Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Decluttering with a kid is tricky

Monday afternoon, I was proceeding with my decluttering by hitting my antique roll top desk. It's massive with tons of little drawers and nooks, not to mention five drawers on the sides. So, lots to go through. I found some floppy disks (seriously) and a zip disk. I'm kinda curious what's on them, but not enough to try to find an appropriate plug or whatever to read them. So into the trash they will go. I found three pairs of earbuds...and I just bought a new pair a week ago. I found 7 rolls of scotch tape, two tape dispensers with rolls on them, and 6 extra rolls for the dispenser. So I'm ready to tape some stuff. Like everywhere. I found 3 sheets of stickers, some Ghostbusters pins, pencils and pens to outfit an entire classroom, two 3-hole punches, a giant bag of crayons (half-gallon ziploc bag), about 15 post-it pads of various shapes, sizes, and colors, and a stack of empty notebooks about 8 inches tall. All in the space of one 40 minute tv show I was watching on Hulu.

I was pretty pleased with my progress and the way I was reorganizing things and how quickly it was all going. And then Asher woke up from his nap.

Within five minutes, he'd found the stickers and they were ALL off the pages and on his arms, shirt, legs, chairs, and me. I had no idea he was doing it but I should have: he was way to quiet. He was pretty pleased with himself: "Mommy look, I have stars! And a monkey! And Scooby-Doo!" This kid loves stickers, but Mommy hates scraping them off everything so he never gets them.

I set him up in the kitchen with half a dozen crayons and some paper and told him to draw me a picture. He was done in about 5 seconds and back to see what I was doing. He was literally right behind me in such a position that I couldn't move without knocking him into an open drawer or a chair or on the floor and he refused to move, so I picked him up and carried him into another room. So then he started crying.

After that, the decluttering/reorganizing was done. Luckily, I was to the finishing stage (put the box of stuff to scan on the desk, the box of stuff to go upstairs on the stairs, close the drawers) so I told him to go to his room but he refused, so I ended up carrying him to his room and dumping him on his bed. Where he kept crying. Elijah woke up from his nap and started crying as well.

Yesterday, while Austin took the boys on a walk after dinner, I hit the storage cart in the dining room and I discovered that, wine drinker that I'm not, I had 4 cork screws. How does that happen? I have no idea. I know I bought one in college because I had to have one for a class. I know one came from a nice bar set we got, along with a strainer, jigger, and stirrer. The other two are a mystery. So three went into the box. Scented candles that people give us as little gifts or stocking stuffers, into the box.

It's not hard to get rid of stuff except for when my children find the box and want to go through it. So it sits on the dining room table up high, but then Mom and Bob come over and say "Oh, you want to give away the monkey that sings and dances and your children laugh at?" I really do, because they play with it for five minutes every 10-14 days then walk away. They don't really like it like their other toys, plus it's a stupid toy (one of those shelf sitting monkeys...we have TWO, one sings and dances, one has a creepy recording of children laughing) that no one really wants. Mom takes notebooks and pads and some other things, but leaves the monkeys out so I get to wait until the boys are asleep for a second time to get rid of them. Hopefully they'll STAY in the box. And no more will come in the house.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

If I had to be on a tv reality show, I really hope it isn't Hoarders.

Anyone who knows my mom well knows that she has a LOT of stuff. Her fiance says "I don't want to say hoarder, but..." She's not bad enough to be a hoarder, but she doesn't take the time to declutter as often as she should. And I grew up just like that.

I hang on to stuff for years because I MIGHT need it. And it seems like inevitably as soon as I throw something away, I need it a few days later, even if I had no idea what it was at the time. I've got somethings that I feel are worth saving (hundreds of pages of handwritten stories and blurbs of conversations I wrote during my school years, the ribbons I won in the fair for items that are not in my home, mementos from Dad) and things not worth saving (seriously like 20 copies of one photograph from my wedding that's in at least 2 albums already) and yet...I don't toss them.

At MOPS last week, we talked about organizing and I got inspired. I followed a link a fellow MOPS mom posted about cleaning and decluttering your home in 15 minutes a day in 52 weeks. I read through the daily things and realized that, surprisingly, I actually do a LOT of the recommended things. I crossed off the things that I already have in place (filing systems, clothing rotations, etc) and things we wouldn't use or don't have (central charging station for electronics, basement) and I was down to about 7 months of stuff if I only work 15 minutes a day. Seriously, most of the entire first month is based in the kitchen. I scoffed at that and said "I can do that faster." So I went through the entire kitchen this past week and now have a giant box on my dining room table of stuff to discard.

I'm still riding the high of feeling inspired. I have 12 rooms/areas in the house and decided that if I tackle a minimum of one room/area a week, I'll finish in just 3 months. But, the small hallway outside our bedrooms will take like five minutes. Maybe less. I have nothing to get rid of there. It's a hallway with a bookshelf full of special kids books and pictures hanging on the walls. The entry hall should take 1 day because I'll have to spend an hour in the closet. Things like that mean I shouldn't actually need a full 3 months to get through the house. It's really encouraging.

I know things will come up that will discourage me. I'm planning on scanning in pictures and the boys' artwork so I don't necessarily have to hang on to the originals. That's going to be probably a whole week on it's own. And I fight with the scanner every time. I'm going to have to force myself to actually give up things I've held onto for years just for sentimental value. It's ok to keep some, but I don't need ALL of them. Organizing stuff will help me find things better.

My goal is to be done by the end of the summer, if not sooner. Ideally would be end of June. We'll see what happens and if I get burned out (it's surprisingly exhausting going through everything).

So I'm posting it here to have people encourage and/or keep me accountable. I feel like if I work a couple hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I'll be doing great. And then I have to inspire Austin to tackle his area upstairs and the garage. Because THAT'S going to be a bear.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bread, many different words for money

It seems like so many people my age have a little side business. Avon, Mary Kay, Scentsy, Essential Oils, so many photographers (all of whom seem really good), other things I don't know about. Generally easy things for stay at home moms to do while taking care of their homes and children. I've always found that idea appealing but I don't wear make up or like scented candles so I always felt if I tried to sell them I'd be pretty hypocritical. Tonight, I had an interesting idea.

A woman in our church was feeling creative, so she posted on Facebook that she'd be making Amish bread today and asked who would like some, pricing her bread at $6 a loaf. Maybe I've never had the right kind of Amish bread, but I wasn't impressed when I had it before and so was surprised when several people said they'd like a loaf. 

I could totally make and sell baked goods! Well, bread. I have a bread machine to do the hard part for me, the know how to do loaves and several recipe books full of delicious bread recipes. I commented about it on twitter and a follower said she'd totally buy my bread if she didn't live in Kansas City. 

So I guess here's my question to all 4 of you who read this blog: if I posted a list of types of bread (Garlic Parmesan, Sally Lunn, white, wheat, Cream Cheese, English Muffin, Oregano, etc) and asked about $5 each (not to undercut her, but I'm sure she's doing more work than I would be), would anyone want it? Is $5 a reasonable price for homemade gourmet breads? What if I offered different sizes of bread? What about homemade cinnamon rolls? What other baked goods would people maybe want to buy? I know you can buy all that in stores for much less, but homemade, even if it's not your home, has to count for something. I'm even willing to attempt gluten free, though I'm not sure how that would turn out. If not baked items, what about a frozen meal? Or homemade applesauce?  

I mentioned this idea to Austin and he said "If you're making those breads, I'm eating them and there would be nothing left to sell." So there's my positive customer review. 

Finding a way to make extra income for our family isn't a NECESSITY but it would definitely help around here. Elijah's visit to the ER in January is apparently not being covered, my dental work in December wasn't covered at all, we have some home renovations we'd like (and may need) to do that cost a bit of money. Plus, having a bit extra every month to put aside is always a good idea.

So let me know! Is this something anyone would be interested in purchasing?