Self Centered…


With the new year ringing in I sat down with my better half to review the goals we had made just a year before.  We had separated the goals into categories of couple, family, Erik and Brooke. Reading over the words that streamed across the lined paper torn from a notebook, we began our year in review.

Tackling the goals under the family category we were able to place a nice and neat check mark next to each goal oriented task. Moving on to the “couple list” we were about 50% successful when it came to achieving the goals we had placed on our list. As we moved on to the objectives listed under each of our names it wasn’t even close to 50%. Though 2015 was incredibly successful to the outside world, what we had hoped for when it came to our individual achievements, it all had fallen sort of short. The first half of 2015 was full of a focus on our health and relationships, self and family. I could go on and on about the things we accomplished and experienced in the first half of 2015 that were more centered on self and family. However as the seasons changed so did our focus and responsibilities.  Looking at the lists and talking about the 365 days we had just lived out, 2015 had started exactly where and how we wanted. However, midway through the year the goals we had intended somehow had been forgotten as we became responsible for other things, other people and other responsibilities not to mention taking on bigger adventures and milestones.

Browsing homes turned into buying a home. Preparing for school turned into all three kids attending school.  A conversation grew into a new position at a new company. A vision of starting a MOPS ministry turned into building and coordinating the living breathing group. Jokes about a puppy gave birth to a new furry and energetic family member. Thoughts of volunteering turned into dedicated time to others. Lazy Saturday mornings turned into scheduled mornings of hockey, dance and karate. Savings went into new patios, house furnishings, paint and other fixer upper needs and wants.

Before we knew it the holidays came and went, with 2015 coming to a close. The birth of 2016 rushed in, right in our faces screaming like a newborn infant.  Just like giving birth to a new baby, I was literally exhausted in the first weeks of the new year. Rather than crawl into bed to hide from the cold and the planning of a new year, I rummaged through notes, calendars, old blog posts and old goals. I came up with a top-secret plan for 2016 that my family, my husband and myself could all benefit from and all enjoy in the process. Last year was the year of simplicity while this year would be “Self Centered Bitch Year”.

My hope for 2016 is to end it with check marks next to every single individual and couple goal. I want us to focus on ourselves this year. I want us to be self-centered bitches, demanding that we need time to grow and rest, doing what we want to because our hearts tell us so. I don’t want to worry if we are doing enough for others or if we are making everyone else happy or living up to the standards that Facebook subconsciously nails into our heads each day.

Being with my family makes me so incredibly happy.  Spending alone time, whether at a fancy restaurant or on the couch watching “Making a Murder,” with my husband makes my soul feel complete. Writing, reading and wandering though my mind in solitude without another soul in the vicinity puts me in balance providing enough motivation to rule the world. Why deny myself and my family of these precious moments, this happiness and passion? I cannot think of a single reason why, but I can think of five reasons why I shouldn’t … Brooke, Erik, Braxton, Travis, Hailey.





Women: Frantic Hamsters


Frantic hamsters.

As I talk to more women it seems that we all begin to follow this path of check marks and lists. A list for yourself, a list for your marriage, a list for your children, a list for your life. It doesn’t matter if a woman is a mother, married, employed, young or old even our hobbies have rules and expectations set by not only our culture but ourselves. Consistently striving to reach a level of perfection that once achieved will only morph into another level to reach. A snowball effect that ultimately means perfection will never be achieved, leaving us women to run like frantic caffeinated hamsters on hot pink wheels in a plastic cage of life that we’ll never escape.

Frantic hamsters.

To further push this idea of perfection into the spotlight, like a carrot held out of reach of a ravenous rabbit, is the guilt that forces it’s self onto women day and night. A crazed little monkey holding tightly to your neck riding your back until you feel as if you can no longer breathe.

Frantic hamsters.

When I was in college I never worried, I let everything just happen.  I never worried about money or clothing or my weight. I never worried about what my house looked like when we had a party or meal planned for a week in advance. I didn’t think about failing and only thought about succeeding. I never lost sleep over things that were out of my control, I just let life happen. I wore what I wanted to and said what came to my mind. I made friendships that meant something and made no effort to small talk with people I didn’t care for. I let life happen. Now all I do is plan. Filling days with check marks and lists. I don’t let anything just happen.

Frantic hamsters.

Never saying “self-look what you HAVE done today!” rather than “what more COULD have you done?” Then the creation of the To-Do List for the following day begins. Knowing but not embracing that there is only REAL time in this moment now, the past is no more and the future isn’t even here.  Instead of flourishing in  It doesn’t matter if a woman is a mother, married, this exact moment we start preparing for what is to come and step over what is exactly here now. Failing to let it all just happen now.

Frantic hamsters.

What if women (and men) were to just let life happen? Would it be so bad? Reflecting on those days of no worry with life just happening, I recall only happiness and a sense of comfortable content. I think that’s why I love having infants because during that first year of baby everything is so unpredictable that there isn’t a need for check marks and lists, there’s only living (or if you have twins,surviving). All you worry about is holding this little amazing bundle of love that you created and life just happens. That frantic hamster doesn’t exist, that pink wheel is donated to Goodwill and life is good.

Frantic hamsters.

I don’t want to be a frantic hamster anymore, but I also don’t want to have another baby in order to donate my hot pink wheel of anxiety. I do want to start letting life just happen. I want to embrace the only REAL time we have. I want  to flourish in this exact moment because we aren’t guaranteed the next. I’m challenging my control freak self to let life just happen. In turn I challenge all of you to do the same.

Frantic hamsters unite.

Put away the hot pink wheels in the form of To-Do Lists, Pinterest boards, recipes and pedometers. Stop planning the next moment and live in the present. It’s amazing the amount of stress and anxiety that melts away and doesn’t actually exist when the layers are peeled away. Take inspiration from the leaves of autumn. Let the expectations and rules go, turning from vibrant colors in our lives to dark brittle dust that’s whisked away by the brisk winds of a new season of life, a season of happening, not planning.

Why’d You Do It?

2015-08-27 09.12.18

Why’d you move into a smaller home?

Let me tell you why.

Over the last 10 years our living space has varied. We’ve lived in shared spaces. We’ve lived in different cities. We’ve lived in different states. We’ve lived in “homes” we’ve owned and “homes” we’ve leased. But one thing that hasn’t varied is that the living spaces just kept getting bigger and bigger. It was as if our concept of a dwelling was this fat cow on its way to the slaughter-house, we just kept feeding it and it just kept getting bigger until it was busting at the seams and walking through its own toxic shit.

In 2005 we started in an apartment in the Chicago suburbs that was two bedrooms, two baths, a large living room, kitchen and a walk out deck. When we bought our own home in 2007 we found ourselves in a 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath, with a finished basement, two car garage with a yard town home. Moving out to Texas we moved into a 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath, with office, formal dining room, kitchen eatery, media room, fenced in yard and not to mention a master closet the size of my college dorm room. After birthing a set of twins and turning our family of 3 into 5 overnight, we moved into another Texas beast at 3,600 sq. ft. with 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a sitting room, an office, a formal dining room, a kitchen eatery, a butler’s pantry, a media room, a master suite and more closets. Moving back to Illinois we knew we needed to think smaller to keep our budget in check. But apparently we didn’t think small enough. We moved into a 5 bedroom, 2.5 bath, with a sitting room, a formal dining room, lots of closets, a mudroom and a finished basement.

How did we fill all these rooms that often we never even stepped foot in? With stuff. A bunch of stuff that went unused and collected dust. Lots of stuff that I found myself constantly cleaning or dusting or turning off. None of it made sense, it just made a lot of stress. A bunch of stuff that filled corners and shelves to fill the square footage that we found ourselves living in. But isn’t that what everyone wants? The big square footage number? The American dream … to hear your echo in you huge, gigantic fatty home????

It turns out that’s NOT what I wanted. At the end of a decade and having moved into 5 different living spaces in 5 years, I was in need something that wasn’t a fatty. It turns out that I didn’t need all that “stuff” we had bought and stuffed our hungry homes with. I was tired of cleaning the unused rooms and the decorative items that were just collecting dust. I was frustrated with the spaces that were deemed for my children. They weren’t playing in those playrooms or using their “assigned” bathrooms! In actuality they were dragging their toys out to be with our family or brushing their teeth in the morning next to me on a stool as I applied mascara. It was becoming painfully obvious that what I wanted in life, a tight-knit family, was actually playing out. We weren’t spending time apart but rather together. We needed a home to reflect that.  And what we didn’t need was unused space and a bunch of material items that some else could better use than us.

So we began our search … we began our purge.

Daily trips, between nap times, were taken while checking house after house off our list with our ever patient realtor. All the while creating a mental list of haves and have-nots. Back at our current living space minivan loads were taken each day full of stuff that we decided we just didn’t need or want anymore. Every morning I kept motivated by reading blogs and articles about minimalism and pondered what truly made me happy, which turned out was not anything I owned by purchasing or adjoined to a bar code. No more piles of clothes or overstuffed linen closets. No more holding onto items out of sentimental value, after all the memory wasn’t held within the makeup of the tangible but rather in the makeup of my mind and heart. We donated bed frames, televisions, clothes, cookware, dishes, bedding, furniture, tables, chairs, toiletries, accessories … you name and we got rid of it. At the end of our purge I can say with confidence that we probably ended up furnishing at least 1.5 homes with all the “stuff” we got rid of, not to mention decor for an entire holiday season.

Our idea of what our “family home” looked like began to take shape, molding into a living space that could have fit inside our last Texas home.

Then one day as I was playing at a new park that I stumbled across with the kids, we found it … we found our family home for the next 20 years. The home our kids will grow up in. The home they will say good-bye to when we send them off to college. The home where Erik and I will find an empty nest and become honeymooners again. We found our HOME.

A ranch style contemporary piece built-in the 50’s with unique attributes and a backyard that takes my breath away. A 5 bedrooms, 2.5 baths with finished basement, but no sitting room, no eat-in kitchen, no office, no butler’s pantry, no “formal” dining room, no play room, no master bath or master suite. IT. IS. PERFECT. A perfect fit for our busy family of five that though constantly bickering we are constantly loving on one another. However some things have changed … less time devoted to cleaning, faster times set for getting out the door, no more endless laundry, quieter mornings, less fighting, no more annoying background noise, less stress, more family time, more pillow talk, just more us.

Now the echoes are not from the square footage of our home but rather the lack of stuff that fills it even though it’s filled to the brim with love and memories to come. We’re excited to get our hands in the renovations to come. To make the kitchen and other areas of the home our very own with our ideas and Halperin stamp of design … which should prove for an interesting year to come.

So that’s it folks, that’s why we pulled the trigger and did the opposite of what we had been doing for the last ten years. We wanted more us and less home.

(My ultimate favorite minimalism blog is The Minimalists! Read it and take it in. I followed their example for unpacking when moving into our home. I asked myself the questions that they repeat through out their posts in regards to “really needing” something or “really needing to devote our time” to something or someone and it makes things a whole lot clearer!)

The Simple Life: Self-kindness

Simple Self. A concept made up of how you treat yourself mentally and physically. Uncluttering the negative self language and useless avenues of energy.

As a mother and wife, I am responsible for more than just how my own self-image affects me but also how that perception affects my children and my husband. It should be no surprise that the way I feel about myself directly influences my interactions with the ones I love most. However, even though I know the direct correlation and the negative impact that it can have on my dearest ones my self-image is its own wild beast that can never really be domesticated but maybe at least tamed. Through simplifying the treatment of my self, I hope that my self-image follows suit.

How can I challenge this perception? How can I force myself to see the me that those I hold closest see? By taking care of my “self” as if I were my bestest friend.

As I have stated before, the Year of Simplicity is not about deprivation. What I am seeking is the exact opposite. In the case of my self, I’ve been depriving myself of things and activities out of what I thought I should be giving up as a mother and wife.  How foolish I have been, because in reality those things are what made me the individual I am, the woman my husband fell in love with, the friend my loved ones look to confide in. By suppressing those needs and organic avenues of self-love and appreciation I slowly was chipping away at the positive self-image I once had. In developing a negative self-image my interactions are weighted with this gray cloud. I unconsciously began to sacrifice the things enjoyed, to buy and give the excess of what my family already had.  Now those same exact items I sacrificed for are now the things I am getting rid of … the EXCESS toys, clothing, activities and people.

Keeping an eye on the bigger picture: I want to design a life where money worries are minimal, is full of special times with family and friends and my days are devoted to activities that I am passionate about and are important to me.  Thinking of the expenditures that gave me a lot of pleasure that were long-term, thinking of those that were quickly forgotten, using these terms to outline my self spending guide and to become a model of self-kindness.

I have my list and my model. As of January 1st I already started checking off the list. Letting myself enjoy what I deserve which in turn has led me to be a happier mommy and wife. I won’t bore you with the details, but I do hope you have set out to create yours as well. Treat yourself to that pedicure, that 20 minute shower, getting lost in a new best seller or wear that red lipstick, think of it as a business investment because as mommies and wives we are running the biggest business of all … families.

Mommy’s 12 Rules to Simplifying Spending.

moneySimple Plan: Part 4 of The Year of Simplicity.

We find ourselves with excess when we end up spending our money purchasing it. Here’s my 12 step program to stop the spending that’s resulting in the excess.

Budget and Track ~ Meaning simply know your income, know your expenses. I do this through utilizing When I set up my Mint account I went through our past bank statements via online and tallied up costs. I took those costs and divided them into the following categories with sub categories when devising our budget: Auto & Transport Bills & Utilities, Education, Food & Dining, Home and Kids. Subcategories consisted of examples such as Gas & Fuel, Babysitting, Mortgage, Nicor Gas and so on. Every other day I log on to review our transactions checking that our budgets are in line with where we are spending. Mint offers a wide array of uses for managing your funds as well as providing information on ways to save and achieve money goals. Once you are aware of your budget and spending, stay accountable through the habit of reviewing your transactions on a regular basis.

A.B.P.A (Always Be Planning Ahead) ~We all know the birth dates of our loved ones and the holidays that require gift giving and entertaining. To avoid spending excess amounts of money on guests and entertainment, plan ahead. Buy candy on clearance after Valentine’s Day for Easter baskets. Hit the after Halloween sales for stocking stuffers. School supplies are always needed in the month of September it’s just a matter of A.B.P.A in order to not spend a load of cash on pencils and paper. Think ahead to what you’ll need throughout the year, always planning leaves you prepared to save cash. I knew I would be doing a Mickey and Minnie birthday cake for my twins, when Aldi had black cake frosting on clearance after Halloween for $0.49 it was the perfect buy. Always be planning ahead to save money but also be reminded to not get carried away and buy EXCESS of an item, think simple not extravagant.

C.Y.D.I.M. When going through your expenses ask yourself “Can I do it myself?” ~Rather than paying someone to mow our lawn or tend to our landscaping we do it ourselves. Instead of taking our vehicles to the car wash we make it a family event and wash them in the driveway. Rather than paying someone to clean your carpets head over to Loews or Menards and rent a Rug Doctor and burn some calories doing it yourself. Though I love a good manicure and pedicure, it’s something that I now treat as a special outing since I’m pretty good at doing these myself. These are just a few examples of C.Y.D.I.M, each is different for each family depending on your talents and abilities. I know that coloring my hair lays in the hands of a professional so I spend the money on it but hemming pants is something that I can handle rather than paying an outsider. Local libraries also provide speakers, answers and assistance for issues dealing with government, tax, health, business and automotive, just to name a few. Pinpoint what you can do and what you NEED to spend money on, adjust your spending to match.

Unknown Benefits ~ many savings can be hidden right in your wallet and home. Take a look at what your credit companies offer in regards to partnerships with retail and restaurants for savings on your spending.  Check your memberships as well, I discovered discounts unknown on our AAA membership for all sorts of items and entertainment just by logging on to the website and taking a peek. A subcategory of unknown benefits is Loyalty Programs ~ almost every company seems to have a loyalty program, it’s just a matter of signing up for them, utilizing them and then cashing in on your rewards. As I shared in Trick or Treat,Whatdaya Know Joe? Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks have reward programs that offer free coffee, the same applies to Walgreens, CVS, grocery stores and other service providers giving away money and goods for just swiping a tiny card when checking out. Even my massage therapist offers a reward program where when you receive 10 punches on your visit card a free massage is rewarded. The same goes for hair salons, many offer a loyalty program for free or discounted services. Often “loyalty programs” go beyond what is advertised, sometimes building a relationship with a provider or retailer will result in savings in the long run so be sure to smile at, bake up some holiday cookies for or refer to them by name when visiting your favorite establishment.

The Three F’s, Fun For Free ~ Get imaginative and informative. Having fun doesn’t need to cost money. Start using your biggest expense, your home, as the ground center for fun and experiences with your family. Pinterest offers an endless black hole of craft ideas and DIY projects to do at home with your kids or just your honey. I’m a huge fan of the library. Look into your local library for story times, craft hours, speakers and the endless amount of free books, ebooks, music, DVDs and other media at your fingertips. My library also offers the Museum Adventure Pass, using your library card to receive admission or a special discount at participating area cultural destinations. Start thinking not only out of the box but also back to the basics. Just last night we had a picnic in front of the fireplace with the kids, checked out a free movie from the library and popped a bowl of popcorn for our own personal family night entertainment.

Coupons and Groupons ~ Coupons save a ton of cash. Clip them and file them in a coupon envelope or any other easy to grab holder when menu planning and thinking about outings. Manufacturers, restaurants and many retailers send free money to our door steps through newspaper, mail inserts and online clipping. To avoid excess buys focus your couponing on items you need and buy on a regular basis, for example the items your children consume ungodly amounts of. Whenever Erik and I are planning a date night out we search sites such as Groupon, Livingsocial and Amazon Local for deals where we can save some cash since we are already paying a fortune for someone to sit on our couch while our three little spawns are fast asleep. It also gets us to try new restaurants and entertainment venues that we wouldn’t have thought of.

Amenities and Utilities ~ Figure out what you need and what may be excess. One giant leap of simplicity we have yet to make is dumping the cable provider and opting for online streaming (through Hulu Plus and Netflix) or other methods of watching the few television shows we watch regularly. I’m just trying to figure a plan to slowly wean myself off Food Network and HGTV.  Once you know what you need, it may take a little work but shop around to make sure you are getting the lowest price from providers. Once you identify the lowest provider check out their customer programs. For example, Nicor is our provider of gas, going into the winter we knew that we are lovers of fireplaces and would be using ours a lot. We made a call to Nicor to educate ourselves with their programs and which offered the best incentive where we received the most but spent the least. Through some calculating we found that it would be best to sign up for a fixed rate for the year, this way we could run our fireplace all day and night not worrying about the excess costs that it might incur. We found that our cable provider has a partnership with AAA that offers a discount on service and our cell phone provider has a partnership with my husband’s employer that also offers a discount.

Grocery Shopping ~ As I touched upon in our plan for Simple Eating, first check your pantry and fridge for what you have, then build a weekly menu plan around those items, then head over to your grocer ads and coupons for which deals you can pair with manufacturer/store coupons that match items needed for your weekly menu plan. A little puzzle solving results in spending the least amount of money on your store total for what you NEED. Service providers and retailers aren’t the only companies with loyalty programs, many brands offer the same. Both Pampers and Huggies offer points for purchasing their diapers that you can later exchange for other goods such as toys, magazines and gift cards.

Think Before You Buy ~ Anything over $50 is required a week think over period. If after a week of thought and the item is still needed then the money can be spent. A week not only diminishes impulse buys but also allows for shopping around to find a better price if the item ends up being purchased. Which leads to the next rule …

Buy used or discounted when able ~ Search sites such as Craigslist, Ebay and Facebook garage sale sites for large ticket items like snow blowers, large toys and appliances. Children’s consignment sales are not only good for selling items but also for buying items.  Kids run through toys and clothes like Kleenex, buying previously used keeps the spending and excess in check for little ones. Many household needs and decor can be found new or slightly used at Goodwill and local thrift/resale stores.

Use and Abuse Wisely ~ We are really bad at the common sense stuff so I’m going to go over this rule (even if you are rolling your eyes as you read it) in order to remind myself to practice what I preach. Turn the lights off in rooms you aren’t in. Don’t leave cell phone chargers plugged in when not in use. Turn off ceiling fans when not needed. Run your dryer, oven and dishwasher during the day during cold seasons while running them during the night during the warm seasons to counteract the amount of air conditioning and heat needed, which results in saving on spending. Wait till the dishwasher is completely full before running, same goes for the washer. Unplug vampire appliances that in reality don’t need to be plugged in 24/7 – like toasters, coffee makers, humidifiers,treadmills, guest room televisions or infant sound machines.

Memberships or Sneaky Money Stealers?  ~ Take a long look at your memberships/subscriptions such as gym, Crossfit, food of the month clubs, online courses, food co-ops and those clever box subscriptions (such as Conscious Box, Birch Box and Stitchfix). Are you using them to their full potential? Are you and your family benefiting from them or are they just costing you more money? For example, right now a gym membership doesn’t make sense for me. I have a treadmill, an elliptical, yoga mat and plenty of workout DVDs at home and through the library as well as streamed via online. All this is for free and I don’t have to pay $50 a month to benefit from it. Plus I know the work it takes to get all three kids and myself to the gym is more stress than pleasure. We once belonged to a food co-op but it made more sense for us to head to the farmer’s market on Saturdays to pick out our own choice of fresh foods. Another fun but excess spending was my subscription to Conscious Box. Though  I liked receiving it in the mail monthly, I couldn’t use most of the items that were in the box due to my Paleo lifestyle and sensitive skin … so we cancelled it. All of this stuff that we sign up for becomes excess when we don’t use it or truly benefit from it. GET BACK TO THE BASICS. I have to remind myself that the human race has survived without having groceries delivered to our doorstep, an online personal stylist that sends pricey clothing pieces or forgotten online courses that we swore we would use to better our children.



Cluttered time with excess distraction creates a frazzled mind. So wouldn’t simple time without distraction result in peaceful minds??

Let’s un-clutter our time. Let’s get back to the basics. Let’s simplify what takes up the tick-tocks.

Fact: 83% of us don’t let an hour go by without checking our phones. Yikes. Talk about information overload. Talk about wasted time. Talk about EXCESS distraction.

Emails, Facebook notification and Smartphone alerts:

To avoid wasting time on emails I’ve done an email subscription diet, cutting off the excess that is eating up my time, even if that time consists of clicking a delete button after scanning a subject line because after all seconds add up. Since January 1st I have been dumping emails in the Spam bucket and unsubscribing from email distributions. Since I don’t plan on buying any clothing, toys, kitchen gadgets and related children items for the next 6 months I unsubscribed from all retailer emails. Any type of coupon/deal notifications I reviewed as to whether I really needed them and if I did I changed my notification emails to once a week rather than every day.

I applied the same diet to my Facebook account. I went through my personal settings and changed my notifications to the slimmest I could without completely unfollowing a company or individual. I changed what I receive emails about in regards to Facebook to “Only notifications about your account, security and privacy,” why do I need an email if I am checking my account anyhow? I cleaned up and said goodbye to companies, bloggers and “friends” that didn’t benefit my life or intelligence and un-followed and de-friended those who were unnecessarily cluttering my feed.

As a stay at home mom Smartphone alerts are un-needed. Aside from my ringer and text alerts it’s unnecessary for me to have a ping or a ding to let me know if I have received an email or a Facebook comment. Think about it, each time you get an alert you pick up your phone, light up the screen, check the alert and then mindlessly begin trolling your Facebook feed, surfing the internet or pick up a game of Candy Crush. Needless to say, pings and dings have been dismantled.

Television and the Internet (always connected, never unplugged):

So in terms of watching television I rarely get to watch anything unless it’s after 8 pm. I’m not too worried about the amount of television the kids watch and I’ve come to terms that during football season the games are constantly on. However what I am interested in changing is the amount of television that Erik and I watch when we are finally alone and having adult time. Our usual routine is to set up camp in the living room and make our way through our DVR’s programs as I fold laundry or do article prep and Erik checks work emails and filters through ESPN on his phone. I’ve also figured out that while I love our open concept living area, I do not love how the kids zone out during meal times if the television is on. So here’s the plan Stan:

*No T.V. on during meals.

*There are 7 nights to be accounted for. Prior to kids Erik and I played a lot of board/Wii games, watched a lot of movies and even did yoga together on the nights we weren’t out on the town, it’s simply time to incorporate these all again. To get back to the basics. The only way to really make this work is by planning ahead. Each week we will take a look at our schedules and make a plan to avoid excess television watching which means instead of picking up the remote we pick up a game, a movie or a yoga mat. Friday nights we have deemed Family Nights which means inventing something fun to do with the kids at home and also a movie with Braxton. This leads to the next rule:

*No phone zone. If we are going to be with one another it needs to be fully and not half ass. Half ass meaning in the same room but on a phone or a computer. We’ve tried this before and we are going after it again … the NO PHONE ZONE box. During family time, 6 pm and on, the phones go in the box. I’ve taught Brax to call both Erik and I out if our face is stuck in the soft glow of our phones. Erik and I have agreed to hold one another accountable as well.

I’m currently in the middle of trying to figure out the right schedule and set of rules that works for my computer use. Blogging makes it slightly tricky but I KNOW I need to be more aware of my time plugged in and when I need to unplug. My morning ritual for the last four years has been a cup of coffee while checking my emails, Pins, FB feed and posts before the house wakes up for thirty minutes. So I’m for sure keeping Internet time first thing in the morning. For the rest of the day, on days that I do not post on The Funny In Mommy Blog, I am allowed Mommy Internet time at 10/10:30 am, 12:30/1 pm, 4:30 pm, 7 pm and 9 pm.  Yesterday I timed myself on looking through emails and mindlessly trolling Facebook at 7:33 pm. Upon finishing, the clock read 7:41. That is 9 minutes and I didn’t even answer an email or post on Facebook. Say I take 9 minutes each time I log on. That’s a total of 45 minutes added on to the 30 minutes in the morning.  Final time consumed by the internet: An hour and fifteen minutes a day which equals out to 19 days per year. Do the math on your use, where are you at??? If I am using that much time I better be making sure what I am using the internet for is intentional. I also know that I use Facebook to keep connected with friends/family BUT rather than logging on to do so I’m going to take that time to either text or call a friend/family to connect.

People and “assumed” obligations:

This is simple. Simply ask yourself if there are people or “assumed” obligations in your life that are taking up time AND making you less than anything but happy??Could you be spending this time elsewhere that would be bringing joy to your life? If you do identify some of these individuals and activities, simply make the effort to remove them from your life. Yes, easier said than done but taking baby steps to freeing yourself of these time eaters will soon payoff. We must constantly remind ourselves of what simply really matters and devote our time to these people and activities. Pursuing our passions and experience life with loved ones makes our existence more meaningful. And meaning is what we want our time to be about, NOT EXCESS.


I Confess.

I know I’m in the middle of relaying our goals of The Year of Simplicity but since I am scattered brained I figured I throw a related but other posting into the mix this Monday. It’s related since it has to do with goals and resolutions for 2015 but these are all related to this Mommy.

Upon reviewing the Mommy List it appears 2015 will not only be about simplicity but also facing fears. What better way to face your fears than to make them public? What better way to bring resolve to those fears and comfort to your soul than to devise a plan and execute it publicly?

Confessing to fears + devising resolutions = Soul-tions.

So here comes the part that I confess my fears and the resolutions I hope lead to conquering those fears:

1. Fear of self-acceptance. Though I’m adamant about exercising daily and eating healthy, I’m not great at taking care of myself mentally and emotionally. I continually put myself on the back burner and my family first. This year I’m taking the opportunities to care for my self, inside and out. I was a woman before I was a mommy/wife and I realize that in order to be the best mommy/wife I can be that I need to care for the woman I am first. I struggle with feeling good about what I see in the mirror, consistently putting myself down — if only my nose was smaller, teeth straighter, hair lighter, boobs bigger, thighs smaller and the list goes on. I’m facing my fear this year head on by collaborating with a fellow mommy Jenn Spangenberg (owner of Pretty in Pics Photography) and amazing friend. I’m getting in front of the camera, ALONE. No children, no husband, just me. For years I’ve been increasingly avoiding pictures at all costs (speaking to this before in Vogue, strike a pose, there’s nothing to it) out of lack of self-confidence. Not this time. I’m getting in front of the lens with Jenn behind the camera. Facing a fear that in turn forces me to accept myself.

2. Fear of rejection and failing. This all has to do with my writing career. In order to conquer this ugly monster I just need to follow some simple steps. 1. Enter one piece of writing into a contest or publication for review. 2. Two to three blog entries per week. 3. Face and conquer my social media stupidity and learn about and utilize Facebook, WordPress and Twitter to grow a larger following. 4. I’ve started an outline and LOTS and LOTS of notes for my book, but need to focus on turning the jumble into an organized format, I plan on achieving this by completing a chapter every other month.

3. Fear of starting something new all on my own. I was approached by the Children’s Ministry Director of our church to start a MOPS group for the congregation. My goal is to have a final start by September 2015. I’d be here all day relaying the steps that goes into this but just know that I’ve already started the process and what’s better is I have other women supporting my efforts. If I let my fear overcome my goal I would not only be letting myself down but also these others who have come to support me.

4. Fear of the expressway. Yes, you’ve read that right. Though I’ve been driving for over a decade, made numerous trips cross country and held a job in sales that lead me down the expressways of Illinois daily something happened two years ago. Shortly after having the twins I developed this fear of driving on the expressway, more so on overpasses that deal with heights. My stomach instantly tightens, my limbs weaken and my thoughts and heart race like a drank a shit ton of coffee. So just like that, it’s been two years since I drove on the expressway. It’s ridiculous and I’m embarrassed to say it but it’s the truth. I can’t have that fear, it just won’t work for me. With the help of my loving and lack of patience husband, he’s going to help me conquer this fear with baby steps and acting as a supporting accountability partner.

5. Face my fear of being a jerk of a mom. I never want my kids to look back on when they were little and think I was too uptight or no fun. I confess that there are days when I’m probably a jerk and no fun in their little eyes. I don’t want that, I want them to remember all the fun and love they were surrounded by. How to do this and what to work on? My patience with my kiddos. I truly believe by wiping out the excess through making The Year of Simplicity happen, all the crap and overwhelming stuff that stresses me out will also begin to wipe away. Unstressed mommy = patient mommy = funny/loving mommy.

* If you haven’t read up on The Year of Simplicity please take a peek and then tackle parts One, Two and Three of the plan that have been posted.

6.  Um, there really is no fear here, unless it’s the fear of being thirsty. Drink a gallon of water every day. I have been following some of these amazing stories and pictures of women drinking a gallon of water per day and the results in their skin and health. I’m a sucker for before and afters, with these being amazing I got nothing to lose except maybe the minutes I’ll be racking up in the bathroom.

I hope you all have spent some selfish time on your own goals for 2015 and if not, that you are inspired to do so soon! Maybe you too need to face some fears or do some soul searching. Feel free to share yours in order to fully make them heard and acknowledged by others.

Happy New Year!!

Simple Plan: Part 3 Make It Work.


I’m one who has too many clothes but nothing to wear.

I’m a Mommy who tends to put on the same “fall back outfits” again and again.

I’m a wife married to a husband who owns a gazillion t-shirts but wears a suit every day and a pajama uniform on the weekends.

We are clothing hoarders.

I admitted to this a year ago when we began evaluating our belongings for our move back north. Admitting our guilt I went through all my clothes evaluating each piece. The rules: If I hadn’t worn it in a year I needed to get rid of it. Dressy clothes and shoes were the exception since those are reserved for nights out and vacations. What was in great condition was put aside to sell, what was in okay condition was put into a donation pile. I was able to make $100 through local garage sale Facebook sites for the clothing and it was off my hands.

Fast forward almost four months later and I was unpacking my clothes to fit into a new smaller closet. Again, I followed the year rule and purged. Sale items were put aside and donation items taken to Goodwill. In August I attacked the kids fall/winter clothes, purging, donating and selling close to $800 at a children’s consignment sale. Four months later it was the end of November and the idea of 2015 being The Year of Simplicity taking hold, I attacked my closet again selling $55 worth to Plato’s Closet and donating the rest to a charity program through our church.

With The Year of Simplicity in full swing this week, Erik was forced to part with t-shirts and sweatshirts that the majority of dated back fifteen years. I ransacked the closets of my small minions of fury, separating items to be donated and to be sold in the spring consignment sale for kiddos. Finally this morning I went through my closet again, this time following a new rule: Would I buy this today if I was standing in a store?? If the answer was NO it was taken out of the closet and put either in a selling or donation box. I then separated my closet into short sleeves/tanks, cardigans/button ups, long sleeve, dressy, pants and workout clothing/t-shirts. (*Take note that all my summer clothes are in storage bins, the clothing I’m referring to is fall/winter). I’m hoping the separation will create a better way of putting together outfits.

Everyone just stocked up on new undershirts, underwear and socks so I went through all undergarments and parted with the old including tattered sports bras, faded toddler undies and boxers that have seen better days.

Rules to avoid clothing excess:

1. No clothing purchases for six months (with the exception of a pair of black pants that I am seeking). I vow to force myself to wear every item in my closet, using Pinterest to inspire outfits. After wearing an outfit, if I love it I’ll keep it but if it doesn’t fit well or makes me uncomfortable then it goes into a box to be sold or donated. Come the end of the six months I’ll sell and donate what is in the boxes and reevaluate my clothing in time for my birthday in July.

2. From my evaluation of the kid’s clothing they are set until the end of summer when school clothing will be bought and wardrobes reevaluated. The only exception for new clothing: birthdays and special occasions (i.e. Easter).

3.  As for Erik, he will also be forced to wear t-shirts and outfits found in his closet replacing his usual go to items. Same rules will follow for the man of the house and all will be purged that doesn’t fit the qualifications for keeping an item.

Though only three rules to follow I think this category will be the hardest of eliminating excess for me. Hopefully all the Project Runway I have watched for the last fifteen years will prove beneficial. I’ll just keep repeating, “Make it work” for the next six months.

Simplicity Plan: Part 2, Get in my belly.


The food we eat: I’m going into this category thinking simple and clean without excess.

Simple meaning basic, nothing with a ton of ingredients or too time consuming in the area of preparation. This means eating more raw foods and pulling out the cookbooks from times before microwaves. I hope this simplicity translates into getting everyone into the kitchen to help. My thought process is that the simpler the recipe the easier for everyone to partake in prep and less time mommy is overwhelmed with making meals.

Clean meaning eating foods that are not processed but rather fresh and natural. Think simple foods such as fruits, veggies, grains, meats and cheeses and replacing packaged foods with homemade versions, from salad dressing to energy bars  and everything in between. Getting back to the basics when meals and snacks didn’t come from a box.   This shouldn’t be too hard since I make 90% of our meals at home. Another helpful factor, I completed my first whole 30 in March of 2014 and have been eating Paleo since. Having converted to this lifestyle it makes it easier for me to meal plan and shop with a clean eating frame of mind. The main underlying purpose of this clean eating is to get my entire family eating a more nutritious menu that offers a wide range of vitamins. Since, like I have said before, this isn’t about deprivation so treats will be given but in moderation. I also know that my kids love cereals, breads and crackers but as long as I’m checking ingredients and making sure there are less than five or making them from scratch these choices are just fine.

The “without excess” piece means using what we have on hand and not buying more food which begins to create excess. I’m guilty of finding a new recipe or a good deal on foods which leads me to forgetting about what I already have on hand or buying too much of an item and stockpiling excess.  For the first weeks of January we are using up all the foods we presently have in our refrigerator and pantries. Then the simple, clean and without excess shopping begins. A menu plan will be devised through reviewing what we have on hand first and then planning for a full seven days in order to avoid random trips to the store during the week. Then a grocery list created into four categories (with examples of):

1. Dairy/Deli – eggs, milk, butter, cheese

2. Produce- fruit and veggies

3. Pantry – olive oil, canned goods, bread, oatmeal

4. Meat/Frozen Section – Pork, ground turkey, frozen veggies

I do most of our grocery shopping at Aldi and Target.  Aldi has amazing prices and carries great produce as well as gluten free, organic and “grass-fed” products. The other factor that I love about Aldi is that I can make it in and out of there in 30 minutes. There aren’t a million brands of bacon, mustard or other items, there’s just 1-3 options which makes grabbing, reading ingredients and choosing so much faster and easier. Due to Aldi’s limited merchandise I am not tempted by random products, clothing or kids toys to buy – meaning NO EXCESS purchases. Target is great for the items I can’t find at Aldi. I have a Redcard that saves me 5% on all my purchases plus when creating my grocery list I can search their store coupons at the Target website to see if any match my needed products, in addition I also use the Cartwheel app through Target which can save me anywhere from 5% to 50% on a single item. The only bad thing is Target is FULL of excess temptations.

I know I’ll face epic meltdowns when the fruit snacks are no longer available to my kiddos, my husband no longer has cookies for after dinner and I have to put more thought into dinner after a long day, but it’s something we’ve agreed on.

Below are some links to helpful sites for cleaning eating tips, simple recipes and without excess frame of mind.

Family Menu Example 

Cut Out Processed Food in 14 weeks

Living On A Dime


Fresh Produce on a Budget

If you feel like you need some professional help or would like to partake in your own Whole30, get in touch with Becky Wagnon through her website, Facebook or her Whole30 Facebook community. Becky has helped me on my journey, is a supporter and has amazing knowledge and tips to get you started as well as your family on a clean path.


Simple Plan: Part 1


The feedback about the Year of Simplicity is an inspiring one. It turns out that there are a lot of other crazy ass mommies and daddies besides myself and Erik ready for the simple life too. For those apprehensive about making the leap, just remember that this isn’t about deprivation it’s about all the excess that comes after our needs are met. It’s not about leaving ourselves yearning it’s about becoming more fulfilled through our relationships with others and our inner selves. Stuff is just stuff.

I figured dividing our action plan into a number of different posts would be best for me and for readers. After the final post of the action plan I’ll share some pictures to document the simple household that we are now striving for.

On today’s list: Purchases, Stuff and Toys.

Purchases: If we have all this crap how do we stop acquiring more of it? Simple … stop buying it.  All the stuff we have is in great shape, there’s nothing we are in need of. We have clothes on our backs, a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and a loving household. There’s been so many times and things that while out and about we have mindlessly bought. A sale here, a deal here, a coupon redeemed or an opportunity to stockpile, it all adds up. Erik and I are guilty of just buying because of the money we believe we are saving. We are also guilty of purchasing toys and more stuff for our kids randomly and aimlessly.  Eventually all this stuff becomes forgotten. Rather what isn’t forgotten are the experiences and bonding our family comes to encounter through interacting with one another and not through the stuff we acquire. Moving forward we are looking at each purchase in regards to how it will benefit our family or individually and not on how much money we’ll save by the deal we think we are getting.

Stuff: So much stuff.

I’ve made my way through every closet and room.

The laundry room is now a laundry room holding only cleaning products.

Counters have been wiped clean and decorative pieces minimized. Kitchen cabinets and drawers have been purged of any items that are no use to our family and donated to Goodwill. We were this couple that constantly bought all these gadgets to cook with. After taking a cooking class this summer we found the only items we really need are a pair of tongs, a peeler, a sharp knife and a good spatula. Goodbye to garlic smashers, veggie dicers and meat slicers. The insane amount of Tupperware, pots and pans we own is just that, insane. Also purged and donated. How many coffee mugs does a household need where only one of the five humans living within drinks coffee? According to our count, over 20. Needless to say some of these mugs will be finding a new home.

Linen closets full of sheets, towels and blankets. I figure we have three beds so we need one pair of sheets on each bed and one for changing purposes. Right now the twins are in cribs, I’m not sure what bed size they will have in the future, but more than likely it will be full size so I’ve kept the full sets and donated the rest. We have about two thousand bath towels and wash cloths, these too were purged and donated, I mean does one family really need 17 baby wash cloths??? I think not.

I took a look around the house, I mean I really TOOK IN the view. I took in every knickknack, picture frame, decoration and child craft made and decided what needed to go and what made sense to stay. What needed to go went and what made sense to stay was cleaned and placed in a thoughtful spot.

I’m not sure if I thought at some point I was going to be opening my own drugstore/beauty counter out of my home but the amount of makeup and beauty products I found stashed away in my bathroom was revolting. It was purged and thrown out. What was old, a bad color or poor quality was pitched. What was new and higher quality was kept and organized into drawers and containers. In the year 2015 I refuse to buy any product that I can just derive from coconut oil. If any of you need some tips on my favorite beauty go to here’s a link to an article that I had published on my beloved coconut oil. Medicines, vitamins and essential oils were also checked  for dates and quality then purged and thrown out.

Toys: So far I’ve managed to sort through it ALL prior to Christmas donating a large amount to our church and boxing up the rest to be sold during the twins children consignment spring sale. I’ve also stored some away in order to change it up once in a while as the twins get older. I’ve organized it all into different sized containers and cubby holes.

We’ve also been working on the “put one toy away before dragging another out” with the kids to keep the chaos to a minimum. We have also decided to limit any toy purchases to holidays and birthdays to keep the number down and to make current and future toys “special.”

Many toys have also been replaced with a new focus on our craft cabinet filled with everything under the sun in order to execute an idea thought up by the small mind. The craft cabinet is made up of crayons, markers, paints, stickers, glue, glitter, play-doh, cookie cutters, paper, old cereal boxes and paper towel rolls, felt, scissors, coloring books, chalk, puffy paint, noodles, food coloring, pom poms, old fabric/shirts and pipe cleaner.  Another toy replacement is the library corner where there are books of our own stored and where the kids keep the books they pick out on our weekly library trips. I still read books I can hold in my hands and I believe my kids should too. There’s nothing like having a little one sit in your lap as you read them a story and they turn the pages with their little fingers. It creates a bond and fattens the imagination.

After learning our lesson of 4 years of birthday parties we have come to the conclusion that birthday parties past the age of one can be budget and energy depleting. The sheer cost of finding a venue to facilitate the celebration and hold a number of little energy bursting bodies is a small fortune. Then there is all the toys and stuff your kids receive through the kind act of gift giving. We’ve decided that birthdays will be better spent experiencing things, like a day trip to the city with special visits to museums, favorite restaurants or exciting attractions. I’ve read over and over that from the time we are young we remember and benefit the most from the interactions and relationships we experience with others and not the toys that we receive. The money saved??? Throw it into a college fund, your little ones will be more grateful for that than the latest Paw Patrol toy.

That’s today’s simple learning lesson. Hopefully it sparked a fire under your ass to get moving in the direction of simple.

Look for future “2015 Year of Simplicity” posts relaying more of our action plan. Subjects will include Time, Technology, Clothes, Spending, Food and Self.