Monday, May 25, 2015

Getting Settled Back Into our Same Ol' House

To say that we got a lot done this weekend is a massive understatement. We had virtually nothing planned for the 3-day holiday weekend and I was thrilled. Equally relieved to have a little downtime and excited to tackle some projects around the house.

Over the past few months, as our potential cross-country move lingered in the air, the to-do list grew and grew. After Christmas, I spent so much time decluttering to prepare the house to be on the market, all other tasks fell by the wayside. It just seemed silly to organize anything, when I knew I would just be packing it up and moving as soon as the house sold, so closets and cabinets slowly turned into one disaster after another.

The garage was so crammed with empty boxes (and some that I'd already started packing) that Mike has had to park outside for months. It became our dumping ground for keeping the house realtor-ready and it was a nightmare! 

Since taking the house off the market, the empty boxes are gone, but I still hadn't unpacked anything. Until this weekend, that is. I suddenly had to make space for things that I've been doing without…beach towels, 3 large boxes of personal pictures, board games, etc.

I started this weekend with a very long list of things in my head. Tasks that seemed daunting, but I wanted them done. I figured that if we had gone through with the move to Dallas, we would have had pictures to hang, curtains to put up, furniture to arrange, closets to organize, and plenty of boxes to unpack. 

We are no longer moving, so finishing up the loose-ends around the house seemed doable. We needed to settle back into our home again. 

Saturday morning, I went to breakfast with some friends while Mike played baseball at the park with the kids. We relaxed when I came home, then I started asking favors. "Let's move Jason's bed into his new room" and "I wonder how long it would take to fix Ryan's dresser drawer?" Before long, Ryan and Mike were working upstairs while I tackled tasks downstairs. 

After church on Sunday, we went to Lowe's with a list. Jason awoke at 5:30am with the rising sun in his new yellow room. He desperately needed shades on his windows!  And while we were there, I wanted to gram rods to hang my bathroom curtains…and the laundry room lightbulb was out…as were lights in other parts of the house…and Kaylin wants to paint her room…we were there for more than an hour. When we got home, we had plenty to keep us busy! Then the projects continued today. 

Here are a few before and after pictures of work we did…
Before: The old playroom (new schoolroom) closet
After: The new schoolroom closet
Before: The shoe/utility/outdoor closet 
After: Some shoes still on the door (moved the rest to their bedrooms) and games/hobbies/crafts
Before: The upstairs schoolroom
Afte: Jason's new room (the lighting in both pictures is horrible!)
Before: The old schoolroom closet (it had become a hiding space for junk when people were coming to see the house)
After: Jason's new closet
We got so much done this weekend! The garage is cleaner than it's ever been. We brought donations to Good Will, I made appointments for a guy to come fix my windshield next week and for someone else to give us a quote on new garage cabinets, Mike fixed a cabinet door that Jason's been using as a step stool, all of the boxed I had packed are now empty and given away. I still have many pictures yet to hang, but I'm considering completely changing how I have displayed pictures in the past…so that might take another couple of weeks.
Our weekend wasn't all work and no play. We went to the movies, went to lunch after church on Sunday, Mike played baseball and basketball with the kids, we played Go Fish and Memory and baked cookies, we had sleepovers with the kids complete with pillow fights. Kaylin even painted a canvas for her new room.
It was a full weekend…tons accomplished mixed with plenty of fun activities. We will finish up school this week and take the month of June off before jumping into our new school year after the 4th of July weekend. 

During our short break from school, I think we're going to repaint Kaylin's room and give her a bigger girl theme. I'll finish decorating Jason's new room, maybe hang some pictures in Ryan's room. I'll have plenty to keep me busy!
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Reduce Summer Stress with a Daily LIST

I love getting random ideas that help my family!  Last night, I was watching a new show on TLC, when I heard the dad tell his kids to "make a list". They had things to do and, instead of telling them what to do or making the list for them, he had THEM make their OWN list. He approved it, sent them on their way, then told the camera that he, "...loves being the 'Yes Man'" and just wants to be the rubber stamper. No micromanaging? No begging, bribing, or nagging? Genius!

This morning, I tried it on my kids. I took Jason to run errands and left the big kids at home to do their chores and get started on their schoolwork. Before I left, I had them make a list.

I learned from this dad that "clean the kitchen" wasn't specific enough, so I forewarned them that they'd need to include details like, "Load the dishwasher, wipe counters, vacuum under the table", etc.

By making their own list, I believe my kids will learn responsibility, independence and (hopefully) won't be as resentful for the work they're given. 

After I got home, almost everything was done and my kids were beaming with pride. By making a daily list, I really think they'll learn to have a sense of accomplishment after each item is crossed off and an end to the work, instead of constantly having to check in with me or, worse, feeling micromanaged and nagged after every little task.

With everyone getting out of school this month, I think this list thing is going to be the way to go in our family. We're only taking a month off of homeschooling, not the whole summer, so the kids can know that they will need to make a list and get it all done before playing with friends. And maybe this will keep the doorbell from ringing at 8:15am for weeks on end while we're trying to tackle spelling words!
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Friday, April 24, 2015

Fun & Games

So much has happened in the past month, it's too much to write about, so I'll share in pictures. Is that okay with you? We have a big announcement to share, too, but I'm going to wait until I have more time to write to post about that. So stay tuned. 

In the meantime…

Mike took the kids to a Spring Training Game
Kaylin made the decision to be baptized
I made the kids a pan of Brown E's for April Fool's Day
I was promoted in Tastefully Simple and got flowers from the CEO
Easter happened…there was eggs and candy.  We celebrated Jesus, a good time was had by all.
Mike and I went on a free Caribbean cruise - a trip I earned through Tastefully Simple, of course.
Mike stole my hat. And a friend had her iPhone in the middle of the ocean, making me very nervous, but we got some fun pictures.
I got braids in the Bahamas, Mon.
I visited my HQ in Minnesota again…it snowed! Just a little, but I got to see it!!! 
I instituted a new rule: Ryan and Kaylin are each picking one recipe a week to make the family for dinner. Ryan's first meal was Beef Enchiladas and they were delicious!
Jason had a half birthday.
That's all for now…come back in a few days and I'll have more fun news.
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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Revisiting #7…

Don't remember #7 of my 101 in 1001 list? Let me remind you: "Have another baby or totally come to terms with the fact that we are complete as a family of five."  

Very recently, for about a week, I was convinced I was pregnant. Not only was I VERY late (and I'm never more than a day late), but I had zero additional symptoms and, oddly enough, everything tasted like metal for a few days. Mike began calling me, "Preggo" and becoming extremely overprotective. With the pending move to Dallas, the timing definitely would not have been ideal, but once I discovered that I was NOT pregnant, suddenly Mike and I both realized that this "scare" didn't scare us at all. 

I'm getting older…officially "advanced maternal age"…but my ovaries aren't dried up just yet. My clock is ticking, but it hasn't stopped. Should we? Shouldn't we? This isn't something we'll seriously consider until we know when (or IF at this point…since our stupid house isn't selling) we are moving to Dallas. 

Jason is older and a much more responsible, consistent little boy. Kaylin still desperately wants a baby sister. I found a letter to God last year, promising to teach her baby sister to "not be rough like her brothers". It was just so stinkin' sweet.

I'm not open to opinions (because everyone will have them, I'm sure - "DO IT!" or "What are you, crazy?" - I'm not interested in the feedback that sways in one extreme direction or another), but this blog is my place to journal, so that's what I'm doing. Writing through what I'm going through and what's a hot topic in our life right now. 

So I guess this topic is to be continued…!
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Sunday, March 29, 2015

#98 - Go to a firing range and shoot a gun

This was clearly an afterthought for my 101 Goals in 1001 Days list, but #98 is complete!

One of my clients told me about the FREE Arizona Game and Fish Expo this weekend and we decided to take the kids today. They each caught at least one fish (Jason and Kaylin each caught two…they were thrilled, especially since it was their first time), all of us who were 8 and over learned archery and all of us 10 and over learned to load and shoot a 22 rifle. 
Jason was super sad that he couldn't shoot a gun, until we found a BB gun firing range. He heard the targets plinking away and even knocked a few down. Kaylin was talked into giving it a try, too, then Ryan went up and knocked all five targets over in six quick shots. He now wants to save up for a BB gun. Lovely.   
It was 90 degrees and the sun was shining. I brought 48oz of water and it disappeared within the first hour. I bought 3 bottles of 24oz each, those disappeared in the next hour. We finished off the afternoon buying 3 final bottles of water and and they barely lasted us the rest of our time there. 

Jason was so worn out that he fell asleep on the ride home, the big kids begged to jump in the freezing pool, and I was so dusty and sweaty, I couldn't wait to take a shower. I love taking the kids to fun events like this, but if I'm being honest, after a few hours, I love going home even more. 
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Sunday, March 8, 2015

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Our house has been on the market for almost 7 weeks. And here we sit…patiently waiting. Sometimes not so patiently.

It's tough for several reasons:

1. Ripping the Band-Aid off something painful, like a huge cross-country move, would be much easier if it was quick and easy. Dragging out this process of relocating is making it that much harder for everyone, in my opinion. 

2. We begin to doubt our decisions. Is the house not selling because we made the wrong choice? Should we pull it off the market and rent it instead? Should we drop the price and take a huge hit financially? Is there something wrong with our house that is turning people off? We love our house - why don't others love it, too!?!

3. Should we start packing or just wait? Because, as it is, our third stall garage is filled to the hilt with empty boxes. If we attempt to being FILLING those boxes, we won't be able to fit either car in the garage. Then what happens if the house doesn't sell and Mike's company says, "Too bad, so sad"??? I certainly wouldn't want to UNpack everything we own!

4. Every conversation revolves around our move. With anyone and everyone. Friends, neighbors, acquaintances, people we run into at the gym and the grocery store the mailbox and church and Target. "So…how are things going with the move…?" It's an easy conversation starter for others and we are constantly reminded that there has been no movement in our situation.

5. We're on pins and needles knowing that the house has to be ready to show at a moment's notice. I've been in the middle of making dinner and a realtor called asking if he could come by with clients within the hour. In a split second, we need to decide whether to we rush through dinner or stop everything and go out to eat.

6. Speaking of "ready to show," the house has to look like a model home all. the. time. As you can imagine, this is fairly stressful with small kids, even more because we homeschool and are home all day long. We do a LOT of life within these walls from 6am-10pm, yet it's supposed to look un-lived-in all the time? It's an interesting balance.
It took a few weeks to get everyone in the habit of picking up anything and everything as it is used throughout the day. We aren't perfect, but we've gotten it down to being able to tidy up in about 30 minutes and get out the door if people want to walk through. 

The funny thing is that I have traditionally blamed the mess and chaos on my appropriately nicknamed Destructo-boy, Jason. Turns out, he's only one of three males in the house that don't pick up after themselves. As it turns out, Ryan and Mike also leave a trail wherever they go! Sometimes they do put things away, but it turns out that my 10 year old was even worse than my 5 year old. How had I not noticed this before???

But it's better now. And, as much as I hate to admit it, being on the edge of our seats and ready to show our house all day, every day has even resulted in me having better habits. Instead of leaving the last few dishes in the sink until tomorrow, I spend 5 minutes washing them. Instead of blowing off the most recent load of laundry, I hurry to fold the clothes and put them away. I'm more diligent about reminding the kids to put away their toys and activities before meals and bedtime and especially before leaving the house, instead of letting it pile up, little by little, until it's an hour-long project and everyone is angry and resentful. Paper piles don't exist. We no longer have a junk counter. Counters and floor are clear. It's…actually quite fantastic!

Tonight, as I was putting away stray shoes and finding homes for coupons and random paperwork, I came to the realization that it brings me peace to have my home neurotically picked up all of the time. It's not so bad having the excuse that "it needs to be ready to show at a moment's notice" to get everyone on board with picking up after themselves. Including me! 

Life has given us the "lemon" of being in limbo with our relocation, but I'm choosing to see the bright side. We've developed some good habits and my house looks amazing most of the time! And I no longer procrastinate housework. Or organizing. Or anything else seemingly minor that needs to be done. 

I wonder if I can keep this up in our new house in Dallas…???
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Thursday, March 5, 2015

#18 - Make a snowman with the kids

Until yesterday, my poor children had never built a snowman. Ryan is almost 11 years old!!!  What is the matter with his mother?!?!

This item was #46 on my first 101 in 1001 list and I had to cheat and build a sandman because my 1001st day was in September and there was NO SNOW to be had. 

I added it to my most recent 101 in 1001 list knowing that for SURE we'd make it up to play in the snow and build a snowman, but when we went up to go sledding, the snow had melted a bit, then refroze and it was great for sledding, but not fresh enough to build a snowman. 

Then this past weekend in Phoenix, it rained. And rained and rained and rained, which meant it was snowing in the mountains two hours north of our house. With Mike out of town in Dallas, I decided it was time to put on my big girl boots and take my kids on their very first road trip with just Mom. You see, I don't love driving…that's Mike's thing. I packed up the car with winter attire and snacks and we hit the road.
I made this sacrifice realizing that, once we move to Dallas, who knows if they'll be able to sled. (For the record, it actually DID snow in Dallas while Mike was there this week. How's that for irony?)

We hit the road mid-morning, ate lunch in the car, pulled over on a random dirt road, geared up, and set out to do some sledding. 
Poor Kaylin wasn't feeling 100%. She woke up with a sore throat, but she was a trooper. After resting in the van for the ride home, I took her to the doctor, only to be told that I needed to give her Motrin for the throat pain and have her gargle with salt water. Going to the doctor always ends up being a waste of time for us…I'm not sure why I even bother!  Her sore throat didn't keep her from playing for a bit before retreating to the van to relax and watch from afar.
Ryan's first step into the snow was not a frozen block of ice, like he thought, but a muddy, icy puddle nearly 12 inches deep. He flipped out, furious that his shoe and sock were drenched and freezing, then he stood by and watched us build the snowman without him, until he couldn't take it anymore and he decided to join in on the fun. 
Ryan and Jason braved the "puddly" side of the street, where the hills were steeper to sled, but on their way back to the road, Jason fell into the deep ice puddle - not once but twice - and he was covered in mud from his chest to his toes! That was the end of our snowy journey, he was done. A sobbing, cold, wet, furious mess. Thankfully, I bought him dry pants and socks to change into for the ride home. I had a feeling all of our jeans would be a soggy mess, so I planned ahead. 
All in all, I'm really glad we went. Four hours of driving for a quick hour of snow fun, but I wanted to make this memory with them. Hopefully, it won't be another two years before we see snow!
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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

#50 - Teach Kaylin to curl her own hair

We have a little neighbor girl who is going to be a cosmetologist someday, guaranteed. She's constantly doing everyone's hair and make up in the neighborhood and she is GOOD!  

She's gotten her hands on Kaylin a few times and peaked Kaylin's interest in using a curling iron, so I took this opportunity to cross #50 off my list of 101 Goals in 1001 Days.

I forgot to blog about it (you can see the Santa soap dispenser, so it was a while ago) and she's still far from a pro, but for now, she knows how to get by without burning her fingerprints off. 
How adorable is my sweet girl!?!?
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