Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tough Love

We have a problem in our house.

Actually, the problem resides on our driveway.

My husband's truck has been a thorn in our sides all summer long. Our bank account isn't liking it all that much either. It has needed repair after repair after repair.

And the reason it has needed so many repairs this past summer, I believe, is because it is weak.

Let me explain.

See, my husband comes from a long line of "take care of your car" people. Ok, well, I only know his parents, but still, they really take very good care of their cars. They get them maintained according to the manufactures guidelines, vacuum out the inside gunk that accumulates, wash it by hand, get it rust protected and take care of any rust that starts up. Plus, they also come from the land of owning cars that were made within five years of the current date.

I come from a very different upbringing. Our cars were on average 15 years old when we got them, lasting another 5-10. The doors on these cars were as long as some cars now (gotta love the cars from the seventies) and we had these cars in the 90s. Some even had holes in the floor. One car, my favourite, started without a key. Love it! They weren't maintained well, oil changes were infrequent, rust took over the undersides, but they always got us from A to B over to C and back to A again.

There is one reason and one reason only why those cars lasted as long as they did.

Tough love.

I grew up in a family where both parents were self employed, my dad a contractor and my mom baby sat kids at our house so she could stay home with us. They worked hard and as kids, we never knew that money was ever an issue. We always had our needs met, and while we didn't have all the fancy new clothes or toys on the market, we had more than other children. It was only as an adult that my mom said there were many times that they were on the door step of social assistance, only scraping by.

Because of the lack of money flow we always had used cars. And if a car had an issue, most of the time, my parents ignored it as long as they could. And after a few choice words, some yelling, slamming of the hood and hits of the steering wheel, things usually fixed themselves. Our cars knew better than to act up. Tough love.

We took the same approach with any large appliances in our home. Eventually, after ignoring the issue long enough and a couple of fits of frustration, things would usually clear up again. Tough love.

I have taken this "ignorance is bliss" mind frame with me through the years.

Our fridge, it leaks at the back and you have to keep a bowl on the top shelf to catch the drips. After two years, it miraculous stopped, no bowl needed anymore.

Earlier this year, I decided to give the fridge a good cleaning, leaving the door open the whole time, without turning the fridge off. I had no clue you were supposed to turn the fridge down when cleaning it. The fridge over heated and stopped working. (I know this show's that I hadn't cleaned the fridge before this, and my lack of any common understanding of general house keeping. I know. There is a reason I needed books about it.)

I left it for a while thinking it would kick in and start working again. After about two hours, with no humming to be heard, I called my husband and told him what happened. I was looking for a way to get it to start working. After all, he's a plumber. He knows everything!

His solution was to buy a new one. "But this one works perfectly fine! We don't need a new one, this one needs to start working again!" I said in to the phone, totally exasperated that he would suggest such a thing. "Um, hunny, it doesn't work. That is why you are calling me. Look online for some sales and we'll talk when I get home."

After we hung up, my determination got the better of me and I walked over to that fridge to give it what-for. There is no WAY this fridge was getting replaced. I threatened the fridge with its life, saying that if it didn't start working again, it would be taken to the curb, stripped of all it's dignity, and its door. "You better start working again buddy, because this is the end of the line for you if you don't! There'll be no repair man here, just a screw driver to take the doors and shelves off." Tough love.

And wouldn't you know... tough love worked. I kid you not. My best friend will attest to this because I was chatting with her online throughout the day during the whole ordeal.

Tough love. It works!

Back to the reason of this post. My husband's car. I kinda started rambling there.

His car hasn't experienced tough love. It has be coddled and cared for to the extreme and now is as emotional as a woman in menopause. And it is all my husband's fault. He takes it in every single time there is something wrong with it, it doesn't know how to just work through the issues and move on. Yes, I'm giving the car human qualities and calling it a he. If it were a she, he'd be a whole lot tougher.

Seriously, this car needs a back bone.

But this is the end of the line. It's tough love time. From now on baby, you get the refrigerator treatment. If you act up, to the curb you go, where people will pick over your parts until you are just a frame. No more trips to the mechanic. No more. You have bled my bank account dry.

Tough love.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Workings of Organization

So, I have set a goal for September to be nice and organized and have the whole month of recipes. I actually just decided this about 45 minutes ago. While flipping through The Pioneer Woman and looking through all those yummy recipes, I decided that I really need to get back to cooking proper meals again.

This summer has been hot. HOT. And while the majority of people are loving it, I am not. I live in an old house with lots of leaky walls that are not even close to energy efficient and aren't so good at keeping the heat out (or the heat in during the winter, but I can deal with that). Even the idea of having the oven on makes me want to peel my skin off. And I really enjoy cooking. Just not while sweating. It just doesn't appeal to me.

We had a few days of cooler temps this week and it really kicked in my urge to cook and bake again. Enter tonight's plan.

I eagerly got out of bed (yes, I was already tucked in to bed for the night) pulled out all those recipes that I have been meaning to organize, threw in a few cookbooks in the mix and started off making my monthly menu.

I always have the best of intentions when I start - (please excuse the quality of the pictures, it is late, our lighting is horrible and my camera is on the fritz)

Those are my husbands feet. He was sleeping and he came downstairs when he heard the ruckus (I'll explain later)

But I keep on getting distracted my articles I'm finding in with the recipes in my "magazine clippings' file.

Fancy dog bed made of an old door (email Canadian Living for patterns, they are no longer listed on their website)

And these great Halloween gourds

And then my cat came out for a snuggle. He's not been talking to me lately because I took away his hidy-hole sleeping spot in our crawl space. I figured I better take the affection when I can get it or there is no telling how long he'll give me the silent treatment.

And then there is this yummy cake:

I actually went to far as to see if I had the ingredients for it. And then I started a grocery list and remembered that I am supposed to be planning my month of cooking (I am thinking about self diagnosing myself with ADHD because seriously, I can't seem to keep a single thought going these days).

So I went back with my grocery list pad of paper and started on week one.


And then I realized that I needed a bigger pad. A note book.

The note book I used two years ago when I planned out 6 weeks worth of recipes and the shopping list for each week. (Yes, I know I could just use those menus and forgo the whole plan, but that would be easy, and I don't tend to do things that way.)

There is no picture of this note book.

I can't find the note book.

So I've been looking for it. That is what woke up my husband. Well, that and me asking him if he has actually seen my note book. Who knew he'd not be able to get back to sleep again?

You'd think he'd help me with this big mess here.

Apparently not.

You might be wondering what any of this has to do with the title of this entry. But I wanted to show you that this whole organizing thing is real. And while my before and after pictures look great, getting there takes me so much time because I cannot. keep. one. train. of. thought. going.

I tend to be a drifter, have been my whole life. And while I am really really REALLY focused when it comes to work related tasks, when it comes to my private life, I tend to be a little more ... shall we call it free?

Either way, this is me and this is pretty much the same process I go through with each room and each task. And you may think that this is something that I need to work on, but this procrastination and road less traveled approach is what gets me to the final crunch time of "Holy Hannah I can't take the mess here any more" focused cleaning frenzy that happens about once a week.

This is not to say that my house isn't clean. It is for sure a nicely organized and clean house. But every week I find some other thing that needs a more mirco-organization intervention.

It is my new organized and everything gets done that isn't on the weekly list during that time.

Some people might call it unhealthy, unfocused and un-housewifey.

I call it Organization, Marina style.

And who would I be if I wasn't me? (probably organized)

I am going to finish looking for my note book now.

I say finish because I am also a person who has a high degree of tunnel vision and stubbornness and I won't be able to fall asleep tonight until I find the book.

As for the mess on the floor. That is all going back in the file and on the cook book shelf until tomorrow, when I can pretty much guarantee I will have a fit because while it is all filed away nicely, it serves me no purpose in a file on a book shelf.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Organization Gone Wrong

During the office organization project, I organized my filing cabinets.

It took a long long LONG time because there were bills in there from 1998 and some high school essays. Not Joking. It was full of stuff that needed to be thrown out. You can fit a lot of stuff in to this thing.


I also created nice little tabs and put the remaining stuff in folders.


Nicely divided, nicely organized.


I was feeling really proud. And feel proud every time I go in looking for something and find it.

Until today.

I am working on learning how to use my camera. It's three years old and I think it is about time I figured out what all these dang buttons mean.

So I go to the manual section to pull out my manual.

I look and look, but to no avail. It isn't in there.

And then I remember.

While I was sorting everything out, I faintly remember having the manual in my hand and thinking that I should put this manual in a different spot. Somewhere that would make total sense.

Apparently just for that split second though because I can't find it anywhere.

And I know that I can download it from the canon website, but that isn't the point of this post.

My point is this.

When you think of a fancy new place to file or place something, that is not with all it's friends, stop and think again, and then put it where it really belongs.

You'll be tempted to create new and thoughtful groups of things. You are all eager and energetic and the world of organization will suck you in. You'll do things you think you'll remember you did.

And then when you go to find the thing that you need, when you look where all the others are located, you'll remember.

It is somewhere else.

Organization gone wrong.

It can happen to the best of us :)

This little guy looks like he knows something I don't.


Friday, August 20, 2010

5 Things on the Bottom of My List

During the last four months I have really come to like keeping house. There is a great sense of satisfaction when things look nice and organized, and this puts all the cleaning in a positive light. Except for these chores, which I'd rather not do, and thus allow my masters in procrastination take over and make it ten times worse in the end. I'm sure even Martha Stewart has some chores that she leaves until she can't stand it anymore, right?

1. Dusting. Really, someone needs to invent a sucking machine you attach to your house once a week to suck all the dust out. And make it affordable. And make it small enough that it fits in my closet. I don't ask for much, do I?

2. Sorting the clothes in my children's drawers. I absolutely loathe this job, and thus, both my monkey's have a wide variety of sizes in their cupboards ranging from 6 months-24 months for my daughter and 2-5T for my son. He hasn't worn a 2T since last summer, I'm ashamed to say.

3. Finding a place in my house to put the clothes my children no longer fit in. We live in a three story house with only one closet. In the foyer. I kid you not, only one. And it is a closet built in 1913 so let me tell you, big it ain't.

4. Cleaning the stove top and oven. I do not have a self cleaning oven and let me tell you, that will be the thing I look for when we get a new one. Although, I'm pretty sure this one is never going to stop working, mostly because I want a self cleaning one and I tell it every chance I can get. I've made it jealous and stubborn. The stove top gets cleaned every week and I fight with it each and every week. Too many of those coil things just don't fit in properly unless you yell a little.

5. Organizing my pictures. This has become one of those long term goals. I'd love to get all of the photos out of the boxes and in to albums. But what seems to happen each and every time I start sorting is I get caught up in the nostalgia and oooo and awwww over each and every picture, re-live the memory (maybe even act some of it out), make a big mess of piles, see that it is already way past my bed time, get frustrated and just shove everything right back in to the boxes. Needless to say I'm not getting anywhere. So this has become a job I'd rather not do but know I have to do, so we go through this process about once a month. I'll get there soon. I have faith. And only one closet, so I need to free up the shelf space.

I'm off to bed now. All this talk about my least favourite things to do has made me take a good look at the house, and if I don't go to bed now, I might just feel guilty enough that I'll have to start dusting.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Habits to help you along

Through the last four months, I've learned some pretty good homekeeping tricks of the trade from various magazines and books. Here are a few that I hope will make your daily lives a little bit easier :)

1. Wipe down the counter/sink every time you use the bathroom or kitchen.
It may sound silly, but it really keeps the rooms looking neat and tidy. And with my little man loving mud puddles and mud pies so much this summer, this one task has kept my bathroom from becoming a mud puddle.

2. Put your clothes away every. single. day. Put it where it belongs after you take it off (hamper, hanger, drawer) and put away clothes as they come up from the laundry. I am queen of living out of a hamper and since starting this, you will very rarely find my clothes lying around. My husband on the other hand? Well, I won't start on this topic today.

3. Open your mail over a recycling bin.
That way you can dump the junk in the bin right away and file the other stuff. Keeps piles from, well... piling up :)

4. If you use it, put it away.
After a while, this become so easy and second nature. It really helps to keep the clutter down in the house. If the rest of my family practiced this, it would really make a difference and save me some clean up time every night so that I'd have more time to read The Pioneer Woman at night while drinking tea wearing my favourite yoga pants while I sit in front of the AC unit that has become a part of me this summer. But I digress. Just do it, you will see results.

5. There is no try. There is do and don't.
I know this isn't related to homekeeping, but I found this saying to really get me through it. After doing a bit of research I found out why. When people are told to try something, they don't try as hard because they are not sure if the task is in fact do-able. When a person is told to do something, they try harder because they feel they are expected to finish the task and put in more of an effort to find a way. I find this very true when I do a task at home. If I say I'm going to try, in the back of my mind I can feel doubt that I am going to complete the task. If I say I'm going to do it, I just do it and it seems to get done. May take a while, but I persist a lot longer and always work through road blocks. If I were trying, the road block would pretty much be the end of the road, and easy way to give up.

6. Spend five minutes a day working on a long-standing task.
This has become more than five minutes a day for me, but the general meaning of it is this. If you have a gazillion books that you need to organize and sort through, but never seem to have the time or energy or desire to do so, spend five minutes a day doing it. After a while you'll see how much it can add up to. If you have no long-standing tasks to do, then spend five minutes checking for things that are out of place and replacing them. I do this frequently throughout the day so I don't have to do one big clean at the end of the night. I play a game with my little man called "find something and put it back" during this five minutes. He loves it, although sometimes he finds things in their correct spot and puts them in a new incorrect spot, but hey, he's three. He can only commit to doing so much, lol.

I hope these little tricks help you as much as they have helped me! I have learned that every big journey is made of teeny tiny little bitty steps. I'm hoping that all these bitty steps will help me meet my goal.

Time will tell.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Things that make you go Hmmmm


Why can't my husband manage to put the laundry IN the basket?


I've seen him play sports. I know he has reasonably good aim. Better than this anyway.


And what cracks me up is that it is empty except for one of Monkey 2's dresses (I had to shove it to the bottom so you could see how empty the basket really was. In the pictures above, the dress got caught on Husband's clothes, so it looks like it is at the top of a full basket).


It doesn't actually crack me up. But if I don't laugh at it, I might cry. Or scream. Neither of which are productive (i've tried), so laugh I will.

And I would NEVER think of complaining. Heavens, that would totally backfire and send us back to the days where clothes were left BESIDE the hamper. No no, complaining won't do at all. I just toss them in as I walk by.

The other thing I don't get is this:

How do men just fall asleep?

And they don't even have to be in PJs or in bed. This was taken a while ago, my baby is still a baby in this picture. But I've always been amazed at my husband's ability to fall asleep. Jealous probably better describes it. Especially when I'm on hour one of trying to fall asleep at night and he fell asleep before I could finish saying good night, lol. I don't think I have the ability to just fall asleep like that!

Must be nice.

Check out my new fancy header :)

A special special SPECIAL thanks and life long gratitude go out to my good friend Karen from 3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires for creating a fancy new header for me and tweeking my blog so many times I can't count, all in the name of perfection, which she totally accomplished!

If I had to actually figure all the stuff out that Karen did, my poor brain would have been smoking, and my blog would look exactly the same because I know not of the weblog things beyond posting and editing, and even that is sketchy.

So, again, thanks so much Karen!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Technology gives me bad hair.

This is what it has come to.


That is my old computer.

It now needs a fan blowing on it or it over heats, poor baby.

This is in addition to the fan underneath it.

Poor baby.

In other news, these are my new favourite pictures. Monkey Two is going to hate me for this eventually :)



Heh heh, I love capturing moments like those!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The jig is up.

I got a phone call from our cell phone provider. Our contract is up and we are up for phone upgrades (sugar coating the fact that they want us to get a different contract).

So the lady on the other end of the line asks me what kind of phone I want. I ask what is available. She asks if I wanted a smart phone.

My response, "Well, I need it to send and receive calls, so if that makes it smart, then yes, I want a smart phone". I'm not joking.

I was talking to her like she was an idiot.

Little did I know that I was in, fact, the idiot.

She politely informs me that smart phones are the Blackberry, Iphone etc etc.

OHHHHHHH. I see! I have apparently been living under a rock because I had NO CLUE they were called smart phones.

I apologized, and said that I did not want a smart phone, thank you.

Those phones totally intimidate me. They make me nervous, all their glitz and glamour. I feel like they are laughing at me. I prefer not to own phone that is smarter than me. It just isn't good for my self esteem.

Technology and I have been having a hard time as of late.

My computer is Windows 7, which is not compatible with many of the programs from my old computer. I have been endlessly downloading update after update to get everything working the way it should. It is making me cranky.

The other night I looked for the update for HP Image Zone. My favourite photo editing software. The ONLY photo editing software that I can use well. HP hasn't released it yet. A phone call to HP the next day informed me that they would most likely NOT be releasing one.

So I'm done with Windows 7. I even called a tech place today to see if they would uninstall it and put XP in. They asked why I would want to do that?

I told them we, my computer and I, are no longer compatible.

I think I heard laughter in the background, but I can't be sure.

They gave me a list of all the reasons why I shouldn't, and another list of photo editing software that I would LOVE.

I have my doubts.

So for the time being, my poor dinosaur computer has been pulled from its shelf and I'm attempting to breathe new life into it by taking everything out. Except Image Zone.

Back to my phone dilemma. I want to make it clear how technologically behind I am. I JUST started texting. Well, I texted before, but at a snails pace. Now I can get a message out in under 5 minutes. For me, that's good. Trust me, it took me a long time to get here, especially with that T9 thing.

I told the lady I really just want a phone that when it rings, I can adjust the volume loud enough that I can hear it in my purse.

She said they had two options I can choose from.


Let's hope one of them isn't too smart.

We'll get along just fine then :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Field trip day!

One train

Two boys (My monkey is in the Gilligan's hat):

Three tickets:

Four hours later:

An then Monkey 2 tries to get the party started:



We held strong though and kept on becoming one with the couch while Monkey 2 moved on to bigger and better things.

Daddy :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The proof is in the pudding

So today was scramble-and-clean-the-house-because-I-know-I'm-not-going-to-have-time-to-do-it-over-the-weekend day (that's a mouthful).

Confession time: One thing I haven't quite kept up is the weekly schedule that I created in the spring. We are out for so much of the day and doing a variety of summer activities, I find it really hard to stick to a schedule of chores. So I've been doing big cleans twice a week during my daughter's hour nap in the afternoon (according to the books she should be sleeping from 2-3 hours, but my kids never go by the books). The big change is that now that the house is actually tidy, I don't have to work through the mounds of stuff I did before, so it works really well.

So, back to my point. Today was clean the first floor day. Alexander loves to help clean and plays such an active role in keeping the house tidy that it actually surprises me. We made him clean up toys and such before, but now he likes to help vacuum, dust (thank god someone is willing to do it because I hate doing it) and mop the floors as well, and cleans up after his messes instead of just getting me to do it.

Case and point, he dropped an open container of apple sauce yesterday and spent all of 10 minutes in the kitchen attempting to pick it all up with paper towel. HE wanted to do it, I was going to do it for him. He didn't want my help and about half a paper towel roll later he finally got it done to a three year old child's standards. I was super proud and so was he. Although when I offered him another apple sauce he sighed and said they were too much work, lol.

Today, he mopped the floors in the kitchen and even got the corner of my base cabinets where all the yuckies like to collect. He then moved to the dining room and did the floors there and actually noticed that the floor was the dirtiest under his chair. His words to this realization "Mama, I's gots to be more careful when I eating. So i don't make a mess on the foor." Ah, bless his heart. He actually was more careful at dinner that night. He sat in Daddy's spot ;)

Alexander is such a helper and it makes him so proud. These recent changes in his behaviour have shown me that he is learning from the example I am setting.

And before people start to think I'm running a slave labour camp here, Alexander has picked these things up all by himself. Because of his age, his actual chores are limited to picking up his toys, wiping down his chalk board and putting his clothes in the laundry basket.

Add to the list taking out the recycling and garbage only because he is currently totally in to anything that has to do with waste management, as I think most boys go through at one time or another.

His "great helper" (that is what he calls himself) has also really changed his daily behaviour, so much so that both Peter and I are making an effort to slow down and let him take part in more activities around the house, like the cooking, garden work and grocery shopping.

But, more on that tomorrow. Today I am basking in the glow of my shiny wood floors, complements of my "great helper", knowing that he went to sleep feeling like a very proud little man.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How things are changing at home

While listening to my son play the other day, I realized that all the changes I've made to the way we live has changed the way the other family members function in our home.

1. I haven't seen a dirty work sock on any of my floors in a very long time. I don't know how long exactly, but it has been a while. Nice :)

2. My son was putting away his toys and was just talking away to himself and his sister and I heard him say this "See! If you put the toys back in this basket you find them next time. Hmm, I don't know where this tractor goes. Better put it with my farm because it matches." He went on like this for a good ten minutes, telling her all about where the toys go and what toys he was putting away. Much better than the bulldozer method he used before (he called it bulldozing, not me).

3. I don't feel the strain I used to feel when organizing things. The daily tasks are done without much thought anymore and new tasks are added with less pain.

4. I have relaxed A LOT when it comes to getting the chores done. While I still like to get everything done, I'm not as hard on myself as I was at the beginning.

5. Being more organized at home has allowed me to explore other interests in my life and enjoy them again.

6. I will admit that the house does look lived in now, and not the pristine house it was at the beginning of this project. But things are organized and have a place, which makes things so much easier and nicer to look at. No more piles of magazines, toys have a place, laundry is put away, books are on the shelf. It is really nice.

I have been putting off picking the next room because we are in the process of putting the kids in one room (and thankfully Anna will be out of my room). So I've been doing organizing around that, moving furniture, organizing toys, but because I can't pull a chapter out of the book for that, there is going to be a few weeks of random cleaning.

The order of the rooms after the big switch:

Kids Room

I'm not sure where I'm going to go after that because, well, I'm not sure how long those rooms will take. Maybe if my youngest starts napping more than an hour at a time, I might actually be able to get something done!

I also wanted to mention that I will be taking this blog in to another direction as well. What I have realized is that while this is a blog about getting my house organized, so much happens in my life that I want to share, that I'm going to start sharing those events as well. After all, I am changing myself, and a very big part of that includes the members of this family.

AND, now that I have all this new physical space, my brain has opened up and I actually have complete thoughts. And I can organize them and put them on paper! (or computer screen?) So I hope to share some of them with you as well.

Until next time!