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Homemaking, House + Home, Motherhood, Our Home: Germany

Taming the Beast of Housework

January 20, 2017



“The point of keeping a home is not to be perfectionist or neurotic about cleanliness and order but to create a life of balance that brings joy to your world and those around you…. Find out for yourself what the most confounding things in your own world are, and come up with a workable schedule, with solutions that suit your own hours and days.” An excerpt from “Desperate: Hope For the Mom Who Needs to Breathe” by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson.

Well here we are, almost ten years into marriage and military life and with four kids, ages five and below. I’m not sure that’s something I ever anticipated saying, and I certainly can’t say I was prepared! But many of the best things in life aren’t things we necessarily planned for, and that’s part of the beauty of it all. I have to admit that 2016 was pretty much a blur. But now that Lilah is no longer in the womb and is four months old and we’re past the pregnancy + those very sleepy and unpredictable newborn days, I’ve been focusing on getting back to some good homemaking habits that help me to keep up with this wonderfully blessed and busy life we live.

By the way, I borrowed the title of this post from a great chapter out of Desperate, a FANTASTIC book for moms that I quoted from above, because it’s so true; housework is truly a beast that needs to be tamed! Here are a handful of my own methods that I’ve been working on lately.

ONE | THE DISHES. I run a load of dishes every night right after dinner, and then put those dishes away after the kids go to bed so that I’m not trying to do it during the morning rush.

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House + Home, Motherhood, Our Home, Our Home: Germany

Dresser Drawer Treasures

January 17, 2017

I opened up the top drawer of this end table and realized that it’s basically become Lilah’s baby-essentials command center, packed to the brim with all of her little necessities. It’s funny how something as simple and unassuming as a drawer full of stuff can say a lot about a person! Each of these little items tells a story about her. Some are treasures that we’ll hold on to as keepsakes, others are just everyday, practical things that she uses. I have a feeling that even when many years have passed I’ll have them tucked away in another little drawer somewhere, just because they’ll always remind me of her baby days.

From left to right:

ONE | Her cotton bloomers. Between this mustard colored pair and her pink ones, she’s almost always wearing them!

TWO | The nursing necklaces by Bubuline on Etsy (that I really just bought because I like wood bead necklaces, not so much because they’re nursing necklaces….but they’re good for that too).

THREE | Her muslin bandana bib. Unlike her brothers, Lilah is one heck of a spitty baby. She needs like five more!

FOUR | Her brush (here’s a similar one). So far she’s our first baby to be born with a thick head of hair and to keep that hair! Asher had a lot, but it fell out pretty quickly after he was born. So, here’s hoping hers will stick.

FIVE | Nail clippers. The standard kind, cause I lost our baby pair like four years ago.

SIX | Little Remedies nasal saline drops, because she’s not only perpetually spitty but she’s also perpetually stuffy.

SEVEN | Wedela Calendula Baby diaper rash cream. This stuff is German and it’s amazing! Finn seems to need it more than Lilah, but it’s great to have around.

EIGHT | Medical tape, which we use to tape her little pinky toe down on her right foot. Ever since birth it’s wanted to stick up, I guess you could say it has a personality all it’s own, haha!

NINE | A NUK pacifier that she somewhat reluctantly uses when we don’t let her use her thumb (as seen in this post).

TEN | The little knit slippers and knit socks were hand made with love by some dear friends! And the sweet white and blue ribboned bonnet hiding underneath the necklace is a hand-me-down from another friend.

Such treasures!

 

Homemaking, House + Home, Motherhood, Our Home, Our Home: Germany

Musical Rooms

January 6, 2017

There was a day when I thought that having beautiful little rooms for our kids was totally doable. I mean, of course! They’re all over Pinterest, right? Asher’s first nursery started out alright. Then he became a naturally curious and destructive toddler…. And then we kept moving to new houses…. And kept having babies…. And now I continue watching all of them basically destroy any/all efforts I have made to give them nice rooms. (Okay, mostly just Asher and Silas, but Finn and Lilah aren’t far behind I’m sure.) And now it’s a challenge to even know where to put them all! At this point we’re just packing them in like sardines.

Families with many children- how do you handle the sleeping arrangements? This is one thing we can’t quite seem to figure out for our kids. And as soon as we do think we have it figured out, we either move into a different house or have another baby, and then we’re sort of back to square one. It’s not like it’s a national emergency, they could all sleep in sleeping bags on the floor if need be. But it’s just one of those pesky little things that there hasn’t been an easy solution for in a while.

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House + Home, Motherhood, Our Home, Our Home: Germany

Finn’s Nursery

October 19, 2016

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I’ve been browsing through old photos from the past year and came across a batch of Finn’s nursery. There’s nothing flashy or new or particularly interesting about it, but having pictures of the boys rooms from each of our homes is nice. It’s hard to move as often as we do, but at least with photos we can carry little pieces of “home” with us to look back on.

This is the smallest (and sort of the best) bedroom in the house. It may not be very large, but it’s a standard square room instead of a long rectangular shape like the other two second floor bedrooms. For a while we assumed we’d move Finn out of this room and make it Lilah’s nursery once she was ready for it. But, I think we’re going to keep him put because I’m not sure how well he would take it if he got the boot. It’s kind of funny…I always wanted a baby who was attached to a special blanket or stuffed animal because it seems endearing. And oh boy, be careful what you wish for…. Finn has a special attachment to many items….his blanket, his stuffed pig, his pacifier, and even his fan. He’s a creature of habit. So, moving him into a whole new room might be a little too rough on him, especially considering he’ll be losing his room soon enough when it’s time to move again.

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It gets hard to “finish” rooms when we only live in one place for a couple of years at a time, but one of these days I’d love to hang some better art above his changing table and then get some better lit photos of the entire room. But whether or not I get around to it in this house or not, this is Finn’s special little space and we’re just happy he has it all to himself!

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House + Home, Our Home: Germany

IKEA’s Tobias Dining Room Chairs

March 7, 2016

One of my favorite things about living in Europe is that we’re officially in the land of IKEA! In the past we’ve almost never lived within a reasonable driving distance of one, but here in Germany there’s one only an hour away. Yes, it’s still a bit of a hike when there are three little wild things involved (I’ll always regret not developing my passion for IKEA before becoming a mom). But all in all, a one hour drive is doable.

Most of our furniture is more traditional, but now that we’re no longer in our 1800s era Victorian it’s been easier to start adding some modern pieces to the mix. We honestly don’t shop a lot- especially for big items like furniture- but lately we’ve had a couple of true needs when it comes to functional, kid-friendly stuff. The first was this POCO bar table that we use as a standing desk for our laptop in our living room; the second is a set of IKEA’s “Tobias” chairs!

At first glance, they are, um, modern…

IKEA Tobias Chair Review | www.sarahkeller.com

But before I make my case for why they’re so great, first let me give a little backstory. We’ve had traditional white cloth-covered chairs (see a photo of them in this post on the old blog) since Thane and I moved into our very first house together in Hawaii back in 2008. Our neighbor was getting rid of the whole set, plus a massively heavy “Italian” dining room table that was not very easy on the eyes, a china cabinet, and a few other things. But as newlyweds without a single piece of furniture to our name other than a mattress on the floor, we felt like we were winning the lottery!

Overall, the white cloth chairs were great. They worked especially well in our last home, and even though I’ve always wanted to recover them with new fabric, they stayed clean much longer than expected. At least until Silas started sitting in them. Asher was surprisingly gentle on them in his toddler years, but Silas is a different beast. And with Finn coming right up behind him, and another little one behind Finn, there was only so much longer that white cloth chairs were going to hack it. So when I started looking around for more kid-friendly seating options, IKEA’s Tobias chair caught my eye (photos courtesy of Pinterest, via Decor Pad, Nancy Mitchell for Apartment Therapy, Lush Home, and Arianna Bell.)

IKEA's Tobias Dining Room Chairs | www.sarahkeller.com

Super modern, yes. But paired with a wooden table, a patterned rug, and some white or metallic accessories, they’re quite versatile! And Silas could literally eat his spaghetti right off of them and it wouldn’t matter. But as much as I liked them, the real hurdle was getting the thumbs up from Thane. He’s all an American, meat and potatoes, football loving, Lazy-Boy recliner with a built in cup-holder kind of man. So there was absolutely no way he was going to go for these chairs.

But, since we just happened to be in IKEA a few weeks ago, I thought what the heck, why not take a shot in the dark? I pointed them out and then anticipated the usual; a cursory glance, a comment about how ugly they were, and a mocking laugh, all delivered within the time span of ten seconds while continuing to proceed towards the closest exit (the whole goal of a man in IKEA). So when he actually stopped, pulled one out, sat down, and said he kind of liked them, I knew I was either dreaming or trapped in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Ahhh!

You know what did it? The fact that they rock and recline just enough to be surprisingly comfortable, not to mention their virtual indestructibility.

So, thank you to IKEA + Thane for indulging me and allowing me to bring home these fun, affordable, kid-friendly, and first ever owner-purchased set of new chairs. I’ve got some more work to do before our dining room looks as classy as the ones in the photos above, but all in good time.

IKEA's Tobias Dining Room Chairs | www.sarahkeller.com
IKEA's Tobias Dining Room Chairs | www.sarahkeller.com

P.S. Just in case you’re interested, this is the “Torrance” table from Pier 1 (and it’s currently on sale!), the rug was thrifted but IKEA has a similar one, the curtains are Target’s Threshold brand, (no longer available in the cream and mustard unfortunately), and for you guys who are local, the friendly little potted plant next to the window came from Lidl for four Euro!

House + Home, Our Home: Germany

A Standing Desk for the Living Room

January 25, 2016

Standing Desk | www.sarahkeller.com

Hey friends, I have good news and bad news. If you live in Germany, Monday is almost over! If you live in the states, well, you’ve got a little longer to go, hahaha. Honestly, I sort of like Mondays because they’re a good day to catch up on all of the lose ends left over from the weekend, get a fresh batch of groceries, go back to a more predictable routine, get on top of the weekly schedule, etc.

Anyway, the real point of this post is the first- and probably last- piece of furniture that we’ve bought here in Germany; a standing desk!

Standing Desk | www.sarahkeller.com

Warning: you may be about to waste ten minutes of your life on this very detailed and over-zealous dialogue about this standing desk and other random pieces of furniture in our house. But if that doesn’t bother you, proceed.

We’ve been scouring the local stores, a couple of non-local IKEAs, and the internet for a standing-height desk like this for months, and finally realized what the problem was. There aren’t many “standing desks” out there, but there are lots of “bar tables”. I came across this bar table on Poco’s website- on clearance!- and was able to run down to the Weiden location and pick it up the next day. I don’t think we’ve ever owned anything quite so modern and I was a little apprehensive about how it would look with the rest of our things (our living room, dining room, and this desk space is all one room basically).

Despite the fact that it makes this corner of the room look like an Apple store, we’re thrilled with it because we finally have a functional way to use a laptop in the main living area without it cluttering up the dining table, taking up the valuable kitchen counter space, or being in arms reach of the boys. I can even leave my bible opened here with zero curious little fingers within range. (Is it just my kids, or do yours like flipping through/destroying the tissue-paper-like pages of your bible too?)

We used to have these shelves here and they were really nice, but it was like they came with a magnetic force for clutter and keeping excess junk from piling up on them was like my full time job.

White Shelves | www.sarahkeller.com

Since clutter is kind of enemy no. 1 for me, it’s probably for the best that these shelves have new spots in less central parts of the house.

Which means that now there’s room for the cowhide rug plus the zebra chair that had both been hiding upstairs for a while! (The master bedroom lost a little of it’s flair, but oh well.)

Standing Desk | www.sarahkeller.com
Golden Camera Paper Weight | www.sarahkeller.com
Standing Desk | www.sarahkeller.com

And of course I had to throw in the close-up shot of Thane’s new book, Trials! I wrote all about it here a few weeks back just in case you missed it.

I hope everyone had a great and blessed start of the week!