Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dining Room-Step 3 Bookshelf (Before)

So, using the same method as I used on the rest of the room, I ask "What Do I See" in the bookshelf? (WDIS)
-library books are stored in a stack in front of the bookshelf. Bookshelf, that word sounds like a shelf that holds books. But MY bookshelf is crammed full of everything else and there's no place for the books!
-read aloud books
-homeschool curriculum
-boxes for art, painting, drawing, sewing
-lifestyle of learning binders, notes
-spelling books, ruler
-construction paper, blank drawing paper
-dictionary, reference books
-bibles, medical information folder
-box for bread/food that doesn't fit in kitchen
-storage kitchen appliances (vitamix, indoor grill, crockpot)
-John's books, folders, mp3 converter, lightbulbs
-pencils, pens

There are 25 cubbies and I've made a graph of the 5x5 shelf and written what is in each box (in general). I've circled the ones which are simply storing junk. Since this is prime real estate, I need to move the junk into storage (or give away) to make room for other things we use on a daily basis (library books!?!)

I'm completely happy with TWO cubbies (2 down, 23 to go!) One cubbie near the floor holds my crockpot. I use this at least once a week and having it here makes it easy to get at. Our kitchen is sooooo silly...all the cupboards have an opening of about 7"...and, uh, a crockpot won't fit ANYWHERE in my kitchen. Thankfully, I have the IKEA Expedit nearby to save the day!

The other cubbie I use everyday. It holds math curriculum, my netbook, a striped recipe style box of greeting cards (in the back) and two upright magazine boxes (only $5 from Target, very durable, lightweight, love them!). In the black one, I put all our playing cards. We like to play card games after dinner, so stashed inside for easy access are UNO, Monopoly card game, cribbage, Mille Bornes, Old Maid, dice for Yahtzee and typical playing cards. I love that the recipe style box which I bought at least 10 years ago has the same colors and matches the rest of the shelf including the magazine box and the netbook cover...oooooooh, I LOVE COLOR and that warms the cockles of my cockles everytime I see it! :)

The turquoise box contains everything we need to write a thank you note. Colored felt tip pens, blank notecards, thank you notecards and stamps. Inside a plastic page protector, I have my favorite black felt tip pen and a piece of paper. On one side of the paper are all our family addresses. The other side shows a mock thank you note to help the kids as they write their thank you notes. I've been wanting to have a "thank you note kit" for YEARS and years but have never put one together until recently. We've used it at least 10 times in the past few weeks for various things!

I have 23 cubbies to go. :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dining Room-Step 2 Maintained

Here's the dining room after ONE WEEK of starting and stopping which I blogged about here:
START: putting things away before each meal
START: setting the table for bfast & lunch
STOP: reading at meals
STOP: putting things on the floor (put them away where they belong)

We been doing this for the past week and I'm THRILLED to say that the dining room has stayed clean! This is AMAZING! It is really liberating to know what is in the room...table, 4 chairs, clock, phone, iPod dock/alarm clock and Sarah's new plant, Violet. Anything beyond that doesn't belong and needs to find a place. We use the table heavily all day long (we homeschool) but because we are setting the table for each meal (three times a day Mon-Fri) the room gets completely emptied down to the essentials only!

Right now, Sarah has Black Kitty & Bunny with her all the time and they end up at the table. Since I won't let her put anything on the floor, I have allowed her to have a knapsack on her chair (green) to hold them while she's eating. The only thing I had to pick up for this photo was a cheese stick wrapper that had accidentally fallen on the floor!

I've decided I'm not moving to the next room until this room is D O N E. My next step is to clean out the huge bookshelf in the room and I've received wisdom how to proceed. There are 25 cubbies. I've made a grid and evaluated which cubbies need to be cleaned out because junk is just being stored in those. I need to make time this afternoon to actually do that physical process. Once those are empty I can then move things around so they are in the most convenient place and decide how to use the empty ones (empty!?!?!?) :) John has stuff on the top but I'm not going to require him to move his stuff. For now it is out of the way and although I'd like to really have that area purged, I'm not going to make him do it because the timing isn't quite right for him.

We have lift-off!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Garden Rooms

There are rooms inside and there are rooms outside, too. My garden is growing despite the fact we haven't had any heat, this has been an unusually cool summer (I love it)! As you've been reading, there is SO much to do inside. Today I took a little walk outside and I realize there's a lot out to do out here, too. But today I'm going to enjoy the flowers. If I take a picture and fill the frame with the blossom, you won't see the weeds or my messy porch! :) The house photo looks especially good because of the sneaky angle...you can't see the whispy weeds flying out over the path as you approach the cluttered porch!

GOOD: I did plant my hanging basket and rail baskets this year. I'm always glad in August that I took time to do it in May. Too bad there wasn't much heat to fluff them up this year! My 'Ice Carnival' daylily bloomed this year (long story). Hydrangea cutting that I nabbed from a friend last summer (she was on vacation and asked me to water her garden), bloomed! Mr. Oakleaf Hydrangea bounced back from the cold damage from the year before! Karl is growing and hides where we store the firewood on the porch (Calamagrostis xacutiflora 'Karl Foerster'). We have APPLES! We planted three apple trees 2 years ago and had one baby apple last year but this year all three are fruiting!

BAD: My roses only bloomed once because I was lazy about pruning this year. Hydrangea to right of porch only had one gangly blossom. I planted a Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) but didn't water it. Neglected the poor thing. Eh, I figure it just makes 'em stronger! Blueberry in front needs to be moved, bad spot for him.

I'm expecting that when my house is clean and tidy on the inside, I'll have more energy and time for the outside. THAT will be exciting as I have many more things I'd like to do out here!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dining Room-Step 2

I've been digesting "put it away" for the past week. Even though I'm focusing on this and doing it, there's not much noticable that has changed. That is because it is going to take putting it away to keep things moving along but EXTRA effort to dig out.

I've spent this afternoon with my notebook. I've identified that we need to STOP doing certain things and START doing other certain things. I also need to spend 15 minutes putting things away in the dining room. The kids are putting away their stuff right now while I type.

I noticed dinner is the most special meal. Why can't each meal be "special"? What makes dinner "special"? For dinner, we've gotten in the habit of clearing the table set the table for dinner (since I've been cooking). We clear things off the table and set the table each evening. We don't use water bottles but everyone drinks out of a glass. Why can't we do this for our other meals?

Another thing I've noticed is that the kids read during meals. I tried to get away from this a few months ago, but it is back in full force. Barbie suggested that meals are times for fellowship and sharing life and relating. I'm preparing the kids that we're going to do some things differently around personal reading at the table. I've also let them know that comics are below their reading level and therefore can be read only on weekends (instead of several times a day during meals)!

START: putting things away before each meal
START: setting the table for bfast & lunch
STOP: reading at meals
STOP: putting things on the floor (put them away where they belong)

Within the next hour, the dining room should be cleaned and vacuumed. The storage shelves are another area of focus. That will be next step-and even more complex.

Dining room floor is vacuumed! Tomorrow I'll be working on the storage shelves...photos to follow!

Monday, August 15, 2011


What if I first put away everything that already has a place and then evaluate what's remaining that needs attention? I am realizing that in the past I grabbed everything off the floor and then sorted through it, putting things where they belonged. But because of the massive amount of stuff on the floor, I often run out of time or energy while in that process. Then I have to go back to it and feels like I'm doing that twice (or more) which is draining and discouraging. So in doing this new way today, I am gaining a sense of HOPE! And I'm identifying a "first step" to attacking the mess...a step that I can do over and over with each room in my house which makes it the beginning of a method. This is so cool to see this developing-thank YOU Lord!

I'm naming this first step "WDIS" which stands for "What Do I See" and the step involves writing down what I see and taking four photos. Here's the photos of real life where I am today. Not a pretty sight. Next, I'm writing down what I see (thanks Barbie!):
-playing cards
-colored pencils
-stuff from our weekend trip
-tote with stuff in it
-stacks of library books
-plastic grocery bags
-books the kids are reading

Thoughts that came up for me:

-since I store the library books in neat stacks on the floor and I want to clean the floor, could I make some shelf space on which to put library books? This would protect them, make them accessible and give us all a place to PUT them away and find them easily when they're due

-colored pencils...we need a place for art supplies...I had a revelation about this today. In the past, I've always bought two of everything...two sets of crayons, two sets of markers...but recently I invested in a set of Prismacolor colored pencils just for me after reading tons about how great they are...and THEY ARE! They are very creamy but not too soft and you can easily do dark and light shading, they aren't too hard and the pigments are rich. I love them! So I have these in a special spot and my daughter wanted to use them...all this to explain that I'm going to clear a drawer for art supplies but instead of everyone having their own set-we are going to SHARE! (done) There are several benefits to sharing our art supplies...we can focus on taking care of our belongings, not having as much stuff and putting them away not to mention the cost savings in only have one set of everything. I put the colored pencils in a sweet little box in the cleaned out drawer. Now the pencils can be brought to the table and easily PUT AWAY after use. WOW, all this today! :) (Daniel used them later in the day and put them away!)

-when we come home from a trip, two special things need to happen: 1) since John unloads the car into the dining room, I need to PUT AWAY all those things on Monday and 2) we need to have some kind of plan for Monday dinners...I come home to an empty frig and shopping day is Wed (need to brainstorm about this)

-PIA stands for "Put It Away"

-plastic grocery bags seem to be the bane of my existence, they are everywhere! After we empty the plastic bags when grocery shopping is done, they end up inside one bag to be taken to the special recycling depository back at the store. In the meantime, they don't have a place where they can be PUT AWAY. Ah ha! Today I hung a large 13 gallon garbage bag near where I keep the other plastic trash bags and put the random plastic grocery bags that were on the dining room floor inside this big bag! Now I have a place for these bags AND they are near the other plastic trash bags.

-in addition to the above, I realized I like to have a little trash depository on the kitchen counter since my main garbage can is a little ways away from the sink. Now every morning, I'll be able to easily grab one of these random plastic grocery bags from the big sack where they now live! This will help keep the kitchen clean as I'll toss the bag at the end of the day in the larger trash can when I run the dishwasher each night! WOW!

-there are TWO PARTS to every action...1)get it out and 2)put it away! I've even been sharing this with the kids today...it makes sense! We played cards and later I realized we didn't put them away...so because each action has two parts and we did the "get it out" part I realized the "put it away" part needed to be done, so I did it! Just that little thing is exhilarating-I'm actually ENJOYING this putting away thing! Thank You Lord!

-along with this new truth is that reality that my tasks have now doubled (because not only do I have the action of getting things out, but now I have a second part of putting them away). Theoretically it should take me twice as long to do life because now I'll be doing the second half of each action by putting things away. Ironically, this will actually SAVE me time because it is so much easier to put things away after using them versus letting things pile up and having to dig out!

One of the most interesting things I've learned today is that my flesh does not want to do the work of cleaning up! I'm having to do some battle over governing my flesh to do what I my mind wants it to do. What clarity I have about this! I'm not wondering about what I should be doing...I'm doing it! But in small chunks today because I've wanted to blog this to capture it to encourage me and show this process as it unfolds (reality blogging)! I'll take another step in the dining room tomorrow by finishing step 1 (picking up things can already have a home).

I've NEVER had any of these thoughts before now! The Lord has been speaking to my conscience about PUTTING AWAY items as I get them out throughout the day! I have a set of 8 new undies so I'm tossing the old, holey ones and all the swimsuits are going to be stored in one place, all together since we do our swimming together now. This will simplify our packing when we get away for a weekend or go on a hike (we always take swimsuits just in case). Today has been AMAZING! What a contrast in being ME-led to being Spirit-led! And I've been SO productive today in contrast to the very little I was getting done prior to today! WOW!

Wow, I've been able to identify a first step...a step that I can do over and over with each room in my house which makes it the beginning of a method. This is so cool to see this developing-thank YOU Lord! This is the "View and Do" method...spend some time viewing the room, evaluating and then DOING the work!

I sense the Lord is releasing me to publish the blogs I've authored (and saved as drafts) along with this new post. I'm so excited because I see some movement forward! He orders my steps!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Some Movement

In the past, I've dissected the room into quarters and set out to clean up each section. But all this does is clean the room. Of course, this is a good thing, but I realize that I did that recently and the room is messy again. There's something more fundamental that needs to change. So I've been crying out to the Lord for wisdom for a couple weeks and I've been emailing Barbie about "the mess" for some input. In the same way I devoted some time in the afternoons to self-education about cooking, I'm going to do the same around cleaning up my house-and keeping it that way.

I've been emailing Barbie about "the mess" for some input. When she responds to my questions, there's always a precious nugget I can apply. I've printed out her responses to our conversation and put them in a notebook. Now I can collect my thoughts in one place and build on some new ideas. She's brought up some important points that I've been thinking about for a couple days:
-spend 15 minutes evaluating each room for what is on the floor (garbage, dirty laundry, toys, etc)
-spend a few minutes each day putting these items away (no digging, just pick up stuff to get started)
-put it away: in order to put it away, it has to be easy to do

This morning I started my notebook and took a piece of paper and wrote down what I see in each room. I'm storing that paper in my notebook. Wow, I learned SO much today! For the first time, probably EVER, I have HOPE! (this all happened on Monday 8/15/2011 but I'm putting it on different days because I like the date to show on each post).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sarah's Room Clean!

So I was planning on starting the house cleaning with the kids' rooms. I spent 15 minutes in each room just picking up garbage and stuff. I was surprised how very (very) difficult it is to work in Dan's room...he has tons of little things with pieces EVERYWHERE!

On Tuesday, Sarah start started cleaning her own room! She sorted through books and toys, collecting them in bags. She cleaned out her closet and all her drawers and bookshelf! And she just DID it and did it faster than I ever could have! What a blessing this is to me and of course, wonderful for her that she can see her carpet and move about her room! I found her this morning with her slippers on, sitting on her shag pink carpet in her robe reading a book!

It was so unexpected that she took the initiative to clean her room! We still have a few bags of stuff that will be difficult to sort, but we'll do it together and then she'll be done, DONE!

I'm simply flabberghasted at this wonderful start! Thank you Sarah!

AND (get this) I finished sizing her blind...after four years! I just DID it today while she kept cleaning the floor, then the drawers, then the closet and this project that has been hanging over my head for FOUR YEARS is done!!!! Wow. (I wrote this post but saved it as a draft since the blog was "on hold" and published it later).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blog On Hold

Thank you so much for visiting my blog. As of today, the Lord has told me to not blog for right now so I'm putting this on hold until further notice. :)

UPDATE: 08/15/2011
The Lord has released me to publish my blogs again. I'm so excited about this area of self-education because the process is so interesting but also because the reward will be a clean house and the ability to keep it that way!
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