Sunday, March 17, 2013

Email Organization

Day #7 requests I de-clutter my email.  Mastered this ages ago.  Because I rock.  And I'm married to a software developer.  And I've adopted some of his OCD tendencies.  Also my email is really lame these days... it's not like the Gymboree ads need a response or I have to reply to the mass email from Girl Scouts.  But anyway, things are filtered and logged and read and sorted and deleted and... yeah, you get the picture.

On a totally different note, I'm writing from the bookstore.  This is a rare and kind of fun thing.  No kids.  I escaped for a few hours without the lovely little nose miners.  However, I've noticed I can't turn my ears off.  I listen to EVERYTHING.  Right now I'm completely aware of the three conversations going on around me (darling teenage girl trying to prove that she would make a good Buddhist  a flamboyant chess game, and a debate over the merits of whipped cream on a latte.).  The music is playing.  And the woman in front of me is chewing gum.  Oh, and Mumfort and Sons was just playing, but now it's some disappointing pop nonsense.  I should bring headphones and block the world out...

Following Instructions Isn't My Strong Suit

On Day #6, I was challenged to de-clutter for 15 minutes and take before and after pictures.  Only, as usual, I didn't follow directions beyond "de-clutter" and "pictures".  I chose the room that was giving me the biggest heartache, dragged the fellas with me, and had at it. 

I give you - much to my embarrassment - the before pictures of my 9 year old's room.

Now, I realize it doesn't look terrible.  (Okay, it really does, but I'm talking myself out of deleting this entire post).  Graham was sent upstairs before I snapped these pictures to scoop up all of his dirty laundry and trash.  So these pictures actually look pretty mild compared to the reality that had been his room for several weeks.

So David, Graham, and I set to work.  David and I have very different approaches to chaos.  The first thing I did was gather up all the books I could find and start sorting and organizing the bookshelf.  I make quick decisions and toss anything damaged or useless (completely colored coloring books, for instance.)  I need to finish one thing at a time so I can look back and say, "Progress!  We're making progress!" when I feel frustrated by a project.  David, on the other had, examines each object on the floor, determines its potential usefulness, life expectancy, and coolness factor.  Then, after careful consideration, he moves things into piles.  I think we drive each other crazy.

In the end, though, the rooms looks like it should.  Now I just need to finally buckle down and buy the kid some curtains.  We refinished the room in July.  It's probably about time I do that, eh?

I probably missed the point of the "15 minute de-clutter" assignment, but I'll try that approach again another time.  Right now I'm going to revel in clean.  For a day or two, at least.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Bag o' Stuff

Day #5 requires I donate a bag 'o crap stuff.  Maybe I can tweak that a little and make arrangements to drop off the baby items Connell has outgrown to a friend who is expecting.


Yeah... I'm going back to bed so I don't have to think about that.  I'll attempt to wrap my head around it when the sun comes up.

(....5 hours and no coffee later....)

So that happened.

The builders who threw this house together did a lousy job.  They installed the dining room door wrong, which resulted in a leak.  The leak resulted in the floor being buggered all to hell rotting away.  Then someone tried to fix it with drywall screws, rendering the door only slightly more useful than a sieve.

Our little "let's get a new kitchen floor plan" turned into "let's take out a wall AND do the kitchen floor" turned into "let's replace the sliding glass door AND take out a wall AND replace the kitchen floor."  

We'll live.  In the meantime, I found a very cool store down the road called Refindings .  I LOVE it and will probably visit at least once a month just to wander and enjoy.  I also saw these two nifty things:

Message board made from an old window frame with the glass removed ($25)

Puppet theater made from an old door and 4 wooden L brackets.  ($135)

I don't know that I'll ever make the puppet theater.  It's slightly more involved than I'm probably capable of and I don't know if I really have room for it.  The message board, however... that I can handle!  I would go with classic black and I might use an 8 panel window and add 2 cork boards to it.  Definitely something to think about!  We're going to a country auction tomorrow, so I'll keep an eye out for a window.  Or maybe I'll just go shopping in my brother or father's barn.  We shall see.

In the meantime, I have a bag of crap stuff to gather up.  Right after sleeping beauty here wakes up....

Monday, March 11, 2013

Delegate Schmelagate

Day #4.  Delegate chores.  I do that fairly well already.  The "bigs" do a reasonably good job with laundry, dishes, and other assorted chores.  In fact, I have a handy dandy "how to tidy our house" list on our fridge which, when I make enough noise, they occasionally use.  So good.  Maybe I'm okay with this Minimalist Parenting thing... we shall see.

In other news, this is happening:

We've decided to bite the bullet and remove the wall between the kitchen and dining room.  We've wanted to do it for 10 years and now that there are 6 of us trying to fit into the dining room, it's become apparent that we really just needed to suck it up and make it happen.  Of course, we hadn't planned on 4 hours of an electrician's time to make sense of the wack-a-doo wiring the original builders threw in.  The house is currently a dusty mess, but it already feels like a bigger, more practical space.

And in completely different news, Jill is joining the lighting department of the local theater for their production of Beauty in the Beast in May.  She's over the moon.  She's also starting SAT prep in a few weeks.  Katie will be joining the props department AND playing volleyball.  Soccer starts for Graham in a few weeks and wrapping up a very busy Cub Scout year.  So here comes spring!  Bring it!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

For the Record

I cleaned my room.  Sort of.  Okay, so I cleaned HALF of my room.  But in my defense, it's my half and I can't touch David's half without toppling over his very strategically pile mountain of clothes.  So ha!  I did it.  I am the Master of Minimalist Parenting!  (Not really.  But it's a nice idea.)

Today's project is to take something off my list that I don't want to do and to make sure I do something that I really want to do.  Okay.  Here's today's list from Wunderlist:

Never mind.  I can't cut and paste it and I am NOT retyping the 17 things that are on it.  Let's just go with this:  Not only is there nothing I can take off the list, there is nothing FUN on the list to begin with!

I have to make better lists.  So maybe that's what I'm going to make Day 2.5:  Make better lists!  And as soon as I tackle at least half of the 17 things listed, I'll get right on that.

In the meantime, I found a picture of something that tops my "fun" category.  This is my very brave 15 year old tackling the zip line at a local ski resort last summer.  My definition of "fun" involves watching my kids smile until their cheeks hurt.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Hardest Thing First

Currently working my way through the MinCamp at

Clearly I'm not doing so well with the whole "stick to doing this every day" routine.  But I have a baby and that's my excuse.  Day #2 instructed me to "Do the hardest thing first".  At first I wasn't sure if they meant the hardest thing on my personal "to do" list or the hardest thing on the "more/less" list.  I'm still not sure, but we're going to go with my "to do" list.

I use Wunderlist to help me stay slightly more organized.  David and I share certain lists.  My personal favorite is the "Honey Do" list because it allows me to add stuff to it without feeling like a massive nag.  Anyway, a quick assessment of my own list revealed that even though I cleverly titled my to-do list "Today", there are several things that keep rolling over day after day.

Like cleaning my room.

Because who the hell wants to clean their room?  (Don't tell my kids I said that.)

So I'm going to make a new list called "Crap I should do because I'm a real grown up but don't want to do and don't have to do because I am a real grown up."  Maybe I'll just shorted it to "Crap".

Seriously, though.  I should clean my room.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Making My List...

The other day I stumbled on a website called Minimalist Parenting.  The the sheer idea of minimizing anything in my life seemed appealing, so I read on.  I've been trying to cut back on the number of obligations and chaos in our lives so I can focus on being more present, for a lack of less new-agey phrase.  

It turns out I was just in time for their Min-Camp.  Described on their site as:

In Minimalist Parenting, we share our prescription for enjoying family life more by doing less. But where to begin? That’s where MinCamp comes in.
Through a series of 14 daily tasks, you’ll make real progress in the areas many of us find challenging: managing your time, handling clutter (in your home, schedule, and mind), simplifying mealtime, and making room for self-care. Starting the day after you sign up, we’ll email you one MinCamp task per day. We’ve crafted each task to make an immediate impact on your life while being doable. At the end of MinCamp, you’ll be on your way to less clutter and more joy!
- See more at:

My first assignment was to make two lists - one of what I want more of and one of what I want less of in our lives.  Okay.  I'll play along.  Here we go:

  • church
  • together
  • family time without fighting
  • time spent as a couple
  • healthy meals
  • time outdoors
  • laughter
  • enjoying the kids for who they are, not who we’re hoping they’ll become
  • hugs
  • common goals
  • memory making moments (trips, game nights)
  • silly pictures

  • on the calendar
  • stress
  • chaos
  • mess
  • unnecessary personal sacrifice (let's just buy a new car and stop driving the 11 year old clunker)
  • arguing
  • sighing
  • worrying about the unhealthy choices of others we can’t control
  • time spent with negative people
  • Hurrying
So there it is. I've earned my badge for day one. And now we're off to deal with the County Science Fair (hooray for Katie!), an indoor soccer game (Go Graham!), and the second night of the high school musical (bravo, Jillian!). Oh, and the exhausting job of constant cuteness (Rock on, Connell!)

How do I minimize any of that?