start the year…simplified!

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here it comes…a new year. and along with a new year, on the heels of christmas, comes lots and lots of crap i mean new stuff! i don’t do clutter well. i don’t do mess well. but i hadn’t had kids very long before i realized that they tend to be messy, cluttered and come with a LOT of stuff. i have news for you…less really is better!

around the time we found ourselves parenting four beautiful girls, ages 1, 2, 4 and 7…i came up with a brilliant principle. one thing in = one thing out.

basically, for every new toy you received, get rid of one old toy. for every new piece of clothing that goes into the closet, get rid of something comparable.

what you do with the old stuff is up to you. we sent clothing to the ventura county foster care clothing bank. you probably have similar. you can give toys to a thrift store, pass them on to kids who need them more than you or even find a missionary or church taking toys to an orphanage. if you decide to send them to a thrift store, research it a little. in thousand oaks we have a small thrift store that gives the women from the pregnancy center a discount on baby stuff. we tried to only donate to that thrift store.

your kids don’t need everything you think they need. i promise you. i noticed that the more stuff my girls had to play with, the less satisfied they were and the quicker they got bored.


and make your new year easier!

go from this:

to this:

have fun!

the twenty-third day of christmas: lights and pictures

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sarah and i played around a little with the christmas lights. the swirly crazy ones are really simple yet so much fun. i am a beginner so don’t laugh if i am explaining this incorrectly. they are taken in manual mode. my ISO is set as high as it goes, my aperture is raised and my shutter speed is slowed. during the five seconds that the shutter is open, the camera is moved around in various motions. it’s kind of addicting. the hearts, well that’s another cool trick. i read about it on pinterest but didn’t quite understand it until sarah explained it to me. enjoy!

the twenty-second day of christmas

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i braved the stores. i didn’t realize i was braving them but i guess i was. i guess three days before christmas is not early enough to do your grocery shopping without mad crowds. and i mean mad. i saw road rage and parking spot rage and gas station rage and shopping cart rage. wow. on that note, i am going to bed. the hubs should be home in an hour or so which means i am actually going to curl up and watch a little “new girl” with my sister sarah until he gets home.

oh, and i want to print these and use them!

the twentieth day of christmas: a last minute gift project

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i wasn’t going to post this craft until after christmas but it’s just too good and too easy. if you need a last minute gift, this is it! if you think this gift is for you…just pretend it isn’t!

photo coasters

gather your photos and trim them to be a little smaller than 4″ tiles:
get some mod podge and a paint brush. there are methods to make your own mod podge online (it’s basically watered down glue) but i bought my own. okay fine, maybe my sister left her’s up here on accident.
spread a layer of mod podge on the tile and then place a photo on the tile.

as it dries, you want to continually work the air bubbles out. let them dry for a few minutes.

spread another (thickish) layer of mod podge over the photo. keep spreading with the paint brush until you are happy with the smoothness. is that a word? let them dry overnight or for a few hours. the mod podge will turn clear but leave a nice texture.

get some sort of felt or rubber “thingies.” yeah, i am sure these have a real name.

these will keep your coasters from scratching anything.

this is a clear sealant in a spray can. i really like this stuff. i made trivets with it last year and the one we gave to grammie and pops is still going strong, so i know it works well.

spray the entire coaster in a smooth back and forth motion. this part should really be done outside. let the coasters dry overnight if possible or for a few hours again.

beautiful and simple and really inexpensive!

the nineteenth day of christmas: my christmas list

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my christmas list ♥

i love you, hubs. thank you for becoming my best friend and then becoming my husband. thank you for being an amazing father…patient, helpful and ever long suffering. thank you for moving across the ocean with me.

here’s my christmas wish…

um…but you can still give me any presents you have already bought. i mean, i wouldn’t want to make more work for you.

come home soon ♥

the eighteenth day of christmas: a disclaimer

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this is not my child. but hopefully soon i will have a few pictures similar to this one. i also wanted to add a little disclaimer…christian is out of town until friday (he’s in phoenix which is where one of our “planting” churches is located). i plan on posting every day but if i go missing, know that i am alive and well, just single parenting it around here. yes i am thankful for family right now! on top of that, i am tired and heading to bed…so take this picture as inspiration and take lots of photos of your kids and family this month!

the seventeenth day of christmas: craft something

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here are a few links…some of these we have done and i need to post pictures. some we are planning on doing. some we probably won’t get done but it’s the thought that counts!

cute printable christmas tree

cute printable santa claus

button ornaments (styrofoam ball, buttons, pins, ribbon)

homemade christmas ornaments (felt and other kinds too)

simple wreath (i love this blog)

toddler popsicle christmas tree craft

christmas around the world project

i have more but this is enough inspiration for now. craft something!

the sixteenth day of christmas: movies

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this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means…it’s just a compilation of christmas movies i have enjoyed. and some, we technically watch all year long cause we like them. i linked them all to wikipedia. hope you enjoy this quick list!

the bishop’s wife which was remade as the preacher’s wife
(it’s a movie about a preacher and an angel and stuff…cute but not for little kids)

a christmas carol, the 2009 jim carrey version (i’ve seen multiple versions but i really like this one. it’s a little scary so it just depends on your kids…my nephew hated it when he was three years old, addy loved it.)

a christmas story (does anyone else find it strange that we call this a “classic?” i haven’t seen it in forever but i remember it being funny and kid-appropriate.)

christmas with the kranks (not a kids’ movie, but cute…one of those starts funny but ends with a little christmas sappy movies.)

elf (i think this should be a classic. my introduction to zooey deschanel…probably my favorite actress. oh and definitely a kids movie but with some imitative behavior fyi.)

ernest saves christmas (yup, i remember watching this…barely. i was probably ten.)

home alone (i loved this movie. but it is full of imitative behavior too in case you have to watch that stuff in your home…we do. we have a three year old.)

how the grinch stole christmas (i guess i like jim carrey in christmas movies…hmmmm. this is a favorite of ours.)

it’s a wonderful life (okay, a true classic. we used to watch this in black and white every thanksgiving following the macy’s day parade.)

miracle on 34th street – original only (three words: santa is real. ’nuff said.)

the nativity story (some like it, some don’t. i don’t think it’s horrible or anything, i actually like it.)

the nightmare before christmas (we are disneyland obsessed and love the haunted mansion at christmastime. plus, i really like tim burton movies.)

the polar express (there’s just something about this animation that’s super cool.)

the santa clause (i think this makes good family christmas movie status. i haven’t seen the second or third one.)

while you were sleeping (don’t laugh. this is our family’s ultimate christmas movie. i don’t care what anyone thinks. the family dinner conversation – – yeah, that’s our family. just ask christian…that is one of the things he had to get used to when he married into my family!)

white christmas (i have seen this movie many times. it’s still good.)




the fifteenth day of christmas: lights

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i absolutely love looking at lights. i have some pretty fond memories of loading up into the car (okay minivan) and driving/walking through various christmas tree lanes. a few trips ended with starbucks hot chocolate. there is just something very special about putting all three of your brothers in one vehicle and expecting it to go smoothly, ha!

anyway, here is a website for the californians in the bunch. i’m sure there are similar websites for other states. you can search by county and city. you can read reviews, ratings, info, etc. there are maps and links. it is pretty amazing! some of these places have food drives for charities even. last year we loaded addy up and took her to see lights and she was amazed. i can’t wait to see her reaction this year!


the fourteenth day of christmas: give

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tonight we celebrated my lovely sister-in-law, cacey’s 31st birthday. my amazing brother and sister (aaron and cacey) are passionate about adoption and orphaned/abandoned children. they have an organization called hope takes root. they are working on building a school in an african village, adami tulu. tonight we ate at chevy’s restaurant and chevy’s donated a percentage towards the adami tulu project.

if you haven’t bought a gift for someone and you need a last minute gift…here’s an idea: donate to the adami tulu project and give a gift in someone’s honor. for the first fifty donations, my mom will send them a beautiful card that looks like this:

on top of that, right now what you donate will be doubled. you could give a gift of $25 and it will actually be $50! the only catch is that you need to order them before the 17th so that we can mail them out in time for christmas! you can do the donations via paypal on my brother aaron’s blog.

what a great idea, huh?!