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Category Archives: Ch-ch-changes

Moving Right Along


Oh, November — where have you gone? Thanksgiving already kind of seems like it was a long time ago (although the fact that we’ll be eating leftovers tonight should be enough to clue me in to the fact that it was only day before yesterday), and we’re heading straight into Christmas. Ho ho ho!

This morning, as promised, I dragged our family room tree down the stairs and set it up. It still sounds strange to me, this “setting up” of the Christmas tree. Not chopping it down? Or picking it out? Nope. Since we’re all allergic to pine, it just makes sense to go artificial, but…yeah. Sounds strange. And I do love my white tree. I say if you’re going to go fake, GO FAKE. Anyway, it took all of fifteen minutes to get it in place, and then I let the kids do the decorating. It only took me fifteen more minutes to sneak back in and move some of the ornaments around for a more balanced look. What is it about kids, that they beg and beg to help and then race through at top speed to get the job done? About 90% of the ball ornaments were hung in one section of the tree (of course), perched on the very tip of the branches. (So thankful for non-breakable ornaments!) But we had a good time, so it was a success.

In other news, the annual craft sale is behind us;  most of my Christmas sewing is complete, except for maybe two or three projects; and the majority of the shopping is DONE. Instead of going out shopping yesterday morning (or Thursday night), I shopped online. So much more fun! And a little bit dangerous, because every time I got a new sale email, I wanted to buy a little more…and a little more…ooh, and maybe one more thing. Whoa! Back away from the keyboard! After a break, I was feeling much less frenzied and so relieved to have made some serious progress.

Know what else? I didn’t even buy a bunch of stuff for myself, nor did I go to Joann’s for the flannel blowout bonanza sale. Every year, I say how much I hate it (because I do), and then every  year, I wake up at five and go anyway (because I love it! The flannel — not the wild-eyed, crazy shoppers or that horrible never-ending line.) Not this year. Nope. You see, this year, by the end of my 31 Day project, I didn’t have the house transformed and my life in order. I did, however, come away with a revelation: There’s just too much. The idea of a place for everything and everything in its place isn’t really enough. For me, everything has to be in its place, and that place can’t be in the third shoebox from the top in one of those cupboards. One of the reasons I can’t find things is that there are too many places for it to be stashed. Neater stacks are still stacks, and we are kind of drowning in them. So, one of my goals for the new year  — big surprise — is to create more space instead of a finding a better system. Therefore, it wouldn’t really be prudent to haul in a sweet load of $2.00 flannel when I currently have three shelves devoted to just that. Even if the prints were really cute. I wouldn’t know if they were cute, actually; haven’t even been by to check them out.

Things are happening, friends. Here’s hoping that we can all slow down just a little to really enjoy the spirit of the season. It’s going to speed by so quickly!

31 Days: Personal Victories

Today was a busy one. So busy, in fact, that excuses for veering away from my original, well-ordered plan popped up at nearly every turn.

It was very tempting to listen to the little devil on my shoulder [a devil which sounds suspiciously like me] that was tempting me all morning long.

See, if the pre-school costume parade ran long, would it make sense to go for only the last little bit of bible study? I could always borrow the dvd portion and catch up on it later. Besides, there was so much to do at home! Maybe I should just forget about going to the study at all — I mean, there’s no way that I wouldn’t be at least a little late anyway — and just plan on going home.

The parade ended at 9:40. Hmm. That would mean there’s only…an hour and a half left. Oh. Well, when you say it that way, it sounds ridiculous. To Precept!

(Time well spent, as always.)

Then there was the question of whether or not to go to early voting to cast my ballot. With so many days left, is that really necessary? But I was practically passing by the polling place, so why not! Twenty minutes later, I was glad I could cross that off the list, too.

Ah, but here’s the real test: Was there enough time left to justify going all the way back to the gym to squeeze in a workout? By the time I got home, changed, and had a bit to eat, there would only be thirty minutes left. And no classes, and I love a good class.

Oh, who am I fooling?! As if I really spend more than thirty minutes on a treadmill — please! At the rate this week is going, I may not have another opportunity to go until the weekend, so I got up and went. And I was happy — thrilled! — that I had an excuse to leave after thirty minutes. Man, am I out of shape!

Did I feel like an idiot leaving after thirty minutes? Sure. But do I actually think that everyone there was agog that my commitment to fitness was so obviously lacking? Well, yes, but I also know that has more to do with my brand of crazy than anything based in reality.

All in all, a very successful day! I can’t believe I managed to get out of my own way three times in as many hours; that may be a record.

In other news, I put on a sweater this morning, realized that it looked just as unflattering as it did every time I put it on last winter, and decided to rid myself of the collection. You may see me in the same shirt every day, but at least it won’t make me feel like Grimace.

Also, speaking of cold, it’s been mildly chilly here for all of four days, right? My hands are already a dry, burning, flaky mess, and my lips are beyond chapped. Winter should be lots of fun! (Guess it’s a good thing we’re nowhere near winter….)


31 Days: Welcome to the 21st Century!

As much as I hate having to stay at home all morning when a technician is working in the house, it actually does me a lot of good. Yesterday was one such morning. In two hours, I:

  • finished and folded three loads of laundry
  • prepared (well, finished preparing) the next five weeks of materials for Children’s Church
  • cleaned the powder room
  • cut the invitations for our holiday boutique (which is only three weeks away — what?!)
  • washed the dishes

Lots of stuff! Oh, and played two hands of something which resembled War with my girl. Card games with pre-schoolers are highly improvisational, don’t ya know. While I did all that, the nice gentleman from ATT hooked our home up with UVerse, thus bringing us up to speed with the rest of the neighborhood. Yes, we now have a few — very few, according to the disappointed man of the house — new channels, but that is not the best part.

Want to see the best part?

That hot mess is no longer littering my kitchen!!! OH HAPPY DAY! And that is after I’d already removed the phone from the windowsill. Yes, there was previously a phone sitting on my windowsill. With a modem. And a power strip. Care to take a guess how many times I tripped over that nest of cords, and toppled the whole blasted arrangement? Or opened one of the drawers under the oven and accidentally unplugged the power strip? So many times, but no more, my friends! No more.

I can’t tell you how happy this one little change has made me.

Even better? With the new and improved lines, we can now use the phone and the internet at the same time. Sweet freedom! So long, Pioneer House — we’re taking this place into the future!
Or ten years ago. Whatever — we’re forging ahead!

31 Days: Engage!

This week, the almost unthinkable happened: I joined a gym.

As it is, there always seems to be a very legitimate reason not to workout at home, or even walk around the neighborhood. For one thing (particular to the whole walking thing), there are not sidewalks in our neighborhood. There’s one that goes part of the length up the major street in our subdivision, but you eventually have to go off on a side street and then it’s survival of the fittest. This whole “no sidewalk” thing makes zero sense to me, by the way, especially given the narrowness of the roads. Add two rambunctious kids and it’s hard for me to get motivated. Also, a certain someone has officially gotten too tall for a stroller, and our one and only walk this school year was a debacle. Strike two! Oh, and let’s one again point out the whole allergy/pest problem, where even the briefest forays out the door leave you covered in mosquito bites and in need of a pollen-removing shower. No thank you.

But…the reality is that I’m not getting any younger, or fitter — I suspect that the doctor may have removed vital portions of my core during my last C-section, because those muscles just do not work! — and a change had to come. Hence the gym. So far, I’ve managed to get to two classes this week, and survived them both. My goal for this week is at least three, or maybe I’ll get crazy and go for a swim. I haven’t swum a lap since I had kids, so the thought makes me a little giddy. The freedom! Will I even remember how? Who knows? All I know is that it only takes a few minutes to drive to the gym, and I was sure that alone would make it impossible. No time, you see. But I’m finding more and more little bits, and they’re adding up to a whole lot.

Wish me luck, friends. My track record to sticking with this sort of thing is not so good.

Happy New [School] Year!

School actually started last week, but today was the first day that BOTH kids were in school. Yes, even The Girl is off to school a couple of days a week this year. It’s the dawn of a new era!

In a fit of Mom Guilt, I stitched up another nap roll. After all, if I made one for Joey, how could I send Little Sister off to school with a vinyl mat stuffed in a pillowcase? (Um, I bet it would’ve been pretty easy had I not made such a big deal out of it. But I’m also willing to bet that it would’ve been thrown in my face as though it mattered in about ten years.)

This time around, I decided to actually follow the directions instead of going all rogue and using what I had; that was a good decision. Sure, I managed to make it take much longer than necessary, but it was super easy once I got down to business. The only change I stuck to was substituting a fleece remnant for the minkee blanket (so it was only a single layer. Less plush, but also a tiny bit less work.)

Not pictured: The store-bought lunch kit, since Mom doesn’t make anything that can hold a candle to a Hello Kitty bag. I can’t say that it doesn’t make me the tiniest bit sad that she’s already come to that conclusion.

Starting Small. Really, Really Small.

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You know what? I’d probably get a lot more done if I spent less time stumbling across cool new-to-me blogs. Know what else? I can’t stop! There are so many inspiring people hiding in plain sight. Right now, one of the things that has me all twitchy is Jules’ William Morris Project. Oh boy! I wanna play!

I’ll tell you Secret #1: It took me a week to actually sit down and put pen to paper to make my list. Like it’s a binding contract? I don’t know — maybe I just didn’t want to come across one more “this time for sure” list two years from now. Well, I’m all about trying again, so The List was made and this girl is ready to tackle it!

But, one mustn’t rush, so I chose something super manageable (if somewhat embarrassing.)

It may sound strange, but I don’t spend a whole lot of time in my son’s room. Usually, I’m either there to wake up, tuck in, or put away laundry; there’s always a purpose. Truth be told, though, it doesn’t take long for the unusual to become very…not unusual? Not exactly normal, but nothing that would draw my attention, either.

All this to say: Yesterday, I decided to take matters in hand and box up The Boy’s Christmas decorations. Now, I know that I’d mentioned it to him several times since New Year’s Day, but never really cared enough to be the enforcer. Then, the other day, we had bedtime stories in his room instead of ours. Halfway through the first chapter, my eye came to rest on his Santa Snoopy lights strung across the wall. And — glance to the left — yep! There’s the tree on the desk.

Son! It’s really time to take down the lights and the tree.

Aww,  Momma — not yet!

But if not now, then when? So, without further ado, I [miracles of miracles!] remembered to stop in while he was in school and boxed it all up. That was yesterday; to my knowledge, he hasn’t even noticed. The rest of the room is slated for a little updating this summer, but I already feel better about the state of affairs around here.

We’re doing things!

Time to Change

So, Spring Break was kind of a bust for us. It was just one of those things, where a week seems like a veritable eternity stretched out before you…until you realize that it’s Day 4 and you haven’t really done anything. Part of the problem lay in my complete inability to make changes on the fly. For example, I’d planned to take the kids to the mall one day  — yeah, pretty exciting stuff — but decided to slate that for the last part of the week. Then, come the end of the week, we ended up not going and I could not figure out why. Oh, wait! I know why: because I’d decided to wait until my sister came into town, since that’s something she likes to do, but then she ended up not coming. Not that big of a deal, except the whole week was like that. Luckily, though, my kids aren’t all that hard to please, so it was still a pretty good week, especially if you like just hanging around. We did *tons* of that. And library storytime — we did go to library storytime!

Another plus was that I finally got around to addressing The Girl’s closet, which was kind of a disaster.

Not horrible [unlike the photos, but it’s really hard to take a picture of a closet on a cloudy day!], but pretty junky. I tossed out all of the old baby stuff, random cables, etc. Would you believe that I found yet another box of boys infant clothes? Yes, almost seven years later, I’m still finding the odd parcel of clothes in the “baby’s” room. Good grief! Pretty sure I’ve congratulated myself several times for finally getting rid of everything…but no. There was more.

Now that the closet was pretty much a clean slate, I was able to sit and think about a possible solution to our current problem. It seems that this child is a bit of a fashion maven, and would happily change her outfit three times a day. It doesn’t sound like that big of a deal on paper, but the daily ransacking of her dresser was getting on my last nerve. So was the battle of wills we’d entered into every morning for the all-important first outfit selection. But! I had a plan:

At the beginning of the week, I create eight or nine outfits and hang them up where she can reach them. Every morning, she’s allowed to go into the closet and choose whichever one she wants. Then we shut the closet (which has one of those child-proof covers on the knob, so she can’t just help herself to its contents all the live-long day), and we’re pretty much done for the day.

Guess what? So far, it’s working!!

I moved on to the dresser after finishing the closet, and bagged up all of the winter wear. The shirts and pants that were leftover after filling the closet were pretty slim pickings, so she’s pretty much forgotten that they’re in there. At least I assume that she’s forgotten; she hasn’t tossed the drawers in two weeks! Plus, it was finally organized well enough that I could clearly see what she does and does not need. Turns out she needs a little of this and that, but that’s a story for another day. Every completed task seems to create another, but for now I’m happy to savor the victory of conquering one small corner of our cluttery little kingdom.

Trying New Stuff

[Yes, I’m going to go ahead and post without one of my stellar pictures, because the one I took tonight in my fully lit kitchen was too murky (even by my standards.) Sorry ’bout that there.]

Well, we’re trying new things around here this month. Specifically, vegetables.  Yepper — I just referred to “vegetables” as new things. See, it occurred to me a while back that I only manage to shoehorn them into the meal a couple of times a week, far below the five a day quota. Fruit does play a prominent role at breakfast and lunch, but I’m pretty sure we’re still missing the mark. So, I decided to take a radical approach: we purchased a farm share this quarter. Since planning my meals and working the veggies in hasn’t been working for me, I figured I’d try a switcheroo: The veg come to me (or, rather, I pick them up every week), and then I plan the menu around whatever is in the bag. It’s kind of like an Iron Chef challenge ratcheted way down. Hey, and so far so good! Of course, it’s only week two, but we’ve been steadily chipping away at the produce. It’s some pretty out there stuff, too, for people unaccustomed to eating anything but broccoli and the occasional green bean. We’ve had radishes, bok choy, and arugula, along with more common stuff like zucchini, summer squash, and bell peppers. I ended up having to chuck half of the radishes; they went and got all soft on me before I could salvage them, so we only ate two of the six. Tonight we had Farfalle with Arugula and White Beans, and it was a hit! Even though they’re good eaters, in general, I never would have guessed this group would like that one. (Well, the kids weren’t wild for the greens, but the boy at least ate his serving. The girl’s a tough sell when it comes to wilted greens.)

Oh, I’m also trying to institute a weekly home “date night”. Basically, it’s going to consist of dessert and coffee after the kids go to bed. Frankly, this is about all we can muster the energy to manage at this point. It sounds terrible, but going out all the time is kind of a hassle, especially for homebodies. At least I imagine it is…. Anyway, tonight I made Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Dulce de Leche (which was in this month’s Everyday Food magazine, but I can’t find a link online.) I’m really looking forward to having a cozy little treat in just a few minutes instead of our usual routine, which consists of him working on his laptop whilst channel surfing, and me sticking my nose in a book, periodically looking up to tell him to stop switching the blasted channels and light somewhere already. (It’s what we do.)

Okay — time to go start the coffee!

The New Normal

Happy New Year!

Yes, last Monday, our boy set off for his first day of Kindergarten. He and I were both a little anxious, but he has had fun every day (so far) and I managed to work out the very confusing car-rider system.

Yes, I just admitted to anxiety over the car-rider system. I don’t like unknowns. [Oh, where does my kid get his aversion to change?] There was a map, true, but it did nothing but confuse me further. One of the instructions was “if you’ll be traveling south…”, but does that mean when you’re entering the driveway, or when you’re exiting? Also, it turns out that you’re supposed to be in a specific lane when you turn in, but unless you know that…you don’t know it. You know?

That was just one of a dozen little mysteries that needed to be untangled, ever after the piles of paperwork started streaming in two weeks ago. [As you can see, it doesn’t take much to rattle my cage. This qualifies as headache-inducing stressful in my book. Sad, but true.] I’m sure all will be revealed in due time. Or not. I really don’t know. Not that it bothers me or anything. Just gonna hang loose….

Anyway –

I will have to agree with the many moms out there (judging by the number of magazines and blogs I’ve read in the past couple of weeks) that Aug/Sept does indeed feel a lot more like the beginning of a new year than January ever did. Around mid-August, I snapped out of my summer slump and went into planning mode. Time to get moving!

New devotional workbook? Check!

New sewing projects? Check!

Decorating? Getting rid of stuff? New meals and plans of attack for housekeeping and workout regimens? Check check check check!

Most women probably start kicking it into high gear the minute they have their first kid. It only took me five extra years. Whatever. I’m just happy that the faux New Year’s momentum carried me through the first six days.

I think that’s something of a record.