Category Archives: Housekeeping

Introducing: The Lost and Found

My son was driving me absolutely bonkers today. For the third summer in a row, I’ve enfoced the “No Screen Time Until…” rule. It’s a set of tasks that must be completed each day prior to getting any screen time (tv, tablet, etc.). This year I’ve been getting a lot of grumbling and whining about the whole thing, and this morning I had decided on-the-fly to make a rule (something I tend to do and then later regret) that the kids must always put their things away when they are not in use. For example, don’t leave your laptop on the couch when you’re off doing something else. If they were to leave said item in it’s inappropriate spot, unattended, for more than five minutes, then I would dispose of it.

Yes, in the trash it would go. Harsh, I know, but I was feeling kind of desperate.

So, my son left his laptop on the couch this morning and I graciously gave him a five minute warning. When two minutes went by and nothing and nobody had moved, I let him know that he had three minutes left to clear the item. I did not realize at this time that he was in the bathroom. But he did hear my warning, and when he came out, he immediately started arguing that the “timer” should stop if and when he had to use the restroom. Knowing he loves to argue – usually only for the sake of arguing – I was hearing none of this. Yet he continued to argue his case for extra time. Which is downright laughable, because with all the time he wasted arguing, he could have put the computer away and then gone and made himself a double decker sandwich.

Pretty shortly after all this happened, I received a call from one of my best friends. The great thing about best friends is that when they ask you how you are doing, you can tell them. So I told her how frustrated I was, and she empathized. She has two boys, one who is a couple years older than mine, so she totally understands this age and behavior. She had a really great suggestion for motivating the kids to pick up after themselves, one that is far less drastic, and probably more effective at teaching them responsibility. A win-win, right? Her idea was to have a box dedicated to those toys you find lying around. When you find them lying around, you put them in the box. Then, if and when they want their toy back, they have to do a chore to earn it.

I love, love, loved this idea and implemented it right away. Now it’s evening, it’s only been a half a day, but already I’m noticing a change in my son’s behavior. We came home from his baseball game and I noticed he left his cleats in the middle of the kitchen floor. I was tempted to put them straight into the lost and found box, but decided since this is still a new concept, I would give him a little warning. I simply told him I had noticed his cleats on the kitchen floor, and without a word he got right out of his seat and put them away!! I didn’t even have to tell him to, or remind him of the rule, he remembered all on his own! He understood that it would be a lot easier to just get up and put them away NOW, than it would be to have to do a chore later to get them back. Which is totally what I am trying to get through these children’s heads!

Putting things away, right away, makes your life so much easier in the long run. This is a habit I’ve developed for myself over the years, and I would be overjoyed if my kids grew up cultivating this same habit. Their future roommates and spouses will thank me, am I right?

Oh, the days

There are some days that I feel the need to  emotionally crawl back into my safe little cave. I kind of know why this happens ever so often, and I know it always passes eventually, so I’m not worried about it. I am thankful on days like these that I’m not responsible for anything urgent or super-important. Not exactly. My responsibilities involve feeding the people and keeping things clean-ish and supplies stocked. I generally give those responsibilities my 100% effort, but I’m sure we would all survive even if I gave half that.  So on days like these when I can only muster 70%, we’re doing just fine. I’m not sure anyone will even notice. In fact, when it means processed, frozen burritos for dinner instead of my homemade beef stew, the kids are actually thankful for my slacker status. They love those burritos.

My 5k race is coming up in three whole days! I don’t think I’m nervous. It’s my first race ever, so I don’t have many expectations. If I finish on my feet I’ll be happy. I heard a song awhile back come up on my Pandora station and while it’s not the best tempo for running, the lyrics gave me some motivation. Don’t judge; it was a song by Eminem. I’m trying to hit “like” on songs that sound good to my new ears, and my musical tastes have changed quite drastically. Everything just sounds so different to me now. So I guess New Mindy enjoys some Eminem and can tolerate the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Anyhoo, the song that caught my ears is called “Till I Collapse”, and after reading the lyrics online, I can honestly apply a lot of the sentiment to my philosophy on this running thing. Of course Mr. Mathers was surely rapping about something else entirely, but the nice thing about music is you can make it what you want. What it means to you is just that – what it means to you. Here is the chorus to the song:

“‘Cause sometimes you just feel tired, you feel weak
And when you feel weak you feel like you want to just give up
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that **** out of you and get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you want to just fall flat on your face and collapse”

What’s kind of funny to me is that the fear that kept me from running at first was the fear of falling flat on my face. And if I do, I do. Whatever. In the song he talks about inner strength, but my strength does not come from within. My strength comes from God. He gives me the strength I need, when I need it. So when I feel like quitting, that is where I turn.  I will look to my Savior to keep me going. He has never failed me, never left my side, and together we will run this race!

Permission to purge

“To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Kondo, Marie

I am loving loving loving this book and what it is teaching me. I am gaining some really fresh insight about what things to keep, what to discard, and why. I have done a great deal of de-cluttering around the house that turned out making our move to this new home much easier. I started the purging process long before we even knew we would be moving, but I’m so glad I did. The packing and unpacking would have been a major cluster****. However, I am still frustrated on a fairly regular basis as I come across things that lack a home and/or take up space. But this woman who has mastered the art I strive for has given a beautiful explanation for my frustration. Why am I so irritated? Because these things don’t bring me joy. They have served their purpose and it’s okay to let them go.

It’s okay! Goodbye to the labelmaker that no longer connects to my computer. I made plenty of labels with it. I can say goodbye to that tailored green jacket. I wore it when it fit post-pregnancy and I don’t plan to be that heavy again. I can even say goodbye to the clown afghan my grandmother crocheted for me when I was a little girl. I enjoyed it, loved it nearly to pieces, but it’s time to let it go. The memories will remain. Ah, this is such a freeing feeling for me. I can discard things and forget about feeling guilty. I can’t wait to get to it.

But for now, I’m honestly still recovering from having the kids home for Christmas break, so I’m tired. And it’s flipping cold, so that doesn’t help. My legs are not cooperating, because the extreme temperatures and MS do not get along. So well just have to table this discussion for later. Such is my life, and we keep moving on. Walk on, my friends, walk on.

Type A Confessions

I’ve kind of been on a mission to de-clutter my home, one tiny area at a time. I’ve written about involving the kids recently, but it’s been going on for much longer than that. And now that we are buying a house, it’s time to kick it up a notch.

As a woman with a type-A personality, my problem is not so much with figuring out where to start as it is with learning where and when to END. Because once I get started, I get so thrilled with the progress I’m making and I fear that if I stop when the timer goes off, that I’ll never get the motivation or time to start again. Have I mentioned I’m home all summer with two young children and a dog? The dog is the least of my worries, actually. She doesn’t interrupt me every 3 minutes to ask a question. Or tell me something, or show me something she made. Yes, I love my kids, and I know one day I’ll look back fondly at these pestering moments. I’m just saying they infringe on my inner need to GET THINGS DONE.

So I’m looking for balance. For a realistic plan to accomplish my de-cluttering goals. How can I be sure I’m doing the best I can, with what I’ve got, to get this place ready to pack up and move? I’ve started by listing the areas that need attention, and I think I’m just going to make it a daily ritual. Each day I’ll just work on the area I feel most like doing that day. Which totally goes against my planner mentality, but attempting to plan it all down to the last detail just seems too overwhelming. And unrealistic, as I need to be flexible enough to work around whatever is going on that day here at the house. Will the kids be at Grandpa’s today, playing outside, or playing video games? What kind of moods will they be in? Are they cranky & defiant or are they cooperative and willing to play together without screaming bloody murder every 30 seconds? Because some days they require closer supervision, and that affects the type of work I can get done that day.

I’m guessing if you are still reading, either you share in this type-A personality or you have run out of good reading material. Either way, I thank you 🙂 I think I’m done with this subject for now. Oh, wait, no. I just had an idea; let me know what you think of this… what if every day I blogged (briefly, I promise) about what I have de-cluttered that day. Some days I could even make it interesting. It would be a sort of accountability to keep motivated, and if I come across some interesting junk, it might be fun to write about it before I ditch it. In a way it may be easier to let go of certain things, because if some things had a story, I could post a picture, write the story, and be able to preserve the memory. Because you know that’s why we hoarders like to keep things – it’s the memory attached to the thing – and it’s often super hard to let go. Yes, that’s what I will do. This will be my pre-moving project, to rid our lives of unnecessary clutter, and to share it here on the blog. Who’s with me?!?

Conquering the hoarding addiction?

Oh boy. We’ve been having a fun summer break so far, but it hasn’t been all play. I’m enforcing the “No Screentime Until” rules, most days, and it’s working fairly well. Luke has embraced it, because he is my child, and loves following a list. Natalie, on the other hand, moans and groans at it. Every. Single. Time. But I do realize she is only 5 years old, so I have lower expectations for her. The success with Luke more than makes up for it.

Here’s the thing… I am a recovering hoarder and I’m fairly certain that the tendency for hoarding is genetic. I have unfortunately passed this on to my children, and I am on a mission to reverse the effects and teach my kids early on to overcome it. So far this summer we’ve accomplished some MAJOR de-cluttering in this house. It’s been primarily in the kids’ rooms, but I’ve done my share in other areas too.

Last week we took everything out of Luke’s room and dumped it all on the living room rug. Then we cleaned his room and rearranged some furniture (at his request). Then Luke went through everything that was out in the living room, deciding what he wanted to keep and what he wanted to get rid of, keeping in mind that he could only keep what would fit comfortably back in his room. This was a huge job, folks, but he loved seeing the transformation in his room. And now he has easy access to the toys he uses most, and it’s so much easier for him to keep his room clean. He recognizes this new reality very clearly, which I think at age 8 is no small miracle.

The process worked so well for Luke,  a couple days later I tried it with Natalie. Did I mention she’s 5? Yeah, it didn’t go nearly as well with her, because as soon as she spotted a toy she hadn’t seen in awhile, she immediately wanted to play with it. So while she played, I sorted through her things, trashing obvious junk and sorting the rest into categories. She does well with categories, and does a decent job of keeping similar things together. I still have a few tubs/baskets of Natalie’s things to sort and organize, but we will get to it. Eventually. I’m just happy right now to be able to walk through her room to kiss her goodnight.

When all was said and done, we were able to donate a trunk full of toys to the kids’ pre-school, and several bags of clothing and assorted toys to the local recycling service (to be re-used). I am so proud of both of the kids, but especially Luke. He and I are so similar in so many ways, so I understand his struggles with keeping his room neat and parting with cherished items. I still remember my bedroom from high school days – it was a disaster – and I do not want him growing up with the same terrible habits.

I am 37 and have yet to really conquer my hoarding habits. I have come a long way, yes, but I still feel like I’m managing. They say an addict is always an addict, even if they’ve managed to stay clean (figuratively AND literally, in this case). The temptation and draw is always there. But these kids, they are still young, and they are still forming habits. Now is the time to instill the good habits, so that they grow up to be adults who will naturally pick up after themselves and say no to buying things they don’t need or have space for. Sound too neurotic? Maybe. But this is important, people! I am doing this for their future roommates and spouses! Someday, someone will thank me!!

Bilaterally bionic and neurotic

Yesterday was an exciting day. Yesterday I had my 2nd CI (left ear) activated! I admit the event lacked the luster the 1st one did, but that’s to be expected. The first one took me from deaf to hearing, this second one will take me from “okay” hearing to “better” hearing. I am still forever grateful, but I think the highs of being bilateral will come in bits and pieces as time goes on, as I recognize the little things I may have forgotten I was missing. On the way home from the activation, I noticed I could hear the blinker on the truck, something I hadn’t heard in quite a while, because it’s on my left. See? It’s the little things.

I went to bed around 9:00 last night. I don’t normally go to bed that early, but I was feeling pretty crappy. I had been coughing most of the day, so I had stayed away from caffeine. Good for the cough, but resulted in a major headache. That coupled with some stomach issues and the excitement of the day left me quite a mess. However, the sleep must have served me well, because I was pretty wide awake at 6 this morning, and feeling much better. Even wide awake, my body doesn’t move so well, but I was up by 6:30. I put both my ears on (!!) and moseyed on out to the living room. Luke (my early riser) was on the couch, watching tv. We chatted for a bit, then I came into the kitchen to make breakfast. And of course, instead I am writing.

It’s day 3 of summer break for me and the kids. This means less work for the kids, but more work for me. No more lazy days, no more morning naps, and no more spotless floors. I like keeping the house clean, but I realize that’s going to become more difficult with the kids home. One of my hopes as a parent is to teach my children how to clean up after themselves, but that’s not a quick process, right? I think repetition and years of patience are the keys here. Those and being a good example, of course. But this summer, I don’t really have the energy for keeping up with my own high expectations. And this is how I plan to deal with that ugly fact: I’m just going to pretend like we’re camping! Every time I step on a wad of dirt or pile of crumbs and that frustration rises within my belly, I’ll just pretend like it’s totally normal to have dirty feet. Dirt in the entryway? Crumbs in front of the couch? It’s okay! We’re camping!! I just won’t tell the kids, because then they’ll want to pitch a tent in the living room, and that would just be going too far.

Have I become that neurotic? Sadly, I’m afraid I have.

Field trips, coffee, surgery…

Well, I never did blog about those cookies, did I? Maybe next time. I have a lot on my mind this week.

I accompanied my son and his class on a field trip to an indoor aquarium. We rode a charter bus, and Luke discovered that the on-board restroom is not as glamorous as it sounds. The aquarium was located in a large shopping mall, and since our bus let us off at the wrong entrance, we were able to scurry past all the wonderful-looking shops on our way. Luke seemed to enjoy the aquarium. There were a lot of neat things to see – jellyfish, stingrays, turtles, etc – and Luke enjoyed it all, but he made a point to tell me that his favorite part of the day was spending it with me. My favorite was hanging out with him too, and that just melts my heart to hear it from him. Oh, but my second favorite part was finding a Tim Horton’s right there inside the mall! I had not had time to make coffee that morning, so that was the icing on the cake for me 🙂

That was Monday, and I can’t remember what’s happened since. Mostly soccer games, doing laundry, walking to the bus stop, and a little eating and sleeping in between. I’ve been feeling like I have to stay “caught up” because I’m going to be out of commission for a bit. Why, you ask? Because tomorrow I am having surgery to get my 2nd cochlear implant installed, that’s why! And this time I’m pretty sure it’s for real. The UTI that prevented me from having surgery last month is gone, and I had the lab test done last week to be sure. So today is a day of making sure the floors are clean and the laundry is caught up and then I’ll be packing for tomorrow.

Wish me luck, pray for me, send soft cookies, whatever! I’ll be back in due time.

The Calm

I forget, is it the calm before the storm, or after? Or is it both? I think I’m in the middle. It’s Friday, and I do have shtuff to do, but I’m utterly spent. Natalie is in her pajamas, watching SpongeBob, Luke is at a friend’s house for the day, Piper is napping on the rug, and I am showered and shipping coffee. And blogging of course. Floors need sweeping, but they will just have to wait. Momma is resting her weary bones. Happy Friday to you all 🙂

My Comfy Writing Spot

Not sure what to write about, but I’m in my little comfy spot in the kitchen. In the corner next to the window, surrounded by shelves and with Piper puppy sleeping peacefully in her crate at my feet. And hot coffee at the ready, of course.

The exciting point of my day may be when the mail is delivered, but probably not. I already received what I was waiting for, which is the Spec-Tran approval I blogged about last night.

When I’m bored like this it’s nice to goof around on Facebook. A friend announced she found the best granola, so of course that sparked a lengthy comment thread. The food posts always do.

This has been a wonderfully uneventful week so far, which I much appreciate after last week. Last week was brutal. All the sickness and the cold. Kids home for the better part of the week, which I should love, but.. I was (am) feeling pretty fatigued. And throw a four-month old puppy into the mix? Just a little more than I can handle. And now hubby sounds like he is developing what we all had. That was inevitable, I suppose.

So when life has slowed down what do I do? I nap, first and foremost, but then when I feel mostly rested I clean. Dishes, laundry, floors, etc. It’s all never-ending. Meaning you are never “done” with laundry or dishes or cleaning floors. These are things that are constantly in progress.  Once I realized that fully, I stopped putting them on my to-do-list. It seemed silly to keep crossing them off only to put them back on again. So now my to-do list consists of more irregular things like paying bills and clipping my toenails.

I would really like to get back to writing that book. The process (which honestly hadn’t really begun) got halted when we all fell ill. And now I need to get back at it. To be honest, I feel extremely inadequate at this whole book-writing-thing. Am I even doing it right? I’m just writing, hoping it turns into something I can have published so that people can read it. But publishing, well that’s a road I have not traveled and have no clue how to find. Yet. Let’s write the book first. And this corner spot in my kitchen is the perfect place for it.  As long as Piper complies, I could make this a daily ritual. Sitting here, sipping my coffee, tapping away at the keys. That sounds like a Happy Place if you ask me.

Now, enough rambling for me. I will let you go. I have words to write!

Forced relaxation

I know, that’s sort of an oxymoron. Let me explain.

Within the past year of changes and adjustments, you could say I had grown a bit obsessive, perhaps even compulsive, about keeping our house clean and clutter-free. Which is nice, but is not without some underlying stress. Because when that order is disrupted in any way, Momma has been known to blow a gasket. So I had been working hard at not blowing gaskets, and it wasn’t really working all that well. Because the pressure is always still there, building and growing under the surface. Holding it all in proves to be very exhausting.

But now we have this puppy. This puppy that I wanted, and am determined to love the way she deserves to be loved. But this puppy is, as puppies typically are, a handful. Piper is actually rather laid back, probably more so than your typical puppy, but she still loves to chew and she is not yet potty trained. So she requires nearly constant attention. And that interferes with my previously established housekeeping routines. Which is hard for me to accept, but I have not once forgotten that having a puppy was something I chose. I signed up for this, and I am determined to make it work.

I’ve been walking around full of anxiety since we brought her home on Sunday, afraid of what would happen if she pooped in the house. Do you know she pooped in the hallway this morning and the house did not come crashing down? In fact, my vision of feces smeared all over the walls and floors – and who knows what else – did not become a reality. Everything was okay. If she poops, she poops. Clean it up and move on.

See, each new day gets a smidge better, for two reasons. One, she is learning what is acceptable here in her new home. Two, I am becoming more comfortable with imperfection. That’s a big one for me, because I thought I WAS comfortable with imperfection, but what I’ve seen of myself these past few days is that it was all a lie. It was only true on the surface. Deep down I still craved perfection, and was deeply unnerved when I didn’t have it.

That deep unnerving, that inner irritation, the precursor to every blown gasket, is slow torture, and it does no one any good. It makes for a miserable me, and then I end up taking it out on my family. They don’t deserve the miserable me. The tense, wound up, nagging woman has to go. I want my house  to be a peaceful place  to come home to. This new adjustment, this life with a new puppy, is forcing me to be okay with a little imperfection. Thanks to Piper, I think we’re headed in the right direction.