and then there were four

I have this lovely, kind, generous friend named Christie who also happens to own one of those nice cameras, and though she claims she has no idea how to use it, she offered to come over and take some newborn photos for us. I accepted. Something I love about the amazing community of med school wives that I’ve lucked into is that I’ve noticed them all giving very simple but heartfelt gifts. We’re all poor and can almost never afford to go out and buy presents, so instead –a hand-embroidered towel, a handmade baby toy or blanket, a small bag of goodies to get you through labor & the hospital with an encouraging note, a lemon cupcake, a secondhand bassinet. A sweet friend made my daughter a set of felt cupcakes with mix and match frosting tops that she’s played with for hours. And there was that time Christie wrote a whole blog post about someone giving her a perfectly ripe avocado that almost made her cry 😉  I think it would be easy to blame lack of funds for not doing or giving nice things to others, but these ladies have inspired me to get creative instead. All of that to say, I consider these photos a gift of someone’s talent and I appreciate having them so much! (I realize having the nice camera makes her seem not-so-poor, but some of us used to be able to buy things before our 6 figure debt put an end to that nonsense.)

One more thought. One day I realized something. Try to picture your child as a newborn, or 6 months old, or 1 year. If you’re like me, you automatically think of a photo you have of them. I honestly think I wouldn’t be able to remember what camryn used to look like without pictures, isn’t that crazy?

So here is my sweet Drew. Immortalized so I’ll never forget!



Get me organized

I wrote this post ages ago, and all the blog talk about New Years resolutions made me remember I never edited and posted it. One of my resolutions last year was to “become an organizational guru” and guess what? Check! Organizational guru status over here. I got organized and it literally changed my life to an embarrassing degree.

This post begins by necessity with an apology to every roommate I’ve ever had. I am so so sorry that I didn’t learn all this crap before you had to share a living space with me. Hopefully you can at least rest happily assured that I have reformed. Oh, and I guess also a warning that this is going to be really long and likely the most boring thing I’ve ever written, but I can’t help myself from writing it, and maybe it will at least light some fire in you to declutter and such.  So. You’ve been warned.

If you know me, you know that I lose everything and it drives me absolutely crazy. If you’ve lived with me, you know that I am a mess all the time and it doesn’t really bother me (except when I can’t find something).  Well, the binky pushed me over the edge. I was always always always looking for Camryn’s binky (if you know anything about babies addicted to binkies, the situation is generally time sensitive and made stressful by a crying baby) and it was making me loose my mind. So what I did was cut Camryn off the binky cold turkey (which went surprisingly well) and resolved and committed myself to some serious reform. If I couldn’t keep track of my things and keep my space clean in this teeny tiny apartment where we don’t actually have that many things and I have only have 1 child, I don’t even want to think how it will be when I have more children. Or a bigger space. Or more things. Or we live in a home for more than a year and I’m not forced to throw junk out because I’m moving all the time?

I decided that I needed to shape up and get the situation under control or I would have to be committed to the insane asylum by the time I turn 30.

Because I’m dana, I started by reading a couple books on the topic (asked my mother to borrow them in fact, to which she replied “sure you can borrow them. . . .if I can find them.”  To her credit, she did ;)) and finding and browsing organizational blogs, and those things helped a little bit, but really quickly I threw out the books and started intently and consciously doing what has made all the difference for me: I started thinking hard while I cleaned. I started assigning everything a place. I started being really honest and brutal with myself about what I use, don’t use, and what I actually need.

I used to be of the opinion that if someone had a house that was clean all the time, that meant that they must have no life and spend all of their time cleaning (or pay someone else to do it, I guess) I really truly thought that was the only way to it–because with my current system that is the only way I would have been able to keep things clean. I have a lot I want to accomplish in life, many hobbies, a long list of priorities, and making sure my house is clean all the time was not even on the list. I was resigned to the fact that having a clean, organized house required a lot of time that I just wasn’t willing to put into it. But what I’ve actually discovered is that being so disorganized was such a huuuuge drain on my time. I didn’t expect and never thought this would happen, but the reforms I’ve made have made every single thing I do easier and faster and have saved me so much time and effort. I spend the same amount of time, if not less, cleaning these days, and my house is WAY (way way way way) more clean and organized on average than it was on average before. And I rarely can’t find something!!! Hallelujah.

For me it wasn’t about carving out a huge chunk of time to organize, get it done, purge, containerize, and then it will be all better and function easily. I wanted to do that but I didn’t have time. How I did it was by starting to think. During the time I spent cleaning, I would just ask myself a million questions about my stuff and try to solve problems.

Why is this mess here? Where does this item go? Is there any way that I could make this more simple and easy? Can I store this somewhere that it is faster & easier to put away? Does my system here make sense?  Do I even have a system here? Do I need this? Is this item increasingly my quality of life or just taking up space in my apartment?

Wow, that sounds really cheesy. But I just would do that. And I realized that the reason there were always shoes all over the apartment is because the place they “go” is in our room (back of the apt) on the floor of the closet and that’s too far to walk 50 times a day to put shoes away—so I don’t put them away. It’s not because I’m lazy, it’s because it’s too much effort. So I put a bin right by the front door to put our shoes in and now it’s way easier to put them away, so now we always put them away.

I realized that we don’t have a place for the mail to go. We have a filing box to file mail that we need to keep for a while, but we don’t have anywhere to put today’s mail. And yesterdays mail. The bill we will pay in a few days, the coupon from gap, the invitation, the thank you card, the thing we are going to read or deal with or file but not right this second. We didn’t have anywhere designated for it to go, so it made it’s home on the end of our counter and our kitchen table and stuck to the fridge, and in a pile on the desk. And when those piles got overwhelming and I didn’t have time to go through them yet and file the important stuff–it all got stuffed in the junk drawers. I could never find anything when I actually needed it. So I grabbed a lidded box we have that used to hold office paper, set it on an easy-access but not taking up my counter space surface, and now the mail goes in that box. Novel idea right?  Unless it’s junk mail and then I throw it away immediately so that I don’t have to go through it later which is just spending more time on junk that I already looked at once and evaluated as junk, so why not just chuck it the first time instead of setting it on the counter?

I knew that not everything had a place, but was shocked by how many things didn’t. I’d pick different items up all day long and realize this does not have a home in my home.  Instead of shoving it in the junk drawer or a random closet, I would assign it a home. A candle, a battery, sidewalk chalk, a big mug, magazines, the remote control, tanner’s work badge, coloring books, a nice platter, our road atlas, a deck of cards, gift bags, a flashlight, a box of plastic forks. Since we’re always bringing new things into our house, not all of them had a home, so instead of letting them float around mindlessly–I decided where their home was.

I got rid of so many things. So. Many. Socks with holes in them, broken lamps, wedding gifts that I had kept only for sentimental reasons, only to realize I didn’t actually know who we got it from. You guys, HALF of the storage space in our last apartment was taken up by unused wedding gifts that I should have given away 5 moves ago and finally just gave them away. Old makeup. 6 towels because we had 12. 7 rubber spatulas because we had 14. 60 tupperware containers because we always bring leftovers home from the Staples sunday dinners. I got rid of the obvious clothes, then I got rid of the clothes that I don’t like or they don’t fit but I’ve been holding onto only for guilt reasons (i paid for them and should wear them. I could wear them. I might wear them.) then I got rid of the clothes that fit just fine, that I like just fine, but that I never ever wear anyway for who knows what reason. I either started wearing them or got rid of them. I did purging in stages because once wasn’t enough. I’d purge once and then come back 2 weeks later, see things and think “how did this make it through my first purge?” I got rid of things even if it made me feel guilty. I realized that’s the best way to relieve the guilt! Whereas if I keep it, I have to look at this every time I move and feel guilty all over again.

I finished off that giant jar of nuts that’s been taking up way too much space in our cupboard. I threw out that mystery sausage in our freezer. I started using that nice shampoo because what have I been saving it for??? I found out I own 43 tubes of chapstick, half of which aren’t even opened, and that I need to tell my mom to stop putting one in my stocking every year. I realized my old jewelry box was stuffed full of 200 bracelets I didn’t want anymore and one that I wanted to keep. I gave away the scrapbooking supplies/tools that I haven’t touched since i gave up scrapbooking at age 14. I threw out a lot of burned cd’s from high school, and consolidated our cd’s from 1 box, 1 large case, 1 small case, random stack in our car, random floaters in the junk drawers—to. . . one case.

The other thing I’m doing is to change habits. Once I’ve really organized something and made sure that it’s a functional system and there isn’t anything I could do it make it more simple–I start making it a habit to maintain that system. Dishes were a nightmare until I cleaned out my cupboards, assigned everything a place where it was easy to put away, got rid of duplicates or anything I didn’t have room for, and then I became a person that cleans the kitchen and runs the dishwasher every night before I go to bed. I found out it’s relatively easy to keep a clean kitchen clean all day, and nearly impossible to ever get to a clean kitchen if you started with a messy one in the morning. I never ever start making dinner anymore unless my kitchen is already clean–all surfaces empty. Because cooking in a clean kitchen is magic and cooking in a messy kitchen literally takes twice as long.

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Folding sheets and towels is the biggest waste of time, and if you just start that laundry in the morning and put them back on the bed/hang them on the rack before you go to sleep, you just saved yourself the chore of folding and putting them away. Also, folding childrens clothing is pointless. Dump that shiz straight in a basket/drawer and don’t even bother.

I’d look around my apartment after “flash cleaning” you know, like when someone is coming over? And ask myself “why does it still look messy? and slowly, over months, I’d chip away at those random piles that accumulated on desks and in corners and on empty surfaces. And once it was cleared away I wouldn’t ever let myself put something there that didn’t belong. And a p.s. on flash cleaning, I have a new method that works wonders (especially with kids there always seem to be so many little things and toy pieces/crayons kicking around that take forever to sort out and actually put away) When things get to be a huge mess and I just want it clean now, I run around the entire house with a big laundry basket or two throwing everything inside. Then I clean the floors, wipe the surfaces, and my house went from chaos to spotless in 15 minutes!  It might take me forever to put away all the crap from the laundry baskets, but sometimes you just need some instant gratification, right?

Oh, and there was the day the lovely Carly came to give my workspace some professional TLC.  

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So, if you are an organized person you’ve probably hit yourself on the forehead a million times during this post thinking–duh. Who doesn’t know this? How hard can it be? But it was really hard! I know how to clean, and I was always taught to work hard, but I’ve always been more of one to let things go their messy way and then spend hours cleaning at once. I never knew how to maintain a clean space, and people–it’s a skill. A skill that can be learned, I’m living proof! And the most important thing I’ve learned is that cleaning smart is much more important than spending a ton of time. Every single chore I do takes me less time than it used to, and all of that time adds up.

I jumped on that minimalist bandwagon and I am never ever going back. Minimalism deserves it’s own post (or 20), but basically–I’m done owning crap I don’t need. And I’m done trying to keep the stuff I actually need and use organized and accessible while it’s buried in all the junk I never use. This is definitely still a work in progress, and there will always be days or even weeks that this stuff goes out the window and I need to regroup. Hopefully there aren’t too many of you scratching your heads thinking “she’s a lier! I see her place a mess all the time!”–  It’s still a mess sometimes. But there’s a big difference between a surface mess that can be cleaned up in a day, and years worth of crap in unorganized jumbles in your closets, drawers and garages. I don’t have those messes anymore and it feels so so good.

So tell me, are you inspired or bored to tears?!?

Camryn turns 6, no wait 3

Camryn turned 3 last month. I can’t even believe I have a 3 year old.  And she sure is a joy! And sassy as heck and just the most difficult and best thing I’ve ever had in my life all at once. She was SO excited for this party. I asked her who she wanted to invite and she named off all her friends from our med school playgroup and ward preschool (all little kids + Becca and Jeff because for some reason she is obsessed with Becca and Jeff :))  We kept it really low key–balloons, streamers, cake, and an embarrassingly simple game– and I was really surprised how much work it still was! I don’t know how other parents pull off those fancy themed, color coordinated birthday parties. Kuddos to them. Maybe they don’t have a newborn in the house.  But I’m so glad we did it because it made this kiddo so happy and these pictures are some of my favorite of her. If you asked her how old she was turning she would tell you “Six.  And don’t eat all of my cake!” and then she would talk and talk and talk and talk about her party, before and after it happened.  Let me tell you, I can’t ever get this kid to stop talking.

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Thanks for everyone who came and made it such a special day for her!  A couple people texted me in the morning to let me know they were sick and couldn’t make it, and I started sweating that we had hyped it all up for Camryn and no one was going to show up!

Here is one from that morning when she got to open a special birthday package from her Grammy and Papa.IMG_0325

And. . . the night before the party when I ran to the party store with Camryn for some party essentials, and oooooh my did I regret this errand so badly the second I stepped into that store. It was my first time bringing both kids anywhere alone so I was already I little stressed, and then the store turned out to be the worst assault to my sense of vision that I’ve ever experienced.  Stuff everywhere.  Tiny, colorful, shiny stuff, floor to ceiling in these narrow long isles. Camryn bee-lined it in every direction and just kept grabbing and begging for stuff.  Oof.  Will not ever make that mistake again.  I’m such a rookie parent sometimes.

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And here we are at 1 a.m. the night before the party trying not to pass out from sheer exhaustion and blow up balloons at the same time.  IMG_0321

Happy Birthday Camryn, we sure do love you!

Tiny happenings

Probably you should just skip to the end where I jotted down some semi funny quotes. … This is sure to end up being an exceptionally low quality post as it is Saturday night and all I’m doing is nursing and enjoying a mugful of muddy buddies– other highlights of the night include my conversation with the target cashier: “what’s goin on?” “Oh, you know, just buying diapers in a Saturday night” “whooooa, slow down” and the approximate hour it took camryn to consume like 2 ounces of rice for dinner because everything must be done. So. So. Slowly. And she was doing an experiment to she if she could give her mother a stress ulcer. And then there was drew spitting up what surely amounted to liters. My babies spit up soooo much. Normal, right? Something tells me I’m probably supposed to cut something from my diet here and that it’s probably dairy, but people. Dairy. All the best foods are in the dairy category. And he’s not unhappy and he’s chunking up quite nicely, so for now I’m just going to call it a major inconvenience, keep doing way too much laundry, and not resort to any drastic, insane measures like cutting dairy for heavens sake.

I don’t have much to say (obviously mm hmm) but I wanted to break my blogging dry spell. I know blogging is going the way of all the earth, but I just love it. And I have this problem where far too many things are important to me, and even when something here has got to give, I can’t quite figure out what, because I could go on for days about how each and every thing I do is vital to my well being and I just can’t drop it. My etsy shop? Need that. Cleaning my house? Necessary. Cooking? In my house, we eat well. Feeding drew 10 times daily- can’t avoid it. And you know I don’t sacrifice sleep for anything. And camryn needs stuff. And I like my husband. I will say that I have given up on exercise entirely which isn’t like me, but I’ve been walking around like a zombie knowing that something has got to give here, and blogging is one of those things that probably should be first to go, but I like it so much. And blah blah blah priorities, blah blah balance, and here I am. I’ll try and still make the occasional appearance. And I’ll try to actually write and not photo dump ( after the next few posts which yup, are going to be photo dumps) . The purpose of my blog for me is to have a writing outlet, and I always try and keep it light on the photos, heavy on the writing, but there is also the new fact that my family is 1000 miles away and I want them to know my kids and remember that we all exist. Ps family–you are terrible at social media— pictures people come on!!! Are Emery
and Nolan even still alive? Does ruby know how to talk? Is Jett walking? Or did he skip that and go straight to making baskets and throwing touchdowns? I don’t even know. Follow my example ok? Okay.

I’ll stop now and share these quotes around our house that I’ve been writing down.

Tanner to me: “Did you put on some makeup today? Take pictures people, take some pictures!!!

Camryn at nap time: “It’s too haaaard. It’s too hard to go sleep. I can’t do it.”

Camryn: Mommy I’m a princess! (Twirling) are you a princess?
Dana: Yea camryn, you’re a princess, I’m a princess. . .
Camryn: Stops to think for a minute “No mom, you’re a king

Tanner and I sit down to cuddle on the couch one night and both of our shirts are decorated with many shiny star stickers —
Tanner: “I have more stickers than you. Camryn must love me more.”

Camryn: Mom mom mom, take a deep breath ( when I am exasperated trying to get her to go nap)

Camryn one day when she didn’t want to leave our playgroup/preschool: “but I didn’t get all my energy out !”

Camryn: “No, I don’t like oranges!”
Mom: “come on try it, I think you’ll like it.”
Camryn: “Mom, I’m not going to argue!” (she started saying that a lot and it stopped being funny reeeal fast)

Camryn every single day:”
“It’s a sunny day!” =it’s daytime
“It’s not a sunny day anymore” =it’s dark outside

And then, last but very very best of all, there was that one day that she looked up from her breakfast and said to me–

“Mom…you a good mom.”

Oh my heart. I took a picture so I’d remember that one.

And later that day “Dad, you’re my favorite dad in the whole war ( world)”

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