Monday, February 27, 2012

Sorry for the lack of updates

Bronchitis swept through our household again and decimated my plans. I will not be able to finish the Organization Challenge this month because of it :(

However, my plans are to continue until done anyway! After we recover from the usual chaos of extra laundry and mess from being sick, the journey will continue and I will update on our progress here on Operation: Organization.

Friday, February 10, 2012

February Challenge Update 1

Linking to Orgjunkie.

We still have not found a home for the lovely ferrets. I have lots of people wanting them free from CL (which is fine!) but I'm trying to find someone who wants their cage and stuff as well (asking about 1/4 what we paid, and the ferrets are free.. seems cheap to me?) We will give it one more week and then just give them away and set the cage etc at the curb.



Even the bins O.O ZOMG! The chairs, a pile of really high end clothes I'm going to try to sell or consign, and the dresser and things beside it are left. The rest is GONE.

Baby steps, baby steps! I also got some of the garage cleared out. Although not part of this challenge, it made sense to go ahead and set all those things at the curb at the same time as the rest was leaving. That was a good decision.

Here is what's left to go through:

The dresser will be going to the garage, the wrapping paper holder to the attic (DH just forgot to put it away after Christmas) and the pink boxes will be reorganized and rehomed in a cabinet in the garage (fabrics that were discontinued that go with dd2's room.) There is a home waiting for them. The game chairs are staying until we get new seating for this room, and then they will also be hitting the curb. 

Then....painting shall begin to give us a nice fresh blank canvas to work on!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I used to be a Gwyneth *gasp*

If you don't know what that means, please check out the at RANTS FROM MOMMYLAND.

It's totally true, though. Oh, by the way? This might get a little long.

I'm not starting at the very beginning, that would take way too long. Kid #1 was an easy dream; Kid #2 was a surprise less than a year later. Irish twins, they were practically attached at the hip - even now at ages almost 12 and 13, they bunk together on the weekends (each have seperate beds, they just want to be in the same room together).

I WAS uber-mom. It's only looking back that I can truly appreciate all that I did. I still don't know how! My husband got in on the ground level of a new development for Verizon for what is now known as FIOS, and I became a stay at home mom full time (previously, we'd done opposing shifts to avoid daycare). I was bound and determined to be the best stay at home mom that I could be! Plus, we needed to make some extra money, but with DH's new work hours, there wasn't much I could find to work around unscheduled overtime for him.

This was in the day of "Coupon Queen glory". Tom Thumb would triple up to 75 cents on some weekends; later, Albertson's would double up to $2! I still remember the rushes of things like the night I got 80 boxes of baby wipes from Tom Thumb for something like $3.18. And yes, every single box of them got used. I'd get the double deal of papers on Saturday and clip clip clip, then on Sunday I'd go hit all the stores with my lists and coupons all sorted out. I routinely got $200 in groceries for $25 or less. If I saved less than 90%, I was dissappointed. I was hated by some, envied by others, and mentored anyone who asked.

I was "that mom". Every morning makeup, I shaved, my kids were in bed by 6:30 or 7:00pm and then we had adult time till 10 or 11pm and went to bed. I wore clean clothes almost every day. My house was SPOTLESS - and we had routines like cleaning up the kids' rooms every night before bed without wanting to kill anyone or scream about it.

We ate almost entirely home cooked meals (because of the couponing). I'd even mix things up and some nights we'd have tapas or fondue (Stouffer's I hate that you stopped making welsh rarebit!!!), or even pate and gouda with some fresh, nummy Central Market bread. Cooking dinner was just not an issue for me. Making lunches and breakfasts likewise was just part of life.

Once the kids started school, I became SUPERMOM. I volunteered all the time, attended every party (if their parties were at the same time, different classrooms, I popped in and out like a whack a mole to make sure one of them didn't feel left out!). Fresh fruit salad for 40 with one day's advance notice? NO PROBLEM! You need 200 cd's of the class pictures made and the computer's not working? NO PROBLEM!

DH would come home from work and most of the time, dinner was hitting the table, kids were all done with homework and maybe even baths, laundry was done, and nightime was relaxation time.

Fast forward a few years. Our third and final child was born and things started going downhill. The laundry was slipping a bit. Things that I'd always done sometimes didn't get done. Then she got mobile. Then we moved.

And then our middle child was finally diagnosed with Asperger's after a three year fight with the public school district. 2 years after that, our youngest was diagnosed as well.

These days.. I wear the same yoga pants or jeans for maybe an entire week unless something indescribably horrible has happened to them. Febreeze is my best friend. Headbands are awesome to hide that dear-god-I-haven't-had-time-to-shower-in-four-days oil slick on my head. Patchouli smells awful but convinces people I'm just a harmless hippie. (ed note: with bright purple hair, usually).

Homework for a kindergartner who has bouncing-off-the-walls adhd and Aspergers, a 6th grader with Asperger's who starts hers right as her meds wear off, and a gifted thus they pile the work on 8th grader means from 3pm-10pm I juggle karate, homework, dinner, and hygeine routines like a mad cow trying to juggle plates. In other words? Not very well. Totally sucktastically, actually. We've had more McDonald's in the last month than we have Mac n Cheese, and that's saying something. Something BAD.

I have the "luxury" of staying home from 830am-2:30pm in which time I juggle doctor appointments and communications, therapy checkups and appointment, order replacement stuff for broken stuff, try to keep the house in a condition that at least if Home Visit or one of the older's Big Brother or Big Sister comes by that they don't feel the need to call CPS, battle the evil laundry mountain, wonder how in the world *that* got *there* and dear god what is that smell?! And set up the PCS charts for that afternoon, update the almightly Calendar of Doom, keep all the accounts in the green, fight in emails with various teachers about why aren't they doing thing they agreed to do 2 months ago happily and are now snarling about it and my poor kid is confused and that's why they aren't "compliant" in class.. and then there's the grocery shopping, and the shoe shopping, and the clothes shopping.

I miss being Gwyneth, really I do. I don't remember the last kids' party I went to that wasn't a family member. I definitely don't remember the last class party. Fruit salad comes in a can, who knew? The mixed nuts live in my house.

And that is why I've made zero progress on the February challenge so far. Okay, not zero. Maybe 2%. I'm still trying to find a home for the ferrets.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Feb. challenge - Plan

Orgjunkie uses a plan called PROCESS, which I will be trying out for the first time.

The first step is to PLAN my space. I really like using Better Homes and Garden's "Arrange a Room" to plan my spaces. It's free, it's functional.. but it's not perfect. That's okay, because again.. it's FREE. It's also easy to use.

My current plan is something close to this (budget and actual measurements may call for some small changes).

I got it as close to scale as possible, but some things are a bit off. It works to let me see the room in my head though for PLANning purposes. The room needs to have several functions:

1. Seating. We want to extend the existing 11" deep window seat into the room by another 10" or more, angled at the sides, to create an area where seating is actually possible. The window seat will have a cushion, and a row of floor size pillows going across it that the kids can flop on the floor with their friends. For more grown up seating or for family movie nights, we'll add a large "chair and a half" or small loveseat to either side of the window (depending on what I can locate on craigslist)  as well as large ottomans which can be used for a variety of things, including additional seating.

2. Observation/scent. A small pub table and two chairs will give additional seating next to the fireplace bumpout (a strange and hard to use area right at the top of the stairs and the hallway to the master suite and youngest child's room). This is also where I will plug in a Scentsy to alleviate the boy band-playing funk and girls too-much-perfume gatherings. Important - there is an outlet on this wall! Yay!

3. Empty space. We have a Kinect and a Wii, so there needs to be plenty of empty space between the seating areas and the television - a minimum of six feet, but hopefully 8 feet or more.

4. Enclosing the shelves in the corner of the room to provide hidden instead of exposed storage, for larger items that are hard to display (such as the Rockband drums). We will be measuring and hoping that bi-fold doors can be made to fit this space easily. If not, we will probably use a tension rod and some type of curtain to close off this area visually.

5. The existing rug will be kept for now, although it won't match our vision for colors. When we find one we can afford of that size, to replace it, we will. We're looking for something more cushioned for a better sound dampening in this room.

6. A coffee table of some type will go in front of the window seating and between the chairs. We have several hand-me-down possibilities from a relative, but this will be one of the last things we add as we don't know what will fit that space best yet.

7. The entire room needs to be purged and painted (except for the TV wall) before anything else can commence.

8. I do not know what will go along the empty area to the far right side of the room. We have talked about an EXPEDIT unit, bookshelves, a small 8-in-1 game table... we're just really not sure yet what other functions this room should have or will need, so I'm leaving "growing room" for the time being.

February Challenge - Gameroom

Linking up to OrgJunkie's February Challenge.

This is what used to be our beautifully decorated and organized playroom.. about two years ago. It is now the junkroom of epic proportions, as everything that was decluttered from elsewhere upstairs got stuck in this room. There's no seating that's usable except for my limber children. Just mostly junk. And animal cages.

This is the one wall that has been painted, and furniture we got on clearance at The Container Store last year. Note: This is the ONLY slightly finished part of this room, and the only functional part at all.

And it's still surrounded by junk and trash.

Here's more junk:

That's the ferret cage that doesn't really fit in the corner it's squeezed into. And we are not the best ferret parents. We will be giving them up for adoption soon *sniffle*. They need room to roam that we can't do very well with our girls' needs and well, this room of JUNK. Middle is the rat cage, we are keeping the rats as they are my son's and he takes fair care of them.

And a final view:

Yep, more junk. There is seriously a LOT of crap in this room to deal with - but the room is so large that the scale of the "mess" may seem small to you viewing it on your monitor. For reference, that is a 9x13' rug pictured in front of the window. The room itself is about 20x25. It is HUGE. So what looks like a little mess in here, would fill my youngest's 11x13 room completely.

So this is Step One - BEFORE.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Retreat, retreat!

I fear I have lost the Battle of the Bathroom. I have not been able to purge anything close to what I was hoping to. Although I did clear off (and take out) the two pieces of freestanding furniture we were using, there is now no place to put the toilet paper, or the towels.

We have the following built in spaces to make use of:

A four shelf, approx 12" deep and 20" wide, open shelving in the entrance to the master closet.
Under my side of the sink.
Under DH's side of the sink.

This is what I tried to organize into those areas.

  1. Makeup (We should just skip this one. I would be happy with a vanity with many drawers JUST for makeup..)
  2. Nail Polish (No, you can't take my "black with envy" OR my "black lingerie"! They are not the same blacks at all! :P)
  3. Hair Dye (I have a lot, from sales.. pared down about half but still have too much)
  4. Hair Removal (wax, strips, warmer, etc)
  5. DH's hair removal (razors, blades, creams, etc)
  6. Shampoo and conditioner
  7. Hair treatment and styling products (I did purge about half of these)
  8. Lots and lots and lots of Axe wash, deoderant, and spray. And lots and lots of Victoria's Secret "Love Spell" wash (For what I paid, they are "worth" the storage costs)
  9. Skincare (oy.. purged all my Regenerist for Philosophy and STILL have no idea how to store it for ease of use)
  10. Meds and First Aid
  11. Dental Care 
  12. Hair styling tools (including the huge box of Curlformers..)
  13. About 30 Lush bath bombs, melts, soaps, and body butter/buffers.
I do have all my makeup purged and organized into a larger train case and one brush roll. That sits on one of the shelves, next to a wicker box of "I have no idea what the hell this is but apparently we do use it, so here it goes"; the Axe washes and my VS wash take up 2 of the shelves in the closet; the last shelf I had to use for the big bin of first aid supplies and my dressup hairpieces. My organizing adventures and DH's outside job make for quite a lot of injuries, apparently.

We have a really (craptastic) double vanity. I wish I could just leave out my train case and skin care (in something pretty) out on the "between" space, but it just looks cluttered and drives me crazy to do so. Yet, having them in the closet doesn't help at all because these are things I use daily! I have no idea where to put them where they won't drive me nuts.

I think I may go to one of the hanging towel racks with the towels rolled up on the wall to take care of that, but I really had hoped to hide the TP under DH's sink, and that's not happening.

Fine, bathroom, you win for now.. but I'll be back with reinforcements!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I have declared war on my kids' rooms!

Yes, really. I shall vanquish the dust bunnies, polish the pitted surfaces, and *gasp* venture into lands unknown. I shall go where no woman has gone before!

The kids' rooms do get daily maintenance. They are expected to pick up after themselves, occasionally make their beds, put away their books and such. Unfortunately, they don't get thoroughly cleaned as often as they should. It's probably been six months since I magic-eraser-red DD1's desk smudges off, or Pledged the TV stand in my son's room (The Swiffer does make a slightly more regular appearance).

I have also declared war on the contents of everything. It is time to PURGE! I am armed with my black trash bags of doom and ready to wade through it! I'm four bags out from DS' room and hoping to finish DD1's before picking up the children from school.

I also let my older kids pick out a medium size warmer from Scentsy and a bar of fragrance they liked. I'm very, very tired of the smell of stale sweat, old socks, melted lipgloss, and other disgusting things. The warmers have been going for about thirty minutes now and it is AMAZING what a difference there is! My son chose "Shades of Green" which reminds me of the backyard after a good rain and the sun has come out; my daughter went with "Blueberry Cheesecake" which is a bit sickeningly sweet but has a good note for a tween girl's room that doesn't like floral scents.

What are your plans this week? Planning to wage WAR on anything?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The, Two Year Plan

We had one. I'm not doing it again. I am, instead, going to go with a Two Year Plan (because five would encompass the time period that my older children are moving out! Time flies..)

I spent this week walking around the house and coming up not only with organization ideas or problem areas that needed addressed, but looking at our home as a whole and determining what our longer term goals were. I know what the house looks like right now; what do I want it to look like within Two Years or less?

This is the list that I came up with. I added $ signs to each so that we know which we can do as weekend projects versus ones that may take a long time to save up for:

  1. $$$ Rip out the whole yard (we have eleventy billion types of grass and weeds currently in there) and re-sod. 
  2. $$$ Install a sprinkler system, or train my children to assist in watering the lawn in the early mornings and evenings every day until the lawn is established
  3. $ Plant irises at least in the 2 beds around our trees
  4. $$ Do something with the huge flowerbeds at the front of the house that is low maintenance
  5. $$-$$$ Pool in the backyard - still need to research what other options there are and what we can afford beyond the blow up type
  6. $ Repaint/Repair the outdoor playground unit
  7. $$ Re-invest in 80% solar screens instead of 90% to restore natural lighting inside the home (I am tired of living in a cave)
  8. Add the house numbers we purchased five years to the outside of the house
  1. $ Finish trimming out the windows in the library. 
  2. $ Get a new desk for the library (the current one has some unforeseen structural issues) - incorporating at least one file drawer
  3. $-$$ Install trim around pieced together library pieces to give them a more custom, built in look and provide additional stability
  4. Move archival storage to new area in kitchen above built in desks in order to:
  5. Make room in library shelving to remove roleplaying books from den in order to:
  6. $-$$ Replace IKEA-hacked entertainment system with a more compact one in order to:
  7. $$ Add 2 more chairs to the den for more seating
  8. $ Repaint the den to continue what we started in the kitchen, hallway, and playroom (open floorplan)
  9. $$ Design, make, and complete custom storage solution for the area at the bottom of the stairs
  10. * $ Paint the stairwell and install a new banister (this needs done before anything else since ours recently *fell off the wall*
  11. $ Install new chime unit for the doorbell to the stairwell
  12. $ Refinish the kitchen table to match the new cabinetry
  13. $ Install new pantry doors 
  14. $$ Install three new six panel doors so all doors match 
  15. $$ Replace doorknobs on six doors to brushed steel instead of brass
  16. $ Frame all the pictures that we've been planning on for ages and form display on the two wall areas of the living room that have room for them without crowding
  17. $$ Get small hall tree for DH's drop zone by the garage to look nicer than the decades old scarred table currently placed there with a wall hook
  18. $ Paint quote around top of wall above kitchen window
  19. $$$ Look into flooring options or tile refinishing for existing tile floors which have proved a safety hazard
  20. $$ Replace vanity and toilet in downstairs bath for functional reasons
  21. $$$ Replace stove and refrigerator
  1. $-$$ Purchase seating and pub table for gameroom
  2. $-$$ Extend window seat out to be functional seating area
  3. $ Finish repainting gameroom
  4. $ Install doors on strange corner space in gameroom corner
  5. $$ Purchase new, thicker rug for gameroom for sound dampening purposes (vinyl flooring)
  6. $ Add smaller 10-in-1 or 8-in-1 game table to gameroom after selling off existing full size table tennis that is too large for the space
  7. $ Get posters for various things the tweens like to decorate the room with. Note, the one wall will probably need "Door Sized" posters.
  8. Repaint children's bathroom using leftover paint from the laundry room mixed with some of the samples we tried that were too green aqua
  9. $$ Replace vanity in children's bathroom 
  10. Install shelf for artwork over existing hooks (shelf is in storage)
  11. $$$ Replace ten doors with six panel types with brushed steel knobs
  12. $$$ Get quote for renovation of master bath (shower needs totally redone, bad tile job swelling/breaking; vanity sinks cracking; tub never drained properly since purchase)
  13. Revamp furniture placement in master bedroom to restore better function of areas
  14. $ Repaint master bedroom
  15. Re-purpose upstairs linen closet, move games to corner storage in gameroom

With 43 items to do within a 24 month period, this gives us a goal of doing approximately two projects each month without trying to do anything during the winter holidays. It is quite likely that we will accomplish a goal each week on the free or cheaply done things, while the expensive ones will be waiting not for time, but for funding.

Do you have goals or a picture in your head of what you want you home to be for you? Have you examined those goals or pictures and come up with a plan for accomplishing them? I find that a time limit helps keep just enough pressure on to keep up progress without stalling, while not so much pressure that it is overwhelming. If all you have are big projects to do, make sure to space your goals out more as each IS going to take time to do justice to it. If all you have are small projects to do, leave a little leeway in goals so that you don't feel that all you are doing is constantly working on the house.

Life will be going on while your plan is on paper. Plans may change or even be discarded. New plans may make themselves known (appliance breakdown, act of nature, life changing events, etc). Your committment should be to being happy in your home and being functional, not just a committment to a list. If you only commit to the list, you're missing the Big Picture and at the end may find yourself accomplished and done, but unhappy with the result.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

What are your resolutions for 2012 regarding organization?

Do you need to purge?
Containerize? (thanks to OrgJunkie for this term - Laura is fab!)
Stop procrastinating?
Compromise with housemates or loved ones?

My resolution this year for organizing is.. to keep taking baby steps. I actually don't think of organization as a journey, because like housework it isn't something with an end goal where everything just stops. Life moves on and your needs change; your furniture or your house changes; children grow up; styles even change (if that is important to you at least once a decade, lol). I do think of organization as a way to make things more functional, to make daily life easier, and to get to the goal of where 90% or more of my efforts go towards maintenance, with 10% or less of my organizing time going to changes or improvements.

When we moved into this house five years ago, it was an unmarked canvas. It was huge on space, but tiny on storage. We made a five-year plan for the house, to turn it into what we wanted it to be. Today, I can tell you that we didn't meet all of our goals, and we added new ones after finishing tons of them. Some of our goals changed as by the time we got the them, our needs had changed. But our home today reflects the work we've put into it, the changes in our lives, and the functionality we desire.

My next post will talk more about our previous five year plan and what I'm putting on the next one. The last one dealt with transitions (old home to new, young children to tweens, etc); the next will focus on tightening things up and adding the finishing touches.

No matter where you are in your journey - don't get overwhelmed. It's so easy to do, and then stall out because you are either sickened or depressed at what you THINK is a lack of progress. Take a deep breath, take some time out for yourself, and remind yourself of what you have accomplished, no matter how small or how large. Before you feel crushed by lists of things to do in 2012, think of what you did in 2011.. and smile :) Because you're here to enjoy it!