Monday, February 1, 2016

The Marie Kondo & Minimalist Living Effect On My Closet

So I read this book last summer.

And this article.

And then I saw this picture a few days ago.

My closet was in this state.

And all just got to me.

So this happened.

Which resulted in this.

And after removing these from my bedroom.

I was then left with this.

And the best part was...I felt like I could breathe again.

Like really BREATHE!

Turns out life is simpler and cleaner with less choices...not more.

Monday, January 18, 2016

My Inner Struggle As An American Mom Who Loves Starbucks

The struggle is real.

For me anyway.

I'm ok with admitting it and talking about it and coming to the conclusion that everyone will have different points, thoughts and opinions based on personal experiences, country of origin, and individual values.

I've been to the Christian conferences where they connect giving up that cup of fancy coffee to support a hungry child in another part of the world. When I was in my early twenties it definitely affected my decision to begin supporting a child through Compassion International. Something about my enjoyment to consume expensive specialty drinks on top of eating 3 meals a day while children were dying all over the world from hunger seemed like a moral conflict to me. Goodness, I mean our friends are creating wells in Africa so that people can simply have clean water and sustainable food and I'm in Minnesota asking for a shot of vanilla with whip cream in my grande latte.

"Yep, that is Sarah, spelled with an H."

But let's talk about the fact that I grew up here, in the USA. This is where I live, this is home. It is all I have ever known. We are living in a day and age where new technology and modern advancements mean that flying cars could be just around the corner. I find myself saying frequently these days, "we have to become the Jetsons somehow." Meaning, it is no surprise that as time goes on people are finding more and more ways to make things more functional, streamlined and save on time and energy.

Hello, Amazon Prime Now...current real life example. 

Rodney delivered groceries right to our door not too long ago...right to the FRONT DOOR. I wanted to immediately give him a giant hug but figured he might not understand my level of excitement. As a mom of five mastering carrying several grocery bags in each hand while making numerous trips back and forth to the stocked mini-van while it is negative five degrees (or worse) outside is similar to competing in an Olympic sport. (I've shared about my dislike of grocery shopping...and then how my disgruntled heart stopped me in my tracks one day.)

Funny how writing all of that above already makes me feel like a horrible-spoiled-rotten-person. Also perhaps why I am reading Brene Brown's book, "Daring Greatly," and have been highlighting any and all of her notes on shame.

Because the struggle is real.

For me anyway.

So why am I even bringing this up.

Well, because a brand new Starbucks just opened up down the street from my house. And it has...a drive-thru.

Ya'll, a DRIVE-THRU!

I was giddy, I was thrilled, I immediately was scared to death.

Habits form when we do things over and over. I knew that I couldn't justify to my husband why our "eating out fund" suddenly disappeared mid-way through the month because Starbucks was now a regular line item in our checking account.

"How did that happen?!?" I plead the 5th.

It would also be hard to justify to my kids every time I go through the drive-thru why mommy is getting that fancy drink and all of the kids are getting a glass of water.

"You'll understand when you are older kids."

And that is when things started stirring in my heart. Am I a highly disciplined person who could completely control her desires for a warm latte every time I drive by that parking lot?

Based on past history, I am going to say no.

So for me that meant needing to process the whys behind my actions.

Is Starbucks bad?


Is going there a treat and something that brings me joy?


Will it still feel like a treat if I go there often?

Probably not.

How can I connect my values with something that I enjoy?

Well, I value people. I value connection and community. I value all of the things that I learn when I sit down and listen to someone share about their life and their story. I value quality time. I value quiet. I value self-care. I value doing what God created me to do. I value impacting the world. I value living life for eternity.

So I came up with some goals for the new year. All in an effort to keep my pocket book in the black, my marriage stable, and my heart true.

There will be two reasons that I will walk into that Starbucks.

1. To have coffee with a friend.

2. To have a quiet work space to create and work.

That struggle is gone.

For me anyway.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sisters And Their Room Makeover

The beginning of a new year...ahhh, I love it! Happy New Year to you all!

Today I wanted to share with you a room makeover that recently was completed for our daughters. (Currently they are ages 6 & 11...and growing like weeds!) The transformation didn't take place over a couple of days or a week or even a month. I've been making small changes to this room for a long time now. I say that to encourage you that a room doesn't have to transform in a matter of hours or minutes. You know, like they do on those highly entertaining HGTV shows. 

Real life happens in between. 

In fact, I had collected a few things here and there when I was at Target or IKEA and then those things sat up against a wall in my bedroom for well over a year! I wondered if I would ever get around to using them. And then my mom was in town this past fall and she helped me take the plunge (and gave me some motivation to paint with two of us doing it together) to finally get the room transformed.

We moved into this house almost four years ago and the girls' room has remained untouched. Well, there was that one time I tried to makeover their bunk beds and failed miserably. Live and learn, right?

Enough of the behind the scenes talk...let's get to the good part. The part where in a mere 60 seconds of time you get to go from before to after without even having to help me paint. ;-) We'll walk down the hall and I can officially give you a tour of...the girls' room. 

Wait! I'm missing the most important part...the before picture.

Here you go...

And then, now...

It is definitely now one of the happiest and most cheerful rooms in our home! :-)

There is a story from my childhood about the comforters and why it was so special to me to makeover the girls room. I shared a little glimpse of that story here

I've had some bad experiences with picking out yellow paint before. Funny enough...for the first time ever, I actually purchased paint from Target. I bought it the same day that I purchased the comforters. It was a great match and made picking out the right shade super easy...especially since there was only one yellow to choose from. :-) The gray paint was actually leftovers from our master bedroom.

One corner of the room contains two IKEA malm dressers. I really like these because the girls can each have their own dresser for organizing their clothes but the dressers fit together nicely side by side to really utilize the space.

The art and frames that I used in the room also came from IKEA.

Some of the other prints I grouped together on one wall by the door.

The owl picture in the middle came from Target. It was something that we bought for our oldest daughter, four years ago, right before she came to live with us. When we told her that we were adopting her we also wanted to give her something special that she could look forward to hanging in her bedroom. Right from the start this picture reminded me of how special it is to have a sister...and how special it would be for these girls as they shared a room and truly become closer sisters with each passing day.

The other pictures on the wall came together after much thought and serious planning.

I'm kidding...the story behind those are here

A few other pieces came into the room from various locations in the house. 

The old fashioned school desk made its way up to the girls room from the dining room. The girls both love to draw and write so it works out well to put the desk up here.

Then the gray rug was something that we snagged out of our master bedroom to now put in their room as well. Which simply means that our bedroom is currently without a rug and it doesn't bother Sam or I. 

But now the girls have a soft and warm surface to play on.

I guess that about wraps up the tour. 

A little bit of Target, a little bit of IKEA and a little bit of shopping around the house. 

That sounds about right. 

Even though this room took time to transform, in the end it came together beautifully. The best part is hearing the girls giggle when they enter it or how big they smile when you ask them about their new comforters. They know how special mommy wanted it to be...and I know just how special these two sisters are. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

What To Do When Parenting Leaves You Weary

I've been reflecting a lot lately on the journey of parenting

The ups, the downs and everything in between.

I still remember clearly crying out to God and asking Him to give us a baby. So many years of loss and sadness, wondering if we would ever have children in our physical care that called us mom and dad. 

We pressed on and I really learned a lot in that season.

Then along came our miracle(s) after another...plural in every way! From a quiet house to a house full, our lives were filled with joy and expectation as we now had five little people in our precious care. 

The years that followed were joyous & challenging. It constantly reminded me that we needed prayer and unconditional love in our family...on a regular basis.

One post that I remember writing during that season still stands out to me. It was titled, "Enjoy Almost Every Moment." I would continually hear moms with older children say, "just hang in there, it will get easier." 

And honestly that was never something I wanted to hear. 

photo credit: Kimberly Moore

I wanted to live in the live in the moment and enjoy these years of hearing little ones giggling in our home. And after years of longing to be a mom I simply wanted to enjoy the stage of parenting that we were in. Yet I still felt sheer exhaustion from countless diapers, daily spilled milk and teaching each one about sharing...again and again and again.

It was that determination to take one challenge at a time and one joy at a time that helped get me through each passing day...while still being present (or at least trying to be!) With many years at home with little ones, (and most of the time with frigid weather conditions outside) I went to work organizing and decorating our home to keep my focus balanced. (Those specific tasks aren't the solution for every mom, but for me it was the opportunity to get creative, focus on something more than time outs and welcome friends and neighbors into our space so that we could be fully present...even in those years of little sleep.)

Fast forward now to our present circumstances and we have four kids in school and our littlest is in preschool three days a week. This past month was actually the first time that I have had all five kids in school on a regular basis. 

It was a moment that I dreamed of happening someday. 

What would it be like? 

How would I feel?

I guess in the end my feelings surprised me. Although, I'm not sure what I expected. 

For the past month, three days a week, I have been dropping off our youngest at preschool and then I head over to our big kids school to drop them off next. Many times we arrive a few minutes before the doors open. The kids unbuckle and are chomping at the bit. Everyone is talking at once! "Can we go?!" they ask. The clock strikes and they open the sliding door immediately. Noise follows as they hustle out and I hit the button to close the door and they scurry off. 

And then it hits me. 

I begin to pull away and do a double take in the rear view mirror still in shock that there are no little people behind me. 

The van is strangely silent and the truth is...I feel like bursting into tears. I'm not sure why I haven't yet. Perhaps it is because I rush off to do way too many things that I have planned as I attempt to squeeze working a part-time job, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, and loving others into those hours. Perhaps I feel as though if I squeeze so much into one day I won't have any time to process the feelings that I feel rushing to the surface.

Regardless it is the weight of responsibility, or in this case the lack of responsibility in that moment that overwhelms me. I drive away knowing that for a few hours, for that moment in time, I am not responsible for anyone but myself.

I haven't known that kind of feeling in six years.

The weight of trying to shift from attempting to address every argument, squabble and question for a crew of five (which is in itself an impossible task) is so heavy.

In fact, if I summarized my parenting in this current season into one word it would be...


You see, our crew is beyond diapers and sippy cups and having to travel with pack n plays and baby toys. 

And thankfully everyone is sleeping better these days. 

Yet we have little people who are becoming bigger people...who have questions and opinions, desires and needs. And I find that I am frustrated often at saying the same things over and over again. 

The kids will go outside to play and one will come in to ask for something, and then another, and then another, and then another, and then...yet another.

And even in the frustration, I wouldn't change it for the world. These kids are precious and we could never even for a moment imagine our lives without even one of them. 

But I'm still weary.

And while my emotions are on the brink of flooding into my minivan one of these days after I drop my growing kids off at school, the one thing that I keep coming back to is how much I need God through it all. 

I've tried doing play dates with friends and fun date nights with my hubby. I've treated myself to a pedicure, gotten a massage to relieve the million of knots in my back. I've been getting regular adjustments at the chiropractor over the past few months and have been diffusing my favorite essential oils. I've read more books in this season than in any other season of my life and still none of those things completely satisfy.

All of those things are good...all of those things are helpful

But in the thick of it...during the constant days of parenting when I am weary, there is only one thing that satisfies my soul.

And that is knowing that I am loved by a God who sacrificed it all for me...for you

A God who sent His only son to die on the cross for our sins. 

Please know that whatever season of parenting you are isn't about getting through the current one and getting on to the next but it is about drawing near to God and finding strength and love in His rest.

'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.' 
Matthew 11:28

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Sign I Grew Up Reading

I like stories. Do you like stories

Growing up, my parents always had the same sign hanging in their foyer. 

It was just there adding beauty as it hung above the antique table and antique lamp. No one ever talked about it, so you would think that it was simply a "decoration."

Fast forward 20 years and my parents were downsizing and moving from our childhood home. They asked my siblings and I if there was anything in their home that we wanted to take and put in ours. There were many beautiful antiques in their home but with little ones in our home and the distance to move items here, I knew it would be difficult to bring anything home.

But then I remembered the sign in the foyer.

The sign that taught me an important lesson about friendship.

I told my mom and dad that I would like to have that sign.

But the sign was hidden in a box somewhere, unable to be found. 

It was there somewhere. 

Then I was talking to my mom about the sign and she mentioned that one of my brothers had also talked of wanting that sign. :-) Isn't it funny how simple decorations can teach valuable lessons to children living there?

So one day I was window shopping in Kirklands and came across this blank chalkboard sign. I knew exactly what I wanted to write on it.

So I brought it home...pulled out my chalk...and wrote.

I immediately wondered if people would think I had gone a little bit overboard with chalkboard paint in our home.

But then I realized that I didn't mind at all if they did.

Because I now had the same phrase hanging up in my home that I had grown up reading.

And now my kids will grow up reading it too!

It isn't just the words that we say to our kids that can affect them.

But the ones that we let them read as well.

to have a friend you have to be a friend

Thursday, August 13, 2015

My Updated Home Office

home office

Hi friends! I hope you are having a great summer! I'm not quite ready for it to end in Minnesota I know what is around the corner. And before that season comes, that rhymes with splinter, I'm going to soak up every ounce of summer & fall. Seasons outside change and seasons of life change too. Recently I was reflecting on how with changing life seasons many times things in our homes change too. 

When I first began blogging, almost three years ago, my "home office" simply consisted of a place to set my laptop, plug in my camera and organize a few files. This was also the designated place that I would sort through our personal paperwork/finances. During this stage I was home full-time taking care of our three toddlers (while our older two kids were at school.) That meant that I needed my home office to be convenient to access and in a central spot. 

During this time it worked great having a little nook in our dining room to carve out as office space. I could easily pop around the corner into the kitchen or hear little ones wherever they might be. Having my office in the dining room also kept me motivated to keep things tidy since it was a completely visible area whenever guests were over. 

During that same period, we created a space for our kids to get creative in the basement. (The before and after of that room is pretty dramatic.) Our kids loved this space, but we soon learned that having a place for guests to stay was something that we wanted more.

Another...change in season, you could say.

So we replaced the desk with a bed for guests. And the kids started bringing activities upstairs to work on at the kitchen or dining room table. In fact, this basement space has been transformed even more...I'm really excited to show you that space soon. :-)

With all of these changes, I wanted to create a home office that fit my current needs and even had room to expand into a bit. I am now working from home regularly and wanted to have a space that sparked joy when I walked into it (I'm reading Marie Kondo's book about only keeping things in your home that spark changer!) 

With shifted job roles I also really needed a space where I could simply close the door. A place to make phone calls and leave things as is...without being concerned that the kids might grab important papers or that I needed to completely tidy up for company. I wanted to have a place where I could also close the door when I was finished working for the day and focus on family and non-work related things.  

It took time to create this certainly didn't happen over night. It was a process of gathering together things we the desk that was no longer needed in the basement. And using some of my monthly home decor/organizing budget to pick out a few things that sparked some curtains from World Market and bins from Target. 

Why don't you come on in and I'll show you what I've been organizing the past few months!

work from home mom

Our upstairs level in our house has four bedrooms. Three of them are used as the master, the boys room and the girls room. The smallest, fourth bedroom, used to be our guest room until we moved the bed down to the basement. Since then Sam had been using the fourth bedroom for his home office. Not too long ago, he kindly agreed to share half of the room with me.

Now we have a his and hers home office. 

Somehow my desk fit best right under the window. The sunlight streams in...YES, please!

work from home mom

I can set up everything I need right on my desk. I use a portable tablet/laptop combo for work. It is great for traveling. When I am home I can plug it into my monitor which makes viewing and editing pictures for blogging a lot easier to do.

doterra office

I love the cubbies on the IKEA shelf/desk combo. They are so versatile and you can mix and match containers nicely. 

I keep a box visible that is super handy for throwing receipts in for all of our home improvements/repairs. Then at the end of the year I sort through everything come tax time. I'm certain that using a pretty box makes that experience 80% more enjoyable. ;-)

home office

The back side of the cubbies are great for storing things as well. I love the combo of the natural toned wicker bins and the clean crisp, white containers. The white containers are handy to store class materials in. And the basket, on the bottom right shelf, is what I grab when I'm leaving the house to teach a class. I can easily toss the things I need into it and then pop it back on the shelf when I get home.

One of my favorite things about this new space is the closet that was transformed in the process!

I removed the door and gave the closet a fresh coat of paint...some white & some teal.

There were already some slats to the left of the closet from the previous home owner. I'm assuming there must have been some shelves on them at one point. Currently only the slats were present so I took some leftover wood out of the garage and cut & painted them to create shelves.

I love the way it turned out!

One day I went to Target looking for some storage bins to fit the shelves. I had the shelf measurements with me but it can still be tricky to figure out what would best fit the space. Since I am such a visual person I brought home a selection of colors and sizes to see how they would work.

I ended up liking the mix of containers more than going with all the same kind. They ended up working great and I really liked how everything came together with the contrasts in colors, textures and sizes!

The cabinet was reclaimed from another part of the house. It was something that I had picked up at a garage sale probably eight years ago. It has been used for a variety of things in our home throughout the years. I really like how slim it is and that the doors keep things inside from collecting dust.

I have thought of painting it many times but it would be more work than I'm willing to put in at this point. And since dark wood tends to go really nicely with teal I'm actually really liking its current condition! The dark tones warm things up a bit.

One of the things that I love about the essential oil educator part of my job is that I don't store individual products to sell. I simply share and educate others how to use essential oils, what the best ways are to apply them, common uses and the most cost effective way to get high quality, pure essential oils in your home. If you are interested in learning more about the essential oils that I use and recommend, you can email me here! (We even have a secret facebook group only available to wholesale members on my team.)

One thing I DO like to do however, is have a few helpful tools on hand for people who are getting started using their oils. This cabinet has become the perfect place to store glassware. I can see exactly what items I need to re-order in the future.

For the overall color scheme of the closet, I went with a teal, gray, yellow & white color combo. I wanted to keep things simple & streamlined but also fresh & vibrant!

On the same wall as the closet I re-hung my hanging folders from downstairs and added a new white board that I purchased from Target. Visually this space is just to the right of my desk so it is a convenient place to sort papers, jot down notes, write a to-do list, etc. 

I found these plastic rolling shelves on clearance at Target months ago. I think they were $5 each. Generally, I try to make over a space by taking things that we already own and then collecting a few inspiring pieces along the way as I am browsing stores that I regularly shop at.

However, if I am looking for something specific I'll usually stop at Home Goods, Ikea, or World Market. Otherwise most of my finds tend to come from the end caps at Target. :-)

In the teal drawers I keep shipping supplies, note cards, envelopes, a tape dispenser...basically things that aren't needed all of the time but are easily accessible as I am working at my desk. That white basket is where I store my camera that I use for blogging...when I'm not taking pictures of course. :-)

I find that I really enjoy having things out in the open that create a pretty space but are also really useful and functional. That cup of sharpened pencils for makes me smile every time I look at it. And I love to decorate with little reminders that are personal to me, like the number 7 or some of my favorite hashtags.

Well, friends...that about wraps up this current tour of my home office. 

I hope that you enjoyed seeing how one work from home momma carves out a little home office space as the seasons of life shift and change.

Enjoy the rest of summer, it's not over yet! :-)

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