Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Greatest Show on Earth (Would Someone PLEASE Tell My Boys That)!

We took the boys to the circus last night thinking they would have a BLAST and love it. Especially since the theme was "Dragons" and they are enthralled with all things dragons right now. Well, they weren't exactly into the circus. They loved all the preshow activities, the slides, the treats and the animals. But, once the show got underway, it was a real task trying to keep them in their seats and interested in the show. Hmmm, are my children weird? I have several friends that do the circus every year--it's one of the things their children look forward too. Mine, not so much. Not sure if we'll give it another try next year or not, but we got a couple of good pictures in the short time we were there (yes, they wanted to leave about 35 minutes into the show)!

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Getting Organized Series: In the Home Office

Not sure about you, but our family tends to use the home office A LOT! Whether we're paying bills, using the computer, or crafting, our home office gets a lot of action. The last room in the Better Homes and Gardens room-by-room organization guide is the Home Office. Here are some really useful tips for getting your home office in clutter free shape for the New Year.

Communication Haven--A message center at the heart of the home is a quick and easy way to sync everyone's busy schedules. This station was made from a patchwork of magnet, dry-erase, cork, and pegboard squares on the wall behind the built-in desktop.

In Plain Sight--Fill wall-mount pockets near your workstation with bills, items to file, and correspondence so these documents are always in plain sight. Place project- and person-specific materials that aren?t time-sensitive in labeled document boxes or expandable files; that way you can transport relevant documents quickly.

Time to Recharge--A little R&R is important for everyone, including technology. Designate one accessible location, like a desk or console table, for recharging all your personal devices. Choose a charging station that hides messy cords, or repurpose a small basket or other container. Label each charger with a sticker or tab so you can quickly connect. Pin It

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Getting Organized Series: The Garage

I LOVE the garage! This is the space where we do a lot of CREATING at our house and we're always trying to think of better ways to get it organized so we can find things quicker. For the New Year room-by-room organization tips courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens, the garage did not go unnoticed and these tips are EXCELLANT!

Enlist Wall Space. Because shelves tend to collect clutter, opt for solutions that mount to the wall or ceiling. They take up less space and require you to designate specific spots for each item. A wall-hung storage system organizes a mountain of sports gear in a slim space, keeping the floor clear of clutter and allowing a car to park nearby.

Think Modular. Modular cabinets combine to form a station for gardening and garage work. A floor rack keeps large tools in check, while smaller tools hang from sliding clips on a slatted wall panel. Short cubbies and drawers provide storage for gardening supplies and form a countertop for potting.

Keep It Convenient.  Encourage the whole family to recycle by designating an easy-to-reach zone for cans, papers, and plastics. A trio of stackable bins forms a compact recycling station that is conveniently located near the door to the house. Plastic containers offer clean, moistureproof storage, while clear labels help keep things in order. Reusable grocery bags are stored nearby for trips to the store. Pin It

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Getting Organized Series: For the Kid's Room

Kid's Rooms can be extra challenging for organizing and concurring the clutter. I know our boys rooms can be clean one second and the next it looks like a toy bomb went off without warning! Better Homes and Gardens has some great tips for organizing these hard-to-keep-clean rooms with the little one's in mind--check out these GREAT tips.

Create Special Spots: Make it easy for kids to keep their rooms tidy by creating special, clearly marked spots for absolutely everything they own. Choose small baskets, crates, and pails that are portable and light enough for little ones to tote.

Scale Down: Kids shouldn't have to ask for help to reach their belongings. Make playthings more accessible by installing shelves, cubbies, and hooks at a child's height. Open storage allows kids to display their favorite things, while trunks are perfect for bulky or seldom-used items.

Make Room for Hobbies: Always find room for your child's interests, whether that means bins for sports equipment, a flat surface for drawing, or a special hook for dance outfits.

And, always remember that Independence Matters! If you want an organizing plan to succeed in a child's room, involve your child in the process to devise a system he or she understands. This fosters a feeling of independence -- and excuse-proof cleanup.
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Monday, January 9, 2012

Mini-Dose of Sunshine

Several months ago, when Ray got word that his firm was hosting a partner's retreat in Orlando the first weekend of the year, we were too excited to have the opportunity at a mini-vacation/date night. How great it would be to have some alone time to kick-off the new year. We made plans and January 2012 was here before we knew it!

Ray flew out of Birmingham for Orlando on Wednesday and I left Friday to join him. His firm retreat would conclude with a dinner on Friday evening, spouses/guests welcome, at Epcot where we could enjoy the park and Illuminations at the end of the evening. I made it to Orlando without issue, was whisked away by a town car Ray pre-arranged because he knows how directionally challenged I am, arrived at our hotel and was greeted in the lobby by champagne (first time this has ever happened when I checked into a hotel). I must say, I sorta felt like a rock star!
After checking in, I freshened up and headed to Epcot to join Ray for dinner. After a quick meal, we were off to check out all the sites of Epcot. While we'd been to Epcot a few years ago with the boys, we only did character photo-ops and a few rides (the boys were only 2 years and 6 months). I must say, I really LOVED Epcot; all the different countries are well designed and offer unique glimpses into their cultures (great job, Disney!); below are a few pictures I snapped of China, London (LOVE the telephone booth) and France.
After our trip around the world, we closed out our evening with Epcot's firework extravaganza "Illuminations". We missed this on our last trip so we were really excited to see it this visit; it was AWESOME!
Saturday presented a few bumps as our bellman put us on the wrong shuttle so after spending an hour and a half on a trip that took us back to our starting point, we finally made it to Downtown Disney. We enjoyed lunch (it was supposed to be breakfast) and visited "Ride Maker", where we made the boys the coolest cars from the movie "Cars 2". We picked our body style, wheels, rims and chaise and then got timed while we put them together--it was pretty neat!
Afer completing our cars, we visited with Woody in "Legoland" where Macklin would go nuts--he loves building blocks and legos!
We decided to head back to the hotel so we could get ready for dinner with an old friend and his girlfriend (and yes, I had the camera with me, but didn't take any photographs). On Sunday, we packed up, enjoyed one last view of the pool and golfcourse....
and then jumped in our car to heade back home to our precious little boys--it was a nice weekend to start off 2012! 
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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Getting Organized Series: In the Bathroom

Bathrooms can present many challenges for organization. Try these tips courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens for Restoring Order to your Bathroom!
Limit medicine cabinets to items you use every day. Keep medications in original containers on a high shelf or other safe spot, particularly if there are small children in the house. Store remaining items one layer deep, doubling space with acrylic ledges. Rest toiletries in caddies or trays on the vanity so you can lift them for quick cleaning or tuck them away when guests visit.

If your bath lacks a closet, repurpose a cabinet or dresser to keep extra linens and supplies on hand. Bath oils and bulk items, such as cotton swabs, look pretty in glass jars -- plus its easy to know when to restock.

Be sure to Organize Drawers! Grooming is so much more enjoyable when drawers are clean and clutter-free. Use removable organizers in vanity drawers to keep things from migrating. Once a month, remove all toiletries and thoroughly wash containers, trays, drawers, and drawer liners. Remember to toss expired products and transfer unused or out-of-season items to less prominent locations, such as under the sink.

Remember, the secret to organizing the bathroom is to be diligent and ruthless about getting rid of what you don't need. Get rid of the stuff you rarely or never use and keep what you use on a daily basis.
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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Getting Organized Series: A Cozy Bedroom

The room I struggle the most with is our master bedroom. I think it has more to do with the fact that I've run out of decorating and design steam by the time I get to the bedroom, but nonetheless, I really paid attention to these tips courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens for the Bedroom.
Try to Go Vertical. You'll be able to rest easy knowing your bedside belongings are free from chaotic clutter. Put blank walls to work with a few shelves within reach of the bed.

Always Contain Dirty Laundry! Have a designated spot to put laundry at the end of each day. Invest in a hamper to prevent clothes pileups on the floor or inside the closet. A dresser with a built-in laundry basket keeps dirty clothes contained in a stylish, out-of-sight location.

Don't forget to Utilize the Foot of the Bed. When space is at a premium, foot-of-the-bed storage is a quick fix for full closets and dresser drawers. A storage-friendly bench, trunk, or bookshelf is a perfect solution for stashing extra linens or out-of-season items. I keep a trunk at the end of our bed for storing toys in so the boys can play in our room and the mess can quickly be put away!

Give items a Final Resting Place. The bedroom may not be first on the list to organize, but dresser tops and chairs can quickly become towers of stuff in need of a home. Track the things that stack up over a week, and create permanent places to keep them in the room. Nightstands combine display space with attractive storage for personal items, extra linens, or books.

Hope you found some of these organizing tips useful; I sure did! Pin It

Friday, January 6, 2012

Getting Organized Series: The Family Room

Our third installment of the getting organized series courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens provides some great advice for organizing your Family Room. Let's face it, most of us spend our quality family time in this room and we need it to be both functional AND comfortable. Getting and keeping the family room organized can be a daily challenge at my house so these tips really gave me some additional ideas for concurring the clutter!
First, you should Develop Zones for your family room. Creating a sense of togetherness is effortless when you choose integrated storage. The first step is to be realistic about how everyone uses the room so you can give each activity some space of its own. Such agreed-upon zones keep activities enjoyable and clutter-contained. You should also try to Control Your Extras by keeping only movies, games, music, and books that you use and realistically fit on your shelves. Labeled photo boxes are stylish and the perfect size for stashing on shelves in an entertainment center or furniture armoire.

This next tip is one I put to use in every room, especially in my family room. Create Space from Thin Air

by creating storage behind a couch, love seat, or armchair. Pull furniture far enough from the wall to allow for open crates or bins, as well as access to them. Furniture pieces such as lift-top ottomans are also ideal for storage-strapped rooms. I LOVE using baskets and pretty bins under couch tables and chairs--great hiding place for magazines & toys!

Lastly, you should make Room for Everyone! Since every family member spends time in this room, it can become a jumble of activities and stuff. Create storage for each activity, whether it's reading, playing games, watching television paying bills, or playing with a pet. Pin It

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Getting Organized Series: The Mudroom

The second part in the Getting Organized Series courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens has to do with the Mudroom. While I don't have the luxury of a mudroom, I really enjoyed the tips and think they can be modified for the foyer or any space where you organize the items needed everyday for school and work.
First, think about how you can Hang It Up! Hooks are a simple and inexpensive storage solution. Install enough for everyone's coats, umbrellas, purses, backpacks, and briefcases. This suggestion could easily be modified for the foyer--just hang decorative hooks on the wall behind the front door and you have instant organization AND artwork!

Second, you should Create Shoe Storage. Shoes collect at the entryway, so find a way to contain them. You could use a big basket, a galvanized tray, a simple shelf, or even a painted trash can! Next, trying using shelves or cubbies with handsome labeled bins or cloth-lined baskets to add storage  while creating a smooth and attractive transition into the house

Finally, try to create A Place for Everything. Whether it's a dedicated room or a stretch of wall inside the door, the key is to have a place for all the things you bring in that don't need to go any farther into the house. Make a list of those items -- coats, boots, mail, keys -- and create an easy-access storage spot for each one right by the door. Pin It

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Getting Organized Series: In the Kitchen

If you're like me, you really start to get attempt to organized with the start of the New Year. You've just cleared away all the Christmas decorations, have made a New Year's resolution (that you'll attempt to keep), and you've vowed to FINALLY cut the clutter and get organized. I take this on every year with the greatest of intentions yet seem to fall short in getting it done. I did come across this great article in Better Homes and Gardens which gives great tips for getting organized one room at a time. Since I really enjoyed and found some useful tips, I thought I'd make series of it and share it with you for your organizing needs this 2012. Let's kick if off with the most popular room in the house (at least it is at my house), the Kitchen.

BH&G's advice for tidying up your kitchen is to first, Clear The Countertops! Countertops should hold only things you use on a daily basis. Enjoy peace of mind by creating a permanent spot for everything else, including appliances. Place small appliances deep within a corner niche or behind an appliance garage to maximize counter space.

Second, you should divide and conquer your Drawers and Cupboards. Avoid jumbled messes in drawers and cupboards with dividers, bags, and caddies for frequently used items, such as silverware, napkins, and even baking supplies. Most cabinet manufactures have good options for pullouts, shelf inserts, hooks, and other kitchen organizing tools.

One of the hardest things in our house is keeping the kitchen free of clutter. If you're family is at all like ours, you come into the kitchen and drop your keys, briefcase, shoes, kiddos school papers, and all the daily STUFF on the counter so you can look at it after the hustle & bustle of dinner. BH&G's suggestion for curring this problem is to Corral Personal Items.  To prevent the room from becoming a dumping ground, try this rule: By dinnertime, the kitchen must be clear of personal items.

Finally, check out The Big Picture! To get a handle on all the food, gadgets, and equipment that live in the kitchen, catalog those you use regularly and divide them based on where in the room they're most used. Store things as close as possible to where you use them. If you rarely or never use an item, give it away or store it in an out-of-the-way spot, such as in the basement, on high shelves in the pantry, or in the back of a corner cabinet.

Not sure about you, but I certainly plan to put a few of these organizing tips to good use in my kitchen! Pin It

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


This is a picture of a leaf Jackson brought me from one of his walks around the lake with Daddy & Macklin. He insisted on bringing it home to me because he said it looked like a heart; how precious is he!! I brought it to my office so I could see it everyday and be reminded that I am very lucky to have this precious little boy, his amazing little brother, and their awesome daddy in my life.

As I reflect on 2011, I remember that it, and the past few years should have been some of the happiest years of my life, but they have been some of the hardest and saddest I have ever experienced. I am very hopeful that 2012 will bring back the joy and happiness I have been so desperate for and that I am reminded how great life can be with my wonderful family of boys. It has been a real struggle for all of us and I hope that by typing these words and seeing them in black and white, I am able to let go and move on in 2012.

In 2006, when I was pregnant with Jackson, my doctor discovered some irregularities with my thyroid. I was sent to a specialist to have an ultrasound and the decision was made to monitor it every six months. That continued for the next few years. After I had Macklin in 2009 and returned to my doctor for my follow-up visit, it was determined that my thyroid was abnormally large and needed more in-depth tests. I was sent to see a different specialist who thought it was important to immediately remove my thyroid as it could be a more serious issue not easily detected with testing. The decision was made to have my thyroid removed and without going into too much detail, the next year to year and half were the most challenging I would experience in my life. I recall telling my doctor that I would rather experience natural childbirth in the desert than go through this hell again; it was a nightmare!

Now, I have tried to tell myself that the thyroid issue might not have been so bad were it not during a time in my life when my hormones were out of control. During these four years, I was pregnant for 20 months and the remaining 28 months I was navigating being a new mom, returning to a stressful job, moving into a new house, starting over in new job(s) that promised to be less stressful, but were anything but, and trying to be a supportive wife to a husband that had embarked on a new and very stressful career as a lawyer. I was navigating this new world with little outside help, had very few friends to lean on, and was careful not to let on that I was a mess. I never talked about my feelings (a problem I've always had) and would desperately try to convince myself that the blues would soon pass. It did not help that the visions I had of how life as a mom would be varied drastically from how it really was; it was exhausting, stressful, lonely, and down right miserable. I have never felt more alone and inept in my life. I cried 5 out of 7 days of the week and I just wanted to disappear. It did not help matters that during this time, I continued to see my friends have babies and seem completely put together and stress-free so I thought I was just not trying hard enough. It was taking a toll on me, was affecting my boys behavior, and my marriage.

What I know today, after a lot of crying, reading, yelling, researching, and some visits with a therapist is that I likely suffered from postpartum depression. The PPD was exasperated by my hypothyroidism (which also causes depression, forgetfulness, emotional instability, irritability, and a host of other mental effects I won't bore you with) and while I knew years ago I wasn't quiet myself, I never really thought it was PPD. I just thought I was tired, stressed and a little overwhelmed and that I would get through it somehow on my own. The problem was that the stress, loneliness and exhaustion never seemed to lighten up and the times I thought I had "fixed" the issues, I had only applied a band-aid that wouldn't last. So, the band-aid has been ripped off and at the end of 2011, I confront the depression head on and move forward.

My goal for 2012 is to let go of all the bad memories, all of the stress, all of the countless disappointments, all the broken promises of friends and family, all of the anger and frustration, all the mistakes, and focus on the new possibilities that come with a new year. I just finished "Down Came The Rain" which is Brooke Shields' book on her personal battle with PPD and it made me realize I shouldn't be embarrassed that I feel into the percentage of women that suffer from PPD. It's okay that I'm not perfect (those of you that really know me know that is hard for me to admit) and its okay that everything in my life not be perfect! I am hopeful that 2012 will be a better (and much healthier) year and that I am able to focus on the good that came out of 2011 and to let go of all the bad. After all, I have 2 of the most precious little boys in the world, my husband, and a new year full of promise. Pin It

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Years Eve in Atlanta

Ray and I had the chance to have an out-of-town date night which involved a trip to Atlanta for the Zack Brown Band concert. Some very sweet friends invited us to tag along (thank you, Holly & Chris) to enjoy the concert and it was AWESOME! I wasn't able to take my good camera into the Philips Arena (no professional cameras allowed) so I had to make due with my iPhone--here are the best pictures I got.
The only unfortunate aspect of the trip was that it was the Chic-fil-A Bowl and Auburn was in town. We laughed during their parade (I had to twist Ray's arm to make him watch as he HATES parades almost as much as he HATES Auburn), sang Alabama versions of their songs, played a game of "guess which fan" because the AU and VA fans looked exactly alike (albeit the VA fans looked just a little more educated), and managed to snag the boys the cutest cows and footballs that didn't have anything AU on them!
We had a wonderful, adult night that reminded us how old we are and then hurried home to our precious boys! Happy New Year!!
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