Thanksgiving Week

Today, I’m thankful that it’s finally over. It’s not that I don’t love spending time with family. It’s just that it’s been a busy week with lots of travel and very little relaxation.

We had our third Thanksgiving today. It was the first one we’ve ever hosted in our home and I think it went well. The weather cooperated, so it was cool outside and gave our AC a bit of a break, and since it was nice all the kids could play outside on the trampoline.

I’m thankful that we had the chance to spend time with my husband’s side of the family — his mom and sister, our newly-engaged niece and her fiance (and his parents, who are friends of mine), and our younger niece and nephew. There was lots of good food and everyone went home with full bellies and leftovers.

What I have learned for next year: I don’t have enough serving pieces. Meaning both cutlery and plates/bowls. I made a list of what would have been useful, and my husband and I decided we need to go look for some unique pieces at Market Days and flea markets before we host again. I also learned that I need a more complete and organized to do list — my wrinkled table cloths didn’t steal joy from the day, but I wish I had remembered to at least toss them into the dryer before I had the kids put them on the table. 😉

Overall, though, we couldn’t have asked for a better day. So I am thankful for today. And for the clean sheets on the oh-so-comfy bed my tired little body is headed to right now.

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Let the Madness Begin

Today I am thankful that we have a working shower and hot water heater.

I’ve spent most of the day cleaning. Not because my house was so dirty (although, ahem, it could use some help, too). But because I told my kids that they needed to get rid of the things they’re not using. We start this massive annual declutter every November in preparation for the holidays and the new year. I am trying to declutter our entire house, and convince the others who live here that we need to be less attached to things.

Their goal this year was 30 items each. 7 year old Charlotte reached her’s easily, because, while she may have a ton of stuffed animals and Littlest Pet Shop pets, she doesn’t have a lot of junk. I convinced her that she didn’t need 5 pillow pets (thanks, grandma) and that some of her toys were just not being used or in very good shape, even though she’s taken good care of them. It did take a little prodding, but she did the bulk of the work herself.

My 9 year old son is another story.

Despite a warning not to do this, his first offering included 5 broken toys, 10 pieces of broken toys, and some tortured little green army men.  His next two attempts were not much better. I ended up doing a massive clean up (and yes, he was right there alongside me) getting rid of all the trash he and his brother have accumulated in their room, discarding broken toys, and serving as the judge of what they would keep and what they would donate. By the time we were done, I was in a rotten mood. It really bothers me how carelessly they treat their things, when I know that there are so many kids who have so little. It makes me wonder where I have gone wrong as a parent.

How do you deal with this in your home? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

6 Things Before ’12

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is next week. I know it’s cliche, but this year has really surprised me in how swiftly it has passed. I had some great plans for what I wanted to accomplish this year, and there are some things that I abandoned (and with good reason) and others that I really should have stayed committed to.

So, in an effort to hold myself accountable, here is my personal goal list for the rest of the year. We have about 6 weeks left, so here are my 6 things to do before 2012. Most are already in progress, some will take a couple of hours of sit-down organizing time and others will take longer, but I need to buckle down and finish what I’ve started.

 

NaBloPoMo 2011

1. Successfully complete NaBloPoMo. I’m halfway done! That means I’m committed to posting every day for the month of November, so someone please hold me accountable. I’d love to have a “blog buddy” if anyone is interested.

 

 2. Develop a mission statement for our family (with the family). I read Tsh Oxenreider’s Organized Simplicity almost a year ago, and I was really inspired and motivated to implement some of her ideas in our family. But I got sidetracked and my home organization binder is still just sitting here. I’d like to start the new year off right by getting the family together to set some goals and define who we want to be.

3. Develop and implement a daily household routine. It needs to be flexible, but with only one parent home most of the time, we definitely need some organization around here. Like, when am I going to make it to the gym (after saying “I’ll go tomorrow” for three weeks)? What do we do about nap time on days when we have church or story time?

4. Develop and implement a weekly chore chart/schedule for the family. For all of us, with assigned chores for the week. In this house, we’re all motivated by checking things off a list.

5. Make the kitchen chalkboard wall. It will be a place to display our weekly menu and chore chart. I already have a list for the hardware store, but I haven’t buckled down to buy the stuff yet. I really want to get it done before the kids are home for winter break, though, so I need to get working on it.

 

6. Finish the books on my Goodreads “Currently Reading” list. I’ve all but abandoned some that I really need to read, and I’d like to have them finished before the new year.

Kitchen Inspiration

I’m staring at my pile of recipe clippings, attempting to make my Thanksgiving dinner grocery list. Yes, I do use pinterest, but I still subscribe to several cooking magazines. Each month I tear out the “that looks like it might be good” recipes and put them in a binder, which sounds way more organized that it is in reality. I have the binder, and intended to use tabs and clear sheet protectors to organize all those magazine sheets.  So far, though, I just tear the pages out and stuff them in the binder. Yes, I’m that kind of planner.

I also love to read cooking blogs, but until my thoughtful husband (who always wants me to cook more) gave me an iPad I really didn’t like using online recipes to cook. I’d find things that looked great, bookmark them, and then think ugh… I really don’t want to drag the laptop into the kitchen or try to read off a tiny phone screen to use this. But now, it’s easy to just prop the iPad up on the counter and follow along.

So here are my must-read cooking blogs, in no particular order:

This Lunch Rox Yes, Jamie’s adorable and yummy-looking food creations are inspiring, but I really love the philosophy behind her meals. She’s helped inspire me to make sure my own kid’s school lunches are healthier, and really gives a lot of useful information and links in her posts if you want to learn more. Plus, her food photography (like her people photography) is really good.

101 Cookbooks Speaking of great food photography, I love browsing Heidi’s site. Her vegetarian recipes have really helped us with our Meatless Monday challenges. Most importantly, reading her blog and looking at her photographs really inspires me to want to eat healthier.

Simple Bites Again with the healthy. Aimee’s blog is another source of daily culinary inspiration. Not only have I gotten some great recipes and encouragement from her posts, but I also get a lot from her articles on things like organizing your kitchen for the holidays.

Whole Foods Market Last, but not least, the Whole Foods blog is one of my go-to sources, not only for recipes but for whole living information and inspiration. I check it out at least once a week, usually when I’m planning my next trip to the store.

Now to find a great app to help me organize these online recipes. Anyone know of one for iPad that will be better than my magazine sheet binder method?

Nice to meet you.

That first blog post, whether it’s the first EVER or the first after a long absence, is always the hardest for me.  I start writing, rusty fingers tapping at keys and then backspace-erasing because nothing I’ve typed sounds like what my inner voice wants to say.  Eventually, it will be easier.  Everything always is with practice, isn’t it?  But for now, I will type and backspace and wonder what exactly it was that I sat down to say in the first place.

I guess the best place to start is the beginning, and for a good Southern girl that would be an introduction.  Hi.  I’m Shelby.  Nice to meet you.  I’m a 35-year-old mom to a blended family of 5.  Wife to my best friend, who just happens to be the sexiest man alive.  Until recently, I was a high school Social Studies teacher, but as of yesterday I’m a stay-at-home mom.  My boss?  A giant 11-month-old baby, aka Baby Coco, who has the best disposition a mom could ask for, even though (as all babies do) he believes he is the center of the universe.  And, fortunately for him, he kinda is.  His older brothers and sisters think he’s fascinating and do whatever he seems to want them to do.

We live in a small town in Texas, where the Olive Garden is the nicest restaurant in town, and our grocery store’s initials seem to stand for Hello Every Body, because you see just about everyone you know or are related to when you’re shopping.  As someone who grew up in a small Texas town but has lived in several of the country’s major cities, I really appreciate that here, dressing up to go out means putting on your fancy jeans and your dressy flip flops.  I chose my blog title — Old Jeans and Flip Flops — because it pretty much describes my lifestyle: tee shirts, old jeans, flip flops, and a big ol’ purse to carry all my mom and kid stuff.

I’m a former portrait studio owner, so I still drag out my camera occasionally — although now, it’s usually to photograph my own kids instead of someone else’s.  I suffered serious burnout after years and years of portrait sessions and it just doesn’t bring me the joy that it once did.  These days, I find my joy in cooking and in writing.  My husband is diabetic, so I’m really conscious of what is in our food and I usually cook from scratch, using fresh, organic, and local ingredients as much as possible.  Expect to read a lot about food on this blog.  We’re also a family of faith, and we believe that God’s blessing is the reason we have the opportunities we do right now, so expect to read a lot about that also.

I look forward to getting to know everyone who stops by, so please leave a comment so I can say hey (no, not howdy, at least not in this part of Texas).