Monthly Archives: January 2014

Minimalist Preschool Boy Wardrobe

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It is fun to get lots of clothes with the first child however, once you start having multiples, you start to get sick of so many pieces to sort and wash!


With my kids playclothes, I dress them in mostly jeans. Then it is very easy to match shirts. The goal is to be able to change your child in the dark and have it match – because everything is mix and match. (Though there are a few exceptions with my daughters who like play dresses.)

My son’s core wardrobe colors are blue, red, dark green and black with a little brown.


5 play shirts (Long sleeved T-shirts in Winter; short sleeved in summer)

4 pair play pants (3 jeans & one other color that matches all his shirts) (In summer there are 3 pairs of shorts and 1 or 2 pair of pants)
Picture1 pair dress pants (2 would be better – a khaki and black)

4 dress shirts

3 play hoodies (Our house is cold)

2 nice sweaters

Play shoes

Boots

Slippers

Dress Shoes
12 pair Socks

7 underwear

4 pair pajamas (he only needs 2 but the summer pajamas stayed upstairs with the winter pajamas per his request.)

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A coat for the season

In the picture, not all his clothes were in the drawer. He has 2 more shirts and 3 more pairs of jeans then pictured.

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That’s it. Most of his clothes are kept in a three drawer dresser. (There is way more space in there than he needs.) The top drawer holds his socks and underwear as well as diaper and changing supplies ( for the 18 month old and 2 month old).

The middle drawer holds his 5 play shirts, one polo, and all his pants.

The bottom drawer holds his sweaters and pajamas. He puts his own pajamas away, and I have not made him fold them so for transparency sake, the drawer looks like this.


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His shoes and slippers are on a low shelf system in his room, and his boots are by the back door in the kitchen. His hoodies hang on a hook with his sisters’ hoodies on the right side of their closet. I probably need to come up with another place for them since 8 hoodies on one hook is a little impractical.

The closet holds the 18 month old’s entire wardrobe, all 3 of the kids’ shoes, all of their dress clothes, extra blankets and sheets, and the preschool boy’s special toys (in hutch).

I also hang some upcoming outfits (gifts usually from relatives on the far right because if I don’t, I tend to forget about them!

The closet has been easy to maintain because the little ones can’t reach their clothes and the preschooler is fairly particular about his things going back on the hutch. (Mostly because it’s the one spot the girls aren’t allowed so it ensures his toys’ safety.)

That’s it. We do tend to wash clothes every day or every other day which may be a dealbreaker for another family, but a minimal wardrobe works very well for us.

-Verity

Mom’s Musings: Practicing Thankfulness

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Some days are hard.

Sometimes just the day after day – after day is hard.

Philippians 4 tells us “In everything give thanks,” but sometimes being thankful is hard!

Children whine or bicker until you think you will explode and responsibilities pull until you feel exhausted both physically and emotionally.

That’s a place I’m at right now.

But God’s been teaching me about practicing thankfulness in the day to day, and it’s helped a lot!

I haven’t been doing very much different, but multiple times in the day, I just try to pray and thank the Lord for certain people in my life and certain blessings He gives.

- I try early in the day (before I’m out of bed if possible!) to thank the Lord for each of my children as well as certain strengths and improvements I see in each child’s character. I often pray for areas of weakness too, but just taking a couple minutes to thank God for each child has been an essential blessing to help me remember that each child is something to be thankful for!!

Since I started making a point of thanking God for each child two years ago, I’ve become a much more patient mom! At the time one of my children was in a very discouraging stage of training, and I’d been forgetting that he/she WAS a blessing. Just thanking God for my child each day, changed my approach drastically. I could start enjoying my child/blessing and rejoice that God was working in his/her heart.

- I try to thank God for my husband. This one I need to do more. Sometimes our best blessings are the easiest to take for granted.

- Throughout the day as things come up – especially frustrations, I try to thank God for an aspect of them.


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This morning at 8:00 AM a container of beef broth dumped all over the fridge.

Of course it was the kind of dump that trickles down so that two shelves, two drawers, and about 30 food items would need to be cleaned up in some way. (While all the kids raced around in pajamas destroying the house, preschool was put off until –? and I expected the baby to wake any minute and start crying for her breakfast.)

But I thanked the Lord for the opportunity to clean out the fridge – since it was something I’d been procrastinating – and 30 minutes later, I had a clean fridge. God had helped me win the spiritual battle to not become discouraged with the powerful gift of thankfulness.

I posted on Facebook about the incident and a woman from our church cheerfully commented that it was good it wasn’t milk! This particular woman often seems to approach her days with thankfulness, and I’ve been witnessing it be a helot to bring her through a very difficult trial this past month. Two days ago she needed to have a double mastectomy due to breast cancer, but she has responded with grace and thankfulness.

Describing her response after the surgery, ” I asked for a mirror at the first bandage change and (purely through the grace of our Lord) I saw no cancer (not no breasts) when I looked.”

The past few weeks, she’s regularly posted on Facebook about the many things she’s thankful for – presents her husband got her, enjoying her home, and cuddling with her still small children.

It’s been a good example to me about thankfulness.

In His mercy, God almost always gives us some kind of grace to be thankful for – even if it is simply the grace to bear the trial and draw closer to Him!

- When I’m unhappy with my small or less- then-amazing house, I can be thankful for a warm, safe and comfy place to keep all my little ones on this cold (-17) day!!

- When I’m sick of my kids bickering or whining, I can be thankful that I get to train my kids and not someone else.

- When I lose someone dear to me, I can rest in God never leaving me and find comfort in His presence.

- Even when I mess up – when I lose my cool and get angry with my husband or kids – I can be thankful for the opportunity to learn.

- And when nap time gets cut short, I can be thankful for the extra time with my little 3 year old while I type an article on my learning to be thankful while she lines up princess dominoes next to me…


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I have a lot more to learn about thankfulness. I’m not very good at it.

However, I am really glad God’s given us something like thankfulness! It takes our minds off ourselves, our circumstances’ shortcomings and opens our eyes to the blessings all around that are so often missed!

-Verity

Easy, Fun, and Valuable Preschool ‘Subject’

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Our favorite and easiest preschool subject is something we do right at the beginning of school every day.

-It is the kids’ favorite ‘subject.’ They are always eager and excited to start school because they love this so much.

- It opens many good Bible teaching examples that they are ready for.

- It is easy to do every day.

- It has helped the kids to join in the worship at church.

- It only takes a couple minutes of prep each month.

So what is it?


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For the last year and a half, we start school with a hymn each morning.

I pick a hymn we sing at church, and we sing one a month with school – learning a new verse each week. As we go through the month, I highlight what we have learned so far. We don’t always learn all the verses, but the word pictures and teaching opportunities are enthusiastically received by my little pupils.

I’ve also found it helps me, as a mom with just little ones to focus on bigger, eternal things if I put a copy on the fridge (my favorite spot ever!) to sing throughout the day when school has ended.

They don’t normally sing with me during the day, but they smile when I’m singing a song they know.

And they LOVE to sing a hymn they know with the congregation at church!!

(It is also one of the best feelings in the world to be at church and have your 3 and 4 year olds join in the worship!!)

-Verity

Prepping for Baby When You Already have Toddlers

Yesterday Lyd and Matthew welcomed baby #3!! She’s super cute.

The birth helped motivate me to get moving on a post I’ve been meaning to write about our last birth.

Having a four-year-old, two-year-old, and one-year-old, I gave the birth of baby number four a lot of thought. Here are some of the things I did, and my feedback in retrospect.

Freezer Meals.

PictureI had collected about 20 freezer meals ahead of time from my freezer meal swap and had also bought about 12 frozen entrées. The bought items were for the week after the birth because my husband does not like to make my premade freezer meals.

In retrospect. The freezer meals were great though neither my mom nor my husband liked using my them. For some reason they found them too confusing. They liked the store-bought items or making their own things, or buying fast food better. It probably depends on your husband or helper.

However, after I lost my helpers and needed to forge on my own, I was very thankful to have those freezer meals!!


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Pantry Prep.

I purchased all the pantry goods we would need for the next month after the baby was born. This included snack items for my husband work lunches and extra items the kids could be handed during the month to make things easier. Many of the kids’ items were not items I would normally buy, but I was willing to make the extra investment to help the transition!!

In retrospect. I think I might do my shopping for snacks a month ahead of time from now on. Having all the snacks sitting there ready and not needing to worry about them on the weekly shopping trip was wonderful. However, we did tend to go through more snacks because we had so many!


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Communication.

Because my husband was taking a week off work and then my mom was coming for a week, I wanted to help them know what food was available, what chores the kids were used to doing, and the schedule the kids were used to. I posted a couple of papers on the fridge so they would have that information.

In retrospect. I’m not sure if they even looked at the papers. However, prepping the papers a month before the baby was due was a huge help to me. I was able to make sure the kids knew their chores ahead of time, and worked to make their chores and schedule more like clockwork. (At least as much like clockwork as you can have when you’re working with a preschooler, toddler, and a mini toddler…)


Cleaning Prep.

My best effort was to get a new slipcover for the couch. Our old one was falling apart, and I realized that that would be a location I would be spending a lot of time with the new baby.

Second best project was cleaning out the fridge and freezers. This helped a lot with keeping food organized, communication going with whoever was working in the kitchen, and helping me get back on my feet.

Third best thing was that I was able to be caught up on laundry. Then after the baby was born I simply needed to have my husband throw in one load each day, and then I folded and put it away. This helped everybody stay in clean clothes even in a huge transition time.


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Older Kid Prep.

Three little ones 4 and under required some thought. I saved some new toy sets in the top of my closet for them for during the time I’d be breastfeeding.

In retrospect. This worked great though adding 5 toy sets along with a new baby was frustrating. I might try disposable items like coloring pads or glow sticks next time – things to occupy them for the first initial few days – then throw away.

Prep I Wish I had Done.

Funny how things feel different when your hands are full!

WAY more decluttering. If I could have two baby free days now – I’d get rid of half our stuff!! (sigh…). I wish I’d gone crazy pre-baby.

More toys and school supplies inaccessible to kids. We had a school drawer that was working great, but now the kids kept getting into it (while I was off with baby. :-P )

Breaking down on older kids’ character issuesBEFORE baby. Having a child who gets too wild is annoying when you have 2 hands to separate and protect smaller siblings, but it’s dangerous when you are tied up with a baby.

So, that’s the summary! I hope it helps if you have a baby on the way!

-Verity

Staying Organized After a Baby – The Kid Cabinet

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Sometimes you need a blessing.

Breast feeding a newborn with older toddlers playing around you is like being stationed in a war zone with your hands tied up with ropes.

You sit and try to relax so the milk lets down and it will go faster while they tear up the house before your eyes.

I needed a blessing!

My blessing came in the form of a cabinet I found on Craigslist. After an exchange of emails, the very kind owners offered it to me for free.

I realized that was generous though I didn’t even realize how generous until I got to their house and saw how nice the cabinet was.

An hour later my husband helped me unload it into our spare room (baby/school/office/picture room), and the next week my mom (a super organizer) helped me organize it, and voila! Sanity was restored!

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The very top shelf holds scissors, superglue, and paperclips.

The second shelf holds all their preschool books, and baskets on the third shelf store their math u see blocks, flash cards, wooden magnet letters and writing utensils.

The cabinet also locks – which is great because it keeps the kids out and everything organized. Yay!!


The bottom of the cabinet holds activities for the kids to do while I breastfeed, some DVDs, as well as their growing collection of hardcover children’s books.

(We just set a budget for me to buy books for them!) My favorite find so far is called the Brave Young Knight by Karen Kingsbury. It teaches that inner character and faith in God is more important then winning a competition or being the best at something.

Now when I need to feed the baby, I just let the 4 year

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old and 3 year old pick one or two things from the cabinet. An hour later, the sets go back in the cabinet, the baby is fed and order was maintained.

Activities that have worked for us are the Melissa and Doug wooden letter game, lacing cards, Leapfrog Letter Factory, Disney Princess dominoes (Like dominoes but pictures instead of dots), simple puzzles, Melissa and Doug wooden magnet dolls, wooden train set, small doll houses, blocks, and coloring.

So if  you have a new baby and have toddlers or preschoolers to occupy or if homeschooling needs to happen with a newborn, a closet or cabinet could be your sanity saver – it was for me!!

- Verity

Minimalism: What it is and What it is not

Drowning in all my stuff, I scoured the internet a few years back for decluttering tips.

That is where I learned of this neat concept going on called Minimalism.

Although I’ve in no way converted my lifestyle to reflect the extreme versions of this movement, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having my previously high view of possessions challenged by some of the interesting blogs and books out there today.

Here is an overview of my conclusions on minimalism.

Minimalism Definition: A lifestyle in which you minimize all the extras so that you are down to only the essentials.

Minimalism Purpose: Eliminate all extra weight and free yourself so you can achieve your personal goals and dreams.

Minimalism looks different for different people.

A homeowner cannot minimize down as far as a renter. The renter can call the landlord if the drain backs up, but a homeowner has to either buy an auger or spend $200 on a plumber.

The fact is Minimalism is not cut and dry. You can’t find a ‘list of essentials’ that will work for everyone (though I did look) because everyone has different goals and dreams.

One family has a dishwasher; they have eight sippy cups for their two toddlers because after every meal, they stick the cups in the dishwasher which is run during the night. Another family has only two sippy cups for their two toddlers. They hand wash, dry, and put away the cops after every meal.

A family with a washing machine can have less clothes then one that is only able to get to the laundry matt once a week.

Different lifestyles require different levels of minimalism in different areas.

Minimalism MEANS different things to different people.

We eliminate OUR personal nonessentials. For me, I’ve realized that the reason I was purge my nonessentials is specifically to spend more time with my children, be a better mom, and become organized enough to have a large, happy family. Things that I had to minimize where all the things that hindered my being a better wife and mom. That iss my dream and goal. I always wanted a lot of kids, and I was finding that all my clutter was making it hard to have 1 kids let alone a lot!

It was okay for others  to have different goals because Minimalism is not necessarily a moral choice

I say that carefully – because everything we do springs out of our moral center, beliefs, and convictions. However, someone is not less of a person if they are have a huge attic of storage. Some people can organize, care for, and keep track of a huge amount of stuff while others cannot. Having less stuff does not make you more mature or spiritual. It simply means that you have realized that life is easier and happier for you with less stuff.

Also, minimalism is not opposite of materialism.

When you make the choice to pair down your items to the most valuable, the absolutely most sentimental and most useful, you pass each item through a stringent filter.

Only the best survive.

When one of those items is ruined in the typical sway of daily life, you find yourself more disappointed then you otherwise would have been. You know exactly how important that item is. Your toddler figured out how to get the safety handle off, broke into the linen closet, and ruined her second best pants pair with a bottle of nail polish. You know that that ruined pair of pants was especially important because it was nice enough for company and durable enough for play and matched 5 out of her 6 shirts. You’ve given that pair of pants more thought then you every would have before you started a minimalistic approach to life. In order to respond rightly to that situation, you need to realize one important thing.

Arm in arm with minimalism must come a realization that stuff is not important as people.

This is NOT the moment to freak out because her carefully minimized wardrobe is now not perfect.

This is the moment to thank the Lord that she did not get into the cleaning chemicals on the next shelf and talk to her about not breaking into the linen closet again.

Remember, Minimalism is a MEANS to an end. It is NOT and end in itself.

- Verity

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