Thursday, May 16, 2013

Motherhood is hard

I've been writing and working on posts this week...but none of them really looked "right." I just couldn't get them how I wanted.  And I think I know why. It is because I have something else to say, but I didn't really want to say it. But here it goes anyway:

Motherhood is hard.

I'm sure many of you knew that - or assumed that. But the truth is? It is actually wickedly harder than you ever anticipate. You aren't supposed to admit that it is hard or that you are tired or have no idea how to handle a problem.  But I've never been very good at all that jazz.

So here's the deal - the whole truth.

I love my four beans. I love them more than I thought a heart could love. I pray for them, I parent them, I protect them, I push them, I provide them with clean clothes and food, I play with them.  But sometimes I wonder - If I had KNOWN back in the beginning, how much work all of this would be....would I do it over?

Would I have so many, so very close together? 

Honestly, some days - the hard days, the never-stop-repeating-myself days, the endless-mess days - I question if we really thought this through.

Were we fair to our kids to put them so close? Were we fair to ourselves?

Because this is a seriously heavy load. Not sometimes - All. The. Time.

I'm finally getting to the point where I'm no longer elbow-deep in poop. I'm sleeping through the night on a consistent basis. I'm finally able to finish a sentence every now and again. They are all big enough they can do some things for themselves (even Boy Bean!). I can accomplish a task beyond bare-minimum-basic-need.

And it is wonderful.
And a little bit sad.

This is the first time I have had a toddler without a newborn. 

To you mama's in the thick of it - of the meltdowns, the non-existent-sleep, the 4 hour ordeal to get groceries - you will make it.

It is hard.
Some days, it will feel insurmountable.

But you will make it.

You will reach a day - very soon - where your babies will go off on adventures without you.
A day when a poop doesn't make someone scream for a bum-wipe.
You will sleep again.
Your brain will come back.

Thankfully, this time of craziness beyond belief, is just a phase.
A challenging, stretching, exhausting, overwhelming phase.

Were we fair to our kids to put them so close? 

I don't know. They will each develop differently because of where they fall in the birth order and how smashed together they are (I mean, 4 kids in 5 years and 4 months is rather close!), but I pray they turn out well despite the lack of personal space. 

Were we fair to ourselves?

I guess if we had planned differently, My Love and I could have had the expected adult experiences. We might have traveled more, we might have had hobbies, we might have saved more money, I might have gotten my degree. 

If I had known how much work this would require - I probably would not have chosen it.  
BUT that is because while it is possible to see how much work it is not possible to measure the reward. 

Motherhood is hard. It is wonderful. No matter what your family looks like - there are days that pound you. On those days, the thing I'm most thankful for is that I don't have to repeat it.

But the flip side is also true - You won't get to repeat these days.

Let's make them count.

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

Girl Room Mess - (Zone 3 post 2)

World, I have always been a messy hoarder.
In fact, the amount of things I saved as a child was a source of major contention with my Mama.
She isn't known for keeping things due to sentimentality.
Like, at all.
So, having a daughter who didn't want to throw away a gum wrapper because so-and-so gave it to her...was rather difficult.  I was a pack rat who shoved my "special things" into every nook and cranny I could find.
And I thought Mama was mean and nasty and pretty much had no soul for making me throw out and give away so many things that were special to me.

I was completely wrong.
My Mama was a saint for dealing with me.
She was teaching me that people aren't wrapped up in the stuff they give you.
She was giving me skills and vision that would prove to be quite useful in this transient, military, life.
She was planting seeds (and hoping they would take root!) to keep me off of Clean Sweep, Clean House, and Hoarders.
She is pretty much, totally awesome.

Now that I have a house of my own - a house of 6 humans who all are attached to their crap at various levels - I'm getting to implement my own de-clutter methods and lessons.
It is not easy.
It is not always fun.
But it keeps the house running smoother, and happier, and calmer.
So keeping the clutter at bay is a pretty good thing.


In our house, we have toy clutter, paper clutter, clothing clutter, special decor clutter, and just normal-life clutter.
Basically, I have an endless supply of stuff to do.
Hooray for job security!

The battles over clutter fought between me and my mom were brought to the forefront while I was working in the girl room. Holyheckamama. String Bean just might be the most sentimental person every made; Jumping Bean is allergic to putting things away; and Bitty Bean is a world-class pack rat.

These children are just like their mama.

But - if My Mama could fight the good fight and teach me the tools for simplifying and staying neat, I could do the same.

(So I repeated to myself 10 million times over)

We started with their clothing.

After going through my clothes and getting rid of all items that didn't fit, were uncomfortable, and/or had holes in them, I realized it was much easier to get dressed every day.  I had only clothes that I wanted to wear in my space - and they actually FIT in that space. I figured the same idea could be applied to 7, 5, and 3 year olds.

(Side note - about 95% of their clothing has been generously handed down to us...and then we've passed it through all 3 girls and my 2 nieces, and then on to other families.)

I didn't force anything, I didn't belittle what they liked.
What I DID do was this:
First, we went through ONE type of clothing, per girl, at a time. (As in, t-shirts)
I pulled all her t-shirts out and invariably there were a couple shirts that she had not worn in forever.
Then, I would ask - "Do you like all of these shirts? Are there any shirts that bug you? Or are itchy? Or you just don't like to wear?"
That got rid of a couple right off the bat - in a very painless way!
Next, I would give them a number that they could keep. They were able to decide which shirts they kept from the excess shirts they had. The number varied by item and by child. Some children are just neater!  But most of the time, they were allowed to keep 8 of an item. (PJ's were only 4, underwear and socks were more than 8)

If the older two had an item that no longer fit them, I saved it for the next sister. If Bitty Bean was done with something, I passed it on to another family.

They each have a couple items that have sentimental value for this mama, and I keep those in my cedar chest. So far, we have the outfit each came home from the hospital in, a favorite onesie or baby dress, a special dress all 3 of them wore for different occasions, a pair of preemie socks, and a couple special t-shirts from various activities.

Then, all items being kept were put back in their bucket and appropriately labeled.

Side note - the bucket system of organizing their clothes (as opposed to a dresser with drawers) has worked about a million times better for our house. Nothing against dressers - this just has made my life a LOT easier.

Labeling the buckets is where I went a little crazy.

They already had labels on their buckets - I had made them while ago, but since I wasn't sure the system would work, they were NOT pretty. I had used a sharpie on scrap paper, laminated it, cut it wildly uneven, hole-punched, and hung it. I completely forgot to take a picture. Just trust me - they weren't pretty.

But I learned the labeling was a vital part to keeping their room clean and the dressing process smoother.

Since we already had 3 colors in the room due to their bedspreads, I decided to continue with the color coding for everything else.  I bought a pack of coordinating scrapbook paper from Target for $5.00 and went to town. String Bean has teal, (this is her sweater bin)

Jumping Bean is pink, (t-shirts)

and Bitty Bean is purple (pants).

Due to the kindness of a friend with a Cricut - their labels now look adorable. I have never done paper crafts before - and I don't see it happening often - but it was fun. (Well, for the first half of gluing all the pieces together. The second half? I was ready to find my sharpie.) After everything dried, I covered the papers with contact paper to protect them and punched a hole in the top. Then they were tied on with strips of fabric I cut off a thrifted Queen sheet. (I have used that sheet for many, many projects - that was $0.50 well spent!)

Ta-da! And done. 

We also have all 3 in ballet - which means 3 pars of tights, ballet shoes, and leotards...and since tags are the most annoying things EVER....the sizes are lost in the cosmos. To solve the problem of constantly-missing-ballet-gear....I made them special bags for their stuff! Each bag has their name on it, and that is the only place their ballet items can go. 

The only problem was, they kept losing the bags.
3 command hooks (oh how I love thee!) later, and everything has a place. Their ballet bag stays on the hook, except for on ballet days, and we have not had trouble in locating the appropriate gear on the day we need it, since!

One final space left to organize: the closet. 
Due to the brilliant suggestion of a friend, their dresses and jackets are also color coded. By Hanger. 

Since they were needing bigger hangers anyway - especially the older two - I just bought adult hangers in their colors. You wouldn't think that would make a big difference, but you would be wrong. Holy cow. Everyone know which dresses are theirs, it has solved about a million disagreements, and other people can now easily grab a sweater or jacket for the correct child.


It was a TON of work to get us to this point. But completely worth it. The girls can keep their room tidy - and WANT to do so! - with minimal help. They know where everything goes, and can keep it there because it isn't jammed in and barely fitting. I am happy. They are happy.

Life is good. 

How do YOU handle the clothing clutter in your home?

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Zone 3 - The Girl Room Post 1

Well, after much hard work....the Girl Room is almost done.
Here is the grand reveal of the girl-beans and their style...

(I have been hunting through my files to find "Before" pictures, and I could only find a couple:)
This was the view from the door:

A mattress stayed directly on the floor because we couldn't figure out how to fit two twin beds and a toddler bed without a bunk.

The former clothing area - Bitty Bean's clothes were actually hodge-podge stored between the closet and Boy Bean's room.

This is what you see now when you enter the room:

The organized and labeled clothing area :)
(More on that later in the week)

The bunk beds!!!! (Bitty Bean is purple and String Bean is teal)

(We also stashed our extra crib mattress under the bed for those middle-of-the-night sheet changes.)

Jumping Bean is pink and she picked the zebra sheets....because her FAVORITE animal in the whole wide world is a flamingo, and the next favorite is a zebra! :)

The curtains are from Target - the girls LOVED the ones in Pottery Barn - but $100 a panel? Not a chance. Target looks quite similar for a fraction of the cost. Happy mama. Happy girls.

Jumping Bean has the nightstand/book shelf - a beautiful piece of furniture their Great-grandfather made.

They have their name-art from their great-uncle Jim, and the painting they made when Bitty Bean was 1 month old.

Individual pictures tinted with their colors (teal, pink, and purple)
And their newest collaborative art piece: The Bird collage. They all painted the background and then did a collage of papers for the birds. (More on that another day too!)

Space for their piggy banks and earring cleaner.

Tea cups from two sets of Great-Grandparents.

All in all? I am thrilled to pieces with their room! It is organized, reflects who they are, has pieces from many family members in it, and easily stays clean!

Definitely a win. :)

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Zone 3 - The Girl Room

My girls.
String Bean,

Jumping Bean,

and Bitty Bean.

They are pretty fantastic.  I mean, really, really cool people to hang out with. They can make me laugh until I cry...they can make me cry in a half-second...they can drive me crazy...they can stump me...they teach me daily.

I'm just extremely glad I know them. And I can't wait to see the women they become.

I've been thinking a LOT about them and their futures lately, because I've been spending exorbitant amounts of time in their room, going through their things, and figuring out what they like.

One thing is certain - they are three INDIVIDUALS.  They are sisters - they are bonded with similar memories, the same crazy parents, a complete hatred for bugs - but they are not the same. And I LOVE that.

I learned from the Design Research that String Bean and Jumping Bean may be from the same family and only 25 months apart - but they could not be more different. To summarize their differences - here is how they answered my question "What would your dream room look like?"

String Bean: "It would be clean, with lots of white. Not much stuff around. Like Auntie's house. I mean, I like our house, Mommy, I just like how Auntie doesn't have tons of color, better."

Jumping Bean:  "I want to live inside a magical, beautiful, rainbow. With color exploding everywhere."


Thanks for making this easy. :)

I loved learning what they liked and getting their input on design.  We spent hours together over the last 5 months looking at magazines and Pinterest, discussing what they liked or didn't like. It was so much fun! They loved the time spent together where I just wanted to know what they thought and liked - where there was no wrong answer. Time where they could dream up whatever they wanted - not that we would be able to make that dream happen, but so that I could know what their dreams looked like.

So. Much. Fun.

(In fact, we looked at ALL the pre-made Pottery Barn Kids AND Teen rooms, online; and they agreed on 3 rooms. THREE. Holyheckamama.)

The girl room has been just for String Bean and Jumping Bean...then Bitty Bean moved in when Boy was born - and they loved being all together....When Boy was a year, Bitty Bean moved in with him - she worried he was lonely....but by the time he was 2, Bitty Bean was BEGGING to join the girl room.

Therefore, all 3 girls share a room.
And they love it.

And Boy loves it. He has space where he is not harassed to death, or bossed, or forced to play with My Little Ponies. (But his space is for a different month)  :)

String Bean's favorite color is teal, Jumping Bean's is pink, and Bitty Bean's is purple. That was my spring board. I decided to color code all their stuff and then keep the large things white. They all DO like pink, so that is the other "neutral" color.

Here's a peek:

Guess what you'll be seeing this week? :)  The grand reveal of Zone 3: Girl Room.

~Whitney Copyright 2013