Friday, January 23, 2009

Seven Quick Takes

Go check out other Quick Takes posts at Jen's place, Conversion Diary.



My computer should be here by Monday! I cannot even begin to explain the level of excitement I have. There are several posts worth of pictures to share, and things will get back to normal around here! The only thing I'm worried about is learning to use Vista since I've heard such complaints about it.


I'm spending my afternoon on organizing new work for the boys shelves. I took several things down not long ago and have been re-presenting some work because of poor use by Big Kid. He was ready for the next step of the binomial cube so I presented that this week as well. I think partly he stopped using materials properly because he's ready for some new things and I haven't prepared them for him yet. I'm going to get a few things done over the weekend to present next week.



I'm diving into the basement over the weekend with a little help from Superman. I want to try to clear out a few boxes at least. The truth is that we haven't really gone in to retrieve anything since the move last April, so we  probably don't need to hang on to 70% of the things in there. The things that need to stay are the seasonal items (mostly Christmas), sentimental childhood thing for me and Superman (a few boxes each) and the  little kid clothes and select toys (for the someday when we have another little one).



Anyone do the whole coupon thing? I'm trying to get back into it. I did for a long time but it has been one of the things that I had to mentally let go of for the last six months or so to do other things. Well, we need to try to save as much as we can right now, so I'm trying to get back into couponing for the things we buy. I'm not the type of couponer that buys just because it's a deal, and we do try to eat as fresh as possible for our budget, but the savings on things like toothpaste and laundry detergent is amazing. So back in I dive, and it feels much easier this time around.



The socks are finished! The second sock went so much faster than the first, and oh my goodness I love them! I'm going to start another pair soon. If I thought the boys or Superman would properly appreciate handknit socks I'd make them some as well. But seeing as how I can't keep regular socks on any of them I don't think I'll put the time into a project for them!



I think I'm getting close to knowing exactly what we'd like to grow in our container garden this year, but I'm not feeling very confident that I know what to do with getting seeds started and all that. Does anyone knows of a really good reference book that is more specific to container gardening? Superman and I are heading to a bookstore this weekend at some point to look for sources. I've searched a bit for titles so I have some titles in mind, but I always like to have a referral from someone that has actually used the book before, you know?



Superman has been doing very well sticking with his health goals so far this month- he's been to the gym at least two-three times a week and he's been drinking mostly water and tea. My big goal for right now has been keeping off of caffeine, and drinking mostly water. I've replaced my morning coffee with orange juice or cranberry juice and I'm eating a better breakfast so I do well through the morning most of the time, but by afternoon I crave soda. Keeping it out of the house has mostly worked, but I've had soda three afternoons this week, and then couldn't sleep until midnight or later. I'm not trying to give it up completely, but I'm trying to stop thinking of it as an all-the-time beverage. I'm going to try to treat those afternoon cravings with some decaf coffee this week and see if that helps.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Getting Things Done aka Burn Out

The last week and a half without a computer has been educational, not in any kind of school-y way, but I've learned a bit about myself.


First, I work too much. I am usually finding little moments to work all through the mornings with my boys and the evenings with my husband. Since it's such a hastle to find a time when Superman's computer is available to me AND get it set up with my files, I just haven't been doing it. Instead I've been knitting and watching TV with Superman and last night we even played cards. Shockingly, nothing exploded at work.


Second, I've been having a long period of, well, I haven't really been sure. I was starting to think depression since I've been down that road before with PPD. I read something a few days ago though, that gave a name and a reason behind how I've been feeling:
If we shatter time into tiny fragments we cannot be fully present in it. We cannot be conscious that our work is a prayer and find the sacred in the ordinary. We cannot feel the presence of God. To go even further, if we bustle along at this pace, we are not readily available to the people in our lives either. And, finally, we are on the shot track to burnout, the inability to see, or hear, or feel, or sense the joy that is abundantly present in everyday life. We are simply too tired, too stressed, too preoccupied.

- from Elizabeth Foss and her book Real Learning.


People have tried to tell me this. My husband telling me I work too hard, friends and family (both in person and online) telling me I do too much, my son asking me to sit with him, and I can't just sit without feeling like I should be getting something done... I got to this portion of Elizabeth's book and handed it over to my husband. "Seems pretty fitting" he said. Very true.


The last few days I've been really working to do one thing at a time, to be completely present for my husband and my sons. It's actually a lot harder to do than I thought, because there's this voice in my head telling me over and over to get up and do something, that if I don't I'm being lazy. This is why I've enjoyed knitting so much- I'm forced to stay in one place and concentrate on one task- my mind isn't so busy. I've often wondered if my strange drive to multi-task is some kind of ADD- I feel obligated to multi-task and to structure my day in a very tight schedule or else I'm not "Getting Things Done"- I don't know what that means exactly because I never feel like I'm really getting anything done!


So today instead of doing laundry and vacuuming and all those things I usually do in between school with the boys and playing, I sat and *really* played with them for the entire morning, rather than ten minutes here and there. I know those other things have to be done and they will be done another day. But this morning I was with my boys, and my presence there was more important than the clean house.

Note Cards Reloaded

I'm still on a picture-posting bloggy break (oh please, oh please let my computer get here by the weekend- I have about 1000 pictures to share!) but I thought I'd let you know what my little notecards have been up to. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out this post.

Routine Shift

I've been making a few changes to the system this past week and it reminds me of why I love the cards- all I have to do is re-sort them into the new system! Life has shifted again and superman is working 6 days for awhile in addition to his school schedule. It's good for our budget, but hard on family time. So the one day he is home I don't want to spend the day cleaning as the schedule currently calls for. I've reshuffled my routines in order to keep that one day clear of housework, save the daily "must be done" cards, like cleaning up the kitchen.

Kids Chores

I've added a morning card and evening card for Big Kid. It's not actually for him- it's for my forgetful brain so that I will remind him of the things that need done.

His morning list includes:

* Get dressed

* Brush teeth

* Set the table for breakfast

* Help unload the dishwasher (he sorts silverware while I do the rest)

His evening list includes:

* Pick up the toys in the living room.

* Put on pajamas

* Brush teeth

Big Kid picked out florescent orange cards and I can spot those cards from across the room! He helps with other things as asked, but mostly we want him to take responsibility for some self-care and helping the family out. We've talked about rotating jobs as he gets older and we can drop the self-care items from his list.

I also added an orange card that I'm leaving at the front of my file box. On that card I have written the habit we're working on right now, and right now that word is Obedience. It is just as much for me as it is for my kids.

Special Projects

Ever had a problem with being distracted while working on a cleaning or organizing projects? Let's say you're working on organizing a particular kitchen cabinet, but then you notice the floor needs swept so you go to get the broom only to notice that the closet is a disaster so you work on that for a few minutes before going to put something else away... and on and on until you end up with a dozen half-finished jobs and what feels like zero progress made. I've been struggling with this focus problem lately, so I chose some nice lavendar cards and decided to use them for these kinds of projects- I'm calling them Special Projects, because they are not part of my regular routine.

Right now I have a daily lavendar card for my 30 day 15-item declutter. As I work in different areas of the house I notice things that need to be done when I get to my deep cleaning next month and write it on a purple card. Right now I'm grouping those cards by room and when I get closer to starting the deep clean I'll assign those projects to certain dates and organize them accordingly. I have about 15 cards so far- we'll see how many more I collect in the the next 2+ weeks. This way I don't worry about not getting to those jobs right away; I know they've been written down (therefore remembered!) and that they will be assigned to a day when they can be done appropriately.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Beyond Homemaking Daybook

Weather: We're still freezing over here, but not so badly today. I've been cuddled up in a blanket much of today trying to fend off a cold.


This Week: Regular work weeks for me and Superman, plus school for Superman. We're still trying to get back into a more structured morning routine like we were before Christmas, but I've been really worn out lately. I'm trying not to get sick, so I've been trying to get to bed earlier and take it easy over the weekend. I'm hoping for a little more energy so I can work with the boys this week.


Current Fiction Read: Nothing right now, though Girl of the Lumberlost is next in my pile.


Current Non-Fiction Read: Keeping House by Margaret Kim Peterson.


Craftiness: Finishing the binding on Reed's quilt, and also knitting the second sock in my first pair of socks!


Learning at home:  I cleared off our shelves on Friday, so there is no work out right now. I'm going to reset everything tomorrow. There was too much dumping of materials by Little Bit and not enough proper usage, so there is nothing on the shelves at the moment. I'm going to start with 2 presentations to each child tomorrow, and see if we can get back to laying mats properly and taking care of materials. It is my fault that this slipped, so we are correcting and moving on. If they do well with those presentations and treating things well I'll re-present a few things.


New work: Nothing this week for Montessori. We started reading the Mouse and the Motorcycle though, and Big Kid is enjoying that. 


In Other News . . .  I'm really really really trying not to get sick. The boys have been passing a nice runny nose and slight cough back and forth and Superman came home from work last night with a fever and all the cough and cold symptoms. My head feels full of gunk and I've got an awesome headache (maybe becoming migraine?) that I'm hoping to get over quickly.  On another note, I started working on the first of the music education posts. Hopefully the first will be up later this week- all pending the potential cold of course. I just keep chanting, "I can't get sick, I can't get sick..." Off to bed for me
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