Thursday, March 31, 2011

Project Simplify Hot Spot#4 - Before

This week the Hot Spot was our pantry and refrigerator. I had a little bit of relief - comparing how terrible the rest of my home is, the pantry and refrigerator is not so ... terrifying?

Top shelf- extra cereal, adult snack
2nd: kids' snacks
3rd: some plastic bins, meds
4th tea and cans
5th: pasta, noodles
bottom: rice and some more noodles
Coffee and Spices

Well, I didn't say it would be neat. So, if you expect something nicer, I am sorry that I disappoint you. But I did use a lot of basket to make reaching into the back of the pantry easier and I also employed some organization system. And I also check them often... at least comparing to me a few years ago :)

My fridge isn't in too bad a shape too, I highly doubt I would find many expired things in there:

But then, take a look at my counter:

and the top of my fridge:
and the grocery bags on the floor:
I realized that my "system" is not sufficient for what I buy, that's why they are on the counter; that's why I am so reluctant to put away things after grocery shopping! It's because I do not know where they should go. I needed to review my "system".

But the biggest challenge of this hot spot is actually the other part of the question: why certain things even exists in the pantry or my grocery bags? Do those things truly deserve a spot? Does it match with our purpose statement? 

My secret ice-cream
And chocolate bar

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Project Simplify Hot Spot#3 - After

Posting the embarrassing before pictures on Tuesday does take up a lot of time from actually doing the work. But it also, at the same time, helped me to focus on what needs to be done and to envision how I like the room to feel, even though, we are planning to move her into her brothers' room...

So, here is the before and after pictures of the most embarrassing corners:
Dresser #1 - Before

Dresser #1 - After
Diapers and changing area - Before
Diaper and changing are - after
In the first picture above, the bags next to the dressers were actually going away clothing and some diapers that I was going to sell. So, that part was actually not too difficult. It is harder to go through her clothes to sort out what keep and what not. I don't know about other 19-month-old girl but mine is definitely very typical girly type - she wanted me to put clothing that she liked on her and keep digging out other pieces of clothing! I ended up put her to nap in my bed one afternoon to sort it out. 

And now I am quite happy with how the room looks:

What have yet to be done

During this project, I suddenly realized how have been avoiding the laundry part of it. There is probably more clothing in the laundry pile that should really be in the "Give" basket. I need to tackle this:

My husband noticed a lot of things were gone from our girl's room and asked where they are. I am actually not sure if it is a good idea or not, I have put them into my closet the very first hot spot! But I guess I still need a place to put them away before I actually sell/give them, right? I hope I will carry through this very last part of the work and see it to the end. It wouldn't be Project Simplify if I am just moving things around, right? 

To be sent away
As excited as I am seeing the results of all these hotspots, I do honestly hope that the next spot would be a bit easier, so, I may deal with these "residuals". Besides, I haven't started my taxes yet. But then, which area of my home would be easy for me? Which part isn't a hot spot?!

How I Hate Laundry

O, Laundry, Laundry! How I hate Laundry
I did not realize before
How I just drag and drag
Without seeing them in the wash
I do not know the reason
Perhaps, it's simply because
The washer is in the garage

Yes, the washer is in the garage
All the way on the other side
I need to take Laundry over 
to that other side
Passing both of our cars 
without much space to squeeze by
Oh, how I hate that feeling
the feeling of my pants 
Touching the sides of the cars
Seeing more laundry on the way
with my pants in the tray

I do not know about you
But for us it is true
Our garage is not clean
So if you ever drop a sock
More Laundry is to do

O, Laundry laundry! How I hate Laundry
I did not realize before
How I just drag and drag
Without seeing them in the wash
I do not know the reason
Perhaps, it's simply because
No one ever appreciate

Yes, Laundry is a job
That no one appreciate
No one even realize
You are doing the Laundry
You are doing it for them 
Each and everyday 
Or, if you are like me
Maybe every now and then
Oh, no, no one would take notice
Not until that lucky day 
The day that they saw them 
All cleaned but on the sofa
Without being fold away

Or the day when they found out
They are out of clean clothing
For that very same day
Then they realize 
Laundry is not done

O, Laundry Laundry! How I hate laundry
I did not realize before
How I just drag and drag
without seeing them in the wash
I do not know the reason
Perhaps, it is because 
it is a job with no end

Yes, it is a job with no end
This minute you think you are done
The next you see a sock or a pair of pants
right in that basket you just emptied
Perhaps, it is the sock you just drop
On that dirty garage floor
But perhaps it is not.
It is just because, with a family of five, 
There is no end to dirty socks

Yes, there is no end to dirty socks
Not until the end of days
When sin is removed from the Earth
When earth no longer equals to dirt
But please do not quote me on this
I have not read my book of Revelations
But it just seems about right
That we will all dress in white
That is brighter than any earthly white
That is brighter than sunlight
It just sounds about right
That white should come from the Righteous King
Who washed our sin away
And not from any laundry
That we could do today

With that being said
And that day hasn't come
I know deep in my heart
No matter how I hate laundry
I should not just drag and drag
Without seeing them in the wash
For it just gets pile up
Doing me not any good

With writing all these down
God seems to be telling me
Laundry maybe mundane and tiny
But with these littlest tasks,
He is training me to face obstacles
Whether it is real or mental
they are not good enough reasons
for waiting another seasons
He also needs me to learn
Not to work for praises
Or other form of rewards
Endurance and faithfulness 
Is what He wants from me instead

May God grant me the discipline
To do the Laundry 
in a much more timely way
May my family never ceases to have
clean clothing available in their closet
until the end of days

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Project Simplify Hot Spot#3 - Before

This week's hot spot is kid's clothing and/or toys. I have 3 kids. With their dad enjoy buying them toys and their mom cannot let go of any opportunity of getting hand-me-downs. They have quite a collection. I found it is particularly challenging to handle our little girl's clothing. So, I have decided to focus on her things this week and get the boys to help me with their things during their spring break.

Girls really do have a large variety of clothing and accessories. I used to just keep a cheap, plastic, 3-drawer dresser of clothing for each of her brothers but she needed two and still they can't seem to hold them all. Nothing speaks better than a few pictures, so, this week, I decided to follow the footstep of Elizabeth @ Ready.Set.Simplify and post some before pictures:

Dresser #1 with tons of clothing next to it...

Changing area and laundry basket of clean clothing and diapers

Laundry basket
with another bag of hand-me-down
and some bedding waiting to be washed...
More clothes on the mattress

As you can see, it is absolutely embarrassing. One thing I know is that she has out-grown a lot of those clothes. In fact, the bags of clothing next to dresser #1 are going away clothes. I need to properly store them for paying it forward. There is also a bag of clean diaper that I was going to sell. I probably could find more that I could let go of. My girl is in underwear at home now. As you can see, laundry is my other problem, I hope I could get the monster down this week.

Stop the Inflow
More hand-me-down of larger size
I am sure I also need to be more selective in choosing from the hand-me-down. After having two boys, the girly hand-me-down are so difficult to let go. But now that I start to see what I tend to use and what not, I hope I could avoid flooding her dressers :)

Downsizing, sort of...

It is an important task to "down-size" her wardrobe - we are going to move her to sleep in her brothers' room! Both boys are very excited to get their bunk-bed and this little girl of mine seems to want to have company in her room too, just like her brothers. Meanwhile, my husband's crazy workload has led him to work more hours. Having his office (the girl's room) back would make it easier for him to carry out those work from home.

So, I have tons of reasons to get this done, let it begin...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Does she like to eat?

The other day, a kid in my son's class asked me about my "baby", here is what I think:

She likes to eat, she likes to drink
She would eat just about anything
If you let her, she would try it without a blink
If you do not stop her, it will disappear in a wink.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Project Simplify Hot Spot#2

This is definitely not done yet... and I am just talking about the paper trail around my desk! Well, my desk does look better:


but only because I have a lot of paper in boxes!
From Right: Action Soon, Shred, Action/File, Recycle

I probably should have followed the directions from Simple Mom more closely... but instead, I separate the Action box into two. I did that because there bound to be some paper  that need more immediate attention, like the dental form for school. But it is the Action/File box that I always ended up just leave them alone... I have 6 or more boxes of similar things from previous move! This time I really need to have to conquer this Action/File box - so that I may have the courage to open the other 6!

Pray for me that I may have this done before the next hot spot's up. Here is an encouragement for myself:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Project Simplify Hot Spot#1

When Project Simplify first posted, there seemed to be a long wait before the first hot spot would be announced. But here I am, on the Saturday after the first hot spot was revealed, one day past due date, finally writing about the challenge which I took the "Before" picture on the due date... I guess it explains a lot why I am the the Messy Wife/Messy Mom here!

The first hot spot was our wardrobe and closet or our very own clothing collections. I was surprised by the choice at first, like Tsh anticipated in her post, it was not a common problematic area, not mine at least (or so I thought!) and it was not a high traffic area (so, who is there to appreciate my work ;P ) But I quickly see one thing - I have no excuses for not getting it done: 1. it is my own stuff, not something I need to wait on help or opinion from someone else; 2. it is a relatively small area in the house, more easily done. But still, it took me till Friday to start...

Here is what happened on Friday:

@ 1:30 pm: took "Before" pictures and started picking out clothes that I no longer wanted.

@ 1:40 pm: took out my sweater "collection"
@ 2:00 pm: found more of my clothing in a box...
@ 2:30 pm: 18 months-old woke up to the "in between" scene...
In between scene
Then, I started juggling between finishing the tasks and taking care of my toddler, picking up the school-aged boys, geting them snacks, finishing the dishes, playing with my toddler, etc, etc and meanwhile dealing with my very runny nose... Finally, I had the clothes put away with the give away ones in bags before my husband arrived home.
After - 1st shot
Notice that the mess in the basket is gone and 2 of the coats to the right is gone

@ 8:30 pm: looked for the cable for uploading the pictures... Upon seeing the pictures and the first entryProject: Simplify: Master Closet Results I decided to organize a bit more, retook the "After" pictures.
After - 2nd shot
"nice" clothes to the left, long sleeves casual and then short sleeves T-shirts
and then flip the hangers and took another pictures ;)
After - 3rd shot
hangers flipped :)
And start writing this blog post :) I didn't get the writing done the same night because my runny nose wasn't getting any better. So, I decided to go to bed with some Benadryl. It always speed up the course of my cold.

After Thoughts

Before the challenge, I would not have thought that I have so many clothes to give away... We have moved just 3 years ago and on average we moved every 2 years. Every time I gave away some of my clothes and I did not like shopping for clothes. Yet, I bed was covered with unwanted clothing.
Of course, I need to give credit to this challenge's tips and to the book Organized Simplicity. There were clothing that I kept thinking I would wear some day but never did. Like these sweaters

Some of them were given to me and of very good quality but I haven't worn them even on my thinest days. Even if I could lose those baby weight before the coming winter, I would not put them on. They are just not what I like to wear! Besides, they looks like teenages' clothing to me now. I felt too old for them anyways.

Even though we are now in Southern California, I still decide to keep a few sweaters. These to me are more timeless. I am more likely to put these on when we visit colder places again.
I am glad to see the size of them in the basket, comparing to the before picture above.

In the process, I am also glad to find a women's shelter that may accept my items that may not be acceptable by other charity. You see, I cannot sew but I feel bad for throwing away clothing that can be repaired or repurposed. So, I almost always end up keeping them, thinking that I would repair them someday. But now, they are in my Give pile, except for a few long sleeves... because they are all that I've got. I think I need a few happy clothes to replace them and I am confident that I would hang on to them like I used to.

All in all, this is good exercise for me, both for me to warm up to the rest of the challenge and to understand myself better - I am still hanging onto things in an area that I thought I had always been living simple. I still have a lot to learn...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Finding Our Family Purpose

In participating Project: Simplify, Tsh encouraged us to draft our family purpose statement. We were supposed to get our spouse involved so that the statement could reflect how both of us would like our family to be. In her book, Organized Simplicity, she also said that the purpose statement doesn't have to be perfect and it can change as we grow. So, for me, I decided to get started by myself, as for now, I still want to keep my getting organized effort a secret :)

I am not very good at summarizing, so, here are my thoughts [the actually statements at the end]:

- I'd like my home be a welcoming place but not necessarily with many guests/visitors
- People would find peace and joy with my family
- I hope that when non-christian family see our family, they would want to know more about God
- I like my home to be ready for unplanned visitor - if anyone of our friends needs a place to stay, a friend to talk to, I would like them to feel comfortable calling us
- But my husband is a more private person, he does not like guests as much as I do. Then, I don't know how much of it was due to the CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndromes, in case you haven't heard) in the home.

- Home should be a place to rest, to recharge, to enjoy togetherness
- Our family enjoy family fun outside of the home

- we need to learn to also have family fun inside of the home (again, don't know how much was due to the CHAOS at home)
- I like our family could do a better job in using our natural resources
- In eating healthy, we have a lot of room for improvement

- As a whole we have more things than we need, we all have trouble finding things or finding a proper place to put things
- at some point in our lives, we might need to move overseas to care for our elderly (they are not interested in living in the US at all...)
- we move relatively frequently - if my husband ever change employer, it is almost guaranteed an out-of-state move.

About myself
- I like to be a better listener to my kids and husband
- I hope my kids could talk to me even when they get into trouble 
- I need to better communicate myself to my husband
- I feel that taking care of the planet is one of the few first jobs God wanted us to do and I have been learning to do it better
- I enjoyed serving as a Bible study leader

My husband
- spend a lot of time for his work
- enjoy doing research
- enjoy spending time with the kids whenever not caught up at work
- environmentally conscious
- he excels (IMHO) in coordinating/organizing/planning events, schedules, presentations etc.
- serve in our church's local mission team, Bible study leader and as a children's Sunday school helper

Our kids
one time, a friend commented that, our kids were very well behaved but not the kind that are in fear; they are very happy kids. Both my husband and I like that very much. My husband said, that's the best complement ever and it is what he likes his kids to be - having a balance between obedient and enjoying themselves. I hope they find God's purpose for them early on.

Here are some of their traits

My oldest, 7 going to be 8
- like reading the Bible
- always want to do good, have a love for living things
- conceptual
- forgetful
- easy going, sometimes even could not tell what his own preference
- strive on relationships

2nd, just turned 6
- focused, detailed (as shown in his drawings)
- knows what he wants, shows his emotions more easily
- sensitive to his physical environment
- verbal
- independent

youngest, 1.5
- very active for a girl
- likes many of the "girly" things like shoes, dress, bags etc
- kind of social, like waving to people a lot but not easily let other hold her
- likely to be verbal
- shows her preference very clearly

So now, having these thoughts written down, here is my version of our family statements:

Our family would like to know God and His words more day by day
Chooses the path He intended for us everyday
Reflect Him with growing love and friendship within our family
Showing togetherness just like one but remain unique.
Be a welcoming team to those in need
Learn and practice good stewardship of Earth and me
Live simply and 
Know that we are visitor and someday we will all leave

Obviously, this may not truly represent my entire family but I guess it is a start. And I would love to hear your opinion. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Frustrated by me

In so many ways, I feel like I fail as a mother. Obviously, there is this messiness problem that this blog is dedicated to. But there are also these many other areas, possibly with the same root cause, that I just cannot seem to do a fair job.

Today, my oldest, the second grader, has a piece of homework that is supposed to be due. He is only half finished with it. It is a project that we could have worked on during the school break but didn't. Now the work has to be cramped into one day. To top it off, he left the necessary material at school. It means that he could not continue the work until tomorrow and tomorrow is the day that he has violin lesson... 

I am totally not happy with my son that he waited to last minute to get it done. But then, what kind of guidance did I give him? None. In fact, I didn't know it was past due until he told me this morning. Well, I did know that he has something to do during the break but I just let it go when he told me he had no homework then. Shouldn't I at least be helping him set small deadlines so he could get it done in time? 

What's worse is that, what kind of example am I giving him? Often times, I do not start dinner until the last half hour. I do not do laundry until someone told me they are on their last piece of underwear. My desk stays as a mess. In fact, I think he just unfortunately got my genes...

Now, with my very own track record, I don't know how I could guide him so that he would not walk down the same path as I did - constantly rushed to get things done therefore everything was either late or finished with fair standard only because it was not done when time was there...