Little Steps in Organizing

I have been sick this week. After the boys both had gastro for a week followed by another couple of weeks with asthma, croup, runny noses and the rest, their germs were shared with me in great enough numbers for me to go downhill as well. So the greater part of the last week has been spent in or around the bed, I’ve been confined to base this week- until yesterday and I was feeling pretty miserable for a while before I had to give up some things and stay home.
However life goes on and I’ve found the best way to get some sorely needed organising done is in very small chunks. I had joined in with the Organising Junkie’s 52 weeks of Organising at the beginning of 2011 and I’ve totally fallen off the wagon with that but these small sessions are going to get our house back on track. My biggest challenges right now are the sheer volume of things in our house that need to be more organised so that we can all function with less stress. Even though I’m getting around quite happily now on my previously dodgy ankles I still don’t have the stamina to do huge amounts of organising/tidying/cleaning at once. We are using the timer and doing 10-15 minute sessions with me organising something, the boys clearing out something to help me organise (The bottom of my wardrobe) or the boys problem-solving for one of our big issues.
SHOES. There. That is one of the biggest issues we face. I’ve said it. When it is time to leave for school or go to the park or go anywhere there is always someone who can’t find shoes. They could be in any room of the house, often in the living room, in the backyard beside the trampoline, in my car or A’s car and very occasionally in the plastic crate we had designated for shoes in their bedroom. It clearly wasn’t working and it was causing great angst for everyone, especially when we were rushed.
So, with the help of Eric, I organised a Shoe Docking Station on the back veranda. I thought it was just going to be a place where the shoes were all kept together but being boys, we had to have a docking station and I’m pretty pleased with it.
It isn’t fancy. I’ve just used home made laminated computer labels and stuck them down on an old TV stand we had and there are now designated “parking spots for the important sets of shoes. So school shoes, sports shoes, sandals and thongs have their own spaces with one changeable parking spot to be used for tags for hockey in Winter and runners for Little Athletics in summer.
A has raised the issue of spiders so we are going to practice precautionary shoe thumping. What I really like already is that I can pop outside and know straight away what is missing so they can hunt for exactly what they need. I’ve put some photos in but be warned. It isn’t “pretty” but the boys like it and it is functional and that’s what counts for my family right now.


Websites I Am Always Talking About

I probably don’t frequent as many websites as most people, sticking to Facebook and Google Reader for the blogs that I enjoy.  However when I am talking to people about the things I love I often mention certain websites and am not always ina position to write them down.  The goal of writing this post is for people to refer to my blog for my favourite sites!

The Book Depository – There is a UK site as well as others in other countries.  It is a place to buy lots of different books at greatly reduced prices and there are no shipping costs.  They seem to send the books as soon as they have them available so when I made my first order a few months ago I actually received three separate parcels in the mail – good fun all in itself!  As an example of the possible savings, I bought two knitting books which sell for $45 each here and by using Book Depository I paid about $22 each.

Strawberry.net – I was put on to this site quite recently by a good friend when my skin was suffering from the cold and dryness and I was finding that my products froma rather cheap direct sales company were irritating my skin and not being very effective at all.  Back in the day, before children, mortgages and financial strife I used to use Clinique products and loved them.  I had given them up because they were simply too expensive and I was finding that I used them too sparingly to do any good.  Now I am back to using Clinique, having paid very low prices to get some items and my skin is really showing the benefits and feeling fantastic.  There is no shipping coast and extremely fast service.  Just as an aside, the same friend put me onto Blinc mascara. It is seriously the best mascara ever and lasts through absolutely everything because it actaully puts little “tubes” of mascara around each lash which stay there until rubbed gently with a wet washcloth.  When you rub them off you can actually see the little tubes on the washcloth and there is no residue smudged around the eyes.  Obviously they are very fine tubes and there is no ill-effect on the lashes. To quote Molly Meldrum, if you are a mascara wearer, “do yourself a favour” and try some of this stuff because it really is wodnerful!

CafePress – I am very happy to be the owner of two knitting t-shirts and one teaching t-shirt from this fantastic site.  There are shirts, sweaters and a range of other products with slogans and graphics for almost any occupation or hobby you could dream of.  It is worth a browse just for the entertainment value of what sayings they have on offer. My knitting shirts are “I knit so I don’t kill people” and “Keep calm and carry yarn”.  My teaching shirt is “I teach, what’s your superpower?”  There is some shipping cost but the service is faultless and they are a very good quality product.

Ravelry – Whenever I am talking to someone who is beginning to knit or crochet I invariably ask them if they have been on Ravelry.  It is a networking site for knitting, crochet and spinning and has thousands of members who share patterns, yarns and finished projects.  You can sign up for free and either browse through what’s on offer or start your own Ravelry “notebook” with pictures of your projects and links to the patterns and yarns used as well as where you obtained them.  because of all these notebooks you can search for a type of project or yarn and find almost countless results.  It is very useful for when you want ideas for a particular item like beanies or tea cosies or if you are deciding on whether to use a particular yarn or pattern.  Just make sure you have a spare 4-5 hours to spend browsing if you decide to have a look.

FlyLady – As I get back on my feet quite literally I am using and will continue to use FlyLady.  It is all about organising yourself and your house to take the best possible care of yourself and your loved ones.  I could write pages about how good her system is but it would be far better to just pay the FlyLady a visit and check her out for yourself.


The Love Fest

I like St Valentine’s Day but dh does not.  Where once he used to go along with the whole present and going out thing he now refuses to participate at all.  I knew I’d be “flogging a dead horse” if I tried to do anything about the big day with him this year so instead I decided to focus on the three men in my life.  The boys will hopefully learn a bit about simple celebrations and ways in which you can show people you love them.  I wouldn’t suggest it now but maybe they will store away some ideas for when they have “sweethearts” of their own.  So I’ve had a bit of fun getting tready for our mini Love Fest which we held tonight.

I got the Valentine’s Wreath Idea from here.  Mine is quite different in that I went with flat felt hearts in a rich red and I got the wield my new hot glue gun.  The finished effect is simple but well, effective I think.  The rest was easy: red plastic tablecloth (boys eating spaghetti – I shouldn’t need to say anything else on that subject), white serviettes with hand-painted hearts, some red heart sequins sprinkled up the middle of the table, red tea-lights in our special rose decorated wall sconce and the “piece de resistance” (as far as the boys were concerned) chocolate heart rose buds on long plastic stems.

We dined on spaghetti bolognaise with choc mint drumsticks for dessert anda good time was had by three of us.  Vera the dog was intrigued by all the goings-on and desperate to be included.  She did score some leftover spaghetti sauce in the end!

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Money Too Tight To Mention

Unfortunately we did have to mention it to someone who could help us out of our current financial crisis when we asked for help last week and unfortunately we got completely dragged over the coals, interrogated and thoroughly criticised for nearly all our life choices including but not limited to – choice of jobs, choice of hobbies, child care arrangements, activities in which our children are involved, the things we eat and the list goes on.  I’m the first to admit I am not perfect by any means.  My house is messy, we’re eating too much take-away and sometimes I sit down and play on the computer or knit something when perhaps I should be doing housework but is was just awful to have just about everything we do turned into a negative.

Suffice it to say, we didn’t chose to get into a financial mess and we’re sure as heck going to make sure we never do again.  This time has just been an unfortunate melding of council rates, car registration, massive tax bill, power bill and a range of medical expenses occurring all at once along with the normal end of year things like school book orders, piano lessons, chess lessons and the list goes on.  I’m ona much reduced salary compared to teaching and it just hasn’t worked for us.  It isn’t like we are going out every night or having caviar on our crackers.  We spend very little on clothes and entertainment of any description.  Now I sound like Im trying to justify our spending which I shouldn’t have to do.  We make choices – some are right and some are wrong but ultimately they are our choices.

I never want to go down the path of needing to ask for help again from the source we used last week. Never, ever.  So I’m taking baby steps to regain some control of the situation.  I’m going to to ring and try to organise some sort of payment plan for the hideous tax bill.  I’m selling my wedding dress.  I’ve started the process of frogging a garment I knitted a while back but decided that I would never wear.  The yarn is too good to wastes so I’m re-claiming it all and knitting coffee cup cosies to sell on e-bay or etsy.  I’m also looking into what I can make rather than buy for Christmas presents.

I’ve also got huge amounts of stuff that can all eventually go on e-bay – clothes, toys, baby things, furniture etc etc etc.  It will take a long time but I will do it and I’m sure I will feel better to having a less cluttered home.

I felt dreadful about this whole situation until last night when I sat down and started unravelling knitting.  Then I felt I had some tiny measure of control back.  Hopefully that feeling will grow.


Expectations

I have reached and passed the milestone called “Forty” whilst travelling a roller-coaster of varying emotions mainly due to me having unrealistic expectations and of course there’s nothing like a little health crisis to shake one’s feelings all around.

I was back at work by halfway through the week of my birthday even though I was still on anti-inflammatory medication and wasn’t supposed to be doing any “heavy lifting”.  This meant that even though we were in preparation mode for a major event at work, that I had to be very selective about which tasks I took on.   I was doing some “mental heavy lifting” though because at that time, even though I didn’t realise it I was carrying a large load of expectations about celebrating birthdays in the workplace.  Having worked in the education system for many years I had always previously been in the situation that no matter what day your birthday fell on, you turned up for work and in most school settings one’s birthday would be celebrated with colleagues to some extent.  You had to be there if it was a week day and working in the Catholic culture with a good dose of “pastoral care” thrown in usually meant that there would be a cake at morning tea, perhaps and announcement made and some sort of recognition.  If it happened to be one of those “zero” birthdays and especially if you had worked at the same place with the same people, for many years you could multiply the possibilities.

Suffice it to say that in the public service, and I’m sure in many other occupations, the situation is entirely different.  Many people arrange to not be at work on their birthdays and if they are, their work doesn’t take up so much of their life that they feel the need to celebrate anything with their colleagues.  In some places there are indeed ways of recognizing such events but if someone has only been with an organisation for a short time there should be no expectations.

Then there is much less risk, of disappointment, tears and making a total and complete fool of oneself in front of one’s colleagues.  My birthday ended in tears and I ddi the best the wipe it from my memory banks.  The bits I’d like to remember are the beautiful Pandora bracelet from my family and a beautiful floral arrangement delivered to my workplace from some very dear friends.


Driving in the other Direction

I’ve had some very exciting developments this week.  Life has taken a different direction and it is one that no one could have predicted.  After a big application, interview with assessment task two weeks ago and another follow up meeting this week I’ve been offered a job at one of our favourite places in the world. Here

After years of thinking I would never do anything other than teach in a classroom, I saw the ad for this position – Learning, Activities and Events Officer – a few months ago and immediately my heart leapt.  I could do that.  I wanted to do that.  There could be a place for me beyond the classroom, a place where I could still use my skills as an educator and work with a wide variety of people.  I love trains and railways and history.  When the boys were into Thomas the Tank Engine I reveled in the language and the images of that magical world.  We’ve been regular visitors to The Workshops over the years and held annual passes for four years running.

There will be many other changes apart from me driving west instead of east each day.  As a public servant of sorts I will be working longer hours officially but less hours unofficially.  I’ll have some measure of control over when I work, being able to accrue flexi-time etc.  I will be working on most school holidays because those are the busiest times for the museum – especially Boxing Day through to the end of January when Thomas comes to visit.  If I work on a weekend or public holiday I might be paid overtime (huge concept for a teacher!).  I won’t be having holidays for quite some time and when I do they will be during school time.  We think the boys will cope with a few weeks out of school here and there for holidays down the track – I can certainly “home school” them if necessary!  I wont have my own class but I will also be doing without playground duty, report writing and parent teacher interviews.  There are lots of things I’ll miss and lots of things I won’t miss.  There are lots of things about this position that I don’t even know yet and that is both exciting and a little bit scary but I am so ready.

I’m ready to belong somewhere again, to be doing something worthwhile and working hard.  I’m ready to know where I am going each day and where I’ll be going each week.  I’m ready to be challenged, to use my creativity and problem solving skills and I’m so excited!

After initially being skeptical about me working for the government (he never thought he’d see the day) Anthony is delighted.  The boys, after some confusion on Daniel’s part, are just about delirious.  When I told the boys that they might sometimes be used as “guinea pigs”, Dan didn’t relish the prospect of living in a box and eating grass.  But when it was all explained he was delighted of course.  With their new found independence they are getting used to traveling to and from school in a  number of different ways and are relishing the slightly increased responsibility.  The extended family are already booking themselves up for holiday care.

I worked my final days as a relief teacher this week in three different schools and then today we celebrated – Eric’s first communion and confirmation.  Now I have two weeks to get everything in order ready to start my next big adventure.  I don’t know all of what the future holds but I’ll certainly be putting my sunglasses when I drive in the other direction!


52 to Fabulous – Week 1

I’m joining in this project here because I want to achieve good things this year. I’ve had a break from just about everything and now is the time to step up and start getting things done again. The categories for each month are follow with my wants for each category.

January – Fabulous Beginnings – getting into good routines and being really well prepared for relief teaching
February – Fabulous Organization – getting routines fine tuned and getting the family more involved
March – Fabulous Fitness – build up my stamina and lose weight
April – Fabulous Food – cooking more meals, baking more things for school lunches, making more interesting things for my own lunches
May – Fabulous Style – hair and make-up
June – Fabulous Fun – planning birthday parties for the boys
July – Fabulous Hobbies – knitting up a storm
August – Fabulous Finances – making a budget
September – Fabulous Food – more of what was done in April
October – Fabulous Health – stress management and sleep
November – Fabulous Home – making the bedroom a sanctuary
December – Fabulous Blogging – building up my readership

The big three of these?

Fabulous beginnings

Fabulous Food

Fabulous Fitness