Wednesday, October 21, 2015

31 Things

Because birthdays after the age of 21 border on pointless, I will save you an update on my day of celebrating with small children and an overly tired husband. 
(edited to add in photo of me with said small children. please note the birthday crown Bailey made for me in school that day. such a sweet girl.)

I will however continue what I started last year. And since I'm starting it and my birthday is already half over, it might not be anything deep or even slightly funny. But here goes...

1. I've had to trim the fat lately. And I'm talking about TV shows. I couldn't add anything new this year, and I don't have time to continue some of the shows I had already been watching previously. If 6 episodes of the same show remain unwatched on my DVR at one time, the love affair must be over. I used to love you Person of Interest, but it was time. Goodbye.

2. I never thought I would ever be able to say this with a straight face, but I love working out.

3. Frequently I work out so that I can justify eating more food. #priorities

4. I miss living on a farm. 

5. I have to send Snaps of myself in clothing in dressing rooms to fashion-forward friends in order to determine if something looks acceptable. 

6. My closet is smaller than most port-a-pots (yeah, weird reference but it's true). So women who post photos or blogs about purging their closets and getting rid of clothes they've been holding on to for a decade - I just can't relate to you. If I even bring in a new t-shirt, something old has to go.
Honestly, my dorm room closets were bigger.

7. I have a love-hate with our Etsy business right now. 
Love that it's growing. Hate that it's growing.

8. My faith is stronger than it's ever been.  

9. I have a book where I write down funny things my kids say. And I actually fill it out. Avery gives us a lot of entries.

10.  Since having kids - or maybe it's with age? - I don't like spicy stuff as much. I used to loooove buffalo wing sauce. Now I can barely handle the mild stuff. What is happening to me?!

11. I lack any courage to cut my hair into a style that could even halfway be considered edgy or even slightly non-conservative. I will probably have this same hairstyle until I'm 90.

12. Speaking of, I have zero desire to live that long. By all means, take me when you're good and ready Jesus, but if I hit 84, I think that is long enough. 84 has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

13. I still don't miss Facebook.

14. I've learned over the past year that being a friend doesn't require talking on the phone daily/weekly/even monthly. It boils down to being there when it counts, when things get uncomfortable and people's lives are far from their best. Close friends have lost loved ones this past year and I've realized that listening, baking cookies, or just speaking their family members' names is a big deal to someone struggling. Many situations or discussions feel awkward, but true friendship can be hard or awkward while still being real and effortless. And it's worth the work.

15. By having my nails painted, my I-have-my-shit-together life meter goes up quite a few points. Clearly a manicure means I must have my life in order, right? Wait... what? You're not fooled??

16. Caillou - most annoying kids show ever. I'd rather watch Barney every minute for the rest of my life than suffer through an entire episode of that show.

17. My family and friends know me so well, they bring me coffee and fountain pop for special occasions. In fact, I received one of each this morning.
(Can anyone say caffeine overload?)

18. All four of my grandparents are still living and in moderately good health (and actively spoil my children with plentiful amounts of cookies). For someone who is 31 to be able to say that, it's kinda rare. And awesome.

19. I used to think that maybe 4 kids would be even better than 3. I now know better. Four would be much, much worse. 

20. Jared and I have domestic patterns a tad bit altered from the usual gender roles. He bakes more than me, I mow the lawn. It works for us.

21. This past year a friend commented that she loves that I keep it real because she knows I am not trying to pretend my life is perfect. I took that as a huge compliment. 

22. I never get tired of Disney movies. 
Or Golden Girls re-runs.

23. I am a much happier and well-rounded person if I am awake before my children wake up. I prefer a good half-hour head start on the little monsters.

24. In a dream world situation, I would have a part-time job. This stay-at-home stuff is mentally harder than I ever imagined and most days I am dying to escape this house without kids in tow. 

25. When we can, we walk everywhere. Gotta get those Fitbit steps in!

26. I carry a purse so large that is lovingly referred to by Jared as luggage.

27. I'm anal and borderline-obsessive about photos. All of our kids have their own photo albums and each photo is labeled on the back with the date, who is in it, and what was going on. 

28. But, oddly enough, professional photos aren't that important to me. I didn't even have newborn photos done with our kids. Both the girls were in the NICU and it wasn't important in the grand scheme of things at the time. So with Graham it felt wrong to do them since his sisters didn't get any. And it's been over two years since our last family photo.

29. Having a vacation planned - even if a year ahead of time - motivates me greatly in the day-to-day monotony of life. It's important to have something to really look forward to and work toward. (Speaking of, any non-extravagant, no-kids vacation ideas, blog friends?)

30. I could spend 6 hours in Target. Every time I go I look at my watch and say, "It's been two hours?! I haven't even looked at half of what I came for!" True story.

31. I'm way too boring to keep this up every year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

FALL{ing into leaves}

I know, I know. Write it down. 
After practically months of radio silence, I am writing three posts in one week. 

Part of the motivation is that I've taken more photos. Something about the changing of seasons, I seem to get the camera out more. You're doing exciting new things, whether it's toddlers donning bathing suits or snowsuits or listening to squeals as kids jump in piles of leaves. Which is precisely what we did yesterday.

We had a nice pile of leaves thanks to a huge wind storm earlier this week. Our leaves hold on until there is snow on the ground - no lie - and I will be out there raking them up in about, say, 6 weeks. Until then we used all the neighbors' that had conveniently blown in our yard.

And real quick, can we talk about this missing-tooth smile? 
Our big girl lost her first tooth this past weekend while biting into her favorite snack - an apple. 

And some mad props to the Tooth Fairy (Fairies?) who remembered to show up Saturday night despite being at a bachelor/bachelorette until 2 in the morning. Only one slight hiccup: she just forgot to take the tooth with her when she left, so she had to make a repeat trip the next night so the tooth could be added to her collection. Hey, no harm, no foul.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

etsy lately

As most of you know, Jared started an Etsy shop almost two and a half years ago. Jared has a seriously creative mind. In our house, he always picks out all the paint. Not only is he a good judge of color (Him: Is it more of a purple-grey or a blue-grey?  Me: Wait, what? Grey is grey! Right?), he can envision what things will look like before he ever makes the first cut for his latest project. So his Etsy shop was opened at my request so that our house wouldn't be completely cluttered by all the things he was tinkering around making in our garage.

It was a slow start. 
Which was to be expected. And which was actually a good thing. 
It took quite a while to learn the ropes of it all, especially how to tag listings so they can be found by searching customers and discovering the secret to mailing items so you don't lose your ass in shipping costs.

For a long while we were super excited to get one order a month. 
And months where he got two or three, we were ecstatic about it. Last year around this time we saw huge growth in his sales as people started to shop for the Christmas season. Usually there is a pretty large drop off in sales after the holiday season is over, but for some reason this year that didn't really happen. Thanks to more learning (and lots of research on Jared's part), sales have continued to grow. 

It's been exciting - it's a little rush to know people (strangers!) love and want to buy something you're hand-making - but it is also a little overwhelming. We've both had to gradually change our mindsets. Before when getting only an order or two a month, Jared could easily complete the order before ever receiving another. His goal was to be complete before moving on to the next item. But last month, he had at least one order every single day. 
Say what??! 
We were so not prepared for that. 
And this month has proved to be more of the same.

Now it's not possible to make it down to zero pending orders. He works a full-time job after all. So there is always this "I have 12 orders to get out" mentality hanging over his head - and mine too. I'm definitely a person who never procrastinates. So knowing there are plenty of orders still needing to be completed, and then hearing the little cash register sound go off on Jared's phone signifying a new order, it kinda makes my inner organization queen cringe. 
But it's a good problem to have, as long as Jared can keep up.

Organization is key, and it proves difficult when you are running a small business out of 20 extra square feet in your garage.

Speaking of the little space Jared works out of, here are some photos I snapped the other day of him in action.

More information learned along the way: proper personal equipment is a must. Jared has been wearing the ear protection since the beginning (because he likes his tunes and NPR) but the mask was a recent purchase. Turns out he was coughing a ton from all the sawdust he was inhaling. And purchases like a new sander that is hooked up to a system that collects all the dust is a big plus too - it's annoying to have to clean an inch of dust off your bike daily. 

It's definitely a family affair. 
Truthfully Jared does probably 90% of the work involved, but I do my part in correspondence with customers during the day while he sleeps and packing up and mailing items to be shipped.
Oh, and keeping the kids out of his hair while he is working can prove to a full-time job also. 

Fairly often Graham will collect his tools and head outside to do some "workshoppin'" with his dad. The scrap pile can get pretty large so there is always some wood for him to cut, hammer, or screw.

Bailey and Avery also like to help out when they can.
Bailey actually does helpful things like learning how to apply paste wax to completed wood projects. 
Avery does things more along the lines of playing the keyboard in the basement and singing nonsensical songs loudly while we package. Very loud is her speciality.
So see? they're both helping in their own way. 

And we all have to put up with random stops for boxes, whether they fit in the vehicle or not.

If you're interested in seeing more items that Jared is currently creating, make sure to follow him on instagram @brandnewtome or check out his Etsy site.

Friday, October 9, 2015

October 8th

Jared turned a whopping 31 years old yesterday.

We all know it's downhill after 21, but the kids and I (with some help from Fe) still tried to make the day a little bit more special.

When it comes to any celebration in this family, food is the main event. We all love food.
This year Jared broke what is clearly the most important tradition - having cake for your birthday - and requested peanut butter chocolate dessert. 
I had my doubts. 
But I made it. And it was easy. Like did it in a half an hour and never had to turn on the oven easy.

It's not the most presentable thing you've ever eaten - although those classy as hell candles really take it up a notch - but believe me when I say it is delicious
I bolded and italicized the word "delicious", it is that good. 
Like I said, I had reservations. But it was amazing.
And because I know there are some fellow chocolate/peanut butter combo lovers out there like me (hello, to my Reese's holiday devotees!), I am linking this ridiculously easy recipe.
You're welcome.

We had a meal, complete with fancy platters and bowls that we received for our wedding and hardly ever use. And we ate said meal with mandatory party hats on our heads because that is how crazy we roll around here.

Happy Birthday Jared! 
I hope we made you feel special for the day.