Welcome to the parsonage

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Living in a parsonage is an interesting proposition — just imagine if your boss were also your landlord! (And you lived next door to your office.) But despite the possibility for awkwardness, there are some real benefits to moving into the parsonage that came along with my husband’s new job.

  • First and foremost: no mortgage! (At least, if our old house would ever sell.)  The church owns the house and we live in it as part of my husband’s salary package.
  • Moving IS an excellent opportunity to assess all your belongings and sell/donate/trash stuff that we don’t need anymore.
  • It might not be exactly the house we would choose, but there something very freeing about the fact that we don’t own it, and we’re not gonna be here forever, so it really doesn’t matter as much.
  • Leftovers from church dinners and other functions.  My husband has worked as a pastor for seven years, but we’ve never been sent home with so much leftover food.  Yay!
  • It has a basement!  (This is a big deal when you live in tornado alley, and we didn’t have one where we lived before.)
    • Subpoint: Basement = plenty of room for guests.  Who’s coming to visit me???
  • Who needs to buy a swingset for your kids when you have the church playground right across the parking lot?
  • We are the unofficial security guard for the church.  Our front windows look straight at the front of the church, and it is quite interesting to see the comings and going at the end of our long church driveway late in the evening hours. I am actually kind of glad that we are there to keep an eye on things.
  • I only have to give myself three minutes to get to church since I just basically walk out my front door and I am there.
  • One difficult thing about being a part of pastor’s family is getting ready for church in the morning without your husband around to help. But since we live so close to church, if the kids are in total meltdown mode, I can usually call Matt and have him come back to the house for just a couple of minutes.
  • The ability to live on a large piece of land, without having to maintain it. The church and parsonage are located on 39 acres, and church members volunteer and take turns mowing.  I never ever want to be responsible for maintaining such a large property myself, but I have certainly enjoyed tromping around the grounds and feeling like I live in a park.

Where’s the most unusual place you ever lived?  What’s your favorite thing about where you live now?

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Five weird reasons you should buy my house

Reasons you should buy my house...despite its quirks!Our house has been on the market for about 6 weeks now, and it hasn’t gotten too many looks yet. I know someone will fall in love with it if we can get more prospective buyers in the door, but in the meantime, I thought it would be fun to do a post about the upsides of the house’s little quirks. (Every house has some, right?)

 

1.  There’s no bathtub in the master bathroom and the bathroom is too small. How often do you take a bath — really?  That’s a bogus complaint.  Onward.  The bathroom is fairly small, and seems even smaller because it’s divided up into a tiny room with a shower and toilet, and a powder room area with the mirror and sink. Why this is awesome: you can use the sink or get ready while the other person is in the shower or using the toilet. Bathroom multitasking at its finest!

 

2.  A bathroom/laundry combo — yes, it’s another multi-tasking room on the lower level (just inside the door from the garage). Oddly not pictured on my realtor’s website (hmm… wonder why?) but it does serve one purpose very well – you get a little reminder not to leave your wet laundry to moulder in the washing machine whenever you step inside to use the facilities.  Handy, eh?

 

3.  There’s a balcony off the master bedroom.  Cool, right?  It even has a beautiful view of a dogwood tree that flowers beautifully in the spring.  Except… we never used it.  Maybe I should have put a coffeemaker in my bathroom so I could sit on the balcony with my first cup of coffee in the morning?

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4.  Some people seem to think there’s not enough storage.  True enough, the house was built in the late 1970’s and doesn’t have the gargantuan walk-in closets that some newer houses have.  But the master closet is big enough (and we even put in an awesome closet system!) and do your kids even need walk-in closets anyway?  Consider smaller closets as my gift to you learning to embrace minimalism.

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5.  The kitchen.  Okay, no quirks here.  You know you want this kitchen.  That’s a five-burner gas stove over there!  Now, who’s gonna buy my house?  (Open house next Sunday!  All photos courtesy of Scott Rose, Realtor.)

 

What quirks does your house have?  Have you ever sold a house before?  (It’s my first time — please tell me I don’t need to worry and it will sell soon.)

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Managing a move with small kids

I haven’t been around this blog too much this summer, because I’ve been busy moving and getting settled into our new home and new town.  My blog-friend Jana offered to write a guest post that is chock-full of awesome advice for people in my situation.  I hope you find it as helpful as I did!

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Last summer, after 9 years, my husband and I decided it was time to move out of our townhouse. We had been considering it for a couple of years but between the terrible school district we lived in and the…incident that happened in the house next door, we finally pulled the trigger and put our house on the market.

Thanks to a fantastic realtor, our house sold quickly and in less than 90 days, we were in our new home (the drama it took to get the new home is another discussion). In the year we’ve been here, the quality of our life has improved dramatically and I can’t believe we waiting as long as we did.

That said, I must confess that “unpleasant” is too soft of a word to describe the whole moving process. Especially when you take my then-6 year old daughter into consideration. When you’re moving yourself or just adults, it’s a fairly uncomplicated, albeit cumbersome, process. When you add children into the mix, you’re bringing on a whole set of extra circumstances that you need to prepare for.

And so you’re not caught off guard like I was, here’s a few situations and how to handle them:

Toys

If you have kids, you know how important their toys are. However, those toys? Also need to be packed and if you pack the wrong ones, you’re looking at a complete meltdown. And honestly, who wants to deal with the ensuing tantrum packing mermaid Barbie causes when you’re trying to pack an entire house? Not me. Probably not you, either.

To prevent that, have your kid help you pack their toys. Set a limit on how many they can keep out, explain that the toys are only being put away for a little bit and that they’ll see them again in the new house, and let them pick ones get packed last minute.

Mealtimes

Keeping a routine for the kids is rather difficult when you’re thrust into the chaos of moving. While they are more flexible than we sometimes give them credit for, it is still necessary to stick to somewhat of an eating schedule. Because there are few things worse than a hungry kid. And to save your budget, you also need to make sure that you’re not constantly going out to eat. Which is hard to do when your pots, pans, and dishes are packed away.

Although not ideal, for a few days, keep some prepackaged, microwaveable foods and single serve snacks in the house (even the shelf stable fruit cups and stuff can work), or keep a limited amount of stuff in the fridge, like fruit and cheese sticks. Use disposable dishes and silverware. Make an event out of it, like having a picnic on the floor. And, if you are going to bring in all the time, especially in the days leading up to the move, explain to the kids that this is a “special situation”. You don’t want them to come to expect this as the new normal!

Moving day

Whether you hire movers or do it yourself, there will come a day when your stuff needs to be moved. You’re also going to have a few hours when you’ll need to sign all that fun paperwork, like the mortgage documents. It’s a frustrating, exhausting time and you know what makes it even more frustrating and exhausting? Having kids underfoot the entire time.

If you can, send them to their daycare or hire a babysitter or leave the kids with a neighbor, friend, or family member for a few hours on moving day. This not only prevents the kids from getting underfoot while you’re, say, trying to move heavy bedroom furniture down a flight of stairs or moving a TV through a doorway, and therefore prevents injury, but it keeps them busy and occupied so you’re not having to stress about them (read: deal with their whining) and you can concentrate on moving.

Just make sure you’re budgeting for it, especially if you have pay someone. Moving comes with enough unexpected expenses; you don’t want this one to creep up on you too!

Another tip: keep your kids involved in the whole moving/selling/buying process. Even if they’re little, they still understand that something is changing and including them in the process makes it somewhat less stressful.

Moving is never easy, and moving with kids certainly throws another ball in the air. But if you manage it using some of these tips, it’ll make it that much easier.

How about you guys? Have you ever moved with small kids? What would you add to this list?

Jana Lynch is a blogger at Jana Says, mom, wife, animal lover, avid reader, newbie runner and runs the blog mentoring program Bloggers Helping Bloggers. Stop by and say hi to her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram!

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Chaos contained (a closet makeover)

One of my goals this month was to get the main hall closet in my house under control. It’s the largest closet in our 70’s split-level house, and it’s conveniently located near the entryway, living room, and kitchen, so a whole bunch of junk ends up in there.

I know cleaning out a closet sounds a little OCD, but seriously… It was bad. To the point that it was completely non-functional. Stuff was covering the floor so you couldn’t even walk inside to hang up coats or put toys away, so more stuff just got piled on top of the mess.  All right, enough chatter.  Wanna see?

This closet is out of control!  Check out how I got it organized.

Yes, I have a inflatable remote-controlled minion in my hall closet. Doesn’t everyone?

There’s no magic formula I followed to organize the space, just the basic “get everything out, put back what you need to keep” philosophy.  I moved a junky bookcase from my sons room and wedged it in under the coats to make room to store toys that’s not on the floor.

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The only things I bought for this project were two large storage containers.  I stashed sports gear and dress-up outfits in them, under the coats on the other side of the closet.

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This freed up the floor so now my son can use the lower hooks to hang up his coat by himself. I put some baby stuff that I like to have close at hand on the upper hooks.  The top shelf is empty, since I learned from the ADD organizing book that you should always leave some extra space for “staging” or short-term storage in areas that are used a lot.

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Yay!  I’m soooo glad I got this project done.  I was almost tempted to stick something in the closet that didn’t belong in there today, but I resisted.  That’s progress, people!

What’s the most chaotic space in your home?  Or are you one of those organized people whose closets never look this bad?

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April Goals, and March Goals in review

Monthly Goals // Beauty School Dropout

Photo Credit: caljuggler via Compfight cc

Hello, April!  It’s a good thing April is a long month, because I’m feeling extra-motivated this month.  I think it’s that involuntary spring cleaning thing kicking in!  But before that, I always think it’s good to look back and see how I did on last month’s goals.

March Goals Recap

Crafty stuff.  A-.  I finished the cross-stitch and dropped it off for framing.  I hoped to have a photo of the finished project but the framing isn’t done yet.  I did start a new knitting project (a hat for my husband) but I’ve only half-heartedly worked a few rows on it.  It should hopefully be done by next winter!  (I don’t do as much knitting, stitching, etc. in the spring and summer because I’d rather be outside playing.)

Banish the Mean Mommy Monster.  B.  I am getting better… I’m becoming more aware of what triggers the MMM to rear her ugly head, but I certainly haven’t been 100% perfect about not yelling.   My son has also learned the word “annoyed” this month, as in, “Mommy, are you annoyed with me?”  Yes, son… yes I am.  Just being able to have that conversation really helps take the uncontrolled emotion out of the situation for me.

Yoga.  B.  I didn’t do yoga twice a week like I’d hoped, but I did go to class a lot more than normal.

 Self care.  A-.  There always room for improvement in this area, but I’m starting to look at my calendar differently and carve out some time for me, even if it means burning an hour or two of vacation time at work to do it.  I have also made peace with cooking much simpler meal (and repeating them a lot) at this point in my life.  Let’s just hope my family doesn’t get sick of crockpot meals!  Actually, they probably will, just in time for grilling season to start, which is equally easy in my mind.

April Goals

Start running again.  Now that the weather is not mind-numbingly cold anymore, I am excited to get back into running!  My running buddy is on the injured list, though, so I won’t be able to rely on her for  motivation.  I’m thinking of registering for a Superhero 5K!  (yes of course I’m going to wear a costume!!!)

Plant the garden.  Obviously it’s not warm enough to plant everything yet, but I can clean out the old plants, put in some new soil, and get spring plants like peas and lettuce started.

Closets.  Do seasonal clothes switch-out in my closet and donate stuff I don’t wear anymore.  Get too-small clothes out of the kids’ closets and box up or give away.  Clean out our disaster of a hall closet.  Bonus points if I manage to also slightly reclaim the living room from being a playroom.  (I was inspired by Steph’s decluttering tips, Kathy’s epic closet organization project, and Seana’s post on how to Organize Like a Kindergarten.

April Wallet Watch with Steph & Marla.  This is a choose your own adventure spending freeze — make your own rules!  Life According to Steph

My rules are:

1. Wallet watch lasts from April 1 – 30.
2. Track every dollar spent and stay within budget (under if possible!)
3. No buying clothes, shoes, beauty products, or Easter basket junk, except a new Easter outfit for Josiah and gifts for a baby shower and birthday party (staying within budget of course!).
3. Only one meal out per week except for weekends we are traveling.
4. Cook out of the pantry and freezer and really use what I have before food shopping.
Linking up with Ginger at Just One of the Boys.
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Not so extreme home makeover: Bedroom wall edition

I have learned something about myself recently that seems like it should have been obvious, but it struck me as a real insight: when rooms in my house are clean, decluttered, and nicely decorated, I most likely to put in the extra effort to keep them looking good. When a few things start to pile up somewhere, suddenly that spot becomes a dumping room for all kinds of junk.

After thirty-cough cough years, I’ve finally gotten into the habit of making my bed in the mornings. It makes such a difference in making my bedroom look good! But there was a big empty wall that was really bugging me. On a recent visit to my sister’s house, I was inspired to create something similar to the gallery of family photos that she had recently hung in her bedroom.

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I had a few frames and accent pieces that I could use, but I knew I needed some more, so I went to Target and bought a variety of black, dark brown, and metal frames that were on clearance. I played around with several layouts and texted pictures to a few friends for advice. (The shelf I bought to copy my sister’s layout didn’t look good with everything else, so I decided to use that curlicue thing that I’ve had forever as another option to fill the space.)

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Hmm… not quite right.

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Nope, that’s not it, either.

My friend and neighbor Suzannah took pity on me and came over to help. She has such a good eye for decorating! Here’s what we (she) came up with.

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Better, right?

I bit the bullet and started pounding nails into the wall almost as soon as she left — once I found an arrangement I liked, I wanted it done! I still need to put photos in a few of the frames, but I am really happy with how it turned out.

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Nice, eh?

Does the “broken window” or “clutter begets clutter” theory apply in your house, too?

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Back to Work (after baby) Checklists

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My list-making brain was on overdrive last weekend as I prepared to go back to work after being home on maternity leave for 6 weeks. I’m sharing my lists in the hopes that someone else can benefit from my obsessiveness and find a little peace as they’re getting ready to head back to work.

Pumping stuff
Pump and pump parts
Storage bottles and/or bags
Towel
Extra pieces (membranes, etc)
Cooler bag
Ziplock bag for storing pump parts in fridge during the day
Masking tape and Sharpie marker for labeling bottles/bags
Small cooler bag for transporting milk

Babysitter stuff
Diapers
Extra clothes
Pacifier
Bottles
Milk
Program your babysitter’s phone number into your phone and make it a favorite so it’s easy to find.

Stuff for you
Pick out your clothes the night before (try them on to make sure they fit!)
Set up coffee maker
Pack lunch & healthy snacks – don’t forget stuff you normally keep at your desk, it’s probably time to restock since you’ve been gone a while
Pack workout bag (wishful thinking?)
Figure out what you’re having for breakfast in the morning (I pre cooked a big batch of steel cut oats and hard boiled eggs for my first week back.)
Pack backpack for older kiddo
Baby photos — everyone will ask to see them!

Going back to work can be really stressful! I hope these lists can bring you a little peace if you’re trying to get ready to go back to work and you don’t know where to begin.

Linking up with Dinosaur Superhero Mommy’s Let’s Get Organized Blog Hop 6.

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Not-So-Extreme Home Makeover: Patio Edition

Slowly but surely, I am on a mission to dejunk and organize my house. (It will be a never-ending process, I’m sure.) One of the areas that is the worst right now is our back patio. We use our patio quite a bit — we get nice shade in the evenings and we have a fairly large backyard for our 3 year old to play in, so we hang out there quite a bit and we often eat outside if the weather is nice. But it’s become a bit of a mess as the summer has worn on. Ok, I think the technical term is “hot mess.” Abandoned toys, disheveled patio furniture, and dead flowers… the trifecta of trashy outdoor spaces, right?

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It’s really bad. Please don’t think less of me.

But, the good news is that I managed to get it looking a LOT better in about 3 hours (spread out over several days) and for a grand total of $20 for some new fall plants. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Threw away broken toys, swept spider webs off windows, put slide in attic, disassembled basketball goal (15 min)
  • Went shopping for new plants (30 min)
  • Cleaned out flower pots, planted new flowers (20 min)
  • Moved everything off patio, swept really well (15 min)
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Work in progress. I’m sure at this point, my neighbors were getting nervous.

  • Rearranged furniture and flower pots to best utilize the space — sunny spots for flowers and shady spots for seating areas (15 min)
  • Hauled remaining junk in the yard to its home — sprinklers and paint brushes back to garage, large outdoor toys to attic and/or garage. (25 min)

And voila — the finished project! Quite an improvement, right?

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Now I just need to figure out my next project to tackle. I am really digging this “15 minutes at a time” way of getting big projects done.

Do you get the urge to take on “spring cleaning” projects like this in the fall, or is it just me?

Linking up with Dinosaur Superhero Mommy‘s Let’s Get Organized Blog Hop. and The Jenny Evolution‘s Friday Flash Blog.

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Project Simplify: Piles

Project Simplify on Simple Mom

I know this is supposed to be a project about getting organized at home, but this week’s theme is piles.  When I think about piles, I think about my desk at work.  And I happen to be moving offices this week.  What better time to get my ish together?

The new office before my invasion:

IMG_1234After moving in — before organization:

IMG_1236 IMG_1235And… After!  (it’s still a working office, so it’s not perfect)

IMG_1240 IMG_1239I still need to hang pictures, but I made a HUGE dent in the piles, wouldn’t you say?  I went from 6 file drawers in my old office to 2 in this one, so I had to do some serious and much-needed purging of old files.

Next week… that “put-off project”!  Which one should I choose…

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Project Simplify: That Pesky Closet

Project Simplify on Simple Mom
Still rolling with Week Two of this project!  The pesky closet in my life is my hall closet in the entryway of my house.  It is one of the largest closets in my house, which is wonderful, except that its ample size combined with its convenient location means that it is a primo dumping ground for all kinds of stuff.
Befores on the left, Afters on the right:
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Hmm… I realize after posting these pictures that the Befores & Afters don’t really look that different.  After all, we still have all our winter coats in there, lots of board games, front door decorations, and vases.  But it really does look so much better!  My husband commented on it immediately the first time he opened the closet doors.
I think the biggest change is just getting stuff up off the floors.  You can’t really tell it in these pictures, but over the winter we’d gotten into the bad habit of just throwing coats and bags onto the floor of the closet and shutting the doors.  With everything hung up and organized, it is a much more functional closet.  You can actually reach stuff!  Plus, those bags hanging along the bottom row of hooks are holding lots of toys that are no longer cluttering up my living room.  Hooray for organizing!
Project Bonus: I found a favorite earring that I’d been missing for over a year!
Next week: Piles.
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