Saturday, February 2, 2008

Call me

a slob, a SHE, a messie. There are many names for my condition. I consider myself a recovering clutterholic. With my family, a busy life and a full house, I have a lot of stuff that moves into my life.

About 24 years ago, while I was a new mother, wife and homemaker, I came face to face with the truth that I don't like to live in a mess. I was under the cleaning impression that when it gets dirty, you clean it. So I would jump from area to area trying to clean up as things got undone or cluttered. I did not have a routine of any kind, although I already had lists. The problem with lists was that I would write down what I thought I needed to do, would deal with things on the list, but would get sidetracked over and over again. I often would have three or four cleaning or organizing projects going at once. Sometimes I would not get something onto the list until it was really in need of help. Having a young child and my own home often felt overwhelming. I also played ball, read a lot and worked on all kinds of craft projects. That just added to my challenges. When said son was about ten months old I came across a book called
The Sided Tracked Home Executive; From Pigpen to Paradise. The authors call themselves the Slob Sisters and they coined the SHE (Sidetracked Home Executives) label.

I read the book and, after a quick trip to Wal-Mart, started my new filing system of index cards that very week. It was winter and by the following autumn I was often getting side tracked from my file box. I had gone back to work and found even more to do with less time now to get it done. I would get the box in order once a week and by the end of the week would have fallen behind. Again I would shuffle my cards and lose my place as I would go to work and come home and deal with an active toddler. I started to see that in order to get things done, I would have to get a mind set on what I needed to do at home when leaving work, so by the following spring I started carrying the day's cards in a vinyl envelope in my purse. Each evening, I would file the finished (and sometimes unfinished) cards back into the box and then pull out the cards for the following day. I fell off the wagon a few times, misplaced my portable envelope a few times, but overall this seemed to work for me. I would save the big jobs for days I had off work, and tried to work around other plans that would come up. There were many days I would refile cards that were undone, but I kept plugging along. I know without that system, I would have really been without direction.

Fast forward ten years. I was now the mother of three and both working full time and taking a full load of classes working on finishing my requirements for a teaching degree. Again I was struggling with my cards as my time to devote to my home had dwindled. I had already added many more cards to my box. Ones that were needed to keep my kids feed, wearing clean clothes, and to school on time with what they needed. Other cards were added that included things I needed to do for school. I was still pulling cards from the box each evening and had developed the ideas of putting a punch hole in the corner of each card. I would clip a metal ring through the punch holes of the day's cards. I tried to have them in the order they needed to be done. There were just too many of them. I used my cards throughout the day to keep me focused.

Just a year before, I had gone to a special workshop offered by my college counselor's office that was called "Getting It All Done". After hearing my situation, the counselor that was giving the workshop advised me to either quit school, quit work, or quit sleeping. The latter was her biggest recommendation. She bragged about sleeping only four or five nights a week for two or three hours a night when she had gone to school. I left that workshop frustrated since I really couldn't give up any of these. I had to work, I needed to go to school and I couldn't do either, let alone take care of my kids, if I didn't get some sleep. I would stay up into the wee hours when I had a paper or project due, which was often enough. Those were still the days when a typewriter was my only tool at home, and so if I made any errors, I needed to catch it before it rolled off the bar of the typewriter, or it would have to be completely redone. There was no spell check, and my editors were my older sister and a friend at work. The reality was I was not getting everything done.

It was at this point in my life that I discovered that the Slob Sisters, Pam Young and Peggy Jones, had written a new book, Get Your Act Together: A 7 Day Get-Organized Program for the Overworked, Overbooked, and Overwhelmed. Again, my sanity was saved. I was introduced to the idea of routines. Instead of having one card for each to-do, which for me was rather tedious and sometimes got me sidetracked between related jobs, I now had a card with a group of tasks that were done at the same time. This is also the time that I started organizing photos into shoe boxes, started keeping items close to where they were used and keeping like items in one place, and got serious about making my kids a part of the plan(thanks Pam and Peggy). In the next couple of years, my job changed, I was out of school as a student, and I bought my first home computer. I got on-line as soon as it was possible in my area, and started visiting message boards that were meeting places for SHE's. This is where I came across three other very influential people in my organized life.

The first I found on the SHE boards and later by joining a group that dealt with The 21 Essays. The on-line group would work through one of the 21 essays each week. Cynthia Townley Ewer is the author of the essays. CEO, as Cynthia is known to me, developed a step by step method to getting the SHE card system going and members would go through the process twice each year and make changes and fine tune our card systems as the situations in our lives changed. It also provided a support group to share successes and challenges. CEO went on to develop some of my favorite websites. Organized Home, Organized Christmas and Organized Scrapbooks. She also has a site Sew Organized, but I don't check in there as that is not a challenge in my life. I recommend it to anyone that does sew or quilt. She also wrote the book House Works, definitely a read for any fellow SHE. I love our CEO. I used to have a printed copy of the Essays, but they have since been passed on. I can read them on the files of my SHE list, and I do from time to time.

On the SHE boards that Pam and Peggy had set up on their site, I ran across a great fellow member, Marla Cilley, better known as FLYLady. She had shared her routines on pages of the message board. When FLYLady started her own group, I joined as a FLYbaby as I was then in graduate school and expecting my fourth child. I was also working full-time teaching. My index cards soon developed into lists of routines that I kept in my planner (CEO helped me with starting to use a planner). I think I am a FLYkid now as it has been eight years of FLYing for me. She also has a wonderful website and a team on her list that helps people learn to FLY (Finally Love Yourself) and get out of CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome-I think that this is a Pam and Peggy term). Marla has written a book and co-written another with Leanne Ely, Sink Reflections and Body Clutter. Both are good reads.

The last of the great influences that developed from being a part of the SHE message boards was the Holiday Grand Plan, that was developed and written by Katie Leckey and later shared as part of CEO's website. There have been others that have fine tuned the idea, including CEO herself with the Christmas Countdown, which is an abbreviated version focusing on Holiday preparation. I love the idea of spending months before Christmas making the season a great family experience without stress.

I now belong to a group that works on home clutter challenges (much like Katie Leckey's Cleaning Grand Plan), a local FLYbaby group (I love my drill team), and a group that works on a plan to prepare for Christmas (much like Holiday Grand Plan, but tweaked of course to suit the group) that starts up in late summer and runs until mid-January. I have a couple of other groups that I just visit and contribute to occasionally, but I can only do so much.

I hope you have enjoyed the story of my journey so far. I am still working to get better organized and tweak the system I use to keep me that way.


Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today. That means, according to the tradition, there will be six more weeks of winter. YUUUUUUCK! Phil is my favorite forecaster, especially since watching the 1993 movie with Bill Murray. I loved him better last year when he didn't see his shadow. Of course, I don't usually refer to him as a groundhog, as he is also known as a woodchuck. See the things you can learn reading my blog. Now, how much wood can a woodchuck chuck? Huh?

Today I did my traditional watching of the movie Groundhog Day. I like to think about the Groundhog Day concept. The things that Murray's character went through to get it right. How many times did he relive that day, and how many different wrong roads did he try before he got it together and became a great, genuine guy? We usually make a mistake and then have to recover from it and learn from it at the same time. Not an easy task considering our days are numbered and we don't know how many we will have. We need to find the right road, get on the right road and stay on the right road. We need to live each day like we are accountable for it. What we say matters. What we do matters. It needs to be done right the first time. Oh, and did I mention the movie is funny too. Love it, love it.

The little boys are watching Jack Frost, another family tradition. It was great for me that the day fell on a Saturday. In this stop-action cartoon, the groundhog shares that he has a conspiracy with Jack Frost to see his shadow every year so that Winter will last longer. The groundhog is not really a part of the rest of the story, but it's a nice little program we watch once a year.

Happy Groundhog, er, Woodchuck Day!

Friday, February 1, 2008


Last night I received word that a very dear friend and brother in Christ had passed away. He was like a grandfather really. He reminded me a lot of my own grandpa. They were just months apart in age and both had lived through the same rough times of life in the depression. Since my own grandpa has been gone for 18 years, I am even more so saddened by this loss. Up until just a few years ago he was a robust man. He had strong hands and a kind heart.

I met him when I was a teen, and he and his wife had a special relationship with my younger sister and brother, and since then with our children as well. Over the years, both he and his wife have been examples of steadfastness, faithfulness and obedience to God. He was diagnosed with lung cancer, and never having been a smoker, still had worked with people for years that did smoke and had plenty of second hand exposure. They ended up taking part of his lung, and he had not really gained his strength back again. He and his wife had been married since August of 1938 and would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversay this year. I don't know how she will go on without him.

I will miss John, and pray that I can see him again, and give praise to our Father and our Lord together, when I get to the other side.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Well it looks like we are going to miss the snow afterall. It is really piling up south of us. Last night I turned in early. I have succumbed to my cold and have taken the day off from school. Being static is difficult for me. I will try to take it easy. But I am restless as there is always so much to do. The longer I am down the more that will pile up. But then the more I push myself, the longer it will take me to feel better. I will have to find a happy medium.

"Cleaning house while children are growing is like shoveling snow while it's still snowing" goes an old saying. I am blessed that I am not actually out shoveling snow.

Daniel's new jokes. Ask him how he feels. "With my hands." Ask him how he slept. "On my back" He is a hoot.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I am not really sure how I feel today. I am fighting a cold, but have much to do. Last night I finished a few things on my list.

I have;

Hooked up the new printer - It's about time!!!

Printed my budget sheets for my planner - Dave would be proud :^>

Balanced checkbook

Paid bills

What I still have left for this week;

Sort through and file or trash paperwork on my desk

Prepare our taxes for Federal and State

Go through one box of my scrapbook and craft supplies

And keep up with my normal routines - I have kept up with the laundry so far, cleaned the bathroom and dealt with the budget. I think I am on track.

Since I am feeling really lousy, I will just do what I can. Tomorrow they are calling for a big snow. 5-8 inches in our area. I would rather it not. Did I mention I am done with winter.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Not My Best

My head is congested so I can't sleep well. I am having a difficult time tasting the flavor of my food. And in the background I hear whining, so I need to get up from sipping my cup of tea and take care of a sick three year old.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Up to a Challenge

One of the keys to meeting a goal is to share it with others, and ask that they hold you accountable. I am usually a person that has no problem setting goals. I write them down. I set sets of goals. I categorize them, schedule them into my future and then often stall out unless it is something that I really want or want to do.

It is easy for me to set goals, but without others knowing what my goals are, they can easily fall by the wayside. Sometimes I pick up my goals again and again and again and again, but they are really not met.

My biggest foe is "someday". Or "tomorrow". The reason is usually because I think the job is too big for now, and so it has to wait until later. I am learning that I need to break my goals into smaller pieces, to write them down and to share them. And then, "Just do it."

So here are a few things I need to do.

Set up my new printer/scanner/copier (I got it for Christmas)
Print up my budget sheets for my planner (It's the end of January, sorry Dave Ramsey)
Balance my checkbook (done weekly)
Pay bills (done biweekly)
Sort through and file or trash paperwork on my desk
Prepare our taxes for Federal and State
Go through one box of my scrapbook and craft supplies
And keep up with my normal routines

I want to have this all done before the weekend. Since I have read that creating a reward for meeting goals can also be important, my reward, I decided, is to be able to sort though pictures for future scrapbook sessions for several hours when I get this list complete.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Sunday Post

This being my most unmotivated time of the year, I really need to push myself to do things, especially leaving the house or doing things outside of normal routine. So I just spend some time with the calendar before the month unfolds and set up some time to get out, and some time to stay home productively with clear goals, and lastly, time to spend sipping hot cocoa in front of the fire.

Yesterday I spent the day out and about. This afternoon the house needed some attention. Today I worked on deep cleaning my great room. It is big enough to be two rooms really. Often we split the room up with furniture. When we rearranged the furniture as the Christmas things were getting packed up, we left the room opened up so we can enjoy the fireplace from the whole space. There are definitely two sections of the room. The boys' video game area, a dart board, a book case, a video/DVD cabinet topped with other electronics, and a game cabinet are on one side of the room. No real seating right now. Last Summer and Fall I have the extra fold up chairs from the patio in there, but they have been put away since the end of November. The other side of the room has the sectional and a big leather chair, a side table, TV and the fireplace. The fans and fireplace were cleaned, and then I did a thorough cleaning including dusting and vacuuming the floors. I did clean up, dusting and vacuuming in the dining room also. It went pretty quickly really.

The dining room has my scrapbook supplies in it now. So my mission this week is to purge down some of the craft items I have that I just don't use. I will probably send the extra items to school with Raymond or Daniel. I am not sure how long this will take. I spent some time today working on it, and I didn't even make a dent. Just rearranged. I guess I need to keep in my mind my vision of actually working on pages soon. It was last Spring since I worked on pages last...way too long.

Birthday & A Family Day Out

For Joe's birthday we went out to the Legends to eat at IHOP and then spent some time at Cabelas. Later in the afternoon we headed to shop (and walk) at the Great Mall of the Great Plains.

Joe and his older brother Marty who caught up with us during the middle of our outing

All 5 boys at Cabelas

Here are
Joe and the hunting buddies viewing big game.

Sheila and Richard

Danny and Joe- our youngest and our oldest. Danny was pretty puny during the first part of our day. He seemed to recover by the time we hit the mall in the late afternoon.