Sunday, October 17, 2010

Third Step to Organized

My sink is clean.  My routines are getting done 90% of the time.  And I'm ending week number 3!  If I can keep this up for just another month, this will be the longest new habit I've ever purposely gotten myself to learn that I can remember.  (Yeah... that's how bad I am!)  Or maybe its a problem with my memory....     anyway...
What's next?  Tossing junk out and de-cluttering the home. What do we do to minimize all the clutter?  A few things.  First we start with the rules.
1.  Form a new habit of getting rid of it before it starts. Anytime you buy something new, throw out a similar item.  If you buy new sneakers, immediately throw out the old ones you are replacing.  If there is nothing old of a similar item, then throw out two unrelated things.  (I make the exception with books, movies, or anything where we are adding to a category that we WANT to grow.  But that is just us.  I don't think we have enough stuff to get rid of to not have exceptions to the rule.)  NO EXCEPTIONS IF YOU HAVE ROOMS THAT HAVE NO FLOOR BECAUSE THEY ARE PILED WITH STUFF!!!  That defeats the whole purpose.
2.  Know where the nearest donation centers are and what types of things they accept. This will help you know what to throw straight into the trash/recycle bins, or what to put in a box to take out to the car.
3.  Don't think too hard; when in doubt, throw it out... or box it for the season and see if you can decide later. Have you used it in the last 6 months?  Does it still fit?  Do you still like it?  This method goes with those unwanted gifts, too.  You know all those things over the years that people have given you that don't fit the decor of the house, doesn't fit, never read, broken,  so you have it boxed up... yeah, those!  If you aren't going to hang it, wear it, or use it for its purpose... THROW IT OUT!  Those you're afraid to offend are not going to see it sitting in the box either*  (And people, don't be too offended if someone doesn't like your gift.  We've ALL done it.  Most of the time it is the THOUGHT and EFFORT that counts more than the gift itself.)
Not too many rules, right?  Easy to remember. But, wait!  What do we do with the clutter we ALREADY HAVE???
If your house is really bad than I would recommend what she calls the 27 Fling Boogie.  Basically, everyday grab a box or trash bag and quickly run through the house and collect 27 items to trash or donate.  This shouldn't take more than 10 minutes!  If there is a room that you can't even enter because it has THAT much stuff in it, don't stress.  Include it in your daily throw-out with a minimum of 5 items each round.  It may take a few months, but you'll have that room back for use with very little effort on your part.
If your house is fine but could use a little work than I would recommend sectionalizing the place.  Choose 1 spot a week or month or however often you feel is necessary and declutter that one area.  Choose small areas that you can go through in less than 20 min. You could choose the computer desk, your craft drawer, the kitchen table, the pantry, pots and pans, movies, ect.  If those areas are really bad, break it down even further.  If your craft drawer is more like a craft center, then choose a specific craft or specific drawer, and JUST do that.  Set a timer to make sure you don't get carried away.  Unless you have the whole afternoon to kill.  Then, GO FOR IT!
Remember! The whole point of the exercises is to do a little here and a little there.  We are learning habits.  If you go too big and get it all done too quickly, it will just build up again because you didn't have enough time to make it a habit.
So far, for me, I've gone through my shoes, my clothes, and rearranged where I put my cooking books (back in the kitchen, thankfully).  Next stop:  I'd really like to organize my study space.  I don't really have ONE place.  This has resulted in my 'study materials' to be spread all over the house.  Some by the bed, some on my desk, some in a few corners, some on the kitchen table...  Talk about clutter, right?  I'd like to keep everything by my computer but I only have one of those small computer desks.  SUGGESTIONS???
*Disclaimer:  I apologize to whoever has given me gifts that I no longer have.  That includes all those cute little Valentines from elementary school, or mass Christmas presents from middle school.  I'm sorry.  I really am.  But each of them was very appreciated!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Spooning Cats

Toad and Mimsy are ABSOLUTE best friends.  They LOVE spooning!  This picture below is not uncommon even though it makes me smile every time I see it!

But the other night, they took their cuteness up a notch and as I was just about to crawl into bed, I noticed them spooning with their heads curled around one another on the couch.  I couldn't help it!  I ran and got the camera!  Unfortunately, I'm still a bit slow using it and they had woken up and started bathing each other before I could get any shots.  But these are still cute, too!

Don't you wish you had these two adorable creatures?  Seriously!  How on earth did I use to hate cats???

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Xan's camera is old.  Like back from '03.  Mine is decent but the battery life is about one minute before the camera rejects the brand new batteries and shuts off.  We decided we needed a new one.  We splurged and got ourselves a fairly early Christmas present in time to capture Ithaca in the Autumn!
We've done this walk before many times.  I posted pictures from our Spring walk here.
There's a turtle in the shot above.
I'm turning into my dad.  Most of the close-up nature shots... mine.
We also were a bit adventurous with my hair today.  I had washed it and left it down, and we tried out a few head flicks.  More like major hair swings, I think.
The one above makes me look like I'm powering my hair forward.
These are the shots that turned out the best.  We have MANY that didn't turn out well that I'll leave behind.  :)
I like the one above.  My hair looks like a flower.
Xan's favorite is the one above.  He says he likes the lighting.
Here's my photo shopped one.
If I'm going to have long hair... I'm going to enjoy it.
Let's not forget some photos of Xan!
I LOVE walking through Sapsucker Woods and LOVE that the trail is less than 5 minutes from our front door.  Makes me want to go running more often.  I haven't been for a while and had forgotten how beautiful and peaceful it is.  I better enjoy it before the trail is covered in snow, ice, and/or slush!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Second Step to Organized

I can say, honestly, that I see a difference in just 2 weeks of reading This book and following its steps.  I modify them a bit as I go, but its working.  Where did I leave off last time?
First Step to Organized
Oh yes.  The first 4 steps.  How am I doing with that?  I give myself A for effort and A- for performance.  Not too shabby, I would say.  I've noticed a few things.  I'll mention one.  My counters stay significantly cleaner and the dishes usually immediately go in the dishwasher or get washed and dried because I am focusing on keeping the sink clean.  She suggests wiping it down with windex and making it really shine so you can see your face in it.  Sorry!  I'm not into that.  I just like the way it looks when there are no food scraps and I know I've recently swished it around with our dish scrubber w/soapy water.  Clean and sanitary.  That's enough for me.  That way, if I drop a grape in the sink while washing them off, I don't have to throw the grape out.  Just rinse it off and plop it in my mouth.  I would NOT have done that before with my sinks even had you paid me!
The second step that I've taken from the book is setting up a morning and an evening routine.  LOVE IT!  Why?  Because Xan suggested that I do this when we first got married and every time in between that I complained I had no habits and no routines and why was I so incompetent at routines???  Unfortunately, the routines never stuck.  In retrospect, my routines were too elaborate and time consuming.  But her steps, are easy and already polished through thousands of user's trials and suggestions.  They've been working far, far better for me.  Here's what I have set up:
Bedtime Routine:
start tomorrow's to-do list
check calendar and menu board
kitchen: sink, sweep, swap towels
straighten: couch, mail, put stuff away
vitamins, brush teeth, wash face
lay-out tomorrow's clothes and anything else I need in the morning
read, pray, sleep
Morning Routine
No snooze button when getting up
shower, wash face, brush teeth
dressed, hair, make-up
scripture/conference study
empty dishwasher, clean sink and counters
check on cats (food, toys, litter)
check calendar, update to-do list
breakfast, vitamins
dinner prep (if needed)
e-mail, facebook, blog
Sounds kind of lengthy, I know.  But a lot of these stem from all my previous attempts so I thankfully didn't have to start from ground zero.  I've been using the routines for about a week now.  HUGE DIFFERENCE!  Mostly from simply feeling like I have a bit more control over the day.  And when emergencies hit, like our car getting locked in 4 wheel low and needing to go to the shop, or realizing we're out of clean darks or whites, I'm ready to take care of it THEN.
PROOF???  2 things.  1)  Last Tuesday, one of my days off, I had one of my depressed days.  You know those days that you feel tired, sad, and uninterested for no apparent reason at all?  It was one of those.  Yet, I still found myself slowly pushing through my routines.  I even did a few loads of laundry!  And while I still felt sad, I didn't feel down on myself for not doing anything all day... because I DID do something.  It wasn't a lot.  Most of it WAS just sitting around watching tv or whatever.  But it WAS something.  2) I have most of today off.  Normally, I put off ALL errands, cleaning, laundry, ect to do today because I rarely find time to do them on workdays.  But, NOT TODAY!  Which means that I have time to do larger projects.  Like clean the mold off of our bathroom ceiling and watch the episode of Big Bang Theory I missed from being at work.  I actually have GUILT-FREE FREE-TIME!!!
*Disclaimer*  My house isn't perfectly clean yet.  The desk and many other corners and surfaces are still cluttered.  Larger cleaning projects, such as mold in the bathroom I mentioned, still need tackling.  And budget and other tasks still left months behind.  But those steps come later.  For now.  I'm learning habits.  Something my mother DID try to teach me.  I just didn't realize that she wasn't simply trying to torture me with daily chores and lists and check offs.  LOL!  Thanks for trying, though, Mom!  You're the best!

Mom dreaming of retirement!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Babies at the Workplace

Babies at the workplace

Babies and workRead the above article and tell me what you think.  The main gist of the article is talking about an organization that is trying to convince more companies to allow babies to come to work with either the mother or the father until that baby is 9 months old. I have to say that my initial reaction to reading this is a pile of mixed emotions.
The Positive:
What a huge resource for mothers and fathers who are not allowed maternity/paternity leave to NOT loose their jobs but still be able to be with their baby for longer than recovery.  There are so many jobs that I could see this being effective and working.  I think it would better help build community child care which has pretty much disappeared.  Think about your job now.  Or a previous job you have had.  Wouldn't your relationships with your co-workers be stronger if you interacted with their children?  How many times have you felt closer to someone just because they showed you pictures of their newborn? Now imagine if you could interact with that baby.  What if you were to help hold the baby so the parent could slip out to use the restroom or attend an important meeting.  What if it opened windows to people who want nothing to do with babies only for them to realize how quickly you can bond and love these precious gifts?
The Negative:
This idea is NOT suitable for ALL jobs.  Can't have them in the food industry without huge accidents, heath code violations, followed by lawsuits and so forth (and you know it would happen whether the claims were true, false, or exaggerated).  I certainly wouldn't be able to take my baby to work with me.  My job is all about hard, physical labor.  I can't be lugging an infant around at the same time.  I'm already lifting 40-60 pound rice bags.  Or pulling runners.  Or dodging getting run over by customers who are too busy thinking about what's for dinner then who might be stocking the bottom shelf.  Do I want them to hit my baby who would be on my back?  Ummm... no thank you.  And then, there are the obvious negatives.  Babies are fussy.  Babies need attention.  Babies need feedings and diaper changes.  Let's do the math.  Let's say I work an 8 hour shift.  It's a good day and I only dock 2 hours off my day.  Basing this off a 40 hour, 5 day work week... That's leaving me 10 hours short of full-time.  And that's assuming that its a good day for the baby.  What happens on the baby's off day?  Do you work 6 days a week, 10 hours a day?  That's LESS time to be home and do all the housework, cooking, laundry, errands, let alone have some just you time.  And what if you have an incredibly fussy baby... or a spit up everywhere all the time baby... or exploding diaper baby.  We all know that some babies are more work than others.
Xan's opinion: "Do you want a baby or do you want to work.  Because if you're bringing your baby to work, you can't really do either.  What about everyone else that works with you?  They've got their own things to do.  It's not fair to them to make them deal with your baby."
My conclusion:
I think this idea is fantastic for those who are on salary, don't require hard, physical labor, and won't interrupt teaching lectures or classrooms (babies in college level classrooms are inexcusable.  I'm sorry.  But they do not belong in a classroom.)  That still leaves so many THOUSANDS of mothers and fathers who might benefit from this movement.  And, there are accomadations that could be made for the list I made at the beginning of this paragraph.  These companies could provide FREE child supervision ON SITE.  Universities or public schools could offer day care for when teachers have class, giving them time to spend with their babies during their "freetime."  Restaurants and grocery stores could have a daycare where they can page the parents if their child needs them or the mom can nurse or cuddle during a break.  Or maybe it would be great for the father to get a chance to take the baby for a day every now and again so that the stay-at-home mom who just gave birth can sleep for longer than 2 hours at one time.  Or give some needed attention to the other children and then take a nap.
Having the mother (or in some cases the father) stay at home with their child is still the best option and the one that Xan and I plan and hope to employ.  "If Mother is working outside of the home, see if there are ways to change that, even a little. It may be very difficult to change at the present time. But analyze carefully and be prayerful (see D&C 9:8–9). Then expect to have inspiration, which is revelation (see D&C 8:2–3). Expect intervention from power from beyond the veil to help you move, in due time, to what is best for your family."  full article here
Although, I think if I had to pick a side right now and not stay in this grey, both-sides-have-good-points area, I would have to say that I agree with Xan.  I need to see more examples and hear more stories, ESPECIALLY stories from the non-parents in these workplaces and what THEIR opinions are before I can fully support this movement.