Monday, April 8, 2013

A Beautiful Spring Day!

Briggs is here today and both her and Kellan love to be outside.  It seems like a lot of days that she is here are rainy or too windy and cold to play outside.  Today just happens to be perfect and we spent a lot of our morning in the backyard swinging, golfing, and riding in the wagon.  Here are some pictures from our morning.

While Briggs was swinging, this little boy was having a blast in the backyard fountain.

He was getting himself soaked...

but if you could have heard the happy shrieks and giggles you would have a hard time making him stop too.

I think we are going to need a sprinkler for this summer :)
Kellan usually loves to swing but not today.  He didn't like that Briggs was out in the yard playing without him.
Briggs playing a round of golf.

He is definitely Michael's child.  Pretty sure this is not safe.

And he's at it again...why is standing so much more fun than sitting?

I can usually get him to say "cheese!"  :)

I definitely got my workout for today.  We went all around the front and backyards and a couple of the streets around our house.  They had so much fun!  There was all kinds of laughing, humming, and dancing going on whenever I turned around.  They were both fascinated by every car and truck that we passed.

Flashback to last summer.  I cannot believe how much Kellan and Briggs have grown and changed.  It actually makes me sad to think that they are not babies anymore :(  Here is the link to the post that I did on these two back in September.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My March Happiness Project: Energy

The first month of my "Happiness Project" has been completed and although I did not get as much done as I would have liked, I am pretty happy with my accomplishments.  If you did not see my first post explaining the Happiness Project, here is the link to what exactly it is that I'm doing.

I decided for my March resolution and goals to keep some of the same ones that Ms. Rubin started with during her first month.  I really enjoyed her first chapter and agreed with pretty much everything that she said.

My overall resolution was "Boost Energy" and my goals were to 

  • Go to sleep earlier
  • Exercise better
  • Toss, restore, organize
  • Tackle a nagging task
Go to sleep earlier
I have to be honest.  This goal was a major fail and I think I maybe went to sleep at a decent time 5 days out of the entire month...and that's probably being generous.  I did however do less reading (which is my usual reason for staying up too late) and more picking up around the house before bed.

Exercise better
*sigh* Another goal failure.  I started off pretty good with Kellan and I taking several walks around the neighborhood at the beginning of the month.  I guess I could use the weather as an excuse but there were some nice days that were wasted.  I could use being pregnant as an excuse too but I NEVER missed a day of exercise during my last pregnancy.  The end of month result for this goal is that I just did not make physical activity a priority in my schedule.

Toss, restore, organize
O.K. now for the positive results.  I cannot stand clutter.  I hate large amounts of objects that just sit around with no purpose.  I prefer simplistic styles with very few objects as opposed to jumbled and cluttered surfaces, shelves, and walls.  

Here is where my problem comes in.  I married a man who already had a house.  A house decorated and filled with every possible fireman, fire truck, fire station, construction worker, builder, JMU graduate decoration you can possibly imagine.  I endured it for almost 4 years before I had to do something about it.  I do not think that I have the right to come in and just start trashing his things or making major changes to a house that he built before he ever met me.  

HOWEVER, I live here too and I am NOT a fireman or a contractor.  Second, I am the one that has to clean and dust all of this stuff sitting around.  Third, and most importantly, it is hard to be happy (and feel like the home is HOME) when the majority of the decor has nothing to do with you and doesn't remotely fit into your style or taste.  I am also practical and could not just start throwing things out simply because I do not like long as they are serving a purpose.  

All of these concepts are difficult for a man to understand.  If it was up to Michael he would probably have the painting of the lighthouse (that he received when he was 10 years old) hanging in the bathroom for the rest of his life.  Most women enjoy picking out things for their home, (especially newly married women) unfortunately my new married home was already decorated with a bachelor fireman/contractor theme crossed with middle aged/country.  At the time our house did not look like a late 20's/early 30's couple lived here at all.  I've made changes here and there over time and this month I made a few more.  

The majority of my changes this month were organizational.  Just like Ms. Rubin said in the Happiness Project "Household disorder was a constant drain on my energy"...I couldn't agree more. 

Keeping Your House Clutter Free: Tips from The Happiness Project That I Have Started to Implement

1.  "One Minute Rule" (Do it now)- If a task takes a minute or less do it now, don't put it off.  This one rule pops in my head constantly.  Taking care of the mail immediately after opening, filing important documents, putting away items that I've finished using, etc.

2.  Evening Tidy Up- Before bed take 10 minutes to pick up the main living areas of the house.  This has cut down on the clutter that Kellan's toys create.  Before I leave the living room at night I put all of his toys and books in their designated baskets.  It definitely makes for a happier morning to walk out into a picked up living room rather than a toy strewn one.

3.  Pay special attention to "Dump areas."  These are areas of your house where clutter gets dumped.  In our house we have several of these:the mud room right where we walk in the door from the garage, the pool table, and the end of the kitchen counter.  I am trying to make a conscious effort to keep these places cleared because if they are clean, you are less likely to leave something there. This is a constant work in progress (especially if you are the only one working on it).

Organizing Tasks

1.  I started off by taking an entire car load of junk to Goodwill that I had cleaned out and put in the garage over the last year.  It sat there for an entire year with hopes of a garage sale or some other more productive ending but finally I just decided that it had to go.  It depressed me to look at the mess every time I pulled up in the car.  My husband has a difficult time getting rid of anything...if I wait on him to clean out anything we will be hoarders in the next few years.

I followed Ms. Rubin's advice on how she de-cluttered her NYC apartment.  Objects around your home that collect on surfaces need to be put away.  A "home" needs to be found for them or they need to be tossed.  

I LOVED her description of the types of clutter:
  • Nostalgic clutter- sentimental objects that you keep from an earlier life
  • Conservation clutter- useful objects...although they may not be useful to you (ten million coffee mugs in our case-WHY?!)
  • Bargain clutter-unnecessary objects that were purchased simply because they were a good deal
  • Crutch clutter-objects that you keep and use although they are not in good shape and should be replaced
  • Aspirational clutter- objects that you aspire to use but know that you never will (My husband's collection of books that he refuses to get rid of, never mind that he has never been a reader, including a copy of Dr. Phil's Love Smart: Find the One You Want, Fix the One You've Got...I'm not kidding...he WILL NOT let me get rid of it...maybe clutter is not my top worry?)
  • Buyer's remorse clutter- bad purchases that you just can't get rid of because you're still waiting on the time that you can validate buying them (a pair of gold pants that have been hanging in my closet for over 7+ years with the tags still on them...if I haven't found anything to wear with them in all of this time, lets face it, I never will)
2.  The first place I began to attack our clutter was in the kitchen.  I took everything out of our food pantry and threw out everything that was expired.  Our pantry is deep so objects end up getting pushed to the back and forgotten about.  Anything that did not belong got sorted into another pile to be dealt with later.  I organized items how they made sense to me since I am pretty much the sole grocery shopper and cook.  Instead of just pushing items onto the shelves, I spaced them out so that you can see exactly what is on each shelf.  It might sound crazy to someone that is already organized but my happiness points increased dramatically just in being able to tell whether we had sugar or not.  Just this one simple task has made making grocery lists much less frustrating and cooking much easier because I can clearly see where everything is.

And after :)
I even organized and alphabetized our spice drawer.  Maybe it seems extreme but I was always digging through the drawer looking for a particular spice and sometimes we bought extra because we didn't know we had it.  Now I know exactly what we have, where it is and what needs to go on the grocery list.

I also cleaned out every kitchen cabinet and drawer.  We have gone from 2 junk drawers to one semi-organized junk drawer.  All of our cooking utensils have a spot and are grouped.  The ones that I use the most are right beside the stove.  I consolidated all of our paper goods and put those in the bottom of the pantry to make the cabinets less cluttered.  I also organized and cleaned out the cabinet above the stove so that all of our cooking oils and sauces are in-date and easy to find.  I cleaned out the Rubbermaid/Tupperware drawer and threw out anything that did not have the container and lid (and I matched up the ones that did).  I organized and matched Kellan's cups and baby food making items.  Next I cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer and got rid of things that were out of date and/or were just not going to be used.

Just the kitchen alone took me over a week to organize.  I will cut myself some slack though because along with organizing, I cleaned everything.  I wiped down and cleaned the inside and outside of the pantry, cabinets, drawers, baseboards, microwave, refrigerator and freezer.  I even took down everything off of the top of the cabinets and dusted. I decided that it was too cluttery and I had never been happy with the way it looked so I left it empty for now.  Michael had a huge toy, remote control fire truck on top of the pantry.  I finally had to break it to him that it had to come down.  The only way I will put something back up there is if I find items that I love...not just something to fill the space.

3.  After I was satisfied with the kitchen I moved on to clean off the pool table which has become a catch-all for "projects," organize and arrange the new shelves and desk that Michael built for the living room, and rearrange the side board and dining room table.

This totally unnecessary second sectional used to be on the other side of our living room.  We needed to clean out one of the guest bedrooms to make it Kellan's new big boy room.  Michael's desk was in this room and "we" (I) decided that this extra piece of furniture had to go so that Michael's desk could be moved out into this hardly ever used corner.
And now in the same corner is Michael's newly built desk and 2 shelves. I moved all of his "fireman decor" and awards over to this area.  It is still way to cluttery for me but I plan to work on it over time.  At least it is all organized and confined to one area.  It is also a MUCH better use of this space.
I also hung these fire hats on the side of the fireplace to keep them from lying around and taking up too much space instead of being decorative.  The top one is Michael's old chief's helmet, another of his in the middle, and his grandfather's at the bottom.

4.  I also tried to simplify the dining room area.  I'm keeping my eye out for a new table and chairs because these were "inherited" and neither of us really like them...but like I said before, they are serving their purpose so I'm not going to just get rid of them.

5.  This was our living room before.  Nothing was wrong with it...just kind of plain...and the lamps didn't match...that drove me crazy.
The only real clutter problem was the magazine basket and loose remotes.  I cleaned out the magazines and added a basket to give the remotes a "home."  I had never really changed anything in this room after Michael and I got married and it was very neutral.  Michael loves wood (we have wood ceilings, wood trim, wood floors, wood everything) and neutral colors.  I love COLOR :)  So not to go too crazy but to make me happy, we bought a new rug from Garden Ridge, new lamp shades from Lowe's and I actually spray painted the lamp bases an oil rubbed bronze color vs. the silver that they were.  I also added three new pillows from Target and Marshall's.  Its not a total change but enough for me right now.
6.  I finally changed some things in the guest bathroom and added some family touches and took down decorations that scream I'm a 60 year old woman lives here that loves lighthouses (while both of us love to visit a good lighthouse, neither of us are 60 or lighthouse fanatics).  Luckily I had already cleaned out these drawers and cabinets some other time so that didn't need to be done (probably where the Goodwill load came from at the beginning of the month).

I added a chalkboard picture frame that we got for a wedding gift with a family photo and hung another wedding gift on the wall that is our wedding date written in Chinese.
I wrote a saying, found on Pinterest, that I love on the chalkboard frame...and its very fitting for a bathroom :)
Michael hung a picture that we found at TJ Maxx along with a couple more framed family photos.  The flower picture I had in one of the guest bedrooms and I moved it in here to replace the 24 year old lighthouse picture.
I love the saying on this canvas and it is more fitting for a family bathroom.
Kellan's bath time has taken over this side of the guest bathroom.  Since his turquoise bath toy basket is empty in this picture that means that they are all piled in the bathtub behind the curtain.
7.  For my next task I moved into our bathroom and cleaned out our cabinets and drawers.  We have a major organizational problem in this room.  We have way more towels than will fit in our cabinet designated for towels and wash cloths.  We also have many towels that need to be sent on their way in the form of cleaning cloths or garage towels.

This is the lovely sight that you see in our master bathroom (this room needs redecorating...leaves are not my thing...maybe one day).  No matter how clean and "straightened up" I try to keep this room, this is where extra clean towels end up.  It drives me crazy.  My solution is to use a Sharpie to mark the tags of towels that are not fit to be used for showering. As I use a towel or washcloth, when I come across one that has been worn out, I mark it so after it has been washed it won't make its way back into our bathroom.  The stack in our bathroom is slowly dwindling and hopefully this will also eliminate the problem of our towels looking like animals have been pawing around in them (in actuality it is us avoiding the "bad" towels, and digging for a "good" one).  The "bad" towels are going in a stack to use for around the house and another stack is going to the Grizzard Construction shop for them to use at work.
I also finally bought a shower organizer to go in our shower.  I will explain the big spray bottle and brush in another post.
Now our shower niche is not cluttered and everything actually has a place.
Michael was very against the hanging shower organizer but it totally annoyed me having stuff laying around on the shower floor. This is much better.
8.  After our bathroom was cleaned and organized, I moved into our bedroom.  A couple of years ago I finally convinced Michael to paint and I redecorated so nothing really needed to be done in that department.  Not that long ago I cleaned out my dresser and nightstand drawers, so that didn't need to be done either.  Michael's side of the room, dresser, and drawers is a complete other story.  But in another chapter of the book, Mrs. Rubin says that she quickly learned that this project was hers, she couldn't change anyone else, and she could only work on herself.

This is one statement that I have a very hard time with.  If I'm immediately going through MY mail but Michael isn't going through his and letting it accumulate...there is STILL clutter.  If I'm constantly picking up around the house and he is constantly taking his dirty shirts off and draping them over the work is pointless.  If I am putting away objects as soon as I'm finished with them and he isn't...his clutter is still there.  I straighten the pillows on the couch and they stay that way ALL day until he gets home.  He moves them all around and then gets up and goes to bed...hence my need for the "Evening Tidy Up."  This is a problem that I am currently dealing with because I feel as if I clean and pick up all day everyday but there are still objects laying around not in their place.  If anyone has any solutions to this I'm all ears because at the moment my 34 year old is making and leaving bigger messes than my 1 year old.  I could go on...this could be a whole post in itself.

9.  I also cleaned out smaller but just as important areas like my purse, diaper bag, and car.

10.  I started on my closet but it is proving difficult to clean out since I am pregnant.  I can't throw out clothes that don't fit and that I'm not wearing because right now NONE of them fit and I'm not wearing ANY of them.  I did manage to clean out one section of shelves (producing half a trash bag for Goodwill) and organize my scarves thanks to this really neat hanger that Kimberlee gave me for my birthday.  My closet will continue to be a work in progress.

Tackle a Nagging Task

For me, a lot of the nagging tasks were taking care of the problems I mentioned above like finally doing something about the shampoo bottles sitting on the shower floor and having to scour every shelf of the pantry to know whether we had an extra bottle of Ranch dressing or not.  So much of the tossing, restoring, and organizing tasks took care of my nagging list of things I needed to be doing.

However, there will always be plenty to do on a to-do list.  It seems as many items as you cross off, you add double that amount.  I have tried to implement another piece of Ms. Rubin's advice, "Sometimes the most difficult part of doing a task was just deciding to do it."  I am making an effort to mark some things off of the to-do list that have been ignored and keep getting transferred over to a fresh list.  The more I am able to mark off my list, the less drained I feel from dreading all of the things that I should be doing.  Being productive definitely gives me a happiness boost.

The good thing about this project is that even though I am starting on a new resolution this month, I will still keep the resolution from the previous month going.  And its a good thing because I'm not finished organizing.  I have a long list of areas that still need to be organized and cleaned.  Not to mention making another attempt at going to bed earlier and exercising.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Working and Lunch With Daddy

Our friends, Andy and Lexi, are building a house and Grizzard Construction just so happens to be their contractor and builder.  Ground was broken yesterday and it works out perfectly that Kellan has become obsessed with trucks and 'dozers recently.  His favorite book at the moment is Machines at Work and it is all about construction sites, construction equipment, and construction workers.  Isn't it funny how some things are just in your genes?  Kellan is only 17 months old so he has never spent any time on any of Michael's job sites.  He started walking at the end of fall so it has been too cold (and he was too wobbly) for him to really enjoy playing and watching daddy work up until now.  So even though Kellan's Great-Grandpa Grizzard, Papa Mike, and Daddy are all contractors, he hasn't had any real experience on the job sites or equipment.  This hasn't stopped him from being in love with tractors, hammers, trucks, and 'dozers.  He has carried around a little stuffed hammer ever since he first got it even though he's hardly ever even seen Michael with a hammer.  "Hammah" was even one of his first words.  He has a wooden one now that he uses to beat on everything around the house.

Michael asked me to bring Kellan out to Andy and Lexi's house site because he would be using the big equipment to dig their foundation.  Kellan loved riding with daddy.

Helping daddy dig with the excavator.

Walking to the bulldozer.

Riding the 'dozer.

It didn't take Kellan long to find the horn button.  He blew the horn until it timed out...then started blowing it again.

We decided to watch daddy for a little while before he took a lunch break.  Of course Kellan found the closest dirt pile.

When we left he cried for the "'Dozer?! Wide? K?! 'Dozer, WIDE, K?!"

This store is actually called Weeks Market but around here its called the Purdy Store or the Purdy Mall.  I've heard lots of people talk about eating lunch or breakfast here but I had never been.  It sits right on the Jarratt/Emporia line but is located in a community called Purdy.  I think their menu changes from time to time but today they had hot dogs, chicken salad, barbeque, bologna and cheese, grilled cheese, and chicken sandwiches.  It is also kind of a mini-general store.

Kellan thoroughly enjoyed his grilled cheese.  So much that we had to order him another one!  He kept calling for CHEESE!  By the time we left we had ordered 3 grilled cheeses, 2 chicken salad sandwiches, a hot dog, two sweet teas, a bottled water and a Hersey's bar :)
Michael will be working on this house through the summer and fall so we will have to make some more trips to Purdy to meet him for lunch and play at the construction site.