Crash Zone and Cabinets

Today I started serious reorganization of my house.  I started with the first place that I see when I come in my house – the “butler’s pantry”.  It is a fancy name for a group of cabinets and a counter that sit off to the side of the kitchen.

Since we moved into the house I have wanted to use it as a “landing pad” – a place where I can organize what comes into my house and a place to gather things that I need as I leave.

crash landing - Bruchlandung

Image by Maggi_94 via Flickr

Instead of a nice, happy place, it has morphed into the crash pad.  EVERYTHING lands there and subsequently never moves and sometimes is never seen again! Well, today I figuratively gutted the entire area.  I pulled out everything from the top cabinets.  I found candy up there that we had hidden from the girls – years ago.  I found light bulbs that were older than the house – I have no idea how they ended up in there.  I found a candle holder for which I had been looking for almost 2 years.  There were sticker books and activity books and coloring books the girls have long since outgrown, but for some reason we never got down for them.  I am not sure why we never gave them out – so much lost fun and opportunity to create!  It just never happened!  Then I cleared out the 4 drawers.  I found books for cell phones that I don’t even remember owning.  I found cords for cell phones that have long since gone to cellular heaven.  There were place mats that were purchased in China when we adopted our oldest that were still in the plastic covering.  There was all of our house information that I thought was deep in DH’s office.  Well, I made good on that one – they now are deep in there and out of the drawers.  Now each of us has a drawer.  If I find something laying around that is out of place, it is going to go in the drawer.  If the drawer is not cleaned out by Sunday night – everything is going into the trash.   Then I moved to the bottom cabinets.  I am really, really embarrassed by that one.  Let me preface with the statement that I was PartyLite consultant in a previous life – long before children.  Please remember that I have boxes that I have never unpacked because they were filled with breakable items that were not appropriate to put out with young children in the house.

Let’s just say that I have enough candles to light the house if we have a power outage of say – 3 weeks!  It is insane the amount of candles that I have.  Now that the girls are older I can pull them out and start enjoying them.  Hopefully I will use up that stash before they graduate from High School.  And please, if I ever say I am getting ready to buy more candles – please, please, please remind me to look under my phone cabinet!  After I pulled all the candles out of there – including some glassware candle holders that I will never use and will now be blessing someone else with in the near future – I put all the games that the girls have in there.  They can now see all the games they own.  We may actually be able to institute family game night again!  That left me with another empty cabinet where I was able to put the candles and and store my coupon exchange boxes.  I then moved over to another upper cabinet and got it about 75% cleaned out.  I am hoping to finish that this evening, as well as finding homes for all the items that I wanted to keep, but did not belong on the crash zone    er, the landing zone.  I got this done in about 4 hours.  I am pooped!  I am also ready to eat some lunch.

My goal for the next few days is…

~to clear out the rest of the 25% of the one cabinet,

~ totally reorganize the adjacent upper cabinet,

~clean off the counter under those 2 cabinets (commonly called the phone counter), and then

~pull out and organize the items that are on 1/2 of the bottom cabinet since the other half is neatly organized with my candles and coupons.

I can’t wait to see what DH and the girls say about the new areas.   Oh – the best part – I filled up 1/3 of a bin with items to donate, a box of things to save for wedding gifts/Christmas gifts, and 2 huge garbage bags of trash.

I am not sure why it was easier today to get rid of stuff, to determine what is important and what is not.  But it was.  I was able to see a bigger picture of what I wanted to hold dear in my life and let go of things that are really not that important.    I could visualize how I wanted my house to function.  Maybe it is just time for me to let go of things from the past, which were symbolized by many items that I released today.  It was like closing the cover of a book, knowing that the story is going to be continued in the next book waiting on your bedside table.  The story is not over, it is just progressing, as it should.  So will my life, if I relax and just let the chapters present themselves and if I am willing to let my myself immerse myself in the story of the here and now and not hang on to the past or worry about the future.

Wacky Wednesday

I have several websites that I find fun to read as well as very informative.  One of those is Simple Mom.  I have found many of the articles may be aimed at one particular audience, yet I find them applicable to my life!  One article that I found very enlightening is…..now, before I tell you the name of this article, let me remind you that I am the mom of a 7 year old and a 9 year old.  I am a middle aged woman who is trying to gain control of my life.  Yet I find this article very appropriate for me and my family.  At the same time, I would recommend it for parents of new borns, parents of newly adopted children, or children who have taken on the care of elderly parents.  The article I am referencing is Seasons in Parenting: The Newborn Baby Months.

Tabitha addresses 5 topics.  Obviously her advice is aimed at new parents.  But as I read it, I saw some similarities to my own life.  I am not dealing with a new member in my family, but I am trying to rearrange routines and redefine our activities to reflect and deepen our values.  The words in bold type are quotes from Tabitha.

1. Try Not to Panic

As new parents, or anyone facing a change in their lives, we plan and we set certain expectations for ourselves and those around us.  She is suggesting that we let go of those expectations.  Things are going to unfold at their own pace and in their own way.  In my case, I need to not panic that yesterday my girls spent a huge amount of time in front of the TV during the day.  I could have spent the whole day railing at myself that I was letting my whole plan fall apart.  Instead I took her advice and did not panic – I sat down with my girls and learned about what they enjoyed watching, discussing the characters and the situations of the shows.  We giggled together, we snuggled under blankets, and we just enjoyed being together.

2. Forget Previous Expectations

Tabitha reminded me that the panic of she spoke of above is the result of having unrealistic expectations.  We have to let go of those expectations – it does not matter if we made them up in our own heads or if we are basing them on previous experience – expectations rarely reflect reality.  The only thing we need to do is love and try.  That is what my whole redo of how my family spends time is – my effort to show my love by giving my girls life experiences that reflect the values that Bear and I want them to be shown. 

 

3. Give Yourself Time

My goal is to have my family doing more physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy activities.   My impetus for those changes is that I have been seeing things in my girls and in their activities that are not what I want for them.  As a result I want to make those changes immediately.  But immediately is is not realistic.  It is not going to result in lasting change.  Within those changes I also have to change myself.  I need to carve out time to determine and implement ways to create healthy changes for me.  I need to be the one to set a good example for the rest of my family.  So I need to give all of us time to change.  Habits are created over time.  So I have to guide instead of control and allow good habits to form.

4. Ask for Help

This was so important that she said it with emphasis…Ask. For. Help.  This is super important.  I have enlisted the help of several friends to keep me on track.  One person helps keep me on track with my physical goal.  Another friend keeps track of my overall plan and helps me keep it in perspective.  I have many friends praying for me.  Then there is the help of my husband – without his support I could never do any of this.  There are friends from church who help me find appropriate activities for my girls.  There are my on-line friends who make fantastic suggestions that I have not even thought of!

5. Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself

Take it easy.  You’re not alone and people do understand, so try to go easy on yourself. Just know that being a parent is worth everything you can give, and so much more.  As I said before, the items in bold are direct quotes from Tabitha’s article.  This is something that I really need to pay attention to and insert into my plan.  When I get ready to start a project, in this case the lifestyle change for myself and my family, I go at it with everything in me.  Unfortunately, when all does not go my way, or when I mess up, I throw my hands up and say that I am CAN’T do what I set out to do.  I need to continually remind myself that this is a process, not a race.  Processes require constant evaluation, constant revision. 

 

So here is my Wacky Wednesday post – taking an article about adjusting to a new born baby and making it about life in general.  Yep, I guess that is pretty wacky.  But if it works, I will proudly be wacky!

Trashing the TV

Turn it off

Image by nitrodog via Flickr

Yesterday I talked about some of the concepts/lifestyles that I would like to take from The Waltons and put into my own life.  One thing that I listed was getting rid of nightly TV routine.  I would like to have some traditions to replace the TV.  Here are some things that I have been thinking about introducing or doing more routinely.

~Reading a book out loud.

~Putting together a puzzle as a family

~Reading the Bible

~Playing Wii together as a family

~Praying the rosary

~Playing board games/cards

~Listening to books on CD

~Going for a walk

~Sitting on the porch and identifying sounds in the dark

Does anyone have any other suggestions?  Any suggestions for games that would interest the whole family, including adults?

Priorities

The Waltons

Image via Wikipedia

During this time I have been recuperating from surgery, I have taken some time to look at things in my life, as I alluded to in my post yesterday.   Much of my time was spent in front of the TV, as my surgery took my right arm and hand out of commission. 

I am a serious sucker for TV shows that were popular when I was growing up.  In particular, shows that portray life as I would like it to be.  One show that I never grow tired of watching is “The Waltons”.   There are so many things about that family that I would like to include in my own family. 

First, let’s start with the things that I would like to include but will probably never happen.  The chances of me living on a mountain, surrounded by family and friends is probably not going to happen.  I would be content with about 7-10 acres that contain a small woods, a stream, a large yard where I can plant a garden, and farmhouse similar to the one the Waltons lived in, but with a few more modern amenities – a couple more bathrooms,  and a gas range/oven.  Being a SAHM to a large family with a husband that worked from home is probably not in the cards either, but I can still dream. 

Now for the things that I can incorporate into my family.  Slowing down.  Being involved in every activity at school and church is not something that our family must do.  Family dinners.  There is absolutely no reason that my family cannot sit down to dinner at the table, say grace and share our day with each other at least 5 times a week.  Turning off the TV.  A lot of people will say that watching TV is the modern version of listening to the radio.  I sincerely disagree.  The TV is something that seems to suck my children into it.  There are many other activities that we can be doing – listening to music, listening to books on CD, reading books out-loud to each other, playing games with each other.  All of those activities encourage interaction with each other.  Choosing activities that support our Christian beliefs.  There are a lot of worthwhile activities that my children can get involved in through school.  But there is an edge to all of them – fund-raising, competition, and interacting with lots of children who don’t share our value of respect.  I am not saying that I want to totally shelter my children from these things, but I think elementary school is a bit too young for it to infiltrate every part of their lives.  Talking to my children.  I know this may sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of the day, bouncing from activity to activity, getting homework done, getting chores done, I realize that I have not really talked to my girls.  I am missing golden opportunities to get to know them, to help guide them to follow Christ, to become compassionate, respectful adults. 

So, things in my house need to change.  No they are going to change.  Step by step I am going to reclaim my family.  I am going to take a step back in time and enjoy the simple things.  It is not going to be easy.  It is not going to be without some withdrawal pains.  But I think my family will be the richer for it.

The arm still works

Hi everyone -
I hope I have not lost all 4 of my readers! Sorry I disappeared for such a long time. I had surgery on my shoulder for a rotator cuff tear. I had no idea who limited I would be for such a long time. Life is slowly starting to return to normal, so I can now start to repost, though I won’t be posting daily quite yet. I spent a lot of time thinking about my life and my family during my forced down time. I also found out a lot about who really lives what they preach. Those are going to be the topics that I write about over the next few days. I hope you don’t mind my deviation from my “normal” routine. In fact, I hope you all are still there!

Thoughtful Thursday – Your Tongue

My mom quit working when I was born.  One reason was because she and my father decided having her at home with me was something they were willing to sacrifice her income to achieve.  Another reason was because my dad was a street cop at the time, which required him to change shifts every few weeks – 3 weeks on days, 3 weeks on evenings, 3 weeks on nights.   My mother was very, very good at protecting our family time.  While I remember having to be quiet during the weeks that dad worked nights, I rarely remember feeling like my dad’s schedule interfered in our time as a family.  I am sure that took a lot of work by both of them.   I know that they both sacrificed a lot to ensure that I was able to benefit from their undivided attention. 

My question is how were they able to do that?  I look at my life, at that of my girls, and my husband.  Financially, there is no way to have me stay at home, given the fact that I carry the benefits for the family.  But how can I ensure that the girls benefit from undivided attention, that they don’t feel lost in the business of daily life? 

I am trying to adjust my schedule to be available for them.

I make sure that either I or Hubby is available to be at their activities (such as Girl Scouts, Tae Kwon Do, VBS, etc).

I demand an evening a week where we have either a family game night or family movie night. 

I attempt to cook meals and insist that we sit down as a family for dinner a minimum of 4 nights a week. 

But one thing that gets lost in there is time for me and time for my marriage.  How do I meet everyone’s needs?

One way is to follow my dad’s advice -

Put the tip of my tongue on the roof of my mouth and say “NO”

But that is often easier said than done. 

There are so many expectations….

I found this article very helpful.  She discusses not only what saying no means, but also what saying yes means as well. 

At this, the beginning of the new year and filling in of new calendars, I am going to commit to looking at not only what I say yes to, but also what I will be saying no to in that yes.  I commit to being much more intentional in my schedule. 

How about you? Are you going to place your tongue at the roof of your mouth and say NO?

Trashy Tuesday

OK – I am going to get really trashy.

Old trash can

Image via Wikipedia

I have been getting up and doing my morning routine (up, shower, hair, sometimes makeup, breakfast and medication) long enough that it can be considered a habit. I tried to add exercise in there, but that just did not work. While I know I need to do that, I am not going to stress about it. I am making a conscious effort to not sit all day, but to get up often and get a glass of water or change the laundry, etc. So while it is not 30 minutes of increased heart rate, it is movement.

Instead, I am going to set a new habit routine.

I am going to dispose of something that is sitting around my house every day. This does not include disposing of the junk mail each day. This means looking around and seeing what I do and do not use, determining what I can live without and getting it out of my house. Does anyone want to join me? I would love to hear what people are getting rid of and how they are getting rid of it – trash, donate, recycle, freecycle, reuse, repurpose, Craigslist, garage sale?

By this time next year I figure I will have a house  purged of a huge amount of junk, an oldest daughter who does not feel like she is living her nightmare in the house, a younger daughter who will have learned how to not be a hoarder, a husband that will lift my yarn buying ban, fewer allergies from all the dust that is collecting around the house, and a routine for keeping my house neat!

So, for those who want to join me, here are the “rules”:

Typical advertising mail

Image via Wikipedia

If paper comes into the house, it must be dealt with as soon as it enters the doorsort, act on it, or throw it away.

Constitution-Java battle plan

Image via Wikipedia

Create a loose plan of attack – (especially if your house is a bad as mine is right now) – I am choosing a couple of counters in my “Butler’s pantry” and kitchen that seem to collect junk. I want to get those cleaned off so that I can create a “landing pad” and “control station” for my family. As those get cleaned off, I will head to other parts of the downstairs, then move upstairs. I also intend to throw one thing away in my office until all those boxes and stacks on the credenza and in the corners are gone.

Assymetric in/out boxes

Install the One in/One out rule – This means that if anyone in the family gets a gift, they must get rid of something else.  That also means they need to immediately find a home for the new item.  It can’t just lay around the house.  This is very important since Christmas is coming up!

TraderStar's screenshots - Feedback

Image via Wikipedia

 

Come back each Tuesday (or more often if you like!) and let me know how you are doing – I am one of those people who need be held accountable for what I am going to do.  So I promise to be your accountability partner if you want one.

 

Today I am going to clean out my “purse basket” on the butler’s pantry counter.  This is a basket where I normally keep my purse and keys.  It is so full of other stuff that I can’t fit my purse in there anymore, and my keys become lost.

So awaaaaaaaaaay we go!