Monday, July 18, 2016

Weekend Update

Sadly, not as funny as SNL but I want to stay accountable so I'm checking in again.


I got this idea in my head awhile back to start having Saturday Adventures with the kids (and husband if he's not working). This can be just little things around town or bigger depending on the time, weather and cost. Last weekend, Ethan wanted to go to Pump It Up. I saw they had open jump so we went and they had a blast. He was still talking about it a week later.


This weekend, our friends were going to the Ladybugs Alive Sunflower Maze, so that became this week's Saturday Adventure.

And if that wasn't enough, we got to go swimming the next day too! Ethan and I are a little pink, but luckily the hat I put on Rachel kept her sunburn-free.


I also took a lot of time this weekend to finish swapping out Rachel's 2T clothes for 3T's. I spent a couple hours at my friend's house on Friday evening going through the rest of the 3T's, the 4T's and the so-far-in-storage 5T's she's passing down to us. I was able to cut down some already-made selections that evening but as the rest of the 3T's and some of the 4T's came into the house this weekend, I paired down even more. I know I have more than I need in both sizes but I'm comfortable with the choices I've made, especially knowing she'll have more of an opinion as she gets older and want to have some options for her.

I haven't gotten all the excess out of the house yet, but I'm working on it. I have some extra time tomorrow so I'll try to take the stuff that's not going to specific people out then.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Forward Progress

Awhile back, I finally invited friends over to help me declutter and organize. I'm so blessed to have friends willing to dedicate an entire day to helping me go through things item by item, place them in appropriate piles, help me process lingering emotions, shift furniture and put things back in an organized manner. Then, the biggest step forward for me: cleaning out my car so I could actually take loads of stuff to the thrift store and actually taking them there! For months, I was so pleased with my progress and was actually house proud! I hosted a couple parties at my house and was pleased to have people over.

This weekend, the unfinished projects got to me again. There were projects started as far back as February that haven't been completed. We have an ever-growing pile of things that need to go to the dump and the pool we bought for the kids has gotten dirty and needs maintenance. I just let it all sink back in and couldn't let it go. Anger and resentment simmered then boiled and I was at a bursting point when it clicked: I have unfinished projects too, including my decluttering project. I was really mad at myself and was too afraid to admit it. Yes, the ones my husband started really do get to me as well but rather than resent him, I can set a better example for my kids by changing my outlook and reaction and use this as an opportunity to learn new skills. So there is a drawer and cabinet that need new pulls. I can figure out how to do that and gift him with a completed project while also doing myself a favor.

And in the mean time, I can also refocus my energies on my projects. In an effort to expel some of that negative energy in a positive way, I went through my kids' closet and found more they've outgrown and more excess we don't need. I even pulled a couple more things out of my closet. I let myself enjoy the glow of forward progress but clearly it's time to do another big declutter. I've decided to follow the FlyLady's suggestion and try to get rid of 27 items every month. If I can stick to that and do it more frequently, I will but for now, baby steps.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Same Goal, New Year...a month and a half late

I have decided that I cannot function in extreme weather. I'm not sure why and I know it has nothing to do with the lack of sunlight. It's the extreme cold (extreme in my opinion based on growing up in San Diego) that stops me in my tracks. Likewise, when it's over 100 degrees with 100% humidity, I just can't. Basically I need to move back to the West Coast.

That said, I found this blog post yesterday and felt the need to share. I was so excited to find a blogger who has done what I set out to do and was successful at it! I've been less successful. I hate placing blame (no really, I think I love it because I do it all the time but I'm trying to stop) but when I look back, I burnt out and stopped as soon as I took on additional roles at work. I'm running in extreme mode and simply can't handle more tasks and more work at home so I come home and crash. I've read a lot, which is awesome, but have not been productive at all. I've learned I need to balance better, say no, delegate more and take more personal days for the sake of my sanity.

That said, what I found this list incredibly helpful. Gentle reminders on where my head should be down to tips to keep you going when you want to give up. I'm seeing a light at the end of the tunnel at work and warm weather coming so I'm gearing up for my productive mode again. Wish me luck!

Friday, November 27, 2015

House Update

It's been a crazy week for me (as I'm sure it has been for everyone)! I took this week off with the intention of focusing my attention on the house as much as possible. I took the first couple of days (last weekend) to myself. I relaxed, p-j-j'ed, and read a lot. I got dishes and laundry done too but those are every day maintenance chores so sometimes I feel like they don't count. I was home alone with the kids on Monday so I didn't get a lot done, just some basic around the house stuff. I did get the larger dresser moved into the kids' room and the clothes transferred though. I still need to move the smaller dresser out and into the spare room to be used for fabric storage though.

Tuesday, my mother in law came over and actually took the kids out for several hours (woo whoo!!!) so I took advantage. A big goal this week was rotating the too small kids clothes out and next size up in. I started with Rachel's last weekend so I had a head start. I separated Ethan's 4T's out to see how much I had that would still fit. We had a decent amount but I kept a few 4T items in the rotation until I can go shopping. I also ended up getting a bunch of hand-me-downs from a friend after doing Rachel's clothes so I needed to add those in, pair down as necessary and go through the time-to-leaves. I have a friend who just had a baby boy, one who has a girl a few months behind Rachel and another who has a boy about Rachel's age. So I had several people lined up to give stuff to thankfully (it makes it so much easier to give it away). That said, I've been reading the Outlander series and started watching the TV show when it came out on DVD. They very evilly separated the season so I got to watch the first couple discs then had to wait a couple months for the next set. I finally got my hands on volume 2 of the season 1 on DVD but I can't watch it around the kids. So when I had an afternoon to myself, I decided going through kids clothes was totally something I could do in the living watching Outlander. I got the rest of the 2T's on hangers and organized, got the 3Ts I have already (there's a tote waiting for me at a friend's house too) on hangers and stored in the spare closet, packed up the girl clothes for my 1 friend and the boy clothes for the other 2 friends (depending on size). I felt very productive.

Wednesday was more about prepping for Thanksgiving. I made an apple pie, pumpkin pie and cinnamon ice cream. And some laundry was done because like I said, never ending chore.

Thursday, of course, was Thanksgiving so that was my day off with my family. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Today (Friday) was my big push. I had a list of stuff I wanted to accomplish this week and I realized I had only 3 days left. My goal for those 3 days was to finish the laundry, clean the kitchen and bathrooms really well, go through clutter piles in the master bedroom and spare room and either pack up to give away or find a permanent home for the items, get through all the Thanksgiving dishes I put off until today, take pictures of the give-away/sell baby items so I could disassemble and pack them away to repurpose the room, set up the new bookshelves we ordered last weekend (that arrived 2 days early!!!), and finally take stuff to the various drop off locations to get it out.

So far, I'm basically caught up on dishes and laundry (I need to do the dinner dishes from tonight and 2 more loads of laundry). I went through several piles of clutter and cleaned out a couple small bags of trash, consolidated some piles, more than doubled the give away pile, and got things organized into new piles for easy put away once I have final homes established. I organized the closet in the master bedroom and Charlie helped take down the baby furniture and store it all in the attic. I did about 5 loads of laundry and got them all put away! It doesn't sound like a lot but I was busy all day going through stuff.

Tomorrow, the plan is to tackle the linen closet because it's now bursting out of the seams and needs to be organized to store more stuff in it (and to be more efficient). I want to move the small dresser into the spare room and rearrange the clutter so we can move the "home office" (desk, file drawer and computer) upstairs. I want to set up my vanity area in the master bedroom. Ideally, I will drop stuff off at the thrift store tomorrow and get some shopping done. I want to hit up some sales for new clothes for Ethan and maybe some Christmas gifts for the family. If I have time, I want to crank out the cleaning too because who wants to do that the day before they go back to work?

Sunday, it would be awesome if we're able to get the bookshelves assembled. Then I'll be able to unpack several boxes of books and start figuring out which ones I'm willing to get rid of. Now that I have better book storage, it's easier to say I only have so much shelf space and you don't fit and aren't important enough to me to keep so you can go. And since I work in a library, it's really easy to just take small piles of books with me to work and get them out of the house. That's the plan so far. We'll see how it all plays out tomorrow and Sunday. Keep you posted!

Monday, September 7, 2015

July was so good to me

I felt so motivated and inspired and was really proud of myself and the progress I was making in my life. I was decluttering and asking for help. When I got to a pausing point with the decluttering process (admittedly a bad decision), I switched gears and started working out to declutter my body. I was going to Pennsic with Charlie the first week of August and a friend/camp mate had agreed to get up with me every morning to walk roughly 2 miles upon my request. I needed to get to where I could do 2 miles. So I started with a mile a day for a week and a half and kicked up to 2 miles for about a week or so before Pennsic. With my friend's willingness to walk with me, I was able to get up everyday at 6:30 in the cold and walk when all I wanted to do was sleep in (it was my vacation without the kids afterall). But I was motivated and committed and so proud of myself.

I had a doctor's appointment the Tuesday after we got back and I, of course, had a weigh in. In 3-4 weeks, I had lost only 1/2 a pound. I was discouraged and pissed and freaking exhausted. I know it takes time for you body to adjust before exercising gives you energy but after 3 weeks of a lifestyle change, I was still more fatigued than normal. My health issues already leave me fatigued all day every day and all the doctors keep saying is I need to lose weight. But the fact that I can only work out for a few days in a row before I absolutely need to take a day off or I'm falling asleep at work is a problem.

I also gave myself permission to stop decluttering because I was waiting on my friend to be ready to take a lot of our baby stuff off our hands. The fact is, I'm not ready to give up on the baby phase of life and am only doing it because we are not in a place in our lives for another child and we desperately need the space for stuff we actually use. Charlie says that if we decide to have another baby, we'll just re-stock up, because if we can afford a third child, we can afford the stuff that goes with a child. I feel like that's a really awful waste of money when we already have what we need. Part of the reason I'm so set on this stuff going to my friend is because there's the possibility it can come back. I'm really struggling with letting go of the baby stuff. I have a lot more unresolved issues around this than I thought.

So, in the mean time, I need to refocus on decluttering non-baby stuff. This weekend I choose to go through clothes Rachel will be growing into next year (no emotional attachments yet) and organize that into winter and summer clothes for convenience. I also tackled the magazines. In one bookcase, I had about 50 magazines, maybe more, that I've been slowly whittling down. As of this morning, I was down to 38. I'm flipping through them, some of them finally reading 2-3 years later, keeping the articles and images that inspire me in some way and recycling the rest. I'm now done to 18 and 1/2 left to go through. It doesn't feel like a lot of progress made because it's so much work for so little gain, but the mental gain of knowing I've released the magazine clutter is already immense.

My goal, so as not to overwhelm myself, has been to do this process using baby steps. I think ultimately this is helping keep me from burning out of decluttering, but really, there has been so little visible progress so far, I'm overwhelmed with the amount still left. I think I might actually benefit from a set weekend dedicated to deep decluttering. My biggest problem is getting it out of the house. It's not convenience in any way to drop this stuff off at a thrift store. And I've been known to skip something that's outside my normal routine (like picking up my prescriptions) even if it is convenient just because I want to get home and get home now. Let's face it, I'm a girl of routine and hate rush hour traffic (and dropping stuff off at the thrift store means facing rush hour traffic). The other problem is saving stuff for the possible yard sale. I kept saving stuff then said screw it, it's worth more to me to get it out of my house than to make 50 bucks. But then it didn't get out of my house and now a yard sale date has been set. I'm frustrated that I have to keep it in my house another 2 months before the yard sale happens but honestly, it probably would have anyway and then I just would have been mad at myself for failing to thrift it.

So we're back to baby steps. Yes it's slow, yes it's frustrating, but it's the pace that works for my health, for my family, and for my lifestyle so we're sticking with it.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

I'm back again

I ran into a hiccup in the decluttering project. I had a person who was willing to take so much of my baby stuff but has to work on her own decluttering to make room for it all. I really want to pass it along to her because I know she needs it and she's a friend but I'm frustrated in how much it holds me back. She's ok with me not being able to wait on her, but there's something about giving to those you know that makes it easier to part with things, especially those that hold cherished memories.

Around mid-July, I ended up tacking on another "decluttering" project (if you will): a healthier lifestyle. This process has brought up old thoughts about getting healthy and I finally got to the point where I was willing to wake up early to exercise (something I was previously resistant to). So in mid-July, I started waking up an hour earlier than usual to get up and walk. I do in-home exercises so I have no excuses (like weather and having to drive) and give myself days off to recover. I'm averaging about 4 days per week right now and was up to 2 miles before my camping trip last week. A few years ago, I did the same camping trip and a lady in my camp woke up early everyday to walk. I wasn't willing to join her that time but this year, knowing it was coming up, I asked her about how long her walk was, if she was doing it again, and if I could join her. It turned out it was about 2 miles and she was willing. So I started walking to get myself ready for walking with her. We drove up to camp on Saturday the 1st and I walked with her everyday from Sunday through Friday. We started around 1.5 miles (45 minutes) and ended the week around 2.5 miles in 60-ish minutes. There were some late nights in there and really cold mornings when I didn't want to wake up or get out of bed, but I did and never regretted it. With all the extra walking about the site throughout the rest of the day, I think I ended up walking around 5 miles per day. I know being back in real life, that's not a realistic thing to keep up, but I do still plan on going back to my normal routine. I have not worked that hard on changing my diet (that has too many complications for me to think about right now), but I'm proud I'm at least doing something. And with the stall in home decluttering, it's nice having another personal project to work on. Also, with the impending increase to stress at work, I'm glad I have an exercise routine already in place to help alleviate it.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday accomplishments (or more accurately, musings)

I have this dream of being a stay at home mom again. When I was pregnant with Rachel, I was mildly obsessed with the idea and majorly devastated that it couldn't happen before I had to go back to work after maternity leave. Of course that was the start of a fairly significant journey in my life, if you remember, so I've been able to move on past heartbroken and depressed to a bit more positive and focused. I had to focus on what I love about my life, and my job in particular, so I wasn't overwhelmed with negativity everyday at work. What I ultimately realized is that while I would love to be a full time stay at home mom, and would never turn down that opportunity should it arise again, I would also be very happy with a part time situation. I LOVED only working part time when I first started at the library. I only gave that up because I hated working every Saturday and we needed more money. I've loved how my job has allowed me to grow and learn new skills, but I still find myself feeling envious of the people in a couple part time jobs in particular. I dream of being able to work 9-1 Monday through Friday. I wouldn't mind if it was still at the library, but since I still dream of being an archivist, I would prefer if it was in a museum archive. I like the idea of being able to then come home and spend the rest of the day with the kids, doing crafts, errands, playground trips, etc.

I realize how much I long for this lifestyle even more when I have my working weekends. Regular weekends get so jam-packed with chores, errands, and activities. Most people have those days off so we all feel the same rush to accomplish everything we can't during the week on those 2 days. Then we also want to spend some of that time having fun too. And we should! We are all so busy and are burning ourselves out with crazy hectic lives, too many working hours in the week, too long of commutes, too many obligations, and not enough hours in the day/week. We need to have some down time to remember what life is all about (enjoying what time we have on this earth). I usually end up doing what needs to be done and feel like I didn't get enough time to myself and/or with my kids, or it's the other way around, and I start my work-week out feeling unrested and guilty over something. I do recognize this is a ridiculous way to live, and I'm working on that. But that's not what we're talking about today. :)

Today, I realized something. I had to work on Saturday, which always sucks, but it's a fact of my job so I deal with it. Charlie had the kids and had some obligations with friends, so he took them and did what he needed to do. I got home a couple hours before him, got some down time for myself then had some time with them all when they got home. Yesterday, we had plans to go swimming at a friend's house around lunch so Charlie got some errands done in the morning then we had a whole day of fun. I didn't feel rushed or guilty or anything because I knew I had today to get chores and errands done. It was relaxed and amazing. Today, I woke up with the intention of getting stuff done today. I'm not a morning person and usually it takes so major convincing to get myself moving in the morning when all I want to do is sit on the couch reading and drinking coffee. But Ethan wanted to dance, so I got up and danced with him and Rachel (good excuse for exercise!). Then I made us all breakfast and got us ready for the day. And before I could sit down and be lazy, I took us all to the grocery store. Rachel fell asleep on the way home so I let Ethan do sidewalk chalk and ride his scooter up and down for awhile before lunch. Now it's cool-down time and quiet time so we're ready for the afternoon. Charlie should be home early today from work, so I'm going to take that time to get some decluttering projects done. It's amazing how much more you can do on a random day off when most people work. You just know that you can't really be distracted by friends because they're all working! So while it sucks to work on Saturdays, it's also kind of a blessing in disguise! But, in regards to what I was saying above, it also reminds me what it's like to be a stay at home mom. And I'm choosing to let these feelings fuel my desire to work toward that dream rather than depress me and drag me down.

One thing I've learned over the last 6 months is how important self-care is. To me, this all has a lot to do with self-care. Take the time I need to have time for myself, for my family and for the house. Even if it doesn't fit into the American standard of how I'm supposed to live my life. Even if it doesn't fit the old feminist idea that we can have it all, because realistically, we can't! Because by taking enough time for all these things, I won't live with stress, overwhelm and guilt.

In this same vein, I just read a really important, inspiring blog post by the Hands Free Mama. It's amazing how the things you really need in your life fall into your lap at just the right moment.