Friday, April 25, 2008

A Year of Decluttering

I'm on a quest - I'm taking this year to declutter my house and my mind.

Yesterday, I started in the furthest corner of my home... the master bathroom. It was a giant mess - the counter is simply too big and ends up being a catch-all in our bedroom. So the mission for today was to clean it up, clear it out, and get rid of more stuff - either give it away, recycle or trash it.

In the shower:

I have two bottles of shower gel and one jar of salt scrub. I am committing to myself to finish all three of those before I buy anything new. Everything else in the shower is fine. And yes, I play with Polly Pockets while I'm in the shower.


BEFORE - note the towels exploding out of the cabinet beneath the sink on the left side of the photo. Everything else is random stuff that needed to be trashed, put away or given away.

Gave away: 5 towels, baby bathtub/foot stool (was under the towels), baby monitors (in the cabinets on the right side of photo).

Trashed: 2 towels, bottle of mouth wash (dumped it out and recycled the bottle), some empty bottles, misc. garbage that had collected on the counter (receipts, clothing tags, etc.)


Everything looks good in there - it feels much cleaner and less crowded. I put away a lot of stuff that had been piling up waiting to be put in its proper place and also put out some stuff that was hidden in the cabinets.

Ahhhhh. Feels good:) Its a start.

Friday, April 18, 2008


I've been thinking about making a list of goals for my 32nd year. But really, after thinking about it I really only have one main goal for this year: I want to be less of a consumer and live more simply.

This has been a background goal of mine for a couple of years - you know the kind... it sits in the back of your head and you know its there, you just don't give it a whole lot of attention. I'm putting it into action now, though.

Part of achieving this goal, for me, has been to declutter my house and begin to declutter my head. Its been difficult - not difficult to declutter since there is a lot of clutter, but difficult to let go.

I have a basement with a crawl space. Until recently it was filled with boxes of STUFF that were waiting to have something done with them. I had intentions of having a garage sale, so things got packed away. I had intentions of selling clothes and other items on ebay, so things got packed away. Other things got packed away because I thought I might use it sometime in the future. In the meantime, as the crawl space got filled, I got smothered and crowded. Although I didn't actively think about all of that stuff, I could feel it in my gut. And it crowded my mind - I knew it was there, waiting for me to take action on it.

Part of achieving this goal, for me, has been learning how to open my hands. Stop gripping so tightly to all of this and let go - and open my hands to welcome other blessings that I might receive.

Part of achieving this goal, for me, has been to freecycle the following things:
* A brand new sewing machine that I got as a Christmas gift (that I asked for) a couple of years ago. I thought I could learn to sew, but had no ambition to do so... So the machine got packed away "until I have time to figure it out." A couple of weeks ago I gave it away to someone who will actually use it - and my head felt clearer.
* Two full queen size bedding sets. They got packed away because I figured I could get some good money for them in the garage sale that I wanted to have, but never wanted to put the work into. Someone picked them up from my front porch this morning.
* A brand new doorway chin up bar. We bought this along with our exercise machine a few months ago, but it didn't fit in any of our doorways. It got packed away with the intention of selling it on Craig's List. Someone picked it up a few weeks ago and her stepson is getting great use out of it.
* Our second crib, mattress, stroller, & infant car seat. A full crib bedding set. All of these items were being saved with the intention of making money on them at that elusive garage sale. A family picked them all up last Sunday for their baby who is due next month.
* A wok and some extra pans - all sitting in my cupboards waiting around for us to use them - someday. A girl picked them up for her boyfriend a few months ago.
* ELEVEN boxes of girls clothes size 0-3 months - 18 months. ELEVEN BOXES.

My list goes on. I have gotten rid of so much STUFF in the last couple of months. And not surprisingly I still have a lot of STUFF. And still have a lot of STUFF to get rid of. And I'm not dying without the stuff I gave away. I don't miss it. I have not once wished I had any of it back. My head is clearing out as my house is clearing out.

Part of achieving this goal, for me, is to not buy more stuff to bring in to my house. To stop accumulating. I am trying to only buy what is necessary and not excess - including groceries.

Part of achieving this goal, for me, was to buy 1 bottle of Shaklee Basic H and make 3 different kinds of cleaners from it (in addition to its many other uses), rather than have a million different cleaners lying around my house and getting replaced before they were used as I tried something new.

Part of achieving this goal, for me, was to quit my job. This was a big way of decluttering my head. I didn't realize it, but it was taking up unnecessary space in there. And I feel free-er and clearer without it. I also feel much more focused on my kids - and given our knowledge of Georgia, I think that is a good thing:)

Part of achieving this goal, for me, will be to figure out what are the absolute essentials for our family? What is the bare minimum? For example, how many extra sets of sheets do I need in my linen closet? Probably only 2 (beyond what is on my bed), not the 4-5 that are in there. How many shirts do I truly need? How many tshirts do we really need for working out? Which special utensils do we really need and what can we get by without having? How many pans do we need? How many pieces of tupperware? Really, do I need to have cupboards full of stuff for "just in case?" How much tv do I really need to watch?

But you know what I'm not getting rid of? Books. I can't have too many of them and I can't read enough. And I can't set a better example for my girls by keeping them around and showing them that I read a lot. So I will not be freecycling them:) And we will be accumulating more. But then, reading and learning is a high priority for our family - I'm hoping that consuming and accumulating is becoming less of a priority for our family.

Living simply = high priority. Crowding the house and our heads with STUFF = less priority. That is my goal for my 32nd year.

How do you live simply? Give me your best tips because I am open to suggestions!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Random Randoms

I'm so proud:)
Read This

The Most Wonderful time of the year...
You know what I really detest about this time of year and the weather that comes with it? Not the rain - I rather enjoy the rain and the sound of it (from time to time). Not the snow when it comes. Not the mud. Not the dreariness.

Nope - I can handle those things just fine (okay, in limited doses). What I truly hate is the uncertainess of what needs to be in our closets. Do I bring out the spring/summer/short sleeve clothes? Do I put away the winter/long sleeves? Do I dare buy shorts for the girls? Do I dare buy sandals for them yet? Do I REALLY need to keep the winter coats and boots around - just in case?

I have a lot of hangers - a lot - but at this time of year, I never seem to have enough because I need to have double wardrobes in everyone's closets. Ugh - I hate this!

Has there been a hurricane named Georgia?
Friends of ours truly believe that there are a few natural disasters in this world: Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados and GEORGIA. She is amazing. I wish that I could completely describe life with her, but unless you experience it fully, it may be impossible (that being said, I'm open to offers to experience Georgia for a day... or two - okay, maybe three or four if you insist).

Lets see if I can accurately describe just one day in the life...
8am - one of us gets her out of bed. She doesn't have pants on - they have been removed and tossed on the floor at some point. Diaper changed, clothes changed, on our way down to breakfast.

8:30am - breakfast is cereal. She asks for raisen bran, then when her bowl is full and milk has been poured into it, she shoves it across the table and yells because she clearly does NOT want Raisen Bran. Head sinks to table, the world is now ending.

9am - breakfast is over. She has eaten most of her raisen bran (mom has completely ignored the drama), has dripped milk all over the table and has spread it around with her hands and wiped them on her pants. "Pants wet MOM!" Pants are thus removed and left wherever she is at that particular moment.

Plays with her sisters. Today it involves bringing all couch cushions to the bottom of the three steps to the family room, lining up in the dining room, running, yelling "Cowabunga!" and jumping on the cushions. Great fun (until someone loses an eye).

At some point she moves on to the kitchen for a drink. After the drink she spies a cupboard, opens it and brings out every pot and pan that she can reach. If not pots & pans it is the toaster and the blender.

10am - Its time for Sesame Street! She sits in front of the tv for a good hour and a half while mom goes upstairs to fold laundry - thank you Lord for Sesame Street and Barney!

11:30 - time for lunch! "Peanut Butter and Jelly, MOM!" So she gets PB&J along with a tangerine. Eats the PB&J and decides she wants PB crackers like Ryann. Eats that. Miracle upon miracles she didn't open the sandwich or the crackers and eat the PB&J with her fingers and rub them all over her face and hair.

While they're eating, mom goes about picking up the family room so she can relax while everyone is at school. She picks up the couch cushions, finds every crayon that they own dumped in a pile in a spot that makes absolutely no sense as to why they are there, picks up the books Nora read that morning and threw on the floor. Family room is picked up.

While mom is picking up family room, Georgia decides she doesn't like the tangerine, so she squeezes all pieces in her hands and allows juice to ooze through hands and all over table. Runs hands through hair. Great fun - maybe she is making up for the lack of peanut butter in her hair? Mom gives her a wipe and tells her to clean her hands and her face. Much more fun to wipe everything else - the chair, the table, the floor.

Mom combs Ryann and Nora's hair and helps put shoes on. While doing this, Georgia passes the open laundry room and decides to wander in. She then pulls out every single rag and cleaning towel that we have and tosses them all over the family room floor for no apparent reason.

11:50 - in the car to bring Ryann to school. Screaming because Nora is playing with the barbie that Georgia brought into the car yesterday. Screaming. Mom turns talk radio up as loud as possible to drown out the screaming. Nora gives barbie back to Georgia, screaming stops. Briefly. Screaming begins again because her hands are sticky. Mom hands her a wipe and the world quiets down.

12:05 - home, time to put her down for a nap - Thank you Jesus for naps! Mom walks into Nora & Ryann's room and finds clean shirts strewn all over the floor (not from Ryann and Nora).

That is just HALF of a day with Georgia. I'm much too tired to write the rest;)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me:) II

Last year on my birthday I blogged about what I wanted to accomplish/change/strengthen in my 31st year. I hang my head as I say that I haven't looked at my list in many, many months.

Today, the day after my 32nd birthday (thanks for all of the comments BTW), I am sitting down to take inventory of how I did on my 31st list. I will come up with a 32nd list on another day...

The following is the list from last year with my current thoughts in italics/bold behind it:

* I know that I want to get into shape and STAY in shape this year. I can officially say that I worked really, really flipping hard on this. Harder than anyone I know. I am in good shape. Decent shape - the best shape of my life? Not yet.

* I know that I do not want to get pregnant this year (or any other year for that matter;) This has permanently been taken care of;)

* I know that I want to live a consistent life - I don't want to say things are important to me and then not show it with my actions. This is, honestly, an ongoing battle in my life. I try really hard to be a consistent person - and I think I am for the most part - but there are stretches of time where I lack motivation and I lack energy and I just don't follow through on things as I should. Consistency in character, though, is a continual thought in my mind - this is definitely not something that I wrote last year and never thought of again - it is a daily thought for me because it is very important.

* I want to remember other people's birthdays. I don't know why I'm so bad at this now that I'm older - I used to be really good at it when I was in school... I remembered my dad's birthday this year and got a card in plenty of time and had the girls make him cards in plenty of time... and then I forgot to mail it on time and he got it several days late... Why is this such a battle for me?

* I want to write more thank you notes. I think I wrote an adequate number of thank you notes - in other words, I wrote notes to the people that clearly needed to be thanked for something. What I did NOT do is write thank you notes to people who impacted me in some intangible way or in some way that was unintentional on their part (like a testimony at church for example). That, I believe, was my original intent of this item.

* I want to write more handwritten "I'm thinking of you" notes (do people even like those or do they think its stupid? I never know). I cannot think of ONE note that I wrote like this. It isn't that I don't want to, its an insecurity thing - I have this underlying feeling that people don't know who I am and don't remember who I am so if they get a random letter in the mail from me they'll be like, "Who is this? Oh yeah, but what the heck is this all about? Thats really weird and random and perhaps a bit psycho..."

* I want to volunteer somewhere this year. I volunteered for the OP Kiwanis club BINGO night a couple of times. I enjoyed it, but scheduling difficulties made it too difficult to continue.

* I want to not feel guilty about taking some time for myself. This is getting a little better.

* I want to go on a weekend vacation with Cornbread (other than the Jones regional in June). We did it!!! Friends of ours have a condo in South Haven, MI and they let us stay there for a weekend. We went for our anniversary and had an amazing weekend together which included: Dom Perignon, massages, walking, walking, walking and NO TV, COMPUTER or TELEPHONE (or CHILDREN). It was awesome!

* I want to know my Bible better. I can say that I've been reading my Bible more, but do I KNOW it better? Not sure. Having the Message translation really, really helps me.

* I want to do a Bible study that is meaningful. I think I originally intended this to be a group Bible study... I have done several personal Bible studies that have definitely been meaningful for me. We also joined a small group and while we are still getting over that *awkward* stage, we've studied one book and have begun a second one. It is definitely very meaningful.

* I want to have a clear plan on when I can start nursing school and where I can go. Clear? Not really. I have questioned this plan over the last year. I want to become a nurse - I FEEL it like an ache, HOWEVER, my questioning lies in: will me going to school and working disrupt the quality of life of our family? Will it result in the girls not getting the attentiveness that they need during the crucial, horrible junior high/high school years? Will it result in me being too distracted and busy to work on relationships? Will it negatively impact my marriage in any way? Ultimately I have to believe that God will work out all of those details. I have been feeling the yearning pretty significantly lately, but I need to be patient and wait, because I cannot go back to school until Georgia is in school - so around 2011/2012. That leads to me feeling restless and anxious about it, but I found this Bible verse: "And don't be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God's place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there." (I Cor. 7:17, The Message) It was originally written about marriage, but it speaks very LOUDLY to me right now. I could blog on this nursing/calling topic forever - and maybe I will later in an effort to sort out my thoughts.

* I want to take my girls to the park more often during the summer. I did take them to the park a couple of times at the beginning of the summer, but then we started hanging out with the next door neighbors every day and didn't really need to go to the park anymore.

* I want to read a fiction book each month (I just don't know which books to read). I read a lot of fiction books last year - finally!!!! It was awesome! I found an author and a series that I really enjoyed - Jeffrey Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme series. I read all of those and have now run out of fiction books - and I've been treated like a second class citizen at the OP Public Library twice (Homer's is very outdated) so I'm hesitant to walk back in there... I need to get back to fiction, though.

* I want to be a good friend. Honestly, I don't know how I've done on this. I hope well, but again, I suspect that I could have been much better.

* I want to eat healthy and be healthy - not just lose weight, but BE healthy. I went through a very long stretch (8 1/2 months) of doing really, really well at this, but then slid back to eating horribly for a couple of months. I would say overall, though, I eat healthy and AM healthy. Have not lost any weight.

* I want to remember my parents' birthdays (I always miss them). See above comments about my dad's birthday. I don't remember if I remembered my mom's last year. I hope so.

* I want to remember ALL of my nephews' birthdays (I always miss at least 2). Again, I think I missed several of them. I think I remembered my oldest nephew's birthday, but sent him a card for the wrong age:( Not sure if I remembered the rest.

* I want to date my husband. THIS one I know I've accomplished. We started dating again last year. Every Saturday night after church we get a babysitter and we go out - most of the time by ourselves, sometimes with other people. It has been the best thing that we ever decided to do. We can't afford to do much, but it is worth every penny that we spend on dinner and babysitting. And if there is a reason we can't go out we definitely both feel it the next week. THIS has been the single most impactful thing that I've done this year - more than any of the above, more than anything else, spending regular quality time with Cornbread has been the best thing we've done for ourselves as individuals and for ourselves as a couple.

Whew! If you made it this far, congratulations! That was long, eh? But it was definitely a good exercise for me. Now I need to come up with my 32nd list:)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Shameless plug for comments and attention

Its my birthday today. I'm 32.

  © Blogger template 'Ladybird' by 2008

Back to TOP