Saturday, November 27, 2010

I'm back!! and I bear good news!!

It has been a busy fall.  I feel blessed for that.  WALT and I have fallen into a routine of school and after school activities.  I get to walk him in, pick him up and see him at lunch every day.  We are spoiled.  He is loving kindergarten and has matured 5 years in the past 5 months.  For this I feel truly TRULY blessed.

We haven't been to busy to clean just too busy to post about it.

I admit that the first month I was back at work, and now full time, the house went KA-BOOM again.  But the 27th talk must be the charm because this time when I went teary eyed to my husband and said I couldn't do it all by myself he did more than listen.  Maybe it was the dead mouse that drowned in the sink that he had to deal with, I dunno, but he is definitely more pro-active.  And it shows.

We seem to have developed a system, not quite the system outlined by most of the professionals I have read over the past year, but a workable system for our family.  Saturday at our house means sports, football in the fall, basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring and summer.  We don't go anywhere on Saturday morning if we can help it, so Saturday is wake up, yawn, suck down a cup of coffee, and clean the house.  Laundry seems to stretch out through the weekend but the rest is done by noon.
Of course we have also gotten better at cleaning up messes as we go.  This goes hand in hand with the major de-cluttering that continues in the house.
WALT's room went through a second major purge in which four more boxes left.  I feel like the post Christmas rearrangement, to incorporate the new toys, will generate 2 out for every one in.  The kid still lives in the Target toy department, but he has my momma charmed, so I can only hope to contain that madness.

Slinky is doing well, still a bit of a limp but growing and happy.

All that remains looming over our heads is the spare bedroom/junk room.   So many crazy things that seem beyond organization.  I have all this computer software I don't know if I need to keep.  Piles of CDs that need to be added to iTunes, I suspose. (though taht honestly feels like 2 days of my life I would never get back) and then there are the pictures, the seven 10 gallon tubs of pictures that are in no rhyme or reason except that they belonged to my grandparents.
I do have a plan of action for those.  It starts with the simple division based on me.  There will be a large box dedicated to the pre-Sarah era.  Then there will be 5 medium sized boxes divided on the general time lines of before school, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and post-college.  I think I can be these four in some type of working order.  Will have to call in mom and maybe Debbie to get the pre-me pics under control.

All in all I am rather proud of our progress.  For the first time since we moved in the house Thanksgiving  morning and the reality of company didn't mean staying up all night cleaning. We just moved our Saturday morning routine up and by noon we were sitting on the couch laughing and waiting for football.  And for that I was TRULY thankful.

This doesn't mean I'm finished, jsut established.  With the Christmas break just around the corner I hope for more progress in the junk room and closets and more blog posts as well.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The long awaited photographic proof of the puppy!!!

First 2 sets of shots at local vet: $80 each visit
Emergency overnight vet bill:  $362
Trip to get the free puppy: approximately $500
Orthopedic surgery with 4 pins at UT: $1918
Those ears, Those eyes:  Priceless

A week later . . .

 . . . and there is some progress.  The back porch is looking MUCH better and I am catching up on my week worth of laundry.  I know the theory is to do a load a night or so, but the Saturday marathon of laundry is deep in my blood.  Probably due to my childhood spent Thursday nights at the laundry mats  (the smell of fabric softer still reminds me of practice spelling tests)  And I really don't mind.  It is something to do while watching 10-12 hours of college football.  Go Hokies!!

This morning Robert and I tag teamed to worst of the living room.  WALT's art area had exploded ad there were letters and stickers and feathers EVERYWHERE.  Should have documented it with a photo, but Robert is not so keen on my pics of the messy house.  And his help was much more important.  We are presently between vacuum cleaners and I am ever so tempted to go swipe mom's new Dyson while is out of town.  The fear is that the massive amount of pet hair and glitter will kill the Dyson and then I will be is serious trouble.  But I'm still thinking about it.  What I need is some infomerical to come to the house and clean my rugs with their remarkable new cleaner.  Wonder how that happens??

I did scrub the dishwasher out last weekend.  Got on my hands and knees with a toothbrush and scrubbed everywhere I could reach.  Then I ran the cup of white vinegar for a cycle.  It has seemed to help with the amount of crud that existed in the murky bottom and the white residue on my black plastic cooking utensils.  Though if anyone is thinking what I would like for Christmas, it would be some non-black cooking utensils.

I am also contemplating the concept of the cluttered mind = cluttered house theory.  I had some self induced  mind clutter, that I hope to have time to explore soon, and I think that it contributed rather directly to the backslide.  I am hoping to start some type of journaling, which may be the form of some type of companion blog, that is about the rest of my life and will hopefully be a more creative outlet, which was in all honesty the original plan for this blog.

In ironic news, at my present employment I am in charge of basic cleaning/sanitation of my classroom.  There are no janitors at S.C. Head Start.  So every Monday-Thursday at approximately 1:30 pm I am on my hands and news scrubbing sown toilets with diluted bleach.  It has me thinking that if I can do it everyday at work, then I can do it everyday at home.  It's still just a thought, but at least it's percolating . . .

Will download new pics as soon as that pesky cord reappears. . .

Monday, September 6, 2010

Is it really Labor Day already?

I know.  I fell out of the blogoverse.  It happens.  For those of you not in my Facebook world, we got a puppy (and they are a time sucker by default)  and 3 weeks later, about the we settled into a functional puppy schedule) the our darling Slinky dog fractured her right ulna in three places.  It took 4 vets, 2 trips to UT Knoxville Teaching Vet Hospital, and major orthopedic surgery requiring 4 pins, and a recovery including a crate and e-ring/Elizabeth collar, and the price is a secret I will take to the grave.
It also sucked up every minute of my time and energy
The good news is that Slinky is finally on the mend.  She has a hitch in her gait, but we'll take it.  And now it back to the house.
It has not fallen back to quite the disarray of those first horrible pics (except maybe WALTs room, even he has declared it a "pigsty") but it is not the functional, if lived in, home that Tammy found on her mid summer visit.  (which we hope becomes semi-annual at the least)

So here is the new plan.  Is this the fourth or the fifth?  I have lost track.  It is obvious that I am unable to declutter my house in 1 week.  However I do think that I can unclutter and clean my house in 7 weeks.  I am going to spend the next 7 weekends doing the projects of each day of the week.  This I should be able to handle, barring some new medical emergency, human or canine.

I have started this weekend, and will post pics in a day or so.  ( I still need to take the after photos)
So I am off to have a rare and treasured moment of a quiet house. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

In the beginning, there were piles (and more piles)

These are the pictures of how the outbuilding/future art studio appeared at the beginning of the overhaul. This afternoon was a good start. Two big bags of trash. Condensed down several boxes/piles of broken glass/pottery that I have been collecting for my mosaic project for the outside of the building. Also two large boxes to go the thrift store. And and an overflowing tub of yard sale items that were no doubt left behind from the other boxes.
More pics soon as the progress continues . . .

Rain, and a moment to reflect

I would like to mention my excitement in having 2 new followers. Welcome to the madness!!

So much for my grand plans to begin the outbuilding/art studio today. But I'm not complaining about the rain, it is much needed and a break from all this heat is good for the soul.
So I thought I would take a moment to reflect back on the summer and what I have accomplished. I read recently that especially when you are trying to change it is important to make what HAS been done rather than what HASN'T been done. So . . .
We have managed to get an commendable amount of stuff outta here. I opened the candy drawer this week and marveled at the vast emptiness. (It all went to the OT office, and I noticed Friday it is almost all gone!) But more importantly WALT and I have had a truly wondrous summer. I spent almost everyday of last summer collapsing into tears at some point(s) in the day. The speed at which my grandmother succumbed to cancer was absolutely unfathomable. Then there was the family drama that followed and the speed in which we were pushed to empty to her house. That alone resulted in almost a physical paralysis of emotional pain and loss. Add that WALT fed off my fear and developed several phobias of his own and we could barely leave the house.
This summer has been quite magical in contrast. We have our weekly outings to OT in good old J.C. which we always try to tack on some fun stuff. We are also regulars at the Splash Pad and tomorrow weather permitting we'll be at the pool at Natural Tunnel. We've also traveled the entire length of Virginia over a long weekend and it was joyous if too brief. Now I am teary eyed in pride and relief on a daily basis. The fog is lifting and WALT and I are only stronger and closer as a result. He still sometimes announces that he misses LuLu, and I get a sharp pain in the chest but then I think about the alternative, that he didn't remember his beloved great grandmother.

I haven't lost the 10-15 pounds or had quiet the diet/exercise reboot I planned. However I am "tanner" (a relative term considering my fair skin) that I have been since high school. I credit this healthy glow to the active summer WALT and I have had, and I'll take that as a victory. I've also rediscovered my deep passionate love of reading. I finished Julie and Julia about a week into the summer (I started it in January) and then devoured A Million Little Pieces. I followed up with Indignation (definitely the literary high point of this summer) got half way through The Almost Moon (I think that is the title I know it was an Alice Sebold novel) but it got ruined in a rain storm, and it was strange and depressing and I just moved on. So then I read Loving Frank. That caused quite the personal aches and wants and reminders of dreams unfulfilled. It also however just reaffirmed that WALT is the center of my universe, the reason I still breathe, and no man, no need to be more than I am, no vague yearning for the unknown and possible, will cause me to leave him behind. If he can't go, well then neither can I.

I am still broke. Beyond broke. Credit maxed out and work galore left to be done to this old money pit of my beloved farmhouse. We did get a statement from the insurance company that our homeowners policy is now insufficient. The house which they insured at $69 grand and some change they now want to insure at $263 grand. Will it sell for that, even half that? Hell no. But it does justify this insane process, even if only in my own head. We have finally paid off WALT's surgery, and Robert's emergency night in the hospital. Things that we should have had a rainy day fund for but didn't. Blue's vet bills are paid as well. Though in a way it was all for nought, it was necessary to take that risk. She was such an incredible dog.
I have adopted the snowball theory of debt reduction. For those of you that aren't familiar, it is starting with the smallest debt and then adding that payment to the next until you are able to make sizable payments on the larger debts. Next month I will have about $90 left on my Capital One card and should be able to pay that off. That means WALTs medical co pays/deductible is next and I should be able to add $60 to the $25 I am paying extra and that should be gone in 3 months. I think the next two to knock off will be my deductible and then Home Depot. I sat down and did the math and in 18 months we should be down to the truck payment and 2 credit cards payment from being debt free (if I can keep Robert's need for large toys under control). Though I haven't made a big dent I have stopped the bleeding, curing our addiction of putting things on the credit card. We've also made it through the summer without my income and that is a source of pride for new found budgeting I have acquired.

Well this is a long entry and there is a dish washer to empty, mail to mail, laundry to switch and children to feed. . . . .

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ups and Downs and Changes all around . .

Doing laundry and watching an episode of Hoarders, it seemed like a good time to post the events of the last couple of weeks.
The yard sale was a huge success, we did ok in the $$$ dept, but did remarkably well in the get rid of stuff aspect. The left overs have either been given to Amanda for a family in need or taken to Goodwill. The Goodwill trip was much to WALT's dismay. The entire time the helpers were pulling the boxes out of the back of the Tahoe, WALT was crying and screaming "Don't take my collection." There's an eye opener for you. But we made it through and on the way home I calmly bargained with him that we needed the room to pack our stuff to go to the beach and if he still wanted his collection when we got back we would go and get it. We have been home for a week and no mention of the collection. Though we have also not been back to the Goodwill and probably won't for a bit (that kid has a memory like a bear trap).
Speaking of vacation, we have a lovely time. We spent the first night with Steph and Andy. They have a lovely house that seems to contain what they need and love and nothing more. Though I said nothing to them, I marveled at the floor space, wall space and just space that seemed to exist. There were book shelves that were partially empty. All of drawers seemed to close comfortably It was to be admired, and emulated.
There is the horrible realization that the vast majority of items that left were already technically outside our actual living space, either in my outbuilding or crammed into unused corners and areas (like the laundry room.) I still have too much stuff. Robert still has too much stuff. WALT has WAY TOO MUCH stuff.
But I have tangented. Back to vacation. We brought home two family members, Cameron for the remainder of the summer and the new pup--Slinky Dog. I know, I know, we need third dog like I needed a hole in the head, but I have a dog problem and 3 is my limit and I will post a pic and then they'll be no doubt why I couldn't resist!
It was good to get away for even the few days, and come back with fresh eyes, if not fresh legs. An extra boy and a new pup add to the day to day grind of pick up and clean up. And it is amazing how 1 extra person multiplies the dishes three fold but we seem to be holding steady -- other than my bedroom. It seems to have become the new dropping ground for unwanted objects.
Which leads to the next step in the program. . . .
Everything in my building is coming out. I inherited from Robert when he bought his new "bigger better" workshop and I have no idea what is in it. This is my week long project with the boys. Cameron can watch WALT while I sort/organize/toss/trash/etc. My hope is that by next weekend I have an area where I can sit and start back to cut and glue my beloved paper. I also hope to have an area for the next round of purging that will start at the beginning of August.

Well, that's the plan anyway. I will post the before pics in the next day or so and if the stars align there will be after pictures in a week!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Independence Day ( a day early)

Sitting here watching Clean House Messiest House in the Country 2010. It does make me feel a bit better about my own "mayhem and foolishness"
I am also recovering from the second (and last) day of the yard sale.
First, in case you missed yesterday's post, an update. On Friday I started with my Tahoe completely full except the driver seat, and The back of Robert's truck full (including the tables.)
At the end of the day I could pack everything into my truck with the passenger seat open (minus the tables.)
So last night we found 9 more boxes of stuff in the building and 1 in the house to add to the madness this morning. And just like yesterday the sell it cheap theory worked like a charm. People were buying $6-$10 mostly a quarter at a time. So at the end of the day all that was left fit in the back of my Tahoe!!
The only bad news is that the dealer man didn't show and the local thrift store was closed today due to the holiday, so "the junk in the trunk" is stuck until Tuesday.
In other good news though, a friend knows of a family in need and I am taking her WALT's cribbing and the remainder of his baby clothes, and well as a box of baby toys and children's books.

I managed to sunburn my legs yesterday, a feat I did not believe possible, but I am SO happy.
I found a new theory of de-cluttering based around the concept of getting rid of one item a day. I had too much stuff for that theory to work in the upfront. Now with this massive load off my shoulders, I think that I can start boxing up again, because there is still too much stuff in my house, with that goal in mind. I had wanted to decrease my load by 25% and I think that I am getting to at least 15%. All of this stuff was off the top and easy enough to let go. Tougher decisions lie ahead, but at least my house doesn't feel claustrophobic and hopefully that warm and fuzzy feeling will carry me forward.
In the words of my "biggest fan" I didn't get to that horrible picture overnight, and my madness won't be gone overnight, but we're on the way!

Did I mention that there is actually visible floor boards in my art studio now!! After our road trip over next weekend that is my next BIG project!

Tomorrow is laundry day and a bit of catch up on housekeeping due to the last two days of being outdoors all day. Will try my best to take updated pictures.

Happy 4th everybody!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

HOT Damn!!

It's hard to believe that it's already July. Craziness, the summer is just flying by.

However, lots of good news to report. Last weekend Robert and I did a serious days work and got the entire first floor of the house (minus the laundry room) in really excellent condition. We even got a start on the horrible land of the lost room of things with out purpose and/or place. In one afternoon we shed 3 bags of garbage, a bag of recycling (paper), and a box and a half of yard sale items. There are miles to go, but you can now walk through the room comfortably, and not just squeezing past piles of undefined madness.

Speaking of yard sale items, the yard sale technically started today but thanks to Facebook my friend Amanda claimed the wagon and the "flintstone car" and I even sold her on the Weeble Woobles and several children books. Then our neighbors stopped by and I asked about the flintstone car, and ended up selling them the battery powered dune buggy. Which when the broken mower FINALLY gets to Robert's dad house ( he has time/patience/skill set to bring it back to life) means all the eye sores/homeless things in the yard are GONE!! Yea me!!

This morning went well too! I had the best deals in town. One woman actually told her husband "we might as well go home now. Her prices were so good that everybody else will just make you mad." I have tapped into the reality that the average yard sale person can't resist if the price is "a quarter." But I also sold my guitar, Robert's old golf clubs and the whole storage tub of Senior's Dean Martin/Charlie Pride albums.
The best part is that the man who bought the golf clubs is somewhat of a flea market professional and he said he would come back tomorrow and offer me a price for what is left. OH OH OH how I hope he does come back. I am tired of this junk.
Though there are miles to go, there is a light. And it is beautiful!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pictures of the Back Porch Over Haul

A major contributor to the back porch madness. His relentless pursuit of cat food leads to many a mess!! But I do love that restless nose!!

I'm glad somebody was excited!!!!

So um, just a little dust, nothing that would require a high powered hose or harsh chemicals!!

My super duper helper!!

He really got into it!!

Add some cat food, random tools, paint, camping equipment and heat pump filters to make one grand mess!!

Cats are NOT clean animals.

A lovely combination of cat hair, cat food and dust. It smells even more toxic than in it looks.

Ninny's favorite spot. Yuck!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A VERY productive day

Today didn't start out so great. Starring blankly at West Wing reruns on Bravo at 10 am on my second cup of coffee. I really thought I'd be doing good to get out of my pajamas.
But I think staying in a bit longer in the am helped me keep from overheating before I could even get started. (It has been so incredibly humid that it's hard to breathe much less muck around)
Robert got home and between 5 and 8 we knocked it out! He got all the mowing done and all the weed eating inside the fence. We drug out all the junk off the back porch, and with the water hose and WALT's help it looks and SMELLS like a whole new room!!!

While scrubbing I had a few minutes to think. I know most all of the pictures I have posted are bad. And they are accurate, for that moment. Given a 24 hour notice Robert and I have always been able to make it presentable. The perfect example is the photo on the front of my blog. A week before that picture was taken we had the whole family over to eat Christmas dinner.
So I have the ability to clean. I scrub the back porch out every summer. What I am searching for is organization. Not just to achieve it, but to maintain it.
A critical part is to no longer function at 25% past maximum capacity. Unfortunately the building is already full again and I feel like I need to have another "lighten the load" sale in order to move more out of the house. I am also making the effort to limit what is coming in the house.

But in a way I am really proud of myself. Like I said above, given 24 hours notice all this nonsense could temporarily disappear. I didn't have to show this to the world. It's a new level of honesty, of not putting on that happy face and pretending like everything is under control. This blog and its unflattering pictures are me at my most vulnerable in years and years.
Perhaps when the house is finished it will inspire me to take my guard down in other areas as well . .

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A moment of pure beauty

This set of pictures are somewhat inspired by a series from the Pioneer Woman, but the love displayed is completely real and unretouched. . . . .

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Latest Breaking News . . .

The build FULL of yard sale junk (and some of my art supplies, but mostly JUNK)

At least there is a path now! This should look VERY different by next week!

This may just be worse than last week, but it is this week's project.

Would it help if I said that this is where everything on it's way out sit before it gets gone?? But check out that fancy magic eraser mop --- I am so excited about that!!!

Still a disaster.

The bathroom sink, once again fit for human use!

The bathroom was this week's project. It went MUCH faster than the winter work. It's amaing how much floor space we have when the laundry is done!!

Bathroom shelves, some work left to be done, but it's functional.

The living room floor. A marked improvement. I' m not sure we'll ever get past the lived in look.

My one man wrecking crew. He's such a hamm.

One of my lasting improvements from the winter blitz. These house all of WALT's arts and crafts and he knows where everything goes!!

The laundry room. Not much difference, but I am caught up with my laundry!!

The bed has been made every day for a week. And yesterday it was stripped clean and had nice clean sheets and pillowcases put on. TRUE LIFE ALTERING PROGRESS. The box to the left is the latest to be added to the yard sale pile.

The bedroom floor. Nice huh? Now that it's clean, it's in obvious need of a paint job (this is WALT's baby room) WALT is voting to keep the red trim and paint the walls yellow. I am vetoing that motion. I have black laquer furniture that I am not willing to part with, so any ideas on a wall color?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

As previously posted on facebook . . .

Just in case you missed it, I am having the 2nd (of at least 3) yard sale.
There are 4 or 5 boxes here in the house ready to go, and some yard toys gathered by the gate, and then of course the entire outbuilding full of junk.
I truly hope to do well, and by well I mean have nothing left to carry back in. I would like to have enough cash to have a grand old time of mega popcorns and drink refills at the drive in Saturday night, but the real goal is to get it GONE.
Anything that didn't sale in the first sale that is still sitting Saturday afternoon is heading straight to the DanPaul Closet.
Anybody that is going to be in the Gate City area, it should be a good one, even have mom in on the action!! so stop buy, throw down some pocket change and take a box of goodies with you!!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Just like starting over . . .

The back porch, which is always ALWAYS a disaster.

The laundry room, which is a kind of controlled chaos.

Ninny, the reason for the backporch madness.

View of the side yard, and the main house entrance. Where projects linger in pergatory.

The original out building, and my future art studio. At the moment it is FULL of yard sale junk.

The entry way, or reception station, or perhaps the imploding recycling area.

The kitchen, it's looked worse, it WILL look better.

The kitchen sink, my mortal enemy.

That's all the Countertop space there is.

I clean off the table and we eat, and 45 minutes later, it's all back.

Even the dogs are messy.

The bathroom sink, where science experiments occur everyday.

The scientific materials.

Robert lived on the couch for the last two weeks with some type of plague and it shows.

Another "lovely" view of the living room.