Kaylia’s Favorite Things 2012

Today our sweet girl turns three! We’ve been partying it up for the last couple of days, and today we will relax!

As is the tradition around here, I always make a list of the birthday person’s favorite things, which has proven to be a lot of fun for our family to look back on each year, as our girls get older. Read Kaylia’s list from last year here.

Here is Kaylia’s list for this year:

Food: Bananas, watermelon, meat (any kind, she loves it all), scrambled eggs, whole apples (apples cut in slices are completely rejected by her), smoothie pops or banana pops (I followed my friend Nikki’s directions: 2 Tbsp. cocoa and a banana in the food processor, frozen in a popsicle mold, you totally have to try it!! It will be everyone’s new favorite!)

Toys: play food, lego, anything she can steal from Anika because someone else’s toys are always more exciting, her dollhouse, Polly Pockets

Books: The illustrated Little House on the Prairie books and Curious George books

Things to Do: Helping me in the kitchen – she loves cooking soup, because she’s obsessed with stirring things, and she likes to put all the chopped vegetables in the bowl. She tells stories with her little dolls, plays with lego, and has picnics, all day long.

Song: “I Have a Dream”, from Tangled

My Favorite Things About Her:

I love her hugs.

I love it that she skips EVERYWHERE!

I love how she has to be wherever Anika is. Even when we separate them because Anika is pestering Kaylia, she still wants to go after her beloved big sister, because she can’t stand to be apart from Anika.

I love reading to her. She’s just starting to get interested in chapter books, which is so much fun.

I love her very detailed explanations about things that have happened to her. Someone asked me today if my three-year-old was talking much, and I almost laughed, just because she won’t stop talking.

I love her grin, and her laugh which sounds exactly like Anika’s, and I love how she asks me to come read or do puzzles or play with her.

I love being able to love her. I love feeling complete as a family, and I love how God chose to bless us with our little Kaylia!

Tips For Purging

I am in pursuit of a simple, joyful life.

Lately, I’ve been achieving this through purging. Who knew there could be so much magic in the act of purging?!

I wrote a post on Friday about how purging is changing the way I feel about my life, but since then, I’ve been thinking there’s a lot more to be said about the topic.

Getting rid of stuff can be hard to do. It can be even harder to get your family on board, so today, I’m going to share with you a few of the practical tips I’ve been using to help my family purge along with me!

1. Provide physical evidence of what items do not get used.

Toys – I used to think our girls played with all the toys they owned. Maybe not all the time, but we don’t have tons of toys, and surely they would miss some of those fantastic toys if I just got rid of them.

Just to be sure, I put the toys to the test. I arranged a number of toys in a corner of our living room where they would be easily accessible, and over the next few days, I watched to see which ones my girls grabbed first. After a week, there were some that had never been touched. Out they went! The girls never even noticed.

Clothes A few years ago, Ben needed a little enlightenment. He was CONVINCED that he truly did wear all of his clothes in our closet. I was pretty positive he didn’t.

I had read in some organizing book that a simple way of testing this is to turn around all of your hangers so they’re hanging “backwards”. On laundry day, when you’re hanging up all the clean clothes, turn the hanger back so it’s hanging the way it normally does, and after a few weeks, you’ll have a pretty good idea, from the direction of your hangers, which items are not being worn.

I did this without telling Ben. He noticed the hangers looking a little funny, but never thought any further about it, and I never said anything. After a few months, I finally told him my little secret, and convinced him to get rid of almost all of his unused clothing. (Some really dressy stuff just isn’t used regularly, but we still needed to keep it.)

And apparently, we absolutely need to keep the sports jersey collection from around the world. Even if they aren’t worn, like…ever.

2. Get rid of things in stages.

A Box of Extras – Some things are just hard to get rid of. I get that. But it doesn’t mean they should be kept. For myself, I’m finding that if I don’t purge until it hurts a bit, I’m probably not getting rid of enough.

But sometimes, you just can’t let go. Ben has a navy fleece hoodie he really doesn’t wear, but he is unwilling to part with it. He believes a day will come when that hoodie will be the only article of clothing which will perfectly suit his needs.

And that’s fine. It’s his clothing, and I’m not going to bully him into getting rid of it. But he is okay with me putting a box on a shelf in our closet marked “Ben’s Extra Clothing”, where he can pull it out if he needs to. He’s agreed that if he hasn’t used the clothing in that box one year from now, we can get rid of it at that point.

I use the same method for our bathroom. I have a bin in our linen closet for items I’m not sure if we need, so we’ll wait for awhile, and if, in a few months, we haven’t taken anything out, I’ll feel okay about getting rid of everything.

The Second Sweep – I had already gone through our closet within the last six months, and there were some items I knew deep down I didn’t really use, but I just wasn’t ready to part with them. I left them in the farthest corning of the closet, rather than getting rid of them.

This time, I’m ruthless. It all goes. And somehow, something’s changed in the last six months. I almost got rid of stuff last time, and this time I’m actually able to let go. (Good grief, you’d think we were talking about something important here, but it’s just clothes! Still, it can be really hard!)

I thought it was just me, but then I read this blog post about going over things a second time, to get rid of even more. And that’s okay! Whether it’s a box to save for later, or going through things a second time, it’s okay to take some time to sort things out. Do what you need to do.

3. Get rid of the guilt.

Gifts – The most common reason I keep things is because of guilt. What if the person who gave me this item asks about it? (Do they ever?) What if they happen to see it at the thrift store I bring it to? (Seriously, what are the chances of that actually happening? Bring it to a thrift store far away from them!)

What I’ve come to realize is that whether the item was a gift or not, it’s still just STUFF. That person gave me stuff. Why? Because they love me, and wanted to express it in physical form. They wanted to bring pleasure to my life with an act of thoughtfulness and kindness.

And that is wonderful. I will bask in the kindness of receiving a gift from someone who loves me. I will focus on the intent behind the gift given. If I need  it and can use it, I will certainly do so.

If I  can’t make use of it, I will still be grateful for their thoughtfulness…and then I will send the gift to the thrift store. That may sound a little harsh, but for the sake of letting go of guilt and objects I do not need or want, I am choosing to think about the feelings behind the act of giving, rather than the object given.

Mistakes I Purchased –  I should not have bought that shirt. It fits funny. We did not need that popcorn popper, seeing as we never eat popcorn. I thought we might start eating it, but we didn’t.

I keep stuff because I think I should be using it.

No, I shouldn’t. We use what we use. I should not have to force myself to use our stuff. IT IS STUFF. If we haven’t used it yet, there’s an extremely good chance we never will. Get rid of it.

For some good reading on the emotions we attach to the things we own, read this post.


And what if I suddenly realize we need an item we no longer have because I got rid of it?

Well, in all my years of moving and purging and simplifying, I don’t even remember it happening, until this last week! Anika came home from Awana and announced that she needed to wear green for St. Patrick’s Day this week.

Her only green shirt was in one of the eight boxes I had packed up to send to the thrift shop.

I had two choices – go through all those boxes (Please don’t make me!!), or buy a new green shirt for Anika.

But then I thought a little longer, and realized I had a few more options – she could borrow one from a friend, or I could look through a boxful of clothes that are a size too big for her, and waiting to be used next year. For one night, she could wear a shirt a size too big.

And guess what – there was a green shirt!! I was saved from the first two options, thank goodness!!

Moral of the Story: If you get rid of something you later end up needing, you might be able to find a way around it. It will just take some effort and creativity, but is that so bad?


Your turn! I am eagerly awaiting any purging tips you care to share!

Life in Pictures

After writing a lot the last two days, I’ll keep things simple today, and stick to pictures!

Love it when the girls are sharing and playing nicely together!

Kaylia discovered sand toys at the beach this week, much to my relief – it’s much more relaxing than chasing her as she runs for the water, trying to get in as deep as possible.

The older kids have been busy making sandcastles with elaborate moats, and Anika insisted that this one needed to be documented.


There’s been some heavy-duty playing going on around here this weekend. Kaylia seems to be feeling a bit better, and it’s so good to see both girls perky and having fun. We’ve been doing some painting…

and some pretend cooking…

and playing with Polly Pockets. Kaylia LOVES this car, while Ben and I hate this new activity so much that we hide the car when she’s not looking. But somehow it keeps reappearing. And the same thing keeps happening over and over: Kaylia takes the dolls out and they talk to each other, saying “Bye-bye” or “See you!” or “Have fun!” or “Love you!”. Some combination of those 4 expressions. Then she tries to put the dolls into the car, but she can’t get them to sit properly, so she cries and whines, until we say, “No whining, Kaylia,” and then she says “Help.” So we help her get the dolls in, and then she takes them out and starts the whole thing over. She did this for almost an hour straight yesterday morning, and then another half hour in the afternoon. It keeps her entertained, and I got a lot of housework done, but oh, the drama when those dolls don’t sit properly!

Anika’s Favorite Things Right Now

As some of you will remember, in July I did 3 posts on my favorite things at the time of my birthday. I’ve decided to try doing this for each member of our family on their birthdays, which means that it’s Anika’s turn:

1) Tinkerbell

Our home has been invaded by Disney fairies, as previously mentioned. My very favorite thing about it is that one of the fairies has this Southern Belle thing going on, and Anika has been imitating her southern accent. So much fun to listen to! It’s even more fun than her English accent! (The accent skill is definitely passed on from Ben, and not from me!)

2) Rice Krispies, Pancakes, and Scrambled Eggs for Breakfast (not all at the same time, although she would love that)

3)  Chicken Fingers and French Fries for Lunch

4) Bread and Honey for Snack

5) Onion Rings and Fish for Supper

6) Colors: White and Pink

7) Clothes: Dresses, Skirts and Tanktops

8)Toys: Polly Pockets and Fairy Figurines

9) Books: Mandie books, and “Underground to Canada”

10)Being Barefoot ALL THE TIME! She does not like wearing socks ever. We’ve caught her going outside with bare feet in her winter boots!


There’s kind of a big gap in age between our girls – don’t know if any of you have noticed… We learned a long time ago that some people plan these things, some people don’t.

We’ve gotten some interesting comments about our family structure. Most people are tactful about it, but then there’s always going to be someone like the hairdresser I had once. She was asking me about my kids, and when I said that I had a 6-year-old and a baby, she gave me this big nudge and exclaimed, “Girl, what happened to you?!”

Or my favorite, most recent one – “Are they both yours?”

Yes. They are both wonderfully mine.

And they are very different. I was reminded of this again yesterday…

We have this great toy that Anika loved when she was a toddler.

All the little passengers on the bus twirl around when it’s pulled across the floor. It makes the hugest racket, but at least I always know where my kid is…since we live in such a large house and all…and you never know where she might be playing…

Anyway, Kaylia discovered it for the first time yesterday morning, and was having so much fun with it. For her at this point, that basically means pulling all the people off and taste-testing each one. Like I said – so much fun.

Anika was watching her with great interest, and suddenly she said, “You should make the man and woman sit beside each other on the bus. Like they’re dating. Put them at the back where no one can see them.”


I didn’t respond – at all – for 2 reasons. First of all, I didn’t know what to say to that, and secondly, I was having this moment of realizing how different our girls are. Kaylia’s jamming as many toys into her mouth as she can, and Anika wants to make up romantic stories about the toys.

So we have this gap going on. We will probably be very aware of it for a long time. It will probably impact our family in very unique ways.

The thing that I love is that the gap in age between my girls is the exact gap (plus 2 months) between me and my older sister. And she was always my hero. She was the best at coming up with ideas for playing. She sewed clothes for my Barbie dolls, and she read books to me for hours. She baked treats and knew how to make Kleenx flowers for our imaginary weddings.

So I tell Anika all of that. I tell her about how much I loved having a (much) older sister, and she gets all excited about doing things with Kaylia. I think she gets the vision…

We didn’t plan for our family to be this way, but I really love it.

I love it that Anika prayed for a baby sister for 3 years. I love it that she’s the one who thought up Kaylia’s name. I love it that she clearly remembers the day Kaylia was born. I love it that she is always so excited to see Kaylia, and to cover her with kisses. I love seeing the way Kaylia’s face lights up, and how she bounces up and down when she hears Anika coming.

And maybe those things would have happened anyway, even if there was another sibling (or two!) between them, but I love the special little relationship that they have.

Ben always said, “Our family will be what it will be, and we will love it.”

And he was right. As in most things.

So we’ve got a gap, and our girls are at very different stages, but I’m finding that I love that, too!