Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Back At It!

Things got pretty hectic there for a bit in our life and I took an unintentional bloggy break. It happens.

Since I have left off (last real blog post was Friday, January 13th, right?) a lot has happened. I am going to rely partially on my Facebook statuses and partially on my calendar and partially on my memory to update you all on what has been going on in my life - at home, at work and at play, so without further ado...

On Friday and Saturday (13th and 14th), I wasn't feeling well. I had a major headache/migraine that left me feeling absolutely horrible and pretty much confined to the couch. Thankfully, I have bigger kids that are huge helps when I need them to be. They knew that I had wanted to make some changes in their rooms and they did the heavy lifting work for me.

Cephas and Koren took apart Koren's bed and moved the pieces of it into the living room next to the bar, then slid Cephas' mattress under Koren's bed. You see, we have plans to get the three boys a new bunkbed with trundle drawer for another mattress. That way, all three boys can have a  bed with the "footprint" of all the beds taking up the same floor area of their room as just one twin bed. However, we needed more space right away.

I had also wanted to have the boys and Oralee change dressers. The boys had an eight drawer dresser that was constantly driving me nuts because I would fold their shirts and put them away and within a few days, every single shirt would be crumpled up in their drawer, no matter how I folded them and arranged them. It drove me NUTS! So I decided (after talking with them to see what would work best for them) to start hanging all of their shirts and pants. So they only needed a dresser for underclothes, pjs and shorts. Yes, shorts. Even though it is January and we do live in a climate that is generally colder this time of year, it has been a really warm winter and we have had days in 70s, so yes, shorts.

Anyhow, to get back to the subject matter at hand, the boys traded out their 8 drawer dresser for their sister's 5 drawer chest of drawers. It's the perfect amount of drawer space for the two boys but I was going to have to figure something else out for Jeriah's clothing.

Next item up on the busy agenda: Girl Scout cookies started selling on January 13th. We have been BUSY  with that! Oralee has made it to the 150-200 box mark without really even trying for sales and we have only done door-to-door sales for the distance of one block, going up one side of the street and down the other, skipping the houses that were unlikely to purchase. It's a block that we visit EVERY fundraiser, EVERY Halloween, EVERY...well, everything. They are good supporters of my children. They are also my inlaw's neighbors. That helps, I'm sure.

Then all that week, I was feeling incredibly run-down. Not sick exactly, but just feeling absolutely tired and exhausted. I was ready to go back to bed for the day before I even got out of it. Man, that was a difficult week. Still, I did all my mommy-duty stuff. That was also the week that Hubby went full-time and started working six days a week, so it was definitely all on mom to get stuff done. I did too. Housework (although the standard for that week may have been lowered) and volunteering at school and bringing treats to school for Cephas' birthday and making special dinners for Cephas' birthday week and running kids to activities and going out for visiting teaching and helping kids with homework, and all that other mommy-duty stuff that I love doing. It was just hard to keep up with it all that week.

My inlaw's have also been getting a house ready to be put onto the market. They bought a house for my youngest brother-in-law to live in while he went to college. He is still in college but after living in the house for three years has decided that he wants to live in an apartment closer to campus, so he and his roommates moved out and now his parents are busy fixing the place up so that they can sell it.

They had offered it to Hubby and I last year, but we didn't want to renew our lease at the house where we were living and brother-in-law wouldn't have been moving out in a timeframe that would work with our timeframe, so instead we got the house where we live now.

After being in the other house, I figure that it could have worked well for us, but it isn't a huge loss to us. Besides, the payments for the house that we are buying and all the utilities are still less than just the house payment for the other place. It's a cute house though. If our finances were different and if it didn't require the kids to change schools again, it could be a top contender. Such a cute cute house!

Oh - the reason I mentioned the house was because the inlaw's have been cleaning it out and we were given some things from there that we had to go pick up and bring home. At this point, we have been given a large rug (berber style to go under our table in our dining room), a dresser (for the boys' room) and a clothing rack (for me to use when I'm ironing clothes). We have also been offered a nice blue leather couch that we are still deciding on.

I started feeling better the following week and did a thorough scrubbing down in my bathroom. And I mean THOROUGH! I cleaned the shower, the tub, the tub surround, the vanity and sink, the mirror, the toilet and the floor. Then I moved onto the chair rail, the bead board and the baseboards. I decluttered and organized and made it all nice and neat. Yeah, I kicked it into high gear in that room. It needed it big time and I was so happy when it was all done! Oh - and I also did like 8 loads of laundry that day too.

Little Oralee came down with a cold about a week ago that kept her up most of one night coughing and just feeling miserable. Jeriah had croup earlier in the month but the spacing wasn't right for that to be Oralee's issue. So anyhow, she had this cold that turned her high-pitch girly five year old voice into a husky, funny sounding voice for the first four or five days. It was ADORABLE! I loved hearing her talk when she was sick because it was just so different from her regular voice (her regular voice is adorable as well - this sick voice just had a different quality of adorable). She is much better now.

My status update from Thursday, January 26th pretty much sums up my life right now though. I'll post it here:
"Busy day so far! Hubby up and out of the door by 8 am, four kids up and out of the door by 8:20 am, dropped kids at school, went to Hubby's work to drop off Girl Scout cookies (and made a few more sales) and then off to our "home visit" with Jeriah's teacher. Came home, fed the boy, now time for some cleaning and then will get him ready for school, put him on the bus, head over to the school myself, do Thursday folder and then pick up kids, get them to do chores/homework, music practice, fix dinner and out the door for an activity this evening. Busy busy day it will be! This is my favorite job (being a mom)!

Of course, that night, Cephas had a homework assignment that I didn't understand AT ALL, even though we tried and tried and tried working at it, so I ended up meeting with his teacher the next morning before school. Then, when we ran into the same issue on Friday evening, I emailed her, per her suggestion. She emailed me back. On a Friday night. With an explanation and words of encouragement. Awesome teacher!

The neighbor girl that I had been taking care of quite a bit has been spending less time at our house lately. I did watch her this past Saturday while her mom ran an errand across town (about an hour and a half). We ran an errand as well but it was one that was close by our homes and of course, with her mom's permission. She and Koren were starting to bicker and I didn't feel like dealing with it so I just separated them and decided that was the PERFECT time to run the errand. She ended up mad at me though because I sent her home when her mom got home. She wanted to stay and eat dinner with us and watch a movie and stay the night. I told her that maybe she could do it this next weekend. We'll see what happens though.

Today I have to get some work done around the house. I have a LONG list of chores for Jeriah and I to do. The last Tuesday of the month, Jeriah doesn't have school and the other kids get out of school early so that teachers can meet and plan together. I wish that had happened yesterday though! It was 70* out. And today, the day that they get out early, the high is only supposed to be like 55*. That's just the way things happen sometimes though.

And tomorrow, one of my best friends is going to come over and spend the day with me. I have no idea what we are going to do but we are going to spend the day together at any rate. It should be lots of fun! Before that though, I really want to get the house to looking nice. It will be the first time she has come over here, so I'm a little bit nervous. I am always nervous the first time that someone comes over. I'm not sure why, I just always am.

I can't wait though! Big day of cleaning and projects today. Hubby has some plans to rearrange the furniture in the living room and front room (yes, again - even though we JUST did it and loved the way it was arranged!)  in a few weeks. Before that, I need to continue to declutter. I have been keeping tally marks on my dry-erase board of how many items I have gotten rid of so far this month and I am now up to:

For the year 2012, I am up to a grand total of: 56 items.
Which means I have 1956 items left to go and 48 weeks to do it in.

I have also been doing really well with my goals for this year that I wanted to do each week. I don't really feel motivated to keep tracking those though. I think I just bogged myself down with those. I will continue with the 2012 in 2012 though. I really really enjoy that particular challenge!

I plan to return with regular posting now. Yay! Hope to see you around here! Oh and a quick mention I want to make. You should check out Heather's blog. She has been doing the 2012 in 2012 as well! Way to go Heather!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Just a quick note to let you all know that the posts that I normally have scheduled for Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays are going to be delayed or skipped this week. My kids were home from school yesterday for the holiday and I had a busy day with them. Today, I don't feel so well. So if you were looking for my regular posts, just be prepared that they will be late or not happen this week. On Friday, I will be definitely be back for Company Girl Coffee and next week, I should be back to my normal posts. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Changes This Week

Good morning! Why don't you come on in and sit for a spell? I don't have any coffee on (though I could put some on, if you'd like) and visit for a bit. I'll try to keep this on the shorter side as I have a lot to do today.

It's been a semi-busy week and yesterday, I let things go. But I'll get back to that in a bit. This past weekend at Hubby's work, someone quit on the spot. Just up and quit. Hubby has taken over this guy's hours as well as his own. It'll be nice when the paycheck shows up for it. Unfortunately, that won't be til the first payday in February, but that's okay. We'll make it work.

The Neighbor Girl, My Kids and Family and Friendship
I have had the neighbor girl every day after school and it has been going REALLY well. She loves coming over to my house after school and I'm not quite sure why. On Tuesday, she was sick and her stepdad's mom came to stay with her for the day. (My phone was dead and by the time, I was able to call her mom back, she was busy and had her phone turned off so she didn't get my message in time that I could take her daughter.)

On Wednesday, the girl's mom didn't need me to take her before school because the mom didn't need to be at her appointment until 10am. However, on Tuesday, one of the ladies that teaches at church asked me to go over to the church on Wednesday and pick up a food order for someone, so that is where I spent a large portion of my Wednesday morning. Then, I stopped in at Hubby's work to grab a bite to eat (I have about $50 or so in gift cards to use there and I get a discount on top of it, so a really good deal) and to try to have lunch with him. But he was almost done and it wouldn't have made sense to have him take a break right at the end of his shift, so I ate without him.

When it was almost time to pick up kids, I called my neighbor to see if I needed to pick up her daughter as well. She said that her daughter was really upset that morning because she didn't get to come over to my house before school and that it would probably make her daughter pretty happy if I picked her up. So I did.

We had to stop at her house on the way home to drop off some stuff and I went in and talked to our neighbor for a little bit. Her daughter had a chance to come in at that point, but chose not to.

When we finally got home, I had the kids do their homework and gave them a snack (which is our regular routine for after school) then they played video games (we have puzzle-solving games on the wii so I figure at least it is something that they have to think about and work for, right?) then sent the girl home at dinnertime.

Yesterday, when I was walking up to the school to pick my kids up (I no longer needed to take the girl before and after school because her mom's need for that was temporary), the neighbor calls me and asks me to pick up the girl and I agreed to do it. It really isn't any extra work for me, I mean, I'm already there doing that exact thing. It's just using one more seat in my van and at my table. One more snack and one more kid to help with homework. No biggie.

We get back to our home and the kids come in and get started on their homework, then snack, then a game. I drove the girl home just before dinner (yes, she only lives a short distance from us but it was VERY VERY cold and I wasn't going to make her walk in it, I didn't want to walk to her house in it and I definitely didn't want to walk to her house AND back in it) and talked with her mom for about an hour. It was nice to have that time. I get the impression that her mom doesn't really have that many people to talk to in a grown-up conversation and to be able to REALLY talk, you know? It was really nice. I enjoyed it.

Time Management and A Bad Schedule
This week, I have also been battling a bad sleep schedule and really bad headaches most of the day that evolve into migraines shortly after dinner. This past week, I have been waking up around 4:30am and I have been getting tired (and going to sleep for the night) around 7:30pm. My kids' bedtime is 8:30pm. So Hubby has been left on his own for the evening and bedtime routine. Poor guy!

Yesterday morning, even though I had a ton of stuff to get done, I went back to bed for a couple of hours after Hubby went to work. I was hoping that by getting some additional sleep earlier in the day, it would afford me the ability to stay up until, oh, I don't know? 9:30pm, 10:00pm? Something more reasonable than 7:30pm, at least. So I did it, then I went to the school to do my normal Thursday afternoon volunteering session (stuffing Thursday folders in Cephas' fifth grade class and Koren's second grade class) then going home for a bit before going back to get him and the others. Needless to say, I didn't get a whole lot done around the house. In fact, I don't think I have done ANY housework since Wednesday. Yeah, that doesn't go so well. I mean, that's like 36 hours of no housework being done. Scary. Honestly, it doesn't look that bad, thanks to some changes we have made around here.

Volunteering and Work
After doing second grade's folders and before doing fifth grade's folders, I ran over to Hubby's work to see if he was done yet because we are sharing a vehicle right now while mine is in the shop being repaired. He wasn't done, but he was close. His head manager (the store's general manager) was sitting at a table across the room and he saw me and waved. I waved back and relaxed there for a bit, drinking a complimentary diet soda and eating on some complimentary french fries (told ya I get taken care of there!) and out of the blue, Hubby's GM stands up, points at me and says, "You're fired!" It's a running joke. He fires me nearly every day that we are both there. I don't work there, have never worked for him, yet he fires me all the time. :) Weird, I know. But he's a fun guy.

Hubby got off work and went with me to finish up fifth grade's folders and then I found out that he had been promoted to prep trainer. Yay! He makes an extra $3.00 an hour when he trains AND he gets a free meal (yes, I sometimes get free food and he still has to pay for his usually) so that is pretty cool. I keep telling him that he needs to take advantage of his free meal when he gets it but he usually passes on it. Oh well. Probably healthier that way, I suppose.

Oh and my plan of napping earlier in the day worked. I was able to stay awake until 10:30pm last night before crashing. And I slept through until my alarm woke me up at 6:00am. Do you know how long it has been since I have slept through until my alarm woke me up? (Okay, last Wednesday, but before that it had been quite awhile as well) It is wonderful to sleep until your alarm goes off. I felt so excited about it! I woke Hubby up to tell him how happy I was to wake up that early. He wasn't nearly as thrilled as I was though. Hmmm, wonder why? ;)

So that was my week in a nutshell. Today, I have a lot on my agenda. I need to tidy up the house from the last 36 hours and then I have some ideas that I want to put into action in the kids' bedrooms. Oralee received a new bed last week from a co-worker of mine and then this week, she received a new vanity from some friends of ours. Her room is getting considerably more girly by the minute, I tell you! And I LOVE it! I never thought I would drink in all this girly froo-froo stuff but it is so cool and wonderful! I have some changes to make in her room (remove her dresser and set up a different system for clothing storage) and then in the boys' room (make a trundle drawer for Cephas' mattress to go on and get rid of one of the bed frames, move Oralee's dresser into the boys' room for the boys to have more clothing storage for them and rearrange their room just a bit) plus, I have a clean home challenge and an organized home challenge that I am working on as well. So I have those things to do. One thing is for sure, it is never boring in this house! :)

I hope you are all having a wonderful week as well! And many wishes for you and your family to have a wonderful weekend and next week too! Thanks for dropping by for my (long-winded) update for this week!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Organized Home Challenge - Week 2 prep

This past week's focus was: Kitchen Organization: Countertops & Sink.

Step 1: Think About the Functions of Your Kitchen.
  • Cooking (and food preparation)
  • Food storage (both cold storage and pantry)
Step 2: Create Usable Counter Space and Clear Your Kitchen Table (mostly).

The counters have been cleared of all unnecessary items! (Although, in the photos, you will see a pan next to the stove. That was for my dinner set-up. I had the pan setting out there, with my dry ingredients in it so that it was ready to go when it was time to cook.)

I had planned to clear off my bar area instead of our dining room table, but this didn't happen this week. It's still better than it was, but it is not where it should be ideally. It is something that will get done, but has not gotten done yet.

Step 3: Consider These Kitchen Storage Solutions To Help Clear Counter Space.

I did not get a magnetic knife storage thing for the wall. It's just simply not in the budget right now and quite honestly, I'm not sure how it would look in my kitchen in the area I have for it.
I also did not get shelves for my spices, but instead I did a little bit of food storage rearranging so that I could put my spices into the cupboard instead of having them on my counter next to the stove.

Step 4: Create The Habit Of Keeping Your Sink Clear Of Dishes At Least Two Times Per Day.

I have done this faithfully every day since I got my cupboards cleared. And yesterday, when I started dinner, my sink was clear. I was able to fill up the sink, toss my dirty dishes into the sink as I used them and loaded them all into the dishwasher while the lasagna was in the oven. Then all I had to do was the lasagna pan, the spatula and our dinner dishes. It was so nice to not have any "extras".

And now for the pictures, because we all know that is what you are REALLY here for! :)

 Okay, in this picture, there are a GREAT number of things that I removed, including:
hot pads (I hung those up), hodgepodge pile of dishes that aren't used regularly and don't belong in here (moved to the dining room), boxed food goods (put away in cupboards, a spice tray (which you can't even see in this pic - moved to a cupboard), toaster, mixer and can opener (moved to small appliance cupboard - which needs clearing out in a major way!), coke cake (in the aluminum foil - we ate it), soda (I drank it), and yeah, that pretty well takes care of this pic. Oh - there is a chair. I moved that back to the dining room.

Okay, now we turn the camera to get the other side of the counter area in the kitchen and we find more food items needing to be put away (which they were), more dishes that needed to be moved to the dining room (which they were), dirty dishes in the sink, a miscellaneous mixture of items on the microwave (I went through every item up there and decluttered it in a major way) and more random items on the bar (some of which got cleared off, some of which didn't).

And then some pictures of the bar area. Actually, in the middle bar picture, you can see the top of the armoire, I also did that surface as part of this challenge, but didn't get an after shot of it because I didn't think of it. I might grab one yet this evening and add it in to this post. But here they are, feel free to click on them to look at them in full-size. I left them little because I don't have comparison pics for you to see anything afterward.

Stove and small area next to it all cleared off and ready for cooking to happen!

Counter all cleared off, save for the tomatoes and avocados and the evening's dinner prep.

Full -view into the kitchen (yes, there were a couple of things on the floor - they have been removed though!

Kitchen sink - CLEARED!

My microwave with my drink tray on top of it. I actually swapped out this tray and the one that was on the microwave because the previous one wasn't big enough to hold all the drink mixes, etc. Also, you see my coffee pot and my digital kitchen scale and what appears to be a to-go cup from a coffee shop. Well, that IS what it is, but it holds the beans that I got from that coffee shop.

Area next to my sink where my handwashed dishes dry. I hate this area. I think it always looks bad, even when it is all cleaned. I really want a different dish drainer or maybe just a larger mat to let the dishes dry on so that I can put it away and not have to look at this.

Just another view of my sink. Looks more inviting, doesn't it?

And now, to make this an incredibly long post, we find out what the challenge is for week 2.

Week #2: Kitchen Drawers & Kitchen Cabinet Organization

Step 1: Recall the Functions of Your Kitchen From Last Week

Step 2: Declutter Your Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers

Step 3: Sort What Is Left According to How Often You Use It

Step 4: Strategically Place Everything In Your Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers According to Their Zones

Step 5: Consider Kitchen Storage Solutions For Your Drawers and Cabinets to Maximize the Use of Your Available Space

So there you have it, week one complete and week two starting up.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Clean Home Challenge, Week 2

If you remember from my post this past week, I took a picture of the top of my dresser. It was quite cluttered up with various things:

A basket of Christmas ornaments, a box of extra school supplies, clothes, hangers, a couple of single boots, a tote with some clothes in it, a container with some change in it...just very miscellaneous schtuffs. (That's the technical term for it, by the way!)

Well, I cleared it all off, dusted off the decorative scrollwork that is at the top of my mirror (not shown in the picture) and then removed all the cluttery items from my dresser and put it all away. Clothes went to the appropriate places - laundry room or the person's bedroom, the hangers to the closet, the box of school supplies to the closet where they are supposed to be stored, the boots to the shelf next to the front door where we keep them, the container of change got emptied into Hubby's change tray and then I was ready to clean off the top of the dresser itself.

I got it all cleaned off and dusted, then I put a picture frame with a family picture in it on the dresser along with three jars that I got from the Dollar Store. I had planned to use those jars to make homemade sugar scrub for Christmas presents but I never got around to it so I still had them. I just added water to them and put in some floating candles that I've had laying around here for the last two years. I also had three pillar holders (for candles) that were still new in box and I decided to pull them out and put them in there too. I think it adds a nice little touch to the dresser's look and I feel like I finally have a use for them. Then I added a small tray that I absolutely love. I actually have a set of three of these trays. The one on my dresser is the smallest of the bunch. The next size up (which is the same length but in a square) I have on top of my microwave to corral miscellaneous items that need to be taken out of the kitchen. I also have a large one that is rectangular that I use for a drink tray - well, to store drink mixes and such, not to serve drinks on.

And overall, I am quite pleased with the way it turned out! It only took about 15-20 minutes to clear off and straighten it up and decorate it. Oh - and don't mind the mirror. I had some clean laundry on the bed that needed to be folded and didn't want that to take away from the nice look of the dresser. Oh - and in case you hadn't guessed, I did find my camera. It wasn't on my dresser but just under the front edge of the dresser. How it got there, I don't have the slightest clue, but regardless, I found it!

Okay, now a quick side-by-side comparison so that you don't have to scroll up and down to compare the two:

And now moving on to Week 2:

This week we are supposed to head on out to our living rooms and clear off just one end table. This actually works out pretty well for me because I only have one. I did have three but I just recently got rid of two of them.

I have to confess, the picture of my end table is actually taken partially done. I was cleaning up the living room this morning and decided to clean up the area near my favorite relaxing / study spot in the living room. So, what you will see here is after I picked up two of those bottles of soda (Diet Dr Pepper - belonged to me, two yogurt cups with spoons - belonged to Jeriah and Hubby, a bowl and a spoon - belonged to Oralee, as well as various random bits and pieces. I had also decided to put the basket that was on my dresser in my before pic down here to store all of our various charging cords (my laptop, our cell phones, the boys' dsi chargers, the little kids' Leapster charger, etc. etc. etc.) which I think looks better than a jumble of those cords just laying down here. I may revamp that plan later on, but for now, I like it.

And here is the picture:

The Saved Quarter Challenge - Week 1 Catch Up and Week 2

I'm joining in on this a little bit late, but I am ready to participate! For the first week, we were supposed to set a goal and write it down.

My goals are to:

Save 10% of our income for an emergency fund.

Save 5% of our income for medical expenses not covered by insurance. Or to use for co-pays, etc.

Set aside 10% of our income for tithing. While not technically saving, it is an important investment and I think a crucial one when it comes to money matters.

Week 1 Complete
Beginning of Week 2

Hubby got paid on 1/6/2012 and I immediately put 10% of his paycheck aside for savings in a certain tucked-away spot. It would make more sense to put it in the bank to accrue interest but that is not a logical option for me right now, as I am too quick to withdraw money from there when I want it. I now have $20.00 set aside for our emergency fund. (Hubby had a lot less hours than normal over the last month or so, these totals are going to be smaller for this paycheck and the next.)
Total: $20.00 this week, $20.00 year to date

I also tucked away 5% in another spot to set aside for medical expenses. I now have $10.00 set aside for for medical expenses.
Total: $10.00 this week, $10.00 year to date

And finally, I tucked 10% into an envelope and turned it in to the church yesterday morning. I contributed $20.00 plus an additional amount to the church for our tithing.
Total: $20.00 this week, $20.00 year to date

Tracking Spending:
I haven't been writing everything down as it happens, but I do keep every single receipt and then I record it later. This works for a couple of different reasons. This way I can also track regular and sale prices for individual items as well. But since I have the receipts to use for all of this, I can easily track our spending.

This also helps with one of my 2012 Resolutions, in particular Item 6e.

You can click the image above to be directed to the Saved Quarter or you can click here.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Organizing My Life - Week 2

Last Sunday, I posted about some routines that I want to change to make my home a better place and to make a healthier me for this year. It's now the end of week one and I'm here to report back to you on my progress so far.

As you can see (click on the image if you want to see it bigger), the goal that I had set was to be up for the day every day by 7am. I most definitely accomplished this every single day, with the exception of one, which was actually Thursday but I see now that I mis-marked it as Wednesday. It is a bit difficult to make that image so I am not going to fix it. The number is right though. I achieved my goal on 6 out of 7 days this past week.

The ironic part of that day being the ONLY day I was not up by 7am? I had an appointment for all 4 kids at 8am. I woke up at 7:52. In my defense, I had a cold this past week and was feeling terrible and the night before, I took some NyQuil. I got some wonderful sleep, I just did not wake up to my alarm.

Luckily, I was able to call the dentist's office and let them know that I would be half an hour late (it's a good 25 minute drive over there) and that they would only be seeing three of the kids because the youngest one was sick. They said that would be fine, so I started throwing clothes at kids and urging them to get dressed and of course to "QUICKLY brush your teeth!"

We actually made it there in about 35 minutes. I called the office at 8:30 (when we were supposed to be arriving per the second arrangement) and let them know that I was at a stop light and about 5 minutes away from them and asked if that would still work. They said yes again. Phew!

So, dentist visit went well for the kiddos. One (flossing) cavity among all of them. The five year old, Oralee, is our best brusher out of the older three kids. Then it is ten year old, Cephas, then eight year old, Koren. Koren is the one with cavity as well. It only showed up on his x-ray because it is so tiny and in a spot between two teeth where they meet.

He will need to go back in February to get sealants put on his teeth and to fill that cavity. Cephas and Oralee passed their dental exams. Cephas, to date, has had one cavity, Koren, to date, has had one cavity, Oralee to date has had no cavities and same with Jeriah. I think that is an okay record. I would have loved for it to be zero for all of them, but this is okay too.

Oh wow. I was here to write about goals and got off on a tangent about dental appointments. Sorry. I do that a lot. I'm guessing you already know that though.

Okay, so anyhow, getting back to the regularly scheduled blog post, I accomplished my goal of waking up at 7am for week 1 on six out of seven days. My goal for the coming week is to continue with last week's goal and then add to it the new goal of walking for at least 10 minutes, 3 times each day. I should be able to accomplish this goal fairly easy every day of the week, particularly if I am getting up at 7am each day. I will get this. It will become a habit and I will do it every day! If these goals are something that you'd like to join me in or if you'd like a blank copy of that chart, please leave me a comment and I can email it to you. Or you are welcome to just jump in as well and join me where I am for that week.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 in 2012 - End of Week 1

This year I have set a goal of getting rid of 2012 items. I saw this done on other blogs last year and I like the idea behind it. So that is my goal for this year as well.

So far this week, I have:

1 train table (it was broken)
1 bag of miscellaneous items from the living room
1 bag of miscellaneous items from the kitchen
1 bag of miscellaneous items from the dining room
1 bag of miscellaneous items from the front room
1 bag of miscellaneous items from our bedroom

2 end tables (I put these out on our curb and sure enough, someone who needed them came by and picked them up!)
1 couch (I also put this out on our curb and sure enough, someone who needed them came by and picked them up!)

Nothing this week

1 twin xl bed frame
1 twin mattress

That brings the grand total for this week to: 11 items.
For the year 2012, that is a grand total of: 11 items.
Which means I have 2001 items left to go and 51 weeks to do it in.

 *I do feel inclined to admit thought, that even though I got rid of one bed frame and one mattress, I also brought in one toddler bed and one crib mattress. However, I feel that the others count in the lessening of items in our home simply because of the space gained. Trust me, it is a HUGE difference!*

Friday, January 6, 2012

Busy Day

Today is the last weekday before school starts back up for the new semester. My kids spent the night at Grandma's house and I will be picking them up midday from her. Today, I have a full agenda. Hubby and I rearranged the living room and front room in our home and as such, I have now have a huge pile to deal with on my dining room table. Well it was sort of a result of the rearrangement. None of the stuff on my table actually came from the living room or front room (as far as I know) but instead from a corner built-in cabinet that I had been using as our "curriculum cupboard". Considering the fact that we don't homeschool and barely afterschool anymore, I felt that this cupboard was best to go through and to use it instead for our dinnerware items. Plates, bowls, cups, salad plates and glassware. This was done so that all of our food storage could be accomplished within the boundaries of the kitchen cupboards. It has taken some re-working (and is still being re-worked, if I am to be totally honest) but it is progress. I am really pleased, however, with the dinnerware and glassware being in the dining room cupboard though. I think this puts more emphasis on real family meals - the kind where the food is placed in dishes and passed around, not just served from the pot or pan on the stove.

This does mean, however, that I have a quick job of tidying up the living room and front room and a little bit more extensive job of cleaning the dining room and kitchen. I need to get dishes put away so I can run the dishwasher, clear off the counters and the stove and make sure my sink is empty. Then I need to focus some effort on the dining room to clear off the table and sort through the pile that is on there at the moment, pick up the floor and then sweep and mop both the dining room and kitchen. And then last of all, I need to move all of the clean laundry into our bedroom then do a quick clean of the bathroom (toilet, sink, mirror, tub, floor). Oh, and to make it interesting, I have two hours. Yup, two hours.

You see, there is a family that lives just around the corner from me and they are going through some seriously rough times right now. Seriously rough. And today, they need someone to watch their 7 year old girl. It was not without a lot of thought and prayer and even seeking approval from my own 8 year old that I decided to offer to watch this little girl today. She has some challenging behavioral issues and as I said, her family is going through some really really rough times right now. But I called her mom last night and offered to watch the girl today. The lady who watched the girl all week had let the mom know I would be calling, I think, because she had mentioned something about the other lady mentioning my name as well. (Yes, I had even talked to the lady who had taken care of the girl all week! I'm telling you - I took this under great consideration.) The mom agreed to have the girl come over here today and just hang out and she will also be coming over every morning next week for an hour before school and two or three hours after school . I have a feeling that I am going to know this family very well by the end of next week. I am grateful for this opportunity to serve this family as well.

But that means that I need to get my house in order before the girl shows up. And I am clearly not as motivated to do it as I should be, considering the fact that I am sitting her blogging about what I need to do instead of, oh, I don't know - doing it? Yeah that. Oops. Ah well. It will get done. And most of it will be done in time. I don't mind some of it not being done in time, but I do want most of it to be done.

Later today, the girl and I are going to run my cocker spaniel across town to our vet for grooming. Our vet has a grooming area and a doggie daycare center as well as a hospital all in one building. It is great and I love it there! So we will drop off the dog and then go pick up my children from Grandma's house.

When we come back here today, we will either be making (and decorating!) sugar cookies or else assembling gingerbread houses that I picked up on clearance this past week for $2 apiece. I had only gotten four of them (as I only have four children) but I think that the girl would enjoy the activity more than Jeriah will, so I plan to have Jeriah and Oralee share a house to decorate, if we go that route. Who knows? And maybe, just maybe, I can convince Hubby to go to the Dollar Store after work and pick up a large disposable deep dish baking pan so that I can make the girl's family dinner for tonight and that way the mom doesn't have to try and worry about getting that all squared away after a long day too. Maybe. I hope that we are able to do that at least.

But anyhow, I am now down to 1 hour and 48 minutes to get as much housework done as I can before the girl arrives, so I will sign off for now and check back in with you all later! Toodles!

*Checking back in*
The day did NOT go as planned, though it did go very well. The girl was late in arriving. I had expected her at 8:00 but she actually showed up around 8:30. That was fine because it gave me some time to sit out on our front porch swing and just relax for a short while.

She was disappointed that my kids were not here this morning, so we went over and picked the kiddos up early from my mother-in-law's house. The kids played a few games over there while my mother-in-law and I visited for a bit.

We then headed back to our house and I sent my kids off to clean their bedrooms. They actually have more chores to do than that, but since today was a different sort of day, I decided that just cleaning their rooms would be enough. Afterwards, the kids watched a movie while I continued to work in the kitchen and dining room (which I hadn't gotten completely done before the girl arrived) then we left to go get lunch. I had ordered pizza from a small shop close to our home that has pizza that the kids love (and I am okay-ish with, mainly because they are SO affordable!) and then we came back, the kids ate lunch and then they finished the last twenty minutes of their movie while I cleaned up and put our leftovers away. Then we broke out the gingerbread house kits!

What a disaster! It was a lot of fun, but man oh man, it was difficult to put those houses together, or maybe I should say, to KEEP those houses together! Ay yi yi! Koren gave up pretty quickly on his and decided to go outside to play with some neighbor kids, then Cephas' kept falling apart and he decided he was done but that he had had a good time trying to create his. The girl's house held up well enough for her to take home about four hours later. I helped Oralee and Jeriah assemble their house and left them to decorate it. Their house actually turned out the best. I think mainly because Oralee is very caught up in patterns (or "patterins" as she calls them) and so her side of the roof looks very balanced. Meanwhile, Jeriah's side of the roof was random in the coloring although the candy he used was all the same type. Overall, a very fun day!

I then set the kids up with the second movie that they had requested for today, but they spent more time playing with toys and on the computers and Nintendo dsi and Leapfrog Leapster games. Regardless, I think they really enjoyed the day.

When the girl's mom called to say that she had just pulled into her driveway, we got ready to go and Cephas and I walked the girl home. Cephas came along to carry the girl's gingerbread house. Isn't that sweet of him?

The girl's mom and I talked for about half an hour. I set up plans with her for taking the girl next week. Next week, the girl will be coming over in the morning and I will take her to school when I take my kids to school and then bring her home afterward when I pick my kids up. I am actually wondering if it would be better for me to just keep the girl overnight so that her mother doesn't have to struggle to get her up in the morning. It's something that I plan to ask her about later this weekend. I am just trying to figure out how best to help this family.

I also plan to bring them prepared, complete meals next week. I wish that I'd had that idea today because that mom was so exhausted after her day. It seems that there must be something more that I can do to help them, but I honestly don't know what I can do for them. I do know that these things would help them out and that is a good start, I think.

My main desire in all this is that I can somehow share her load and provide her with some much-needed respite in whatever capacity that I am able to provide.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Clean Home Challenge, Week 1

Well, I think the sticky note pretty much says it all doesn't it? And honestly, my dresser could use a major overhaul. For some reason, things have been stacked up there and piled high. I have a mirror on the back of my dresser and I'm not even sure if I could see myself in it. I have a vision of what this space should look like and today is the day to make that happen! So here goes...

This is my dresser before doing anything to it. Please don't mind the crappy cell phone pic. If I knew where my camera was at the moment, I'd have used that instead. Maybe while working on my projects today, I will find it and be able to take my after pic with that instead.

I can't wait to get this done and to show you the after pic. I have plans to get a jewelry box in the future because I think it would look so nice sitting there on my dresser and it would also be nice to have a place to put my few pieces of jewelry. But for now, I would be happy to just have a cleared off dresser and maybe to even add a few decorative touches to it.

Complete Living Area Makeover

There are some HUGE changes in store for my house this month. Hubby and I were talking tonight about some options for the furniture arrangement that we have and what we would like it to look like and how we want it all to be laid out. You see, we have some very odd spaces in our home that don't seem so odd until you want to place furniture. Then it becomes a big issue. We have a number of not-functioning-as-well-as-it-could issues here at our place and we are working on fixing it.

This is the current layout of the front room and living room.

As you can see, when you first walk into our house, you are immediately bottle-necked or outright blocked from getting into the house because of Hubby's desk/chair and the cedar chest. Not to mention that when Hubby is sitting in his chair (and therefore has it out further than currently shown) there isn't much of a walkway between his chair and the train table.

What we talked about doing was getting rid of the big couch in the living room (it really is a must-do item) and then moving the loveseat to the living room to take the place of the couch. It only has two seats but we don't really watch TV all that much. The TV is generally used for Wii, which the kids stand to play and then sometimes for Hubby and I to watch TV together (and we don't mind sharing the loveseat!) or for our Saturday Night Movie Night. But even then, when there are five of us watching TV, at least three are usually on the floor with pillows and blankets anyhow. So I really don't see it as an issue of losing seating in that area.

Once the loveseat is moved, then Hubby's desk will go to where the loveseat was. Then the bookshelf that was in the living room will go to where the desk was. Then the cedar chest will be moved to where the bookshelf was. And then the little side table next to the entertainment center right now will go between the loveseat and the wall. Then to end it all, the train table will go out to the shed until later this year when the kids have bunk beds and have room in their bedroom for it.

Having a hard time picturing it? Good thing for you that I rather like Microsoft Paint. So here it is:

So, what do you think? Does that look okay? I know that the front room looks really sparse and as much as I tried to get it fairly accurate on scale, I have to admit that it isn't 100% on scale. There is quite a bit more empty space in the room, but I rather think that I like that. And if it turns out that we want to bring pieces back in or whatever, that is always an option. But I doubt that we will want to.

Plus, the last time we had the floor area of the front room all open the way it is in the second picture, the kids LOVED it. I can't remember why we changed it up and decided to put the train table there, but I think going back to the openness will be better for everyone!

So that is our project for today. Whew! What a job! But it will be so worth it when it is all done! I cannot wait!!!

I am linking this up to 5 minutes for mom. You should go check them out and see the tackles that other people are doing too!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Organized Home Challenge - Week 1 prep

So I started this up last year and then completely dropped the ball and since it is something that I am passionate about accomplishing this year, I am going to really strive to make it happen this time.

This week's focus is: Kitchen Organization: Countertops & Sink.

Step 1: Think About the Functions of Your Kitchen.
  • Cooking (and food preparation)
  • Food storage (both cold storage and pantry)
That's actually about it. Our kitchen is off at one end of our home and therefore, we don't use it in the additional ways that a lot of other families use theirs. We have a separate dining room although we do have a bar in the kitchen that separates it from the living room.

Step 2: Create Usable Counter Space and Clear Your Kitchen Table (mostly).

Well, as I said, we don't have a table in here but we do have the bar, so I will use that to accomplish this part of the goal, as it does tend to pile up with miscellaneous things. I also do not have a lot of counter space and with our current configuration, I have even less than I could have. I have a few ideas that I plan to implement to use our space more efficiently.

Within this step, she recommends that we put away things that do not fit in with the intended purpose that we have for our kitchens. This part is really easy for me because I can quickly and easily see things that do not belong in here at all but for whatever reason landed here.

The next step within a step is that we put away things that actually do fit in with intended purpose of our kitchen. Yikes! This is the hard part for me because I also do not have a lot of cupboard space. This should be interesting.

She then recommends that we declutter gadgets and appliances. This is going to be crucial to be able to utilize the space that I actually have available. I can even think of a few appliances that I have in my cupboards that could maybe be switched out to longer-term storage or even get rid of it (like my bread maker since I generally make bread by hand, not by machine) and my blender (which I do use from time to time - which should stay in the kitchen area at least). The only things on my counters that are honestly used every day is the microwave, the dish drainer (although I really would love to change out the style of mine so that I can fold it and tuck it away when not in use) and my cooking utensils and knives and our spices, though I have some ideas for those things as well (thinking vertically here - wall storage space - spice rack, magnetic knife strip) but other than that, I don't use my toaster every day or my coffeemaker. And I actually have room to put both of those items in my dining room where they would be more likely to be used more frequently.

Step 3: Consider These Kitchen Storage Solutions To Help Clear Counter Space.

Heh, I already started this on the last step. (Can you tell that I didn't read ahead?) But some of the suggestions that she has that I plan to maybe implement are:

Magnetic knife storage for the wall (as mentioned above!)
Shelves for spices (as mentioned above!)

Then we are on to Step 4: Create The Habit Of Keeping Your Sink Clear Of Dishes At Least Two Times Per Day.

The idea behind this is to make sure that the sink is clear so that we don't clutter up the counters with other stuff since the kitchen already appears to be messy. I like this idea and plan to implement it for the morning after breakfast and in the evening after dinner. It would be even better if I were able to just unload the dishwasher in the morning and put all the dishes away and then as the dishes come in throughout the day (breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner) that I would be able to simply rinse them and put them in the dishwasher, which I could start at bedtime. Meh, maybe that is just what I'll work toward. I like that idea better anyway and I do believe that we have enough plates to get through the day just fine without running short (unless we are having company over)

That completes this week's challenge preparations. I will add in some before and after photos at the end of the week as well as some commentary to show you how I changed things to be able to gain back usable counters and also to keep the sink clear!

2012 Resolutions

Yesterday, while the kids were working on their chores (and they did a very nice job on them for the most part) Cephas came up to me and was asking about resolutions. He said that he wants to make some for this year. Miss Lil Oralee already did make two, which she shared with me, and it got me to thinking that I should make some as well. I have my goals for Organizing My Life and a number of those goals actually directly correspond with some of my resolutions.

But without further ado, here are (some of) my resolutions:

1. Improve my health.
a. I plan to do this by getting into a consistent sleep schedule. I want to be able to have more energy to spend on the things that really matter and that requires me to get adequate sleep. It would also improve my health and wellness.
b. Another way that I plan to do improve my overall health is to start exercising on a more consistent basis. Sadly, I do not even walk on a daily basis.
c. I also plan to eat balanced meals, at home, at the right time of day, so that it has the best possible effects for my body.
d. I would like to lose 90 pounds by this time next year. I bought a scale yesterday. That is the first step. (Get it, step?! I crack myself up!)

2. Improve my spiritual life.
a. I plan to pray specifically and to journal those prayers and answers on a regular basis.
b. I plan to read my Scriptures daily and to continue to journal about the things that I am covering in my reading.
c. I have also accepted a teaching position at church and will be spending time once a month (at minimum) teaching others and being there for them.
d. Attend church every week.
e. Read the Bible with my children daily.

3. Improve my homemaking skills.
a. The kids have their regular chores and they are fairly good about doing them. I need to be better about doing my own personal chores though as well.
b. I need to be able to say no to things that would interfere with my own goals of what I want my house to be. My home needs to be a higher priority.
c. Continue to teach my children how to thoroughly clean a home so that they are able to do this when they become adults and don't have to struggle with it the way that Hubby had to.
d. I need to develop a regular cleaning schedule that works for me and for my house and my life.
e. I have a vision and a goal of what I want my house to look and feel like and I will know that this has been accomplished when my house feels and looks the way it does in my head.

4. Continue to build new relationships.
a. I have started building new relationships and have been rebuilding some current relationships. I have found this to be most pleasing overall and really want to be purposeful about this.

5. Improve my education.
a. Ideally, I would love to continue to work on a degree, but honestly, I don't foresee that happening at this stage in my life. I am okay with that though. Or mostly okay with that at least.
b. There is a plethora of online resources for learning and I plan to utilize these to increase my education this year.

6. Improve our financial well-being.
a. This is an interesting thing for me to list in here, as I have actually stopped working regular hours and am just on PRN status with two different families, but maybe that is also while it is even more important.
b. I want to get all of our bills caught up and current within the first 3 months of this year.
c. Beginning in March, I want to pay off every bill IN FULL that we receive every month.
d. Beginning now, I do not want to accumulate any additional debt this year.
e. I also want to start putting money aside every paycheck (maybe 10%) to begin building a nest egg for a rainy day.
f. I want to get rid of our storage unit by March as well. That is money that we are spending each and every month that serves no real purpose for our lives. I do need to go through it and make it work into the space that we have available for long-term storage or make some tough decisions.

7. Get rid of 2012 items in 2012.
a. I have seen this on people's blogs this year and I would like to do that this year. It goes along perfectly with Resolution #6, part F, don't you think? I love it when things work together like that!

I think that is it for this year. I may come back and add more or even do a new post in which I change them or add to them or whatever, but I feel good about this list. I expanded on general goals and clearly defined what I want to happen. I will check back in with you all and let you know how they are going.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Organizing My Life - Week 1

You all might remember when I first introduced this idea here and if so, you can see here and now that I remembered this and am still planning to stick to it. And for day numero uno, I have succeeded. I am awake and present and accounted for by 7am. It feels good to accomplish this goal already this morning! Yay for a good start to the year!