40 bags in 40 days - days 6 & 7: the master bedroom and closet

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


This has taken a lot of effort, but it is so nice to go through one space at a time and get rid of things that we don't need, that we don't use, that someone else could use, or that simply need to be thrown away. I truly feel less cluttered inside when my surroundings are so.

I saw something the other day that I didn't expect to see. I have been ready to give a certain box of trains away for quite some time - Tate, on the other hand, has not. I talked with him again about it while we were doing his room and I asked him if he thought he was ready. He said yes, but only if he could give it to his cousin, Owen! When we took the box over to Owen, it was Tate who was the most excited to tell him all about it and give it to him. This boy of mine doesn't part well with things sometimes, but on this occasion he was not only able to let it go, but to see the joy it brought to someone else. He was happy to do it.

Aside from the inner organization this provides for me, I hope that my children will learn a little bit of temporal charity, and develop the ability to put things in perspective, and realize that we don't "need" as much as we think we do, that we actually make a greater space in our lives for more important things when we unclutter our hearts and our surroundings. 

a cup of comfort

Monday, February 27, 2012

Today has been one of those days. Ones when you silently pray that no one will come knocking at your door. A day filled with mess and chaos, and guilt. I have a list longer than I would ever be able to complete. Clean the chicken coop, gerbil house, and hedgehog cage, school the children, do the dishes (from last night and the day before), piano lessons, cut the boys hair, return e-mails and phone calls, comfort the crying toddler, bandage the bleeding wound, keep the house in some sort of order, break up fights while speaking kindly, drive here, drop off this, do that, read those, plan for this, shop for that, pay the bills, and on and on and on. My laundry is exploding out of the hamper. I have over due library books, and they're incurring late charges!! My toilets are disgusting and in desperate need of some attention. Not to even mention there is still dinner to make and Family Home Evening to execute. And I am to do this all with the grace and patience I expect myself to have.

For those who think my house is always tidy.......

Go ahead feel sorry for me, please. I do. These are the days when I wish most that I had an older sister. I wish I could ditch my responsibilities, and my guilt, pack up the kids and drive over to her house. She would let me sit on her sofa and vent. She would make me a cup of tea, and love my children, regardless of whether or not they were perfectly behaved or little rascals. She would snuggle them tight since I am empty, and her love would fill them and me back up again. She would put everything in perspective and let me know that it is going to be okay. She would tell me that all that stuff doesn't matter. I would not believe her, but I would welcome the words. She would insist I stay for dinner, and she would not go to any trouble for it. We would eat grill cheese, and laugh, and cry, and talk. She would give me a hug and send me home and tell me that if I needed anything I could give her a call.

But I don't have a sister.

Then I read this: "Jesus doesn't make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us. Jesus (fills) the whole space (between him and us). He paid our debt in full. He paid it all. It is finished. You have plenty to do, but it is not to fill that gap." Brad Wilcox, His Grace is Sufficient

So although I do not have an older sister, I do have an older brother. He is there for me. He will not fill my cup with tea, but he will fill my heart with comfort. And on days like this, when I need him most, he will not only fill me to the top, but to overflowing, if  I but ask and open up for him.

 There are still things to do, and I will feel overwhelmed at times, but the grace I expect from myself does not come from me, it comes from my Savior. When I feel as though I cannot wash one more dish, or smile encouragingly one more time, or utter one more word in softness, I will shed my tears, roll up my sleeves, and get to work. And just as the promise of spring brings with it a renewal of life, I will accept the promise of my Savior and let him fill, not just the gap, but the entire space around me with grace and love. I will push through that soil and become something beautiful.

40 bags in 40 days - days 3, 4, & 5: the kids bathroom, the hall closet, and the loft


The kids bathroom was a quick space to do. Since none of them are at the shaving, make-up, hair spray, one-thousand-and-one-personal-hygiene-products stage yet, it was pretty much tooth brushes and a few hair accessories. Even still, I left that room with a bag full of stuff.

The hall closet has been used for toy storage since we moved in, actually for over flow toy storage.  I have all these baby toys that as much as I would love to give away, I just can't yet. I like having a box of things for our "little" guests to play with. This also houses all the dress up clothes. 2 bags from here.

The loft!!!

I purposely put all the hard areas at the top of my list, so that I am still fresh and somewhat energetic about this project when I tackle them. Had I left them until the end of my 40 days, I think I would have cried. The rest of my list is going to seem pretty simple in comparison to the beginning. Having said that, there were some tears today. Firstly from Noelle, who, although she didn't say as such, pretty much thought I was the meanest mom in the world for asking her to part with any of her beloved treasures. Secondly from me, who pretty much felt like the meanest mom in the world once the tears started to flow. I have found these spaces the very hardest to do. Not only does it take physical energy, but there is so much emotion involved. I didn't feel right about doing this space without them. These are their things, and I told them they could keep what they wanted and give away the things of their choosing, it all just had to fit away in their baskets and drawers once they were finished. I did not feel this way when I went through their closet. I buy the clothes, I know what fits, what needs to go, and what items are particularly important to their owners, and I was thoughtful about their feelings. But when it comes to toys, and I remember feeling this way when I was a child, each stuffy is as special as the next, and when I ask them to part with one, you would think I was asking them to part with one of their children! Impossible! But we got through it and smiles returned near the end. I don't feel quite so mean as I did, and Noelle is talking to me as I type, so I assume we will be alright. 2 bags from here.

And I know, from past experience, as big of a chore as it is, they are always so happy to have a clean and organized space to play in. 

I need a shower and a nap! 

automatics anonymous

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I had the opportunity to spend the day in Victoria with Jen Smith at a 6 hour Chris Keating Better Photos Workshop. The very first thing he had us do was to turn our cameras to manual. I had never done this before. He then spent the day teaching us all about shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, metering and much more. Chris is extremely entertaining and talented. He challenged us to not revert back to automatic, but to push through and learn how to create photos instead of simply taking them. I had such a fun time. I would go again the next time he comes to Victoria, to learn even more. So much of it was over my head, but as Chris said, "Don't call yourself an amateur, call yourself a hobbyist. And tell your critics to get off your back, your a hobbyist, not a pro." One of my favorite parts was when Chris pulled people out of the audience and created photographs, never using an on camera flash. Up until this point the flash was my best friend while inside. Now that I know how to actually use my camera I can take pictures inside without a flash, even at night....crazy!
I am so grateful that Jen decided to do this and that she didn't mind that I tagged along with her. And when she dropped me off only to find Darren gone somewhere with the children and the house locked up tight, she took me home to hers. I loved spending the day with her. She teaches me to not take life so seriously, but best of all, she just makes me laugh! 

40 bags in 40 days - day 2: the boys room

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The boys room was not nearly as complicated as the girls - they collect much less stuff. Although, I still took 5 or 6 bags out of there. 
This was, by far, the easier room to do.  
(Mind you, I went nowhere near the lego - I could have been lost in there for weeks!)


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Noelle, Emma and I headed to the theater today to watch the dance festival. Noelle performed with her ballet class, and she did such a great job. When she was finished and I went downstairs to get her, she said, "It was too short, I just wanted to keep dancing!" 

We met lots of friends there as well, which was such a very nice unexpected surprise that made the afternoon all that more wonderful. 

I love the energy of the theater. If I could have my pick of dream jobs, that is where I would want to be - the make-up, the costumes, the excitement! 

I also love my daughters. Have I ever mentioned just how much fun I have with them? I love my sons too, that goes without saying, always and forever. I would not want a life without them. But my daughters - I feel like I have been triply blessed, since longing for a sister all those years growing up. I now have 3 of the best friends a girl could ask for! 

40 bags in 40 days - day 1: the girls room

With 3 girls in one room we have to take advantage of every inch, and every inch is now clean and tidy.
Nya sleeps in her crib (still), in the closet. She calls it her room. 
I am not sure what the future holds for us with 5 kids sleeping in 2 bedrooms, but for now they are small, and they must learn to minimize and work together.
(Don't feel badly for them, they have it pretty good!)

out of the peewees and into the big leagues

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

40 bags in 40 days is beginning tomorrow. You can read about it here and here. And since I love all things organizational I find this absolutely fascinating. I have never participated - I didn't think there was any way that I could ever fill 40 bags. Not because I am terribly tidy, simply because I don't handle clutter very well, and I already purge on a regular basis. But with the girls closet in desperate need of a thorough cleaning out, I thought I would test my theory. So on Saturday while Darren was playing with the kids, I went to work.

5 hours later, I got 3 dressers of clothes down to 2, and 7 bags worth of stuff out of that room! I think I just might participate in 40 bags in 40 days this year!

I also realized that I had not purchased pajamas for my baby since she was 18 months old. She is now 3 1/2. We noticed, of course, that all her jammies had turned into capris, but it didn't keep her awake at night, so it didn't seem to matter.

After I was done that room, I needed to get out of the house, so the girls and I hopped in the van, while the boys (big and small) stayed home and played Lego. It is way too much fun for the 4 of us to shop together. Sometimes we buy, sometimes we don't. This time we were on the hunt for pajamas for Nya. Along the way I realized that I have no children left in the baby department of Superstore, nor will I ever again. Turns out my baby is not such a baby.


Much better! She was pretty pleased. She spent the entire day today changing from one pair of new pajamas to another.

For this girl who ripped her favorite dress while wearing it and riding her bike, we found this:

And for this girl, who not only left the baby department a decade ago, but is now beginning to fit  women's clothing, we found this:

It is such a fun and fascinating thing to see ones daughter growing up and become aware of what she likes and what she doesn't. I realize that this can happen at a much younger age for some girls, but Noelle has never been terribly concerned about what she wears. She is one of those super easy, whatever is in the drawer, kind of people I have always admired. The kind that look cute in sweats or a skirt. Noelle now has a very strong opinion of what she likes and what she doesn't. Nothing too bright, too flashy, or immodest. She likes to be comfortable and co-ordinated. But I also see her stepping out of her box every once in a while and trying some sort of new and fun combination. It is truly so much fun to observe.

And for me - I found this top. It is perfectly simple and beautifully feminine.  

 I am now pretty sure I will be able to get close to 40 bags. Seems counter-productive, bringing in the new while trying to get rid of the old. But when I consider that 7 bags of things we can no longer use went out and only 1 bag of things we can use came back in, it seems a good trade off. Every time I walk into the girls room, even though it appears no different until you start to open doors and drawers, it feels so good. And when you break your house up into 40 small sections it is not so overwhelming.  

 I made my list - now if I can stick with it for 40 days, my house will be one of order.
It could certainly use some of that right about now! 

by any other name

Friday, February 17, 2012

As a child I was never one of those super cute tomboys. I liked being a girl and I wanted to look like one. I even sported the fake fashion press-on nails. I have memories of watching my mom apply her make-up and just waiting for the day that I would get to wear it too. But, from my very earliest memories I recall vowing that I would NEVER carry a purse! Why? I do not know. Call it a bag and I'm fine, but a purse? Some part of my subconscious told me that in order to qualify you had to be at least 80 years old and wear really bright lipstick. I didn't seem to think I would ever be old enough to do either. Still, to this day, I prefer the term bag, of which I am in want of a new one.

I have a few requirements.  I want a solid color, a bag big enough for a small binder or note book, one that closes at the top and won't gape open when I put it down, and a few interior pockets would be appreciated. I also want a bag with a shorter strap and a longer strap, so that I can wear it on my shoulder or across the body. After looking around town, and not finding what I was looking for, I turned to Esty. There I found quite the opposite problem, there are more bags than I have time to look through. I did, however, find some I liked.

Of the many bags to choose from, I think I finally found one that meets all the specifications I am looking for.

But then I found this one, which is nothing like I set out to find, but oh so cute and every bit me.

hmmmm? What to do.

Oh, p.s. If you are 80 and/or wear lipstick and carry a purse, think nothing of what I said!

wallow in abundance

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The other day as I was talking with some friends, the subject of mothering came up, as it always seems to do. As I listened I began to question my approach to parenting. Thoughts like, Should I be....? Maybe I should try..... Maybe I shouldn't do..... went through my mind. I wondered about my parenting and if I was doing enough, if I was doing it right. These thoughts stayed with me over the next few days and I was acutely aware of all my weaknesses and I measured myself with the strengths of these other women.  What happened? I was perfectly fine swimming in my little puddle until my eyes were opened to the pond across the fence! Some days feel long and unproductive. Too often I feel discouraged and unsuccessful. These are the days when inspiration has turned to comparison. When I am inspired by someone I admire, my spirit feels light. I want to do better and be better, not so that I excel over another, but because I have a sincere desire to offer more of myself in an effort to be the best I can be. But there are other kinds of days - days when I feel unimportant, unnoticed, unattractive, unloveable - these are the weak moments when that voice of discouragement enters into my mind and I do not have the strength to kick it out. The contrast is stark. My spirit feels heavy and anxious. These are the moments I need to pause and reflect - Am I living in grace?

" I believe that most people are aware of periods in their lives when they seem to be "in grace" and other periods when they feel "out of grace," even though they may use different words to describe these states. In the first happy condition, one seems to carry all one's tasks before one lightly, as if borne along on a great tide; and in the opposite state one can hardly tie a shoe-string. It is true that a large part of life consists in learning a technique of tying the shoe-string, whether one is in grace or not. But there are techniques of living too; there are even techniques in the search for grace. And techniques can be cultivated. I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God." (Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg)

To function and give as I was meant to. We are each unique and individual. There is no one right way to parent. There are values I hold important, things I stand firm in and other areas in which I flex. My job is to figure it out and follow my heart. Just because something is right for someone else and their family does not mean that it is right for us. It also does not mean that I am doing something wrong, or, most importantly, that I am less of a mother.

I am not 'her' I am me - mother to Noelle, Bergen, Emma, Tate and Nya. I let go of the comparison. It falls heavy from my hand, and I am glad to see it go. I do not want to carry its weight anymore. I will chose inspiration over comparison. I will remember who I am, and that I have much good to offer. I will be happy in my puddle, for it is mine, and it is where I am suppose to be. I will be inspired by those I love and admire. I will learn all I can, and make changes for the better. And I will not compare. After-all....

Liebster Blog Award

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This morning when I opened my e-mail I found a message from a lady named Theresa. She writes a blog Called Party of Four. She had just awarded me the Liebster Blog Award. To be honest I had no idea what this was, so I looked it up on the internet of course. Here is what I found out: Liebster is a German word meaning dearest or beloved, and the award is given to Bloggers with less than 200 followers, to promote and encourage new friendships among the blogging community.

If you receive the award you are to:
  1. Post the award on your blog.
  2. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  3. Reveal your picks for the award and let them know.
  4. Enjoy the support from fellow bloggers.
  5. Have fun, and pass it along.
I am more than honored that someone awarded my blog. I want to thank Theresa for that. I am always excited to connect with people I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to get to know. I spent the afternoon reading Theresa's blog, and she is one of those people that I just know I would love if we ever met in person. 

And now for my picks: 
  1. My sister-in-law Shannon Wight. This girl can make anything and everything, and it all turns out perfectly lovely. She is a crafter, a crocheter, a photographer, a creator of all things incredible. She is one of the most talented people I have ever met. I feel so very blessed to be able have her in my family. She is always inspiring me to get up and do something! 
  2. Megan from Nestled. She is just cute. I love seeing her painted nails, the new shoes she won in some contest, and her beautiful home that looks so welcoming. She reminds me to take myself a little less serious, and enjoy being a girl. I am always happy to take a peek into her world. 
  3. Jaimie from At Home. I first came across Jaimie's blog when I was looking for 'fresh eggs' signs on the internet for my pantry, and I have been reading it ever since. I love the easy, beachy, beautiful way she makes every house she is in a home. And she just so happens to live on Vancouver Island, only a couple of hours away. She hasn't been blogging much lately - I think it might be due to a new addition to her family! 
  4. Michelle from Miss Stitch a Wish. I have recently come in contact with her. She is every bit as bubbly, happy, creative and talented as she is beautiful. She is a do-it-yourself kind of girl. 
  5. A couple of years ago I was reconnected through blogging with someone I knew only very briefly when I was a young adult. She has fast become a very cherished friend, and were it not for the fact that her blog is private I would want to add her to the list. I admire her honesty. She inspires me. Every time I think about her I am grateful for blogging and how it brought us together. Maybe someday she will go public. (It sounds so scandalous when you put it that way!)

my little valentines

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines Day is a pretty big deal around here (as with every other holiday - any excuse to spend the day crafting together!) We made all kinds of things to fill each others envelops up with. And thanks to Pinterest we had fun trying some new ideas. 

Happy Valentines Day,

from us to you!