Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day 21: Simplify

(This post is part of the 31 Day Writing Challenge.  For previous posts click HERE)

I know I'm guilty of it.  I'm guilty of saying "Things are crazy these days.  There's too much".

There's just too much of what?

Frankly there's just too much everything.

Too much food.
Too much work.
Too much activities for kids.
Too much money going out.
Too much selfishness.

While all of these are true, they don't have to be.

We seem to live in a society that reveres excess and shuns minimalism.

I like to watch House Hunters on HGTV and my favorite shows are the ones where people are looking at older houses.  I especially love the century homes, the historic row houses in Massachusetts, or even the post war bungalows of suburbia.  Unless the house has been extensively renovated, the potential buyers always say the same things "Oh the closets are so small" (I'll save my rant on granite counter tops for another post).  People used to only have clothes that they needed.  People didn't have more outfits than can be worn in a month.  A man maybe had two suits (and most middle class men only had 1 suit).  Families had 1 TV (if they were lucky), 1 car (if they were lucky), took one vacation a year (if they were lucky).

(picture found at Beautiful Abodes)

Everything today is inflated and I'm not just talking about prices.  Now you have to have a TV in every room.  Every family member of driving age has to have a car (this can be for practical reasons.  Where we live, NOTHING is in walking distance).  Kids have to have Jordan's in every style and color (we fight this at our house).  Kids have a long weekend due to a day off from school?  You must go on a trip somewhere.  You can't just have a closet, your closet needs to be Real Housewives worthy.

We want more than we need and we think we need more than is necessary to live.

Lately I've been making a conscious effort to buy less.  And if I do bring a new item of clothing into the house, one has to go out of the house.  We are cramming our lives with stuff.  But for what purpose?  Is the stuff making us happier?  Is the stuff making us better people?

The internet makes it easy for me to get stuff.  If there's something I think I need, I can Google it, find the best price, order it and have it shipped directly to my house.  It's easy peasy.  But it's not the best practice.  At least not for things that I don't need.

Less stuff means, less money going out.  It means less clutter.  It means less stress.

I love the blog Becoming Minimalist.  Whenever he posts something I want to shout "YES".  You can find a list of his most popular posts here.  The one that I'm taking to heart right now is The 10 Most Important Things To Simplify In Your Life.  And it starts with simplifying "stuff".  I've got my de-cluttering on.  I need to stop bringing the stuff into my life in the first place.  Less stuff=less stress=more peace.

At mass on Sunday, the priest said in his homily that we all have a God shaped hole in us.  And instead of filling that hole with more God, we are filling it with more stuff.  We are trying to fill it with more clothing, more money, more food, more drink, more anything instead of filling it with what we really need... more God.

I'm going to stop filling mine with stuff.  Starting now.

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.  Mother Teresa

Monday, October 20, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 10/20/14

Happy Monday!  I hope the weekend was good to you.  I feel like I could have used another day off even though we had a 3 day weekend due to a teachers day on Friday.

Saturday night we took the kids to Boo At The Zoo at the Cleveland Metropark Zoo.  We took the older boys when they were little but now it's the Little Monkey's turn.

The zoo does a great job of making it fun and not scary.  We all had a great time.

The Little Monkey was obviously Spider Man and Middle Man was Jake the Dog from Adventure Time.  Older boy would have been something in a purple morph suit but he was at Scout Camp (morph suit idea was the brain child of 7th grade boys for the JR High Halloween Dance...)

We have quite the busy week ahead.  I hope my meal plan doesn't let me down.

Friday:  Baked Salmon and Steamed Veggies

Saturday:  Cowboy Casserole (AKA Tater Tot Casserole)

Sunday:  BBQ Chicken Legs on the grill, Baked Beans, Baked Sweet Potatoes

Monday:  Potato Soup

Tuesday:  Turkey Burgers on the grill, salad, corn

Wednesday:  Cheese Lasagna (using gluten free lasagna noodles), steamed veggie

Thursday:  Chicken Rice Casserole

Breakfast:  Fruit, Pancakes or Potato and Sausage Skillet

Lunch:  Salads, Left Over Chicken Legs, Left Over Potato Soup, Sandwiches

For more MPM, visit Laura @ Orjunkie.com

Have a blessed week ahead!!

Day 20: The Basement Storage

(This post is part of the 31 Day Writing Challenge.  For previous posts click HERE)

The basement storage is my total frustration.  When we finished the basement, we had the contractor build some shelves on the storage side so things could be organized.  Yea, that's a joke.

First of all, I'm the only one that organizes that space.  And no one else even cares to keep it organized.  Taking out games?  After mom yells to "CLEAN UP" 5 million times, the way things get cleaned up is to open the door, chuck it in, and run away like crazy.  And if you send them back in there to pick it up right, they will just shove it in the nearest bin.  So I have dinosaurs, in with Power Rangers, in with race track, in with art supplies.  I label bins.   I explain how things should get put away.  But it never lasts more than a week or two because children in this house refuse to follow directions.  (can you sense my frustration on this one??)

My husband keeps it organized.  It's just that he is a total pack rat and refuses to throw anything out.  So the amount of stuff that accumulates in there is unbearable.

What's in there?

1.  Holiday decorations
2.  Paint, painting supplies
3.  Boxes of tile left over from building the house
4.  Hunting coats, boots and sports stuff
5.  Beach umbrellas, beach chairs, and boogie boards
6.  Weights that we moved from 3 separate dwellings and no one uses
7.  Baby items such as swings, play yards, and jumpers that have all been outgrown
8.  Toys, toys, toys and more toys
9.  Random stuff that I'm not sure what it is or why it's kept

I've asked the people in this house to go through the stuff and get rid of what they don't want.  I've not seen anything leave the house at this point.

So, I'm going to go down there and organize this junk one more time, then I'm throwing my hands in the air and giving up.

Things to get rid of:
1.  The first items on my list are outgrown baby items.  I'm not sure I just want to give those away though.  They are all in good condition so I'm thinking that I might try a local buy/sell/swap site.  We have a consignment store near by so I could check with them too.

2.  Toys.  The hard part with the toys is that the Little Monkey is the 3rd boy.  And we have a lot of boy toys.  I hate to get rid of too much because I don't know what he'll be into.  I'd be sad if I got rid of something just to have to purchase it again down the road.  But I can get in there and throw out broken things, dollar store junk, and then give away baby toys that are outgrown.

3.  Random stuff that I'm not sure what it is.  I can go through all of that and set aside what I don't think we need, ask if we need it and if not, purge.

But I'm serious on having to let this go if they can't keep it neat.  It's just not worth worrying over.  Plus the door has a lock so when we have company, I can always lock it so no one sees the disaster that is in there.

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.    Mother Teresa 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 19: A Day Of Rest

(This post is part of the 31 Day Writing Challenge.  For previous posts click HERE)

(from beliefnet.com)

It's Sunday and I'm resting today.  That will be my "peaceful home" for today.

Have a wonderful, blessed and peaceful day!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Day 18: The Bonus Room

(This post is part of the 31 Day Writing Challenge.  For previous posts click HERE)

All I can say about the Bonus Room is Ugh.  Ugh.

It's a finished attic off of the master bedroom.  It's over the garage so this would have been the unfinished attic that we would have accessed through the garage ceiling.  But it's like another room.

Part of me wishes that it wasn't finished and we accessed it in the garage.  Who would be crazy enough to want that?  Me.


Well because 1.  We have no other attic/storage space and 2.  Because it's finished and like another room, I don't feel justified in having it be messy or just a storage space.  Is your attic neat and clean?  I doubt it.  It's probably just your storage space.  I get to dust and vacuum mine.

When we first moved in, the heat to the upstairs wasn't what it should be.  The upstairs was freezing and the heat in the bonus room was almost nonexistent even though it has registers.  Cold air would blow out of there like no ones business and we froze our keesters off in the master bedroom during winter.  I have several sets of fleece sheets to prove it!  Because it was so cold in there, things would freeze and the windows would get mold on them from the temperature freezing and thawing so frequently.  We knew something needed done, but we didn't know what.

When we finished our basement, we talked with the HVAC guy about it and decided that the best thing to do to correct it was to install bigger duct work (or actual duct work in the case of Middle Mans "register to no where" in his bedroom) and to do zoned heating.  It was a $10,000 extra that we were not expecting but it needed to be done.  Now the upstairs is nice and toasty in the winter time and the bonus room is warm and doesn't freeze in the winter.  It's actually usable now.  But it's so usable, that it's a disaster.

I do use it for storage.  I have to as I have no other storage space (except a small space in the basement).  We also use it as a semi office space.  I have a filing cabinet in there and a small desk.  It's also where I store a few holiday decorations (although most of those are in the basement) and some furniture we aren't using such as The Little Monkey's bed frame that we purchased when we bought his crib, the cradle that we aren't using now and probably never will again but that I can't get rid of, my full length mirror that has no other home and boxes of outgrown clothing that I'm saving for the Little Monkey.

There's not much I can do about the furniture.  I have no where else to put it so it's staying in there.

The boxes of clothing need to be sorted through and I need to decide what we actually need to keep and what can get donated.  I have all the Little Monkeys baby clothes and up to this point I haven't been able to part with them, but I really can't keep it all.  It's just overwhelming.

I also have some photos that need to be put in albums and I really need to order more photos but I can't do that until I finish what I already started.  These are photos that I printed before the Little Monkey was born so I'm two years behind and the Little Monkey has no actual albums with him in them.  I'm a slacker mom there.

I also need to file paperwork.  I have a big pile of paperwork just waiting to get filed and I keep adding to it.  I was on top of this until about July.  Then I slacked and the pile came back.  I just need to get on top of that and stay on top of it.

So this is my plan for the bonus room that isn't really a bonus right now.

"Who can assure us that we will be alive tomorrow? Let us listen to the voice of our conscience, to the voice of the royal prophet: "Today, if you hear God's voice, harden not your heart." Let us not put off from one moment to another (what we should do) because the (next moment) is not yet ours. " St. Padre Pio

Friday, October 17, 2014

Day 17: The Family Room

(This post is part of the 31 Day Writing Challenge.  For previous posts click HERE)

Yes, it's the family room.  It's supposed to be lived in.  But toys have taken over.

A few months ago, I bought this storage cube system to try and contain the toys.  And it kind of does.  Picking them up every evening is no fun.  But we do it.  Lately though, the toys are out of control.

I try to do toy rotation but it's usually monthly or bi-monthly.  I should probably do it more often, but there are just SO MANY TOYS!  The Little Monkey is boy #3.  We have every train, truck, car, ball known to man.  We have a lot of stuff.  I'd like to thin the herd, but I don't know what to thin.  Each boy is different.  So if I get rid of Lego's and this boy is another Lego lover, I'll kick myself.  I need a better storage system (maybe I can work on that when I get to the basement).

The toy rotation article that I linked to says to keep all the toys in one room.  I have them in 4 rooms.  Most are in the family room.  The trains are in the basement.  Some cars are in the dining room because apparently the wood floor in there "makes cars go fast" and I have few in my bedroom so that he has something to do while I shower.  Keeping them in one room would be nice, but would not be realistic for our needs.

But I certainly can do better.

Here's my goals with the toys:

1.  Thin the herd.  I need to get rid of some stuff.  We just have too much and it's overwhelming.

2.  I have to keep the toys in 4 rooms, but I can keep LESS toys in 4 rooms.

3.  Rotate better.  Instead of every 1-2 months, I can rotate every 2-3 weeks.

4.  Have the older boys clean them up.  I'm over the toys, but the older boys can do it ;)

5.  Teach the Little Monkey to start picking up.  He loves to help me clean (in his own special way) so I need to make sure he loves to pick up.

Getting the toys in order will start with less toys.

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.  Blessed Mother Teresa

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 16: The Dining Room Table

(This post is part of the 31 Day Writing Challenge.  For previous posts click HERE)

Continuing on with the decluttering:

I don't know what to say about this one.  It seems to be a catch all for the "I don't know what to do with it" stuff and kids junk.

What is on it right now? 

1. My mother in laws birthday present.  
2. A present for my niece that my parents bought her and gave to her at my sons birthday party (8/16). 
3. Pokemon cards from the middle son.
4.  Some sort of Boy Scout/Cub Scout paperwork.
5.  Birthday cards from sons birthday party (8/16) because I have YET to write Thank You Notes.
6.  CD's of kids music that I took out of my car because there was no room in the center console (end of July).
7.  Halloween head band.

And this is actually pretty good.  It's been a lot messier.  And I hate it.

So what to do?

**Today I will write out Thank You Notes and put the cards in my sons "keepsake box".
**Remove Pokemon cards to middle sons room.
**Remove Scout paperwork to a boys room or the circular file.
**Find a home for the CD's (I just don't know where to put them).
**Put Halloween head band in the costume closet.
**Find a storage spot for the two presents.  This spot needs to be somewhere visible so I don't forget them (AGAIN)  the next time I see family members.

And to keep it clutter free in the future:  Do Not set anything on there that does not belong.

I need to subscribe to the touch once rule.  This rule should go for the dining room table AND paperwork (at least most paperwork).

There are times that I'm busy/don't have time to find a home for something/or just plain lazy and the dining room table becomes the "I'll get later" spot.  But as we can see with the CD's (JULY), I don't always come back later.  I just keep piling stuff there until I get completely stressed by it or until I need the table to eat on.

Knowing that this is a hot spot, I just need to stay out of that area unless I'm cleaning or eating.

It is easier to mend neglect than to quicken love.  ~Saint Jerome

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 15: The Kitchen

(This post is part of the 31 Day Writing Challenge.  For previous posts click HERE)

I hate piles.  I hate piles of paper.  But man am I good at making piles.  I pile it up and up and up and then I lose things, forget things, or just become frustrated with all my piles.

It makes cleaning difficult and take longer.

I have a few systems in place but I think they need revamped because there is STILL clutter on my counter top.

Here is the current state of the counter:

It's actually not that bad at the current moment.  It's been worse.  It's been a lot worse.  I'm trying to keep up with it but it's not to where I want it yet.

I currently have the following as paper catchers:

1.  This Fridge File that I use to hold kids activity schedules and school paperwork that I need to keep for informational purposes but that I don't use all the time.

2.  A paper filing box that you can see overflowing in the first picture.  I need to clean that out.  Usually paper I need to do something with RIGHT NOW goes in there.  Clearly I'm not using it properly.

3.  I have a cork board that is hanging on the side of my kitchen cabinets (via 3M Command Strips) for paperwork and schedules that I need to see easily every day.

Clearly it's a bit cluttered right now too.

We do not have an office in our house or a desk in the kitchen.  It makes clutter from bills and statements horrible.  I have a basket in the bonus room where I keep bills, but I'm not always good at taking them up there.  I really need to find a better solution for that.

A few drawers are cluttered and need to be reorganized also.

What I don't have is a Command Center (many examples in links).

But my issue with the command center is that when I'm using it, it never looks as neat as the examples given.  I would need to organize my command center (lol).

So my next step to peace is:

1.  Get paperwork/paper under control
2.  Set up a command center
3.  Make sure to keep my command center uncluttered

He who desires nothing but God is rich and happy.
St. Alphonsus Liguori