Monday, January 31, 2011

In The Beginning

The year was 1969. Big things were in store that year. That Spring, in a borough of NYC, a family was preparing to welcome their second little boy into the world. He was going to be a dosey of a kid. In another part of the country, while astronauts were preparing to fly to the moon, a young couple was planning their wedding. The young lady had to finish high school of course, but it was decided that in July, they would travel from Tucson to Nevada on a long weekend and get hitched. It was a good year.

What does this have to do with anything?'s the beginning, you know? The beginning of the impractical love story of me and my beloved Moose.

In the summer of '71, Moose's folks decided the city was too much for them and moved to El Paso. Along about '75, the young couple in Tucson welcomed their baby girl into the world. They loved their little tomboy to bits and as she grew up to sing her little heart out when she sang opera and played Annie in the grade school musicals. So there they were enjoying the Sonoran desert when just a couple states away....

Moose was on the loose. He was just finishing kindergarten when i was born. Growing up, he loved terrorising the neighbourhood with his brothers and childhood friends. He couldn't be too naughty (or atleast he had to be really sneaky about it), as his dad was a lawyer and well known deacon in the area lobbying for the rights of the unborn and immigrants. Taking long car trips with his family back east and to Washington to visit relatives. Enjoying baseball, honing his alter boy skills, and running with the track team. Then, before you know it, it was time for him to head to college. All the way to Lubbock. Lucky him. *grin*

Meanwhile, while he was in college, i was in middle school. Sadly, while he was having the first of his exams, i was probably digging around in the garbage bags from school looking for the retainer i threw away by accident. I was also learning algebra from a math teacher by the name of Mr. Grobelch. Now Mr. Grobelch was one cool dude. He was one of those teachers that would tell it like it was--there was no certificate of participation in his class. See, Mr. Grobelch had been privileged to teach a super basketball star that played at the local university and was instrumental in leading the team into the NCAA tournaments, so of course, Mr. G was all about every one of his students being the best so they could attend U of A too. You either did your work well, or he called you on the carpet--in front of everyone! One of his favourite sayings was "If you buy the farm (earn an "f"), you'll be going to Texas Tech below the deck." Little did i know....

Moose was off studying engineering at Texas Tech for 4 years. During this time, his family was hit with some devastating news. Their father had been diagnosed with cancer...again. He had beaten it once before, however this time the disease would claim his life. While Moose was travelling back and forth from Lubbock to El Paso during his final year of college, i was enjoying my junior year in high school. And as the reality of his father's passing hit him, Moose knew he wanted to leave Texas as soon as he could!

About the time he was driving through Tucson on I-10, a mere 3 miles from my house, to relocate to Washington, i was getting ready to leave for Germany as an exchange student...

How would our paths ever meet at this rate???

Stay tuned for the next installment of The Impractical Love Story of Me and My Moose.

Gettin' Organised :: Living and Dining

Hello. Yeah, we're still around just suuuuuuper busy. Last week was homeschool bowling and with the swim lessons twice a week...we're finding it a challenge to get all our chores done. But it's good...moving in the right direction anyway! Unlike my weight loss. Harumph! For some reason these last two weeks, i've gained a pound. I'm hoping to misplace it this week. :)

I'll have after pictures of my bedroom tomorrow...

Today we start on the two largely ignored rooms...we're things seem to wander in on their own, and never leave until light starts shooting out of my eye sockets like Bill Cosby's wife. :) It'll be okay though.

Here's my list of duties this week:

Detailed Cleaning List for
Zone 5: Living and Dining Rooms

Living Room:

1. COLLECT webs.
2. CLEAN windows, sills, & wood trims.
3. VACUUM mantle & hearth.
4. VACUUM couches & under cushions.
5. DUST lamps, pictures, & furniture.
6. TIDY prayer table.
7. WASH wood wall & POLISH with evoo.

Dining Room:

1. COLLECT webs
2. CLEAN light fixtures.
3. WASH windows, French doors. WASH & POLISH pocket door.
4. DUST wood trims, fire grate, & mantle.
5. VACUUM hearth & fireplace.
6. DUST piano & hutch.
7. STRAIGHTEN bookshelves.
8. DUST table & chairs.
9. For C.m.: spend 2 x 15 minute sessions tidying art area.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Little Different Everyday....

The war of the worlds in the love nest is coming along. I thought i get my before pictures up today, so by Saturday, i can delight in the "after".

This is what you see when you first walk into the room. We're equal opportunity offenders in this place...the dresser on the left is mine and the right is Moose's. We pile. It's what we do. But piles can look nice too. There's no reason why Cookie's formal dress she outgrew when she was two has to reside on my dresser. :)

My nightstand...UGH! I'm getting there, though. The piles on the top of the nightstand had relatives living below on the floor. Once all the stuff that needs to find a new home was removed from the top of my dresser, it became the new home for all magazines. I'm surprised by how many i've gone through in the last couple days too. I think i've read and recycled 6 mags in 2 days! They're right there...i just grab then when we head out the door.

The pile behind Cookie Monster was tackled today. In it was more outgrown clothes and issues of the newspaper from 4 years ago. Out they went! It's easy to tackle the junky stuff when you have a great little assistant to help with the grimy stuff.

When things are this bad though (the inside of the upright floor lamp), i just can't bring myself to let her help with that. She could drown in dust bunnies that thick!!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Diary of a Dirty Bedroom, Part One

Okay, you know how they say that when you embark on a life changing experience, like weight loss or such, they say that you should keep a journal especially during the lows and the times you hit absolute rock bottom. Then when you are feeling like you aren't having much success (even after you have), you can go back and remember why you don't wanna go back there anymore?!

Well, i've decided to do that with my bedroom this week.

Warning: Graphic Images Follow

Like. Oh. My. Heck. This was just from the ceiling, inside of the closet, window and door trim, and the walls of my bedroom. Eeeew! Gross!! I'm ready to roll out a sleeping bag on the floor in our galley kitchen, just to sleep someplace semi-clean.

I'll just use this as inspiration. I'm not giving up now. My next baby won't be conceived in a dung hole like this one!! Now, on to the floor lamp and ceiling fixture: where no Swiffer has gone before.....

Monday, January 24, 2011

Gettin' Organised :: Doin' a Favour for You & Yours

Last week, was spent in the kid zones. And you know what, it really didn't go so bad. We worked all week in the rooms; a little here, little there and i only had to raise my voice and use a well-intentioned, totally purposeful curse word once. Yea me! :) Because can't a gaggle of toys strewn about in numerous hiding places, that have no rhyme or reason with regard to sorting, and that don't get play with constitute as "excrement"?

There are still toys on the floor and other junk out of place, however we did get more cleaning done than the uncleaned spots we left and half of Cookie Monsters floor is visible!

This week, it's one of the disaster areas...Moose and my bedroom. It's the room you dread to inhabit. You know the's the room at the end of the hall, just past the main bathroom, so if you have to do a stash and dash in the living room minutes before company arrives, that's the best place to put it. They'll never know that you are a complete slob, cause they'll never see it! Woo hoo ha ha ha! :) Mudder.

But close the door and bam! You look like Merry Homemaker.

No more! I say!! NO MORE!
This is where we rest supposedly. But everytime i see Moose leaning up again our headboard, i'm praying he doesn't drown in dust bunnies and have an asthmatic attack. There are 3 precarious stacks of magazines on my side of the bed that is increasingly annoying as i've developed the extremely awful habit of waking up in the wee hours of the morning and when i get up, i trip, er ... walk all over those stinkin' magazines. Moose's side of the bed collects stray wires, Cookie Monster's books, and the occasional electronics. The bike bags are next to his side of the bed, which eats into at least a foot of his little 2 foot walkway there. I am ashamed to admit it, but i think the last time i cleaned under the bed was before Cookie Monster was born. I'll flip my lid if i find a nursing pad under there!! Please God, don't let me find one of those, or i think i'll die of shame!

This is no way for grown adults to live. Yet, we do. And i for one, darn it, am not going to take it anymore.

So here's the plan...we don't have a master, so i am just including our main bathroom and hallway for good measure, so next week i can focus on the living & dining rooms. Okay, slow down, one disaster area at a time.

Mmm, but you'll know where i'll be spending my Disaster Recovery Time this week, eh?

Detailed Cleaning List for
Zone 4: Blessin’ the Luv Nest

Our Room:

1. COLLECT webs.
2. CLEAN light fixture.
3. DUST doors, wood trims and baseboards.
4. WASH windows & curtains.
5. VACUUM headboard.
6. WASH mattress pad, bed sheets, & comforter. FLIP mattress.
7. PURGE nightstand.
8. STRAIGHTEN one drawer & one surface.
9. TIDY closet; COLLECT empty hangers.
10. DUST furniture. POLISH wood.
11. CLEAN under bed & dressers.
12. SWEEP floor.

Upstairs Bath:

1. COLLECT webs & CLEAN light fixtures.
2. DUST wood trims, doors & cabinets.
3. CLEAN window & mirror. POLISH wood.
4. LAUNDER shower curtain.
5. WASH tile walls.
6. CLEAN sink & tub.
7. STRAIGHTEN linen closet, med chest, & one drawer or cabinet.

Upstairs Hall:

1. COLLECT webs.
2. CLEAN light fixture & doorbell.
3. CLEAN doors, wood trim, & baseboards. POLISH wood.
4. DUST picture frames.

I'm going in....Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Introducing.... The Muggin' Monthly Photo Challenge

Hi there. Remember when i mentioned in passing a few weeks ago that i was trying a new project: taking a photo a day of my little monster for posterity? I'm happy to report that photographing has been right on target. I've been addicted to this new-to-me website too called Forgotten Old Photos.

To think all those photos came from one person. It's inspiring, and to think each one of us could leave something like that of our family & friends. But how will they tell what era or area our pictures are from when the only info attached to most of our photos is IMG#### or "Shot with a Canon blah blah blah". It will be by our daily activities for sure, especially since a lot of us fashion our home with vintage wares. :)

So i thought that if some of you had been inspired to photograph your little ones even once; be them children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, or the kids next door, it might be fun to share our bests with one another. I'll go further to include those of you who may have other cute critters of different species in your life. The commitment would be strictly have a photo you wanna share, do it! Monthly challenge will commence on the final day of the month.

So with that, i am announcing the inaugural edition of Muggin' for Momma coming this weekend.
If you'd like to participate, truly, all you need to do is snap a photo of your kiddos...once a month. Should you want to share those silly faces with us, please link to the entry i'll be posting on January 31st in the comments, and we'll share in your delight.

Ooh, those wee ones are so silly, it's going to be so hard to choose!! See ya January 31st!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Local News | Runoff turns Elliott Bay into murky stew | Seattle Times Newspaper

What happens when your area is hit with massive rain flow/snow melt....

Local News Runoff turns Elliott Bay into murky stew Seattle Times Newspaper

In this article in our local paper, there is discussion of water quality in Elliott Bay (as you can imagine with any large American city, especially one with a working waterfront that is home to freighters and cruise ships, the water quality usually isn't very inviting), and i find it interesting that since it *looks* unpleasent now from the sediments and who knows what getting washed down from the dam, through the Green and into the Duwamish Rivers out to Elliott Bay is when the newspaper chooses to pick up the story and let opinions fly. Huh.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


It is a precarious time in NW WA. We've been dealing with flooding in the area all weekend long, with some people over on the Snoqualmie and Tolt Rivers having to evacuate late last week. Yesterday, Moose woke up to rising waters in the Green River, a river controlled by a dam that hasn't been completely fixed yet since it's problems began in 2009, when a severe winter storm dumped tons of water into the area. The Corps held back water in the reservoir as it always has, however one of the abutments deteriorating and water began seeping through it. This has meant that to preserve the dam, the Corps has stopped holding massive amounts of water in reservoir. A temporary fix in the form of a grout curtain, pumped into the abutment, has increased the amount of water that can be held up at the reservoir, however it's not 100% fixed. Thankfully, the last Congress passed a bill that included funds to fix the problems up at the dam.
The Green River Valley is home to many people, businesses, and recreational facilities. Although the cities in the valley all run together, their make up is very different. In Tukwila, there is a huge shopping district that draws huge crowds on any given day. In Kent, you're dealing with the 2nd largest warehouse area (next to L.A.) this side of the Mississippi River. In Auburn, most of the city's businesses and population reside within the area of the flood plain.
Yesterday was a holiday. However, with the rainstorms coming in over the weekend, Moose was monitoring flow rates all weekend. We have a few friends that live on the river, which terrifies us. Most importantly, Moose is worried that if anything happens, we'll have a full scale New Orleans vs. Katrina on our hands. Since the water is stacking up in the reservoir due to massive amounts of rain and snow melt, the river is running extremely high. This is a shot from a friend's house in Auburn. She's on her deck. That line of black things are the sandbags that hopefully will never need to be tested...they are added "freeboard" just incase the river should run higher than the levees are designed for.

Yesterday, Moose and a co-worker patrolled the levees here in Kent. So far, so good. The Corps will keep emptying the reservoir, causing the river to run high and leading to potential minor flooding in areas near creeks that feed into the river.

Of course, because of the Corps precautions, we hope we won't be dealing with anything like the Aussie's are dealing with. However, please keep our area in your prayers. And also, because i haven't seen many people talking about it on the internets, please keep the people of Brasil in your prayers too. They are losing many lives to landslides from massive amounts of rainfall.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gettin' Organised :: The Real Test

So, this week's the week that we build Cookie Monster's skills; we're cleaning in her two rooms this week.

Our list looks a little something like this:

Detailed Cleaning List for
Zone 3: Cookie Monster’s Room, Playroom, & Guest Room

CM’s Room:

1. COLLECT webs.
2. CLEAN light fixture.
3. WASH curtains, mattress pad, & comforter.
4. WASH window, sills, doors & wood trims. POLISH wood.
5. DUST furniture & shelves; WASH mirror.
6. TIDY closet & SORT outgrown clothes.
7. TIDY bookshelves & kitchen.
8. DUST baseboards.
9. SHAKE rugs.
10. SWEEP floor.


1. COLLECT webs.
2. CLEAN light fixtures.
3. CLEAN window, sill, door & wood trim. POLISH wood.
4. VACUUM walls & curtains.
5. DUST furniture.
6. DUST baseboards.
7. SORT toys: are there any that can be given or thrown away?
8. SWEEP floor.

Guest Room:

1. COLLECT webs.
2. CLEAN light fixture.
3. CLEAN windows, sills, door, & wood trim. POLISH wood.
4. DUST furniture.
5. DUST baseboards.
6. VACUUM floor.

Now that's not all that's going on with Cookie Monster either. We've been gradually building a list of daily chores for her, starting in her bedroom. I've posted a list for her next to her door, and over the past 2 weeks we've tackled one chore a week to build her routine.

Cm’s Daily Routine

1. STRAIGHTEN sheets.
2. PLACE all pillows, blankets, & pajamas on the bed.

** WEDNESDAY ONLY: MOVE all your animals to the crib so Mom can wash your sheets.**

1. PICK UP all DIRTY clothes & throw them down the chute.
2. PUT AWAY clean clothes.
3. PUT shoes in closet.

1. PICK UP books on floor.
* go get ALL THE BOOKS next to DADDY’S BED
* return LIBRARY BOOKS to bin
* put YOUR BOOKS back in the bookshelves
2. TIDY kitchen toys & doll clothes.
3. THROW away trash.
4. PLACE anything that doesn’t belong to you on the ottoman in the living room.

I am hoping this week goes well, however, i can't promise anything. :) I'll need to keep in mind that this is the first week we're doing this and Cm's most likely to revolt!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Contents of My Dream Home

Laced through this blog are postings of homes we've almost purchased. I really want to move. But no more dwelling on that. Especially in this housing market. Since there is little i can control about finding the perfect house of my dreams, i am going to make my own little dream world.

I had mentioned here earlier that i might start a new blog for this daydreaming. I think i'll hold off on that for now--but journaling about my forever home will definitely be a new hobby of mine.
Today i imbibed photo after photo of victorian farmhouse and craftsman style homes....looking for the perfect exterior. I know what i am looking for, but haven't quite found the "one".

If it had the land to go with it, especially for the price tag they've put on it, i would take this house in a NY minute! Alas, where would be put the cow or horses we'll have??

There are some other items i found today while indulging in a little denial therapy too....
This mantle would definitely be in my forever home!!

It was rescued from a home on Capitol Hill in Seattle. There are many a mansion up there as that is where most of the original fathers of the city settled.

I would favour it in my drawing room or the formal dining room. In my dream home, maybe both rooms would be linked. aah!

Sunday Stills :: Macro

Pinecones in macro.
If macro is your thing, please visit Sunday Stills.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Gettin' Organised :: The End of the 2nd Week

There are many ways to keep track of your schedule and your week, depending on the type of person you are. If you're a file-er, you'll dig calendars hanging on the wall, papers put where they belong, socks and grunties separated in their own know, the usual orderly type personality.

If you're like me, you're a pile-er, someone who can't quite get the papers organised in their little folders in a timely fashion but they can tell you which pile to look in at about what height in the pile to look in. We work better when everything is laided out before us on a horizontal plane, say the top of a desk. Some people have found binders work really well for that kind of paper "clutter"---when a bill or statement, etc comes in the mail, it gets hole-punched and placed in a binder; once a month the binder is taken apart to deal with the bills and file the statements. I've heard of an idea where if you have a laundry room with room for shelving, that bins with marked with family members names are useful for throwing in their socks and grunties...some the monotenous folding of clothes efforts can be saved for more important pieces of laundry like shirts, sweaters, or pants.

This writing things down effort for me has been a trial, but the thing that helped me most is that i've developed a love for crossing things out. It's what i imagine having a fairy godmother is like: except that you actually have done the work. But after,'s wiped away. See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya. :)

When keeping my routines visible for everyone during the week, i've found that a cork board near our dinette works wonders. Moose has his list up there of manly chores that need to be done. I hang the cleaning schedules up there for the zone and the recurring weekly duties. My lists are in plastic sleeves, so i can cross out with a dry erase without printing a new list each week. At the end of the week, it's nice to see that there's more done than undone.

Frankly, i'm surprised that i've lasted this long! 2 weeks! Ivory is on to something with her reorganising efforts and i thank her for sharing her inspiration with us! I'm actually looking forward to seeing what this place is like in a month and a half after i've gone through the whole house. The important thing for me to keep in mind is that the inside of my house is never going to look like the pages of an edition of the British Country Living mag or my favourite book.

Other news that is helping me keep the skip in my step is on the weight loss front. The recommitment i made to myself in October has really helped. My highest then, 310 pounds, was my lowest point ever. It's awful to feel so horrible, especially when you feel so out of control. Maybe it's because we are scheduling everything so much more. We shop once a month for meat from an organic butcher and we order bulk items from a food co-op also once a month. Weekly trips to the grocery are for veg and a smattering of dairy. I've also tried to make sure i eat less food...serve myself out at the kitchen, once. Indulge in good chocolate a couple times a week. Limit the drive thru for coffee and a "little treat" by saving that for my Saturday mornings i steal away by myself--mostly, i find that when i get into the bakery, i'd truely rather an egg on a roll and a black coffee rather than any of those pastries staring me back in the face. oh sure, there's a moment where i debate whether i should get a bear claw or a cheese danish, and then someone in my brain starts saying, "You know, you've had those before. You know how they taste. And, honestly, there don't really taste that good, you know?" :)

Today i was really dreading weighing in, not because i thought i had overindulged too much this week, but something else i couldn't put my finger on. I couldn't see weigh lost in my face anymore. I hadn't noticed any other differences in my body this week. It turns out that i lost half a pound. Yea me! So since October 2010, i've lost 14 pounds. That's almost as much as the bag of whole wheat flour and a little sack of vita-gluten wheat i buy from the co-op. Woot!

When i returned home, i took inventory....i can still see my jawbone emerging, my "shelf" below my lower back is slanting more, but i couldn't tell where the last couple week's weigh loss had came from. While i was waiting for the kettle to boil, i looked down at my feet. Good golly, i think this is the first time i've noticed that my feet don't spread out like hobbit feet so much any more! :) And i can start to see a little ankle emerging! Yippee! While i don't think i'll make my wish of losing 10 lbs before our anniversary, i'll be happy just to keep losing more weight tell then.

Hoping you are enoying success with any of your new endeavours or the old ones that you've just recommitted too! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gettin' Organised :: The Weekly Chores

Now, focusing on just one area of your home and letting the others go isn't the way to help you feel better about your home and your ability to keep it. Just as Flylady notes, there are certain chores that *absolutely hafta* get done every week. This is where i slipped up the most. I'd focus on the throwing things out and putting things away okay. But once i'd realise that it had been 3 weeks since i'd clean the toilets or 2 months since i'd mopped the kitchen floor, i'd go balistic, start to turn the entire bathrooms and kitchen on end, and burn out somewhere between cleaning the first toilet and sweeping the kitchen floor.

So, with the help of Ivory and Flylady, i've identified critical areas of the house that need to be addressed once a week. No excuses. period

Seriously, this truly, for an extremely business family would be enough in my book. Making it work for you is the most important thing! Breaking up the chores on this list may be the best way of doing it. Especially if certain chores will help aid other's within the home, as you'll see regarding our trash disposal.

Weekly Home Blessing Wednesdays

1. WASH bed sheets. Ours Cookies’s
(maybe i'll alternate these and wash every 2 weeks.)

2. EMPTY all trash buckets. (On Monday, as curb pick-up is on Tuesday!!)

3. SWEEP and VACUUM all rooms. Upstairs Downstairs

4. MOP kitchen, upstr bath, downstr bath, & entry.
("Mop" is a term i use loosely. Know what my mop is? A white terrycloth washcloth that i can wet with soap and water and use my feet to drag it around the on the floor. For me, it works for two reasons: 1, mops tend not to dry real well in the Pacific Northwest before they start mildewing and i am tired of throwing away a mop after only a few months use and 2, i feel like it's healthier to be able to throw the washrag into the washing machine after it's used.)

5. CLEAN mirrors and doorknobs.
(This job earns Cookie Monster 50 cents/wk! We've got a ton of doorknobs!!)

6. WATER indoor plants.

7. WASH toilets.

8. READ a magazine & drink a cafe au lait!!


9. WIPE counters. I'm finding you can never do this enough!

10. SPEND 15 minutes in a disaster area (a disaster area is one of the rooms in our house that is just abominable, that in the past i've galloped on by while denying their needs so that if the wind changed directions while i was standing in front of the mess with my mouth agaped in abject horror, it wouldn't freeze that way!) :)

After this is done, the house really does feel fresher. Blessed, as Flylady would say. If this is one of the areas you struggle with, please take a few moments today and make a list of things that would make you feel better about your home's condition for your family. With the daily chores being done, you'll notice a *huge* improvement the first week, regardless of whether you tend to have a cluttered home or not.

I swear since i started this a week ago, there hasn't been as much fighting or fussing over school work needing to get accomplished for i can get the house cleaned.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gettin' Organised :: This Week's Detailed Cleaning

Once you get your house broken down into manageable chunks of square footage, you'll need to come up with a detailed cleaning list. These will include the tasks to be accomplished within the area. Make them as detailed as you like. Or not. It's a fine line in our house, because if i have to read too much detail about how i prefer to do things, i'll start chewing on tin foil and develop something that resembles Tourette syndrome. However, if i want the rest of my family to be able to look at the list and contemplate what they could help with, i want it to be detailed enough for them to know what cleaning supplies they'll need or else chances are they won't do it, eh? :)

This is what our list looks like this week.

Detailed Cleaning List for
Zone 2: Everything Visible from the Kitchen


1. COLLECT webs.
2. WASH windows & screens; DUST sills and toe kicks.
3. PURGE & WASH fridge: inside, outside, top & VACUUM under & behind.
4. CLEAN microwave, dishwasher & mixer.
5. WASH canisters & tchotchkes.
6. WASH trash can & recycle bin.
7. WASH one row of cabinets & POLISH with evoo.
8. STRAIGHTEN one cabinet & drawer; PURGE!!


1. WASH door & trim with Murphey‘s & POLISH with evoo.
2. VACUUM webs & baking shelves.
3. STRAIGHTEN food items & inventory.


1. COLLECT webs.
2. DUST sills & WASH window.
3. CLEAN light fixtures.
4. WASH wood wall & POLISH with evoo.
5. CLEAN off desk top.
6. DUST computer, printer, tabletop, keyboard & mouse.
7. CHECK printer ink & paper.
8. STRAIGTHEN one drawer.

And with that, i'd better get to work!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gettin' Organised :: Evaluatin' Square Footage

Once you've had a few days, or weeks, to start habitually working on that daily routine, you're ready to map out areas of your house that can be linked together to ensure you aren't overwhelmed with too much cleaning and to make a good faith effort that *most* every square inch of your house is cleaned within a certain period. Depending on the number of zones you have within your home, your cleaning rotation could mean that your house is clean in 4 weeks or in 6 weeks. I wouldn't think you'd want it any longer than 6 weeks, unless you have a mansion with no cleaning staff. :) Taking too long to clean your entire house could give one a feeling of defeat.

We have an enormous 2700 sq ft. double wide on a double wide, so i've started with a 6 week long cleaning plan, and i'll tweak from there.

Here's a sample for you, of how i've broken down our house.

The Breakdown at, er, of 243rd Street

Entry, Landing, Dinette

Kitchen, Pantry, Desk

Cookie Monster’s Room, Playroom, Guest Room

Our Room, Upstairs Bathroom, Upstairs Hallway

Living Room, Dining Room

Rec Room, Downstairs Bathroom, Laundry Room, Hall and Sewing Room
I think Zone 6 especially will need some tweaking. That's an awful lot that for one week, however maybe since we don't live alot in our downstairs, it is something that i can change by cleaning the Rec Room, bathroom, and one other room. We'll see what happens. I'm not going to worry about, or then i'll get too overwhelmed and nothing will get accomplished. :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Gettin' Organised :: How I Was Bitten By The Scheduling Bug

Last time, i mentioned something about my funky school calendar. After giving it some considerable thought, i figured i should do some backtracking about my quest for organisation.

This is the gory details of how it all started. Hooo hoo hoo ha ha!

Rewind to 2002: is there any time that a woman of the modern era who is about to give birth even thinks about homeschooling? Getting ready for a baby is stressful enough. I was getting ready to have Cookie Monster, and at no time did her schooling cross my mind during my pregnancy. If someone had told me that i'd be homeschooling then, i'd have begged their pardon. I was clueless.

Fast Forward to Spring 2007 where Moose and i were feeling pretty defeated because we knew our kid was ready for Kindergarten, however couldn't find a school that was on board with taking a 4 year old into a class. On with preschool it was, but i had some tricks up my sleeve then too.

By Spring 2008, our kid had been in Pre-kinder all year, and it seemed that just as kindergarten evaluations were being giving was when the teachers learned that Cookie Monster could read (she could read by the time she was 3.) So, that is about the time Moose and i figured we'd try looking for a school where we could move C.m. up into 1st grade.

By Fall 2008, we couldn't find a school that would oblige. So into kindergarten she went. It was a waste of a year academically, but she had fun. During that year is when we decided we'd had enough. She was far ahead in enough subjects that we figured 1st grade in public school would be the nail in the coffin of her potential. So we decided we'd homeschool.

But what does that look like if you are a completely not so well organised person in other areas of your life. Well, from our State of the Homeschool addresses last year you can pretty well was utter chaos. Sure, i had a basic idea of what subjects needed to be covered, but i had no plan. By summertime, the need for help was very evident.

Our family attended the local homeschooler's fair last summer and a speaker gave me tons of insight in how to organise lesson plans for school. From the minute i saw the first excel spreadsheet, i was hooked. It was a simple form that broke school into subjects and broke subjects down by months. These are what they look like for us:

A word of advice: fill these out in pencil, because you'll need to change them during the year as you go through your lessons incase of illness, laziness, or overzealous overachievers that can't have just one math lesson a day. That last catagory we would know nothing about no matter how we wish we could. :) What i learned from having these organisational tools was that without them, you'll never know **exactly** how far behind or ahead you are in your schedule. This year, because i have this form filled out, i can see that when we are a couple lessons behind in math but one ahead in language, i can schedule a day where we do an extra lesson of math in favour of our language lesson. A **huge** help when it comes to staying on track! You will want to take a photocopy before you change anything though, so you'll have a baseline.

After those were made, i used my trusty school calendar to map out our year of school. In my funky school calendar is a roadmap of July 2010 - Sept 2011. I isolate the school months, center 36 weeks of school around the Christmas holiday (18 wks on each end), and then total up the number of school days in each month.

Also helpful, is a grid of the months in the year. I use this page as a quick reference for yearly appointments or renewals.

Monthly calendars: Beside each calendar is a page for important dates. This is where all the birthdays and anniversaries go. Then appointments and field trips can go in the grid. When a friend asks if we can play, i have an idea of what the schedule looks like right off the bat. Before homeschool, everything would have been kept in my head. I don't know how i ever did that now!

On the back of the calendar page is where i keep notes of supplies or errands that need to be tackled for the month. I keep detailed lists in here for everything like this but Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those both have their own separate files i am working on. It also has an expenses/income page. Being a SAHM, homeschooling mom, you'll notice the income column is desperate for an entry. :) However, the expenses curiously never have enough room to write everything. :)
Now, enough of this backtracking. On to how we get organised for the week.
These are the blank weekly calendar pages, which i love.
Every Saturday morning during the school year, i now take it, an insanely heavy bag of school books, and my organisation-starved little hiney to the nearest coffee shop for a few hours. For good measure, i throw in a couple cookbooks too.
First thing is to consult the calendar and identify dates we have late night activities or nights Moose works late. Then it's time to plan dinner for the week, depending on our schedule. Cookie has dance lessons at our normal dinner time on Tuesday, so i know those days i need one of three things: leftovers, a quick and easy dinner, or Moose needs to cook. :) If Moose works late, i need to know that Cookie Monster will be expecting a girl's tea and movie night for dinner so i can plan the grocery shopping accordingly. :) After that, i identify days that may zap my energy where a "no recipe required" dinner may be the ticket. These are the days that have a commitment in the middle of the day, or a committment that we might not know when it ends, like a playdate or field trip. Then there are usually 2 days in the schedule where nothing extraordinary occurs, so i'll plan nice, big dinners. Not 4 courses or anything, mind you, but maybe lasagna or pastitsio. Once dinners are planned, they are written in pencil next to the day they will be served. From there, a grocery list can be concocted. Don't forget to plan your lunches too and include those items on the list.
Once nourishment for the week is tackled, then school scheduling can begin. Our schedule for school is fluid, but i list what we need to accomplish for the whole week, filling in the calendar. Sometimes we're right on track; sometimes Friday is a very, very, extremely long day. :)
During the course of school planning, i find that i require an "immediate action" list. This is the list that keeps refocusing my efforts for a smooth week. If i need to remember that there is a snowstorm predicted this week, i write it down. :) The math lessons that need a special tool for the lesson, i make notes of. Any thawing of meats, library duties, etc...anything specifically unroutine that would make life easier to know ahead of time gets written on this list and i place it near my computer. Then i can free up brain cells to remember a new favourite song or something. And i don't look like such a hot mess in front of my kid when we need a weather chart for math or science and i'm digging around in the recycling bin while she's patiently waiting to begin her lesson. :)
This is what's helped us so far. Hoping something here might spark your imagination if you are looking to get more organised. Don't forget to check out LH in the 'Burbs for more ideas on how to get your life organised. If you have any other ideas, please share! We'd love to hear them!
Next up: Burnin', i mean, breakin' down the house.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Can't Believe My Eyes!

Last night, while at Mass, our deacon included in the prayers of the faithful "the shooting victims in Tucson." I remember scrunching my face up and looking over at Moose and saying, "must have been some more trouble at the border. Maybe Deacon should throw El Paso in there too, cause there's alway some kind of murder going on down there too."

Then we get home and i see the news.

It's insane! It's completely incomprehensible to me. I grew up in Tucson, and i don't remember it being anything like this!! Most people there were just laid back and somewhat friendly.

And the more i here about Arizona itself, i can't believe it could change that much since we left about 15 years ago. I never knew we had a racial problem down there...the part of town i grew up in there were only about 15 gringo kids for every 100 hispanic kids. Before we left, grocery clerks would greet everyone, no matter the skin colour, in Spanish. I thought the last place on Earth that would pass a law requiring people carry papers would be AZ. Leave that wacked out business to UT or ID.

And now to see a mass shooting, driven by political idiology, killing innocents like a 9 year old girl, a federal judge, and 3 retirees. If you'd like to read more about their stories, please visit the Arizona Daily Star. It's the "horse's mouth" so to speak, being Tucson's daily morning newspaper.

I have to concur with Sherrif Dupnik (man, he's been around a long time--since i was just a tot!) when he said, "The bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

Sure it's not a slogan the board of tourism can use, but sometimes the truth hurts.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Time Out

I have an early morning appointment on Fridays, so we've learn to be really flexible on Fridays.

No chores except making the beds were done.

We took a time out from everything today.

It's important sometimes, so that i don't start obsessing about all that is left to do, that didn't get done, blah. blah. blah. Cause when that happens, nothing gets done. Cause it can't be done perfectly. And that makes me a terrible human being and a sorry excuse for a housewife. And, you know what else? The world could end. wah! The horror!! :)

So i ignored that feeling today and distracted myself with a little of one of my favourite things to do: discover cool new to me districts in Seattle.

Today's mission: to find good quality linen for Cookie Monster's communion dress.

The destination: Queen Anne, Seattle
The supplier: Nancy's Sewing Basket, Queen Anne Dr.

Wishing i had felt more comfortable in the place to take pictures of it for you, however i like to feel a place out before i start snapping pictures of their business so they don't think i'm a spy for Granny's Pincushion or anything. :)

Nancy's was a modest little shop with a lot to offer. Many special occassion fabrics like you'll see in the pictures on the pattern you may purchase at the national craft chains that never carry the really beautiful fabrics you would need to make your creation look like the picture on the from of the pattern. :) They had a little section of trims for upolstery and drapes, lots of suitings, a big selection of quilting cottons, a ribbon room, and what we were in the market for...linen. Beautiful linens.

By the way, if you haven't been in a fabric store since the 2011 began, be prepared to part with a small amount of your life savings. :) Prices have gone up. The owner was telling me that your basic quilting cotton--Kona cotton--went from $6/yd to $7.50/yd. Ei yi ei!

We found a beautiful antwerp (fine weave) linen in white and a pima cotton for the lining. As we get a little further along in the process, i'll share pictures. Cookie wants to be rather plain jane when it comes to communion (thank goodness!), so she decided she didn't want any lace overlays or embellishments. Her sash is supposed to be a 3 inch wide white ribbon, however because we couldn't find any that was pleasing, we decided that we would make the sash of linen too. Or maybe we'll find a cotton we like. We decided that the sash would a good place to the dress a special touch. So in honour of the Virgin Mary *(Cookie's name has some similar meanings as Mother Mary's name) that we would sew a sash of a powder or medium blue material.

Now to actually start cutting out pattern pieces and EEK! into the linen.

Mommy! HELP! :)

Along the way, we also found some quirky little toys shops and a really good thai restaurant.
Here are some pictures.

Queen Anne Drive

This building here exhibits why Seattle's lost a lot of it's luster for me. Man, i used to be all "Seattle rocks!", but when i see buildings like this with Public Notice boards outside of them....

i realise i moved to the wrong city. Portland rocks! Portland never tears anything down. Not even if it's in violation of code. I love it! Anyway, this building, The Elfrieda, is slated to be torn down and apparently because a 3 story building doesn't do what a 4 story building on the same site could. Go figure. The streets around the aerial are already so crowded with cars, that they barely function as one lane roads. More apartments, more cars lining the street, more mixed use space, and more ugly modern building. Go on Seattle! Pretty soon, you'll look just like L.A. ...or Miami. Great. You know what they say about people who rather than appreiciate their history and embrace instead throw it away..... Yes, Seattle, i'm letting you know that you are on notice for being shallow and having a *huge* case of shiny ball syndrome!!

P.S. Linda, you feel free to come visit anytime and we'll take you shopping!! :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Gettin' Organised

Another thing that Ivory at LH in the 'Burbs mentions, as with practically every other life organising guru, is to make a basic weekly plan. For me, especially since i resist all things routine and most things requiring conformity, i cannot get behind the basic weekly plan for things...the daily routine list is causing enough of an allergic reaction in me that i can't bare to make a weekly list that i have to adhere to. Well, except for the stuff that we signed up and committed to. This is the stuff that my REALLY, REALLY basic list of weekly blah blah blah is made of. :) And especially since our obligations change monthly or even quarterly, i don't rely on it for anything other than making the practically impenetrable weekly schedule in my school calendar.

The **really** Basic Weekly Plan for Whit’s Household 1/1/11 - 2/3/11

Monday: school, library, zone

Tuesday: school, swim class, Irish dance

Wednesday: school, home blessing

Thursday: school, swim class, zone

Friday: Weight Watchers, school, zone

Saturday: planning day, errands & shopping, Mass, dinner out

Sunday: family day, arts & crafts, projects

Now, my other method of organisation that i mentioned above is a funky school calendar from Mixed Productions. It's not a regular calendar that runs from Jan to Dec (although they do produce a Jan to Jan calendar.) It's core runs from August to August. Each month being represented by monthly calendar and weekly calendars that have the days broken down by the hour. I love this kind of calendar. I also love that it has a page in front of each month for sqecial occasions (so the precious space in the date boxes can be saved for non-routine activities or appointments.) It also has a page each month for notes and for financial record. 13 paperclips later (one for each month and one for the week you are currently in), all family appts and school plans are at your fingertips when your friend asks for a playdate or that new homeschoolers field trip ad pops up!! The other beauty of this device is that it includes monthly calendars that overlap each year giving you an 18 month calendar with overlap for continuity...there is a calendar page for the July preceding the first August and for the remainder of the year after the last August. So if you are scheduling appointments out a year in advance, you can have the space to keep them in on the correct date, not just a piece of paper cliped to a calendar that will hopefully get transcribed to the new calendar when it arrives. Granted they are a little spendy, and for families with more than one student it would be to small--i can see when we eventually add students to the Whit Academy of Fyne sKoolin', i will need to find or make a calendar with the same concepts on a larger scale. However, this is the part where you go out and find what works for you and your tribe! That's the beauty of the internets, one persons routine gives another person inspiration and the brainstorm ideas to grow for themselves!

I'll get into how i use my calendar in the next post.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mom's Gonna Love This

Things are so shook up around here, i think i heard Moose refer to me as Elvis this evening. And yes, Mom, i am starting to clean again, so when you and Dad come visit next time, you won't recognise the place. Well, the inside anyway. :)

I've been filled with angst and guilt because we haven't had any friends over to our house in a long, long time. I'm talking like last summer. And we are needing to have dinner dates with friends, playdates with compadres, and suffice it to say, i need a little peace from the nagging feeling that i can't get anything done because we're homeschooling. Arrrrgh!

So, i was going to try to the old Flylady routine again, a system i believe works, if you have that kind of time and devotion to your email program. The other thing i am finding hard is the focus on decluttering before cleaning. I can't handle it, because our house is always cluttered. I have an 8 year old, a hubbie that bless his heart doesn't have enough time at home to attend things and put them away in the same day, and i have a crafting habit. Granted, we all are a sorry lot of procrastinators to boot when it comes to deep cleaning our house. And i am a little overwhelmed with all the emails from the program, because i like to read helpful hints, but truely, when does the 3,000+ emails from Flylady that i've saved to read over the last couple years become a hinderance rather than a help. So, i think it's save to say that while the actual execution of the Flylady program doesn't work for me, there are parts of it that i totally dig.

You can imagine my delight when i read the home organising posts from Little House in the Suburbs (psst, see it over there in the list of cool blogs to read on the right!!) They've done an amazing job with their well thought out plan, which made me raise my hand to my forehead, strike it, then searched out a pen and pad of paper. Of course, like i do with recipes or Cookie Monster's math lessons, why didn't i think to take the things that worked for me and say no thanks to the things that didn't. Everyone knows that making a system work for you means digesting it and making it your own!!

The ladies at LH in the S will no doubtedly be of much more inspiration than i will be here. If you are looking for ideas on how to start organising your life and your home, please head over and read Ivory's Home Management posts. Lots of really great forms and sites to get you started...or even to get your gears squeaking. However, i wanted to share what i have done so far to construct my little binder of sunshine that will repair my much damaged housewifely ego. :)

The first thing i did, as Ivory said, was make a list of daily chores. Things that would be nice if i could accomplish everyday (don't think "have to" or else they won't get done--too much--it's all word games with me!) :) This is what it looks like:


1. Make bed
2. Straighten Bathroom; Swish & Swipe
3. Brush teeth & get dressed
4. Tidy Kitchen/Dining tables
5. Rescue laundry
6. What’s for dinner?
7. Are you baking today?


1. Feed & water animals; collect eggs
2. Zone tasks
3. Start dinner
4. Rescue laundry
5. Put recycle & trash out
6. Collect mail

Nighty Nighty

1. Put away dinner
2. Boot the dishwasher
3. Clean counters & stove
4. Tidy the hand washables
5. Sweep kitchen
6. Scrub kitchen sink
7. Any overnight cooking?
8. Clean clothes for tomorrow?

It's still not perfect. I need to figure out where to fit exercise in there, but maybe it's a good thing that it's flexible right now, because then i am thinking about where to fit it in. Even if it's just 10 minutes at a time.

I hang it on the front of the cabinet where the coffee mugs reside, because chance are, i'll be going to that cabinet at least 2 or 3 times a day--it's where the coffee bean grinder is. :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

Why hullo there 2011! You've been fabulous so far...with you, you've brought sunshine to Western WA and cool temperatures that have allowed the thundersnow we received in the last few days of 2010 to stick around. It's absolutely gorgeous, aside from the fact that when we back out onto our street, there is a brief period of time that the minivan slides sideways down the hill.

I have no resolutions for you, but i do have aspirations.

Granny Square project: too much too soon. I started working on two projects requiring these, and per usual me, i picked something totally challenging that overwhelmed me and reverted to something completely too simple that bored me to tears and the enormous size of the project gave me a severe case of assembly line-itis. I only was able to finish 29 6-inch grannies for my king sized bed blanket and 6 8-inch squares for the wool rug for Cookie Monster's room this year. I'd like to get both of these finished this year along with all the other projects going on. An insight i recently had coming back from our Christmas trip in Idaho was that i need to visit Idaho more often, as long as i hire a driver. I finished 8 6-inch squares in 4 hours! :)

Chicken Quilt: i have finally acquired all the material i'll add to the quilt. Now i have a notion of spending two 30 minute sessions a month on finishing it.

Craft Room: i have a big transformation project in this area of the house needing to be complete by summer. In doing so, i need to get some other projects putting together photo albums and weeding out scrapbook paper. I've realised that i'll never ever scrapbook like the pros, because i am too cheap to invest in all the cutting tools and paper trinkets. I've come to terms with the fact that i am a corners and a colourful or sweetly designed paper do it for me--especially because that brings the total cost per page to something like $1.25, not including the cost of the album or the page protectors!! I don't need bling and stickers made in China to make my album sing, especially since i have some photographic ability occasionally. :) However the ones i've been duped into accumulating over the years i shall try to make use of where i can. I can't devote a ton of time to this, however, i am thinking if i can get few pictures developed every quarter, i should be able to keep up with placing them in an album once a month.

Weight loss: now that a majour weight loss program in the country that i belong to has changed enough to mimic the ideas that make sensible, lifestyle-changing dietary habits that make sense to me, it has been pretty easy for me to eat more sensibly. The challenge will be the exercising. Although, i have to say, the Just Dance games are captivating. It's safe to assume there will be a Zumba video purchase in my future. I try not to make deadlines or huge weight loss goals, as it just stresses me out which in turn makes me munch more. I'd like to just keep on the steady path of trying to learn how best to feed and tend my ever shrinking body each day.

Family Pictures: namely of Cookie Monster. Last year was an abysmal year for updating family of her development via means of our personal blog. This year, i've avowed to commit to One A Day...taking a picture of C.m., no matter how imperfect the photo or boring the subject, and post it for the family. I am kicking myself for not doing this last year, as it would have been keen to see when the incisors came in over that amount of time. Maybe this is a project you'd like to work on also with children or grandchildren? If so, drop me a line in the comments and i'll start a "Best of the Month" post...we can all share together.

I am sure there will be more added to my list of aspirations throughout the year. However, i'd like to try to focus on these the most. It will lift my spirits if i can make headway on these projects this year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

We Survived....barely

Seems like the Christmas season was a whirlwind this year. Just as we wrapped up school (right on schedule and caught up with all our work--wahooey!), we started with the Christmas baking and making. And just as all the cookie doughs were made, i got sick with the flu. **blech**

We prayed it wouldn't interfere with plans to visit my parents for Christmas. By the 23rd, the day were to have left early in the morning, we were just starting laundry and packing. But somehow we did it...we pulled off packing, cleaning up vital areas that were coated with sick germs, wrapped presents, and hit the road at 5pm--hoping to make it to Ritzville, or bust!

We spent the night in Ritz, and by some miracle we were settled into Mom and Dad's couches by lunchtime. whew!

Stoney braving the snow to oversee the tobogganing

We visited, unwrapped, ate, prayed, and played!

Moose & i even had a date: Italian food at the best little cafe in Idaho and borrowed the laptop and a movie and headed to City Beach for private viewing in the van. With a view of the lake and mountains to look at when the movie was dragging on, i have to say that was the best movie theatre i'd ever been too! :)

Mom and Dad took us on the coolest thing: a nighttime sleigh ride under the stars, in the middle of the North Idaho forest at a pleasure ranch nearby. After our two mile horse guided sleigh ride, we were treated like kings and queens to a bbq chicken and rib dinner!

Larry and Bill manning the sleigh

We braved the elements to return to Western WA.

*sigh* Now we are home again. bummer

How did you fare this holiday season?