A Funny Thing Happened…

A funny thing happened yesterday during the enactment of my plan.  Not funny as in “Ha Ha”, but funny in the curious “who knew” kind of way.

I started in the dining room which is the first room that you see as you step into our house.  It is also the most used and the most difficult to keep tidy.  We eat at the table and play games there (when it’s not too cluttered with stuff).  Things tend to get dumped there when folks come in.  Groceries land there along with keys, lunch bags, and clean laundry to be folded.

Anyway, I started there.  Armed with three plastic storage boxes leftover from a previous de-clutter, I jumped in.

I packed away almost all of the blankets from the cabinet we keep them in for the winter months into a large trunk that serves as a table in the living room. I left out enough for my sister who is always cold and the occasional sleep-over guest, but I moved them to the cabinet in the dining room.

I sorted through the games that had been in that cabinet (now housing the blankets) and moved the games to the cabinet that had been home to the blankets.  I’m sure there is a better way to explain that, but let’s continue on and not worry about perfection.

As I worked through the room, I dusted and sorted and got rid of…

Here’s the funny part.

As it turns out, once I made the decision to store stuff away, I went ahead and got rid of most of it.  I didn’t feel the need to think about it.

In getting rid of things, I had more than enough room to store stuff that we don’t use very often in the cabinet with the blankets…mostly dishes that have a purpose, but not every day.

I was also able to tuck all the photos that we are working on getting into albums neatly into the cabinet so we can get to them, but they aren’t hanging out everywhere.

A box and a bag are on the way to the thrift store.

A bag ready for the trash man and a bag for recycling.

The table and counter are cleared.

Seven spiders are no longer living with us.  The arachnaphobe living with me is much happier.

And the three plastic storage boxes are still empty.

Today will be the living room and hallway desk area that serves as our office and classroom.


P.S.  The dining room table has attracted more stuff, but that’s real life.  As soon as I’m done here I’m going to go deal with it.

Progress, not perfection.



Short and Sweet

This post shall be short and the day was sweet.

For the first time in a long time we took it easy.

My sister is hanging out at our house for a bit as she recovers from surgery.  In honor of her convalescence we decided to rest with her. We woke up when we woke up.  We didn’t worry about breakfast and therefore, we didn’t have to worry about the undone dishes. Hubby brought donuts home when he came home from the nightshift.  We all ate the donuts and didn’t worry about calories or nutrition or balancing the diet.

We made a Sonic run for lunch because my sister’s appetite is returning and she wanted chili-cheese fries.  We couldn’t let her eat Sonic alone now, could we?

We grabbed a couple of Sunday papers and actually read a real newspaper.  Got black ink all over our fingers and everything!

No computer for me today.  I didn’t check email or facebook or my bank balance…  It will all still be there tomorrow and I will deal with it then.

We watched episodes of Columbo, and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and Rosemary and Thyme on Netflix.

We still had to go clean the offices we do on Sunday night, but even that didn’t seem as much of a chore as it sometimes does.  The work went faster and it was easier than usual.

Back home, we binged more T.V. and I even did a journal page!

As folks got tired, they wandered off to bed.  I am ready to follow.

Bring it on Monday.  I think I’m ready.

The Final Tale


But first an update on story #1…the narrative of youngest daughter starting school.  Let me share (if you are a veteran reader you already know this) that I am 100% a liberal arts person.  I understand the basics of the birds and the bees and I can tell a conifer from a deciduous tree.  I know what happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar.  That’s about it for biology and chemistry.  As far as math goes, let’s just say that I consider it a win if my checkbook balances and I do that everyday so it’s not too many numbers.

Since I have a definitive bias towards art, literature and writing, it is possible that I may have let the math lessons slide a bit.  Youngest daughter also has struggled with the retention of even the most basic of math facts.  Loads of tears, worksheets, computer programs and textbooks later, we finally happened upon something that worked two months ago.

At the beginning of the summer we were still working on addition and subtraction.  It just didn’t make sense to her.We found a computer program that she really enjoyed and with the looming deadline of placement testing for her new school, she had quite a challenge before her.

Keep in mind that she is entering the sixth grade and had to place in fifth grade or better to take math on campus.  At the beginning of the summer she was at a second grade math level.

She tested on Monday and place firmly at the fourth grade level…almost to fifth. They are allowing her to register for the sixth grade math class based on the fact that she accomplished so much over the summer.  I suspect that she is actually really great at math and just needs a teacher who can guide her (someone who can actually do math and isn’t studying ahead trying to remember how to do long division)!

What these words leave out is how truly hard this all was.  Copious tears and meltdowns for both of us.  Me feeling like I had failed her.  She feeling dumb.  Apologies and hugs. Giving up and starting over.  Endless lists of what we needed to get done (me).  Endless doodling on the page meant for figuring out answers (her).

It is done.  She is entering school on the same level as everyone else in her class.  We saw her desk yesterday with her binder laid out and waiting for her.

That made it so real.  And hard.  And happy.  And proud.  And anxious.  And….

on to story #3…

Binky Goes on an Adventure

I love all my kiddos.  I even like them a lot of the time. Honestly there have been times (in all of our lives) when I would have traded them for a fountain diet coke with crushed ice, but I’ve given that addiction up, so it’s a moot point.  I stuck it out…they didn’t run away from home (well, one of the did, but she came home).

When my two girls left home, I thought I would die.  They both left at the same time and dropping them off at college (the same one my husband and I went to) was impossibly hard.  I survived.  They survived and thrived.

But this is my baby boy, Binky.  This unfortunate nickname is no longer in use, but grew out his extended attachment to his pacifier.

He’s been quietly making plans for his future for quite a while.  He’s never been much on sharing the important stuff.  He’ll coast along for a while and then make a big announcement about what he’s about to do and surprise us all.  I knew he’s been trying to figure out this apartment thing.

I just preferred not to think about it.

It’s time for him to move out.  It’s a good plan.  The apartment is further in towards Austin.  Not too far away for him to bring his laundry home and raid the pantry.

I want him to go and build his life.  He’s an adult. My job is done.

But…he’s also still Binky with all the moments and memories that name symbolizes.

What will my life be like with him not in it all the time.

Sleeping soundly through all the malfunctioning smoke alarms going off for 30 minutes while I try to shut them off.

Endlessly sharing sports names and stats while I struggle to appear interested.

Never straightening out his nasty socks so they can be properly washed.

Continually butting heads with his Dad.

Insisting that the vegetables in a Hot Pocket are enough for a healthy diet.

Living in a room that any decent health inspector would condemn.

Planting daffodil bulbs and sunflowers…well, mainly eating dirt, but we tried.

Always knowing when I need a hug…even when I don’t.

This growing up thing is hard.  For Mom’s and kids.

I’m going to go cry for a while.

It will be okay.

In time.

And, of course, I have Barret the dog to keep me company.  Thank you, Jacob.  I really mean it.

Some Days

Some days, I’m ready to take on the world.  I work the budget, earn a bit of money, do a few dishes, get a meal on the table, run the laundry, teach my kid(s) a thing or two, and watch a show with the hubby on T.V.

Some days, the world takes me on.  I manage to get out of bed….that’s about it.  There isn’t any more happening.

What’s the difference in those two types of days you may be wondering.  Hmmmm…me too.  I have no clue.  It doesn’t seem to be the amount of sleep I get or the events of the day.  The stress level doesn’t appear to change significantly.

Some days, I get it done.

Other days, I don’t.

Sometimes, I even manage to make it through the list of to-do’s that I’ve planned for myself.  It seems to take all of my energy and concentration to accomplish that though.  I’m more easily distracted and less inclined to do anything extra – like decluttering or being creative.

I’ve decided that those days are okay.  And I’m learning to accept myself as I am and acknowledge that it’s alright that I’m not able to do it all.  I am my own worst critic and project those expectations onto those around.  When I’m frustrated with myself for not being “good” enough, I start to believe that everyone around me is expecting better of me as well.  I feel guilty and get defensive.  Then I get stressed and angry.  Then I yell.

One of the things that I’m working on is not trying to figure our what everyone around me is thinking and feeling all the time.   That’s not my job.  I know that behavior is rooted in a childhood of angry parents and constant discord.

I need to feel my own emotions and let others work out their own feelings.  If I have a problem with me than I need to work on that.  If someone else has a problem with me, they need to express it and we need to work on it.

Some days I just feel overwhelmed by the stress I’m dealing with.  I’m coming to believe that a lot of that stress is self-initiated.  I’m creating it by having unrealistic expectations of my own making.

It all boils down to being kinder…to myself and those around me.

I am a work in progress.

Decluttered the last couple of days:  nothing.

Created the last few days:  nothing.

That’s okay.  I’ve spent time with family, shown up for jury duty, cooked three full meals, cleaned the toilet, done 5 loads of laundry, said yes to my son adopting a dog, let said dog in and out 3,000 times, fed said dog 300 times, mopped up said dog’s sloppy water drinking puddles too many times to count, worked on math with youngest daughter, and written one blog post.

Good enough.

I hope that you gift yourself some peace today.  We are enough, we have enough, we do enough.




Sherlock vs. Houdini(s)

Around here I like to call our chickens the Houdini’s because they are master escape artists.  They have a lovely (in my opinion) coop and a spacious run under an old oak tree – lots of shade and leaves to scratch through.  They are fed a good quality chicken food, have plenty of water, get scratch grain for fun and all of our kitchen scraps are sent their way.  Pretty nice life if I do say so myself.

They however, suffer from a bit of the wanderlust, and regularly escape from their habitat.  All of the time.  I’ll go out and they’ll obediently follow back home into their yard and then will be out again before I can close the front door.  Wire, netting, you name it – we can’t keep them in.  Hence, the name “Houdini’s”

We have 13 hens that have all reached laying age in the last month or so, but we were only getting a couple of eggs a day.  I refuse to buy eggs that aren’t from free-range chickens so it gets expensive to buy eggs.  Plus, I’m buying chicken feed and it only seems fair that I would get some eggs in return.  Right?

We knew they were laying somewhere, but couldn’t find the missing eggs.  We have almost two acres and a lot of it has been left in it’s wild, uncultivated state (tall grass, cedar trees and loads of spiky, thorny brushy stuff).  Habitat that’s perfect for chickens, but damn near impossible for humans to trek through.

Finally, my husband, who shall now be known as Sherlock, found the eggs!


We left a few of them there so the hens wouldn’t find a safer nesting spot and marked the ones we left with an “X” so we didn’t accidently crack a rotten one.

Mystery solved.  Now all we have to do is figure out how to keep them safely locked up!


And Again…

So, I found the before pictures for my earlier post and they got me motivated to do one more step for “cabinet #2”.  I’m so ready for these to be finished.  I’m not a patient person and really hate to paint.  I know, weird for an artist, but I like the finishing part much more than the early layers of a project.  I much more enjoy the “coming together” part!

Anyway, here are the before and after pictures for cabinet #1:

And the one that I’m finishing up tonight – before…0425161846a (1)

and after…

I was attempting to make it look less like a built-in and more like an old hutch that was put into an alcove.  The counter is pieced together wood scraps painted in several layers and distressed.  I moved the glass cabinet doors down to the bottom and left the top shelves open.  The legs that are “holding” up the  upper shelves are from our first dining room table.  That table top is being used as our new butcher block island in the center of the kitchen – next project, next payday.  I’m working on an idea for the lower cabinet hardware and still need to finish up a bit of trim work and finish painting the walls.  I can’t find the pitcher to complete the set up on top of the hutch.  Who knows where it’s hiding.  Lots of boxes of keep and give-away stacked around here!  The clutter, project pieces and tools are driving me a bit crazy (crazier).

I love that the two cabinet projects reflect our different personalities, but that they work together.  So excited to be ditching the fear of expressing ourselves and really turning this into our home!  Less manufactured housing and more unique and loft-like.

Home, Sweet Home!


Are you ready.  Counter re-do number 1 is almost finished.  I still need to paint the bottom cabinets, but have not yet decided on a paint color for them.  By deciding on the color, I mean that the proper color(s) in the proper amounts has not yet hit the “Oops” counter at The Home Depot.  I’ll be patient for a while longer and then may actually have to pay full price.  That would be sad, but we have scavenged so much stuff already that it wouldn’t be a deal breaker.  I’m leaning towards a 50’s style Jadite green.  We’ll see.

On the scavenging front, let me explain where most of the wood we used came from.  On Saturdays, our IKEA sells carts full of pieces.  Broken, leftovers from displays, odd items – you name it.  A whole cart costs $10.00.  We’ve bought three.  Our purchase included perfectly good shelves, cabinet doors, partial dressers and beds, bed slats, and some stuff we couldn’t figure out the original intent of.  The cabinet top and trim  on this project came from that batch.

As much as possible, if we found ourselves saying, “We need to buy….”, we stopped and waited a bit and tried to brainstorm another way.  I’m pretty proud of how we did.

Of course, I can’t locate the before photos.  The shelves replaced upper cabinets that hung down very closely to the countertop.  The “brick” replaces painted vinyl wallcovering typically found in a manufactured home.  It was a “lovely” wheat pattern that I painted over a long time ago with a bright yellow.  The pattern had a tendency to show through no matter how many coats of paint were added.  The countertop used to be chipped formica in a riveting beige color.  Now wood slats covered in shiny poly.  My husband used galvanized pipe with copper accents for the shelf.  Very un-manufactured home and more us!

Tomorrow, I’ll post the cabinet I was in charge of and you can see how different our personalities really are.  I’m so excited that we are pitching out the rule book and doing our own thing!


Happy Anniversary to Me!

Yesterday was the anniversary for this blog.  Two years!  The first year was not a stellar success.  I started and stopped almost immediately, but this last year I’ve done a pretty good job of sticking with it.  I’m proud of that.  There’s been some down times and up times and good posts and bad, but that’s a realistic reflection of my life!

The home renovation continues.  We’re still in the kitchen.  The floors are all down and sealed.  Two counter areas are being worked on and are looking pretty cool.  I actually remembered to take before pictures and will post as soon as we get done with them.

Having moved as much as I did growing up, I’ve always held the idea in the back of my mind, that re-sale value had to be considered when doing any home project.  Boy, has that changed.  We live in a really expensive area of the country – one of the fastest growing counties in the country.  Square-footage wise, it’s pretty big – about 2600 square feet and it’s on almost an acre.  Our mortgage is extremely low for the area.  Downsizing is the trend right now for folks trying to live a more simple, intentional life, but that’s not a wise choice for us.  It appears that we are living here for the long haul.

I’ve finally taken real ownership of my home.  Cabinets are coming out, dramatic changes are happening and we’re making choices that are fun and work for us.  I’m excited about the change in mind-set and the direction our choices are taking.

Pictures of the transformation should be up by this weekend.  Lot’s of painting and putting back together to do first.

Two more boxes of stuff are leaving the kitchen and dining area.  It’s all coming together nicely.  This renovation stuff is hard work though.  Sometimes I look at the dust and boxes and piles and to-do list and just want to give up, but like this blog – I’m sticking with it.

Sweat, dust and more dust

Shelves are hung in the hallway and the cabinet is being painted a soft blue color from my stash of paint.  I’ve been collecting “OOPS” paint from home improvement stores (the paint that customers rejected or that was mixed incorrectly).  It’s sold at a great discount and I’ve just been buying colors that I like and saving them for renovation day.  I’ve also collected paint from friends that were discarding partial cans if it was a color that I liked.  Saving a lot of money and saving a tiny bit of the environment as well.  Every little bit helps, right?

Hubby is finishing the plywood in the kitchen and dining area – prepping it for the three coats of polyurethane that we’ll be applying today.  This involves sanding and dust.  Lots and lots of dust.  Do I need to mention that I’m not the greatest housekeeper in the world and there was already significant dust all around.  Maybe a few cobwebs also.  Said cobwebs are now coated in dust.  To bad it’s not Halloween.  We’re decorated and ready.

Anyway, it should time out right to finish that up the floor today.  Then tomorrow we can move the big stuff back in there.  We’ll still need to build the new kitchen island out of a butcher block table top that used to be my studio desk.  The walls will need to be painted and the cabinetry.  The top cabinets were ripped out on the wall by the sink and above the refrigerator.  I have never used the cabinet above the fridge.  Removing the other cabinets opened up the whole wall so I can hang a bit of art in there.  We removed another set of upper cabinets as well.  Those will be replaced with open shelving and will hold our dishes.

It’s a lot of work – renovating our home.  I’m impatient and want it all done now!

We didn’t really start out to redo the whole house.  Floor damage (a caved-in floor and two water damage holes at the front and back door) required some repair.  Pulling up old carpet meant new flooring all over.  Years of decluttering and a desire to live a more intentional life kind of sealed the deal.

In some ways, it’s a mid-life “crisis” of sorts for me.  I’ve been dissatisfied with the status quo for a while and I’m ready for a big change that proclaims, “Hey, I can live life differently!  I can make better choices and be free of the old decisions and choices.”

Not that I regret all my past choices and decisions.  Everything that I’ve done in my life has brought me to who and where I am.  But, life changes.  Children grow up. We grow up (and older).  I’ve become more aware of time passing.  I’m not so busy keeping up with the demands of a houseful of kids and their needs and I’m becoming more aware of who I am and who I want to be.

All the decluttering, all the life-style changes, all of the desire to be intentional…it all added up to a house re-do…

to a Sunday full of sweat and dust and joy.

Change can be good.  Change that comes from dreams and plans and choice is very good indeed.