THE SKINNY ON KIDS' CLOTHES

I get asked a lot about kid clothes. How many clothes do our kids have? How do I store outgrown or out-of-season things? How do I organize their dressers? How much is too much (or too little?) Listen, I am NOT an expert on kids' clothes, minimalism or organization (or anything, for that matter!) But I DO think we keep things pretty simple when it comes to our kids' wardrobes, and I thought I'd just go ahead and write a post about it to refer people back to :)

Our house is, by the average American standard, small. We have two bedrooms and one teeny bathroom. Just two (very small) closets in the whole house. I am constantly evaluating and re-evaluating our storage systems to make sure we're being as efficient as possible. When it comes to kid clothes, we've gotten it down to a pretty good system. We try to do one load of laundry every day - wash, fold, put away - to stay on top of it. This allows us to keep the amount of clothing to a minimum.

Each kid has one dresser for all of their stuff. For Xavier, that includes diapers and wipes, miscellaneous things, and all the crib sheets (we have four sheets and four mattress pads since we have two cribs - the sheets are the same for both kids so it's easy to swap them out!) Zelie's dresser also includes her diapers and wipes, blankets, swaddles and sleep sacks and basically everything that belongs to her. In fact, each kid has just one drawer that holds most of their clothes! I HIGHLY recommend drawer organizers for keeping things neat and tidy. I love the SKUBB boxes from IKEA, and expandable drawer dividers like these. Cardboard boxes will also do in a pinch (and you'll see some in these photos!)

Here's what Xavier's drawer looks like (his pajamas and socks live in a second drawer below). On the left, short sleeve and long sleeve tees. On the right, all his pants (sweatpants, jeans, dress pants).

2017-11-22_0002.jpg

And here are Zelie's two drawers. I added notes so you can see how I organize everything.

zdrawer1-01.jpg
zdrawer2-01.jpg

Xavier also has a few things hanging in his closet - a nice sweater and collared shirt, his football jersey and warmer jackets. They each have a few coats/warm layers hanging on a peg rack in Xavier's room, and Xavier's shoes and hats/gloves/outside gear lives in a separate spot (along with the rest of our hats/gloves/warm gear).

2017-11-22_0001.jpg

The key is keeping the amount of clothing to as few things as possible. Xavier has about 12 shirts (a mix of short and long sleeve) and 10 or so pairs of pants. He also has four pair of pajamas, a handful of socks, house slippers, tennis shoes, rain boots and winter boots. I do need to get him a nice pair of dress shoes, but the times I need him to wear anything nicer than tennis shoes are few and far between. He has a winter coat and a couple of sweatshirts/fleece for playing outside.

Zelie has around 20 onesies (a mix of short and long sleeve and sleeveless) and 12 pair of pants. She also has a couple of t-shirts, a couple dresses/rompers, and 6-8 zipper jammies. She also has a warm "wookie suit" for walks and going outside, and a couple of sweaters/jackets for layering.

As much as I'm tempted by all the cute baby and toddler clothes, I'm doing my best to keep it super simple. I love little boys dressed like tiny little men in skinny jeans and cardigans, and swoon over all the sweet baby bloomers, bonnets and adorable baby dresses, but that's just not realistic for our budget OR our life. I don't have time to think that much about my own outfits, much less my kids'.

I use the capsule wardrobe mentality for the kids just like I do for myself. You'll notice that all of Xavier's stuff sticks to a pretty generic color palette. It's super easy to mix and match tops and bottoms. I plan to keep up this system so that as he gets older, it's really easy for him to pick out his own outfits.

Zelie's wardrobe is similar - lots of solid onesies and solid or cute floral pants. To be honest, she hangs out in zipper jammies most days, because it's super easy for diaper changes and I don't have to change her clothes before she naps. I stick a bow on her head and that makes it feel like more of an outfit. I don't keep any sleepers that snap all the way up, because I hate snaps. And I also don't buy or keep anything that requires ironing or steaming after washing. I bought an ADORABLE Janie + Jack romper for Zelie at a consignment shop - it had this big white bow on the front and was so cute. But one laundry cycle later, I realized the bow would need to be ironed to look presentable, and that's an automatic no-go. Into the donation bin it went. Ease and convenience is the name of the game here, people!

I have to constantly remind myself that I'm not trying to win any style awards when it comes to my kids, and that a happy and sane mama is much better than picture-perfect outfits.

For storing clothes, I throw everything in clear, labeled bins and store them in our attic. I put several sizes in each bin - like newborn - 6 mo in one, 6-9 mo through 18mo in another, etc. I separate boy, girl and gender neutral things, that way I don't have to dig through EVERYthing to find the right stuff for the next babe. And I don't mess around with sorting out seasonal stuff. If a bathing suit is 6 mo size, it goes in the 6 mo bin. If my next baby is in 6 mo clothes in the middle of winter, so be it. The bathing suit goes back in the attic. There IS such a thing as over-organizing, and ain't nobody got time for that. But a good thing to mention here is to buy baby clothes that can easily be used for all seasons. Zelie wears a sleeveless onesie under thinner sleepers for an extra layer. Onesies + pants can easily be layered up to be warmer, or babies can go pants-less to be cool in the summer. I generally stay away from super seasonal pieces, because we hope to have a few more kids and I want to get the MOST bang for my buck and have the clothes be able to be used again and again, regardless of what season baby is born in.

IMG_0618.JPG

And in general, I don't "stock up" on clothes during end-of-season sales. I think if your kids are older, this is easier, but babies grow so fast (and so irregularly, thanks to growth spurts) that it's hard to tell if a 12mo coat or an 18mo coat will fit them the following winter. In general, we just buy when the kids need things, buy secondhand as much as possible, and then try our best with our budget to buy ethically from there. Colored Organics, Primary.com, Tea Collection and Wildy Co. are great ethical options!

So tell me, do you have any more kid clothes hacks? Any favorite ways to store them or tips for keeping things simple and streamlined? I'd love to hear, and hope this was helpful for any of you mamas buried under kid clothes. This time of year is perfect for simplifying and paring down - cheering you on as we all try to live simpler, more joyful lives! XO!

A baby, a bulletproof vest and a long blog hiatus

Friends! Good morning! I feel like finding some kind of GIF that says "I'm BAAAAAAACK" but to be honest, I have NO idea where/how people find GIFs (what does GIF even stand for!?) so pretend there's one here:

For a long time (like, several years) I've been going back and forth on blogging. When I had my photography business, I struggled with whether or not I should have a business blog for all my photo stuff, and a personal blog for everything else I wanted to post. In high school and college, I loved keeping a personal blog for more personal, long form writing - almost an online journal. Then it seemed like overnight, there was an explosion of professional blogs and sponsored posts and blogging for money. I decided that I wanted to go that route, so suddenly it felt like my blog couldn't be a space for personal rambling - it needed to be and look legit. Long story short, there's been a lot of pressure as to how this space should look. All self-imposed, of course. And it lead me to wanting to quit altogether. But I've realized over the last several months that a) I really miss blogging and b) I'm done with the pressure. So, I'm back! And I'm really excited about it.

The last few months have been FULL. Crazy, hard, amazing, so sweet. Matt is a full-blown police officer now! I mean, he's still in training until November, but he gets dressed in his very official uniform and goes to work in his very official police car so it feels very official to me :) I was SO hoping that I'd be able to attend Matt's graduation from the law enforcement academy and the stars aligned to make my dream come true...Zelie, Xavier and I were able to go (thanks to my mom, Matt's parents and our friend Christine who were also all there to help, as I was just 10 days postpartum!) and it was so incredible to watch Matt walk across that stage and graduate after 15 long weeks. The police academy was so challenging for our whole family, but also a season that bore so much fruit for me individually and also for our marriage. I'm grateful :)

So now we live in the world of bulletproof vests, Matt having to sit facing the door every time we go out to eat, missing him while he works nights and trying to get out of the house with the kids while he sleeps during the day. It has been a truly hard transition to be honest, but we are figuring it out more each day with LOTS of help from our village and LOTS of conversations about what is and isn't working.

And...we had a baby! Of course she's been introduced on instagram and I hope to have her birth story up here soon. Sweet Zelie James is an absolute dream and we are smitten. Xavier loves to say "hi" to her in the mornings, put toys on her while she's sleeping aaaaaand rip her pacifier out of her mouth as soon as she falls asleep. Life with two under two is crazytown, as expected, but also incredibly more fun than I could have ever imagined. Don't get me wrong...there are a LOT of tears on all parts (especially mine) and a lot of me just stopping amidst the crazy to yell "WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING RIGHT NOW" (yep, true story) and a lotttttttttt of prayers of "Jesus...I can't. Please help!" And of course, He always does.

All in all, I am so grateful for this season and all the lessons and gifts it's brought and continues to bring. I wouldn't trade this wild life with my three sweet humans for the entire world. Hoping you're all having the loveliest summer and so excited to be hanging out with you again, here. xo!

Sharing the baby news early

We share about our pregnancies early, and here's why.

I believe life begins at conception. I believe this tiny, 6-week old baby in my belly that's the size of a grain of rice is every bit a human, every bit a whole entire person, as 13-month old Xavier sitting next to me. Sure, I don't know if it's a boy or a girl yet, or what they look like, but I know that they have an immortal soul that was breathed into life by the Creator of the Universe. I know He knit this baby's bones together with the most profound Love creation has ever known. That they are dearly loved by Him, and by us.

I've never experienced miscarriage, so I cannot begin to imagine what that pain is like, or speak to that experience. But I imagine that I would mourn the loss of this tiny baby the same way I've mourned the losses of other people I've known and loved. I know I wouldn't want to feel made to mourn in secret, or like miscarriage was in some way shameful or taboo. I know I would need the prayers, support and love of our tribe - those right here in my day-to-day life and also those whom I only know online.

Most of all, I don't to live my life in fear. I don't want to fear of losing this baby to overshadow the celebration of their life. I don't want the fear of what might happen tomorrow steal the excitement from today. I don't want the potential for heartbreak to take away my current joy. And I don't want to be afraid of being vulnerable, of being broken, of needing Jesus and others should we lose this baby. But most of all, I want this pregnancy, every pregnancy, this baby's life, and my life to make much of our good, good Father. I want the world to know that it is Him who sustains this life, and if He calls this soul back to Heaven, He is still good and He is still sovereign even in that unimaginable loss.

I don't know how many minutes or days or weeks we'll have with this sweet little baby. I wouldn't know that whether we shared our news at 12 weeks or 20. God is the one who gives life, and God is the one who knows when it will end, for all of us. All I know is I have this moment, right now. And I want to be nothing but joyful about this new addition to our family. I want to know that this baby's life was celebrated and rejoiced over from the moment we found out. And I don't want to sit on the news of God's goodness and the miracles He performs - because it IS a miracle, every single time.

I can understand wanting to wait to share the news, especially if you've experienced miscarriage or loss in the past. It's natural to want to cocoon yourself from the potential pain of having to then announce there will be no baby in your arms. By all means - if you want to wait, wait! I just think we women shouldn't feel pressured one way or the other. Whether you want to share at six weeks or sixteen, you should feel empowered and supported and celebrated no matter what.

So I'm sharing. And I'm celebrating. And I'm trusting in the Lord and the way He has written our story, and believing with all my heart that no matter what the story holds, He is good and Has nothing but our good in mind. And I'm praying that no matter what our story holds, he would use it for His glory.

Saint Gerard Majella, pray for us! Saint Gianna Molla, pray for us!

A TRIP TO THE ORCHARD

Over the weekend, we visited our local apple orchard with friends, and snapped a few photos. It was the most perfect fall day - low 60s, breezy, sunny, and beautiful. We picked apples, kept the pesky bees away from the babies, snapped away and laughed the whole while. I'm so grateful for our sweet friends Emily and Brad, and their precious son Pier, who is becoming Xavier's BFF :)

Xavier LOVES apples and would have been so content to just sit under the trees and munch away all afternoon. He is just the sweetest boy.

I know he won't remember these autumn outings, but I'll remember them always. And I'm so grateful for these sweet photos that capture this absolutely precious time as a family of three!

And for your viewing pleasure, two more sweet photos I snapped before we went to the orchard! Xavier is enthralled with my camera and wanted to get as close as possible and press the button. SO cute!