“One Year,” Priorities, and Introduction

I confess that I’ve lost some momentum this week with my One Year to an Organized Life plan. It was finals time at one of the schools I teach for and that makes for some crazy long days, very little sleep and some truly dreadful eating habits.

The good news is that grades were turned in yesterday but weren’t due until 11:59p CT tonight, so I’m early. Or, put differently, I didn’t procrastinate, which was one of the things I was supposed to be working on in the one year plan. The other good news is that the bathrooms were the target area for this month. P and I had already done a major bathroom clear out a few months ago — before Katie was born. We chose to do this because we wanted to make room for newborn diapers and all that fun stuff for the time period where she would be sleeping in our room. She didn’t sleep in there with us for too long. Maybe six weeks, and then she moved to her crib and has been happy sleeping there ever since.

I guess I’m fortunate that the procrastination thing and the bathrooms fell where they did so that I could finish strong with the course I was teaching and really work on not procrastinating my way through my work. Normally, at this time, I would be grading like a crazed woman fueled on terrible food and enough caffeine to light up a small country. I did do the bad food and caffeine but I managed to finish faster, so it all worked out well for me and I’m pleased with that.

I’ve decided to take a break from the school that just finished for a bit. I’m not as strong as I would like to be and I feel like I can’t give the students everything that they deserve right now, so I’m just not going to teach there until I feel like I can do that. It’s what’s best for me and best for the students even if it’s not necessarily best for my bank account.

I’m thinking again about doing more writing, so we may see an upsurge in talk about fiction and such things. Then again, we may not. I’m more than willing to admit that I haven’t been feeling like writing and that I need to get myself back together on that.

Having said that, I’m going to go back to staring at my beautiful daughter as she works on forward motion and getting tired enough to go to sleep.

Oh, I’ve added a couple of blogs to my blog roll, most notably, Momsomniac. She dropped by here about a week ago, we got to talking, I read her blog; she read mine, and I think she’s good people and worth the read. If you’re stopping by here to read me, you should definitely wander on over and take a look at her, too.

One Year — April Week 1

This was another brain week for me. First, I needed to confront the reasons why I procrastinate. I suppose it is vaguely amusing that I chose to procrastinate on answering those questions. I know that I procrastinate. I’m good at it and it’s something of a talent and a skill for me. I want to be more structured and procrastinate less, but I’ve always had trouble figuring out how to get around that. I’m hoping that this month will help cure me of this.

I do know that I procrastinate, mostly, because of the “high” I get when I finish something right before a deadline. I guess I’m something of an adrenaline junkie. I don’t miss deadlines, but I have been known to come very close with them sometimes. It’s important to me that I lose the reputation for getting things done at the last minute. I would like to be more successful at getting things done before the deadline and not have to sweat it at the last minute.

On the other side of the coin, the home side, I’ve been thinking about how I tell the story of my life . . . or how I don’t tell it. I’m, surprisingly, a very private person when it comes to the difficulties I’ve had or the challenges that I’ve faced. I don’t talk about them much as I don’t think they’re that interesting or I don’t want people to see me differently. Plus, it would break up some of the mythology that I’ve created and would make me have to face things that I honestly would rather not.

However, being that I don’t want to recreate that family structure for my children and that I don’t want my later years to be full of regret for the things I didn’t do because I was afraid to try, I’m going to have to begin to believe that I am braver than I think I am and that I can have faith that things are going to work out for the best.

It also means, for me, that I have to redefine what family means for me and how I think about it.

I’m also supposed to be creating new affirmations for myself that will help me, but I’m not sure that I’m in a place right now that I can do that. I’m going to have to think about this part of the process and consider whether it’s going to work for me or not. Right now, I think not.

“One Year” — March 2009 recap

Okay, so this is a recap of the March efforts which were on paperwork and the office as a general thing. Unfortunately, March is also when I started having more health problems, so I didn’t get as much done with this as I would have liked. However, I do have a fairly clear desk, an organized filing drawer and a lovely system for organizing Ben’s homeschool materials (Core Knowledge stuff). We’ll have to move to a different system later, but for now this works for us. We have more control over the paper inflow and outflow in the house, and with very little difficulty I think I could lay hands on any of P’s paperwork if I needed to (particularly if I didn’t have to fear his wrath for messing with his desk).

April is bathroom and time-wasting habits month. This should prove interesting as our bathrooms are, well, already fairly well organized and work fairly well for us. I’m taking this as a sign that I should split my focus between my office and my bathrooms. Also, continue working on the removal of things that we’ve earmarked for removal. As I’ve said before, the biggest issue there is P’s difficulty with letting things go. As for time-wasting habits, this is definitely something I need to work on. I have to be more productive with my work related efforts so that I can pursue my other activities (including Ben’s activities — he wants swim lessons, desperately, but not quite desperately enough to use the potty — yet). So, I will be reviewing the material on these two areas this week and getting to work.

It’s April; it’s actual springy weather in Florida; it’s almost Easter. All reasons to recommit myself to this project.

One thing we did get done in the last week is finally hanging our pictures in the front hall. I had this vision for a long time of a wall of pictures, and I finally managed to get off my butt last Friday and hang the pictures. Top row is a picture of Ben with the blanket his godmother made him, a family portrait, and a picture of Katie with the blanket her godmother made her (all I can say is, I know how to pick supremely talented godmothers). The next row is a picture of Sam, a picture of Ben, a picture of Peyton, and there will be a picture of Katie. P moved the frames out of Katie’s bedroom and, well, we have to find them. Katie’s picture is sitting on the counter waiting. The nail is already there. So, I’m on it. The second row is birthday pictures. I take a picture (or have pictures taken) on birthdays. So Sam’s is very new and she’s very grey. Ben’s is his 3 year old picture. Peyton’s is her three year old picture. Katie’s will be her Gene Simmons impression picture because it makes me laugh and she’s not a year old yet :).

So, progress is being made and I”m pleased with how the house is coming together and how my children are developing. Now, if Peyton would walk NICELY on a leash, we’d be all set :).

One Year — March 2009

So, I’ve been sick, but I have made some progress in the office and with paperwork. I managed to clean out the main file drawer and the main filing cabinet in the office. Most of the files are things I can’t get rid of due to school requirements, but they are things that can be less accessible at this point.

I have created a folder for Ben’s preK materials and divided things for five days, since he tends to want to ‘tivity sheets five days a week. He doesn’t always take his breaks on weekends, but it works for us. The office is a work in progress and will likely need to be revisited this year. I’m thinking that I will go back to it when we hit moving month since I’m not moving in the foreseeable future.

I’ve moved some things around and I’m still trying to figure out the best configuration for my school books and for what will be Ben’s school materials. We’ve pretty much settled that we’re going to home school. At this point, I think we’re looking at prepackaged curriculum. While I’m confident in my ability to teach, I need something to help me focus what I’m doing. We’re not sure what we’re going with, but we know we need to set aside space for his materials and work in the house — somewhere. It’s going to be very interesting, I think.

The month of April will bring a focus on the bathrooms. I’m looking forward to tackling the two bathrooms, but I’ll likely also be working on the office as part of my continuing effort to improve the space I work in.

One Year — Week 8 (or Week 4 of February, depending how you count)

This turned out somewhat better than I expected, though the work side of One Year got something of a short shrift this month. The bedroom looks about 10,000 times better and there’s very little hiding in there anymore.

As I reported last week, we bought new bedding and we have continued working on editing the room and taking out things that don’t belong. The one eyesore that remains is the sewing desk. It’s a challenge to get that one organized properly, and were it not for Katie, it wouldn’t be in this room.

It’s something to continue to work on and see if I can’t make it something that doesn’t offend the sight of certain male members of my household. We are, overall, pleased with the massive improvement in the bedroom. Even P says it looks great and that he’s happy to see how well it has turned out. He has removed the chair we plan to get rid of, so there’s a lot more space in the corner than there used to be. We’re all happier about that.

The coming month is all about the office. We have a lot of work still to do in here and it’s going to take every bit of March to get this organized, straightened, and decluttered. P is going to help, but a lot of this is my responsibility and my stuff. I’ll be talking more about this process in the coming weeks. One would think that working online would mean less paper, but one would be wrong :).

One Year — Week 7

So, this was an interesting week where I continued to work to clarify my dreams and where I want to go with my life. I also worked more on cleaning out the closets and purchased new linens for our bed.

What I’ve figured out is that I’ve always wanted to be a writer of some stripe or another and that teaching has been a way for me to practice my skills and develop what I know into something. I enjoy taking pictures and telling the story that goes with the picture. I love to work on recipes, quilts, and knitting. These are the things I get excited about and enjoy sharing with my family and friends. So, somehow, I need to piece together a life out of that. Not sure how I’m going to do that, but do that I will.

I did the closet purge part two this week as well. I did one pass on it while I was pregnant. A “get rid of the maternity clothes” pass on it when I was out of maternity clothes a few weeks ago. This time it was a realism check. There were things in my closet that I bought in high school. Except for one 80s shirt that I keep precisely because it is an 80s shirt, and when they do 80s days at places I frequent I can wear it and know it’s authentic (or now, my daughter can wear it if she wants), so that stayed. My rather bizarre collection of formal wear stayed even though I have nowhere to wear any of it. But, lots of stuff did go.

I found new bedding at Kohls this week. We decided to go with something that is a bit more modern than our sensibilities would tend to indicate we are. I mean I have a pencil post bed with a canopy for heaven’s sake (though the canopy is not on it at the moment). It has a bedskirt, a comforter and two pillow shams. This set to be precise. I think it’s an interesting change from what we were using and is a good replacement for the sets we bought when we first got married.

This week was working on the desk and associated space. At one point it looked pretty good, but the last 24 hours have been a whirlwind of work, so there are a number of things on the surface right now that usually aren’t on the surface. That will get taken care of today. One of the things that I do need to work on is setting up a space by my desk for books related to my job. It’s far easier to access them if I just have to roll to them rather than getting up and walking across the room.

The upcoming week will see me doing more organizing and more decluttering in both spaces. I’m also hoping to eliminate the stuff from the kitchen that we identified, but haven’t managed to part with. It causes P stress, so we’re easing into it rather than just making the huge changes right out of the gate. He’s agreed in principle with most everything I’ve decided to get rid of. A few things we’ve negotiated delays on, so we’ll see what happens with them as the weeks go by.

One Year — Weeks 5 and 6

So, two weeks from each book combined into one. It’s been interesting. We determined, as I asked P the questions from the bedroom book that we basically hate everything about our bedroom except the night tables, the lamps on the night tables, and the bed. Sigh. We agreed that one change we can make this month is to buy new bedding that is more modern than what we’ve been using. Honestly, we don’t generally use true “bedding.” Right now, we have a throw for each of us stretched out on the bed. We also did more work on cleaning out the closet. I’m not finished, but three more bags of stuff disappeared. I admit that I am a bit of a hoarder in that I cannot make myself get rid of things that I might use and when family cast off things, I tend to be the one who takes them. However, I’m not doing that anymore.

We redid the office right before we had Katie. So, I’m pleased with the office and the way it looks right now. I do have to work on my files and my organization in my drawers, but the office itself is functional and works for multiple purposes and people. The goal has been for this office to be a homework space for kids, a work space for us, and a relaxing space when one of us is working and the other isn’t. I suspect this would be a formal dining room for any other couple, but an office makes more sense for us and works better for us.

I still have a bunch of drawer clearing to do, but I think I’m in pretty good shape there. Or I would be if I didn’t have two sets of drawers. My grandmother’s desk has a ton of stuff in it and my work desk also has a lot of stuff that isn’t currently well organized. It’s something to work on for the next couple of weeks. I’m not stressing the office too much because it gets another four weeks in March.

So far, this is working really well for me and I’m pleased, overall, with the results. So is P. He’s pleased because it doesn’t stress me particularly much and everything looks good and inviting as I go.

One Year — Week 4

We have come to the end of the first month of my One Year plan. So far, I think it’s going reasonably well. We have to do the actual clear out in the kitchen, but we know what’s going and know where it’s going. It’s simply a matter of pulling the stuff out. I know that’s going to take most of a day to do, but I’m not worried about getting it done.

I’ve done a small revamp on my morning routine to see if it helps me get things done more easily. Overall, though, I didn’t find it in need of a great deal of change. Revisit me in September when Ben might be starting school (depending who wins the discussion about it), and I’ll likely be doing some major revision on my routines at that point.

The biggest thing to me is the little things that I’ve been doing. I set myself the goal of cleaning up the kitchen counters, making sure the dishes are clean, and making the bed. I managed all three of those all month and now it’s just about rote. I don’t forget to do it; I just do it. That alone has been worth it this month.

The one area I needed to work on more was walking away from my work for a few minutes each hour. I have to make myself do this and I really need to concentrate on it.

In addition to those habits, in February, I’m working on putting my clothes away (and yes, this is STILL an issue with me), drinking water, and Leeds’ bathroom habit of checking my towel and wiping off my counter. Instead of the last part though, I’m adding in my own and that is scooping the yard after the girls. Technically not my bathroom, but they deserve a clean area and Ben likes to play in that yard :).

February is master bedroom month in one year, and believe me the master bedroom needs some work. It’s also reclaim the office month for the work side which should be interesting since I have recently gained office furniture and time to work with it.

So far, I’m really pleased with the way things are going and I’m grateful for the weekly structure idea that Leeds’ offers.

One Year — Week 3

This is a really brief post to say that I got a little behind with week 3 due to being sick. Yes, again. I did do some planning and preparation for reorganizing my kitchen in week 4 (aka now). The cool thing is that Phil had already tackled a lot with this area, so now it’s just further elimination and attempts at organizing what’s there, which won’t be too painful. I have post-it notes on all of the cabinets identifying what I want to get rid of and Phil has agreed, in principle to “go for it.” Now I just need to weed things out and make it work better for us. One area at a time for the rest of the week is my plan.

The calendar thing I already have down. I have a three pronged calendar system. Everything for all of us goes on a wall calendar. This has things like the doctors’ appointments, vet appointments, birthdays, major work schedule information, and so forth. I also keep all of that information plus any school information that the family doesn’t need in iCal on my laptop, which syncs with my Touch. So, all of that information is readily available to me.

For our wall calendar we use FlyLady’s Wall Calendar. The boxes are huge and give us plenty of space to record information for all of us. I love it and buy one every year since she started producing them. I can’t say enough good things about this calendar.

One Year — Week 2

This was another brain week. Part of it was about developing and refining routines. I already have routines that I developed after my near-death experience to help me stay on track during the day. Those early days were scary for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that I would forget things very easily and, at least, once fed Sam twice and Peyton not at all. Poor thing.

But, now that I”m doing better, I needed to refine and redesign those routines, so I concentrated on that. Everybody (except Phil) has routines around here. Even Katie. We do the same things in the same order every time, and that makes it a routine. Ben works from the get up, eat breakfast, get dressed routine. He does activity sheets after he gets dressed and then he plays. Lots of play. And, to him, the activity sheets are all fun, so it works out just fine.

My routine in the morning is a bit more hectic, but it works. And everyone gets fed, dressed, pottied, etc. We are getting disrupted a bit right now as Ben is starting to work on potty training, but it still works in principle.

I borrowed the basic rhythm of my routines from FlyLady, but the content is strictly me and my online/personal stuff. Every routine has a mix of work and home activities in it, and it seems to work for me.


Early Afternoon Routine

Change Katie’s diaper
Feed Katie
Fix Ben’s lunch
Eat lunch
Pick toys for Quiet Time
Set TV to music channel
Take a rest period
Work on One Year

The other thing I did this week was try to figure out where I want to go with my career and set some goals to achieve that. This was a bit more of a struggle for me because I have so many different things pulling at me and I don’t know, for sure, what I want to do with the rest of my life. There I things that I truly love about teaching: interacting with students, helping them see what they can already do (but don’t realize that they can do), and helping them develop new skills. But there are also things that I hate: grading, the sense of entitlement that some students seem to have — this is not a new problem, I remember when I was a GTA having at least one student a term tell me that s/he paid my salary so I worked for them. I was in a unique position of being paid from a grant, so that wasn’t actually true. Anyway, there’s a lot there that I need to think about and figure out how to make a workable life with — one that honors who I want to be while at the same time uses the talents that I have.

It’s interesting to be thinking this way instead of thinking about the fact that I spent ten years putting that degree at the end of my name so I have to use it. Kind of liberating, but also kind of weird.