timberlocked

My tot never ever loses the delight that a only stack of wooden blocks tumbling can provide. He’ll go again and again. When these Anthony’s Blocks arrived from Timberlocked, a small family run business of husband/wife woodsmithing talents, he has been in loooooooove with them.

timberlocked

Karen contacted me about their desire to share their story of loss and love through these beautiful, hand-cut blocks made from untreated pin, coffee, olive oil, & beeswax. So they shipped a box to us as a treat! The family lost their baby Anthony Joseph to miscarriage on February 1, 2014. They donate 10% of every sale to their local crisis pregnancy center in his honor. You can read a little more about his story here.

My heart pumps a little extra for those parents who have lost a child to miscarriage. The reality of a baby growing within you only to have that baby’s life stop? It makes this pregnant woman weepy just thinking about losing that joyful presence. I love the work they’re doing to promote love and healing through blocks specially devoted to their little one.

timberlocked

And these blocks! Beautifully hand-crafted, sturdy, with nice bold lettering–a really great item for your little loves and certainly one for every gift list from birthdays to holidays. Oftentimes the actually alphabetical figure on the blocks is small or obscured in wooden blocks. Not these! My four year old spent a whole evening going through the alphabet song, the alphabet letters, and pointing out each to Mr. Builder here.

Fun & function & beauty. All great things!

They’re kind enough to give you guys a discount for the week! Good til next Saturday. Use code “WholeFam” for your $5 off code. Shop over here and take a look at their other beautiful offerings while you’re there.

timberlocked

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I suck at this. SUCK. Is that too strong of language? I really struggle with keeping our house tidy much less clean. It’s not because I’m pregnant. It’s not because I have three little kids. It’s because I have life-long bad habits.

So, of course, I’ve read a ton of books about spacial awareness and organizing and cleaning and having a “system.” Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home, Charles Duhigg’s Power of Habit, David Eaglemen’s Incognito, Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Upand a few others. I do love pop psych books!

I’ve learned a few tips and tricks from these books, but mostly I’ve learned by observing myself. I made myself my own anthropological study. Sprawling around your house while insanely sick and pregnant gives one ample time to observe oneself and the last ten weeks of pregnancy, I observed a lot from my various supine positions, occasionally on the {dirty} kitchen floor, often times in the open hallway between the kids’s rooms to met out judicial proclamations from on-low, and even from the bathroom, noting my crowded cupboards and clean half-folded towels on the floor under the sink, surrounded by dust-bunny colonies.

Here’s what I discovered:

I have no urgency for putting things away

AND

I have no place to put them away even if I wanted to.

There. That’s the secret to a clean simple space: put things away into their place as soon as humanly possible.

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So you must first have a particular spot for your things. For kids’ artwork, chewed up pencils, rubber bands, random parts to toys, your hairbrush, a stack of papers you should file somewhere, baseball cards {all examples from my own kitchen mess-pit}.

Once everything has a home, either in the trash, recycling, or a cute woven basket, then I steadily challenged myself to put the items in their home. Okay. One small step for womankind, one large step for civilization. A few weeks in, I found I could put things away. I actually could.

I then discovered a new problem: the “home” for the item itself was trashed. My linen closet bred and sheets entangled themselves inside out, for example, or the various stashes for toys were overflown, or my “to-be-filed” folder on my desk made its way to the floor, repeatedly. The need for a third step arose.

Keep your places tidy on a consistent basis so it’s a five-minute tidying job and not a once-a-month overhaul.

Of course along the way, I’ve purged toys {some trash, some donate}, books {reselling at local shops!}, clothing {donating!}, and lots of minutia. I did a modified KonMari method on our belongings but who was she kidding? People with kids could never follow her methodology completely. I addressed my habits. I firmly have carved some new neural pathways and fired new “tidy” neurons together. A quick sweep of the kids’ rooms at night with their help removes dirty clothes to the hallway laundry basket. The bath toys are tossed back into their basket. The kitchen counter is cleared so I can face a fresh canvas in the morning. I actually run a vacuum {now that we bought a new one, finally, thanks to your help, Facebook friends!} every week or so and these wipes mean the toilets are regularly wiped, not scrubbed, but wiped.

I also adopted the phrase, if I don’t like it and keep moving it from place to place within the house, get rid of it. Now tell me all your clean simple house tricks. Because I still need them!

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It feels weird to be home and normal because it feels so home and normal. I was on the road for two weeks–first the Finding Your Fiat conference in Illinois, then a partial day home, then packed up the kids with my mom & sister and flew to New York to stay with my other sister and her family, then AA joined us and we all drove down to Virginia to see more family, joined by my dad, and other sister & spouse.

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That’s the last few weeks in a nutshell. A very run-on sentence one. I posted a lot on instagram–things like how karaoke with Marie Miller is fabulous (especially when you’re singing uptown funk with Laura), NYC cousins make birthdays so much better, and that wearing a swimsuit at Coney Island when you feel body-ugh is fine. In Virginia we not only had a mini-family reunion but got to see close family friends perform (SweetPea’s first time seeing her Godfather play a live show!).

Now that we’re back home, and my life-bending hyperemesis appears *hold your breath* appears to be abated somewhat, we can actually go places! And do things! And I can cook! And eat a little!

Mostly we spend our mornings playing around the house, listening to Story of the World, playing with hieroglyphic stamps, and occasionally enduring screams of shock and awe that someone disrupted their masterpiece of toilet paper carefully shredded to “feed” their dollies.

AA is marathon training again but this time I’m not only the one who suggested it (okay, I did the last time too) but I’m mentally and emotionally prepared for the long long runs and the constancy of the training. This morning when the tot woke up at 5am and refused to go back to sleep, I gritted my teeth that AA wasn’t here to help make him to go to sleep until 7am!!!!! and then realized that I probably had to be the parent to do it anyway as he was crying for me. Lessons, people, I’m learning fortitude somehow.

finding your fiat

NEW project is that Blessed is She, the Catholic women’s ministry I manage the devotional writers for, now offers a membership feature.

And Jenna and I have been concocting this for so so long! Mostly her, with me listening, really, but it’s happening! The content is so quality and so awesome and just so needed. {here we are at the Finding Your Fiat Conference with Laura & Bonnie!}

So for 6.99/month you get to the Advent & Lenten journals that we always sell out of shipped to your house AND a pass to engage in the online workshops we offer 1x or 2x a month. These include a whole range of speakers and topics–the full spectrum of Catholic womanhood. I’d do the yearly one for $69 so that you save $60 on all the workshops and journals, personally. Click here for all this. {prices go up July 12 so hop to it!}

I’m really proud. It’s the next level for Blessed is She–all the Protestant Scripture guides & studies have offerings like this and it’s special we can be side-by-side with our sisters in a uniquely Catholic way.

Well I wrote a dozen blog posts in my head while on vacation so let’s see if I can type any of my rambling thoughts up to hear your wisdom! Hoping the kids continue to be fascinated by crayons and their own toys a few hours longer this next week!

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