Thursday, April 28, 2011

Uncluttering My Life

I am in the middle of reading way too many books at the moment. One of them that I checked out from the library is Unclutter Your Life in One Week. I have been following the blog for a while and have picked up some useful hints and tips. I really wanted this book but I figured that after I had read it it would just be clutter which is something I am trying to have LESS of!

I checked out this book from the library recently and renewed it twice. It was at my house 9 weeks and I only read a couple of pages.

I then put it on hold. (Many other people must have wanted the book also because I had to wait this time. Waiting gave me time to get closer to a place where I could unclutter though I guess.) Anyway, after weeks of waiting it showed up at Petit waiting for me and I went and grabbed it. There are 3 sections every day and I figured that if I worked on one section every day for the 3 weeks that the book was checked out to me (before it had to go to the home of some other Syracuse resident overwhelmed by clutter) I would make a lot of progress.

Things have not gone as planned (do they ever??) but I have picked up some good hints and tips. I decided to try one last night. Usually at bedtime I am so exhausted I just throw my clothes on the floor before going to bed because I am too tired to put them away. One thing that was recommended in the book was to change into your pajamas an hour before bed so that you still have energy to put your clothes away before you do your evening routine. I did it last night for the first time and decided to do one better and also put out workout clothes next to the bed so that I could get up and throw them on and workout in the morning. One of my biggest barriers to working out is that I don't want to have to find my workout clothes in the morning. (I know that really isn't the issue, I'm just lazy, BUT it is one thing that hinders me.) So today I got up and worked out before taking my shower - hurray! After my shower my workout clothes were put on a shelf next to my bed for tomorrow morning. I feel so much better. Maybe I am turning over a new leaf.

Small changes, baby steps, and making new routines is the only way I will ever break out of these horrible habits I've lived with my whole life and am teaching my kids by example. I want them to be able to keep their homes in a way that they won't be stressed and embarrassed because of the clutter! I have many new habits to make for that to be more possible. I'm thankful for this one new habit for the week. Little by little we will get there.

Thanks God for the library, this book, new habits, clothes put away, exercises done, some tips and the hope of an uncluttered future.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

(expired) Free Copy of 31 Days to Clean (today only!)

There is a new e-book that I have been wanting called 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way and I just found out that it is free today (Wednesday, 4/27) until midnight EST. (It is normally $4.99) I am always looking for helpful hints on how to balance cleaning and organizing and doing real life stuff. Everyday she give a "Mary" challenge that encourages and challenges your heart as well as a "Martha" challenge with specific cleaning tasks. A quote on the page about it said, "Friends, 31 Days to Clean is a faith journey towards ruling, subduing, and loving. We are forgoing perfection; we are choosing life." Sounds good to me and sounds like it fits with the life I am longing for. I am excited to get a free copy and start reading it!

You can get a free copy too. All you have to do to get a free copy is to blog about it or share about it on facebook or twitter then email her a link to where you shared and she'll email you a download link.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Allen Street Flood

This afternoon we had a playdate with my friend Dawn and her little boy Jeremiah. The kids just love him (and I think that the feeling is mutual).

It started off pretty normal. We decided to sit on the porch because it was so nice outside. It had been sunny a little bit ago, before Jeremiah got out of school, but it was a bit overcast when they got to our house.

A random guy that wanted us to change our energy provider came up to talk to us and then it started to rain. I told him he could stay on our porch until the rain stopped then the rain really picked up and we had him come inside with us. We watched the crazy weather through the window for a while. Then Glenn gave the guy a ride to the library where he could wait out the storm.

When the rain slowed down we looked out and realized that the street was flooded. The streets haven't been swept since the snow melted and there are leaves and sticks and muck all over the storm drains. They needed to be unplugged.

I went to try to unplug the storm drain a few houses down and realized that the water was over my knees. (and I'm pretty tall) I enlisted the help of our neighbor whose car was flooded. She said that she has had to do this many times. Dawn, our neighbor, and I were hacking away at the muck with rakes and shovels while all 8 of our kids played and finally the water went down.

We had fun playing in the water and trying to clean out the storm drains to get the water down. That is the kind of thing that I love to do... another one of those things like shoveling and raking. There is visible evidence that "I have accomplished something!"

It was definitely a different playdate that I thought we were going to have. It was fun though. Here are some pictures Glenn posted on facebook of our fun in the flood.

Monday, April 11, 2011

More blessings

Writing my way to 1000. Looking for ways that God has blessed me.

264. Fluttering flakes are so much prettier than rain

265. A quick visit from Jen on her way through.

266. Peed sheets made kids get up earlier and school got done faster

267. The smell of brocoli

268. A mini flute rehearsal

269. Bean sticks and unifix cubes

270. Quick library runs

271. Time with Glenn reading The Medical Marriage

272. Fun time learning about Germany with our homeschool friends. 

273. Walking around the block hand in hand with my man

274. We can go to the Most with a membership from the Buffalo Museum of Science that we're getting this weekend

275. Free gymnastics classes at SU

276. Fun filled day at the Buffalo Museum of Science

277. 99 cent 12 grain bread at Aldi

278. The thruway. Even though it cost $12.30 it did get us to Buffalo and back pretty quick

279. Safety in my fender bender

280. Insurance. I guess we had our insurance talk a couple days early 

281. We have a laundrymat washer in our basement so we don't have to go to the laundry mat

282. We have a (most of the time) reliable means of transportation 

283. Sunshine

284. Muggy, breezy walks

285. Fun outside

286. Simplifying, uncluttering, letting go

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Adventures in Buffalo

Today we spent the day in Buffalo because Glenn had a photography seminar to go to there. While he was learning about lighting the kids and I went to the Buffalo Museum of Science. We decided to get a membership there because it is reciprocal so many other places and it was only $50. We spent an extra $10 to go to the travelling Narnia exhibit that was there. My friend Leah had gone and recommended the museum and we had a great time. We were at the museum from when it opened until closing time exploring the exhibits and playing. After the museum closed we went to Aldi to pick up sandwich stuff for supper (12 grain bread is on "try me" this week for 99 cents- I'm going to have to make a run to our Aldi here!) After leaving Aldi I was stopped at a stop light, looking at a map, and accidentally released the pressure on my brake and rolled into the car ahead of me. We pulled off the street and each had a talk with the Geico agent. Thankfully no one was hurt. Her bumper was a little loose and ours has some scratches and a little crack. Not sure how this is going to impact my insurance but it has convinced me that I would like a gps for out of town travel.

We all got home exhausted and are falling into bed. More details and pictures of our museum trip may or may not be posted later.

I am thankful for: a fun filled trip to the Buffalo Museum of Science, not one was hurt in the fender bender, 99 cent 12 grain bread, and insurance.
We were greeted by a big bear - Caleb gave him 5

The polar bear obviously terrified the girls :)

"Oh, it's the brain!!"

We loved playing in the sand!

Abigail's castle

Hannah concentrating on the couch she was making

Try saying what color the words are - it's harder than it looks!

Fun with light

This skeleton moves when you push the button

Outside of Narnia! No pictures were allowed inside :(

Of course you have to see a buffalo in Buffalo!

This water place was a lot of fun too!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

So Long Table

We have decided we need to simplify our lives. We started a list of things that we need to get rid of. The list includes: table, desks, boots and bikes.

We started posting things today. Glenn posted our dining room table and chairs before dinner and checked after he finished eating to see if it has posted and there were two emails from the same lady asking us to call her and telling us that she would definitely buy it.

We loved our table. We bought it as we were preparing to move to Rochester from Waterloo. We didn't have a place to live yet in Rochester but we knew we needed a bigger table and we found it on Craigslist. It was a great deal. We went and picked it up then stored it in my brother's basement until we moved to Rochester. Buying this set of table and chairs ruled out a few apartments for us over the years.

It has been host to countless meals, countless hours of laughter, and countless hours of school work. It has hosted many birthdays and many fun meals with friends.

After the lady came and paid for it and drove away with one of the pedestals and the leaf I started crying. I am going to miss our table. It has been a great table BUT it really isn't conducive to our nomadic lifestyle. It is hard to move and having it required a large dining room which limits our housing options.

I am not really sure what we are going to be eating on or where we are going to do school. We pulled a table that we had purchased for Glenn to use as a desk from off the back porch. It was rickety when we purchased it from Salvation Army and wintering on the back porch wasn't nice to it. We will see if it will work next time that we eat a meal and we will see how school goes on Monday. We may be making better use of the desks that we bought off of Craigslist last fall.

One thing that I have learned from this is that I am too attached to stuff. I am glad that we are starting to get rid of stuff now. It is our plan to get rid of most all of our furniture and a lot of other stuff before we leave for RMED at the end of next March. The more we get rid of now, the less we have to get rid of later.

So long table. Thanks God for providing it. It has served us well the last 3 1/2 years. The lady was super excited about it. I hope that it serves her well for many years to come.

A photo from the last party our table hosted.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Preparation for Life Overseas?

Glenn and I have joked often that living in this apartment has been a bit of preparation for life overseas. We have had several different reasons for this.

The first thing was the bugs. We have had to deal with cockroaches when we lived in TN. Thankfully we haven't had to deal with them since moving to NY. Mosquitoes and flies are normal summer bugs no big deal 8ish months out of the year here in NY.  Since moving into this apartment we have encountered a few bugs we have never had to deal with before. The first was pantry moths. When I was wiping down the cupboards before putting my stuff in I noticed some weird cardboard triangles with a few bugs stuck to the glue. I thought, "That's gross, I am going to throw them away." and I did. Little did I know that the apartment really needed those pantry moth traps when I saw those yucky little bugs flying around my kitchen all the time and getting into my dry goods. After several months of keeping everything really well sealed and finding all their egg laying spots and cleaning everything up meticulously we finally were free of them. (It also got colder, time will tell if we have another problem with them this spring.) The other bug we had to deal with since moving in is bed bugs that we picked up possibly on our trip to PA. We started to notice the tell tale breakfast lunch and dinner bites on our bodies and spent a lot of money on chemicals and supplies to eradicate them and then spent most of the summer throwing out, boiling, freezing, and steaming everything we owned. We have defeated them (I guess it hasn't been 18 months yet but it has been at least 7-8 months since we have had any bites.) The other bugs are these little tiny black flying bugs that show up occasionally and often are found near our plants. I don't know what they are and they have not been nearly as bothersome as the other two.

Another thing was the noise. We live on a really quiet street so it isn't street noise but our former upstairs neighbor used to exercise regularly (we timed our schooling by his indoor running schedule which was great! "Listen, he's running. Must be time for lunch."). He also played the bongo drums, at random times, often late at night. It was funny having noisier neighbors upstairs because it made us wonder what we must have sounded like when we have been the upstairs neighbors :)

Most recently it has been the smoke. Our former neighbors moved for her new job out west and we have had new neighbors move in. They smoke. It drifts into our apartment. It is really bad when you open the back kitchen door. That is about the only time I notice it because I am here all the time. Glenn notices it really bad whenever he comes home. It filters into our closets so our clothes are starting to smell like smoke. We are not really sure what to do. When we first started noticing we asked ourselves, "If we were in Bangladesh and we had neighbors that smoked what would we do?" The answer was easy, nothing, because honestly we would be surprised not to have neighbors that smoked but here it's a different question. The laws in Onondaga county allow landlords to not allow smoking in their rental properties. We battled within ourselves. We want to be a light to this young couple and their two little ones, show Jesus to them. On the other hand we value our health and the health of our children. The effects of second hand smoke are significant and the kids and I are home almost 24-7. Also, Glenn doesn't want to smell like smoke when he is working with his patients next year. At this point we are still trying to figure out what to do. We have talked to our landlord. He had no idea that they smoked. He knew that they had two little kids and assumed that they wouldn't smoke around them. He told us that he would do what he could and that he really liked having us as tenants and would like to keep us but wouldn't hold us to our lease if we found an apartment with non-smoking neighbors to move into.

I don't know what God is preparing us for but I know that every circumstance that He allows into our lives He has a purpose for it. We are praying for wisdom as to how to best glorify Him them.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Are we Thrifty?

We had about a 45 minute discussion after dinner tonight because of a lecture that Glenn had in behavioral this morning. I am not sure how much of it I am going to capture here but I wanted to keep a record of it.

To start off Glenn got out our white board and drew 4 pairs of shoes and labeled them with prices. A was $250, B was $500, C was $100 and D was $60. Glenn had the kids vote based on which shoes they thought he would probably buy for dress shoes for next year. Caleb and Hannah voted for B, Lydia voted for D and Abigail voted for A. We asked them why Caleb and Hannah both thought that the most expensive would be the best quality. Lydia voted for D because it was the least money. Glenn was about to explain why he would probably buy the $250 shoes when we remembered to ask Abigail why she voted for A which is what Glenn and I both voted for. She said, "because they are the smallest." We all cracked up. Glenn went on to explain that he wouldn't buy the $500 shoes most likely because they are, most likely, not twice as good as the $250 ones and would most likely not last twice as long. He also explained that he is going to need good dress shoes starting this summer because he is going to be on his feet all the time. He would be able to buy two pairs of the $250 ones for the price of one pair of the $500 ones and they would probably be similar in quality. Also he clarified that he would never pay that much money for other types of shoes that were only worn occasionally or more prone to wearing out.

We discussed quality versus price for a while then Glenn drew another picture. (While he was drawing we performed a living rendition of "The Emperor's New Clothes.") He drew two coats.  One was $75 and the other was marked down from $150 to $80. He asked them which one they would buy. Hannah decided she would buy the $75 one because the $80 one must not be as good because they had to mark it down to get it to sell. Caleb went for the $75 one because of something that Glenn had said while drawing it about it being a great coat. Lydia went for the more expensive one this time "because mommy buys expensive stuff." I think that she felt ashamed about going for the cheapest last time. Not sure what Abigail's reason for picking the $80 one, maybe because it was the one labeled A and A won last time.

We went on to have a discussion about how it is worth it to spend extra to get good quality for stuff that matters to you and that you use a lot because then you don't have to replace it so often. That is why we have good quality pots and pans... because we use them all the time and don't want to have to keep running out to replace them every couple of years. What we have should last the rest of our lives. That is why we need to find good shoes for Glenn for I was going to say next year, then it changed to the next couple of years, then it changed to the next 5 years or so, then it changed to.... for the rest of our lives because he is going to need to be on his feet a lot and having good quality shoes will make a huge difference in his life. (recommendations would be welcome)

I think that this discussion came from the fact that Caleb has been stuck on the fact that we are "thrifty" and also from the lecturer this morning that was talking about how much how he lives/lived (had to un-train himself of some things) was impacted by how his parents and grandparents lived.

We want the kids to understand why we make the decisions that we make financially and we finally got down to the idea of stewardship. All we have is from God and is His, not ours. We need to make decisions wisely remembering that what we have isn't really ours. I know that we don't always do that right but I know that it is an area that we are all trying to grow in.

Caleb wanted the last word and he threw another quiz at the girls. "Would mom and dad rather buy $30 Crocs or $85 Keens." They all knew the answer to that one because they have seen from experience that crocs break pretty easy. They last maybe one season, if you are lucky. Our Keens have lasted us 3 solid seasons (they are the only shoes Glenn, Caleb and I have worn over the last 3 summers - the girls, unfortunately, outgrew theirs). We bought Caleb a new pair for this summer on sale for $22 from Sierra Trading Post only because his feet grew and he can't fit in his old ones. I  am sure that his sisters will get use out of them though. In shoes, especially everyday shoes, comfort and quality are worth the investment.

Anyway, it was a fun conversation. We got to explain to the kids more of the why of what we do. We don't want them "cutting off the end of the ham for an unknown reason only to find out later it was because several generations back the mom had an oven that was too small." We want them to understand and to wrestle out what they think about things with us. I'm thankful for the chance we had to do a little of that tonight.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Playing my Flute

This past fall at a Mom's Night Out with other homeschool moms from our Thursday homeschool group one of my friends mentioned being in a flute choir. She told me a little about it and the next week brought copies of the music they were playing. She offered to pick me up for rehearsal the next week to check it out. I went and I enjoyed it. I haven't really played my flute since I was in Tapestry, a flute ensemble, in college. I still have my flute and love to get it out but it usually only came out as a procrastination tactic when moving it out of the closet it was stored in at one living quarters to prepare it for moving to the next place. So for the last about 6 months I have been going weekly to a rehearsal for Central New York Flute Choir.

The group is a lot of fun. I was really nervous going to my first rehearsal since I hadn't played in a group in over a decade but it is really low pressure. There are people in the group that play (or have played) professionally and then there are people who just recently learned how to play flute and then there are people like me who played in high school and sometimes college but haven't really touched their flutes in years. I feel like I am making progress. I still struggle with getting my fingers to move fast enough at times and with playing really low (or really high) notes but little by little I am getting back into it.

A couple of weeks ago a girl joined our group that hadn't played in a long time just like me. She doesn't live far from me so the director asked if we could get together with her a few times to practice outside of rehearsal. I thought that was a good idea because I enjoy playing with others and it would give me an excuse to practice outside of rehearsals. Tonight was our first mini practice and I think that we both made some progress with some help from my more experienced homeschooling mom friend.

I am so thankful for a chance to get out of the house once a week and hang out with adults and play my flute. I had no idea that groups like this even existed so I am very glad that my friend introduced me to it.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Theater

"The theater, the theater, what happened to the theater."

This is a quote from White Christmas that is going through my mind lately. In the song I think that they complaining that "choreography" is replacing dance. We have encountered a few versions of "the theater" lately and they have varied greatly.

The first was a performance of Treasure Island by 7th and 8th graders at the local K-8 school. They did a pretty good job. Since it is hard to get boys to volunteer at that age most of the parts were played by girls including a neighbor friend who played Jack Hawkins. They changed some of the parts to acknowledge that the people playing them were girls, others just pretended to be boys (like Jack). The kids were thrilled because they knew many of the people on stage from the neighborhood.

The next performance was The Miracle Worker at Syracuse Stage. We were able to go for free because a few of Glenn's fellow classmates gave up their extra tickets for us.  Caleb had wanted to go so bad but we really weren't sure how we were going to be able to pull it off because tickets for all of us would have been over $100.  It was a very well done production and we are so glad we had an opportunity to go.

The third show we went to was a original play performed by a bunch of kids that are part of a theater club at a local theater. The kids in the club meet weekly to write the play, come up with props and costumes and practice for the performance at the end of the semester. Our neighborhood friend usually performs with the group but because she had a lead role in the first play we went to she was unable to participate in both this spring. She was hanging out at our house on Saturday and invited us to take her to it. It was a strange, short play involving zombies, random famous people, and cookies. It was obvious that it was a play done by kids and it really didn't make any sense to me but the kids thought that it was fun.

I am thankful that we were able to be exposed to the theater 3 times in the last couple of weeks for free. I know that I would love to do more of it in the future. Not sure when or how but God has provided these three performances, trusting Him to provide more in the future.

Monday, April 04, 2011

More Blessings

When I got on my blog today to see what number I left off on last week I was horrified to realize I hadn't blogged here since last Monday. I have had many things to blog about, just haven't had/ taken the time to sit down and blog. Well, here's my Monday list, working my way to 1000:

235. One year in heaven for a dear lady who was such a godly example and influence on my life in my late teen and young adult years    

236. Hot chocolate at Grandma's

237. Sunny, cold weather

238. Glenwood Foods- restocked with cheese sticks, popcorn, oatmeal, brown rice, dried pineapple, and creamer

239. Lunch and time to visit at Grandma's

240. Time with Phoebe

241. Time to visit with AmyJo and hear about their Honduras trip.

242. Taxes were dropped off at the accountant, one less thing on my mind

243. Speed conversations with Kara on the way to and from flute practice

244. Cute girls with mismatched layered shirts

245. Free chicken tikka masala and naan for lunch from Sumrat - leftovers from a meeting at school

246. Drop Everything And Read time

247. Free tickets and a fun night together as a family at The Miracle Worker

248. Twice the kids is half the work, fun times with the Baer kids

249. Homemade pretzels

250. Sleeping in

251. Books

252. Leftovers galore

253. Relaxing friday

254. Winter spice coffee

255. Crocuses

256. Flute concert went well

257. Free, fun at the MOST it exceeded my low expectations. We could definitely go back

258. Jeremiah's birthday party, visiting with Dawn & David

259. Up and popcorn, great Sunday evening fun

260. April showers bring May flowers

261. Glenn noticed our registration was expired and after an hour waiting at the DMV our registration cost $40 less than last time. I guess Onondaga county is cheaper than Monroe 

262. New checks with our current address on them, the old checks had an address 6 addresses ago.

263. Fun walk to small group