Monday, May 18, 2015

3 Ways I'm Rethinking My Routine

source

Isn't it funny how we can get stuck in one way of doing things? For me, it seems that I remember the way my mom did things or I picked up on a habit from another mom and started to assume there was only one way to complete a task.

Since last posting about routine, I've been thinking a lot about rethinking my routine. It started with an episode of the Sorta Awesome Podcast. The subject was the three D's that need to be done when you are in survival mode. The idea is, if you are living in survival mode, focus on accomplishing dinner, dirty laundry (one load), and dirty dishes everyday.

Okay, so I need to admit, I was a little annoyed when this topic was brought up.

I was trying to get the three D's done every day and I was failing. Dinner and dishes, I have under control. Where I really get stuck is getting a load of laundry done every day.

But then Megan shared that she had started putting her load of laundry in the wash after the kids went to bed. In the morning she tosses it in the dryer first thing, and then folds it right after breakfast. Ridiculous and trivial as it might seem, my mind was blown. The big road block I was hitting each day had a lot to do with making three trips down to the laundry room in the basement while the girls were awake. We're definitely in a phase of life (newly mobile baby + daring toddler) when leaving them alone, even for a few minutes, is not a great idea. The funny thing is, it never even crossed my mind to start the laundry in the evening. This small change is totally working for me.

One small change has inspired me to start searching out old, tired routines that aren't working for me anymore and brainstorm new ways to make it work,

Here are three ways I'm rethinking my routine:

  1. Laundry (see above)
  2. Exercise. We were making the trip to the YMCA several times a week,and as much as I was loving it, it was adding a lot of stress to our day and sucking up a lot of our morning. This past week I picked up a cheap work out video from Target and started working out while the girls are awake. I was skeptical at first, I was certain there was no way I could workout for 30 minutes with two kids   underfoot, but it is going surprisingly well. Clementine does about 10 minutes of the video with me and then wanders off to read. Hazel dances to the music for a while and only starts to get whiny towards the end--which is easily fixed with snacks.
  3. Lunch. This week, I started experimenting with eating the same thing everyday for lunch. Eating half a chicken breast, steamed veggies, and half a sweet potato means I can cook all of my lunches for the week at one time and simply warm them up while I throw together the girls' lunch.
Hopefully sharing these ideas with you will help you to take a closer look at the brick walls you are running into when it comes to your daily routine. I'm still looking to simplify our days even more, and I would love to hear how your are tweaking your routine to make it work for your family. 

Warmly,
Mary


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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How I'm Building a Capsule Wardrobe On a Tight Budget


I know, cheap clothes go against one of the founding principles of building a capsule wardrobe: quality over quantity. The very idea of a capsule wardrobe revolves around the idea that you want to have fewer items in your closet, and the items you chose should be high quality, with the potential to withstand multiple seasons.

I love that, and I'm sure that I'll follow all the rules of the capsule wardrobe one day, but there are few reasons that isn't going to work for me (and plenty of others!) right now. The first, and perhaps the most obvious: even if I pare down my wardrobe to the suggested thirtyish items, I still can't squeeze thirty $60-$150 dollar items into my budget. Secondly, like many moms, my body is in perpetual transition. I had two back to back pregnancies, and I am still nursing so I need clothes that will work for a very short season. I can't justify buying a $100 pair of size 8 jeans when I'm expecting (hoping) my weight to normalize after Hazel weans.

Still, I'm not ready to throw the capsule wardrobe out the window just because a few of the rules don't mesh with my life. The idea as a whole works so well for so many types of women. We've seen that many successful people chose to wear the same thing everyday to cut back on the number of unimportant choices they make. Mothers, working and stay at home alike, make hundreds of decisions a day, some more pressing than others. Why not cut back on those decision wherever we can?

And so, sometime in mid-march I embarked on a journey to put together a capsule wardrobe that works for the broke girls, the women in transition, or the ones who just can't talk themselves into a $75 top no matter their income.What started as some obsessive late night pinning, has evolved over the last few months into a pretty decent summer wardrobe, if I do say so myself.

Here are a few things I learned:

Limit your color choices. I am getting the most wear out of a small amount of clothes because they literally all coordinate in some way. For me, this means sticking with neutral colors. This spring my closet is almost entirely made up of blacks, grays, denim, and white.

Trends trickle down. I didn't want my capsule wardrobe to keep me from adding some trendy items into the rotation this spring and summer. With enough searching, I have been able to find a knock off version of everything on my list. Some of my favorite finds: leopard print sneakers and this boxy denim vest.

Splurge on a few things that will last. I spent a little more a few items on my list because I knew they would last for multiple seasons and I knew that me loosing another fifteen pounds wouldn't really change the fit. For me, that meant I splurged on a pair of shoes and I have a purse on my wish list that costs a little more than I would normally spend.

Do you have any experience with building a capsule wardrobe? How do you keep it affordable?

Warmly,
Mary

Monday, May 4, 2015

A new conversation

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I have been thinking a lot about my identity and role as a mother lately. Mulling over this idea began with struggling with what motherhood looks like for me and the fact that it often looks different from the social norms I may feel obligated to conform to.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that I had a tendency to place my role as mother as the role that primarily defines my identity. I don't think I am alone in this. In a digital age, Facebook and Instagram indulge our curious nature, we can peak into lives, as if through a window, as young women become mothers and take on a new identity. I have had a the opportunity to watch the required sacrifice and lifestyle change play out, starting from the very first set of lines on a stick. So often, instead of integrating motherhood into our life, motherhood becomes our life.

I'm not just noting what I've observed around me, I'm confessing. I can't help but feel that part of who I am is disappearing during this time, overshadowed by round-the-clock diapers and breastfeeding.

These years are wonderful, I don't say these things out of a lack of contentment with my children or disdain for the responsibility that accompanies them. It is simply that I can't help but think a woman consumed by a single role is not a healthy or whole woman. And it is, so easily, all consuming. It takes a conscious, deliberate effort to not be swept up by the idea that our place on this planet must revolve around our children. There must be a balance, lest we forget that there is more to being a woman than being a mother. We are also wives, friends, creative beings, and so much more.

There are many parts that make up the whole of womanhood.

In the future, I hope to blog with this in mind. I hope to step back, to widen my scope. To talk about children and parenting less, not because these things are less important to me, but as a means of making room for exploring what it means to be a whole woman. I hope for more conversation about books, current events, work, time management, style and health and what it means to make room for these things while still prioritizing home and family. I would like to explore this with you, my readers, and hear your thoughts on identity and womanhood as I parse this idea out in my life, and maybe help you to do the same in yours.

Warmly,
Mary




Friday, May 1, 2015

May Goals




Looking Back on April


This has been an exciting, and surprising, month and a half. Writing, and this space, have been very on again off again for me. I freelanced for awhile when Clementine was a baby and fresh toddler, but all of my efforts felt like throwing myself against a brick wall over and over again. Everything I wrote felt awkward and lacking authenticity. In late March, I decided to give it another try. A lot had changed, my motivation was different, my plan was different, and it felt like good timing to give it another go. I guess I was right, I picked up a few steady jobs within two weeks and I have really been enjoying what I am doing.

May Goals

Moving forward, I'd like to be a little more intentional about forming goals each month related to my personal and professional development. The Tiny Twig has a link up each month, so this space feels like a place to keep track.

Writing:
  • Pitch four new blogs or publications and follow up on all pitches within two weeks
  • Increase my social media following by at least 25%. 
  • Writing here on the blog once a week 
Home & Family:
  • Clean out everyone's closets, finish everyone's summer clothes shopping
  • Tweak daily routine so that we are eating dinner together as a family at least four times a week (Chris comes home late)
  • Plan two date nights
  • Have family pictures taken
Personal:
  • Exercise four times a week
  • Spend more time in prayer (ambiguous, I know, but my lack of sleep has seriously cut into my prayer life, so this is more of a focus area than a concrete goal this month.)
  • Finish all of my in-progress reads
Mantra for May
"If it can be done in less than a minute--do it without delay!"

I recently started listening to Happier with Gretchen Rubin and I am kicking myself for not picking it up sooner. In the very first episode she introduces The Minute Rule. The idea is that if any tasks be done in less than a minute, do it immediately. This applies to some many areas of our life but I am really focusing in on housework-- if the dish can be washed, put away, and dried immediately after dinner, that means less dishes in the sink at the end of the day for me. If the shoes can be put away in the closet, instead of kicked of as we walk in the door, that means I'm not gathering shoes up after the girls go down.

The potential life-changing-ness of this is blowing me away. So much of my time is spent picking up after my children, my husband and myself, how much more time could I squeeze out of my busy days if I wasn't constantly catching up with the mess?

Do you set monthly goals? What do you hope to accomplish in May?

Mary

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What I'm Into (April 2015)

Reading

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Future Grace by John Piper (did you know this book was intended to be read in 31 days?! Phew!)
Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in The Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

TV

Just finished up House of Cards Season 3 and still working on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

I'm glad I hustled to get caught up on Mad Men, I am trying desperately to keep up with the final season. Still a little weirded out by everyone's new looks, I am not sure I like skinnier Don Draper.

Music


We saw Sufjan Stevens in concert this month. All the feels. This was by far one of the most emotionally compelling shows I have every been to.

I'm still listening to new Sufjan and The Lone Bellow on repeat. Also loving Courtney Barnett for running.

Podcast

Hoping to beef up my podcast listening this month. I added the Influence Network Podcast last week, still crawling through Serial, and listening to our church podcast when I miss because of work or babies who scream through the entire sermon (I'm looking at you, Hazel Jane.)

Online

Being Content vs Moving Foward by Chaunie Brusie
        "We both want something more out of life. A life that we feel proud of. We dream of land and a simple lifestyle; kids playing outside, eggs fresh from our chickens (OK, so that’s just me, Ben says he hates chickens), a life blending old and new, natural and modern, a life that isn’t about surviving, but about deep-soul thriving."

What work/life balance looks like for me by Modern Mrs. Darcy
      "You may remember that I don’t love the phrase “work/life balance,” nor its implications. I don’t believe work and life should be set against each other, nor should they necessarily be equal. I’m using it here not because I’ve changed my mind about it, but because when you say work/life balance, everyone at least knows what you’re talking about."

What I'm loving:

































This Kids Sprinkles Necklace I just ordered from Madre Beads for Clementine's third birthday.

I bought the H&M Basic Jersey Top and every gosh darn color this month. Can't say no to $9.95.

Hazel Jane saying "Hi! Hi! Hi!" the second her eyes pop open after a nap.

Learning to use Twitter. Becuase it has only been around for forever.

Having phone conversations, something I haven't been doing much since texting happened.

Burrito bowls every single Wednesday night. They're getting a little out of hand, we keep thinking of new things that would taste good added to our normal recipe. So far the best addition has been grilled corn and roasted sweet potato.

What have you been into lately? Can you recommend any podcasts for me to add to my normal listening?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer.

Mary



On (not having) routine.

Source

We are finally starting to get a little more sleep around here. Not a lot of sleep, but more sleep. Having two children who don't sleep for their first year to eighteen months has made it pretty difficult to settle into a routine. Before Hazel arrived, I was getting out of bed before Clementine woke to get my act together, to get ready for the day. Now, I am grabbing every minute of extra sleep whenever possible.

Still, life has felt chaotic recently and I have been hard-pressed to at least find a shell of a routine that works for this season of life.

Right now our days are a little crazy but look a little something like this:

Hazel wakes me up at five, I nurse her and if I am lucky she goes back down. I either lay back down until Clementine gets up, usually at six, or I stay up and start breakfast. The next few hours are spent on breakfast, getting the girls dressed, and housework. By nine we are either headed to a play date, to run errands, to the Y, or headed outside if the weather is nice. We then head home, eat lunch, and I put both girls down. I spend nap time writing or sleeping if I am terribly behind. The time spent after the girls wake-up until Chris gets home is basically a free-for-all if I am being completely honest. The girls snack, and I try my best to keep Hazel happy while I make dinner. We usually go for a long walk before dinner to kill time while we are anxiously awaiting daddy's arrival home. Depending on the night, I either write from home, head to Starbucks to write, or hang out with Chris.

So, I guess I am sharing all of this because I am looking to streamline our routine a little more. I feel as if I spend a lot of my time cleaning but have very little to show for it. I also feel pretty consistently like I am dropping the ball in some area of my life. If the house is clean, I am behind on work. If I am caught up on work, I haven't spent as much time playing with the girls or hanging out with Chris as I'd like.

There are a few things I am interested in trying out over the next few weeks to see if they have any impact on our routine or free up any extra time. I would love for you to join in on the conversation.

Inspired by Modern Mrs. Darcy, I'd like to track my time spent writing, on social media, and doing housework using Toggl. Also inspired by MMD, I would like to try putting into practices a few strategies for reducing decision fatigue.

To cut down on the pre-dinner chaos, I plan to get back in the habit of using my slow-cooker as often as possible. Do you have any winning slow cooker recipes you could share?

My current cleaning schedule is so not working right now, it is way too involved. I'd love to hear how you are keeping up.

Lastly, I have realized that I follow a large amount of stay-at-home-mom bloggers. I love most of these blogs, but I'd love to add some working women to my mix so I can pick their brains on routine. Do you have any you can recommend? 

What does your routine look like? Do you have any awesome efficiency tips you can share with me? 

Mary

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

5 Links That Are Helping Me Understand Baltimore

Volunteers Cleaning Up In Baltimore

Like many of you, I have been watching and reading almost obsessively since early yesterday. I don't pretend to be an expert on what is going on right now, but I have been reading and watching some things that have really helped me to wrap my mind around the events in Baltimore (and Ferguson).

I wanted to share them with all of you.

1. The African Americans, Many Rivers To Cross. We just finished watching this with our church. Understanding history is really helpful to understanding present day events.

2. A perspective on Nonviolence as Compliance.
             " When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is "correct" or "wise," any more than a forest fire can be "correct" or "wise." Wisdom isn't the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community."



5. This post from Sarah Bessey seems really relevant in light of the events of the week.
    "I don’t want to be swallowed by the darkness. Nor do I want to be blinded by the light. No, I want to be part of a people who see the darkness, know it’s real, and then, then, then, light a candle anyway. And hold that candle up in the winds and pass along our light wherever it’s needed from our own homes to the halls of legislation to the church pulpit to the kitchens of the world. We’re a people who build bonfires outside on the shore and send up a few signals to light the way for the ships still coming across the water and the pioneers weary in the walking from the east. We set up tables in the wilderness and invite everyone to come, we’re the people who listen."

I'm sure there are so many more resources that I could share, but these are the five that have had the strongest influence on me. 

Mary


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