What I’ve learned in 10 years of blogging

What I’ve learned in 10 years of blogging

A few weeks ago, I had this realization that I have been writing on this blog for a long time. I’m talking about before I discovered Facebook kind of long. Instagram wasn’t invented kind of long. One of my children wasn’t born kind of long.

I looked at my archives and found out I had overlooked my own 10-year blogging anniversary. Apparently, time flies when you are having fun!

During the last decade of sharing my life here on this blog, so many things have happened. People sometimes ask me why I even want to write about my life in this way. While I’ve had my moments of asking myself that same question, I also love to look back and see how much life has changed. I’m so thankful that I took the time to record our stories, my thoughts and my ideas in this way.

I love that some of my readers have been with me since the beginning and still read my blog!

I read all the time about what I should be doing to have a successful blog. I should develop a niche. I need to write about one particular topic and stay hyper focused to attract an audience. I have learned through the years that just isn’t for me. I love writing about the real stuff that happens in our life, and it’s crazy how those topics have changed dramatically the last 10 years.

For example, some of the topics covered here have included:

Our decision to home school and then our decision to stop home schooling

The story of how my husband and I started dating

The surprise announcement that I was pregnant at the age of 40 and my struggles with “advanced maternal age

Lots of interesting anecdotes about different types of shoes

My obsession with the TV show, LOST

My quest to become an organized person and my many organization projects

And my recent health journey and effort to eat real food

I thought about writing about the top five things I’ve learned after 10 years of blogging. But I realized that it all really boils down to just one thing.

You can’t worry about what other people think.

The hard thing about blogging for someone who is a perfectionist (like me) is that it’s so easy to overanalyze things. You can check your stats to see how many people read a blog post. You can fixate on your Facebook or Instagram likes and you can worry about how many people follow you by e-mail or through Bloglovin’. You can write what you perceive as an amazing blog post and then the reality hits that it is getting zero traffic.

If I followed all of the blogging rules, I would write more posts with five tips to do this or five tips to do that. But the thing is, I really blog for me. I love chronicling our lives here so I can look back at these memories later. I love the good feeling I get when someone tells me she was inspired, motivated or helped by something I wrote. I love connecting with people, and I get overly excited when I write something that others can relate to.

One of the biggest changes to my blog during the past 10 years is that I really don’t write that much about being a mom anymore. Once your kids get to a certain age, you really can’t infringe upon their privacy by exposing the details of what happens within a family. It’s kind of crazy that just when parenting reaches its most difficult stage, you also have to stop talking about what’s going on.

Because of this, I’ve been thinking about changing the name of my blog. But everydayMOM has become a part of who I am, so I’m not sure if I can bring myself to do it!

Whether you have been reading for the past 10 years or whether you are brand new here, I just wanted to say, “Thank you” for reading! I really do appreciate having you along on this journey.

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In honor of my 10 years of blogging, I would love to hear from you! Leave me a comment and let me know how long you have been reading my blog and how you found out about it. Thanks in advance!

 

 

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inside my fridge

inside my fridge

OK. So I have a cute and super simple DIY project that I’m going to show you, but you have to promise not to laugh… cause it involves looking inside my fridge.

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When friends and family come for dinner, I often secretly hope they WON’T open my fridge. With six people in our family and lots of food going in and out, it seems to be a messy place. But when I take the time to pull out all of the shelves and wash them, the rest of my house could be a disaster, and I feel great about myself! I LOVE pulling open the door and finding a bright, clean and organized space!

When I became obsessed with organization a few years ago, I found out about fridge coasters and put them on my birthday list. (That’s the mental list of things I want, but would never buy myself. However, I also never actually give anyone The List!)

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I always thought it would be so fun to open up my fridge and not only see it clean and organized, but also cute with stripes and patterns on the shelves. Alas, I couldn’t ever convince myself to spend $25 on a set of fridge liners.

Recently, I saw an idea to create your own fridge mats our of place mats you can buy at Target. I was so excited to get this project started that I made a special trip to Target on the rainiest day in the history of spring to get some place mats. The place mats are only $2 each and come in several patterns.

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You simply have to trim the sides to make them fit your fridge. (I just cut mine with scissors to fit.) When you are done, your refrigerator becomes a happy place with colorful shelves. And the best part is that it makes it easier to keep clean. Instead of pulling out the shelves to wash down the inside of the fridge, you just have to take out the mats and wipe them clean.

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So there you have it. Fridge mats! Oh, and next time you’re over, make sure you look in my fridge!

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One of my favorite organization projects

One of my favorite organization projects

I always love getting a “toy” on Christmas morning, and this year I got just about the greatest toy a crafty mom could ask for! A few people have asked me to explain this thing of wonder, known as the Silhouette, so I thought I would write a few blog posts about what I’ve been doing with my new electronic pet.

If you aren’t into being crafty or organization or labeling things, then you might not have heard about the wonders of the Silhouette. Personally, I didn’t even know it had been invented a year ago. But the more I heard about it, the more I wanted one. And when I saw a big Black Friday deal on a Silhouette, I asked my husband if it could be my Christmas gift.

The Silhouette is a die-cutting machine that connects to your computer like a printer. It perfectly and precisely cuts anything you design, and it works with lots of materials. I’ve mainly been using mine so far with adhesive vinyl, but it also can cut out iron-on transfers, chip board, cardstock and pretty much anything you can think of.

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One of my first projects for the Silhouette was to add labels to one of my favorite organization projects in this house. I’m sure you’ve all heard the news that leaving your toothbrushes on the counter isn’t such a great idea. Supposedly, each time you flush the toilet, it sends particles into the air that get on your tooth brush. (I actually heard a news story recently that this ISN’T true, but the mere possibility has been haunting me for a while now!)

I have tried to come up with a good method of storing our toothbrushes somewhere other than on the bathroom counter. I put them in cups inside the cabinet, but they would tip over. I tried putting them in a closet, but no one could ever find them and they would end up lying next to the sink.

One day I was at IKEA and I discovered the PLUGGIS storage system. I wasn’t sure how I would attach them to a wall or cabinet, but I brought them home knowing CapableDad could figure it out. Sure enough. He was able to saw the end off a screw so it would attach to the inside of the cabinet door without going all the way through the door.

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Now, I have a great way to store our toothbrushes and toothpaste inside the door. I used the other containers on the other door to store my facial cleansers and other small items like band-aids and pony tail holders. This has been a small project, but it makes me hugely happy because now I am able to have a clutter-free counter!

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Creating labels for my storage containers was one of my first projects with my Silhouette. It was as simple as writing the words in a font I like (Honey Script) and then printing them out on adhesive vinyl. Peel and stick, and my project is complete! (You can see that I still have my round labels on the drawers inside the cabinet. I’m sure I’ll be changing those out soon!)

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I have lots of other die-cut projects I’ve been working on that I hope to write about on my blog. But I’m wondering… any other Silhouette users out there? I would love to hear about your favorite projects!

 

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Highlights of 2013

Highlights of 2013

As we say good-bye to 2013, I have been going through all of my photos from the year and remembering the highlights. 2013 was definitely a year of personal growth for me and our entire family! I’m kind of amazed, actually, to think about what we’ve accomplished, where we’ve been and how we’ve grown.

Here are my top ten highlights from 2013.

GETTING ORGANIZED

I had two major personal accomplishments in 2013. First I completely organized our entire home. I went through every drawer, closet and room and purged, donated and organized. Our life is majorly different because of it! I still can’t say I’m a neat and clean person, but I am a lot more organized! I’ve really gotten into a rhythm of knowing how to organized a space, and I continue to do this on a routine basis! I’m looking forward to lots more organizing in 2014!

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PHOTOGRAPHY

My second personal accomplishment is that I worked hard on improving my photography skills. I learned to use my camera, I took tons of photos for other families and I even took a day-long photography workshop. I feel way more confident in my ability to use my camera than I did a year ago!

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SPRING BREAK

We had some amazing travel experiences in 2013. The first one was to Baton Rouge to visit our friends who moved away nearly two years ago. I’m so thankful we took the time to make this trip. It was wonderful to see our friends and let these boys reconnect. We also loved experiencing Louisiana, and we had some fun memories both on the trip there and the trip home of our time in Mississippi and Springfield.

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FARM

In July, we made our annual trip to see Kent’s family at the farm in Southern Illinois. This is always a great time to slow down and enjoy hanging out with relatives. The farm is full of adventure and memories!

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SOUTH CAROLINA

Later in July, we drove out to South Carolina for our family vacation. I think we all agree this was our favorite family vacation. We simply loved having a place right on the beach and spending each day just hanging out and relaxing. We didn’t rush around to see the sights. We just enjoyed being together.

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KIDS

Watching all of our kids’ accomplishments this year was so fun. It’s hard to see them grow up, but it’s also a great experience to walk with them as they develop their own interests, talents and abilities.

We were completely amazed to watch Alayna unleash her diving talent. We knew that she loved to jump in the water, but we couldn’t believe how quickly her skill developed when we enrolled her in a diving class.

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Matthew continued to develop his baseball skills. That kid is amazing to watch on the baseball field. He is super aggressive, which drove me nuts at first! But now that I’m used to watching him taunt other players and steal bases, it is really fun to see! He made some major improvements in his ability to hit, pitch and catch. He was one of the top players on his spring team and then got to play on a summer All-Star team. The fall was a blast because he had an amazing coach, who really worked with him and encouraged him.

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Andrew decided to play basketball on his school team this fall, which has brought lots of excitement to his life! Matthew also is playing basketball, but since Andrew hasn’t been involved in a sport for a while, I’m focusing more on him! Andrew has developed a great group of friends at his school, and it’s really fun to watch them play basketball together. He was a little nervous at first, but it was fun to see him come out of his shell during a tournament for seventh graders during Christmas break! He had some great shots, and he plays awesome defense!

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Jayda absolutely loves gymnastics! She also tried ballet and swimming this year, but we quickly learned that gymnastics is definitely HER sport! Just look at her joy in being part of her exhibition in the spring! Alayna also made huge progress in gymnastics. After years of trying, she finally made her goal of graduating to level 4. The next step for her is to make the gymnastics team, which I am sure she will do in 2014!

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SCHOOL

It also brings me so much joy to see how well the kids are doing in school. They finished their first year at a new school with great friends, wonderful teachers and fantastic memories. This is a photo of Alayna getting a Superior in her speech meet.

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The kids went off to school in the fall feeling confident and anxious to be with their friends again!

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And little Jayda started preschool in the fall! She is blessed to be in class with two good friends, which makes the experience that much more exciting! She absolutely loves being in preschool three mornings a week!

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CHURCH BUILDING

Moving into our new church facility was a major accomplishment both personally and work wise. Personally, I devoted a ton of time to updating our logo and colors, creating signs and banners, putting together direct mail, editing video, and lots of other jobs on the communications end to move into the building. Our family also gave lots of hours on Saturdays to help finish construction and do clean up at the building. Moving in to the building in September was a huge blessing, and we are all so thankful!!

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FLOOD

One of our memories of 2013 is the huge flood that swept through our area and even closed school for a few days!

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FAMILY

And we have some wonderful memories of family from 2013. We got to be with Kent’s side of the family for his grandmother’s 90th birthday. During our trip, we loved remembering Kent’s great uncle by finding his flag on the town square. Later in the fall, I was able to spend a day with my two sisters to celebrate a milestone birthday! We took a train into Chicago and saw the musical Wicked. It was a fun day I will always remember!

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So, that was our 2013. I hope you are able to take some time to look back at your favorite memories. Happy New Year!

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The clean room challenge begins

The clean room challenge begins

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Our 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter are convinced they are the only children in the suburbs of Chicago who do not have their own iPods. I know I should probably feel like a horrible mother for subjecting them to such a terrible first world problem.

But despite their begging and pleading, we have told them they have to wait until they are 13 to get a phone or iPod. The ironic part is that our oldest son is one week away from his 13th birthday and he doesn’t even want an iPod or a phone. Not the younger two.

They are counting down the days until they officially become teenagers and dreaming of what wonderful technological advancements might be made before their 13th birthdays. They also scheme and plot and manipulate to try to find a loophole in the iPod rule.

So a few days ago, after being asked for the 425th time about how they might be able to get an iPod early, one of them hit me in my weakest spot. “What if I kept my room clean every day for the rest of the year?”

I feel like I have tried every system and strategy in the book for getting them to keep their rooms clean. Another irony is that the oldest one… the kid who will be 13 in one week… the one who doesn’t WANT an iPod, keeps his room perfectly clean every single day without ever being asked. Not the middle two.

Their rooms are always disaster areas. Even when they do get them clean, the organization only lasts about 24 hours before it’s a mess again.

When my daughter made this proposal, it was if she had said, “What if I sent you to Hawaii for two weeks?”

I thought about it for a while and then decided that #1, the chances of them keeping their rooms completely clean for the next two months is very slim. And #2, if they could do it, I actually think it would be worth an iPod!

So, I made some conditions for the challenge. First, the iPod would be their one and only Christmas gift. Second, they would have to meet my standard of what a clean room would look like.

I have spent the past week getting their rooms to “Ground Zero” level. I wanted to set them up for success. The more I have thought about this, the more I really do want them to succeed! I mean imagine how terrible they will feel on Christmas morning if one makes it and the other one does not.

Plus, just the thought of seeing their rooms clean every single day makes me incredibly happy!

I did a major overhaul of their rooms a couple of years ago (here and here), but things have slowly starting falling into disarray. This week, I have been labeling and sorting to get all of their stuff to a place it was easy to put away.

Here are a few of my organization projects:

In my son’s room, I basically just needed to add some labels to his bins and the boxes at the top of his closet. We purged some of his clothing and organized what was left in the closet.

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My daughter’s room was more of a challenge. She shares her room with her 3-year-old sister, so they have possessions ranging from baby dolls to fashion accessories. I labeled all of their toy and clothing storage earlier this year, and that has been working well when they do pick up their room.

 

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girlbins

But the closet still needed major work. One of the biggest problems was the huge bin of costumes and ballet outfits at the top of the closet. We organized the contents, folding each costume neatly and placing it in a large ziplock bag. Then we divided them into two boxes at the top of the closet. The third box holds craft projects.

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I also bought them a storage unit for their shoes and added some bins for scarves, bags and sweaters.

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And of course, I made them both a checklist. You know how I LOVE a checklist! It lists every single thing they need to do each day, plus some weekly cleaning chores, like vacuuming, dusting and taking out the garbage.

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The clean room challenge begins tomorrow. They have to keep their rooms in tip-top shape for eight weeks! Do you think they can do it?

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So tell me… How do your kids handle keeping their rooms clean? Do you have any systems that work? Or is it a constant struggle?

 

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