Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Recurring Chores

I'm not generally a New Year's Resolution type, but this year I seem to have some, and they're all the stereotypical ones, one being to keep my house better. I've been trying FlyLady again, without complete success. If I get on track with zones, I seem to fall down on weekly tasks. One step I took that I think was helpful was to split my own house into zones that work for my house: 1: Family room and Mudroom (which are connected), 2: Kitchen (which must take 80% of my cleaning time), 3: Bathrooms, Laundry room & sewing room, 4: Bedroom and Office, and 5: Living Room. I also printed out one of these calendars and marked out six day periods and labeled the weeks with zones. That way the family and living rooms don't get shortchanged.

Then I rediscovered Motivated Moms. I must have looked at it before, because I have the free 2002 calendar on my hard drive. Like any system, it doesn't fit me perfectly, but isn't that weekly checklist awful cute? So then I spent obsessive hours trying to figure out how I can make my own Motivated Moms calendar, with my own tasks and intervals that are right for me and my house. I want to be able to easily move a task if too many tasks end up on the same day, and I want to print it out. I looked at Outlook and Microsoft Project and a bunch of pages Google turned up, and didn't find anything that does what I want it to.

But it turns out that Palm Desktop will. I have a monochrome Sony Clie with DateBk5 and it handles recurring tasks pretty well. But I don't always look at it, and the tasks start to build up after a while and become daunting! But Palm Desktop will print out a weeks worth of my calendar. The only fault as far as I'm concerned is that it displays each task with a diamond rather than a check box. I'm surprised it's so difficult to figure this out. I wonder how Motivated Moms makes theirs?

And how does my house look? Well, I just moved the office into the living room so that the new carpet can get put in on Thursday, and it's a wreck!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Choosing Floor Covering

All of a sudden, my whole house seems to be falling apart! I took apart the room we use as a home office last spring and moved the computer into the livingroom. It fits there so well that we lost the impetus to redo the office. Also, in the middle of painting the ceiling I gashed my arm open -- that slowed me down too. But, the office is finally painted (Benjamin Moore Moroccan Red with a white ceiling and medium brown stained woodwork), and for the last few months I've been waffling about what to put on the floor. I'm concerned about allergies, the environment in general, and the environment inside our house. There's another floor that I want to replace, too, money permitting. The living room floor is eight years old and between the kids and the dogs is totally trashed. Our livingroom is at the center of our house -- it leads to a bathroom, the stairs, the kitchen, the office, and the front door opens into it. The TV is in the living room. Shutting it off to kids is not a good option, so the floor needs to survive the boys.

In the end I choose an affordable Berber for the office and then spent at least a month second-guessing myself. I looked heavily at Flor carpet squares. I wanted to like them, but I didn't love any of the options I looked at. So the Berber is being installed tomorrow. I don't feel great about it, but I do think I'll like it, as long as it isn't stinky.

And stinky brings me to the livingroom. The carpet is about eight years old and has been misused by the dog. It isn't bad in the cold weather, but once it starts to get warm and humid, the odor is noticable. I'm really struggling with this one. Affordable, environmentally sound choices don't seem to be prevalent. I'm looking at wood, currently.

Friday, January 04, 2008

A good homeschooling day

Currently my three children are productively employed. The oldest has taken pictures of Lego and has figured out how to print them, three to a page, directly from our new printer. He is planning to write a story and make a "book" with them. Earlier he listened to a Burgess Animal story, which I'll check off of Week 14 of Ambleside Online Year 2 curriculum. The five-year old is listening to a tape of the King's Singers Reluctant Dragon, and the youngest found Yahtzee and was messing around with it -- he's since packed it up and put it away (I was impressed!). About half an hour ago they all needed me at once, but they've since gotten the help that they needed, and have gotten on with their projects. I'm working on some chicken broth, knitting a sock, sewing a Tiny Happy bag, and blogging. I need to clean the kitchen.

Not all days are like this! In fact, even the rest of today won't be like this!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Kids giving gifts

This year it seemed like it was finally time for the boys to start giving gifts as well as receiving them. In past years it has felt like too much work – in fact, this year it felt like too much work, too, but it also seemed like the right thing to do. A fairly trite case of doing what was right rather than doing what was easy. So we buckled down and figured out doable projects. I thought of beaded gifts, since we have some beads around, but bracelets and necklaces were too big for me and my kids. For one thing, I have a thing about gifts – I don't want them to be clutter. So if we made jewelry, I'd want it to be wearable. But if the kids make gifts, I want them to feel ownership. I could see myself hovering and fixing, and it wasn't going to be a good thing. So only a week or so before Christmas I thought of earrings. Now earrings don't work for everyone on our gift list. They don't even work for all the women, because not all the women have pierced ears. But for the women who do, my five-year old made earrings.

You can buy pieces of wire like pins, with a head on the end to hold the beads, load it with a few beads, leaving enough wire at the end to twist around the earring finding that you can get at a craft or bead store – I got ours at AC Moore. M did the beading – he chose the beads and put them on the wire, often more than once if they fell on the floor. He made two to match. Then I wrapped the wire onto the earring finding and voila, a beautiful gift. (Although, don’t underestimate the wrapping procedure if you’re a beading newbie like me. However, since it was a gift from a five-year old, I didn’t feel perfection was necessary.)

For people who don't have pierced ears, we made bookmarks on a ribbon. These were less successful in my opinion, because I had to be involved the whole time, to help him thread the beads onto the ribbon (we used a waxed piece of thread, folded in half as the "needle"). With the earrings I could walk away while he prepared the wires, and attach them to the earring piece later – he could watch or not.

P, who is eight, had trouble with the earrings. He wanted to use big beads, which slip of the end of the wire. He didn't want to hear me tell him that if he started with small bead, it would hold the big bead on. He stuck an ugly button on the wire which looked terrible, and my perfectionist tendencies kicked in. So to cut to the chase, he drew pictures on bookmarks that we cut out of cardstock, and felt very proud of them, and I'm sure the recipients will like them too. They meet my criteria because a little piece of paper, used as a bookmark (I use old envelopes all the time) just cannot be clutter. At least not as long as people read books, which isn't a sure thing, I guess!

E, who is three, made a single gift – he climbed on my lap and said he wanted to make a present, so we did. I didn't feel that he was up to making more than that. Maybe next year.

Need more money?

Here are my options for finding more cash to pay the holiday bills, the astronomical oil heating bill, or to fund replacing the stinky living room carpet (the nine-year old dog has issues):

  • Pinch the grocery budget
  • Stop all (or most) discretionary spending
  • Earn some/more -- get a contract job, or try to sell some sewing (kids pants and baby carriers are the top of the list). Anyone know the best way to sell things like this?

That's it. Nothing that isn't obvious, but sometimes I have to remind myself.