Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

From my family to yours, may you have a festive,
safe, and happy holiday season!

The Cluttered House is going on a little hiatus for the holidays, but I'll be back full-force in the new year.

And get ready, because in January, I'm starting a program for cleaning, decluttering and organizing The Cluttered House, one room at a time, and I really want you to join me on this adventure! (There will be link ups and printables and stuff-- just like a proper blog!).

In fact, there are going to be a LOT of big updates to The Cluttered House blog in 2013. They won't all occur right away, but we're in the process of overhauling the look, feel and focus of the blog, and I'm very excited for the plans we're making (and this "we" is Diesel and I, not the royal we).

But for now, I'm going to spend the next two weeks gorging on sugar, spending time with my family and revelling in the holiday spirit.

See you January 6th!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Broken Hearted

Yesterday morning was a morning just like any other in our house. I was puttering around in my kitchen, writing a grocery list for our trip later in the morning and pouring over the recipes for cookies and treats I planned to bake. The boys were in the living room watching Disney Jr. I ran out to the laundry room and retrieved some freshly dried blankets from our newly installed dryer and brought them into the living room. I asked the boys if they wanted to snug-snug with the nice warm blankets, to which they replied yes. I tucked the warm blankets around them and went back to my kitchen puttering.

A few minutes later, I peeped around the tree and had to snap a picture of them.

The image of my boys all snuggled together, safe and warm, was so sweet that I went to Facebook to share it. When I logged in, the first thing I saw was a friend's status that just read "Heartbreaking." Then I noticed numerous other statuses echoing this sentiment and quickly headed to a news website to see what was happening.

And it was unimaginably horrible.

It continues to be unimaginably horrible. Twenty 6 and 7 year olds, gone. 7 women, gone. In the blink of an eye, countless lives altered forever by the act of one person. I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around the senselessness of this tragedy. And it is a tragedy.

I look at Little Man, just a little younger than the majority of the victims and I cannot imagine the depth of the grief the parents of the youngest victims feel. I do not want to imagine it.

Every little thing yesterday made me think of those parents. As I buckled Little Man into his car seat, I thought of how many of the victims likely still rode to school in car seats and how their parents didn't know that was the last time they'd ever buckle their child in.

I thought of all the frustrating mornings where it is a hassle and a headache just to get the kids out the door and how sometimes after dropping them at school/childcare, I think "phew! Finally a moment of peace without any whining and crying and back-talking." And I pray that none of the victims' parents had a morning like that yesterday.

I thought of how it was the middle of Hanukkah and about a week before Christmas. A time of year full of hope and magic and peace. All that is gone for these families.

Last night as I drifted off to sleep, with Little Man snuggled up to me (he usually sleeps in his own bed, but for some reason last night he crawled in with me), I thought of the moms and dads in Newtown who were likely in a fog, staring in disbelief at the empty beds that just that morning their bright-eyed first grader rolled out of. Just that morning, their baby was alive. They ate breakfast, puttered around the kitchen, talked about plans for the weekend, the normal stuff of a Friday morning. They dropped their babies off at school. A safe place.

I think that is what resonates most with all of us. An elementary school is supposed to be a safe place, and yet yesterday it was not. I don't know where we go from here. I don't know how we go from here, but I do know that God is with those families. In times like this, God is near. God is Love.

And I think of a verse that has always comforted me:

"The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18.

Because right now, we are a broken hearted nation. Right now, the families of Newtown, CT are crushed in spirit. But the Lord is with them. Lifting them, holding them, guiding them as the grieve. And I believe the Lord was there to meet those 27 souls as they departed the Earth.

I pray for the families in this tragedy and will continue to pray for peace in our world.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What We Tell Our Kids About Santa

This month, I am participating in the December Blog Dare over at Bloggy Moms. Today's topic is "What we tell (or don't tell) the kids about Santa"

Little Man was not impressed
Our kids are still pretty little, so we haven't had many in-depth conversations about Santa, but we do tell our kids about him and he does come and fill their stockings on Christmas Eve and leave presents under the tree.

I like that believing in Santa adds a little more magic to my children's holiday. I was a believer in Santa for a lot longer than my peers (seriously, I was almost 11 when I found out). I remember being sad because I felt like some of that magic of Christmas was gone. The following Christmas my mom bought me Chris Van Allsburg's book The Polar Express and the book really resonated with me. I still absolutely believe in the magic of Santa and the magic of Christmas.

That being said, our main focus at Christmas is not on Santa. Thanks to Veggie Tales, Little Man knows the backstory of St. Nicholas, so that has helped us frame the conversations with him. Basically, we emphasize that Christmas is about Jesus and we give presents as a way of remembering God's amazing gift to us through Jesus. Santa Claus, or St. Nicholas, was a man who really loved the Lord and as a way of showing God's love, he gave gifts to people who needed them.  Because we love God, we celebrate His son's birth by giving gifts and sharing with others like St. Nicholas did.

For me, I feel like this approach strikes a good balance between our faith and the fantastic. I don't think Santa or presents should be the focus of the holiday, but I do believe that they are important pieces and that they can be used to further emphasize the true meaning of Christmas.

The Blog Dare on Bloggy Moms

Awesome Etsy Find

I just found these vintage inspired towels on Etsy and have decided I must have them!

photo credit
This is the perfect statement for The Cluttered Kitchen!

December Blog Dare

This month, I am participating in the December Blog Dare over at Bloggy Moms.

Of course, being me, I am a day late and a dollar short! The December Blog Dare started two days ago, and I didn't get a chance to get on the internet until today. Basically, the Blog Dare gives a prompt for every day of the month and the goal is to write a post every day. What I am going to do is try to write my responses to the prompts in a way that fits well with this blog's content, when I ccan. As this blog is about trying to be frugal, green, and simple, as well as trying to be a good parent, that is what you're going to get! :)

If you have a blog, I highly recommend checking out the blog dares over at Bloggy Moms. There are some great prompts on there for if you get stuck!!

Since I am behind, I'm gonna give you my Cliff's Notes version of the first two days!

Day 1: My holiday wish
I feel a bit like Steve Martin when I try to write on this topic. Or like Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality. So let me start by saying "World Peace."

But really, I want to get my house in order for once and for all. I wish to suddenly be the organized and together person that I have always imagined I can be.  I mean, I have a lot of far-fetched wishes (like hitting the lotto) and altruistic wishes (no more famine), but really if I could have one thing just for me, it would be an organized home that I am capable of keeping organized. I guess the best way for this to happen would be for me to have a brain transplant, but since I like the rest of my brain, I will have to pass! :)

Day 2: When snow begins to fall...
I know I'm not home or there is a freak storm. Because I live in Orange County, CA and we aren't known for our snowy climate!!

Okay. That is Day 1 & 2. I am going to post separately for Day 3!

The Blog Dare on Bloggy Moms