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Monday, January 30, 2012

Appleberry's Attic Giveaway!

While I've always had a love/hate/fascination with the whole facebook thing, I will say that one good use is the way you are able to reconnect with old friends.

One of those friends is Jen, who I really met through other friends in high school. We kept in touch for a while but had lost touch until a couple years back we found each other on facebook.

She and her husband recently started a business called Appleberry's Attic. They create beautiful signs, refinish and paint tables and furniture and even do some mason jar crafting. The biggest, busiest part of their business seems to be the signs though. Who doesn't love a sign with some good words on it for their home, right?

As soon as Jen officially launched her business outside of selling at occasional sales I was in line for some signs and three of her lovelies sit in my kitchen.
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Business continues to get better and sooner than later they plan on launching an etsy shop in additon to the occasional sales and facebook page they are already using for business.

I'm excited to have the opportunity to help her just a tad with promoting her business by doing a little giveaway. Jen would like to give away a Valentine's sign to two lucky readers this week in celebration of her birthday!

There are three ways to enter and one must leave a comment for each entry!

#1 Like Appleberry's Attic on Facebook.
#2 Like Simplicity In The Suburbs on Facebook.
#3 Take a look at some of Jen's other signs on her facebook page and tell me which one you love the most.

That's it! And you're in! I'll choose a winner on Sunday Feb. 5 and winner's signs will go in Monday's mail.

If you're interested in other Appleberry's Attic signs, contact Jen on her facebook page about ordering them and tell her I sent you for a 10% discount.

Finally, don't miss my other Valentine's giveaway for the Tiny Prints valentines cards. Ends Tuesday night so there's still time to go enter to win some cards for your kids or your classroom.

Now I'm off to keep working on laundry and emails and paperwork and all that goes along with being away for the weekend. Trying to pretend the lack of groceries thing will solve all on it's own.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post or giveaway, Jen is a friend of mine and that's it!

Friday, January 27, 2012


I've had so many things I've wanted to do this week and then I woke up and it's Friday.

M & I are leaving this afternoon for a Middle School retreat at camp with church. I'm going as a counselor. This brings me back in so many ways. First to when I was a camper over and over and over again and then working with youth and eventually chaperoning and counseling camp trips. I have to admit that I'm not super excited about the 3 hour road trip to camp in the blizzard like snow but I am looking forward to treating myself with a venti-carmel macciato on the way out of town. I'm sure I'll have lots of stories next week about my adventures with the seven 5th and 6th grade girls in my cabin.

I've been wanting to write more about LESS and what we're doing {or not doing} and what's working {and what's not} but just haven't found the time. Sure there has been gaps of time I could sit down and write but this last week it would have been at the cost of something else I needed to intentionally do. Like playing Monopoly Jr. with H.

T turns 13 today. Thirteen sounds so old to me. Not that twelve exactly sounded young but it's like this official entry into teenage-hood.
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I took these pictures secretly yesterday afternoon at H's piano lesson. It's no secret that T has a super soft spot for Ms. E. She has got her big brother wrapped around her finger. And he is such a good big brother.
We all have those moments where the littles have asked 101 questions in 3 minutes and are pushing every button but he takes it all in stride and tries to jump in and help when he can.

We celebrated his birthday last night at our usual place and this year we went in on a Kindle Fire with his mom and stepdad for his gift. He was so surprised and excited because he's really wanted one.

He's a good kid with a big heart and I am still baffled that he's 13, where on earth did the last 9 plus years go? It seems like just the other day that he was a friendly 3 1/2 year old with a ready smile and friendly spirit. Life just keeps moving.

Finally, I have a Tiny Prints Valentines Giveaway going on over on my review blog for 50 free Valentines cards. They are the exchange size so perfect if you've got a couple kids that need them for school or maybe if you're a teacher? Last I checked there were not so many entries, so go enter!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tiny Dancer.

E started dance on Monday night. It's nothing major, no make-up or crazy costumes or dance mom insanity yet. Just a little local community education class. 
She practiced wearing her leotard, her tights, her hand-me-down ballet slippers for days ahead of time and was daily asking when dance class would be. The day of she even had me put her hair in a bun.
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She's the real adorable deal even though she totally beats to her own booty-shaking drum.

Ballet dancing is not what she had in mind Monday night. She twirled and she ran over and hugged us and then she'd jump around and then she'd shake her hips a minute or two.

She's not a first position, second position, plie sort of dancer quite yet. She's more of a Party Rock and Moves Like Jagger girl to be honest.

After dance class when we got home she asked when she'd get to dance. Obviously we have our work cut out for us. More mellow dance parties, perhaps?

If you could see the rest of the girls, most are staying on the blue line, attentively listening and participating.
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While I'm not so sure I want her to be the only ballerina shaking her hips at the recital, I do hope she always keeps that independent spirit and let's the music in her little heart spill out. It's the tiny dancers with a feisty spirit that really change the world, I've heard.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Just Write: Her People.

I was going to share some of E's first dance class pictures. {I took 43 during the 45 minute class.} And then I thought about writing some thoughts on stepfamilies and church and how sometimes I get all twitchy about it. And still yet I've had all these ideas about LESS and some things I learned {the hard way} last week.

But none of that tonight because five minutes ago M called from her mom's house.

To start planning her birthday party.

Her birthday's in March and we all decided a couple years back that we do parties through age 11, meaning this one's M's last. Since T turned 5 we've done their birthday's together and eventually starting switching off the planning. So this year's party, while we'll all celebrate together, the planning is on our end.

She's got big plans and ideas and she makes us laugh a lot.

Tonight's plan involved nine friends. The mall. And a hotel.

And I listen to her plan and tell her we'll have to see and then she drops the bombshell that her and her nine friends will be in one hotel room and then her mom, her dad, her stepdad and I will be in the one adjoining.

And J starts laughing but tries to hide it because she doesn't know she's on speaker phone.

While I don't think the four of us have any plans on sharing a hotel room anytime soon, I love that in her eyes there's nothing wrong with it.

It's a proud moment for me that amidst the daily stresses and the toll co-parenting takes, we've held it together enough.

She values and needs and loves and sees each of us as her people.

Linking up to Just Write.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mr. Roboto & The Chicken.

He's just taking this whole LESS thing really seriously by sleeping in a cardboard box.

Sleeping chicken
And who wouldn't want to sleep in a chicken costume if you had the chance?

Other funnies this week:

M, on the phone with a friend regarding a sleepover: "Can I just talk to your mom and work out the details?"

{Since when did 10 year olds coordinate things with other people's parents, I asked her.}

And later that same day, while talking with one of her friends moms, she told me, laughing, that recently M told her that she should let her know when her daughters birthday party is going to be because..."My weekends fill up fast."

E, earlier tonight, tells J and I that "God is worried about you."

And also, "we don't say hate, stupid or peni$!" Good thing we have that established.*

*The use of the $ is so that certain internet searches don't bring people here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Less. 2.

I wasn't sure how my idea and word choice for less would be received. In all honesty, I knew I was admitting some personal character flaws that were a little embarrassing. {Hello, hoarder of bedding and overspender at coffee shops!}

However, the post and my word was well received. And many of you shared similar feelings and sentiments. I had some Twitter conversations, Facebook friends shared the post with their circles, comments and "likes" started spreading and even my email/text inbox heard feedback.

I wanted to share some of the things I've been hearing, the comments some left that resonated with me, the conversations I've had with others and even some of the notes I've received with questions.

Allison wrote..."The memories aren't in the "stuff" they are in the "heart" and someone else needs those things way more than we do."

It's a good point because I have close to half a closet full of clothes I haven't worn in YEARS for sentimental reasons. Seriously, two business suits that some woman out there could be wearing to a job interview or something.

Jessie wrote..."Can I add that a huge way you can support a "LESS" campaign is to stop giving things? I have worked hard for the past 5 years to simplify my life by eliminating stuff. The hardest challenge has been not to accept free stuff...from family, friends or otherwise. It makes me upset that you can't choose to run in a race WITHOUT getting a t-shirt. I don't need more shirts. I would much rather enjoy someone's company for a while than get a purchased token. Anyway, I think in trying to have less, we can all be better about not dumping stuff on others too."

How often do we do this to others and how often does this happen to us? I've had offers of things {ahem, some furniture from a relative years ago that we didn't need or want but I felt bad saying no, J still brings this up as it was a mess to donate later.} Or badgering others to take things we don't need or want anymore.

Conversations with friends and aquaintenances have been so interesting. What's interesting is the fact that we all agree and are coming to terms with the fact we are a culture obsessed with more.

More money. More stuff. More technology. Bigger. Better. More.

I'm not suggesting we all sell and donate our possessions, cars, start wearing robes and live in cardboard boxes. {Yes, someone actually asked this. Yes, she's still my friend.}

I'm suggesting becoming intentional where it seems we've gone mindless. I'm suggesting looking beyond OURSELVES. Beyond our immediate desires and what our children ask us for to do something for greater good. I'm suggesting that instead of buying more, we're present more. Instead of watching more, we're talking more.

I'm not saying you can't have a nice house with nice things and drink Starbucks coffee.

I'm just saying let's stop being mindless, let's stop being distracted by all of the worlds offerings and let's start living real, intentional lives where others lives benefit from our excess.

In conversations throughout this past week so many gave me such great ideas and thoughts to ask and share. Now that we're all done unsubscribing from our junk email {You did that right? I did and let me tell you, there is nothing better than checking my email and not having every single sales special or discount at my fingertips. Seriously.}

This week, let's talk about what it is that is excess in our lives. Three things.

For me, the three biggest struggles I'm going to face with LESS are:

1. Technology. I like being connected. I'm going to a discussion group this Thursday night and I'm already feeling the stirring inside that I'm going to need to start having some "unplugged" days.

2. Coffee. Yes, I said it's ok to get coffee. What's not ok is being obsessed and planning one's life and day around it. Stopping at Starbucks or Caribou used to be a special treat and it's turned into a daily-must-have. A friend already suggested a challenge regarding this that I'm hoping to tackle and share in the next couple weeks.

3. Stuff. There are still things to go through around here that others need more than me.

So what are your three? What three areas do you want to get rid of excess? What is going to challenge you the most?


Sunday, January 15, 2012


Weekends are my fave.

We catch up on sleep and laundry and sometimes let the dishes slide. We go to bed early some nights and stay up late other nights. We don't really ever get to sleep in but it's ok.

Date nights come easy lately. And I am of the belief you can never have too many.

Some friends joined us at church today and then at our house for chili after and that's exactly the kind of community I love. Fellowship. Church and chili sounds almost Biblical, no?

Meaningful conversations about life and love and less throughout our life this weekend and past week and it's good stuff. Such good stuff.

This afternoon E and I went to Sesame Street Live with her little buddy Charlie and his mom. She literally yelled all the way from Section 138, "HI ELMO!" as if Elmo could hear her and was waving just at her.

Sesame Street Live

"He waved at me," She tells us tonight as she's getting tucked in. "Elmo loves me."

I'm certain he does.

*Next Less post coming soon. Get ready.

{Disclosure: As part of my relationship with VEE Corporation, I was given complimentary tickets to Sesame Street Live. This is not a review or sponsored post. Just sharing my weekend...}

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Simple Little Things That Bring Me Joy.

Middle of the week and lots of simple joy happening over here. The bigs came home after school and the littles were very excited. The week on/week off thing is really working well. Thankful for our set up and the way we make it work. Here's some other things bringing me joy this week:

#1. Pinterest crafts.
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I tried my first two projects this week and while both weren't quite as easy and were just a little bit more time consuming but still turned out kind of fun.

{Photo taken from Pinterest. Using this daily calendar for daily gratitudes.}

#2. Mild Winter.
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{First bike ever for little miss.}

While it's already changing with snow flurries and a cold snap, yesterday my littles rode their bikes. With no jackets.
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I would take this kind of winter every year.

#3. Legos.
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Hero Factory and Ninjago are his favorites. He sits and reads the directions step by step by step. He put "Black Phamtom" together without any help amidst the chatter of four women and a couple babes.
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#4. This whole LESS thing.

I am blown away by the feedback and agreement I am hearing. And also challenged by the critics and the questions. I don't know how it's all going to work and look and be yet. That's part of the challenge. It's going to be a month by month and week by week and sometimes, probably day by day. I'm going to address some questions and comments I've heard this week in another post soon. In the meantime, if you've read and shared the LESS post, thank you.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Less. 1.

That's my word. Four letters. So very much meaning and desire behind it.


We have so much. We are deliriously spoiled and yet want more. Every day. I need this and I need that and I want that and someday...I say everyday, all day.

Here I sit. 2600 square feet. Five bedrooms. More beds than people in this house. We have so much stuff. I stand in front of my overflowing cupboards, fridge and garage freezer on a regular basis and say, "We have nothing to eat." No, really, I do. I don't even flinch when I hear the total at Costco or Target anymore totalling all the things I think we need.

My children have so many clothes that when all of the laundry is done their drawers can't even shut all the way. I frequently trip over their shoes in the entry or garage. Yet I walk through Target and feel pulled to glance through the clearance racks because if it's only $3.24 what's the big deal right?


In our home we have three laptops, a desktop computer, two tvs, DVR, two DVD players, three Nintendo DSis, two Leapsters, three ipods and a Nintendo Wii. Oh my word, I wish I was making that up.

We are a family of instant. If the internet isn't working when the mouse refreshes the page, you better believe there is frustration. When the winds are blowing and the DVR or Dish goes out and it's the night of our favorite tv show, some of us pout. {That'd be me.}

Sometimes, or let's be honest, many times, I plan my day around getting my hands on a $4.56 warm beverage.

Just typing out the cost of the daily latte makes me sick to my core.

Because there are people all around me in need.

I'm not just referring to African orphans or Haiti earthquake survivors, I am referring to people in my neighborhood, my children's school, church. Everywhere.

Did you know that if your family salary is over $50,000 a year you are in the richest 1% of the world? I am so not even kidding.

Enter Jen Hatmaker's new book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. Oh my word.

A few months back I remember reading something about if I wanted to review a copy of the book. I didn't respond and then last Monday morning something on twitter caught my eye and I remembered I wanted to read the book. So I found it, bought it and downloaded it on my Nook at the gym. {Did I mention how spoiled we are yet?}

I'm not even finished with the book yet but oh my friends, it is stirring me. I have so much. Chances are, so do you.

In her book, she battles 7 areas of her life one month at a time. Food. Clothes. Posessions. Media. Waste. Spending. And Stress.

She had me at the introduction, really.

I have so much. And there are others who need it more.

My word this year is less. I'm joining the 7 revolution.

This year I am getting rid of excess. I started yesterday by packing up three gigantic bags of bedding and another gigantic bag of towels. Some almost new. When I started working on the linen closet in my laundry room I had no idea that I would find bedding for 30 beds in it. THIRTY FREAKING BEDS. WHAT?!?!

There's a crisis nursery for up to ages 12 and a woman's shelter that can use it because I certainly don't need it.

There's more. There's more stuff. There's more non-necessities we can kick out of here. There's some good, hard, long looking and thinking and praying we need to do.

What is it we want our lives to speak? That we were just like the Joneses? That we had all the stuff everyone is supposed to have? Or that we lived better within our means? That we gave more? That because we had enough we clothed and fed the poor with our excess? That we were different.

We claim Jesus as our Savior when it's convenient for us and it's just not ok.

My heart is being stirred because all this stuff, all these things I have to have and buy and do and be are getting in the way. I'm so very distracted by the worlds attempts at getting me to buy this and watch this and own this.

This year's word is less. I'm tackling it head on and I'm inviting you dear friends to join me. Will you get rid of the excess in your life this year too?

I plan on posting a weekly update and challenge on less each week this year. It's not easy. I like my "things". Especially nice things. But it's not about me, it's about less.

This week's challenge is easy and I've been working on it since last Wednesday and I'm still not done. Unsubsribe from all the emails you get from every store or business you've ever shopped at or done business with. It's time consuming yes, but is there anything more distracting than finding out there is Free Shipping at the Gap today ONLY!!

Seriously. Less.


Thursday, January 5, 2012


With the new year, just like every new year, I'm bitten by the new bug, or maybe it's the fresh bug. Just wanting to change things up a little bit, make things a tad bit new and fresh.

I'm in the midst of totally changing around our main floor bathroom which serves as both the kids bathroom and one for guests. For the last almost 8 years the decor has been fish and frogs and water life. Which was fine but it's getting old. Fast.

So I'm totally doing something new except I'm leaving the walls blue. Both because my husband has said no painting projects right now and also because I am a very bad painter and very impatient when it comes to having others paint for me.

Before Christmas I finally finished the basement playroom decor. For the longest time it was just "the playroom" with no rhyme or reason for anything and I kept thinking an idea would come to me. One finally did and here's pictures of the finished product. {I'm pretty proud of it. Also, if you must know, the total cost for the project including bins for the shelves, frames, pictures, canvasses, poster was....$180.}

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All the bins on the shelves are from Target. Words on the wall from my friends at Design with Vinyl.

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This is the forced family fun project I did with the kids awhile back. Canvasses from Michaels.

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The shelves are organized with paint and playdoh on top of the shelves. Then board games followed by arts and crafts supplies and the bottom two shelves are all toys. The blue buckets on the floor here are full of costumes from various Halloweens over the years. The toy box on the left (which we already had) is FULL of LEGOS.

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Poster from Etsy. Frame from Michaels. Love.

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In the orange bucket on the floor we have building blocks. Then ALL of the baby/doll stuff is set up as "baby world" with the play kitchen and table. And then my wall of pictures.

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No rhyme or reason to the way they are arranged on the wall. Just an idea I had and went with it. Frames are $1.99/each at Ikea. I got the mats at Michaels and printed various family and kid pictures at Costco. What I love about the wall is that we really have pictures from when it was just the bigs, through H's babyhood and even now.

What do you think?

In other news and events around here. I joined Pinterest on Sunday night and while I definitely don't know all the ins and outs of it yet, I'm kind of smitten with it. I might pin some of my basement (and eventually bathroom) pictures to share too if/when I ever figure that out. Are you on Pinterest? I'd love to follow you, find me or leave a comment with how to find you.

I'm not a big resolution person but I love the idea that I've been hearing round the internet for the last few years of choosing a life word for the year. I've been thinking and thinking and thinking of a word I want to live out for 2012 and once I've chosen it I'll be sure to share. Do you make a resolution? Or what word would you pick?

Finally, I wrote a little story on parenting resolutions. No time like the present to decide to make changes in the way we parent our children. Take a wander over here for the story.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Quickie Quotes.

Just enough time for a quickie quote post tonight even though I've got a few other things on my mind to share. This will have to do for now.

H & M played in the snow the other day for hours. Like I had to go out and tell them to come in, kind of hours. Cheeks beat red, noses running, frozen fingers and toes. They made an igloo and H was so proud of it.

They have all been anxiously awaiting some snow to play in and really what's on the ground can barely count, it's maybe 2 inches, but it kept them plenty busy building their igloo.
This morning, H gets up and in the midst of getting T & M out the door for school he asks me when the people from the news are coming.

M is giggling at this point which should have been a clue.

I let it go, we moved on, everyone went to school and when H got home, he asked again, "when's the news coming? M said that if I did a really good job helping her, the news will come and take a picture of us in our igloo."

No idea where M got that idea or why she decided to tell H that but "this" is the news, and these are the bigs and H in the igloo.

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Then tonight, E was fighting bedtime. Fewer parenting battles aggravate me more than the bedtime one mostly because by the time bedtime rolls around I am done. We were ignoring her antics until I heard her door slam shut. I walked down the hall, opened the door and there she sat in the middle of her room surrounded by ALL, and I mean ALL, the clothes from her dresser, the books off of her bookshelf and her bedding. I started to say something and she says, "Mama, you're dreaming. It's just a dream."

I have no idea where that came from but I loved it and had to laugh.