Friday, July 31, 2009
If you haven't joined in my Organization Challenge yet, it is not too late! To find out more, read this.
If you are up to the battle, your orders are as follows:
1.) If you haven’t already, post your organization goal for this week on your blog today, along with my Operation Organization code (see right sidebar) or link to my original Operation Organization post.
2.) Take a “Before” photo of the area you are going to organize. Remember, I’m going to be posting your “Before and After” photos every Friday. (I’m posting mine, too, so you’ll get to see my mess, as well!) I think this will give others great ideas and really help us see our progress. You aren’t required to send in B&A photos but you will receive TWO extra entries in each week’s giveaway.
3.) Leave your link to your organizational post via Mister Linky below!
Every soldier needs a pep talk before they go out and conquer. I have asked my very organized and funny friend Dina to provide us with some pointers before we get started. Here is her advice:
1.) Conquer clutter first. How can we be organized when we have so much crap all over our homes? We have to take charge of our stuff before it takes charge of us! You know that crappy feeling you get when you walk into a room that is in disorder. It makes your brain feel out of order. (See - crap begets crappiness.) It’s time to decide to GET RID OF IT!!!
2.) Break it down into manageable parts. If you've accumulated loads of stuff all over the house don't be discouraged. You've got to break it down. If you think working on a small area of the home won't make you feel better - you'd be surprised!
This is Melinda breaking in here for a moment to give you an example. Dina came over a few weeks ago to help me organize. We cleaned out a couple of my kitchen cabinets and made a spice drawer for me. I still smile every time I open those cabinets and drawer. I use those things everyday and it has made locating things so much easier. A little means a lot!
3.) Take one area at a time. This might mean one drawer or maybe one desk. But don't put it off! Even if you have small amounts of time you can get organized. Recently, I worked with my daughter in her room for 15 minutes a night for a week. We made major progress getting rid of stuff. Your kids will cooperate better if you work a little at a time instead of saying, "Okay, kids, today we are going to spend the entire day de-cluttering!"
Important Tip: Take boxes along with you as you declutter. These will be for donations, recycle, garage sale - whatever works for you. (Large shopping bags work, too). Also have a trash bag for garbage! Try and decide then and there what to do with that item.
4.) Don't get emotional! Emotional attachments make it difficult to let items go, but trust me. By keeping that old trinket that Aunt Marge gave you 10 years ago - that you've never liked or used - are you really honoring your aunt? She probably forgot about that thing ages ago.
Karen Kingston, author of Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui* gives this helpful clutter test:
1. Does it lift my energy when I think about it or look at it?
2. Do I absolutely love it?
3. Is it genuinely useful?
If you answered yes to #1 and no to #2 and #3, then why do you still have it?
(*I'm not a believer in the Feng Shui Eastern philosophy, but the principles of order bringing peace to our homes is right on!)
We can get especially sentimental about our kids’ stuff. Here’s an example of what I do to keep the memory without keeping the stuff:
My daughter won 2nd place on her science project and it really meant a lot to her. However, the large display board standing in the living area of my small home wasn't working for me. So, I took pictures of the board - close ups of a couple of the reports - and bye -bye board. The pictures will go in her album and she will always remember her project.
When your kids just don't want to part with things, sometimes taking a photo of them with it will allow them to let it go.
5.) Get the kids involved. You would be surprised at how it affects them in a positive way to have their own room/space that's organized and clutter free.
6.) Don't use it? Lose it! If you haven't worn it in a year GET RID OF IT!
7.) Remember! God will provide! Consider this verse: And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:21
So, why do we keep things for 10 years "just in case" we need it? God will provide. If you haven't used it in 10 years you probably aren't going to use it.
Isn't she a great leader?!
Be sure to leave your link below. I can’t wait to see all we accomplish this week.
By the way, my goal is to finish re-organizing my daughter’s bedroom. (I started this week while she was at camp.)
Next Friday, I will pick one of you at random to receive a $10 Target gift card! (Check back on Wednesday too for more organizing tips!)
Okay, troops: CHARGE!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
We engage in Operation Organization: The Battle for Order tomorrow! (If you don't know what this is read this.)
If you'd still like to sign up or know of someone who would, it is not too late. Anyone can sign up at anytime. The sooner you enlist, the more areas of your home to conquer!
I am not so much your Commander-in-Chief, as your fellow soldier. I struggle with organization too and have enlisted some reinforcements (very organized friends of mine) to help provide us with tips and keep our morale up! We can do that for each other, too!
Here's what you need to do for tomorrow:
1.) Choose your first organization project/goal. Don't forget to take a "Before" photo, so you can send me your Before and After photos.
2.) Post about it on your blog tomorrow (please either copy my button code or leave a link to my Operation Organization post in your Friday post, so others can learn about it and join in.)
3.) Come here on Friday ... I will have some "battle plans" (tips) to help get us started.
4.) Leave your link on my blog Friday via Mister Linky. (Be sure to link to your Organization post, not just your blog.)
Come back tomorrow and we'll hit the battlefield!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Strange in a different way than usual, I mean.
I woke up this morning to the sound of, well – nothing.
My home is relatively neat – strange enough – but the order has remained intact for more than 10 consecutive minutes!
The laundry is not multiplying exponentially.
This can only mean one thing: My kids are at summer camp this week.
This kind of prolonged peace and quiet always comes at a price. A few things I had to endure:
1.) Giving up control (Gasp!). This is the first time my 9-year-old son, Micah, has been away from home for more than one night. This is a big deal for any mom and boy. But Micah has cystic fibrosis, a genetic respiratory and digestive disease. Relinquishing his care into someone else’s hands, even a someone with R.N. after their name, was more difficult than trying to wrestle a bear cub from his mama.
To say I wrote down detailed instructions would be a bit of an understatement. It made War and Peace look like light reading. I also had a long, detailed phone conversation with the camp nurse (or as she likes to call it “The Inquisition.”)
After Micah and I gave each other “one last hug” for the fourth time, his father finally broke up the lovefest and made him get on the bus. Evil, evil man.
2.) A pre-camp shopping trip to SuperTarget. Once we walked through the doors, it immediately became like herding cats. Mike and I finally decided to divide and conquer. He took the boy and I got the “spend like there’s no tomorrow” pre-teen. Ahem. How did that happen? You would be absolutely amazed at the things a young girl “needs” for camp. I said “no” so many times, that she began asking me for insane things just to annoy me. “Mom, can I have the monkey sippy cup with the straw? I saw that on the camp list.” “Mom, how about this cookie jar? I need somewhere to keep my snacks.”
Hilarious. Can we go now?
3.) Overseeing two campers pack. This requires a Ph.D. in patience – a degree I’m still working on. Micah was fixated on his need to “pack money” while Molly filled half her suitcase with grooming supplies. When I told Micah I’d packed his toiletries, he burst out laughing. “Toilet-ries?! You packed a toilet?!” I know, I know, too much Spongebob.
After a few more frantic episodes, the kids were gone. Just like that. Peace and quiet reigns. And it occurred to me that I’m married to a husband and not just a father, a fact that often gets lost in the busyness and demands of keeping up with two high-energy, strong-willed children.
For six whole days, we’re just Melinda and Mike, instead of Mom and Dad. Strange, indeed.
It’s a bit sad that it took shipping our kids out of the house to force us to have some couple time. It’s something we simply have to decide to do more often. Everyone – kids included – are happier campers when things are good with Mom and Dad. It gives them security and a healthy model for their own future marriages.
After all, before God gave us children, He gave us each other. Losing sight of that is a dangerous thing to do.
Because one day – sooner than we realize – the kids will be gone. Just like that.
A note to my Operation Organization Brigade: I am so excited that so many of you have enlisted! This is going to be fun!! On Thursday, I'll remind you of the instructions. On Friday (kick-off day), I will post some great tips for tackling your clutter (from my insanely organized friend Dina). Can't wait to do battle with you! If you haven't joined, see the post below. It's not too late to enlist!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Do you risk bodily harm when opening your closet?
Are you putting off doing something about it until you “have more time”?
Yea. Me, too.
Guess what? I’m ready to wage war! Are you with me?!
Then join me in Operation Organization: The Battle for Order beginning July 31st! Every Friday for the next eight weeks, we will choose an area of our homes to reorganize. At the end of the challenge, we will have EIGHT reorganized areas of our homes. Woo Hoo! Can you smell victory?!
Let me make one thing clear. This is NOT about perfection. It is about less stress and conflict and more efficiency. It’s about transforming our homes from messy to marvelous!
Here are the battle plans:
- The challenge is from July 31 – September 18 (8 weeks).
- We will tackle ONE organization project in our homes each week. Projects can be SMALL – cleaning out a drawer or tackling a pile of clutter. Even “little” jobs can make you feel so much better about your home!
- Every Friday, beginning July 31, post your goal for the week on your blog. Please copy the code to my cute little button (in my right-hand sidebar) to go with it, so others can learn how they can join the battle! Then come here and leave the link to your organizational post via Mister Linky.
- Try to visit as many of the other blogs as you can, so you can meet new blogging friends and we can support and encourage each other!
- Email me your Before and After photos! I will post them every Friday. I'll be giving away a prize each week (great gift certificates). Before and After photos are not required, but you will get an extra TWO entries into the prize drawings if you send them! I think it would be GREAT if we could see each other's progress and share ideas! Please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every Wednesday and Friday, I will post organizational tips and resources to help us along the way, as well as your Before and After photos and other updates on your progress – and mine!
Just think. By mid-September, you’ll have eight projects done!
Alright, soldiers, if you’re ready to be deployed, here’s what you do:
- Leave me a comment below!
- Tell your other blogging friends about Operation Organization! The more the merrier. More friends? Good. More clutter? Bad.
- Post your first organizational goal on your blog on July 31 along with my button or a link to this post.
- Come here and leave your post’s link on Mister Linky.
- Follow the “battle plans” above throughout the Challenge. I'll remind you along the way!
You’ve got your marching orders. Now enlist! And that’s an order!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
It was supposed to be a leisurely bike trip. We were vacationing in paradise for heaven’s sake!
But for some reason, family fun is rarely easy for us. We possess this uncanny ability to take seemingly enjoyable activities and turn them into mechanisms of torture.
Last week, we took a little getaway to Sanibel Island. The hotel where we were staying had free bike rentals. My husband thought it would be fun to bike to a beachside restaurant for lunch one day.
The first trauma occurred when Micah realized the tennis shoes he brought hurt his feet.
Micah: My feet will hurt the whole time! Do I have to go?
Mike (husband): It’s only a short trip. Yes, you have to go.
The next near-disaster occurred when Molly was told she HAD to wear a bike helmet, even though she had just spent an hour scrunching her hair.
After I assured her that I’d bring a brush so she could do hair repair at the restaurant, we were able to proceed.
Once we hit the bike path, I thought we were home free. The sun was shining, the wind was at our backs. What could go wrong now?
Oh, yeah, I forgot to factor in the possibility of Molly running down a pedestrian.
After determining all parties were okay, we soldiered onward.
And on, and on and on and on …. Apparently, nearly nothing is open on Sunday in Sanibel. A six-block ride suddenly became two miles … in 90-degree heat.
Here’s where the shoes began to become an issue.
Micah: My feet hurt so bad!
Me: Come on, Micah. It’s just a little further. It IS just a little further, RIGHT, Mike?
Mike: Okay, YOU lead the way. We’ll stop where you want to stop.
I wanted to stop about a mile ago, when my thighs began loudly reminding me of how pitifully out-of-shape I am.
A short while later. Micah pulls to the side. I--- can’t --- keep --- going --- too --- hot --- feeling --- sick.
Mike and Molly, who had passed us, doubled back around.
Mike: There’s a convenience store just ahead. We’ll get some Gatorade.
Partially hydrated and driven by ravenous hunger, we took back to the open road.
Just ahead, we saw an eating establishment. Cars in the parking lot! YES!!
Molly brushed her hair. Color had returned to Micah’s face. Disaster averted.
Despite the obstacles, I always think there’s value in our “torturous” journeys. If nothing else it teaches us all perseverance and man, do we have some good stories.
After all, if we’d have driven, do you think we’d be talking about "that time we drove to lunch in Sanibel” a few years from now?
There are times in parenting when I’ve taken the path of least resistance. Given up when I should have stood firm. Veered off the path to avoid conflict, pain, inconvenience, chaos, disappointment.
Sure, there’s a time for compromise and grace. But sometimes, you have to set a course and keep on pedaling despite the resistance along the way. Because you know something nourishing and beneficial awaits them at the end.
Taking the road less traveled often makes me unpopular. But in parenting, it also makes all the difference.
Direct your children onto the right path,and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6 (New Living Translation)
Friday, July 17, 2009
“I just unfriended you on Facebook!”
Yep, my daughter had just unceremoniously given me the ultimate cyber-diss.
It was rather unexpected.
After somehow getting over the hurdle that Facebook was for “old people” and MySpace was for “cool people,” Molly had recently joined Facebook and “friended” me.
Over the past couple of weeks, we had occasionally exchanged witty banter and even “chatted” a few times via the IM feature. I felt like perhaps I had entered the realm of coolness. Gasp! Can parents do that?
I think it all went horribly awry when I asked her about an unfamiliar boy that I saw her chatting with on Facebook.
Molly: “Why do you need to know everything??!! He’s not a stalker, okay, Mom? He’s just a boy!”
Me: “I’m your mother. I must know everything. It is my job.” (That and making her life miserable. They occupy an equal level of importance.)
After obtaining some more information, I determined that, as far as I could tell, there was no need for concern.
But my fate was sealed.
The next day I got my marching orders.
Although I can still view her Facebook page (I have her password), I am on the outside looking in. Sigh.
And I think, to a certain extent, I will be for quite some time. Until they’re adults, I can’t really be my kids’ pal. Sure, I strive to have friend characteristics: being approachable, fun, loving and trustworthy. But I’ll always be “Mom” first.
And being a good mom can sometimes be downright un-Friendly.
Monday, July 13, 2009
I’m just not particularly “good” at Christmastime. Never have been.
I start the season with heartwarming visions of chestnuts roasting by an open fire and Jack Frost nipping at my nose (okay, I’m in Florida, so maybe not, but you get the idea.)
By late December the only thing roasted is my credit card and an endless to-do list is nipping at my heels.
My lofty autumn intentions quickly drown in a meaningless sea of winter busyness and obligation.
An embarrassing case in point:
A few years ago, our church started coordinating a Shoebox Drive for a ministry called Samaritan’s Purse. The idea is to fill the shoeboxes with toys, toiletries and other items, gift wrap and box them for distribution to needy children in Third World countries.
Inspired to participate in this act of holiday goodwill, I eagerly picked up two shoeboxes one Sunday in October.
This is the spirit of Christmas, I thought. I’ll take the kids to the store. We’ll lovingly and carefully choose each item for the shoebox. We’ll laugh. We’ll cry. This will be wonderful.
Fast-forward to late November and just a few days before the cut-off date for the shoeboxes.
I realize that with our insane holiday schedule, my Norman Rockwell moment in the aisles of Target just ain’t gonna happen. Nope. Instead, I make a mad dash to the Dollar Store, throw things into my cart as quickly as I can and frantically assemble the shoeboxes the night before. Can’t you feel the Christmas love?
It gets worse.
The next day, I completely FORGET about the shoeboxes. Plum slipped my mind. Too caught up in all that holiday cheer.
It’s official. I am a horrible person.
The shoeboxes actually ended up on a shelf in my garage, where my husband stumbled upon them, not one, but count ‘em, TWO YEARS later!!
Apparently waiting on a shoebox from my family is akin to Samaritan’s Curse.
Every year I say it’s going to be different. But it’s a funny thing. You actually have to DO something different in order for something to actually BE different.
So, that’s why I’m talking about Christmas in July.
I need a game plan NOW. Decisions about how much to spend, which gifts to buy, what events to attend need to be made long before I’m in danger of being swept into the holiday hurricane.
When Jesus was born in a manager 2000 years ago, I’m most certain He didn’t intend for His birthday to be celebrated by piles of debt, mounds of stress and loads of guilt.
This year, I want the focus to be a Person instead of a present. And I want to celebrate God’s grace instead of man’s greed.
So are you with me? Let’s help each other out.
Share a suggestion for how we can start planning NOW to make this Christmas one to remember.
P.S. Just so you know, the shoeboxes finally did make it to the church. Somewhere right now a child is enjoying outdated toys and expired shampoo.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Summer just turned up the heat.
The first shot was fired in May with these six little words: “Mom, I need a new swimsuit.”
On its surface, that one innocuous statement shouldn’t incite violence.
In a “perfect” world, Molly and I would skip on down to Marshall’s, find a wide array of tasteful swimsuits to choose from and amicably decide on a style and price that’s acceptable to both of us.
Instead, our summer shopping exchange went something like this:
Me: How ‘bout this one?
Molly: That’s really nice, Mom … for a three year old! (with accompanying eye rolling and deep sigh)
Molly: Can I try this one on? (holding up two pieces of cloth, visible only by microscope)
Me: That’d be great, Molly … maybe when you're a TWENTY-three year old!
Molly: Okay, well what do you want me to wear, Mom, THIS???!!! (holds up granny-style, one-piece bathing suit.)
Actually, Molly, this is more what I had in mind ….
Now, just try and tell me that won’t attract some attention.
After much drama and discussion, we finally settled on a compromise: A two-piece with boy shorts.
It wasn’t exactly what she wanted and it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it WAS something we could both live with …
A declaration of peace was reached. We'd both live to fight another day.
The perfectionist that still lurks within me wants things black and white. Neat and tidy. All or nothing. I’ve found that doesn’t always work in parenting – especially as Molly has hit adolescence. The more I can see things from her point of view, the better our relationship and communication.
Sometimes negotiation isn’t possible. I must win the battle.
On the other hand, compromise isn’t always retreat.
Knowing the difference can be impossibly tricky.
It takes wisdom. More than I’ve got.
But when I ask for God’s wisdom, He always meets me on the battlefield – even when it’s in the middle of the swimsuit aisle.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. James 1:5 (New Living Translation)
Monday, July 6, 2009
A couple weeks ago, Molly and I were visiting my dear friend Amy and her daughter Hannah (Molly’s best friend since birth) in Ohio for the first time since they moved away three years ago.
(Molly is on the left.)
One night, we thought the girls might enjoy a trip to one of the local colleges. They were putting on a week-long event where actors gave dramatic, interactive monologues as historical figures like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell.
In hindsight, perhaps “enjoy” was a bit optimistic. We thought they’d be “enriched.”
The night we went, Andrew Carnegie was the featured character.
And boy did we get a show.
The presentation was held under a huge tent. It started with “Andrew” walking us through his childhood and the early years of his career.
Molly: Why are there only old people here?
Me: I don’t know. Just listen.
Ten minutes passes.
Molly: Hannah wants to know what time it is.
Translation: When the heck can we get outta here?
Just then, things began to get interesting. The rain started slowly, just a gentle patter on the tent roof.
Gradually, it began to get louder and louder. Soon our pal Andrew was giving his vocal cords a strenuous workout.
Then, the sirens started. An ambulance careened toward one of the nearby campus buildings.
As the sirens blared, Andrew desperately tried to stay in character: “OH MY, I WONDER WHAT THE EXCITEMENT IS ABOUT?! I DON'T BELIEVE I'VE HEARD ANYTHING LIKE THAT BEFORE!!!”
Then, gale-force winds began to whip and all heaven just broke loose.
Sound equipment threatened to topple over and college personnel began to frantically fasten “sides” on the tent building.
Far too little, far too late, boys.
Andrew must have been of the diehard “the show must go on” variety because he was determined to go down with the Titanic.
“LET ME TELL YOU A LITTLE MORE ABOUT THE INDUSTRIAL ERA ….” he shouted as people began to run for their lives.
Molly: “Uh, Mom, aren’t these tent poles made of metal? … And, uh, doesn’t metal attract lightning?”
Good point, Molly. I didn't raise me no dummy.
Amy: I’ll go get the car.
Molly: This is kind of exciting. Not many people can say they got caught in a storm with Andrew Carnegie.
We all finally got in the car, completely drenched, looked at each other and burst out laughing.
So, what do you do for an encore after that?
Well, the plan was to make smores over a firepit.
Instead, we did the next best thing …
Life’s unpredictable, isn’t it? Constant readjustment at every turn.
Friends move away. You lose your job. Spouses disappoint.
It’s painful. Uncomfortable. Scary.
It strikes me that the same thing happens in parenting.
Kids are always in some form of evolution. Sometimes they pull away. Disappoint. Make life difficult.
Sometimes they don’t live up to our expectations.
What happens if they don’t turn out the way I think they “should"?
The possibility is painful. Uncomfortable. Scary.
And I have to readjust.
Because “Plan B” might just be what their Creator designed them to be.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Well, as luck would have it, Hope is our winner! In case you missed it, here's what she says she appreciates about her friends:
This was fun to think about! I am noticing that in this season of my life it has been very important to have girlfriends who share my interests that are beyond being a mother. I have been blessed lately with becoming closer to girlfriends who share my passion for the Lord and scrapbooking. Time with these girlfriends is always encouraging and uplifting. Thanks for this post!
Congratulations, Hope! Just email your address to email@example.com and I will send your Starbucks card pronto!
Even if you didn't win, I hope you'll take time to connect with your girlfriends this week. Really good friendships are just too precious to let them slip away!
A few other items:
1.) Please notice that I am now Twittering! Please feel free to Follow! Yes, a month ago, I said I thought the whole Twitter craze was a bit pointless. But a girl's allowed to change her mind.
2.) Don't forget about the "Child Chatter" feature I started (see right-hand sidebar). I'd love to publish your kids' funny and cute quotes, so please keep 'em coming. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3.) Look for a new post from me tomorrow!
Hope everyone had a great 4th. I just dug out from the carnage that was my house post-festivities.
Food + swimming + Sparklers + Pop-its + 9 children + 6 adults = one messy good time and one tired mom!
A final question ... A male friend of mine told me of his great distress at being excluded from this contest. My husband chimed in and told us of a wacky case of a man bringing a class action lawsuit against the Oakland A's because they wouldn't give him a plaid reversible bucket hat as a part of their Mother's Day promotion!
So what do you think ... does my friend have a case?! ;0)
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
How could I possibly go to book club, especially when I’d pulled this same lame trick last month?
The whole “I’m a writer ... I didn’t have time to read” routine worked like a charm last time. But can you really trot it out two months in a row?
Actually, with my book club girls you can. Why?
Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret...
“Book club” is just a cleverly disguised, intellectual-sounding excuse for us to leave the kiddos with the husband and have a Girls Night Out.
Shhh… don’t tell.
We’re a diverse group … a dentist, a former banker, a homeschooler, a SAHM, an organizational guru (more about her in a later post) and writer. But we all have one thing in common. We enjoy being with each other because nobody pretends. We are who are. For better or worse.
I’m very fortunate to have a number of great girlfriends in my life. Which got me to thinking about what makes a true-blue girlfriend...
A real girlfriend …
1.) Sees your flaws as “quirky” rather than annoying.
2.) Notices your fabulous new haircut, but ignores the five pounds you’ve gained.
3.) Doesn’t judge your mothering skills by the sometimes irrational and shocking behavior of your offspring.
4.) Sees you struggling and asks, “How can I help?” instead of thinking “How can I flee?” (Bless you, Kathy and Dina.)
5.) Delivers the cold, hard truth but with a soft, warm heart.
6.) Stands the test of time. No matter how much time has passed between communications, your friendship is like a soap opera. It’s always easy to pick up right where you left off. (Right, Amy? More on her in a later post!)
Raising kids is tough. Girlfriends need each other.
I’m a better and less wacky mom because of their advice, example and comic relief.
Tell me about a great girlfriend in your life and how she's helped you become a better mom or something you appreciate about her. Reading your answers will give us ideas about how we can support and inspire each other.
If she’s a blogger, be sure to leave her URL so we can get to know her, too!
I’ll pick one lucky commenter at random to receive a $10 Starbucks gift card so you two can grab a Frappacino or a Mocha Latte on me!
I'll announce the winner on Sunday, July 5th!