Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Organization, Part I

People ask me sometimes how I do it. I have 5 children 5 and under in less than 900 square feet and we live in a culture where storing our extra stuff is a Billion dollar industry.

If you saw my house right this second you would say: "Ew" and "Why would I ever listen to anything you have to say about organization?"  and "Why are you blogging when your house looks like that???"

Let's define some terms though...

clean - adj.  the absence of a gross film on surfaces.  In a sentence: My house isn't clean.
messy - adj.  the presence of clutter that can be put away.  In a sentence: My house is messy.
organized - adj.  the ability to find what you need when you need it. In a sentence: I am organized.
My Dad always says, "Everything has a place, everything in its place."

So, at my house, I have a place for everything... and that says a lot since I coupon and gather things in quantity regularly.

But I have a couple complications: 1) I strongly dislike my house looking like the kids have taken over and 2) my space is very limited.  Therefore, I have to be creative about where things are stored.

I put extra diapers and wipes under the steps.

I pull out my bathroom cabinet drawers and store things in the gap behind the drawer.

Underbed storage is fair game.
Yes, we added "spacers" so that this drawer would fit under our bed.  The drawers are on casters and they were free.  Whatever works!

This might be my first "series".  Stay tuned for more.

Magic Bag

I'm like a plastic grocery bag. I have tremendous capacity. I'm versatile. I'm useful.  I'm adaptable.

After a while, though, a bag wears out. Time and heavy loads degrade the bag.  A hole here, an over-stretch there, and then the smallest burden makes the bag burst open and spill its contents all over the floor.  

"Why did those dirty clothes make the bag break?  They're just dirty clothes." 

The analogy stops there, you can replace a bag... I, however, am irreplaceable and will NOT pick up dog poop.  

But imagine if plasic bags could magically be renewed, healed. Once the contents of the bag have been vomitted everywhere, the bag is restored to pervious capacity and can - at least for a while - carry the weight of the world.

That's right, I'm a Magical Bag.   

Friday, May 18, 2012

Talking to myself

I admit it. I talk to myself. Aloud. Often.

Sure, the kids can listen in - they are my most frequent companions - but, as is common, they have tuned out the sound of my voice. It's remarkable, really.

But today, I'm talking to myself. Aloud. On the world wide web.

I let you in on these little conversations because I'm too chicken to pick up the phone and tell just one person that I feel sorry for myself today.


I said it.

Come on over to the Pity Party.

Today is the last MOPS of the year. It starts in 15 minutes. And I'm at home in my pjs surrounded by munchkins in their pjs and the mess they create.

I feel guilty for complaining (and crying) because I'm home for a darn good reason: Kyle has a job.

What does that have to do with it? 

We haven't been able to fix the car - the shame of the neighborhood - that has been on blocks since a selectively forgotten time in 2009.

You know how it is: the stars of time AND money rarely align.

So he has the family car - a situation that neither one of us is particularly fond of - to go to work and provide for our family, and I'm home without a car.

I'm sans transportation in a society where the love affair with our cars is 100+ years old. I've had a car since I was 16. I hardly remember life before motorized independence. Well, the one exception is my 6 month stint in Central Asia, but that wasn't this restrictive.  In Kyrgyzstan, any car with an open seat - or lap - was a taxi for hire and buses came every half hour - give or take two hours.  There is no public transit in my bustling metropolis of 3,500 people.  Even if there was... 5 kids on a bus?  Um. No.

I keep reminding myself that it's Date Night, but each sibling scuffle and kidlet cry is like lemon juice in the papercut of disappointment.  Get me out of this house.  And it's hard to keep perspective.  They need to get out too so cabin fever is in full effect AND it's dreary outside.  See... this is one heck of a Pity Party.

It's not like I don't have enough to do to distract and keep me busy for the next two decades, but I don't want to do more laundry, wash more dishes, wipe more noses, organize more drawers, and diaper more bottoms.  

I want to pout. 

I like to do what I'm good at.

I'm a skilled pouter.

At some point, my whining will stop, and I'll make the best of the day because this too shall pass.  And I have so much to be grateful for... like a good reason to repaint my toe nails - Date Night!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Here is one more way God has abundantly provided for my family. Someone gave these to our church, and our church - without knowing the need - gave them to us... a giant stash of size 3 diapers for my behemouth of a 5 month old.

Kyle asked me, "Do we need size 3s?" 

Um.  Yeah.

Last week, I noticed our supply was dwindling. I didn't fret, but I know things will still be tight for a while.  Diapers are an expense I'd like to put off until we get a second paycheck (the first one is spoken for) at the first part of July.  

Whatcha bet this is a 6 week supply?  This is what we business folks call a Just In Time (JIT) supply chain.

Ain't God good?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

There are hundreds of bloggers telling you about their homemade cleaning solutions.  I use them.  Vinegar is my friend.

As I was cleaning my kitchen yesterday morning because a friend was coming over, I noticed the ring of grossness around my burners.  I thought to myself: Ew.  I should clean that.   I decided then and there to do a blog post answering all of your burning questions about which is better: commercial or homemade cleaning supplies.  I know you've been waiting with bated breath for this one...

My gas cooktop.

Here you see my cook top.  It's a lovely 5-burner Dacor that we picked up at a weird little appliance store in the sketch part of Seattle when we were remodeling our kitchen 3 years ago.

On the right:  the Bar Keepers Friend I purchased with a coupon a few weeks ago.  My mother-in-law swears by it.

On the left: I wanted to compare the BKF to an oldie but goodie - Baking Soda.  Those geniuses over at Dwight & Church Co., Inc have made millions and millions selling sodium bicarbonate for - seriously I just looked it up - over 150 years! 

I tried to be as scientific as possible...

Sprinkled powders.

Made a paste using identical brushes.

I then employed my secret ingredient: Elbow Grease.  I scrubbed for at least 30 seconds, maybe 45.  I wound up using a Scotch Brite sponge and I wiped it down with a wet cloth.  The results are as follows...

Drum roll please...

Bar Keepers Friend result.

Baking Soda result.

As you can see, the difference is negligible (to be fair, the Bar Keepers burner was a lot dirtier).  So save your pennies and use Baking Soda (for most things).  I'll let you know when I find something only Bar Keepers Friend can clean.
And lest you think I spend my whole day cleaning...  I'd much rather blog about cleaning than actually clean.
Of course, it's not like I get to clean after all, I looked out the window to find that my wee children had turned the wheel barrow into a swimming pool.  Kudos for creativity. 

mmm... tetanus bath.

PS... I will most likely blog about cleaning a few more times.  My mother-in-law will be here in t-minus 25 - nope, make that 24 days (but who's counting?). 

UPDATE:  Seriously, 5 minutes after I took the picture of the sink, Kyle sent me a text that he was on his way home.  I did not get that text until just now... he's already 20 minutes into his 45 minute commute and the house is a disaster and I gardened since my last shower.  *scramble*

Bigger and Better

Well, "my" dishes were gone. I didn't cry... too much.

I do wonder what my next dishes will look like.

Friday, May 11, 2012

*kick kick*

Last Friday, I went to pick up Kyle from work. We stopped at JCPenny on our way back to look for some additional work clothes for him on their bi-monthly markdown day.  While we were there, I wandered through the home department looking for a steal of a deal on an iron.  I didn't find one.

What I did find was even better... Fiesta dinnerware.  Square place settings of Fiesta marked down to $4 per setting.  My best guess is that someone ordered them online then returned them to the store and the store wanted their shelf space back.  There were probably 20 place settings in an array of colors: red, yellow, orange, and a cute Mexican print.

It gave me pause, but I've been in the "I have no money" mindset so long that I didn't see the bigger picture.  These place settings retail for $25 and I found them on ebay for $35.  If nothing else, I could've hocked them and made a profit.  But, much to my eternal shame, I didn't buy them.

I didn't buy them?  *kick myself*

Really, I didn't buy them? *kick kick*

*kick kick*

I was telling my mom this story last night, and you'd think a puppy had died... we were both almost in tears.  I wish I was kidding.

I could've had service for 12 for $48!  Service for 12.
So today, I asked Kyle to stop back by JCPenny.  I have not had 24 hours without thinking about those silly dishes.  Keep in mind, the service for 8 I bought 3 years ago is already down to 60% of the original set.  But this stuff comes with a 5 year chip-warranty.

Did I mention that they were only $4?  $48 for service for 12!!!!!  AND a chip warranty!!!!!
I didn't buy them? *kick kick*
So I opened my mouth to whisper a prayer... for dishes.  Say what?

Well, I started to open my mouth to whisper a prayer for dishes, and I stopped.

I stopped because I think it's kind of irreverent to ask The Creator of Heaven and Earth for dishes.  Isn't He a little preoccupied with... something?  But then I remembered the ties.  The Creator of Heaven and Earth saw fit to align the stars for Kyle to have a lovely tie collection, why wouldn't The Lover of my Soul align the stars for me to have a lovely set of dishes too?

So, I did it.  I said (and I'm saying it again right now as I type it),

"Dear Jesus, You are so good.  It seems silly to ask for something so simple yet I know You are in every detail of my life.  Could You please keep everyone else from buying my dishes - since You are outside of time - and save them for me?  It would bless me immensely and bring glory to Your Name as I serve delicious food on beautiful place settings for years to come.  Of course, if they are gone, I trust wholeheartedly that You have something even more beautiful in mind for me.  And I really look forward to that surprise!"

Stay tuned...


I posted this on Facebook, but it's totally blog worthy and since I referenced this in a blog I just wrote, I ought to put it here too...

A little over a month ago, my Dad was cleaning out items he had in storage for almost 6 years.  He sent most of it to Goodwill and kept only a few things including a large collection of ties.  Three weeks ago, Kyle accepted a job and found out the dress code is white shirts and ties.  Five days after Kyle started his job, Dad came for a visit.  He brought those ties.

You say coincidence, I say God loves blessing His kids!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


A friend of mine just told me that she had finally gotten past not wanting to be a Mom. Mother's Day is this Sunday, and let's be honest, being a Mom isn't always glamorous or fulfilling or rewarding or fun. Sometimes, I don't even think it's bearable, personally.

This is her first child, but I vividly remember that day in my journey.  I couldn't tell you the exact date but it was sometime in the 14 months after Korynne was born and before my new kitchen (I was standing in my old kitchen for this "aha" moment).  I had 2 small children. At most, Seth was 2, Korynne was 1, and I was pregnant with Jenna.  But it was probably in the time before I was pregnant with our 3rd, and I had a non-walker and a babe in arms.

I remember thinking: I don't want this life. I don't want to be a Mom.

I'm not sure where I would've gone. Anywhere but here. Then the thought occurred to me:  Where would I be if not here? 

I wouldn't be a wife or a Mom. 

I probably started talking to myself out loud:  If I weren't a wife and a Mom, I would be working. 

I would be working and looking for a husband. 

I would be working and looking for a husband so I could be a Mom. 

If I weren't where I am today, I would be trying to get where I already am. 

Since I am where I want to be, I ought to put on my big girl panties and make the best of it.

Sure, it's not as glorious as I had imagined... some sort of Pottery Barn catalog photo... but it's what I want. It's my life.  It's the realization of my girlhood fantasies.  And I have been blessed beyond measure.

You know, once I had that pep talk with myself, that was it. I realized I was in it for the long haul. I reference that realization on the days where I feel like I'm spinning my wheels.  And, fortunately, I haven't despaired quite like I did that particular day when I was almost ready to run away.

My friend, Happy Mother's Day!  You're doing a great job.  Keep it up. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I don't like socks. I don't like wearing socks. I don't like folding socks. I don't like putting socks away.

Socks stink.

I procrastinate with many household chores.  Mainly, unloading the dishwasher and folding socks. These two chores give me no satisfaction of a job well done.  The sink is full before the dishwasher finishes, and I can never match up all the socks.  I feel like an utter failure.  Not only that, but socks make me feel stupid!  If I can't figure out which sock belongs with another, how can I expect my 3 year old to help?

Who needs that sort of discouragement!?!?!  Life is too short for downers like a box full of lonely socks!  Have you ever noticed how they breed like rabbits? 

When my kids are older, I will delegate. Until then, I will whine like a little girl (I've been taking lessons from the 3 and 4 year olds).


Friday, May 4, 2012


Here we are. It's Friday, and the weekend is upon us.  It's been fun to see Kyle put a tie on everyday. 

But let's be honest: I'm tired.

I shouldn't complain because most parents of young children are sleep deprived (like my friend who got in on the passenger side of her car yesterday and waited and waited until her 3 year old offered to drive). But you sort of adapt to what your normal is.

This is my new normal.  I have not adapted.  I'm not very fond of it yet.

In preparation for what I knew would be a rough morning, I preemptively made my bed today. I make it everyday, but this morning I knew that it would give me pause - it looks so pretty when it's made - before I let Dora babysit and catch a few more precious minutes of sleep. 

Instead of curling up with my head gently resting on my pillow basking in the peace of dear-to-my heart sleep, I'm disgruntledly - is that a word? - how do you pronounce it: dis-gruntle-ed-ly? disgruntled-ly - whatever.  I'm bitterly hanging on to my coffee mug for dear life, wondering: Why did I sabbotage myself like this?    


Wednesday, May 2, 2012


As you know, Kyle started his new job yesterday. I have already made a few observations about this new season:

The inventor of "delay brew" deserves a Pulitzer.

Our house is, in fact, small. That is why our children get up as soon as our feet hit the floor (or when Kyle violently throws clean cutlery into the drawer).

I like coffee.

5:30 evil (you can call it "am" if you want to) is EARLY.  I didn't know that before because I only knew about one 5 o'clock hour in the day. I was better off in ignorance.

Coffee is like volume control. The more I drink, the quieter the kids seem to be.

Children under the age of 6 who are eating buttered noodles for dinner as Daddy arrives home from work should wash their hands before greeting him. This is to minimize laundry and extend the life of his pants.

Decaf coffee is like dry water... what's the point?

The table top ironing board I received as a gift upon graduating from high school was ideal for ironing three times a year. It is, however, insufficient now that I'm using spray starch (the same can I bought upon graduating from high school) on white cotton dress shirts.  I will find it a new home unlike The Betrayer, that is, the Mr. Coffee from the same era.

Coffee is the nectar of life.

If I have more hours in the day (because I get up earlier), I get to do things I like... I like to blog! 

With enough coffee, I could rule the world.