Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to School: Bittersweet

All through the summer, whenever my girls (9 and 10) would get on my nerves, I would repeat this mantra in my head, "I can't wait until school starts, I can't wait until school starts." Now that we're right on the cusp of my babies entering another school year, I feel conflicted. I'm happy for this fresh start, but sad at the loss of another year of innocence.  It's bittersweet.

Image courtesy of:

I think of when my girls first started school and I was working full-time.  How my oldest still remembers that we had to drop her off in latchkey because we couldn't take the day off.  How all of the other parents were there but us.  I still feel bad about it.  My youngest still doesn't really like school and would much prefer to be homeschooled, but we can't do that right now.  Besides, there's nothing wrong with her school. She just prefers to be with me. (sidenote: awwww)

I am one of those parents that is involved in everything that I can be involved in.. So the beginning of the school year means a lot for me as well.  It's our balancing act.  Making sure that everyone is able to do everything that we need and most of what we want. I can't get the time back that we lost while I was working crazy hours, but at the same time, I can work to make it better.

Here's to another year!

Hoarding Without Substance, Part III *Conclusion*

What I realized in the end, is that nothing will change, nothing will get better, until I make the changes.  I couldn't expect my kids to change, or want to do things in a simpler, more efficient way if I wasn't showing them that way.  While I'm not on the level of people on that show "Hoarders" I realized that my attachment to things... gadgets, clothes, shoes, papers, books, etc. was detrimental to my life.
Slow process, but it's working
The clutter, the mess... it had become the norm in my house and that wasn't a good thing. Even when the house had been thoroughly cleaned, it still looked dirty to me because of the amount of clutter that we still had.  When I would walk into my house, it didn't feel like, Ahhh, home sweet home."  It felt more like, "Aw man, I really need to do something about this." 

I started small, by giving things away to friends.  Not things I didn't like or were junky. I mean things that were nice, but I didn't have any real use for.  I donated lots of other items to the Salvation Army.  I was left with less clutter, but I had a long way to go.

I started to look at things a little differently, and once I did that, I noticed the changes.  I noticed them immediately.  I could look in a room without thinking of how bad it looked or what else I needed to do.  I could invite someone into my home without a super-haul.  I could come home after a long day and actually relax.  These things are important. C.H.A.O.S. (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome) is so draining. Mentally, financially, physically and emotionally.  It didn't happen overnight, and I still struggle with clutter, but I feel more and more like I'm getting to a happier place.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hoarding Without Substance, Part II

This is what I am in my head. I am wrong.
In my head, I am a Domestic Diva.  I keep a super clean house, so clean that you can eat off of the floor.  I'm always ready to entertain.  I work part-time from home, volunteer with the PTA and my girls' school, cook 5-6 nights a week, give my husband all of the adult time that he wants and needs, and I keep my hair natural and nails done to boot.  I grow my own garden, scrapbook, knit, work-out 4-5 times a week, am debt-free, bake fresh bread, I'm in a book club and so on and so forth.  This is perfection. This is also an alternate universe. :)

In reality... My house is a workable mess...When I entertain, we're doing what amounts to a complete overhaul right up until the minute that company arrives. Then, as the hubby greets guests, I fly upstairs to shower/change and THEN I am ready to entertain. I do work part-time from home, but it's not going as smoothly as it can, because my office is a mess lol! It still has junk in it from the last time we "entertained." It seems to be the catch-all room.  Mornings are a mess, heading out is a mess... because we can't ever find things we need.  I do volunteer with the PTA and their school, but again, it's not always smooth because of our time management.  I'm a caterer who LOVES to cook, but I don't cook every day like I should.  Why? The kitchen has too much clutter and I hate doing dishes. *sigh*  Hubby is patient, but I know he needs more of my attention. I'm so caught up in my day-to-day messes that by the time I'm ready for him, he's knocked out sleep. (Po' thang)  Appearance-wise, I'm ok, I just feel the need to lose some serious weight. I've been working on getting my garden right for the last few years, I have scrapbooking materials everywhere in my house, I can't knit (yet), I still carry debt, I bake bread only out of necessity (too lazy to go to the store lol), my book club memberships are sitting unused and so on and so forth. This is my REAL life.  It sounds even worse when I write it all out lol.
This is more like me in real life. 

All of these things combined make me feel like I am "The Great Pretender."  It's not that I lie to anyone, or try to make everything seem like it's perfect. I don't. But I think I lie to myself.  Pretty lies... but they cover ugly truths.  I traced most of my discord to... clutter. Yes! Clutter. Simple, right? WRONG!  It went much deeper than I thought.

To Be Continued.....

Hoarding Without Substance, Part I

Ah, the elusive packrat... Not to be confused with the all-too common hoodrat!

This is a pack rat

This is a hood rat. With glitter!
The ever helpful website defines a pack rat as "a person who collects or hoards especially unneeded items."  If there was an illustration on there, it would have my face next to it! I never realized how much of a pack rat that I was, until I decided to clean up. Literally, just clean up my house.  I had what the lovely Flylady calls CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome) realllllly bad.  It's not that my house is jacked up.  I live in a pretty nice suburb, on a street with well manicured lawns.  My house is an average sized colonial.  From the outside looking in, you'd never guess that inside that home was a big damn mess.  Yes, I said it... A big. damn. mess.  

Earlier this year, in keeping with my desire to live a more simple life, I decided to get rid of what I deemed as a "little clutter."  I had no idea what I was getting myself into. None.  I've read so many cleaning and organizing books that I could probably write one myself.  There are certain things I tend to keep neat, such as my office supplies, catering supplies and "toy party" supplies.  Others, like laundry/toys/dishes/paper clutter/books and so on... are all over the house.  I used to joke that I was just not all that domesticated, despite the fact that I'm a WAHM.  But as I started taking an honest look at my life.... I realized that I was right.  That's pretty sad.

To Be Continued.....

Friday, November 12, 2010

Soap Nuts!!!

Awhile back, I was reading one of my all time favorite blogs, Simple Mom, and she introduced her readers to something that I'd never even heard of. Soap Nuts.  They are a natural detergent.  You place a few of them in a bag and throw them in the wash.  They can even be re-used and then composted!  I make my own detergent, but that was totally beyond my scope of experience.  However, I decided to give it a try since they seemed awesome. I went to the Laundry Tree website and placed an order for a sample pack.  It was only $1.99, so I figured if I didn't like them, it was no real waste of money. Well, not much of one anyway lol.  When I received the packet, I opened it up and this is what I saw:
Yes, this is what they really look like!
I just stared at them, like how the heck are these little turd nuggets going to get my laundry clean? But I decided to go ahead and give them a chance.  You place 3-4 of these nuts in a small linen bag (which is included) and throw them in the wash.  This is for warm/hot water washing.  There's another set of directions for cold water washing.  I chose to do school uniforms - a true test lol!  I added a scoop of my homemade oxyclean to make sure that my whites stayed bright. (Recommended)  I followed all of the directions and crossed my fingers.  When I pulled the clothes out... SURPRISE! They were just as clean as the detergent that I make.  Most of the clothes were hung up immediately.  No scent, and they work great for those of us with sensitive skin.  All four of us have super sensitive skin, so when my youngest wore her shirt the next day and there were no ill effects, I was sold. I washed two more loads of clothes and then threw them in the compost bin.  I am giving away sample packs with all of my Christmas gifts. <3

Friday, October 29, 2010

JPL - Just Plain Lazy

When I last posted on this blog, I was getting my finances together. It's been almost a year! I did put a lot of it in order, but life just always seems to get in the way. Plus, I was being lazy. That's the real reason. So much has happened in this year and I am determined to document more of my life on my blog.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Getting Organized (Financially)

I've been thinking heavily about budgets lately. I have a standard amount of debt, with school loans (still haven't finished, but I will!), credit cards (Visa, Kohls and Target).  However, I also have a lot of what I refer to as "silly debts," which are old credit cards, book clubs, music clubs, and old medical debts. I've decided to take the bull by the horns and figure out my financial situation for once and for all. I've made attempts in the past, but I never kept it up.  Same goes for my health (but that's another post).  I was laid off in March and it took me a minute to learn to live like my situation had changed. *Cue the violins, because this is sad!*

I've been looking at different budgeting options.  I know that I need to keep this simple and easy to follow, or I will become bored and will let it go. I've been a faithful follower of Single Ma, who has paid off debt, rebuilt her credit and worked on savings for the last few years. I've simplified what is a very detailed, incredibly funny process, but please check out her blog for yourself.  I've also become a great fan of Simple Mom, who is an advocate of PearBudget and Dave Ramsey, who works with his own methods.  I think I'll come up with a combination of methods I've seen on their blogs, since I am a fan of them all!

I'm giving myself two weeks to get my budget together.

Until Then...