Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Week 12: Perhaps the Grossest Place in the House

We have a child in our house who gets quite anxious over the thought of storms.  And, as it so happened, we had a tornado warning in the middle of the night a few weeks back.

This child has not really let go of that since.

Yesterday she got an idea to create a Tornado Kit so we are always at the ready...at least in her mind.

For us, we don't have a basement (boo.), so our place to go during a tornado warning is the kids' bathroom.  So, it made the most sense to have her disaster kit in that room.

Well, when it came time to figure out where to put it, I decided that this room needed a 'little' help so it was the next place to tackle in the declutter mission.

There are no linen closets in this house so when we moved into this house we had to come up with a solution. This IKEA cabinet was the pick for two main reasons:
1. It fit in the corner
2. It wasn't so big that we could just keep stuffing things in there. It created a small limit as to what we have and I like that.

That being said, we still managed to stuff quite a bit in there.

It doesn't help that this bathroom is the one that all 3 kids use on a daily basis.  To say it was a little gross is an understatement.

So, Hannah and I pulled everything out, determined what was in there that was never used and taking up space. Tossed a few expired items, donated a couple, and organized what was left.

Oh and we had to have a designated space for that Tornado Kit.

In keeping the bathroom uncluttered and simple I try to stick to a few things:
1. Each kid has their own towel. They are responsible for it. And, contrary to popular belief, it can be used more than once.  There are a few more towel we keep stocked for guests but only what will fit on those two shelves. Thankfully, towels are washable, so we don't have to have an infinite amount.

2.  Each week a different child is in charge of the bathroom upkeep. They are responsible for keeping the counter clean and the floor picked up during the week, and cleaning the bathroom on the weekend.

I actually feel like this room is a work in progress, and it probably always will be.  As these kids get older their messes are going to involve more than just tooth paste in the sink and clothes left on the floor.  We'll have to come up with something eventually to deal with teenage clutter.

But, for now, we'll work at keeping that tub clean so we have a place to go during storms...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Week 11: A little Controversy

I'm coming up on a dilemma....if I do whole rooms every week I am going to run out of posts pretty quick.

Spoiler alert: I don't have 52 rooms in my house.

But, I probably have 52 different areas that can be addressed. So, I'm focusing on one such area this week. 

And it may be a bit controversial.


I love books. I love to cuddle up with a cup of tea, a great classic, and get lost in the pages.

And I love it when I see my kids enjoy the same thing.  No, I am not telling you to give all your books away.  But maybe evaluate what you do have.

Prior to moving to our current home I had ALOT of books.  There were quite a few boxes that were moved that contained just the books I had collected over the years. I just couldn't bear to get rid of them.

But one thing helped me rethink the need to have ALL of the books.  This:

A large number of my books were ruined when our pipes broke and dumped a foot deep worth of water into our house. 

It was a sad day (understatement) but it definitely caused me to rethink things.

Thankfully some books survived, and most of the kids' books made it through. But as we have re-built out collection, it's with a little more thought.

If a book has really changed me, made me think, challenged me - it's a keeper.  If it's a book that I could read 10 times and it doesn't get old - it's a keeper.

The rest can be found at the local library or borrowed electronically from there as well and downloaded onto my Kindle.

Side note: a few children's books that are staying around.  All books by Mo Willems.  Pigeon books and Gerald and Piggie books. If you haven't read them yet with your kids, please do.  I think I enjoy them as much as my kids.  And a collection of books from my own childhood. I remember my mom getting these for me and feeling so proud of myself when I could finally read them. 

So, what we do have and how we keep it contained:

After shots.  Even with my 'rule' on what books stay and what books go, we still manage to collect some anyways. I did a going through and ended up with about 20 books that are going to be passed on.  Two IKEA books shelves help keep what we do have corralled. 

Children's books that tend to be flimsy paperbacks, and small board books, all get contained in the baskets.

I started using those when the kids were young and it has worked really well. Each basket probably has 15-20 books in them.  It makes it look neat and put-together, and it's quick clean-up for the kids.  

I also keep it old-school with photo albums. I've been filling the leather-bound ones since we were married.  But recently I'm discovering that it's harder and harder to find them. Everything is going digital and if people print off pictures, they print photo books. I may have to transition that direction in the near future.

So, did I stir up a controversy?  Is there someone out there who thinks that there is no such thing as too many books? I'm guessing there is....because some days I kinda fight that feeling myself.

Week 10: Maintenance

Whew. I've had a cold/bug/flu that has been beating me up for the past two weeks. This post was supposed to make it up last week but time slipped away from me.

So, this week's Pare Down - well, actually LAST week's posted this week - is taking a slightly different vein.  I'm here to encourage you.  If you are contemplating paring down and it looks like too big of a mountain to tackle or you've done a bit and just really wonder if the fight it worth it - consider this up side of when it is done - despite being sick for 2 weeks, the house still managed to look decently clean/put together. And it's not because all the people in the house are on the same page with me - we have 3 children that live here and DO NOT have the standards of 'picked up' that I do. I'm sure you can relate.

But when there is less to manage, it can be managed in less time.

I have seen that lived out here. So, if you are in the middle of that battle, keep working at it. One corner, one space at a time.

My week 10 consisted of tackling a pile of papers that needed to be addressed (i.e. bills, permission slips) cleaning off the kitchen island, and taking care of the final tax paperwork (yuck....but necessary).

There wasn't a huge purge this week. More like a maintenance. But it took about 30 minutes total.  And gave me plenty of time to do other things.....like hack and cough, take care of children who were hacking and coughing, and try to get to bed early and hope I felt better the next day.

Now that I am feeling better...on to Week 11!
And here's to fresh air and Spring! It's got to get here eventually..... 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

February Lookback


What is there to say.

The month of hearts and Valentines and basketball and snow....er, well, for us it was all but the last one.

As is not the norm for this time of year, we managed to get outside quite a bit this month.

We also celebrated birthdays with both side of the family. Managed another date night, attended a boatload of basketball games, and generally lived life.

Some peoples lives have lots of exciting things happening. That may be our life someday.  But, for now, it's living with joy where we've been placed, working with what we've got, and shining the Light as bright as we can.

Here's our corner of the world in February....

 Madeline starts out the month for us....turning 7, much to her delight.

 Shortly thereafter we celebrated more birthdays with the Steffens

 Hannah...no explanation.

Valentines Day, and all it's school parties, were celebrated shortly after that.....

Plus, reminiscing 20 years with this guy.

 Our Valntines night: crows nest at a basketball game

 A few days later...more birthday celebrating with the Suvars (we had a lot of cake this month...)

 And I should be good on Cherry Chip cake for a bit....

 One of many afternoon/evening walks that the nice weather afforded us

 Even warm enough to hang up the birthday-gift-hammock outside
...And visit the park a few times

 Coffee dates...hoping they sit around and chat with me over a hot cup when their older, too

 This wasn't part of my childhood growing up, but now they symbolize the 'almost home' when going back to mom and dad's

 An unlikely use of Cheerios.  But this represents what God does with an outside-the-box 'yes.'  I started my skincare business just over a year ago. The first Cheerio represents what the first month of business brought in....1 year later - that stack on the right.  All God.
 And just a reminder, that not all things are rosy. Sometimes things go as planned.....and sometimes they don't....

And, finally, Owen wants his grandmas to see this...

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Week 9: The Dreaded Paperwork

I feel like I am a bit behind on getting this post out there. We have been battling the cough, fever, congestion thing around here and it's wiping me out. I have just a few minutes before my NyQuil kicks in so I'll type up as much as I can....

To pay my way through Occupational Therapy school, I worked as a file clerk for a Neurology office. For a year and a half I would show up at noon to a stack of papers at least 2 feet high. Everything had to be alphabetized, and then filed in the correct patient charts.

I made it my personal goal to have the stack gone before the office closed at 5.

To many of you that probably sounds horrendous.

Organizing paper.

But, truly, I enjoyed that job immensely.

That should have clued me into something then, but I was on my way to a degree so I was too busy to stop and listen.

15 years later I am at a job where my main task is keeping track of all of the papers and making sure they are where they are supposed to be.

I love it.

For awhile I allowed this to make me feel lame and pretty pathetic. But I have had a few wise people speak truth to me and helped me to see that loving to do this type of thing doesn't make me a loser. It just makes me good at what I do.

This spills over into managing all of the papers at home, too.

Nothing makes me feel like our house is in chaos more than having papers everywhere. Papers and plastic grocery bags. Something about those grocery bags makes me think 'trash.' I can't stand to have them on the counters. Makes me feel like trash is all over my kitchen. A select few are sequestered to a corner in the laundry room where I can't see them and are only taken out when needed to line a bathroom trashcan.

But I digress.


First, I have a system as it comes in the door.  All junk mail immediately goes into the recycling bin. If it has identifiable info (i.e. credit card offers), it gets shredded. All of this is close to the entry so there are not many steps to take to make sure it gets done. I don't even look at the catalogs - right to recycling. They just contain things that I didn't think I needed until I saw them, so best stay far away.

The Stack. If a local school has a Recycling Gator, drop your mess of there.  The school gets paid by the pound for paper, so it's like you are donating to a school. You get rid of something you don't want, and the school gets money! Win-win.
What's left would be bills, and items that need addressed soon, so they get set beside my office computer. And I have a set day each week when I tackle those.

The other source of TONS of paper is school. So. Many Papers.

When Owen was in Kindergarten I thought it necessary to hold on to every precious thing.

Not anymore.  I do look at everything as it gets pulled out of the folders. But I'm a bit more selective now what makes the cut: a really good grade on something they worked hard to achieve, quirky stories and drawings, even a few rotten grades that can show them later just how far they've come.

I put all the keepers in a wall file.  At the end of the school year the kids help me sort and decide which of the papers they would like to keep. It ends up being a small assortment that goes into a binder for them for later.

I feel that I also need to address filing papers that are needed later, but I feel that it is so varying for everyone it's kind of hard to make a broad sweep.

Plus, the NyQuil is kicking in.....

So, I very well may address that topic next week....

But now, since paperwork talk has not only made YOU sleepy, but ME sleepy, too....

I bid you adieu.