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Declutter Your Life This Spring!

Easy Ways to Declutter Your Life

Yes, I enjoy spring cleaning. Am I weird?  I LOVE sprucing up our home…cleaning, reorganizing and de-cluttering.  Ahhhhh! Spring just brings this out in me.

You don’t have to do your spring cleaning all at once. It’s too overwhelming when projects are overwhelming there is a good chance it won’t get one.

Just take one task at a time, maybe even just one a week, and by summer you will feel decluttered and fabulous.

Tip #1 – Pick one room at a time.

My husband and I just had this conversation.  We think it will be much easier to take it one room at a time, versus having a massive Spring Cleaning marathon (especially with kiddos).  It’s a lot less overwhelming this way…and we like that we’re not just waiting until the weekend (which is our sacred family time) to clean.

Tip #2 – Tackle your “junk” drawer.

Everyone has one, right?!  When I want to feel cleaning “accomplished,” and I only have a few minutes, I start with my junk drawer.  It’s amazing how much better I feel when it is cleared out.

Tip #3 – Clean up your makeup.

Anyone else out there a makeup junkie?  I have lots of different makeup in lots of different bags.  And multiple makeup brushes.  Spring cleaning is a great time to clean out any old makeup, wipe out your makeup bags, and clean your makeup brushes. I found these great makeup brush cleaning tricks from Pinterest… to be exact.  Check it out!

Tip #4 – Go through closets and dressers.

I scan my closet and drawers…and my kids’ closets and drawers…and grab anything that is too small, too worn, or past it’s “season.”  I bag ‘em and donate them. Involving your kids is a great way to show them that their gently loved clothes can go to other kiddos that can still use them and appreciate them.

Tip #5 – Toys, toys, and more toys.

If your kids’ toys are taking over your home (like my kids’ “treasures” are), it’s time to weed out toys that your kids have outgrown…and donate them to others that can enjoy them.  I wrote a blog about great service project ideas to do with your kids - check out #4 in this blog for ideas of how to work with your kids on cleaning out their toys…and how they can help others!

Tip #6 – Clean out your “to-do” pile on your desk or counter.

Paper piles.  Ugh.  Even though I try to stay organized with my stacks of papers, sometimes you just have to take the time to file, recycle or finally get around to doing those “I’ll do them later,” action items. You’ll feel better, I promise!

Tip # 7 – Your car…need I say more?

Hmmm…Cheerios, smushed granola bars, crumbs, toy parts, Kleenex, dried baby wipes, coupons…ugh.  Now’s the time to give the inside (and outside!) of your car a little facelift.  Take out your carseats, vacuum the gross ickys, clean your carseats, and pick up any trash.  Wash the outside of your car (kids love to help!), clean windows, and shine your tires.  Make this a family activity, or simply splurge on a deluxe carwash at your local carwash place.

Tip #8 – Organize your email inbox.

Now’s a great time to clean out – and file – your electronic “to-do’s.”  Today, it seems like everything is online.  So why not take this opportunity to organize, file and clean your email inboxes?  This task may take longer than the others…so I try to spend just 10-15 minutes a day.

Tip #9 – Clean out your pantry and refrigerator.

This is one your kids can get in and help with.  Take everything out, look at expiration dates, and toss anything that needs to be cleaned out. Wipe down shelves, disinfect, and organize the remaining food.

I’ve also found that having a “kid-friendly food” shelf or drawer has been awesome!  I put all of the “nut free” products here that they can have at school.  It makes it so much easier to make snacks, lunches, and even for the kids to “grab and go” themselves.  I’m all about making things easier!

Tip #10 – Get your kids involved.

Cleaning doesn’t have to be a punishment!  Turn on the timer, turn on the music, give each kid an age-appropriate job, and everyone pitches in and cleans until the timer beeps.  I explain to my kids that part of being a family is that everyone contributes to taking care of our home.  Most of the time, my kids are happy to each have a “job.”

What are your Spring Cleaning tips?  Do you dread it or enjoy it?
Share your easy ways to declutter your life!

How to Organize Your Kid’s Artwork

how to organize your kid's artwork - 2

Hi, my name is Christy.  And, my kids’ art projects are taking over my home.  Can anyone else relate?  Piles, stuffed folders, pictures plastered on walls, doors, bulletin boards…oh my!  I knew I had to clean up and go through all of these precious little “treasures.”  Here are my tips for how to organize your kid’s artwork. 

I knew my “art wall” was getting out of control when my laid-back husband told me that our kitchen walls were being taken over by random kid projects, coloring scraps, pipe cleaner creations, and paper plate animals.

I defensively looked at my beautiful walls, filled with…okay, well they were plastered with multiple art projects galore.  Every inch of space was maxed out.  As much as I loved each and every picture, I admitted it was a little out of control.

So, I came up with a couple of solutions that seemed to help me get more organized and less cluttered.

Solution #1 – Organize your art wall

I found these cute little artwork wall organizers at Target (my home away from home!), pictured above.  I took every precious masterpiece off of our kitchen walls and doors…and picked four to keep in rotation, per kiddo.

I hung up the organizers on our designated “art wall,” and now switch out my daughter and son’s art and school projects every couple of days.  This keeps everything a little more tidy…and still proudly displayed!

Solution #2 – File the “keepers”

As much as I wish I could keep every project, coloring page, painting and worksheet…there is simply not enough room.  Each week I go through all of my kid’s schoolwork and art pieces from the week. I pick the “keepers” - you know, the really special ones.  The ones that are memorable and/or extra adorable, represent milestones, are made just for you, and so on.

I either display those or file them in each kid’s school box.  Yep, I have made a school organizer box for each of my children.  So.much.easier.

I pick out what I think the grandparents would like and set that aside.  Then…SHHHHHH…I recycle the rest.  Without guilt.

Solution #3 – Artkive

Artkive is one of my favorite apps ever – and is free!!  You can upload pictures of your kid’s artwork and school projects and store it on Artkive’s site.  Here’s the cool part – you can organize the artwork electronically by child, year in school (or chronological age), date/month/year, plus you can add a description of their creation.

You can also make and save a list of email addresses, and then choose to send a picture copy to your family and friends with your kid’s latest masterpiece.  All of the my kids’ grandparents love getting these fun emails!

Another option?  With Artkive, you can actually print a book of your all of your kid’s artwork – organized chronologically.  Be still my heart!

What are your kid art organizing secrets?  Do you have any tips or tricks?
Please share below!

Bedroom Camping for Kids

bedroom camping for kids

Bedroom camping for kids is so much fun!  It has become one of our favorite Friday night family traditions. Let me tell you how we set it up in case you might be interested in trying it too!

Setting Up the Camp Site

We alternate rooms between my son and daughter each time we do our bedroom camping. The kiddos drag their comforters off their bed, grab extra blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, any and all flashlight friends, night lights, and their favorite Dream Lites Pillow Pets.

The kids put on their jammies, spread out all of their blankets on the floor of the bedroom, and turn on their flash lights.

If you want to get really authentic, you can bring in a pop-up tent - we have about four in rotation. The kids’ favorite right now is the Jake and the Neverland Pirates play hut pop-up tent.

Once the lights go off, the camping begins!

Bedroom Camping Activities

We take turns telling silly stories, singing “camp” songs, and counting the “stars” on the ceiling (projected from our Dream Lite friends). 

You can also have a little picnic set up on the blanket floor with camping goodies like popcorn or pretzels.

One of our favorite games to play is “Start a Story, Tell a Story.”

One person starts a story…and then each of us go around and add a sentence at a time.  It gets pretty silly – and the kids think it’s hysterical!

For whatever reason, my kids’ favorite song to sing is “On Top of Spaghetti,” only we tend to change the lyrics to silly, crazy, funny lines.  Whatever you choose will be special…because you’ll all be gathered around “under the stars,” spending time together.

S’mores in a Bag

To bring in the ultimate camping activity, make some s’mores in a bag for your kids to munch on while playing. Simply put some Golden Grahams cereal, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips in little bowls or baggies. BIG hit!

And, the best part of bedroom camping for kids?  Easy clean-up and everyone gets to sleep in their own bed.

I hope you have fun “camping” with your little ones!  Let me know how it goes.

What I Learned During my Marathon Journey


Note from Jen: I asked Christy to write this post because I am number one, in awe of anyone that completes a marathon, and number two, because it might, just might, be on my bucket list. Here is what she had to share about what she learned during her marathon journey…

What I Learned During My Marathon Journey 

by Christy

When I made the commitment to sign up for my first marathon, I decided to “go big, or go home.”  So, I contacted my friends at Team in Training and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and put my name down for the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco.  And I’d love to share with you what I learned during my marathon journey. 

First moment after I signed up – gulp. Panic. Gulp. What did I DO? Then, I started telling everyone. Better to get it out there and start being held accountable.

Do you know the number one statement people said to me during my six-month marathon training?  Not, “I’m proud of you.”  Not, “Wow, that’s amazing!”  Nope.

“You’re crazy.”

Oh, and that was closely followed by, “You know San Francisco is all hills, right?” (Yes I do, thank you so much.)

And you know what?  I was crazy. 26.2 miles crazy.  And I was PROUD of it!!

Just to give you a brief background, I am not a runner. Not really. I’ve always been active (my choice of exercise has always been dancing or kickboxing), and I would only run if I absolutely had to. Like, chasing after my kids in a parking lot.

But in this last 18 months, I have come to love running. Crave running. Because I have never felt healthier, stronger, and more capable than I do when I am on the course.

It started with a half marathon. I could barely clock a mile without heaving out of breath on the side of the road.  So much for being “in shape.”  I actually had someone stop and ask if they could help me or call someone. Sweet, but awkward.

Months, blisters, and looonnnggg miles later, I completed my first half marathon with my Team in Training running family.  Yes, I say family, because that is what they became.

I could barely limp back to the car, and was already planning my next race. With the heavy, solid clinking of my TinkerBell half marathon medal dangling and dancing around my neck, I vowed to register for my next half (that’s the lingo – half, full, or “just” a 10k – I felt very official). These races are addictive.

After I did two half marathons within three months of each other, I thought, “Why not?” Let’s do this. Hence the brave moment when I signed my name on the Nike Marathon commitment form.

Marathon Lessons Learned –

It’s a part-time job.
Yep, this is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You will be running multiple times per week…and your mileage will continue to increase as your training progresses.  Especially on your longer weekend runs. I know it can seem overwhelming…but it is such an incredible process to experience and more than worth the time you put in.  Remember – you are investing in yourself.

It will test you just as much mentally, as it will physically.
Sometimes more. For me, it was all about the little mind tricks I could play while running.  For example, (it may sound silly) playing something as simple as “I Spy” or talking about what happened on your favorite television show with a running buddy, or promising yourself you won’t look at you watch until three songs on your iPad have concluded.  All of these little tricks and games helped me work through the miles.

Or on the really tough miles, really tough courses, or the really tough days I just didn’t want to get out of bed, I would tell myself…”Okay, I just have to make it to that lamp post.  Then I can take a break.”  Or, “I’m just going to do three miles today…even though I’m supposed to do seven.”  I found that most of the time, I got into my groove and completed my mission for that day anyway.

Treat your body like the temple that it is.
As tempting as it is to eat whatever you want, I would caution to maintain a consistent, healthy diet.  So many of my runner friends have different opinions on protein versus carbs versus Paleo, etc.  My advice? Do your research, pick a nutrition plan that works for you and your body, and try to stick with it.  Also, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  When I’m training, I’m a huge advocate of electrolyte water.

Put in your time and put in your training.  There is no faking this.
Your body has to learn handle these miles. The only way to do this is to do the work.  Again, I would suggest doing your research, picking a marathon training plan, and stay consistent.

You will learn your limitations – and learn how to push past them.
So much of what I learned throughout my training was the ability to listen to my body.  I’m absolutely not advocating for pushing yourself to the point of injury.  However, I learned to better handle the typical aches, pains, blisters, muscle spasms, etc. that naturally come with training to run 26.2 miles.  This also meant pushing past my preconceived notions of the “right way” to train for a marathon, accepting my body for what it was, and being able to say “thank you” for each run completed. 

It will hurt…and that’s okay.  Pain is temporary.
I learned to differentiate pain versus injury. Aches versus pulls. And, all of the neat little tricks runners use to survive this process. Body glide for blisters. Athletic tape. Wraps.  Compression socks (Sexy, I know. But A-MAZING after a long run!). Knee bands. Ice baths. “GU” or gummie electrolytes for calories and energy during long miles.  Foam rollers (heavenly!).

You will own this title of “Marathon Finisher” for life.   Be proud!  YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

Marathon Blog_2

Vote for Cowboy Kid!

Vote for Cowboy Kid!

I am posting this because I love to support OC moms, moms with a dream, and well, just moms in general! That being said fellow mamas –  vote for Cowboy Kid!

Who is Cowboy Kid you want to know?  Cowboy Kid is the star of a commercial that made it into the Top 5 Finalists in the Doritos ‘Crash The Superbowl‘ Contest.

Watch COWBOY KID in action here. Isn’t that commercial just too cute?

Amber Gill is a stay-at-home Ladera Ranch mom of two young boys who, along with her husband and group of friends, conceptualized the idea behind the Cowboy Kid commercial.

She got the inspiration for the commercial from watching her boys and the inevitable sibling rivalry that comes with having more than one child!  She thought having brothers as rivals for the Doritos would be a theme everyone could relate to.

They also wanted to create an image that would stick in people’s minds and it was then that the vision of a boy riding a large dog was born.

Taking the advice “don’t work with animals or kids” – and throwing it out the window – they did both and the end result is one that landed them as a top five finalists out of more than 5,500+ submissions.

The winning commercial with the most votes will air on the Super Bowl, win 1 million dollars, and get to work on Avengers 2.  How AWESOME is that?! Wouldn’t you love to help a local Orange County family win this contest? Yes? Then…

Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote for Cowboy Kid!

People are allowed to vote THREE times a day, once per device: computer, tablet and phone.

Click here to watch and vote.

You can also visit and sign up for a daily email reminder. Voting is going on now through January 30th.

Amber shared with me that she spent more than twenty years pursuing a singing and songwriting career. After having her children, she realized her love for writing and producing. Cowboy Kid is her first foray behind the camera.  Her ultimate goal is to have the opportunity to create more family-friendly commercials and one day, a family-friendly movie. Just goes to show you – never stop dreaming! You never know what could be right around the corner.

When I asked her to share advice for fellow moms, she told me,

“Continue dreaming and dreaming new dreams for yourself. If you are creative, put aside time in each week to be creative. When you become a mom, we easily schedule appointments for everyone else, it is up to us to start scheduling appointments for ourselves to devote to our creativity and dreams.”

Vote for COWBOY KID!

Good luck Amber! We at Tiny Oranges are behind you and voting for you!