Decluttering: Three Questions to Ask yourself

So I have been on a mission to declutter my home and life. I have been throwing out, recycling, giving away, selling and donating things right and left. 

And I am here to report that.... I am nowhere near finished! My 31 Bags in 31 Days was a great place to start  but it's going to take me longer than a month to really and truly declutter my life. I know that is saying a lot about the amount of clutter I have. 

But I have hauled bag after bag after bag of stuff to the Christian mission. 

I have donated: three bags of my clothes, 1 bag of Jason's clothes, 1 bag of kid's clothes and baby items, 2 boxes of toys, various dishes and kitchen gadgets, DVDs, Books, CDs etc. etc. 

We have also sold some items and given some things to friends. 

And I have thrown away things. My husband was horrified as I chunked my senior book into the trash can. But years of humidity had made the pages stick together and when I looked at the pages that weren't damaged, I didn't remember any of the faces or places. It's just time to let go. 

And a lot of times when decluttering, that's what it's about- letting go. My husband is a lot more sentimental about stuff than I am. But we only have so much space, and I can't and won't keep everything. So I would rather keep 1,000 photos of my son's first steps than a book of pictures of a time I don't remember and fankly don't care to. 

And it's not hard for me to chunk things because I have a system. Three things I ask myself before giving or throwing away my stuff. I ask myself three question. 

1. Do I REALLY need this item and when was the last time I used this? Okay, so this is really two questions. Whatever. The point it is, if I really needed something I would use it a lot more often. And aside from Christmas decorations, if I really liked something I would use it more. So if it's sat on the shelf in the closet for 6 months or more, chances are I don't want it, need it or use it. 

2. Does this item bring me joy or do I just feel guilty about letting go of it? This one is tough because guilt is a thing in my family. But I had to look at a few things and really ask if those items made me happy, or if I was just keeping them out of duty. A lot of them were things I never wanted and were just given to me because there was no one else to take them. It's not fair for me to have to store them. So out they went to someone who wanted them and could use them. 

This is a big thing, don't let people make you feel guilty about keeping things you genuinely don't want, like, need or use. If it was that important to them they should keep it at their house. 

I know that seems harsh, but the level of anxiety I have allowed these things to cause me just got to a point of being ridiculous. 

3. If I keep this, what else am I saying no to? When we say yes to something, we are saying no to something else. We can't just keep bringing more and more and more things into our homes. When we do that, it's called hoarding and that's a compulsion. 

I am not a hoarder. I never want to be a hoarder and I don't want to live with a hoarder (I am talking to you Jason Senn!). So when I keep something that often means I have to get rid of something else, or not bring something into my home that I might like more. (With the exception of black cardigan sweaters. There is ALWAYS room for more black cardigan sweaters.)

These are the guidelines I use. They may seem harsh, but like I said, the amount of anxiety all of this stuff was causing me just didn't seem worth it. 

SO what do you ask yourself before keeping something or letting it go? Leave a comment! I LOVE comments. 



A letter to my (youngest) son on his first birthday

Dear Issie,

You are one today, and part of me can’t believe you have been here an entire year. But another part of me feels you have always been here.

 I vividly remember the day you were born. I remember arriving at the hospital in the wee small hours of the morning; knowing that soon you would be here.

 I remember the waiting, the praying. I remember the nurse putting you on my chest and seeing your sweet round face for the first time.

 Your eyes were open the first time I saw you, your little lip poking out in a heartbreaking pout. I should have known then you were going to give me a run for my money.

 This year has not always been easy, little one. The road to 1 has been paved with exhaustion, frustration and fatigue.

 But there has been such great joy.

 I wanted a little red-haired boy to toddle after my little blonde boy. And I got you. I got my sweet Issie.

You are stubborn and tough and opinionated. As your mother that has frustrated me. But I hope, when you are older, you remain stubborn and tough and opinionated.

 You have frightened me with your budding since of exploration and adventure. You have gone places I didn’t want you to go.

 But I hope as you grow, you keep that since of adventure and that natural curiosity.

You have always had a big appetite. In the beginning it kept me exhausted. But now you love to taste new foods, try new textures. You are unafraid.

 I hope you keep an appetite for life and a willingness to try new things.

I watched as you sat, crawled, stood and walked earlier than I expected. I watched as you stumbled, fell and wobbled. And I watched my little fledgling get up and try again.

I hope that you will always try, even when life knocks you down. I hope you will always scoop yourself up and keep walking.

I have heard you giggle in your sleep, laugh at birds and chuckle with your brother.

I hope you always find the joy in the moment.

I have, on nights that seemed endless, when I barely had the energy to breath, carried you down a dark hallway and prayed over you.

I pray that when your own life seems dark, and you have no more strength that you too will lift up your voice in prayer.

As much as I love you, little one, God loves you more. I am your mother, but He is your heavenly father. I have hopes for you, but He has a plan for your life.  Before you were born I felt you kick and move, but He knew you, He knit you together. I have combed your red hair, but he has numbered those hairs.

He has given me a precious gift. The beat of my very heart. And that gift, is you. 



I like looking put together. It makes me feel good. But I don't wake up in the morning looking cute. 

See, that's me. And excuse the toddler underpants in the background. This is real life. 

But since I don't want to go to Publix looking like a Rip Van Winkle's mom, I like to slap on a little make up in the morning. 

Here is my three minute routine and below are my favorite products.  

(Note: this DOES contain affiliate links. You can read my disclosure policy here.)

I just use a few simple products and if I am not leaving the house I just use CC cream and mascara and call it a day!

If I am I use 6 items and 2 tools. 

1. Olay Total Effects 7 CC Cream.  Since I am aging- we are all aging, I use a product with a sunscreen in it (I am SERIOUS about sunscreen). This also has a primer and some anti aging properties in it. But I like it because it's really light weight but still has good coverage. 

2. Cover Girl Fresh Complexion Concealer. Every busy woman needs concealer. It looks like you've slept... when you haven't... in two years. I just sweep this under my eyes in a v shape and move on. This is a lighter coverage and I don't look like a raccoon. 

3. Pro Beauty Sponge. This sponge only costs $2 and lasts forever. It makes things blend so smoothly and the shape gets into the little areas under eyes and around your nose. I wet the sponge to make the product go on evenly. 

4. Almay TLC Powder.  I just lightly apply this powder to my face to kind of set everything in place. 

5. E.L.F. Brush.  I use this E.L.F brush to apply the powder quickly and lightly to my face. 

6. Maybelline Baby Lips.  Okay, this may seem like the weird part. I love this lip balm.... but I don't use it on my lips (well sometimes I do) I use it on my cheeks. And it works great! It gives me a pop of color and I can apply it really fast with my fingers. 

7. Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick. I LOVE this lip color. It smoothes on so well, lasts a long time, smells great and really moisturizes my dry lips! And I really like the color, Berry Bright. It's pink, but not too pink. 

8. Almay One Coat, Get Up and Grow Mascara.  This is really an easy mascara to wear. The brush is deisgned to get each lash, and I feel like it does. I have WHITE lashes and this gives me really good coverage and stays on pretty well. 

So that's it! That's my routine. It's not fancy and I am probably doing it wrong, but it works for this busy mama. 

What is your makeup routine like? 






Child Safe Cleaning Wipes 

Since having my babies I have become more concerned about what's in my cleaning solutions...  (**Snickers at the idea that I actually clean my house.)

Sometimes I clean. I am working on it, okay. Especially now that I have a baby that puts everything in his mouth. 

I have made all kinds of things from safe products like baking soda and dish soap. I have made washing machine soap, all-purpose spray, a tile cleaner and now this, an all-purpose wipe for a quick clean up on a busy day.

What you'll need:

1 tbsp Castile soap

4 tbsp baking soda Baking soda

1 cup Warm water

A roll of paper towels cut in half

An old plastic container- I used one that used to contain disposable wipes.

First I had to cut the paper towel in half using a serrated knife and remove the cardboard roll. This was hilarious. Paper towel pieces were everywhere! 

Next, pour your warm water, castile soap and baking soda into your plastic container and shake to mix. Then drop your paper towels into the container and shake again. Then pull one paper towel through the center of the roll. This will make it easier to grab a wipe in a pinch.

Viola. A super cleaner that lets you put a hutin' on the dirt, not the people you love.


Do you have a homemade wipe solution you love? 


Something's Gotta give: Why I quit cloth diapering… for now

Sometimes you just have to let something go. That's what I decided as I sprayed the poop off a cloth diaper while Issie screamed from his crib. 

You see we started cloth diapering our oldest son to combat horrible diaper rash. (He is pictured above in his adorable cloth diaper.) When our second son was born I assumed I would just continue cloth diapering him as well. 

But then I got to know Issie. Sweet, precious, loud, opinionated Issie. Issie doesn't sleep through the night. Issie who, at 10 months, still nurses round the clock. Issie who has given me a run for my money. He didn't like to be put down. He refuses a bottle and it took months before I could get through an entire church service without the sweet ladies in the nursery coming to get me to calm down a hysterical baby. 

Since Issie was born I have questioned every aspect of myself as a mother in a way I didn't with Ry. Issie is the beat of my heart, but he is not always an easy baby. I was tired and the laundry was piling up and I was nursing every two hours and Ry was hitting two and I was running a business and cooking meals for my family from scratch and trying to keep breathing. 

There are women who do all of the above and keep up their cloth diapering regimen. And that's great. I would NEVER discourage anyone from cloth diapering or breastfeeding or cooking from scratch or doing anything they feel is good for their family. 

But I had to let something go. 

And I don't feel like I have to justify myself, because I don't feel guilty about it. But I wanted to share this to say... it's okay to let something go. 

It might mean taking a break from cloth and putting my baby in pampers til I get I get my toddler potty trained. 

It might, for some, mean hitting up the Pizza Hut every once in a while for a break. 

A friend and I were recently talking about breastfeeding. I nursed Ry to a year and Issie is 10 months old and still nursing like a champ. She only nursed her oldest child for a short time and still had some guilt. I told her what I tell every mother who mentions this to me:

If there is something in a mother's life that is a source of stress, pain and anxiety, then it is no longer a healthy behavior and should be reevaluated. 

Whether it's cloth diapers, formula, going back to work, staying home full time, eating the occasional processed foods, letting your kid play with the iPad so you can shower... whatever it is... don't feel guilty. Let it go. Move on and live to mother another day.