Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"I sure hope school doesn't get cancelled because of the rain!"

The quote in this post's title is from E2B.  No, my boy - despite the heavy downpour (and the teachers losing a few days of preparation last week courtesy of power outages after Hurricane Irene), the first day of school will NOT be cancelled.  We awoke this morning to significant rainfall, but not even that could diminish the excitement of the first day of school for these big kids of mine.

I posted here last week about our back to school rituals and asked for some help in coming up with a fun treat to share at the bus stop in the morning on this first day.  You all shared a lot of great ideas both here and on my personal Facebook page and I ended up giving these "chalkboard cupcakes" a try.  Instead of a traditional cupcake, I made applesauce muffins with cream cheese frosting so I could pretend that they were not completely unhealthy.  Unfortunately, the rain was absolutely pouring down come bus stop time and it wasn't feasible for kids who were coming out at the last minute (to avoid being soaked) and juggling umbrellas to also eat a muffin.  Luckily, I had plenty of cookie "chalkboards" that weren't needed for muffins, so I just passed those out instead.  After dropping a few off at school for the kids' teachers and the wonderful administrative staff in the front office, I put them back in the fridge to save for our after school ice cream social.

I started out trying to write things like math problems and names, but when it took me obnoxiously long to do so - and my hand starting cramping - I decided that one letter of the alphabet per cookie was just fine. 
As I've mentioned before, virtually all of my children's clothes have been purchased secondhand.  Whether from thrift stores, yard sales, consignment shops, or hand-me-downs, I have done very little retail shopping for their clothing. For pennies on the dollar I am able to buy high quality items that are in great shape and - as an added benefit - I find it hard to get too worked up about clothes getting ripped, stained, or otherwise roughly worn during the fun - and messy! - days that grace this period of childhood. The one regular exception that I make to this avoidance of retail is for the first day of school.  Because I purchase ahead by a size or two when I thrift, I usually have a full wardrobe ready to go for each child at the start of each new season.  As a result, I don't need to buy a bunch of new clothes at the start of school (or any other time of year).  But for the first day of school, as part of our back to school rituals, IronMan and I take the kids out to pick out one new outfit.

Check out this dynamic duo!

Dark and rainy?  No problem!

Of course, despite the hiccups in my plans for the first day back to school, a rainy day has certain undeniable advantages...like puddle jumping.

After school the kids eagerly descended upon our annual ice cream social after getting off the bus.  Of course, this event works best when held outside in warm, sunny weather.  But the kids don't seem to mind hanging out inside our garage on a cool, wet day as long as ice cream is involved.  I'm happy to say that they seemed to enjoy the muffins, too.

May you have a joyful day...happy Tuesday, friends!

"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."  ~Benjamin Franklin

Friday, September 2, 2011

This Moment - the summer grasshopper

{this moment} - A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama.  A single photo capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you feel so inspired, please share your moment here, too!

"Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean - 
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down -
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes,
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away."

~excerpt from The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Thursday, September 1, 2011

52 Weeks of Organizing - #34 Setting boundaries and limits

As I alluded to last month, I've been working on decluttering and organizing an area of my home that has presented a real problem for me.  It is a space that has basically never been picked up and organized in the 8 1/2 years of living in this house.  It is the space into which I have habitually dumped all the stuff I didn't have a specific place for.  It is the space that I would dump my favorite clutter companion - bags full of crap random things (many of these from frantic clean ups before someone came over the house or when I would get 95% of the way through organizing something and then give up, dumping the last 5% of randomness into a bag).  It is what I called my "hoarder" room.  While we certainly have never found anything as horrifying as a dead animal in there - something that is not uncommon on the hoarding TV shows - I have to admit to the fact that IronMan once found a burrito in one of my bags (shame!).

The space in question is the finished attic area of my home.  It is large and, honestly, it was poorly finished by the previous owners.  With its low sloping ceilings we are somewhat limited by the furniture that we can place up there.  An out-of-the-way space in the house that didn't have a clear purpose - along with my propensity to accumulate and not manage clutter - provide the perfect storm for completely trashing the room (and, not surprisingly when one person is responsible for making an area unusable and the other is very neat, it also serves as a source of domestic disharmony).

Without further ado - and more than a little embarrassment - here are a handful of before photos.  Some of these pictures were taken earlier this summer and some were taken last September.

Stuff sitting the base of the stairs - sometimes for months - waiting to be taken up and dumped with everything else...the stairs had stuff trailing up them as well.

Inside the small attached room that was unfinished when we moved in, but plumbed for a bathroom.  About seven years ago we put up drywall, added carpet, and I had big plans for this to be my scrapbook/crafting room.

Laura over at Org Junkie talks about setting boundaries and limits in this week's post for her 52 Weeks of Organizing challenge.  Specifically she says - "So often people don't pay attention to the space they really have available.  They figure if their space is full, then they must just need more space.  And yes, sometimes this is true.  However, more often than not, what we should be thinking (and what would be painfully clear if we had established limits and boundaries), is that we just need less stuff."  What is painfully clear to me - and to all of you seeing these photos - is that I have not set appropriate boundaries and limits and that I need a whole lot less stuff.

As you might guess - and anyone who has ever had to share living space with me can attest to - I have struggled with clutter for my entire life.  From my bedroom growing up, to my dorm room at college, to each room I called my own in the days of apartment living (I'll dig up some old photos to share with you sometime) - my personal space has always been beyond messy.  It has been an exhausting way to live and it has been very difficult to overcome.  With the energy that I have focused on this issue lately, am I all the way there yet?  Probably not. Am I closer to overcoming my clutter issues and regaining control of my home than I've ever been?  Absolutely.  There have been some exciting and hard earned changes around my house during the last few months that I am happy to be able to share here.  I'm particularly excited to share the steps that I've taken and what has inspired me to achieve success on this journey.  That is all for another post - or series of posts - though.  For today, I will simply leave you with some "after" pictures of the hitherto ignored space that you can now find IronMan, all three kids, and me spending time in on a daily basis.

I'm linking up to this week's post for the 52 Week's of Organizing Challenge. Come on over and find some inspiration for dealing with those little, and not-so-little, home management issues that may be hanging over your head.  In the meantime...happy Thursday, friends!

"You cannot change anything in your life with intention alone, which can become a watered-down, occasional hope that you'll get to tomorrow.  Intention without action is useless."  ~Caroline Myss