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“Super Mom”

I’m not sure how I ever got that title of “Super Mom” or why people want to use it loosely with me…

it could be because I have a bunch of kids whom I’ve managed to keep alive,
because I stay at home with them 24/7,
because we home school,
because I have a strong-willed child whose challenges I now speak openly about, or
maybe just to encourage me in all of these things.

I’m not sure, but it’s definitely not a term I would’ve ever given myself.


*This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, I receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you. 

I do always try to stay positive, especially when it comes to social media and dealing with the challenges I face as a mother. However, I sometimes ONLY post the positive or the really funny things that are just so bad that I have no choice but to just laugh through them. (Laugh to keep from crying, right?) So because I’m only posting my “highlight reel” of positivity, maybe people think that I’m that way all around.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I’m not. If you’ve ever played the comparison game with me, I’m about to burst your bubble. While I don’t want to ever portray motherhood in a “negative” sense… I do want to be real with you here. It IS hard. It IS real. And sometimes it’s raw and emotional – even for me.

There have been times where I feel like I’m “killing it”… but for the most part I actually get really overwhelmed, stressed out, and anxious fairly easily as a mom – especially when we aren’t in a good routine and I don’t feel like I’m managing things well (which is not unusual for this season we’re in). I’m working really hard to “give myself grace” in all the areas, but it doesn’t keep me from feeling these things and feeling out of control.

This is something that I never really noticed about myself until I was a mom, but as I read the chapter about “Highly Sensitive People” in Anne Bogel’s book “Reading People“, it was like a light bulb went off. It was me.. to a T. I don’t say this to use it as an excuse – certainly not. But I do find it ironic that this motherhood gig brings about many of the triggers that tend to affect me as a highly sensitive person. It’s the only thing that has pushed me so far out of my comfort zone and made me realize these things about myself. I truly and firmly believe that while we think our children are put here for US to raise and teach and grow, they actually in turn, do the exact same thing for us as parents. God has used my children to teach me so many things in life – things I would’ve never faced or dealt with otherwise.

“Being highly sensitive means that you have a highly tuned nervous system, and it affects 1 in 5 people. High sensitivity describes people whose nervous systems are more receptive to stimuli than those of the general population. This means they are more attuned to subtleties in their surroundings and are more easily overwhelmed by highly stimulating environments.” -Anne Bogel

Common Triggers for Highly Sensitive People:

1. Noise… Sometimes it’s loud noises, but for me it comes when there is “non-stop noise of any sort” (aka kids).

2. Clutter… Messy spaces are draining because of all of the visual input (aka kids).

3. Texture… This one affects some people, but doesn’t affect me too much personally.

4. People… People can definitely be overwhelming (aka kids… yall noticing a trend here?).

5. Consecutive errands/meetings/appointments… This one comes from having constant, varied input with no time in between to recover. I deal with this on shopping days because I have to go to multiple stores since we are out of town. I’m no good for anything productive the rest of the day when we get home.

6. Big Feelings… Emotions are overwhelming to me, so I avoid them usually. There’s no such thing as a little bit sad or a little bit happy or a little bit tired…. We feel things very deeply.

7. Information Overload… While I LOVE learning new things, there are times that I have to just turn it all off.

8. Media… I notice this one affecting me when something major gets a ton of attention in media, especially when it’s something that would cause me to have those “big feelings” I try to avoid.

9. Decisions… Decisions are a major source of energy drain. Decision fatigue kicks in sooner with HSPs and lasts way longer. I make a bazillion decisions in a day with my kids, and my personality type makes it even worse.

Anne Bogel says, “Armed with a little knowledge, you can be more prepared to deal with your highly sensitive responses to the world. Sometimes simply understanding brings instant relief. You understand that you’re not alone, and you’re not crazy. And in addition to bringing relief, knowing you are an HSP can bring a new appreciation for not only the hardships of bearing the trait but also the benefits.”

Here’s a free assessment if you’d like to see if you or maybe your child might be highly sensitive.

Giving an HSP What They Need:

  1. Quiet… Whether working in an office or staying home with ten kids, HSPs need some noise-free zones in their day. (This used to be why I would wake up at 4:30am, but that’s proving to be harder and harder when I’m also waking up with a newborn during the night. However, I might have to strive a little harder to accomplish this one – just for my own sanity.) Another way to get a little more “quiet” is to have some automated systems and routines so that I don’t have people asking me things that they can answer for themselves, “Taco Tuesday” for example. If we always have tacos on Tuesdays, that’s one day they wouldn’t have to ask me, “What’s for dinner?”.
  2. Peaceful, Clutter-free Environments… Not always, obviously, but especially when it’s time for an HSP to recharge.
  3. Privacy… When HSPs need to focus, they often prefer to work (or read or walk or think) alone. They notice all of the little things that others wouldn’t like sighing, laughing, keyboard clatter… things that seem miniscule to others, can put HSPs on high alert.
  4. Downtime… HSPs have to be deliberate about this and do something that actually fills their tank instead of draining them more.
  5. Minimal Information Intake… Smartphones make this especially hard because it’s tempting to listen to a podcast during downtime or check emails, social media, etc. but all of these are just additional stimulation that I need to take breaks from.
  6. Routine… Smooth routines makes for fewer decisions. Since HSPs are more prone to decision-fatigue, consistent routines help. They also give the bonus of “less talking” which can zap energy from an HSP.
  7. Boundaries… This should be the goal of HSPs so that they don’t intuitively take on the negative energy of other people and places.

“HSPs can be intense. They are passionate by nature, and can make others feel their passion too. They have laser-like focus and dedicate boatloads of attention to the things they care about. They’re able to explore issues in depth, seeing the nuances that others miss or choose to ignore. They’re extremely perceptive, picking upon all sorts of things nonsensitive types miss. They are creative and able to turn their hyper-awareness within to generate new ideas. When we think of high sensitivity in that light, it sounds like a super power.” -Anne Bogel

In addition to knowing what I need as a highly sensitive person, something else I’m working on is portraying motherhood in a positive light instead of a negative one. This is something I’ve been convicted about lately… there was a series of posts made on Instagram by my friend (I’m claiming her as my friend), Phylicia that really hit home with me. There are so many memes out there that portray motherhood in a negative sense and just focus on how hard it is. Yes – motherhood IS hard. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but as I said earlier… I believe that God uses the hard things in our lives to teach us and to grow us. Even the hard things, like motherhood, that we choose and desire for ourselves.  Here are the things Phylicia encouraged me in… maybe it will be an encouragement to you too.

“What if we as moms united around our SUCCESS instead of around our FAILURE? We might love our motherhood more.

When we trash talk motherhood in front of the world, we’re telling them Jesus isn’t good for what He promised.

It’s not ‘Take heart, for I have overcome… unless you’re a SAHM’. It’s ‘Take heart, I have overcome’ everyday you disciple your children.

Christian moms, we have a responsibility for how we portray motherhood to the world. Do we portray it in the lens of our worldview, which is that Christ has overcome the world, or do we focus on the negative and the hard?

There’s no denying that there are hard days. And Not all motherhood memes are bad. And yes, there are some situations (foster /adoption /special needs) that do demand more from a parent. But we need to be a voice for positive motherhood and emphasize the GOOD much MORE than the hard, and let that be our uniting factor.

In those hard days and seasons, learn to ask yourself…

What part of this can I control?
What part of this do I need to release to God?
How can I live out my identity as an overcomer here?
We are capable of more.” -Phylicia Masonheimer

No matter what situation or season of motherhood you are in… It doesn’t matter if you are highly sensitive, have a child who is, or are dealing with newborns, fostering, adoption, or special needs… No matter what – Christ has overcome, and so can you. You may not be or feel like a “Super Mom”… that’s okay, because we serve a “Super God”, and he is the strength in our weakness. We can go to Him in the chaos of our lives and find His supernatural power to keep going and overcome. My prayer is for you today, mama. Go get it!

My January 2019 “Ta Da!” List

The idea of a “Ta Da” List is that we focus on the things that we accomplish, the ways we are successful…. maybe even things that weren’t even on our original “To Do” or “Goals” lists. It’s a way of celebrating the wins – the big and the small, instead of focusing on the negative and feeling guilty for not getting things done. I loved this idea so much that I decided to use it to title and formulate my monthly recap posts as well! This is a monthly blog post I will publish that will hold me accountable to the goals and New Year’s Resolutions that I set for myself for the year.

**This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you.

  • Took Lyndon to his 2-week check-up, and learned that he made it into the 8 lb. weight class
  • Supported Justin and Lawson in his first ever CrossFit competition, where he took 2nd place in his division
  • Went out for a Girls’ Night / Post-Christmas Get Together Dinner with friends
  • Started meal-prepping and eating healthy again
  • Hosted a Play date with two different friends of mine and their kids this month
  • Signed Lawson up for the next season of T-ball
  • Showed our house to some potential buyers
  • Purchased a gift for an upcoming couple’s wedding shower
  • Planned our second semester of Homeschooling
  • Wrote a flexible, daily, routine for us at home… it’s changed a little now that we have a newborn in the house
  • Kon-Mari’d the kids’ clothes
  • Kon-Mari’d my clothes (including the maternity clothes I never want to wear again)
  • Shopped for new clothes that I feel good in postpartum
  • Finished reading the book Together by Carrie Ward
  • Made a Home school Reading Log for the Books we currently own
  • Laminated Tot School Vocabulary Development Cards
  • Repainted our Lockers (This was my household project for the month.)
  • Rearranged the living room and playroom
  • Kon-Mari’d the Kids’ Books
  • Cleaned out our spice drawer, Relocated them, and Re-organized the drawer
  • Kon-Mari’d some Kitchen items & re-organized some cabinets and spaces
  • Worked out twice at home… It’s a start. 😉 The first time, I got a terrible muscle cramp. I must get back to this slowly.
  • Sent a friend some educational gift ideas for her preschooler
  • Wore my Fitbit watch and started tracking my steps again
  • Started our second semester of home school
  • Organized our Files
  • Organized the hall closets
  • Straightened the bathroom cabinets
  • Enjoyed my frothy coffee at home this month (after an aversion to coffee during my pregnancy)
  • Began reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown
  • Finished the Book of Numbers with the kids in Bible Roadtrip
  • Began the Book of Deuteronomy with the kids in Bible Roadtrip
  • Had a Cleaning Lady come to help me get our house in order for our house showing
  • Posted some video stories on Instagram (so scary for me, lol)
  • Combined my personal and business Instagram accounts and started being more active on there since it’s more easy for me to do during the day
  • Eased back into writing and published a couple blog posts this month
  • Ordered clay bentonite powder and apple cider vinegar to detox and new, all natural, good-for-me deodorant to try (as part of my goal to switch over to more healthy beauty and body products)
  • Journalled and logged my daily food intake
  • Kept up with my daily skincare routine (most days)
  • Began paying back my student loans this month (We’ve been paying Justin’s, but now we will be paying mine back monthly as well.)
  • Paid all our bills for the month (We may not be ahead on anything, but we aren’t behind on anything either. It’s worth celebrating too – even if it’s just the way we always do things.)
  • Fed all my kids and kept them all alive this month (This one just makes me smile every time… especially with having a newborn in the house and three other littles.)I no longer make long to-do lists for myself… at least not in this season. I may give myself like one goal for the day (that may or may not get done), but mostly I just do what I see that needs to be done when I have a moment. And this Ta Da list makes me feel like it was a very successful month – even though the days were quite a bit more stressful and demanding than I’m used to.

    Whatever you do, let’s make a Plan to be more Purposeful!

19 Things in 2019

I saw the idea of “19 things in 2019”, and I fell in love. Yall know I love lists. While 19 does seem like quite a large number, I’m giving myself the entire year to complete the list. I will break it down into bite-sized pieces, as always, and give myself grace for what I don’t get accomplished. But it sure is a fun way to begin… am I right?


*This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

So here’s my 19 things for 2019…

1. Read through the Bible with my kids using the Bible Roadtrip curriculum.

Instead of trying to do my quiet time totally separate, I’m going to focus on our Bible Roadtrip Curriculum with my kids, and kill two birds with one stone so to speak. This idea was inspired by the book I just finished, Together by Carrie Ward, and by an instagram friend, Phylicia (She doesn’t know me, but I am claiming that we are totally bffs.) This is one way that I’m giving myself grace as a mama, but I am hoping that I’ll be able to go more in depth with it and that we can focus on some scripture memory as well.

2. Explore verse-mapping.

I’m going to try to include this idea with our studies as well, but it’s new to me so I’ll have to learn all about it first.

3. Worship daily with my kids.

My kids and I all love music. Singing together in the car is one of our favorite things. I want to try to incorporate this more when we are home as well. Music calms me when I’m anxious, and I think it will work well for my kids as well. It’s just not currently one of my go-to things that I think about.

4. Journal daily and do “writing sprints”.

This one comes from an idea that came to me a while back. I can’t tell you how many times our kids ask us questions about spiritual things that I feel are just well beyond their years. They already know so much at their young ages than I did at their age for sure. Even the one that I don’t think is listening to me can recall and relate different biblical concepts, and I’m so amazed. I really don’t think it’s because of anything we’ve done – maybe just the prayers we’ve prayed for them… but I want to explore it more. I want to somehow capture these little conversations we have as a means of memory-keeping for them, but also maybe even to publish in some way as well.

The concept of “writing sprints” is just to write… no editing, no formatting, just writing whatever is on my heart. I need to get in the practice of doing this and just see what comes from it.

5. Gradually replace our cleaning products with all-natural versions.

I’ve already done this with our All-Purpose cleaner since I use it the most. I purchased glass bottles, essential oils, castile soap and made my own disinfectant/all-purpose cleaning spray. I wanted a healthier version because this is what I clean my counter tops and tabletop with several times a day. I wanted a chemical-free version so that I can feel good about kneading my bread-dough right on my counter tops and be confident than I’m not adding in any harmful chemicals to my dough by doing so. I already love this spray, and I even made up a few to give as Christmas gifts.

I’m not sure if I’ll continue to make up my own cleaners with essential oil recipes or if I’ll use Branch Basics, which I’ve also looked into. I will do a little research before I make my final decision, and I might just do a mixture of both.

6. Begin to replace my beauty products with all-natural versions.

This one, I’ll admit, is a little scarier for me to commit to. I have products that I already love that I use on a daily basis when it comes to skincare, make-up, and even bath products. I think the easiest way to do this, though, is to just do one thing at a time, as I run out of them. Just like I did with my all-purpose cleaner first for cleaning products… in this category I’m starting with deodorant. I’ve ordered Bentonite Clay Powder that I will use with Apple Cider Vinegar to detox my skin, and then I will try out ClayDry Deodorant from Zion Health. I’ve heard good things. I’ve also seen that you can use the Clay Powder for other purposes as well, such as for shaving so I’m going to probably try that out as well since I have it.

7. Read 6+ books this year, one of them being a fiction book.

My goal for the past few years has been to read 12 books, but I don’t think I’ve actually ever met THAT goal, even though I’ve come close some years. I do believe that it is good to read and be learning constantly so I won’t give it up completely, but I’ve lowered my standards to make them more attainable for me. I have absolutely no shame in doing that. I’m going to try to read 6 books this year, with one of them being a fiction book. I can’t tell you the last time I read a fiction book, other than a children’s book. I’m not sure if I will even like it, but I’m hoping it can be a good “me time” or leisure activity if I can learn to enjoy it.

8. Get back to my healthy self.

There are lots of mini goals wrapped up in this one. I’m so excited to work out again and get back to CrossFit! I’m ready to lose weight, eat healthy, and feel good about myself again. However, this goal comes second to feeding and nourishing my little one through breastfeeding… so instead of focusing on “losing weight” which is sometimes hard to do while breastfeeding, I’m focusing on eating nutritious well-balanced meals instead. I’ll be fueling my body for breastfeeding and workouts. In the past, doing this proved to be great for my milk-supply, and I did end up losing weight as well as an added bonus.

I’m going to start wearing my FitBit watch again. I’ll track my healthy journey’s progress in my planner using the Happy Planner Fitness Extension pack that was gifted to me – I’ll keep a food journal, workout log, and track my progress with pics, weigh-ins, and measurements. I really like to celebrate ALL the wins!

9.  Continue with my daily skincare routine.

A few months ago, I splurged on a new skincare line for myself. I bought the Littles Kit from the Drunk Elephant line so that I could sample all of the products. Some of them, I have fallen in love with, and so now I know which ones to buy the bigger sizes of, and which ones I can probably do without.

10. Plan and participate in regular phone detoxes.

I’d really like to get to a point where I intentionally take regular breaks from my phone… one hour a day, one day a month, and one week of the year will be my goal for this.

11. Cultivate a thriving home school.

This is one of those ongoing goals, but I’m constantly evaluating what is working or not working for us… how my children learn best, and what we can do differently to create a healthy love for learning in our home.

12. Plan, budget for, and complete one household project/month.

I’m making a list for this. It’s something that I often just put on the back-burner, but I want my home to be a place that I love, that sparks joy, and that I’m proud of. I want to be more hospitable and loving our home is going to help me to want to do that even more.

13. Upgrade our dining table to fit our “large family”.

I’ve always dreamed about having large family that could gather around a big ole table. Well I’ve got the family, but we’ve outgrown our table. We are currently squeezing in extra chairs from another dining set we had so we can all have a place to sit, and to be honest – it annoys me when we aren’t sitting at the table because I can’t push all the chairs in at the same time. It’s a minor thing because we do make it work, but I’d like to go ahead and upgrade it this year to a larger table if we can make it happen.

14. Stick to my Flylady cleaning routines.

This is an app on my phone that has different daily routines that I can use for morning, afternoon, and evening. It also has a “Weekly Home Blessing Hour”, and different zones that I clean weekly and can rotate through the house so that it never gets too out of control. It’s a really good system, and I love that it can be edited as well to fit my specific needs.

15. Repeat the KonMari process.

I went through this process for the first time probably about three years ago. Funny that it’s now becoming a trending-hot topic because of the show that just aired this month on Netflix. I’d like to go back through this process because I know I’ve grown since that time, and I’m embracing minimalism more and more as time passes.

16. Pay off 1-2 Student Loans this year.

This one is pretty much self-explanatory. Our student loans are our only debt right now, besides our mortgage. We’ve had them in deferment for several years because our income hasn’t been enough for us to cover them. This past year we were able to start paying on Justin’s, and now we have to pay mine monthly as well. I recently did a debt calculation that said we would have them paid off in seven years if we keep up with paying them monthly. (So basically if we had been able to afford them, they could already be paid off by now.)  Oh well. Anyway, we’d like to be able to continue with the monthly minimum payments all year, but also use our tax refund to pay off one of the smaller portions or two entirely if we can.

17. Establish basic Sinking Funds.

This is something I learned about last year but haven’t been able to carry out just yet. Hopefully we’ll get to a point where we are able to plan more for our future purchases and be in control a bit more, but if not – we’ll be okay with that too I guess. We’re just trying to do the best we can with what we have, and I can confidently say we are doing that.

18. Study the Enneagram.

Originally this one on my list was to “learn about and try new wines” this year, but my husband wasn’t too fond of that being one of my goals so I changed it to this one. I’ll just stick to ordering the one or two wines I know I like when we go out to dinner. Lol.

The Enneagram is something that’s becoming increasingly more popular now. I read about it in the book Reading People by Anne Bogel last year, but I didn’t spend much time on that chapter because I wasn’t as familiar with it. I’d like to learn more about my own type and what it means this year as well as the types of those in my family and those closest to me.

19. Learn to do a Hand-Stand Push-Up.

This was the same goal I set for last year in CrossFit, but I didn’t know I’d be pregnant most of last year so it wasn’t a goal that actually got met. Since I wasn’t already confident with being upside down (it’s actually a big fear of mine still), I REALLY didn’t feel confident in continuing to work on it while being “with child”. So… here it is again. A fear for me to overcome, and a goal for me to hopefully achieve and just a fun item to complete my list for the year.

I hope to be able to share with you monthly how it’s going with this list, and what I’m specifically doing to accomplish the goals I have set here. I’d love to have you as my accountability, and I’d love to know what your goals are for the new year.

Do you set New Year’s Resolutions? In what ways are you Planning to be more Purposeful in 2019?


My Word for 2019

I love the idea of having a focus word for the year. I started this back in 2016 with the word “Intentional”. That was the year I really began to use planning as a way to be more purposeful or “intentional” in my life. I didn’t choose a word at the beginning of 2017, but it was a hard year for me, and I learned a lot about my “identity” that year so I summed up the year at the end with that word. My word for 2018 was “Increase”, and I saw many aspects of that word throughout the year.

Just like I didn’t fully understand what God had planned for us in relation to my Word of the Year for 2018 until the end of the year, I’m sure it will be the same for this year’s word as well. While I already have my word for 2019, I don’t really know what it means for me yet.

I always like to tie a scripture in with my word of the year to focus on. This year, because I don’t know yet what is to come – I have three. So as the year progresses, we’ll see if we can narrow it down, or if God somehow just uses all three.

Last year, my word was Increase. God used that word in so many different ways – not just one. We saw increase in our faith, increase in our finances, and increase in our family as well with the blessing of a new baby. I’m sure it will be the same with this year’s word as well.

My Word of the Year for 2019 is IMAGINE.

Now to the one who can do infinitely more than we can ask or IMAGINE according to the power that is working among us. Ephesians 3:20

In this sense, I am going to IMAGINE the things that God is going to do. I think this is God giving me permission to dream. I’m going to imagine and dream big. Then, I will be praying those dreams back to God and see what He has planned. His plans and desires are always greater than our own. The bigger we dream and imagine, I believe the bigger things He will do.

Brethren, I do not IMAGINE that I have yet laid hold of it. But this one thing I do – forgetting everything which is past and stretching forward to what lies ahead of me. Philippians 3:13

This, I think, is in relation to the purpose that God has for us. We will not look to what we have done in the past or maybe even what we’re doing right now, but we will stretch ourselves (maybe even out of our comfort zones) to the bigger, eternal purpose that He has for us.

Then God’s peace which goes far beyond anything we could IMAGINE will guard your hearts and minds in union with the Messiah Jesus. Philippians 4:7

No matter what… we will have peace. It’s the unshakable peace that we cannot even fathom or understand, but it’s the one only God can give. No matter what fails or goes wrong or breaks or comes to an end, we will trust that God has it all under control.

The word Imagine is not a word I would’ve ever probably chosen on my own, but I’m excited to see what God has in store for us this year in relation to this word.

Do you have a Word of the Year? I’d love to know what your word is and how you use it to be more purposeful in your year.

Our Gender-Neutral “Nursery” Set-Up

*This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Today I’m sharing with you our “Nursery” Set-Up for Baby #4.

When we found out we were expecting again, I got the opportunity to “problem solve” and figure out how everything could work for our family, using what we already have. As an INTJ personality type, problem solving is really one of my favorite things. I excitedly accepted the challenge!

We live in a 3-bedroom home, and at the time of finding out we were pregnant again – our two boys shared a room with bunk beds, and our daughter had the other room as her “nursery” still. I didn’t really love the idea at first, but I made the decision to move her into the room with the boys. We moved her mini-crib into the boys’ room and moved ALL the toys and books and things into the other room to use as a “play room”. I wasn’t really sure exactly what I wanted to do yet, but it soon became very clear. As soon as Layten’s crib was moved into the boys’ room, she learned how to climb in and out of it – making it pretty pointless to have in there as an additional piece of furniture that we would later need for Baby #4 anyway. We actually took apart the bunk beds (originally a full on bottom, twin on top), and put them on either side of the room with a dresser in between. The boys could share the full size bed, and Layten could sleep on the twin size. The twin size that was originally the top bunk has made the PERFECT toddler bed because it already had those rails built in so she couldn’t roll off the bed. So that was easy!

The next step was figuring out where our new baby would sleep and where I would nurse and change diapers during the night, as to not wake up the entire family. That was actually the whole reason for moving Layten to the boys’ room and not forcing her to share a room with a newborn that would wake up and cry during the night. I decided to leave the comfy rocker in the “play room”, set up a changing station there, and put the crib and baby’s clothes in our master bedroom. This way, baby could nap in the crib during the day, and the older kids would still be able to use their playroom as well.

So here is our Gender-Neutral “Nursery” set up that we have in our master bedroom.


It’s a mini crib that was purchased by a family member when we were expecting Layten. I LOVE the size of it! It’s absolutely perfect! We had custom bedding made for it with Layten, but since we don’t know the gender of this baby – I’ve kept it simple this time. Simple white crib sheets… these are actually the same size sheets that fit inside play-yards or pack-n-plays. This blanket was handmade for us by a sweet friend, and I’ve used it with all my children. The cart is actually from Michael’s, and it’s an Everyday Value product for $30, but it’s also very similar to the IKEA RASKOG cart.


I love how the three tiers of this cart offer easy organization! Right now we have a shelf for girl things, a shelf for boy things, and a shelf for other baby essentials like burp cloths, bibs, blankets, and extra fitted sheets. Of course when this baby is born and we find out the gender, we will gain another shelf back – which we can use for more blankets, clothes, our sleep sack, and our Baby K’Tan newborn carrier. Currently, these things are all washed and ready to go in an extra laundry basket in our closet.

I decided to leave this comfy rocker in our “play room” so that I can use that room for night feedings and not disturb the other family members in the house. I definitely recommend getting a really comfortable rocking chair because you will be using it A LOT, especially in the beginning with a newborn. This one was a lucky find by my parents when I was pregnant with Layten for $20. No, I did not leave off a zero there. I’m so glad they found it and got it for me! It’s been perfect, and it’s also so great for snuggling up and reading books together. Layten often climbs up in this chair to look at books by herself as well – it’s her favorite reading spot!

I’m going to be adding a lamp or soft night light to this area soon, as well as a basket or tray of nursing supplies (and snacks!) to have on hand for those nursing sessions. I’m on the lookout for the perfect light. I don’t want it to be too bright so that baby will easily confuse night and day. (That battle is hard enough already – am I right?) I just need enough light to be able to see what I’m doing and be able to change a diaper during the night if I need to without turning the main bright lights on. We’ll get all that figured out though.

This is our changing table set-up. It’s very simple… just a changing pad we already had with a new gender-neutral cover and this caddy from Thirty-One stocked with a pack of diapers, wipes, diaper creams, and lotions that we already had on hand. Simple simple. The credenza is a piece I’ve had since I was in high school, and it’s so function. It stores some of the larger toys like the big Paw Patroller on one side so that it’s accessible, but hidden. The other side has “some” of the diapers and wipes so they are easy to grab. Our closet is also stocked with diapers and wipes…. we have been so blessed with those for this baby!

And that’s it! Our “nursery” (if you want to call it that) set-up is pretty simple and minimalistic, I think. I wouldn’t have it any other way… less to organize, less to clean, and less to take up my time with. It’s so funny how you let go of so many things… the more children you have. I have done this in so many ways this time around… Minimalism is the way to go!

40 Week Bumpdate

 

Current Pregnancy Stats…

How far along: 40 Weeks, 1 Day

Countdown: Well the countdown has counted down… I guess, technically, I still have a maximum of 13 days before I reach 42 weeks and I’m strongly encouraged to be induced for safety reasons. I’m pretty sure, baby will decide to come on his or her own this week though. 41 weeks has been the optimal time for delivering my last two babies.

Size of Baby: Soccer Ball, Watermelon, Pumpkin…. etc.

My Body Changes: I had a cervical check at my most recent appointment. My cervix was dilated already to 2cm, but easily stretched to 4cm. I did let my doctor go ahead and strip my membranes as well so since then I’ve had some show, cramping, contractions, and pelvic pressure. Of course, all of these are still random and seem to come and go so we’re just waiting it out to see.

Must Have Items: Tums is still a necessity for me… sometimes I feel like the heartburn or indigestion are just attacking me, even when I’m sitting up straight.

Sleep: I’m really trying to get as much rest and sleep as I can right now, but I’m so anxious that it’s really not an easy task. I’m thinking about baby and labor and delivery and pregnancy symptoms 24/7 now… just waiting on go time.

Cravings: At this point, I would say I’m craving hospital food… just because I’m so ready to be there and have this baby. Really, I’m past the cravings. Food isn’t that exciting to me right now. I’m just trying not to make too big of a mess in the kitchen so we have been eating out more this past week. I’ve got some easy meals prepped and ready to go for this next week as well.

Baby Movement: It seems like baby is moving a little bit less the past couple of days just because I feel like he or she is getting engaged and in position. I do feel movements enough during the day not to worry though. All is good.

Gender: Since this is baby #4 for us and we already have both genders and clothes for both, we opted to not find out the gender of this baby until it’s born. Yes, I’m tired of saying “it” or “the baby”, but we’ll be able to call it by name soon enough. 😉 We really don’t have a preference for either one this time, and we just think it will be fun to be surprised!

Trust me- I’m just as anxious as you are to know!

Names: We do have a name picked out for both genders, which we are keeping a secret until after baby is born. Both names do start with letter “L” though, of course, and they are unique in that we don’t know anyone personally who has these names, but we didn’t just make up names either. We can’t wait to call our baby by name and share this with you!

Challenges this Week: Hurry up and wait. It’s funny how you spend so much time planning and preparing for a baby to come… getting all the things done. And then – you just have to wait until they are ready. I really have tried as best I could to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for going past my due date again (but let’s be honest- no mama REALLY wants to stay pregnant any longer than she has to). The biggest challenge is overcoming all of that growing impatience and anxiousness.

Nursery Progress: We are not doing a nursery for this baby, but here’s how we’ve decided to work this out. All three of our children share one bedroom. Our two boys share a full-size bed, and our daughter has her own twin size bed. Our second bedroom is used as a playroom… but this is where we’ll keep the baby’s things mostly. We’re going to set up a changing station in that room for the baby, the baby’s clothes will be stored in that closet, and there’s a comfy rocking chair in there for night nursing sessions so that we don’t wake the others in the house. The mini crib is in our master bedroom currently.

And that’s it. So now… we wait!

What’s In Our Hospital Bags

The time has come to have our hospital bags packed and ready to go “just in case”…

I thought I’d share what I have packed for us in case it might be helpful to you in some way. I will say, there might be some TMI things shared in this post that are female and birth related, so if you are male… you might want to go ahead and excuse yourself from reading any further on this one. Just an FYI.

Here is baby’s bag all packed and ready to go!

*This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 


This diaper bag was purchased from Amazon when we had Layten, and it was fabulous so I’m using it again with this baby too! I’m super-picky about organization when it comes to diaper bags. I like pockets and compartments and “everything in it’s place”. This one has like 7 pieces to it, and it’s a very affordable price too!

Here are a couple of those inserts. It also has a changing pad, a bottle holder that attaches, and another smaller bag that I’m currently using in my purse. It has stroller attachment straps as well.


Here are the outfits we’ve packed. Remember, we still don’t know the gender of our baby so we have packed for both. As soon as baby is born, I can send home the un-needed sets with grandparents to make some extra room in our bag. I’m not a minimalist packer for sure. I never have been, and I’m not sure that I ever will be. I just remember that when I had Layten, I’m not sure why, but I actually requested that grandparents bring us more outfits from home because I didn’t pack enough. So I’m hoping we’ll have enough this time around.

I purchased a super sweet outfit that I’d been eyeing on LouLou and Company. It is the softest material I’ve ever seen, yall! It’s a gender-neutral gown that knots at the bottom. I purchased the hat in case this baby is a boy, and I grabbed a coordinating bow from our collection in case this baby is a girl.

I’ve also got another gender-neutral outfit that my mom purchased, and I went ahead and matched bows and socks with it as well.

I included a few other sets of outfits for each gender, and I went ahead and matched the socks, hats, and other accessories that go with each one. Matchy matchy sets like this are my fave for newborns!


Isn’t this the sweetest little outfit ever?! I can’t wait to put it on our sweet baby! If you can’t tell from the picture, it’s cream colored with maroon stripes.

Here are a few blankets I’ve packed for baby. Two are gender-neutral options, and the others match some of the outfit sets from above.

And finally, in baby’s bag – here are few of the other essentials I’ve packed. The mesh bag is for baby’s laundry as they are soiled or worn to take home to wash. There are washable nursing pads and Lanolin balm for nursing. I can’t even remember if I needed either of these in the hospital before, but I packed them just in case. I included our bottle of Honest Company Soothing Bottom Wash to use for those first “really sticky” diaper changes of Meconium bowels. This little spray is great for any of those “sticky” diapers as they get older, but I thought it would probably work just as well for this too. You, mamas, know what I’m talking about.

I purchased a Pat Pat and Cutie Clip from Ryan and Rose for this baby, and I just think they’re super sweet. I don’t know if we’ll even use them in the hospital or not, but I’ll have them just in case. (And yes, I will be washing and sanitizing them first.)

And now – here’s Mama’s hospital bag(s)…

These bags are from Thirty One Gifts. They are a few years old, so I’m not sure if they are still available. There are lots of great bags on their site for organizing so I’m sure you’ll find something there you love if you are in the market for new bags.


Here’s what I have packed for myself…

  • 4 Pajama Sets including one nursing gown with robe, and one that is a nursing tank
    Like I mentioned earlier, I do not ever pack “minimally”. I just remember when Layten was born needing “extra” pajama pants due to some postpartum things so I’m packing more this time.
    How cute is that “Snuggle” Pajama top?! It’s from Walmart, but it’s unavailable online right now.
  • Robe for modesty when guests visit
  • My own Hairdryer
  • Flip Flops for the Shower and Walking around
  • Slippers
  • Socks
  • Nursing Bras
  • Several Pairs of Maternity Underwear
  • Comfy, Maternity “Going Home” Outfit
  • Toiletry Bag (Flat Iron, Hairbrush & Rubber Bands, Toothbrush & Toothpaste, Makeup, Skin Care, the works… nothing out of the ordinary)
  • My Purse: Has my planner, money, hair ties, bobby pins, chapstick, my planner, gum, etc.
  • Things that I will make sure we have as we head out the door: (I’ve got a checklist on my phone for these items.) Baby’s car seat, Dad’s bag, Kids’ Bags (depending on time of day and what the plans are), Our Pillows, Our Phone Chargers, Our Toothbrushes, My Shaving Cream from the Tub, Letter Board and Box of Extra Letters, Snacks and Drinks for the Hospital Stay, Laptop, and anything else I might need.Here’s What I DON’T Bring…
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Baby Toiletries
  • Boppy Pillow or any other Baby Items
  • Breast Pump (not usually needed before my milk comes in anyway; We’re usually home before this occurs.)
  • Sanitary Pads
  • Medicines like Dulco-Ease or Dermoplast Spray (I never needed these with my natural births – only for my first birth where I had some tearing. I only hope that the hospital provides a peri-bottle, because that’s absolutely necessary… but I’m sure the others are available upon request as well if they are needed.
  • I just use what the hospital provides for all of these things while we’re there, and it saves room in our bags.

And that’s pretty much it! Is there something you think I might need but is missing from my list? Be sure to let me know!

My Top Three Favorite Black Friday Deals

Ready to see my favorite Black Friday Deals?! The best part about these deals is that you can get them from your couch, using your phone, and in your pajamas! No crowd-fighting for these online deals!

1. LovEveryBaby Play Gym or Baby Subscription Boxes 

$10 off Play Mat or Subscription Boxes Just for Using my Link
-Plus-
$20 off $100+ Purchases using code BLACKFRIDAY20

This means you can get a great deal on the Baby Play Gym, Prepay for a Subscription, or Gift 2 or more Play Kits! This is a great gift idea for any baby on your Christmas shopping list. We just ordered this play gym a while back for our baby that we are expecting soon. I love a good baby play gym, and this one exceeded my expectations! I had already read all up on it and fell in love with it before I ordered it, but when it came in – it was even better that I thought! It’s definitely one of my top-recommended baby products now!

2. Amazon Books: $5/20 Any Book Purchase 

This is one of my favorite promotions that Amazon does, and I take advantage of it pretty much every time it comes around! We use it for Home school books on our list or just books I have saved in my Amazon cart (which is always).

Use Code NOVBOOK18

Here are some of the books I have in my Amazon Cart right now… I wonder which one’s I’ll choose to order this time. 😉

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

The Better Mom Devotional: Shaping our Hearts as We Shape Our Homes by Ruth Schwenk

Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministrry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God by Gloria Furman

So Many Littles, So Little Time: A Worn our Mom’s Guide to Mothering Little Ones by Amy Roberts

Large Family Logistics: The Art and Science of Managing a Large Family by Kim Brenneman

From Grouchy to Great: Finding Joy in the Journey of Motherhood by Ruth Schwenk

Together: Growing Appetities for God by Carrie Ward

Grace-Based Discipline: How to Be at Your Best When Your Kids Are at their Worst by Karis Kimmel Murray

3. Crystal Paine’s Courses

I’ve been following Crystal’s blog for YEARS! We actually have the same personality type so all of her stuff really resonates with me. I also know that all of her courses are amazing, because I’ve taken some of them myself. She’s very personable and helpful. I emailed her after signing up for one of her courses and ask her a question on how to practically apply something, and she emailed me back with some really helpful advice! She’s the real deal!

With the code BF2018, you can get any of her courses for 50% off! 

Happy Shopping!

36-Week Bumpdate & Baby-Prep Checklist

*This post does contain affiliate links. What this means is that if you click any of the links and make a purchase, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. I just linked to similar products of those that we currently own and love in case you might be interested in them too.  

Current Pregnancy Stats…

How far along: 36 Weeks, 2 Days

Countdown: 5 days until we’re considered “Full Term” / 27 days until due date / 41 days max until the 42 week deadline
(I usually carry my babies later than my due date so I’m mentally preparing for that.)

Size of Baby: Last Ultrasound Baby Measured over 5lbs! Baby is the size of a Honeydew Melon this week.

My Body Changes: I was told at church yesterday that it looks like baby has “dropped”. Of course, I’ve never been able to notice this feeling myself in any of my pregnancies. I know that in my pregnancy with Linkin and Layten, I carried them both so low the entire time that there was literally no where for them to drop down to. I haven’t felt that way with this pregnancy, but I also don’t feel any recent differences either so I don’t know.

I’ve also had noticeable Braxton Hicks contractions this week, which I’ll have to admit just excites me very much.

Must Have Items: I’ve now reached the point of my pregnancy where I have “Purse Tums” and “Night Stand Tums”.

Sleep: With the exception of the heartburn, I am actually sleeping pretty great lately. I think I’ve mastered the pillow situation, and some nights I can even sleep all the way through without having to get up to use the bathroom!

Cravings: I’ve been really into hearty soups lately, and I’ve also really enjoyed mashed potatoes this pregnancy. This is definitely a Barrett baby, because that’s what Justin’s mom craved during her pregnancy with him.

Baby Movement: Baby’s movements are getting bigger and stronger now, and my whole belly moves sometimes. Baby also gets hiccups at least once a day now.

Gender: Since this is baby #4 for us and we already have both genders and clothes for both, we opted to not find out the gender of this baby until it’s born. Yes, I’m tired of saying “it” or “the baby”, but we’ll be able to call it by name soon enough. 😉 We really don’t have a preference for either one this time, and we just think it will be fun to be surprised!

Names: We do have a name picked out for both genders, which we are keeping a secret until after baby is born. Both names do start with letter “L” though, of course, and they are unique in that we don’t know anyone personally who has these names, but we didn’t just make up names either. We can’t wait to call our baby by name and share this with you!

Challenges this Week: This week I stepped on a Paw Patrol pup, and something happened. I felt a shift, and it felt like something broke or got misplaced internally. I literally felt sore and uncomfortable for the rest of the day any time I walked, lifted my leg to get dressed, or got up or down. I messaged my chiropractor before I went to bed, and she gave me an exercise to try. I felt a pop, and I was able to have a good night’s sleep. I woke up feeling MUCH better. Pregnancy is weird sometimes. I’ll be sure to have my kids pick up their toys a little better. 😉

Best Moment of the Week: I love how excited our older kids are about this baby. Lawson (age 6) is one who’s always hugging my belly and saying hi or bye the baby when he leaves. He also often prays for the baby at bedtime. Linkin (age 4) prays for the baby as well sometimes as well as for my tummy and back to feel good. Layten (age 2), although we don’t really know if she understands what’s about to happen, she sure talks like she does. The best moment was this week when she wanted to talk to the baby. She talked to my belly and said, “Hey, baby. I Dayten! I’m the baby girl! Bye, baby.” It’s almost like she was claiming her girl territory just in case this baby is also a girl. It was pretty funny.

Nursery Progress: We are not doing a nursery for this baby, but here’s how we’ve decided to work this out. All three of our children share one bedroom. Our two boys share a full-size bed, and our daughter has her own twin size bed. Our second bedroom is used as a playroom… but this is where we’ll keep the baby’s things mostly. We’re going to set up a changing station in that room for the baby, the baby’s clothes will be stored in that closet, and there’s a comfy rocking chair in there for night nursing sessions so that we don’t wake the others in the house. The mini crib is in our master bedroom currently.

Things I Miss: I miss working out. There have been days where I just have the urge to go in and lift some weights, but I also know all of the aches and pains I’ve felt recently due to the Relaxin hormone and just things shifting and changing and how just the simplest things have hurt me… so I’m playing it safe right now.

Fears: I’ll have to admit that I’m a little afraid about how big this baby will be. Baby measured over five pounds at my last ultrasound, and I calculated that if baby grows half a pound a week for the remaining six weeks, that it will be over eight pounds. I know that eight pounds isn’t really THAT large, but Layten was over eight pounds when she was born, and I just know the difference of how much more difficult her delivery was from delivering Linkin who was only seven pounds. I also know that I usually carry my babies later than my due date, so I’m a little worried about this one being too big for me to deliver naturally. I’m trying to just think positive and not worry too much about it, but it’s just something I keep thinking about.

Eats: I’m hungry all the time now, and I’m open to anyone cooking for me or taking me out to eat in this final month. ;-D

Baby-Prep Checklist

By now, if you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that I’m a planner and a goal-getter. I’m especially good at this when I have a clearly defined deadline in sight, and a baby’s due date is the perfect opportunity to get on the ball and get some things done!

I planned our Homeschool terms to accomodate our baby’s due date. We started our school year in July so we could take a good, long break in December when our new baby comes. I also finished our Christmas shopping super early so I wouldn’t have to worry with all of that while I’m home with a newborn. It’s great to have a good deadline to work towards.

Because I’m a little nerdy, and not ashamed to admit it, I researched on Pinterest what items a baby needs just for the sake of list-making. For the most part, I already know what we need and like to have for a baby, and what’s not really necessary. This comes from having three children already, BUT I’ve also done lots of minimalizing and purging since having our last baby, and I wanted to make sure we had enough of everything for this baby. I’m determined to think minimally when it comes to this baby, because I know I have a big hoarding tendency – especially when it comes to all these sweet baby things!

Since we don’t know the gender of this baby, it’s hard to know exactly what we need, but here’s what I did…

I took all of our baby clothes that we had in storage and separated them by size and gender.
I took out all of the Newborn size for both genders and washed them up in that good-smelling baby detergent. In the past, I would’ve washed and organized ALL the clothes that I could possibly fit in baby’s dresser and several month’s worth, but since we don’t know the gender yet – I only did this with the Newborn clothes this time to keep things to a minimum.
I labelled the other storage boxes properly, and I do have easy access to the 0-3 month clothes in both genders so that I can easily wash those after we get home with baby and as we start to need them.

So here’s the list I found and adapted of what’s needed for baby…

  • Infant Carseat (We were given one, though I’m keeping my eye out for one that’s more gender-neutral.)
  • Crib (We still have our mini-crib and sheets from our last baby.)
  • Dresser/Changing Table (Check.)
  • Special Gender-Neutral Coming Home Outfit (I ordered one I’ve been eyeing for a while. It’s so soft and sweet.)
  • 10 Bodysuits (We have 11 for girl & 10 for boy.)
  • 4-6 Outfit Sets (We have 3 for girl & 2 for boy.)
  • 5 Bottoms (We have 5 for girl & 6 for boy.)
  • 7 Sleepers (We have 7 for girl & 4 for boy.)
  • 2 Swaddler Blankets (We have 3 for girl, 1 for boy, & 3 gender-neutral.)
  • 2 Sleep Sacks (We have 1 gender-neutral.)
  • 10 Wash Cloths (I don’t know why you’d ever need 10 wash cloths, but we have plenty for both genders.)
  • 3 Hooded Towels (We have hooded towels for girl, but I need to get some for boy or gender-neutral.)
  • 8 Bibs (We have 2 for girl & 1 for boy. (Gender-neutral bibs are in my Amazon cart.)
  • 8 Burp Cloths (We have 3 for girl. Gender-neutral burp cloths are in my Amazon cart.)
  • 2 Hats (We have 5 for girl & 7 for boy. I love little hats on a newborn.)
  • 6 Sock Pairs (We have 8 girl & 10 for boy.)
  • Newborn Diapers – 1 Box or 148 total (We have 64.)
  • Size 1 Diapers – 3 Boxes or 648 total (We have 478.)
  • Size 2 Diapers – 3 Boxes or 558 total (We have 651.)
  • Size 3 Diapers – 4 Boxes or 900 total (We have 244.)
  • Wipes (We have lots of diapers and wipes from our surprise shower…What a huge blessing!)
  • Diaper Rash Cream (My favorite is in my Amazon cart.)
  • Baby Shampoo (We have a few bottles already that were given to us.)
  • 1 Diaper Bag (We’ll be using the same one I used with Layten because I loved it’s organization.)
  • 1 Boppy Pillow (Check. We also have a few different boy and girl covers that are washed and ready to go.)
  • 1 Rock n Play (I’m on the lookout for one of these, but I know it’s also not completely necessary since we have a crib.)
  • 2-3 Pacis (I will be purchasing a few Pat Pats and Cutie Clips from Ryan and Rose.)
  • Hamper or Basket for Baby Laundry (I’m on the lookout, but I could easily just use a basket we already have too.)
  • Baby Play Gym (I ordered this one, and I’m so excited about it.)
  • Swing or Bouncer (We don’t have either of these, but I’m still trying to decide if we really even need them or not.)
  • Stroller (I have a double-umbrella stroller that will work when they get older. I prefer a baby carrier when they are small.)
  • Baby Carrier (I have a Baby K’Tan for the newborn stage and a Tula for as they get a little bigger.)
  • Breast Pump & Accessories (I debated ordering a new pump all together, but I think I’m just going to order a new accessory kit to go with my current one.)
  • 4-6 Bottles (We have way more than this. It really shows me how much a hoarder I’ve been in the past. I think I will use them mostly for freezing milk though since I have so many instead of purchasing the milk storage bags.)
  • Bottle Brush (It’s on my list.)
  • Nursing Pads (I have some washable ones.)
  • Nursing Bras (I do have some, but I will be purchasing more.)
  • Pajamas for Mom at Hospital (I have a nice nursing gown and robe, but I will probably buy a pants set too.)
  • Robe for Mom at Hospital (I want to get a nice robe that will match with everything.)
  • Slippers for Mom at Hospital (It’s on my list.)
  • Toiletries for Mom & Dad to Pack & Keep in Hospital Bag (It’s on the list.)
  • Is there anything missing from my list that you think we’ll need? Let me know in the comments of this post!

And here’s what’s on my personal Baby-Prep Task List…

  • Purchase any of the priority things we still need from my list above
  • Print my birth plan
  • Register at the hospital
  • Prep some Freezer meals (dinners, easy grab-n-go breakfasts for the kids, & lactation cookie dough)
  • Sterilize Pacis, Bottles, & Breast pump parts
  • Select & confirm new pediatrician
  • Set up changing station
  • Pack Mom, Dad, and Baby’s hospital bag.
  • Install car seat. (This would be a great time to also clean out my car really good. It’s a “mom car”.)
  • Plan for a housekeeper to come and do a good deep cleaning
  • Plan a final date night (kid-free)

Anytime I’m working on a big project or getting ready for something big… I like to start with the big picture and work my way down to all those tiny details. I’m very detail-oriented so I love this type of thing. I love creating a system so that I don’t forget anything that’s really important. It really helps me to make sure that I have enough time to get everything down and money in the budget to afford the things we need as well.
Step One: Research what’s needed, what needs to be done, etc.
Step Two: Adapt the list or research that I find to suit my needs and make my own list(s) from it.
Step Three: Plug these tasks into my planner and add the needed items to my various shopping lists. (Amazon and Wunderlist for things I’d rather buy in-store.)

So that’s what I’ve done. This past week, I did a few things like Order the Baby’s Coming Home Outfit, Raised the Crib Mattress, and purchased a couple nursing bras. I also grabbed a few extra things during my grocery shopping trip that will hopefully keep us stocked for a while after baby comes so we won’t have to rush out to get those at any point… pull-ups for our toddler, paper towels, etc.

Next week I’ll make sure to print my birth plan, purchase the needed toiletries and items for the hospital, pack our hospital bags, and install the infant car seat.

See how that works? Like a charm hopefully! Help me to know if there’s something I might’ve missed… because “Baby Brain” is a real thing. 😉 

Our Minimal Christmas

We decided last year to take a minimalistic approach to Christmas, all in the efforts to make Christmas more of an enjoyable season and less of a financial burden for us. It was probably our best Christmas ever in that sense! It was a tough call we had to make to stay within our means, and it didn’t come easily. We had many tough conversations in our house wondering if there was any other way, but we believe it was the right decision for us. I’m really glad we did it, even though it meant that we weren’t able to give gifts to everyone on our list.

Our family and friends were very understanding of our situation and our desire to stay within our budget. Many also let us know that they felt the same way about the burdens of Christmas. Since we prioritized giving gifts to our children and the children in our families, we weren’t able to give well-thought out gifts to the other adults in our lives that are important to us. However, they still desired to give gifts to us… This has been the hardest part. It’s hard to receive a gift well and not feel guilty at the same time for not being able to reciprocate by having a gift for them also. We have some pretty awesome people in our lives that bless us in so many ways… I’d be lying if I said that it doesn’t hurt my heart to not be able to give them a well-thought-out gift. We have just had to somewhat get over this though and realize that we couldn’t spoil someone else’s joy of giving just because we aren’t able to right now. Whenever it fits into our budget, you better believe that we will be purchasing nice gifts for them again. We can’t wait for that day. But for now… this is where we are, and this is what we do.

*This post contains affiliate links. I will earn a small commission if you make purchases through these links, at no extra cost to you, but I thank you for helping to support my family in that way. 


Here is how we navigate Our Minimal Christmas: 

 

We set a Christmas Budget.

To be honest, I had every intention of setting up a Christmas Sinking Fund so that we had actual money to pull from for this… but alas, that didn’t happen. Sometimes plans just don’t work out like we hope, and that’s okay. It’s a part of life sometimes. So basically, we just do the best we can and cash flow our Christmas to make it work for us, and it does help when we find great deals and start early so that it’s spread out over several months instead of just two. The Christmas Budget we set is more of a means of helping us keep track and keep it to a minimum. Going into debt for Christmas is simply not an option for us.

Here’s our Minimal Christmas Budget for 2018:
$50+/- per member in our family (We will have 4 children by Christmas, plus the two of us, so this equals $300.)
$50+/- for other children in our immediate family, collectively (We used to spend $30/each on them, but then I realized that we were spending almost as much for them as we were our own children so it may have been a bit excessive. We can still find them great gifts that stay within our set budget.)
$50 +/- for stocking stuffers for our family (This is one of my favorite traditions, but those things can add up quickly.)
$100 +/- for all the extras (This includes gift wrap, decorations, supplies for handmade gifts, gifts needed for gift swaps, ingredients for holiday meals, traditions, etc.)

Our minimal Christmas Budget for this year is $500. I realize this number may seem extravagantly low to some, but for others it may also seem ridiculously high. We are all in different economic and financial seasons, and that’s okay. I would actually love to have a bit more to spend on Christmas so that we could give gifts to more people that we love. Heck, I would even love to be able to pay for another family’s entire Christmas someday! But for now, this is where  we are, and we are making the decision to live within our means… even at Christmastime. If you’re unsure where to begin with setting a Christmas Budget, I recommend this series from Jordan at FunCheaporFree.com. She also offers some great tips in this video where she shows exactly what they bought for each of their kids last year.

We decorate minimally and use what we have.

There was a time when I used to have a themed tree where I would buy new ornaments and decor every year, but then I realized that I’d rather spend that money on gifts for my children or things they would enjoy instead. So now we decorate our tree with rolls of burlap that were given to us and the handmade ornaments and crafts from the kids instead. It’s definitely nothing fancy, but I still love it so much! We do enjoy still picking out a special ornament or two each year when we see ones that we really like. I really love how different ornaments are made unique and can tell a story on a Christmas tree. And as you can see from my picture, my tree usually gets “undecorated” by my children on a daily basis anyway. I usually keep a box or basket near the tree to collect the ornaments, and I re-decorate it several times throughout the season. Memories, right?

We make Christmas Wish Lists.

We ask our kids what they would like for Christmas, and I make a Christmas list in my planner or in the notes section of my phone. We don’t have a TV service with commercial advertisements so my kids do not really know what’s out there, unless they see it in a store. This one comes in handy for us though. We have always let our kids look at the toy section, and they are always quick to tell us what they like. Sometimes, I’ll snap a pic of the item with its price so I can remember it for later. One thing that’s great about this, is that I also always have a list handy for family members who ask what to get them for Christmas. We decide which of the gifts will be special gifts that we can purchase for them to give them on Christmas morning and which ones we can delegate to other family members to purchase for them.

We research, watch for sales, and keep our eye out for good deals.

I subscribe to MoneySavingMom.com as well as a few others, and I always check my email for special deals of things I might be looking for, and I buy things when they go on sale. I’ve been checking these daily for months so that I’ve been able to purchase several gifts early when I found things on a great sale.

We let our kids do their own Christmas shopping for each other, us, and other family members they’d like to give gifts to.

To do this, we take them to the Dollar Tree. We help them, of course, but we let them choose gifts to give to everyone on their list, which takes a few different trips so they can buy for extended family and also for each other without them knowing. Then, we let them wrap these gifts up to give away at our Christmas gatherings and on Christmas morning. Even though it’s a super, inexpensive idea – I love that it lets them focus on the aspect of giving instead of receiving. They get really excited to pick out, wrap, and then give their gifts. This also gives us more presents under our tree to unwrap. Most of the smaller boxes in the picture above are their Dollar Tree gifts wrapped up.

We celebrate Advent.

Contrary to popular belief, Advent is not actually about opening a little present or piece of candy every day until Christmas. 😉 Advent is the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event… hello, Jesus?? Yes, the actual reason for the season. I loved the Advent Bible study from Kari Denker at Stone Soup for Five that focuses on the Old Testament Prophecies and how they are fulfilled in the New Testament. It even has a coloring book and “Countdown” page for your children to color so they can do it alongside you. This past year, I also printed a set of Advent Countdown cards where we listened to a different Christmas song everyday that helped our family to focus on the real meaning of Christmas.

 

We give handmade “happies”.

Last year I embroidered hand towels. I used fabric and thread that I already had on hand. Of course, I also already had an embroidery machine too so this helped. I purchased hand towels for about $30 total and made many of them. Yes, it required a great deal of time on my part, but time is a resource that’s easier for me to find than money.

We get creative with how we wrap gifts.

Since there aren’t quite as many gifts to wrap, I don’t need to purchase much for this. Last year, I used Christmas-colored fabric, clear treat bags, and ribbon I already had on hand to wrap the hand towel happy gifts. I think they turned out great!

I don’t always do this, but I’ll also let you in on another secret for my gift wrapping… I love to buy a simple roll of brown paper. The brown paper can be used year-round for birthdays as well as Christmas gifts. My other secret is to buy gift bags from Dollar Tree. I’ve always been able to find simple, brown paper neutral gift bags there 3/$1.00 or 2/$1.00, depending on the size you choose, and they work perfectly! You can easily dress up the brown paper wrapped gifts and bags with colored tissue paper, colored ribbons, or other art supplies you have on hand.

We focus on Christmas traditions.

Some of our favorite Christmas traditions include making Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve, finishing our Advent countdown on Christmas morning, opening our stockings, and then taking turns opening presents to make it last longer. We also have a special Christmas morning breakfast… something easy that I can make ahead and put in the oven while we open presents.

Stockings were one of my favorite things I remember from Christmases growing up so I tend to go a little overboard here collecting things throughout the year. The kids usually get things that they “need” in their stockings like new toothbrushes and bath soaps as well as some fun items I’ve found for them too. I love to include things like snacks and special treats that we don’t have on a regular basis…. like a box of fruit snacks that I’ll open and disperse among their stockings or fun candies that we’ll add to our candy box later to give as treats and rewards. This past year, I even bought a box of Froot Loops with marshmallows and wrapped it up like a regular present, and they were thrilled!

2017 Stockings & The Chalkboard We Gave the Kids as one of their Shared Big Gifts

Would you like to see what each of our kids are getting for Christmas this year?!

I’ll share with you… only if you promise not to tell them. Can you help me keep it a surprise for them please? 😉

Linkin (Age 4)

The Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescuer is Linkin’s big gift that he requested. I saw it at Wal-Mart for around $55, but then I found it on Target.com for $44. I’m sure this one will still be on sale or at least go on sale again before Christmas as it’s a popular, newer item. He also requested the Guess Who game that he played with Daddy on one of their father/son outings to the ice cream shop in town.

 

Lawson (Age 6)

Lawson asked for a remote control airplane or drone this year, and I found this one at Sam’s Club for $30. (I wasn’t able to find an online link for you guys anywhere there. This style must’ve been a last-in-stock item. But I did see them in store again when I was there last week.)  He also asked for the Checkers game.

 

 

Layten Bradleigh (Age 2)

We decided to get Layten a kitchen because she’s always very interested in what I’m cooking and making in the kitchen. She also brings me foods she’s made for me all the time from the playroom and the kitchen-type toys she has now. It was important to me that I find one that would look nice and not “like a toy” because I want it to go in out kitchen/dining area so she can cook alongside me. This was a more affordable option ($79.99 from IKEA), and since the boys will probably play with it too, I justified spending a little extra on it. (I was way under budget on her birthday gift in October, and I also spent less on Lawson’s gifts so it rounds out to be about the same.)

I knew that we would probably assemble this one on Christmas Eve after they go to bed and set it out for her to find, but since she’s still so little, she’ll probably love unwrapping presents as well so I didn’t want her to miss out on that experience either. Luckily, I’ve saved some of the well-made kitchen toys we’ve had in previous years from the boys, and they’ve been in storage. She’s never seen them, so we’ll wrap those up for her to open and use with her new kitchen. I call that winning, and we didn’t pay a thing for them this year!

 

Baby #4 (Due just before Christmas)

Since we are literally going to have a newborn this Christmas… and one that’s probably going to just sleep right through our Christmas celebration…. we’re getting this baby something practical. I found a really good deal on a product I’ve been eyeing for a while. We’ve had a baby play gym with all three of my littles… a little mat that they can lay on with some dangly things over them for them to look at and focus on. It’s probably one of my favorite baby items, but unfortunately we don’t still have the one my other kids used anymore. I fell in love with this one when another mom on Instagram shared it. It’s so neat, yall! It was designed by child development experts and has Montessori, wooden, and organic accessories that all detach for greater learning experience. It’s meant to be used for the entire first year and even comes with a play cover that makes it kind of like a tent for more imaginative play. I’m sure my older kids will love it too!

**I contacted the LovEveryBaby company, and they’ve agreed to give my readers $10 off the purchase of this play mat or their play kits which are also really neat and would make fantastic Christmas gifts for the babies in your life. I will earn a small commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you, so I’d like to thank you for doing that!

 

Family Gifts

Sometimes we will give a gift to all of the kids together, to share, but not always. We have no real rules here. Last year we did give them a chalkboard/dry erase easel from Ikea ($14.99), and that was a great (and inexpensive!) big gift for them.

Our family has been really into games lately, and I happened to find this Scrabble Junior game while I was in Dirt Cheap one day so I grabbed it for the kids to open together. I love that it has different levels. I can use it with Layten for letter-recognition, Linkin can match the letters on the printed side, and Lawson can begin to spell his own words with it so…Three different ways to play! I also bought a set of magnetic building blocks and a set of Play-doh tubs for them a few months ago when great deals were posted! I love taking advantage of deals like this throughout the year so it makes the burden of Christmas spending a little lighter.

So here’s an estimate of what we ended up spending on actual kids’ gifts this year…

$44 Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue (after sales & discounts)
$10 Guess Who Game
$30 Video Camera Drone
$8 Checkers Game
$10 Scrabble Junior Game (purchased from Dirt Cheap)
$80 Ikea Kitchen
$16 Play-doh Set  (after sales & discounts)
$40 Magnetic Building Set (after sales & discounts)
$70 Baby Play Gym (after sales & discounts)

$308 Total
So yes, I spent a little more on the younger two and with the family gifts, so I ended up spending a little more than I thought I would. When I did my Christmas Budget planning, I had forgotten that I had already purchased and put away the two family gifts of Play-doh and Magnetic Set, so those were technically paid for a long time ago, but I wanted to include them in our total cost, of course.

However, I’m not upset by this technically “going over budget” at all. We didn’t go into debt to do it, and It’s all already paid for. We spent about $300 to provide Christmas for 4 children, and I don’t look at that as a bad number.

Just remember not to compare your Christmas to others. Every family is different, has different financial situations, different methods of saving up and affording Christmas, and different values. If you need help setting up an appropriate Christmas Budget for your family, here’s the post I recommend from Jordan Page at Fun Cheap or Free.

Our kids are going to have a great Christmas this year. Especially remembering our past Christmases and how they open one gift and want to immediately play with it… then they usually don’t even care about the others, and we have to remind them that they have more to open. I think Christmas is definitely more fun for us as parents than it is for them anyway. 😉

In case you missed it, here’s another post of how our family takes a minimalistic approach to Christmas… how we decided to make our Christmas more enjoyable, less of a burden, and how you can too! 

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!
Best holiday wishes to you!