Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bon Voyage!

In about 20 minutes we are loading up for the first leg our of drive to FLORIDA!! (We are only driving two hours to drop off the dog and spend the night..but still!)
I am 75% excited/25%terrified of the drive, haha.  Luke is...well...not really a fan of the car.  He loves to watch The Wiggles though, so we will all just sing a lot of "Hot Potato!"  I am sure I will check in once or twice with pictures over the next ten days! Until then - if you have any road trip tips shout 'em out in the comments (I get them on my phone!)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

30 Bags in 30 Days Final Check-In

Phew! We made it! Today marks day 30 of my self-imposed 30 Bags in 30 days challenge, and I gotta say...I did pretty good! Here is a look at my list as of today... you can see I got everything but my car finished.  Technically I did clean out all of the stray receipts, water bottles, etc. from the car - but there are still oodles of toys littering the floor in the back so I couldn't bring myself to honestly check that off of the list. 

My final Goodwill tally includes one bookshelf, a nightstand, a double jogger, two lamps, one weird exercise machine I never used, a booster seat, 13 garbage bags of clothing/blankets, 19 boxes of misc. junk, picture frames, and two office chairs I meant to reupholster and never got around to doing.  NOT EVEN KIDDING YOU GUYS.  I told you I kept everything.

Oh and there is one happy little box of stuffed animals that is heading to Guatemala (I think?) on a medical missions trip to give out to little ones after they get some free dental work!  As much as the sentimental side of me wanted to keep those stuffed animals, I knew that they could make a sweet, possibly scared, little child very happy, so I am happy to see them go!

AND on top of that I have a healthy yardsale pile that includes a ton of bigger baby toys like our exersaucer (sob), and a few nicer pieces of small furniture. 
Not only did we finally get rid of some of the stuff that has been laying around, but this also motivated me to actually go through the boxes in the basement and attic.  We had boxes from our FIRST house that we had never even looked through - and the vast majority of it was just old papers that we did not need.  I am happy to report however, that after FOUR years, I have finally found our marriage license.  Phew!

I have heard from quite a few of you either here on the blog, through instagram, or on facebook that you are joining in on an organizational challenge of your own, and I would LOVE to hear how you are progressing!

So spill! How is your challenge going? 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Things You Do

Well...I totally missed December.  Dang it! Oh was bound to happen.  So anyway - here we are with my monthly update about the ways that the boys are growing and changing.
Jack:  Your coordination has grown by leaps and bounds since you started gymnastics.  You were never un-coordinated, but the change we have seen has been really exciting.  For example, for the first two weeks you would not walk alone on the balance beam, you would only crawl.  Now you walk alone, hop, walk backwards, and walk sideways on the beam! call it the balance BEAN. 
Luke:  You are talking SO much little man.  Many of the words you say are still things that only Matt and I really understand, but you are getting there! New words are 'Jack-jack', 'car', 'choo', 'boo'(spoon), 'book' 'girl', 'blub-blub' (fish), 'marker' (your first real two syllable word!), and 'moo'.  I am sure I missing a bunch that I haven't recognized yet!
Jack:  You are totally diggin' the snow.  You throw snowballs, build snowmen, go sledding, and make snow angels.  You even like to shovel!

Luke: You really hate your mittens.  You really want to be able to hold things like your snow shovel, snowballs, etc, and your mittens keep getting in your way.  You are pretty good and sneaking at least one of them off while we are outside playing.

Jack: We were all sick recently, and I was reminded of what a sweet little soul you have.  Despite throwing up non-stop, you had the BEST attitude about it.  At one point you said 'Mommy! My belly keeps making bubbles and I said 'You calm down!' but it didn't listen!'
Luke:  You love to sing.  If I sing 'twinkle, twinkle, little star' you sort of croon along and swing your arms.  It melts my heart every time. 

January has been a month of make-do, from bad weather, to sickness - so we are happy to say so long, and we are looking forward to February! Jack is excited about 'Falentine's Day'.  He heard there might be chocolate...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Life Lately

I don't know - I think I might be in partial hibernation.   Lately it seems like if I am not taking care of the boys or picking up the house, all I want to do it snuggle up under a few comfy blankets and snooze.   It's winter, ya know? 
I have this quote on our chalkboard for this month - and I have found myself glancing at it quite often.  It's just...not my favorite season.  I am determined to find the beauty in it though...and it's there.  It's just that it gets hidden under the dirty snow lining the road and the leafless trees.  

That said - here are a few beautiful moments in our life lately.
 We have taken advantage of the snow to do some sledding.  Jack had only gone on a sled one time before this year, and Luke never had, so needless to say the giggles were priceless.
 I got in on the sledding action as well...
On days when we haven't been able to get outside as much, we have been practicing sleeping in a box - because you just never know where THAT life skill is going to come in handy (?).
Speaking of putting children in boxes...this was my version of a drive-in theater for the boys...
...hush.  I know it's lame...but they loved it!  We also took a day last week to drive down to spend the day with my sister and her little ones.  Let me tell one dances like those kids dance. 
Due to some concerns about fog (it gets pretty bad up here at night) we ended up spending the night at my mom's house, which was a nice little treat in itself. 

The boys have also found a renewed love of coloring.  For a while there no one was really interested in sitting down and coloring - but I am happy to report that they now happily sit at their little table for a few minutes each day. 
 And in other beautiful news - we leave for another trip to Florida in 10 days! Matt has a work thing there for a few days - and then we are going to stay down there with his parents for a little while - we are REALLLLLY looking forward to that sunshine again!!

What's new in your life lately?  Are you finding the beautiful (even if it is hidden under some slushy snow)?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

30 Bags in 30 Days Update

Today marks one third of my self-imposed purging of our clutter, and OH MY GOSH.  I cannot believe how good it feels to just get rid of all the stuff.  I mean...not ALL, but we just have so much stuff that has been hanging around.  I have been updating on instagram with our daily bags - and it is amazing how much we have managed to get rid of in just ten days. 
One thing I didn't expect was that this would really be a motivator for us to just clean house.  We have been tackling the basement on top of our list area each day - and we have made SO much progress.  I made our first trip to Goodwill yesterday - and dropped off 11 bags and 4 boxes full of stuff that we just DO NOT NEED.  Half of it I didn't even know we had - and the other half I don't know WHY we had.  I mean - one of those bags(that we threw away) was filled with bottles of hair products that had just a little bit left so I didn't want to waste it so I KEPT IT IN THE CLOSET FOR TWO YEARS. 

Matt is making the second Goodwill run today, which consists of 4 more boxes plus a booster seat that we aren't using.  I just have no idea why I have been hanging on to so much - I am sure there is some connection there about emotional baggage, but whatever the reason - I am just glad to get rid of it!

Purging feels good baby! (I feel like that was a weird sentence?) Here is a closer look at the list including the areas that we have already finished.  I did jump ahead to the weekend, because we will be out of town and I don't want to get behind!
So -fellow purgers - how is it going?? I have seen a few of your lists, but please feel free to link them in the comments again so we can all check them out!

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year's in Florida

Brace yourself - the pictures are coming!

As I mentioned before, we were blessed with the opportunity to spend New Years in Florida.  Matt's parents gave us the amazing gift of plane tickets and free rein in their vacation house for four days! It was truly a much needed break.
 The four of us had a great time exploring on our own, and we were also able to get a chance to see some of my family that I had been missing. 
The temperature hovered right about 80, which was just wonderful. The day before we left we had been building a snowman in 6 inches of snow, and then on New Year's Eve we were on the beach! As you can see by the above picture, Jack was SO excited about the ocean.
Luke was...not.  But he did love the sand and the seashells.  This was his first time ever seeing the ocean, and it was adorable to see his expression.
 We put him down to stand in the sand and he just looked at the ocean for a while before starting to dig.  We spent our days exploring beaches, wildlife parks, and playgrounds, and we spent two of our evenings at my cousins house, with her sweet family and my Aunt Lucy and Uncle Dave.
At the beginning of the year, I remember saying something along the lines of 'bring it on 2012' and it really did.  This year has been hard.  So hard.  I mean - there have been beautiful moments, moments I will never forget, but there has also been a lot of change and a lot of heartache. 
So this?  This was a wonderful way to say goodbye to a hard year - and to greet a new one with hope and excitement. 
On our last evening there we explored a few parks, one of which had their splash pad going.  We hadn't really planned on letting the boys get wet - but sometimes you have to go with it, you know?
So we did!
Their joy was contagious, and Matt and I found ourselves just smiling ear to ear to watch our little boys cavort in the water.
We have been taking Jack to this park on vacation since he was just a little baby, so it was doubly special to take Luke for the first time. 
He happily followed in big brothers footsteps through the fountains.  Eventually he got so soaked that he had to go pantsless.
Those thighs.  And while Luke was getting his pants wet...guess what Jack was doing?
 He was one happy three year old!  And now...what would a vacation post be without a sunset shot?
We are so grateful for the opportunity to spend this time together.  We needed it badly, and we have high hopes for 2013.  Be gentle 2013, be gentle. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Weekend Project: Super Hero Capes

Instead of this weekend project being something I made over the weekend - this is one YOU can easily make over a weekend (or just one night).

I have had this idea stewing in my mind for a while.  I saw a link of pinterest that linked to an etsy shop that sells adorable little capes for adorable little ones.  Being the cheap mom that I am though - I totally thought  'I can make that!'.  And then I promptly shoved that thought to the back of my head and did nothing about it.

On a recent meander down the fabric aisle, I spotted a really cute numbered fabric for only $1 a yard.  I brainstormed what I could do with it, when I realized that it would make a really cute liner to a super hero cape! I grabbed two yards of that fabric, as well as one yard of blue, and one yard of orange.

I got home and (after giving the boys and bath and putting them to bed) got straight to work.  My first step was marking off the general shape of the cape.  I made ours about 24 inches from top to bottom, 24 inches across at the bottom, and then I used one of the boys shirts to mark off a circle that would fit around their necks (in our case this was about 14 inches to make a loose collar).  I also snipped the front of the collar so I could use velco to attach it.  I just don't think it is safe to give little ones things that can't pull off of their necks! I didn't think to take a detail shot of this, but here you can see how it works (also you can see that it is easy enough that Luke can take it off on his own),
I drew my lines on my fabric, doubled it over because I was making two capes, and started snipping.  I then used that as a pattern for the numbered fabric as well, since as the back of the cape it has the exact same shape as the outer layer.  After I had cut the general shape, I went back and shaped the cape the way I wanted it too look, I rounded off the corners and neck, and I cut out the circle for the neck. 

I really wanted them to have a sort of emblem on the back of their capes, so my next step was to use a dinner plate to trace out a circle of our orange fabric (one for each cape).  I then cut out the letter of their first name.  I didn't use a template, I just eyeballed.

Next came the sewing!  First I pinned then sewed the letter into place on the circle.

Then I pinned and sewed the circle onto the blue outer layer of the cape.  I totally messed up on Luke's, but the mistakes aren't too bad, and since it is for a one year old - I don't think he really cares!
Next I pinned the blue layer and the numbered layer together INSIDE OUT.  I sewed them together all around the edge leaving only about six inches open at the very bottom. 

After that I simply flipped them inside out, and then sewed about a quarter of an inch inside the edge the entire way around the cape, closing off the bottom and finishing the edge.

Next I just sewed velcro onto the collar, and I was finished! All I had to do was wait for the boys to wake up in the morning so that I could give them their new capes!! And yes - they are still wearing jammies and sporting bed head :)
Needless to say - My little dudes loved them! Jack really got into it, he was running so much I couldn't get a picture of his face!

I was finished, cleaned up, and in bed by 9:30, so in total I would say this took me about two hours (not including the half hour that I spent fighting with my sewing machine.  I am a total newb). 

2 yds. number fabric -$2
1yd blue -$3
1yd orange - $3

I already had everything else on hand so my total spent was $8 for two super hero capes!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

30 Bags in 30 Days

I have so much to catch up on here on Country Mouse Tales!  If you follow me on Instagram (@countrymousetales) you know that we spent the last four days in Florida! It was an amazing way to end 2012 and to start 2013, and of course I have an obscene amount of pictures to share - those will be here later this week or next (I keep forgetting that it is already Thursday).

Every year around this time, I look around our house and think "how the heck do we have SO MUCH CRAP?"  This year I have decided to do something about it.  I am cleaning house - and I am going to be ruthless.  I am such a packrat - I mean, I still have my track spikes from high school - you case I take up sprinting again any time soon, my textbooks from college, and my stamp collection from elementary school.  

It has to stop! So?  Enter 30 Bags in 30 Days.  The concept is simple, over the course of 30 days you just tackle one space at a time, and you fill a bag full of all the crap that has taken over.  Here is my list - including the progress that I have made so far.  I actually started before we left for Florida, because I wanted to make this fit into the month of January.
 Obviously this list is specific to our house - I just thought about what areas stress me out when I look at them.  Also - in the back of my mind - I keep thinking about what a disaster it was when we moved last July.  We have decided that we will not be staying in this house when our lease is up (more on that later - there are so many reasons), so I really want to make sure that our next move goes more smoothly than our last!

A lot of our stuff (like books, frames, etc) are actually still in boxes in the basement, and I mean really - if it has been in a box for six months, we clearly do not need to keep carting this crap around with us. I am determined to cut down on our crap!!

This is the bag from the kitchen - I also filled a box to take to Goodwill.  I was surprised to find that I actually cleared out enough space that I had three empty shelves. 

So tell me?  Are you a packrat like me - hiding your clutter in boxes in the basement and behind closed closet doors?  Are you going to do anything about this year?

Join me for 30 Bags in 30 Days! I would love to hear about your progress if you decide to do something similar! You could easily make it fit your schedule too (10 Bags in 10 Days, anyone?)

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