Wednesday, February 29, 2012

7 Months!

I can't believe I forgot to put up a 7-month post about Elliott!

He had his 6 month appointment on the 16th (our pediatrician is incredibly busy, and our appointments keep getting further and further apart), and he is doing really well.

 - Weight: 17 pounds, 6 ounces (50%) We thought he was sooo much bigger!
 - Length: 26 1/4" (15%)
 - Head circumference: (85%)

He had the last series of a couple of vaccinations, which I'm thrilled about.  I think the shots are more difficult for the parents at this point than the kids.  He was a total champ!  He cried for a minute after the vaccine that apparently burns a little, but by the time we had him back in his jacket and such, he was all smiles.  Mama and Daddy "rewarded" themselves with Wendy's.

Here are some 7 month pictures!


Our happy boy!

Snoopy, who was a Christmas gift from Aunt Sarah.  It came with a pre-recorded storybook of "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
 - J & M.

40 Days, 40 Bags: Days 5 & 6

I combined the linen / bathroom closet and the bathroom itself into a two-day task.  I realized that especially when it comes to my limited bathroom storage, these two go hand-in-hand.

Day 5 consisted of planning and testing.  Day 6 will be the finishing touches.

Day 5
 - I had already cleaned out my bathroom baskets (where I keep stores of soap and such, as well as the things I use everyday).  This took a lot of time out.
 - I cleaned Jason's basket, threw out expired things, and put his soap and other extras in the basket.
 - Re-folded all of the sheet sets and matched top sheets, fitted sheets, and pillow cases (we usually just use the fitted sheet).
 - Re-folded bath linens for both the adults and the kid.
 - Rolled the beach towels
 - Cut the mildewed edge off of an old shower curtain to use as a drop cloth under Elliott's high chair.   Bonus: It matches his bedroom set too!
 - Re-organized Elliott's bath things.
 - Re-folded E's sheets, Pack 'n' Play sheets, and other linens.
 - Because I had already cleaned out his room, I was able to put the sheets closer to where they will be needed, should he require a middle-of-the-night sheet change (every parent knows this is a sad reality).

Trash Bag Total (including the aforementioned previous clean-out): 2 Target bags

Day 6
 - Took everything back out of the closet.  I wasn't going to have it sit around all day.  Besides, it let me try out a format that we decided will not work.
 - Eliminated the expired things from the medicine box.
 - Put necessary items under the sink that should have always been there (ie: toilet paper, air freshener)
 - Threw away this little round brush I had that didn't do anything and was kind of gross.
 - Threw away a sitz bath.  I'm not moving that thing in a few months.
 - Gave the items that would stay in the closet their new homes.
 - Got input from Jason on what he wanted.  His main request was that the medicine box be easy to access should he slice his finger open again with the mandolin slicer (eek!).  I thought that was reasonable.
 - Cleaned out this little drawer thing in the bathroom that was covered in soap scum.  It is now clean, happy, and dry in the closet.  It houses little things like tweezers, clippers, emergency matches and candles, and chapsticks.  Those little things seem to never have a good place to keep them.

Trash Bag Total: 1 Target Bag and a sitz bath

The bathroom and its linen closet are now organized.  This makes me especially happy because it will allow me to see what we have and need in terms of supplies.  Basically, we're good for a while on soap, toothpaste, and chapstick.

On a hilarious note, I came home from work today (it was my really long day) and found a big pile of books and another pile of video games stacked on the table.  I had wanted Jason to do this at some point, but I hadn't really mentioned it.  It wasn't urgent.  We'll sell some books, get store credit at GameStop for new Wii and computer games, and give other books away.  I asked him over dinner what inspired this sudden clean out.  I mean, he was home alone with E all day.  A squirmy 7-month old does not make this organization thing easy.

Turns out, he had watched a couple of episodes of Hoarders, that show on A&E that shows truly ill people and their horrifying homes.  It's very upsetting, and I will never watch an episode.  While our house is NOTHING like that, he said the mere idea of it sent him into organizing / cleaning-out mode.

Hey bud, whatever floats your boat.

Pictures soon.  Tomorrow and Thursday: I clean out my dresser and smaller bedroom closet.  Eeee.

 - J & M.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wedding Guest Book

I know my wedding is long over, but as my 2nd anniversary approaches, I thought I'd share some ideas and tips from our own special day.

There are a lot of neat ideas for wedding guest books floating around the interwebs, especially on Pinterest.  Having been to a number of weddings in the last few years, I've seen a lot of them in action.  One couple, who had a destination wedding in Colorado, purchased a large, black and white coffee table book and had their guests sign in silver Sharpie.  Others have requested messages on the matting of their wedding picture.  Many stick with the traditional formal guest book.

The book and some of the cards.
Jason and I, ever the DIY-ers, went with something a little different.  As an avid scrapbooker (well, I was at the time), I knew I'd want to do a book of just my wedding, so I figured that the guest book could be made into a scrapbook.  A friend took pictures of the guests, and each guest wrote a message on a small piece of cardstock.  I took the items from our wedding (programs, menus, etc.) and put some pictures, some messages, and other embellishments onto the pages.  It's turning out nicely, and I really think it reflects Jason and I's look for our wedding.

I can't help but read these from time to time.

What was your guest book?  Did you even have one?

Supplies purchased at Michael's Arts and Crafts.

40 Days, 40 Bags: Days 2, 3, & 4.

I started with the yarn because it plays into my prep for my new Etsy shop, but I didn't fully realize how bad my other craft things are.  My goodness.

*Note: I added a tab that lists how I separated my house.  I'm just dealing with an apartment, but I used specific tasks to separate it further.

Day two's was to organize my scrapbooking supplies as well as my memory boxes.  Stuff was just much so that there isn't even a before picture.  There wasn't a single "before" location.  The books were in my hall closet (above the crochet stuff), some supplies were there; others were in my craft dresser.  Finally, I had numerous memory boxes and "to-scrapbook" boxes, primarily in huge, dilapidated shoeboxes.  This system was not going to work any longer.

I have a scrapbook for everything!

The entire process ended up taking three and a half hours!  I went through every box, every drawer, every pocket.  I purged, then I organized what was left.  Jason was amazed at all the stuff I had for scrapbooking, and how it spread all over the room.  I used plastic envelopes (which I found while cleaning out the crochet things) to put pieces for specific scrapbooks.  Those, plus the bag, are things for Elliott's scrapbook and our wedding book.  We did a scrapbook instead of a guest book.  People wrote notes on small squares of cardstock and we pasted them into the book.

My cleansed memory boxes.

I thought scrap booking supplies was going to be the most tedious task.  I was incorrect.  My other craft supplies turned out to be a lot more complicated, paired with Elliott's inability to nap on Friday.  My initial thought about these supplies (crayons, beads, glue) was that I had one drawer.  What could be so difficult.  I then remembered that I had a cardboard box full of collage materials, mainly magazine cut-outs.  Woah.  This was a whole new day now.

Ack!  How did I let it get to this!? 
Everything spread out for evaluation.

The whole project took 5 hours.  I had to go through every little supply and evaluate what was needed and what could be pitched.  In the end though, I had two bags of trash and a box (and a 12 year old Trapper Keeper!) to go out to the dumpster.  It opened up room in Elliott's closet, and I eliminated so many collage things, I now have a short list of definite projects and never again will I have to take on such a daunting task.

The resulting trash box.

So much better!

My final project this week was cleaning Elliott's room.  It wasn't the next on my list, but I'm not bound to the order, just that it all gets done by Holy Thursday.  My parents were up again yesterday and since we're probably moving back "home," they offered to take some things to their house for storage.  The one thing I could think we'd never need in the next three months that was ready for storage was my maternity clothes and Elliott's out-grown things.  I went through every onesie and sock, and the bin is now full!  Once we move again, I'm going to buy a smaller bin for my maternity things so we can better organize things for the future.

A collage of the "after" for E's room.

Future 40 Days posts will not be this detailed...I'm just still astonished at how much junk I have in my apartment!  This week's agenda will allow Jason and I to both see a lot of change in our everyday organization.

Trash Bag Total: 4 Target bags, one box, and one 12-year old Trapper Keeper

Do you have any questions about either the challenge or organization?  I'd love to answer them.

Also, how do you organize linen closets?  I'm going to try something...we'll see how it works out.

- J & M.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I Forgot About This!

In posting my interview over at Petchie's Blog Book (which you should check out if you haven't), I realized that I had forgotten to post my interview over at Early Mama.

She does a series of Q & A's with "early mamas," which in her blog community is a relative term.  If you feel like an early mama, you are one.  Anyway, I was excited to provide a perspective on parenting and academia.  It's a few months old, but please check it out!

 - J & M.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

40 Days, 40 Bags: Day 1

No, I'm not going to do a post per day, but I figured I would help motivate myself with a blog post.

Day 1's task was organizing my crochet supplies.  Now, if you're not into needlecraft, you might not understand how out of control all the yarn and notions can get.  Let me tell you, it does.  Easily.  I organized my yarn and supplies about a year ago when we were prepping to move and again over the summer (one of the many things I did to pass the time while I was waiting for Elliott to arrive).

I'm lucky enough to have a lot of closet space in my apartment, and the hall closet has mainly games, crafts, and workout equipment in it.  There is also gift-wrap.  Don't even get me started on the gift wrap.  That's its own day.

Here is the before.  Please ignore the other nonsense.  That closet has three separate days devoted to its contents.

Before: Oh. My. Lord.

The 40D40B Challenge is not just about organization, at least when you go all out.  It's also an opportunity to perform some serious spring cleaning.  Therefore, the first step was to remove EVERYTHING and clean the drawers and frames.  I'm going to vacuum the closet as a whole after I'm done with the gift wrap day (Can you tell I'm dreading it?).  My trusty side-kick in this was my favorite all-purpose cleaner, Method's Multi-Surface cleaner in the oh-so-lovely cucumber scent.  Mmm.  These were so dusty because it's not something that instantly strikes a person as something to dust.  

I'm not getting paid to endorse them, but I love Method.

After that, I cut scrapbook paper in some really cute patterns to line the front of the drawers.  They are transparent or translucent, and with all of the things inside, it ends up looking so messy.  They ended up looking so good that I'm going to line all of the plastic drawers I have.  

I found all kinds of weird things to throw out (yarn wrappers, lollipops), and everything else was organized.  My tackle box, which held make-up until I finally purged the old stuff, holds all of my notions: buttons, scissors, needles, thread, hooks, measuring tape.  It keeps it organized, but it also makes it easy to put those things out of Elliott's reach.  Yarn was organized by type (acrylic v. cotton), and projects were put into Ziploc bags and organized.  I'm going to label the drawers, but I haven't figured out the best course of action.  

Here is the chaos at the peak of the project:

Just as I was at this point, Elliott woke from his nap and required a bottle.
Here's the finished product:

After: How nice.
I found a number of patterns that had gotten lost in the yarn or behind the drawers, which was like getting all new patterns.  I also re-discovered the wheels for the white drawers, making them easier to move around.

It was incredibly satisfying to actually complete one day.  I also collected my obligatory "bag": 

Bonus: I obeyed the request of my Giant bag.
Trash Bag Total: 1 Giant bag

I'll be back on Sunday to update the progress.  In the future, I'll try to limit myself to just "before" and "after" shots.

- J & M.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Look at Us!

Jason and I are featured over at Petchie's Blog Book today as her wedding of the week!  Check it out!

Thanks Petchie for featuring us!  We hope your wedding goes swimmingly.  :)

- J & M.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Preparation, preparation

I'm very strange when it comes to organization.  I'm a little right brained, which means I'm probably not going to show up on the cover of Organized Living magazine, but I like finding a place for everything and putting everything in its place.  I just have to ensure that I can do that over and over again.  For instance, I realized that putting my hair things (elastics, flowers, headbands) in the closet would look nicer, putting them under the sink (where real estate is at a premium) ensures that those things get back to where they need to be.  I put them where I use them, when possible.

As I considered my Lenten resolution, I realized that if I don't plan this out, I'll forget things and not get the most out of this experience.  I read all the posts on Clover Lane about her 40 Days 40 Bags Challenge, I looked through my Martha Stewart Housekeeping Guide (which might be bigger than the Bible) for every tip and thing I should clean, and I am now making lists.  I LOVE LISTS.

I separated my house into areas.  I didn't attempt to get to 40; I live in a 2-bedroom apartment, so there isn't that much space.  However, I'm at 30 right now.  I'm impressed.  It's not just rooms and closets.  It's dressers, organizers, and even my computer and web presence.  Did you ever think about how many email lists you're on?  I'm still on vendor lists from my wedding...which was almost 2 years ago.  Oy.

In order to hold myself even more accountable for my end goal, I'm going to do weekly posts about my progress, complete with before and after pictures.  I have lots of great inspiration to take from: Clover Lane, Design Mom, Busy Bee Lauren, The Blog of MJ, and of course, Pinterest!  The internet can be a beautiful thing.  How did our moms get by without the online mom community?  I'm trying to make this blog something bigger too, so hopefully I get a few more regular readers in the next few months.

Final note: I cannot think of a name for my future Etsy shop.  Help!?

 - M & J.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Purge is Upon us...

As I mentioned, I had goals for each month.  In short, I did not meet my January goals.  I stayed on top of things, but I did not get ahead the way I wanted to.  Oh well.  I have a 6-month old.  It's almost a miracle that I stayed on top of things.

Now, we are halfway through February.  I have actually done some things toward this goal.  I put my new silverware in the drawer and put away the old stuff.  I'm saving it because you never know when you might need an extra fork.  My pantry is slowly getting cleaned out as well.  We're trying to use the things we have before we buy anything new (that isn't necessary...I'm talking about crackers, chips, cookies, candy...).  Again, my goal is to have my kitchen re-organized and slimmed down by the end of the month.  The fridge will get a good clean out and scrubbing soon too.  That will make a possible May move much easier.

Lent is one week away, so I'm planning and prepping for my modified 40 Days, 40 Bags challenge.  I'm not super religious, but I really like the cleansing idea of Lent.  I got the 40 Days, 40 Bags idea from Clover Lane, which is a blog about simple living and parenting.  She's got 5 kids and uses this time to get her house in order.  She purges every room.  Now, I do a little cleaning out whenever I get stressed, so some rooms may have a lot less than others.  I'm also not purging clothing in the same way I used to since I'm still in baby-body transition.  However, things will get cleaned out.  I'm also purging my yarn supply and doing a square-a-day blanket for the length of Lent.  Whatever results will be my first posting when I open up my Etsy shop in April!  It will help "stash bust" and allow me to move my craft things easier.

I'm already starting my prep for March's Movie Madness as well.  I saw "The Artist" last weekend (Amazing!) and that will start my month of movie reviews over at Spoiler Alert.

My book challenge is a little behind, but I'm in the middle of about 7 books.  I'll finish those soon and be back on track.

I won't even comment on my fitness challenge.  :/

A separate 7-month post is forthcoming, but Elliott is 7-months today!  He has a well-visit tomorrow, so full stats then.

Jason's currently waiting on the results from the first round of a short story contest he is in.  He's getting great feedback on his political satire piece (the genre was pre-chosen), so we're hoping he moves to the next round.

- J & M.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Winter Blues.

While I love having four seasons here in PA, I hate the weather and the general atmosphere between mid-January and mid-March.  It's even worse this year because we've had so little snow.  Snow days usually help boost my spirits, but alas.  It's a little too cold to take E out in the stroller, and by the time I get settled at home and he gets up from his nap, it's getting dark.  Booo.

We're also trying to "sleep train" E.  He's a pretty good sleeper who seldom needs help getting back to sleep if he wakes during the night.  If he does, it's because his teeth are bothering him.  However, for him to go to sleep, we have to rock him for sometimes up to an hour.  It was a little annoying at first, but now he's pushing 20 pounds and just is getting too heavy to hold like that.  We attempted the Ferber method last night, but Jason gave in about an hour in because E hadn't gotten much sleep the night before and figured we should start fresh.  We'll start with nighttime, then hopefully (according to my mom), naps should follow suit.  I hate hearing him cry, but he needs to learn to self-soothe.  This is a controversial topic with moms, but this is how I feel.

I read an article today about a new book called "Bringing up Bebe," which is about French parenting techniques and how Americans could probably stand to use them.  I was already planning on doing a lot of the things she suggested, such as teaching the importance of waiting, patience, and entertaining one's self.  French parents tend not to let their children rule their lives and identities, but rather teach the child to be a part of the family unit.  Now, France has a lot of laws that also help families out, such as quality free schooling from pre-school on and quality free health care.  This allows families to spend more time together, since 2 incomes aren't necessary to get by.  It's an interesting thought.

Elliott has his 6 month check up next week (the day after he turns 7 months...the whole schedule is off).  I hope the doctor feels that we are doing as well as we think we are!

- J & M etc.