I’ll clean if you’ll clean.

Let’s face it, Mary Poppins was right.

In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game

Spoonful of Sugar, Mary Poppins, Disney

My mom used to make having “Kitchen Duty” a game. She used to tell me to race myself and see if I could clean it faster than I did the night before! Somehow she managed to get me to play a game all by myself while doing something I hated doing. Moms are magical, y’all.

I guess it works, because here I am about to declutter my bedroom and my main motivation is that last night on Facebook, I managed to volunteer myself for bedroom cleaning while showing support for my friend’s desire to get more organized in the new year. I shouldn’t have been typing in the dark, or I would have seen what a hot mess was waiting for me. (Before pics are coming)

I’m all about baby steps, and that’s how I’ll tackle today.

Four Tips for Tackling Overwhelming Chores

  1. Set a time limit.  I usually aim for 15 minutes, but since we are working on the whole room, I’m going to allot one hour – in four 15-minute increments. Sometimes I’ll binge watch Netflix, something I’m sure none of you ever do, but I do, I’ll admit it. I’ll finish an episode of Gilmore Girls and then set a time for 15 minutes, tackle an area or chore, and THEN I can push play on the next episode. If you’re working in the same room as the TV, you can tackle TWO 15 minute blocks per episode of Friends! 
  2. Set a simple goal. One bag of trash -or- one bag to donate -or- one drawer -or- one shelf (not the whole bookcase, Cassie!) Most often, I will end up way exceeding the goal. One bag turns into two, I get on a roll with that shelf and find myself moving on to the next one. Something about hitting the goal makes it fun. If a kid runs in and interrupts you and you can’t finish the second cabinet, or another bag, it’s okay, because you already met the goal. Keep it short and simple.
  3. Reward yourself with something that does not require others to go along. I may need to explain this a bit. I used to get so discouraged when I would work my butt off all day with the expectation of getting to have an hour alone to read, or an hour to take a hot bath, or quiet trip to Target alone, only to never get my reward because it relied on other people participating. It never failed the kids would get sick that day, or my husband would forget to tell me he had invited company over, or a friend would need me (and I have an issue with saying no- yes, I know, it’s a thing, I’m working on it.) Now my rewards are quick, and usually instant: the next episode, popcorn, the next chapter in my book, 15 minutes to write in my journal, a cookie…. literally a cookie, there’s a story there, better saved for another day.
  4. Phone a friend, or poke, tweet, message, snap, whatever the kids are doing these days, find your friends. It just takes one. Scratching off “clean nightstand” feels really good but it’s bonus fun if you’re friend can send you a “way to go party time” gif when you’re done. (Yes, Cassie, I am expecting a gif… please and thank you.)

As embarrassing as they are, here are the before pictures, taken from my current spot on the bed:

It’s almost 9 am here.

I have allotted one hour to devote to this today. I’ll do my first 15 minute sprint after I feed the chickens. My reward? Hot coffee.


The First Fifteen

I tackled my nightstand first. It was closest to me, and it is usually the spot that gets ignored the most. My timer buzzed, but I was close to finishing so I kept going a bit longer. I found a grocery bag worth of trash in, on, or around it.

Y’all, I hide a LOT of candy in there. I tossed it, because I couldn’t be certain how long it had been in there. Also, candy does not help my medical issues at all so while I had the will power I tossed it out.

I found my missing stapler. I found my hunting knife (not that I ever use it, but I know where it is now). I found my new set of tweezers that I’ve been missing since I did Steel Magnolias in the summer. See that big red mug in the picture? My kids wrote their names on it as a gift one year, so I don’t use it as a coffee mug. I has spare change in it. I also was stuffed with Reese’s cup wrappers. The wrappers are gone now. Maybe when I turn on my little black fan, I’ll actually feel the air!

Time for a coffee reward and since I can’t JUST focus on this room today, I’m going to throw some clothes in the laundry. PASSIVE cleaning is my favorite! I take 60 seconds to toss clothes in and it does the work for me.


*** The kids woke up, had to make breakfast, and start schoolwork. I started a load of laundry, found the kitchen table (it was covered in stuff from New Year’s night, cleaned dog barf off the couch, and took a trash bag through the house to gather trash from bathroom and bedroom trash cans.

Also, just got the call that my sister-in-love is in the hospital about to have baby #5!  Whoo hoo!!!  Lots about to be up in the air as we were on call to come help pet sit while they were in the hospital. He’s a few weeks early, but docs are optimistic about the little guy being okay.


The Next Fifteen

Reading, reading, writing, and math. Stopped to make some frantic “the baby is coming” phone calls, and then I headed into the bedroom for another 15 minute sprint. I tackled the dresser.

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I have a love/hate thing going on with this dresser. It’s technically mine, as far as the clothes go. Mr’s is in the closet because our room is small. I had planned to have my jewelry box on it, and my retro radio; however, since we have limited space, it ended up being the piece of furniture that held the DVD player, and the WiiU (don’t even get me started on that one. Grrr). Also, his fancy humidor can’t stay in the closet because the closet is in the bathroom and there a humidity blah blah blah, excuses, and it had to be in our room. I did get the 8000 random Ikea parts off of it, and put my earrings away. I collected all the random bobby pins and hair clips and put them in the bathroom.

I did not put the hair things where they went. That would have made sense, but it also would have wasted time I had dedicated to the dresser. They were dumped in my random basket that I will sort when I decide to spend time decluttering the bathroom. A 15 minute sprint is not the time to start squirreling off on another project….we are not playing “if you give a mom a chore” today. Focus.


No real reward this time, as all the interruptions have put me behind a bit and I just got a text asking if I could give someone a ride somewhere around 2 pm. The washer is done, so I’ll call the kids to move it to the dryer and I’ll fix lunch. I think I’ll have them empty the dishwasher too, they look bored.


The Last Fifteen

Okay, phew! Glad that’s done.

This definitely isn’t perfect, but it’s the best I could do for today (and with only 15 mins to play). The laundry pile has been put away, and the desk cleared. The stack of green and pink boxes are craft supplies I brought in from our storage barn. I’m trying to get a few items made for my Etsy store, but it’s slow going.

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That brown box on the right? That’s a shoe organizer from Ikea that I haven’t built yet. I haven’t built it because I can’t get into the kid’s room where it is supposed to be going. That’s for another day. That project will be more of a “shock and awe” event in our house. Empty to space and start over kind of thing.

But first, babies!  I’m done for today with this project, now I have to figure out what I can do to help my brother and his wife welcome their new one to the world!

Leave me a comment below and tell me what your biggest decluttering/cleaning challenge is and I’ll try to answer it in an upcoming post!

Permission Given

Not that you need my permission.

But I’m offering it. It seems to help. When we have someone say, “Hey you, it’s okay to do that.”

That’s why we share the memes, and the inspirational quotes, and the funny videos. We want to see someone else feeling the way we do, living the way we do, rejoicing the way we do, and struggling the way we do. We want to know that it’s okay to do that.

So today, I’m giving you permission.

Permission to feel. Any thing. ALL the things. ALL THE FEELS.

Own them.

Feel them.

The good ones and the bad ones. Especially the bad ones y’all.

It seems we don’t want anyone to compare their blessings to another’s blessings. Find joy in your own circumstances. Find the silver lining. Count just one thing that’s good. Look for the light. Sing a song. Dance. Go for a walk. Get the good juices flowing.

YES! All that…. all that is great and wonderful and very helpful.

After you have allowed yourself, given yourself permission to feel the bad first. And don’t, I repeat, DO NOT COMPARE YOUR PAIN TO ANOTHER IN AN ATTEMPT TO TALK YOURSELF OUT OF HURTING. Knock it off. Yes, other’s MAY have it worse. Yes, there are homeless and addicted and abducted and dying and starving and sick and lonely and all of it is very very very bad. I am NOT negating any of their pain or their hurt or their difficulties.

I am simply saying, in all caps, IT IS OKAY TO FEEL THAT YOUR SITUATION SUCKS TOO.

Whatever it is, my friend, it is OKAY to own it, feel it, and say it out loud.

The part that isn’t okay, is if you stay in that feeling for too long.

The negative is what makes the positive so…well, positive!

The light is only bright because we have come out of the darkness.

And if you can’t find anyone safe to talk to, I’m here. Talk to me.

I don’t have answers, but I have ears. Sometimes, we just need someone to listen, and to let us feel, and pray with us or for us while we wait for the morning light.

And the next time someone tells you to “Just cheer up”, “count your blessings”, or tries to remind you that “someone else has it way worse than you”, politely (or not) remind them that you can be blessed and stressed at the same time….I can feel all the feels.

Permission

 

 

A lesson in punctuation.

Ya’ll, I just can’t hold it in anymore.

It seems our society has forgotten the difference between a period ( . ) and a question mark ( ? ).

A period ENDS a STATEMENT.

A question mark ASKS for something.

In the past few weeks, I have experienced people having an issue differentiating between these two punctuation marks. Some have been online, but all too many have been live and in person.  Today, when a young homeschooler posted a funny meme meant to put a chuckle in someone’s day, her post was followed with a ton of  comments very rudely offering suggestions on how to fix the situation being jested about in the post.

NO.

She didn’t ask for advice. She wasn’t seeking help or solutions. How do I know? Because there was NO QUESTION MARK. The meme merely made a statement, a comical statement about one of the many trials of motherhood. She wasn’t requesting help to resolve whatever behavior led to the meme. In fact, IT WASN’T EVEN A MEME ABOUT HER. It was some graphic she pulled off a meme site because…. IT WAS FUNNY.  Any mother would have had a good chuckle and scrolled away.

I have posted funny anecdotes on my personal Facebook page (or had conversations personally with others), in which I shared a trying day. When I do this, I am NEVER looking for suggestions on how to NOT have a trying day. IF I feel I could use some advice I will ask for it, using…. dun…dun….dun… a QUESTION. Most times, I am throwing up the mom gang sign and saying “Hey, other mom friends, other wife friends, other sister friends, other humans-who-have-to-deal-with-people friends… guess what, sometimes people suck, I feel ya, high five… we got this… let’s laugh.” PERIOD. END OF STATEMENT.

So please help me understand why it seems everyone wants to jump in and fix what they perceive to be wrong, when no one is asking for help/advice?  (<–see there is a question, feel free to leave a comment and answer THIS question)

I can promise you, you do not have the whole story in that meme or post or 5 minute conversation. There was more to it. I also promise that whatever the situation was….

I handled it. I just didn’t feel the need to bore you with that part of the story.

Oh, and while we are on that bunny trail…. I am done justifying HOW I handled it. I did it my way and that’s that. (<–please note the specific use of a period here.)

People…. PEOPLE…  why can’t we just support each other? Hug, high five, throw up the Mockingjay sign and show some sympathy, some empathy, some compassion and IF YOU CAN’T….

take that little finger of yours and scroll on by.

 

I still act like a child.

We reset our priorities. We made a plan. We made less selfish choices.
It was amazing. Things were good. Kids were happy. We were happy.
Then there was that one day, that one day when I was tired, tired of not getting my way.
It was just a moment. A frustrated moment. I had done all my chores, made all the plans, fixed all the meals. I had paid the pills and fed the chickens. I had listened to stories and read stories, and broke up fights. I had entertained unexpected company because…well… the kids were excited to play with their cousins. I fielded phone calls and messages, fixed problems, boosted spirits, and comforted the broken-hearted. I played referee between an emotional teenager and … the rest of the world.
It was 9:30pm, and I finally had a chance to sit in my recliner and do something I WANTED TO DO. I’ve been working on knitting the same scarf since last fall. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift. Then a January birthday gift. Now, I’m sure my friend is just hoping she’ll get it one day. The stitch isn’t hard, but it requires paying attention.
Thirteen stitches in a child crawls up beside me.
“I haven’t had any Mommy/Bubby time in forever!”
I put the knitting down, hug him, and remind him that we had cuddle time earlier and that now it was bedtime. I tuck him back in, and say prayers again, and sing the song again.
As I walk across the kitchen, headed for my chair, the other teenager flings her foot into my face to show me that her toenail is hurting again….”it has been hurting me for DAYS Mom!”
You couldn’t have told me that DAYS ago, kid?
I was on stitch 13, right?
Knitting
Okay, let’s go find the clippers and hooky filey thingy and some antibiotic ointment and the band-aids.
10 minutes later, I’m headed back for my chair.
My Mr. turns off the tv and says it’s time for bed.
Um… no. It is not. I stomp over like a child about to have a tantrum and with all the force of The Hulk I press the ON button on the tv remote as if force would make it turn on faster. I throw the remote on the couch and plop down in my seat.
“What’s wrong with you?” he dared to ask.
Oh boy. My rant began. Everyone heard it. My childish, angry rant, went from “Why is it I never get to do anything I want” to “I’m sorry, I love being wife and mommy, I just wanted a few minutes to do something I wanted to do.”
Somewhere in there, I yanked my knitting off the table without paying attention, probably flinging it around for visual effect, and dropped two stitches.
Was it the last two I did, or the two I was about to do?
My Mr. eased onto the couch beside me. Found my favorite show on Amazon Prime and pushed play.
“Okay honey, we can knit.”
 
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Check out the new “Basically Clean Club“!

New Plan

Bad mornings, new game plan, and accountability. Wanna play?

I’ve been awake for almost two hours. The coffee and meds are doing nothing for my raging headache. My inability to determine what caused the headache is negatively affecting my attitude. The house is only a half-step away from being trashed thanks to a last minute dinner party for 12 that was thrown together at 5 pm yesterday.
Maybe that caused the headache.
Unfortunately, I’m an adult, with four children and enough animals to start my own zoo. This means I must get up, and get going.
But how do you get going when you were overwhelmed by your to-do list? How are you supposed to make a new plan when you’re head is pounding and your body feels like an old punching bag after a workout session?
I don’t know. I was hoping you did.
New Plan
I dug through my old day planner and found my “Mostly Just The Basics” note cards that I made years ago, when I first started getting sick.  They are a bit of an old standby plan that usually can pull me out of a housekeeping hole when my brain is on overload.
Each day is split into four parts: Morning, Around Lunchtime, Afternoon Before Dinner, and After Dinner. If I remember how I did the math, each section takes no more than an hour….unless I get on a roll, which happens, just not today.
Card “Day Three”:

  • Morning: Collect Dirty Laundry, Start Load Laundry, Bathroom Sinks/Mirrors, Porches, Dust Fan & Lamps.
  • Midday: Dry Laundry, Take Out Garbage, Empty Dishwasher, Make Beds
  • Afternoon: Fold Laundry, Sweep Floors, Gather Eggs & Wash, Quick Pick Up (living room), “Mop” Floors <–totally not what you think
  • After Dinner: Load Dishwasher/Wash Pots, Clean Counters and Table

Not too bad considering the kids can totally collect the laundry, sweep the porches, move the laundry to the dryer, do the bathrooms, take out the garbage, the teen emptied the dishwasher last night when she couldn’t sleep, make their own beds, sweep the floors, gather eggs, “mop” the floors, and I can fold laundry while re-binge watching House on Netflix {It’s too soon to re-watch Supernatural}.
What also helps is that I’m in love with my Norwex and it makes swiping the sinks and mirrors and “mopping” the floors super easy. But this isn’t a sales pitch for Norwex. I’m happy to tell you about it anytime, just message me!
That leaves me with: dusting the fan (they are too short, even with my Norwex wand), folding laundry, loading the dishes after dinner, and fixing them food.  That’s 3 things, and basic survival (food). I CAN do three things today. I’ll probably do more…. once I get going. But somehow knowing that if I start feeling that bad, they can do it, helps me feel less overwhelmed.
So why am I still in bed, sipping coffee and nursing my slowly waning headache?
Because no one is here to tell me to get off my backside. I need a friend, or 15, to cheer on and to cheer me on. Accountability Friends are what really get the “Just the Basics” plan going. Won’t you join me?
Hop over to the Polka Dotted Daisies Facebook Page and let me know you’re on the team and let me know what THREE things you’re going to try and do today! Feel free to copy my “Just the Basics” list above.
When we get 15 people on the team, we’ll have a contest for a team name!
For now, I’ll share a secret to how I feel productive while sitting on my tush:
I start laundry. BWAHAHAHAHA… the sound of that machine churning away makes me feel like I’m getting something accomplished, yet… I am doing absolutely nothing! So, first, I shall start the laundry. Let the delegating begin!  {Can’t wait to “meet” you on the page!}
 
 

It’s not me.

I can feel the crazy. The irrational feelings and thoughts. It’s like I am separated from myself, watching from the inside, while a hurricane of negative thoughts swirl around outside of me, trying to escape. Like a bee stuck in the car, banging at windows trying to find that one opening so it can get out, my thoughts are banging against my brain searching for a way out, a way to be heard.

Sorry not sorry, but dudes… you are not escaping. Not if I can help it.

Why? Because you are not real.

You are a product of some chemical that my brain just got a jolt of, a little too much of, or maybe not enough of, and quite frankly you are not making any dang sense. So before you do any damage, just chill your britches and wait.

I KNOW this is what’s going on because I finally have a few answers and a better idea of why I have been on a slow decline for years. I have a more detailed understanding of the immune system, and hormones, and histamines, and dopamines, and all sorts of other “-mines” and “-pines” and “-ones” and all the other things that work together and apart from all the other things that make our bodies work, or not work.

So I’ll evaluate what I ate. I’ll double check the medicine I took, or forgot to take, and the supplements. I’ll do my deep breathing. I’ll color. I’ll make a list. I’ll tell someone I love them. I’ll lie and say that today I am okay. I’ll wait, for it to pass.

It will.

I woke up this morning, still here to fight the good fight because the fight isn’t over. I know it’s not over because I woke up. God isn’t done with me, so I won’t be done with me.

woman wears gold colored blue gemstone pendant necklace

Photo by Anastasiya Lobanovskaya on Pexels.com

I don’t believe you

{This post is a participation in Daily Post’s daily prompt. Today’s prompt can be found hereIn keeping with my goal of writing 15 minutes each day, I have only allowed myself 15 minutes of free writing. }

Please don’t say I’m good, I won’t believe you.

Part of me will want to, and maybe part of me, deep down, will think maybe it’s true. Still, I won’t fully believe you. It will be hard for me to accept it. I will politely say “thank you” and on the inside I’ll be thinking “boy, you have them fooled.”

My self esteem is fine. I do, in general, think I am good at things. My fear, unfortunately, is great. My fear that at some point, some day, some one will call me out and say “you’re not good! You just got lucky! Look at all these other people better at this than you!”

I fear that by declaring out loud and into the world that I am good at something {seriously, anything, pick a skill here folks} that I will immediately discover that I was wrong, and in declaring something so obviously untrue, I will prove myself a fraud. The humiliation would be devastating.

Instead, I just try my best and pray that it was enough. I am humbled by opportunities that arise from others thinking I am good enough to be asked. I will hide my face and say thank you when compliments are given. I will hope that one day, without fear, I will believe you when you say “good job”.

The One Thing I Know About Life

{I decided this week that I wanted to try and devote 15 minutes each day to writing. I posted a request on my Facebook Page, asking for writing prompts. My friend Sherrin suggested this post. 15 minutes…and go…}
The one thing I know about life is that I am worthy. I am worthy of a life, a good life, a happy life. I am worthy of being given a chance to care, to love, to learn, to try, to take on challenges and fail, and to take on challenges and succeed. I don’t deserve anything, but I am worthy of the opportunity to work hard and move forward.
I spent years of my life feeling unworthy. Not good enough to be considered for the team. Not experienced enough to audition for the part. Not naturally talented enough to try a new skill or learn a new thing.
My God designed me, personally, and created me, and He has a plan for me and HE has determined that I am worthy of this life and so He gave me this life and I have His full permission to live and grow and love this life to my fullest ability. I am not worthy of His forgiveness when I falter and succumb to selfish desire or self doubt or anger. He knew I would never be worthy of that, so He sent His Son. Through His Son, Jesus Christ, I am gifted forgiveness.
Guess what?
He made you, too. He designed you, created you, put you on Earth as a living, breathing child of God, and He knows you are worthy, too.
Go out, my friends, and live knowing you are worthy of the life force you have been given. Learn, grow, try something new, change, care for others, set boundaries with some, love all and accept their love in return. Because, you are worth it.

A shirtless boy

beginningWe gathered our hammocks, books, collection jars, paints, cameras, and snacks. This beautiful Sunday afternoon was going to be spent relaxing down by the creek, deep in the woods. The men folk had already begun cleaning up the path. Papa and Grandma were now able to ride the golf cart down to meet us with bottles of water, a rescue of sorts when we all realized we had packed everything but drinks.
The creek area was still very raw. Fallen limbs and saplings cluttering up our space. Clean up for around the creek was in the plans, just not today.We cleared what we needed to in order to hang out in the trees. David and I stretched out in our respective cocoons, listening to the children play.
 
The eldest sat upstream, where the dog had yet to stir up the water, and painted. The next oldest went downstream, where the water was a bit deeper and chased frogs and salamanders.


 
The youngest daughter stood in the shallow, muddy bits, digger her bare toes into the muck, thrilled that the 72 degrees meant she could leave her shoes on the bank. Little man kept watch for wild creatures. He walked logs and chased frogs. He made regular trips back to Momma’s hammock to make sure I was okay.

It was almost hot outside. Way too hot to be February. The sun was so delightfully warm that I had shed one of my layers of shirts, allowing my bare arms to soak in the suns rays. The brightness of my book pages almost making it difficult to read.
I was snuggled so deep into my hammock, deep into my book that I didn’t notice the small but thick cloud that was creeping ever so slowing between us and the sun. The small breeze, that had been a pleasant sensation in contrast to the sunshine’s warmth, quickly turned into a biting chill that left me longing for a sweater. I pulled my recently removed shirt up over my chest and arms, and made jokes with David about how quickly the weather had turned. As David was assuring me that it was a small cloud and my warmth would return quickly, a small t-shirt appeared over the edge of my hammock.
“Here Momma, to keep you warm.”
I peeked over the edge to see my sweet boy standing there, shirtless.

January 4, 2017 A New Tradition

img_20170104_101919776.jpgAs I scrolled through my Facebook “on this day” feed, I couldn’t help but notice a little trend. It appears we have started a new family tradition of getting head colds after Christmas. We were all sick for New Years 2013-2014. We were sick right before New Years for 2014-2015. That was the year we had a big party with our neighbors and while the adults were across the street playing cards, the kids were at our house playing video games. The kids failed to notice that our BIG dog had to go out. Pappy took it upon himself to their attention by peeing on our Christmas tree. FYI, you don’t get the smell of dog pee out of an artificial Christmas tree. We barely stayed awake to ring in 2016 because again we were all sick.
I tried really hard to blame this year’s round of cooties on the family Christmas party we attended this year. The same Christmas party we had missed for 7 years. It would appear I was wrong. It happens. Maybe Santa is bringing us an immune boosting “get sick now so you won’t get it later” cootie present in our stockings.
Talking snot isn’t fun, so let’s roll back a few days and talk about what’s been happening on the farm…..before cooties.
My Mister {that’s my husband}, doesn’t get to be around much right now. We’re stuck in a transition period between city life and farm life and it’s all very boring and complicated and scary. There is a WHOLE LOTTA LEANIN’ ON JESUS right now. We managed to move down here without him taking a lot of time off so we could have him home a LOT for Christmas. We just had a two week spree of Daddy being home and it was glorious!
Even more awesome, he found a big bucket of Round ‘Tuits and tackled my big wish list. He even added a few extras, because he’s sweet like that. Coat racks were hung, Halloween decor was finally packed away, shelves were put up in the barn and I even have my very own craft space!
Let’s see if I can sum up how great this was without having this post get VERY long. We when decided to move out here and start homesteading there were a rather long list of “I’m not going unless this happens” followed by a long list of “I’m not going IF this happens”. He did his best to ensure all my demands, and they were demands, were met. Then we moved. Reality is a beast. Great plans are great, until reality shows up. It seemed every weekend that my Mr. was here, a little bit more of my demands were being compromised to make room for reality. I wasn’t taking it well. In the past two weeks, he finally had time to make good on his promises and roll some of those compromises back in my favor. *insert happy wife dance*
Things were moving along swimmingly until the cooties showed up. My week of putting away the holidays and getting back into the swing of things is down to 48 hours. Not because my Mr. will be home again, but because snow is coming. I need to have a clean house before the snow starts falling. 60 degree temps and no rain means a today has a lot of potential.
Maybe if I get all my chores done, I can come back and tell you about the toys I got for Christmas! #cardingpaddlesandalpacaOhMy!