Thursday, March 1, 2012

29 Day Organizing Challenge-Wrap Up

We have done so many great things!  I am soooo happy with the progress in our home!  All of the bedrooms are much better.  I am HAPPY when I walk in to them! 

When the Challenge first started I hoped to accomplish more rooms but I now see that was COMPLETELY unrealistic.  But having such a large goal kept me moving forward. 

We started with the bedrooms and stayed there.  Why?  Because the more I thought about it I came to the realization that if the bedrooms are clean and organized we would all have the chance to greet each day in a non-chaotic state.  Clutter is like the plague you've learned to manage but you're never really well.  I wanted each of us to have a better outlook on our days.  We homeschool and so we're here all day.  How much nicer it would be if we could have a pleasant place to be to do our learning together.

The children's rooms were terrible.  When I think back to just how bad they were I get a little teary.  There were piles of toys, clothes, books, jewelry, light sabers, action figures,  and even some garbage.  And we have two small dogs that had left little "presents" among the debris.  It was, at times, disgusting!  As the kids and I were cleaning out their rooms we took most of the bags to the garbage can.  I'm sure our garbage service wondered what was going on inside our house!  We also took several loads of things to the thrift store.  We were careful to donate only clean, usable items.  We also set aside several things to "pass down" to cousins that had been outgrown.  The hardest part was to just keep going.  It was so overwhelming at times.  They would beg me, "Can we stop now?!?"  I had to be the "Mean Mom" and make us all stick with it.  I think my proudest moment in working on their rooms was when dd age 13 came up with a surprise for ds age 9.  She created labels for his drawers.  She then attached them with velcro so that he could change where he had things easily and on his own.

We are not really done in their rooms.  We still need to rip out carpet and paint.  But until the weather warms up a bit more and we can get to it I think we'll be able to function and not slip backwards.  We have put some systems in place to keep "control" of the remaining "stuff".  In ds's room there are clearly labeled and designated places for all those legos, action figures, books, and "treasures".  Dd's room is still a work in progress.  She will start painting this weekend so nothing will go back in until that is done.  I'm so proud of both of them.

Our master bedroom has had a majority of the peace restored that I wanted it to have.  I have always been a clutter fiend by nature.  And even though I've cleaned out our bedroom before I've always slipped backwards really fast.  I cleared some major areas that had been "emotional" for me in the past.  It took me one full day to clean out the little green dresser.  It was full of so many tender items.  I only kept 6 of the tender items and let the rest go.  All of these tender items had belonged to dear family members who have passed on to the next life.  I was close to these people.  And I miss them terribly.  I had been holding on to too much stuff in an effort to not forget them.  I realized as I was going through the little green dresser that if I kept my favorite item from each person that was enough.  I didn't need 20 items , just 1.  Now my memories are more manageable.  And by letting the other things go I've cleared a part of my psyche that needed to move in to the present.

The other areas of my bedroom that I cleared ARE STILL CLEAR!!!  That's a new record for me.  I've been waking up each morning and seeing that it's still clean and I get out of bed in a much better mood.  I think the one thing that I was most surprised by in working in my own bedroom was the amount of silly stuff I had piled up.  That pile that was directly next to my bed is now organized in to 3 magazine boxes in the bottom of my nightstand.  Obviously ALOT of it was tossed in to the trash can.  I love the sense of peace that is in that area now.  My new rule is if I'm not CURRENTLY reading it it can't LIVE there.  I had to become very honest with myself about what I was really reading right now.  No future reading allowed in that space.  I also found myself really coming to terms with the fact that I like to do a lot of things but I really only love to do a few things.  I'm now focusing on keeping the things I love,  not just like. 

If I had to give only one piece of advice to someone starting with a mess that they hope to clean up it would be this:  Love yourself and your family enough to do this!  It pays great dividends!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Organizing Challenge Progress Link Up #1

Before I went out of town for a few days I accomplished soooo much!  I cleared the antique desk, the little green dresser, the floor at the end of the bed, and the sewing cabinet.

I took several boxes of things to the thrift store and kept two boxes for the yard sales.  I'm hoping for a yard sale this coming Friday morning.  Anything left will go straight to the thrift store.

I'm really pleased with my mental changes.  While we were out of town I really thought about my magazine purchases.  I only purchased two that I really wanted to read.  I also did A LOT of thinking about purging the magazines at home.  I have some old yoga, sewing and quilting  magazines that are now on their way to the library.  That simply act has cleared out some magazine boxes for my current interests.  I'm now thinking about my personal bookshelves.  There are several titles I simply dust.  The shelves are in our master bedroom and the next time you see them they will be very different!

Back To It!

I was out of town for the last few days.  I'm back and the decluttering and organizing has resumed.

When I woke up this morning I looked over to the areas I had cleared before I left and they were clean and organized.  It was wonderful!  This morning I put all of the trip items away and it's almost like we never left.  The suitcases are back in their storage area.  The only lingering items are a few loads of laundry.   

I hope to finish the master bedroom by Thursday evening and the family computer area by Sunday evening.  Pictures to follow.

While we were gone I have been thinking about how to organize all of my family history research.  There's a lot more than pictures.  My brain is still working on that one but great progress has been made.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Organizing Challenge: Emptying The Little Green Dresser

Yesterday I did the hardest thing in the whole Organizing Challenge.

I emptied the little green dresser.

The little green dresser has always been a part of my life even though it's only lived at my house for nearly 12 years.  It belonged to my Aunt Erna.  She kept an assortment of crafting supplies and tools in it.  It was in their apartment in Downey and then moved to the spare room in their Fresno house.  I spent a lot of time with it just being in the background.  For the majority of my life it sat just outside the bathroom door off of their second bedroom in their Fresno house.  When it came to my house I put it where?  Outside of the bathroom door in our master bedroom.  It just seemed like it ought to be there.

It's not a fancy piece.  It's very plain and utilitarian.  It's '70's green.  Aunt Erna also had a little step ladder she used as a stool at her breakfast bar in the same shade of green.  You had to have known my Aunt Erna to understand that this little dresser was a bit out of character for her.  She was a woman that liked pretty things.  She worked hard in her younger years and purchased some beautiful things that now reside with me.  I love things with family and history attached to them.  I have a lovely swan head antique sofa from her home that I cherish.  But what makes me cherish it even more is the photograph of her, her sister (my Grandma Mildred), and their mother (my Great-Grandma Rose) all sitting on that sofa.  Oh, how I love those women!  And I also have pictures of me sitting with Aunt Erna, Grandma Mildred, and my little brother on that antique sofa.  One of my favorite pictures is of my daughter sitting on it as well.  Back to the little green dresser.

I decided to begin the Challenge in our master bedroom.  Two days ago I cleared off the antique desk and the old sewing cabinet.  Yesterday I looked for the next smaller area to tackle.  Clearing that dresser took all day.  Why?  Because that dresser had become the catch all for family things.  All of my inherited linens were in two of the drawers.  There was old jewelry and a few photographs in another drawer.  As I sorted through the items it became clear to me that I didn't need to keep all of it anymore.  I could let much of it go and still preserve my love for those people attached to the things I was going through. 

I chose to keep only 7 of the handmade doilies and embroidered linens.  I kept a bit more of the jewelry but not much more.  And I'm satisfied it's "enough".  By clearing out the drawers I quickly realized that this dresser could now be the place for the huge amount of family photographs and original documents I have.  I'm the family historian and thankfully my small family trusts me to keep all this stuff that they aren't sure how to throw away.  They know that it's safe somewhere.  All the aforementioned stuff is scattered throughout my house.  Now it will have a place altogether. 

What a blessing!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

More "Before" Pctures

As I've been putting all this together for the challenge I've come down with a nasty cold that the rest of the family has had. I don't usually catch things. This time I REALLY caught it. The cold meds are making me a bit loopy. I rarely take anything for any reason and I don't drink alcohol or even coffee. A full dose of meds in me really does the job! I wanted to post the rest of the "before" pictures. It's embarrassing but the accountability is needed.

The kids are all excited about this challenge. I'm glad because I'm going to need their help in areas. And since their rooms are included in this they will benefit from the prizes if we actually win something.

But this isn't about winning a "prize". If we did that would be fun. This is about making a better home for us.

The decluttering is already overwhelming. So my new mantra is: "Just one box at a time!"

Even though I feel completely lousy my goal today is to get one box out to the trash, one box in to the schoolroom for the yard sale, and the magazines purged.

Master Bedroom

Dd's Bedroom

Ds's Bedroom

Guest/Sewing Room

Family Room/Computer Room

School Room

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Challenge Begins!

Today begins the 29 Day Organizing Challenge put on by Laura over at Organizing Junkie.

I'm still finishing up some of the planning for this challenge. Here's what I have so far:

Master Bedroom: This room has too many things that don't belong in the room. I tend to pile things around my nightstand thinking I'm going to read them or work on them at night. The pile needs clearing. I will be clearing at least 1/2 of the things out of the bookshelves. I will also clear the antique secretary desk under the window. The sewing cabinet will find another place in the house. The little green dresser will be repainted and re-purposed but will stay in the room. It currently holds antique linens that can go in a chest downstairs. There might also be some rearranging of the other furniture. Sorry, but the red wallpaper (which I LOATHE) will have to stay for now.

Downstairs Sewing/Guest Room: I haven't seen the top of my sewing table in 4 years. There are a lot of different things to cull. Then I will categorize and contain only the supplies I really use. A few months ago I moved all the boxes of fabric and yarn out to another room. As you'll see in one of the pictures those boxes are still problematic. I will be sending much of the fabric out to the yard sale tables.

Computer area/Family Room: This area will require a lot of creativity. It is one of the hubs of our house. I work on many things in the computer area. And those projects are not contained and it's much harder to work on them because they aren't organized. The Family Room is an ongoing cleanup project. There are some containment solutions that could be applied in this part of the room that would help tremendously.

Dining Room/Entry Area: This is the area that people see first. It's also the first place things get dumped in. There are no systems in place to organize the things that come in.

Downstairs Hall and Cupboard: This area is where we have all the currently used homeschooling supplies. It's a mess. I organized it last year but it didn't stay that way. The problem is two part: first, too much stuff and second, no way to contain what really needs to be there. As you can see in the picture there are tubs for each year of our 4 year plan but things are everywhere.

DD's Room: She will be handling this. And she's really excited about the changes. She will be trading out the larger bed for a twin daybed we have. She will also be going through all her things and culling heavily. Her doll collection will stay but be displayed better. The boxes in the top of her closet will be moved to the storage area. They are her "future life on my own" boxes.

DS's Room: He will have some help in getting this done. He needs more tubs to contain the projects. He will be getting the larger bed in dd's room. He's a typical boy with all sorts of treasures. I am going to require that he pare down the treasures and toys.

School Room: We don't really use this room in the way I intended. It is a converted garage and right now it's too cold to utilize. Plus, it's a catchall. The heaviest culling will be going on in this room. Most of what's in there we never use in our schooling. I bought most of it thinking, "oh, this might be nice to have." It's not being used, never will be used, and can be easily replaced if I decide I really need it again. The boxes in the corner contain our book collection. We recently repainted the library and those boxes will soon be gone and the books, after culling, returned to the library shelves.

Those are the plans.

I have always had a hard time loving this house. And because of that I've had little motivation to do much with it. We are now starting to make it ours. The painting has helped. We're taking it room by room. My dh is a very creative person and is good with color so I've let him do most of the deciding on exact colors. Luckily we like the same things:-) We've also ripped out almost all the carpet. That's a huge work in progress but by the time February is over the remaining bedrooms will be rid of the 40 year old carpet.

Here are some "before" photos:

Master Bedroom

Daughter's Room

Son's Room

Dining Room

Family Room

Now it's time to get to WORK!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Planning the Challenge

Now that I've taken on this huge THING I'd better make a plan. Because I know myself. If I don't figure out a game plan I'll find a way to quickly talk myself out of it.

I just love the perspective being 45 has brought me.

Today I will plot my course.

That's almost scarier to me than the actual day by day action that this will require!

The first thing I thought about was the need to stock up a bit on easy dinners. Menu planning is hard around here. Sometimes the days turn out very differently than planned. I've learned to utilize my plan by simple having all the ingredients and at least 3 simple dinners on the plan. I grew up eating what was put in front of you. Sometimes it was really boring. Other times it was really great. Nevertheless you ate what was there. Dh has a different attitude regarding food. Being the creative soul that he is his eating is often mood driven. He'll often say, "That just doesn't sound good right now." At 4 o'clock in the afternoon!!! For years this drove me nuts. I finally figured out to always have one of his simple favorite meals always available. I also learned to say, "Do you know how much time that particular thing you want takes to make?" We're both getting better about it.

Back to the task at hand.

Another part of this planning is that I have about 5-6 days being out of town to work in to the scenario. And another time consuming financial project to deliver.

Some people would say that taking on this challenge is unrealistic. Probably. But I'm tired of waiting for a huge chunk of time to become available to get started. That simply will never happen. That's one of the reason my home is in the state that it is! So, the buck stops here.

Yes, it will be a busy month but I can do busy for 1 month in order to get some peace and order back in my home. I can rest in March.

A familiar hymn is playing in my head right now.....

"Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven....."

This venture is going to require sacrifice. It's going to require me to not simply sit down at 7pm. Creative projects will need to be put on hold until March. But I think if I give myself a realistic stopping point each day it will help. And I also have to remember that the kids are probably going to want to take a break before each day is done but now is the time for teaching by example.

Cross the finish line each day before sitting down.