our toys, at night while the girls were asleep and got rid of TONS.
My cleaning process.
You so can’t see all the mess in this photo -- it over takes the WHOLE enormous room.

The girls didn’t notice.
Not at all.
I actually didn’t give it away yet. I just set it aside, planning to give it away in a bit. I wanted to make sure they didn’t beg for any certain thing that was gone.
So far they haven’t mentioned anything.

We still have LOTS of toys.

I honestly plan to keep doing this until it almost hurts. But I don’t think it will actually hurt.

My kids like playing with sensory stuff. One of our favorite things to do is play with beans or to play with rice.
For some reason that I can’t understand, this is AMAZING fun. They could sit for hours and just kinda play like it’s a sand box, but better.

They also love crafts. I feel that once I have our toys and house under control we will have more time, mental clarity, and house-order to do crafts regularly.

I feel that less toys will equal more creativity.

My plan with the toys to to narrow them down to just a few fantastic (and visually lovely) toys.

So just keeping a few beloved ones we have now. But most of our current toys will be gone (slowly over time, so to make it less emotionally challenging). And then replaced with just a few great open ended play toys like blocks and doctor sets and such. Things we can use our imagination for, can be played with for a long time, but don’t have tons of clutter that go with them.
Blocks have lots of pieces, but they all go together and don’t need sorting -- you just throw them back in the bin. So that doesn’t phase me. (But I’m so not ready for Legos -- the small ones -- please don’t make me keep track of those yet. Dear LORD please do not give me legos yet!) (And one more aside: I don’t like puzzles because the girls get mad at them and then just put the pieces in purses and lose them. Then the puzzle is ruined. If you lose a block or two the world keeps spinning.)

     I plan to get rid of most our big toys (which actually have tons of small parts like play food which make way too much mess) (and these big toys are also very unattractive -- bad colors and designs) and replace them with a few wonderful and very versatile toys that will last well through ages ranges.

My plan is:
 In one corner of our family room, next to our fire place, I want to build a doll house to fit that space. One that is rather YoungHouseLove-esque (They are bloggers who made an adorable big simple doll house…see it here.) Only I want to make ours a bit off scale, so that when we hit Barbie age they can fit in there too. (I’m not ready for Barbies yet -- too many pieces for them to lose at this age. But honestly -- I’m so pumped about Barbie re-entering my life. I LOVED playing Barbies!)
Having one big awesome doll house will replace 4 less than stellar plastic doll houses we have. (How do we have four!?)
Our family room furniture is different now. (I need to blog that!)
But here you can see in the spaces on the side of the fireplace I’m talking about.
P.S. The room NEVER looks this clean anymore.
And on the other side of the fireplace I want to take out our play kitchen stuff and replace them with a baby doll corner. The girls are SO into their baby dolls right now. I want to give them each a doll crib. (Right now we have one plastic one they have to share, which for 4 and 2 year olds they handle well, but it does get exhausting monitoring that. They each need one so both baby dolls can get good rest. :) I think we will build some along these lines. And I already bought two matching doll high chairs off (I couldn’t believe there were two! How perfect is that? And they are really cute.)
And since the only part of our play kitchen that gets used is the sink. (Ruby likes to fake fill cups there.) I think we will make a super small “kitchen” which is basically just a sink. To go in that corner.

This I feel will be a major family win.
Because the girls get some major toy upgrades.
And I get less stuff, but stuff the stuff we will have will be stuff I think is nice to look at. (Read: Mental clarity.)
Also the girls will get to enjoy a cleaner house just due to the fact it won’t be able to get so dirty.
And when they get asked to clean it won’t be so daunting. (To be honest I want to throw worse fits than they do when I think of cleaning those toys we have right now.)

I keep mentally going back to this post I once saw on Pinterest. A mom took away her kids toys. All of them. And the kids were way better for it.
When you read the follow up post, it sounds more like long term they just have very limited amounts of toys. Which is basically what I would like to achieve.

The only hard part I foresee is making sure we don’t get given tons more toys again by people who are just being loving.
And giving away stuff that people spend good money feels awful. (I’m totally fighting guilt through this whole process of mine.)

I’m still trying to figure out how to handle that.
But one thing I liked from those posts I just mentioned was the idea that they like to spend money on experiences instead of things. So instead of toys, a trip to the zoo. That kind of thing. I think we could ask for things like that for gifts.
And that author mentioned for birthdays its not about the toys but the fun of the party.

So we will see.
I don’t expect this to get fixed over night. And I don’t think it will be a cure-all to my life.

But I’m excited about it because I feel like I’m finally just agreeing to be myself even inside motherhood. I’m not letting who I am scare me into worrying I’ll ruin my kids.

So that’s one thing I’ve been doing while not blogging. Figuring all this out and making big plans for it.
(I think most of this will come to pass this Christmas, with my paring down what we have more and more until then.)

This past week I also went through our clothes. The weather kinda made me. I was not looking forward to it at all. We have WAY to much! It’s been amazing how much we’ve been loved on with clothing, we’ve hardly had to buy anything for our girls.
But when our drawers are overflowing, I just stop again. Too much laundry. Too many choices. And the girls end up wearing pjs over a few days in a row. (Until too much spaghetti sauce gets on them.)

SO I pared it way way down. And what do you know, the girls have been dressed almost every day since. And laundry isn’t overtaking my world either.
Wonders of glorious just-enough.

Anyway, besides that….

We’ve been doing a bit of house stuff here and there. Like adding in our baseboards in the living room.

I’m still working on getting the girls room done. They are getting matching pink beds! We are all pretty pumped about these!

And we are gonna be re-doing our roof on the sunroom this weekend. So…big stuff. Blake is sort of nervous to do this ourselves, but we have some great help coming, including people who know what they are doing. And when you get a quote for having one small part of our roof redone (the smallest and easiest part of it) for close to $4,000 (and maybe even more because of they extra contingencies they throw in) DIY sounds SO SO SO much better!!

It’s gonna be awesome to not have to run in there with buckets and towels every time it rains anymore!

So I’ll keep you filled in on all that stuff!! More pictures and stories. Exciting stuff!


  1. I love your thoughts on this topic. We've had to pare down our toys in light of our move (this next week!) and it felt so great. However we are poised to get a ton (first birthday also this week!) and I know that it's hard to get rid of toys given by family. I've noticed that when there are too many toys options she can't seem to focus on any one thing- my 4 year old nephew has the same problem and starts to get whinny, discontent and want more toys (he also plays destructively with them which I hate!). I saw on super nanny that she made the kids pick 10 toys and put the rest away in a bin- they got to choose at the end of the week if they wanted new toys for the next week but they could only have 10 at a time- seems to be a good solution for things given that can't be politely thrown away.

    1. I like that 10 at a time idea! That’s great!

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