Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Pics I Promised

My husband helped me figure out how to post pictures that I've taken on my iPhone onto my blog. I have more pictures on my digital camera that I'd like to share with you, but I'll have to do that on my desktop computer someday, when I actually need to turn on my desktop computer!

Here are the pics in chronological order...
This one was taken the night before we left (well actually, hours before we left for the condo, on my iphone).

This is a picture of the lunar eclipse last Tuesday morning. The quality is poor, but you get the idea.
Here are some sunset photos I'm pretty happy with.



Can you believe that I took those sunset pics with my iPhone! Here's one from Busch Gardens... We went there on our second day of our staycation. We met our good friends who were visiting from Missouri.
Here's a pic of my oldest son showing off his creativity with raisins!
Here's a pic of my daughter's snail that her friend from MO found and let her keep in the condo during our vacation. One morning we woke up and found the snail on the OUTSIDE of the container! We were worried that it might attach onto our clothes that were laying nearby.

Here's one last pic of our Christmas morning. We got back home on Christmas Eve after attending the Christmas Eve service at our church. I hope that your Christmas was as awesome as ours. We have been blessed in so many ways this year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Staycation Pics

I'm getting used to my new iPhone. Tonight has been the first time I've successfully checked Facebook and looked at my blog (from my phone). I'm going to try and post some pics from our staycation at the beach...

Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't know how to do that yet.

I thought it would be easy since the pics were taken with my phone (I'm typing this right now on my phone.) I'll work on this tomorrow and get back to you.

Goodnight!

Monday, December 20, 2010

CHALLENGE! part deux

I am trying really hard to keep my house (main areas that are already clean) clean!  The kids bring their toys out to the living room while watching TV, the daily newspapers are laying around on tables or kitchen counters, the mail is too, recent kid's artwork, couch pillows on the floor, etc...  I'm trying really hard to stay on top of it.  But I need YOUR help.  If you know me, AND you live locally, I want to challenge YOU to drop by my house unexpectedly, anytime!  Yes, that's right...  This is SO outside of my comfort zone, but I think it's exactly what I need.  Obviously this is a bit more difficult for some of you than others, but give it a try and see if my house is clean.  Don't worry, you can bring the kids.  You can call or text me first to see if I'll be home.  Especially if you live farther away.  May I suggest that the next time you're in the area, you drop on in and see how clean my house is.  I will rely on you (my friends) to keep me accountable.  And soon, I hope to have the bedrooms under control also.  They are really out of control right now.  Then after the bedrooms, the garage, then tackling the backyard landscaping which has been ignored for quite some time.


In other news....
I had forgotten exactly how time-consuming packing for a mini-vacation can be!  My packing began on Sunday, when I did my laundry (ever so quickly, I LOVE my new washer and dryer, thanks again Jen!)  I thought to myself, "I'm half-way done with packing.  That was the hard part."  Boy, was I off.  To save money I need to plan our meals for each day that we are there, then make sure I have the ingredients, and also plan a dish to bring to the annual Christmas cookout that the condo where we are staying has every year.  Plus I needed to pack our swimsuits, beach towels, sunscreen, beach shovels and buckets for sand castle-building, beach umbrella, floaties, etc...  You get the picture.  Even though the temperature of the gulf waters is too cold for native Floridians to get into, there is a heated pool at our disposal which I plan on frequenting each day of our even mini-er vacation.  I finished packing late this afternoon.  Then I had to make out our menu for the 4 days (now 3 days) we will be on vacation.  Then I had to go one last time to Publix to buy some of the AWESOME BOGO deals they have this week, like my favorite crackers!!!(Nabisco Thin Crisps, btw)  So I stocked up on some pantry items for the house and got a few things that we'll need while we're gone.  But by the time my two boys and I left Publix, it was late.  Not late, late, but we still had to eat dinner and I didn't want to drive to the beach and check-in in the dark.  So I (and my husband) insisted that we wait until morning. 


That gives me time to do this (post on my blog) and a few other things before bed.  I forgot to add that this morning I was busy ordering Christmas photos for our Christmas cards.  Then I paid the bills that were due this week.  On a totally unrelated note, yesterday during church I started getting another fever blister.  This one was very aggressive.  It came from out of nowhere and started getting gross.  So I slapped some medicine on it and it's starting to go away now, but I really do hate fever blisters. 


I'll post again in a few days.  After we get back.  Probably on Christmas day. 


Goodnight!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Christmas Party

 
These are my blog-reading friends who were able to come to my Christmas Party on Friday evening.  The adorable 3 week old baby is Ivy who's name you might remember from an earlier post where I showed pictures of her baby shower cake.
We had a wonderful time visiting and eating some DELICIOUS food.  Thank you for coming to my party and giving me the incentive to get my house cleaned up!  My family and I are enjoying our clean house!  

This afternoon I did 3 loads of laundry SO FAST I couldn't believe it!  Put together my desk in our bedroom and hooked up the computer so I could re-size this photo and post this to my blog.  I also made a quick trip to Wal-Mart to get a few things.  I've had a really productive day.  We took our family's Christmas photo after church today.  I only got one decent family photo, but good ones of each kid.  I'm going to order some prints for that tonight before bed so I can send out some Christmas cards, hopefully before Christmas!  But don't hold your breath...

I will be away from my computer until Christmas day.  Our family will be having a staycation at the beach, not too far from our house.  That means I may or may not be able to post.  I will try and see if I can do it from my new iphone (that I got yesterday as an early Christmas present from my husband).

If I am unable to post before Christmas, then "Merry Christmas to all of my readers!"  Thanks for being there!

Love,
Laura

SUCCESS!

Well, I did it.  I got the house cleaned up enough (de-cluttered) to have guests!  To some of you, who maybe don't know me very well, you might think, "Wow, this is a big deal?"  And to those who might be thinking that, I say, "Yes, yes it is."  My house/home has been in some state of mass clutter since my daughter was born in 2003.  It was then that I became overwhelmed with being a mommy AND taking care of the house.  One of those things had to go, and you guessed it, it was the house.  


It's very interesting to read the books about hoarding and see myself in the descriptions of some of the hoarders in the books.  While I agree this isn't optimal or something I would want to brag about, I've learned a lot about myself from reading/skimming these books.  I say books, because my husband checked out two more books on hoarding from the library recently.  Not for me, but for him.  He wanted to try to understand me and why I do the things I do.  


But, back to the two-week clean-up that I just completed...  I did get the main areas of the house cleaned up, but in the process I had to "stash" some of my "junk" in our bedroom and the garage.  Yes, I know, it's pretty sad.  I now need to tackle these areas of our house. Not to mention the kids' rooms.  One major problem with my record-breaking clean-up/transformation of the house was my husband helped me take apart my desk which was out in the living room and dining room (kind of like a divider) but we were pressed for time, so it's unassembled in our bedroom (taking up WAY too much room) and my computer is not set up, because I have no desk to set it on (as of right now).  So I am borrowing my husband's laptop computer to write this post.  I have a photo of my friends who were able to attend my Christmas Party yesterday, but I can't figure out how to edit it before I post it on this blog.  After I get my computer set up (hopefully tomorrow) I'll post the picture. 


I've GOT to get to sleep now.  I can barely keep my eyes open.  Health update:  no hives, one fever blister starting up, but I put some medicine on it.
Goodnight!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Procrastination vs. Priorities

It's officially the eleventh hour and I just spent quite a bit of time looking through coupons to prepare for a trip to Publix and Wal-Mart to get some ingredients to make some yummy treats for the party.  Between the two stores, I'm expecting to save $8.75 just with the coupons.  My money will go much further at Publix where I'm only buying items that are on sale as BOGO (buy one, get one free).  


You could call this procrastination...  My deadline for a clean house is tomorrow at 7:00.  Even with saving about $9, did I really come out ahead?  Probably not.  But part of my "personality" that contributes to my tendencies to hoard, is the desire to save money (save just about anything else too!  hee hee)  One of my favorite crackers is BOGO at Publix this week (starting today) and I have 3 coupons to save $1 off the purchase of 2 crackers.  This is pretty exciting, because I've been waiting for them to go on sale for about a year!  Seriously, I refuse to buy them unless they're BOGO.  Having a coupon on top of the BOGO is pure gravy!  My couponing friends know what I'm talking about.  They may, or may not think I'm CRAZY!


This directly affects my priorities.  I chose to take the time to clip coupons INSTEAD of cleaning my clutter!  My priorities SHOULD be de-cluttering right now, but I'm a bit overwhelmed with this last bit that I have to do.  I have to make the decision now whether or not to forgo the sorting and just stash the "junk."  If so, I'll have to sort at a later date.  This is not ideal, but sleeping is very desirable and very elusive during these past two weeks.  

I've been burning the candle at both ends and I have a lot to show for it, but I'm really hoping to not get sick.  I have a tendency to get hives (and fever blisters) when my body's defenses are down.  The hives is mainly on the palms of my hands and soles of my feet.  There's a specific name for this kind of hives, but I can't think of what it's called right now.  So far I've avoided the hives, but I'm on borrowed time.  I believe that God is helping me get through this "challenge" and he's keeping the hives and fever blisters and/or cold symptoms at bay while I take care of business.  


Today I was cleaning the built-in shelves where our TV, DVR and DVD player are.  It was pretty dusty!  The shelves are really deep and held a lot of stuff I hadn't used or even seen since last Christmas.  You're not going to believe what I found behind the DVR (digital video recorder/cable box)...  you'll probably never guess...  unless you've read my blog from the beginning...  THE STUPID LIBRARY BOOK (that was due last May).  I couldn't believe it was behind the DVR!  I never would have checked there!  Near it was the receipt from the library from when I originally checked it out for the kids.  I've already paid for them to replace the book ($4).  They said if I found it I could bring it in with my receipt (showing that I paid the $4) and they would reimburse me, or I could just keep it.  I don't EVER want to see that book again!  The boys really enjoyed reading it today though, so maybe I'll keep it.  

I'm really excited about tomorrow night!  Soon to be TONIGHT! (it's almost 12 am).  Today I made Creme Brulee Cheesecake Bars.  It's a new recipe that I couldn't wait to try.  I haven't sampled it yet, but it sure smelled delicious while baking.  I'm going to make my favorite spinach dip and some homemade egg nog  and a batch of white tr*sh.  I really don't like to even type those words together.  I consider it disrespectful, but until I come up with a better name for the yummy white chocolate concoction with the Chex cereals and stuff, it will have to do.  


I'm a bit anxious about having guests.  I can't remember the last time I entertained.  Seriously, I can't.  That's pretty sad :O(   I'm so looking forward to having friends over.  If you haven't contacted me and still want to come, that's okay.  The more the merrier!


I might not have time to post before the party, but will post on Saturday and let you know how it went (and if I got the house ready in time!)


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Storm Before the Calm

Yes, I realize that I've gotten the expression mixed up, but it's so true.  Each day I work on my clutter (mainly paper clutter), the dining room or living room area looks like a bomb exploded and it's messier than before I began.  Right now these areas are controlled, but only because I'm not working on the dining room/area around my desk right now.  The living room was trashed on Sunday because that was where I put my piles of paper clutter from my desk.


Today I am working in the kitchen (while homeschooling my daughter!)  So the rest of the house is looking "normal." 


I'm getting really excited about the Christmas Party on Friday at 7:00.  I don't know if anyone is coming though.  If you will be able to attend can you please leave me a comment?  I need to know so I can prepare for the party. 
Some readers have mentioned to me in the past that they didn't know how to post a comment.  If you are having problems posting a comment, there's an alternative.  

Click on the link below my picture where it says "view my complete profile."  On the left side of this profile page is a link (highlighted word) that says email.  It's under the word:  contact.  You can click on the email link and write me a quick response to let me know if you're coming.  There's no need to email if you're unable to attend.  But you're always welcome to email me, if you're unable to comment on my blog.
Thanks!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Challenge Update (4 days left, but only 3 nights)

Real quick, I want to give you a quick update on how my house cleaning/de-cluttering is going.  I don't want to spend too much time telling you about it because the clock is ticking... tick, tock, tick, tock. 


I did get my desk partially cleaned.  Let's just say I can see the top of it right now.  YEA!  My plan is to move my desk from the LR/DR area it is in now, back to our bedroom.  So tonight I will be cleaning it out and getting it ready for the move.  My husband and I spent all afternoon Saturday and a couple of hours today putting Christmas lights on our house.  I have a photo that I can post tomorrow (if I remember).  It still needs to be re-sized.  Yesterday evening we put up our Christmas tree and the kids went CRAZY decorating it.  Ever since they woke up this morning, they've been re-arranging the ornaments.  I don't think they understand that once you decorate the tree, it's done!


I'm feeling a lot of pressure to get my house in order before my Christmas Party THIS FRIDAY at 7:00 p.m.  I am not regretting my decision to undertake this "challenge," because without the "pressure" that I feel right now, nothing would get done.  I wouldn't be making any progress on my de-cluttering.  It will be an awesome Christmas present for myself and my family to have a clean house once again. 


I hope you can make it to my party.  Thanks for being my inspiration!  The blog post with the party details is HERE.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Challenge Update (6 days to go)

Last night (Friday) I began work on my desk.  The frustrating thing is, I didn't get very far.  I didn't get started as early as I had wanted to because besides my usual procrastination, my daughter pulled her second top tooth (making the grand total 6 teeth pulled so far).  She was determined to get that tooth out of her mouth.  She spent about 2 or 3 hours getting it loose enough to pull out.  I'm proud of her.  Determination is not one of her normal character traits.  She often gives up on things that are too difficult.  When she started "working it," early in the evening, it wasn't close to coming out.  She forced it out.  


So, I did my best and grabbed as much paper clutter and miscellaneous items off my desk and plopped them on the floor in the living room.  I made piles of different categories, but then got really tired.  So, even though I knew it could be messed up the next day by the kids (and husband) walking on my piles (which to them just look like random paper clutter/mess) and it did get messed up a bit.  I just left it out on the floor because it would've taken too much time to pick everything up and then get it back out this evening for more sorting.


I'm getting ready to begin, but first I had to start some laundry.  I've fallen off the laundry wagon and have been pushing my limits on how long we can go between washes.  Our family spent the entire day outside putting up our Christmas lights on the house.  Yesterday I did some trimming of our long hedge that leads to the front door to get it ready for the net lights today.  I remember now that I also pulled a BUNCH of some type of weed I hadn't seen before that was growing unchecked near this long hedge.  I even got out the rake to try and get the roots to this weed out of the ground.  That is another example of me getting sidetracked.


Oh yeah, I was talking about doing laundry...  My husband asked that I wash his jeans before church tomorrow because they had gotten soaked today when he pressure washed the front of our house and then the walk that leads to our front door.  He couldn't stop!  Anyway, I wanted to show you just how dirty our walk was.  He took this short video with his iphone4 to demonstrate just HOW dirty it was.  Check it out.
CLICK HERE

My first load of laundry is waiting for me to fold it.  So, I'm gonna go for now.  We ran out of daylight while putting up the Christmas lights today, so we'll finish it tomorrow after church.  After it's finished I'll show you a photo of our house (from the outside, that is).  

Goodnight!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stay Focused!

That's me, talking to myself.  It's more like a mantra I've adopted.  One of my problems with collecting clutter is my superior ability to get sidetracked.  It's pretty bad.  It can undermine my cleaning efforts pretty easily (and it's so stealthy).  Like just last night, when I got distracted with throwing out, organizing and making a pile to give away/sell.  I was supposed to just do a few more dishes and then go to bed.  I'm not saying that it was a bad thing though.  It feels really good to have more storage space in some of my kitchen cabinets.  The bummer is that it doesn't really get me closer to my goal of having a clean house to invite friends to a Christmas Party in ONE WEEK!  Don't get me wrong... it's a step in the right direction, but I NEED to focus/concentrate on the living areas of the house where guests would actually see.   My plans are to get a good night's sleep tonight and then stay up late tomorrow and "attackle" the dining room once again.  After I get the dining room picked up and then clean my desk (and surrounding areas) I'm going to do some furniture rearranging (always fun) to make room for our Christmas tree and guests.  I am SO excited to have people over to my house, even if no one shows up, I'm still going to get the house ready, just in case!  I imagine there will be at least a couple people who haven't seen the inside of my house that will be interested to see what a "hoarder's" house looks like (even after it's been cleaned up).  I'm signing off for now.  I want to be well-rested (I had 3 hours of sleep this morning and a 1 hour nap this afternoon) so I can attackle the clutter once again tomorrow!
Goodnight!

It's Back to Work For Me!

Tonight while I was doing the dishes, I decided to begin throwing stuff away.  I got rid of extras of EVERYthing (plastic plates, cups, sippy cups, etc...)  I am selling my baby stuff, second-hand china, lots of crystal that we received for our wedding, but have NEVER used.  I don't even LIKE it.  It's the new me again.  I'm not going to let the "guilt" of someone/anyone finding out that I didn't like their gift and I sold it or gave it away (or in some cases threw it away).  I can't continue living life that way anymore.  Lean and mean, scaled down, less is more, minimalism and all that jazz.


So instead of doing the dishes and then going to bed early (as I had planned), I have been discarding and organizing about half of our kitchen cabinets and their contents (for 6 1/2 hours).  We'll see how the rearranging works in everyday use.  If I've thought of convenience and planned the rearranging well, or not.  If not, I can always rearrange it again.


I wanted to give you this update and shortly I'll be heading off to bed.  I need to finish some of the dishes I started and set the coffee maker for the morning.  I'M GONNA NEED IT!


Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Going To Bed Early Tonight!

The kids and I just got back from our "field trip" to the Glazer Children's Museum in Tampa.  They have free admission from 4-8 pm on the first Tuesday of each month through March.  The promotion began in November, but one of the boys (I can't remember who) started getting sick that day and we had to cancel our plans.


I was not that impressed with the two-story "museum."  It seemed to be copying Great Explorations in St. Pete in every exhibit!  I would be embarrassed to have my brand new museum be identical to the older one in St. Pete (across the bay).  We arrived right at 4:00 and luckily didn't have to wait in a line outdoors.  The place was PACKED!  I seriously think they were over capacity and didn't make any effort to slow the tide of people entering the "museum."  The only parts that differentiated it from Great Explorations was a very large water-play area (like a water table, similar to Great Explorations, but HUGE!)  Nearby they had a "sand pit" that had "sand" consisting of tan-colored rubber cut into tiny pieces.  That was interesting.  The only other thing that was different was a water cycle climbing thingie.  It's hard to explain, you'd have to see a picture of it.  I might have one, but I can't remember.  If so, I'll post it tomorrow.


I was able to get about 1 1/2 hours sleep this morning and a one hour nap after lunch, and I'm hurting big time.  I vacuumed this morning and I am pleased with my progress so far.  My husband agreed to tuck in the kids so that I could (post this) and get to bed.  I really appreciate that, thanks honey!


Goodnight!

Monday, December 6, 2010

I'm doing it...

Well... since my announcement on Saturday about my "challenge" (skip down to Saturday's post if you don't know what I'm talking about), I haven't done very much to get this house whipped into shape....  Until NOW.  Granted, I'm getting started at 11:30 at night and that doesn't leave me a whole lot of uninterrupted time (translation:  time without kids around) to get very much done.  BUT, I AM going to get started.  I just wanted you to know that I'm tackling (or attackling, as my oldest son says) the dining room.  It occurred to me earlier this evening that I was putting too much emphasis on getting the kitchen done first and not focusing on ANYthing else UNTIL I completed that task.  (Well, I haven't completed it YET!)  I need to work on the decision-making parts of my clutter-clean-up while the kiddies are in bed, so I won't be constantly interrupted (and get sidetracked!)  So, I'm attackling the dining room and don't plan on stopping until its CLEAN!  I'll post a quick update when I'm done.


I know what you're probably thinking... "stop blogging about it and just DO IT already!"  Okay, okay... Here I go!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Update (on my Challenge)

Well, the first night of "work" on the kitchen, was cut short due to my sleepiness.  I was able to do some but not all of the dishes.  Not that there's a whole lot in there right now (compared to usual).  I'm a bit disappointed in myself, but I did get some other stuff done, I just can't remember now what it was...  pretty sad, huh?  


My day today was packed.  I got about 4 1/2 hours sleep  because I got up at 6:00 a.m.  I was going to just turn off my alarm and go back to sleep, but then I remembered that I had set the coffee maker to brew my coffee at 6.  That was my motivation to get out of bed!  So I fixed my coffee the way I like it (lots of sugar and half and half!) and downed two cups of coffee (in my eco-friendly ceramic cup with a silicone sleeve and lid, so it's like it was just ONE cup of coffee).  That gave me the energy to get moving...  


I have been putting off coloring my hair for too long, so I did it this morning (before church).  Yes, I know, pretty crazy, but I was desperate.  My hair grows really fast and I have lots of grays to cover.  I may be vain, but I just don't feel old enough to go gray.  My husband says I should just live with it (my gray hairs), but I keep telling him that I won't go ALL gray until I'm a grandma.  I guess I just don't feel old, so why look it?


Then I had a very brief prayer-time before the kids woke up.  Finished up my hair and made breakfast.  Got ready for church.  At church today I was a volunteer in the preschool section with the three and four-year olds.  I volunteer on the first and third Sundays of each month.  So I needed to be ready to memorize my "lines" and entertain those youngsters.  I don't know if I did a very good job sticking to the script, but I KNOW I definitely entertained those kiddos (and the adult helpers in the room!)  I'm pretty good at acting goofy with little kids...  Yeah, it's a gift.


Then after church on the way home we stopped and filled up our water jugs at the Publix/Glacier water dispenser that's outside of our water company's territory.  I just realized that I'm going on and on about the details of my day, and this is getting boring.  I don't have enough time to fill you in on EVERYthing.  So I'll condense, for everyone's sake.


We ate lunch, watched TV until it was time to leave for our Sunday small group.  Got home from small group, ate dinner, tucked in kids and am typing on my blog about my day today....  Well, we've caught up to real time.  Whew!


I'm SO tired from my lack of a decent night's sleep last night, I'm pretty useless for cleaning tonight.  I'm pretty mad at myself for not doing SOMEthing to help me reach my goal of a clean and clutter-free house for my Christmas party on Dec. 17th.  I will try to make up for it tomorrow, after my OTHER small group meeting and after I tuck the kids in to bed!  Sounds like a plan!


WAIT!  Before I forget... This Tuesday (12/7) from 4-8 p.m. in Tampa, the Glazer Children's Museum will have FREE admission.  The free admission is a special promotion with Target.  It is after the museum's regular operating hours.  It is only on the FIRST Tuesday of the month, through March.  TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW (if you live in the Tampa Bay area).  It should be a blast!  We'll be there!  Click on the Museum link above for more details!

Goodnight!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

CHALLENGE!

Yes, it is a challenge.  I'm challenging myself and hopefully tricking my brain into doing some cleaning 'round these parts.  My challenge consists of a goal or event to look forward to, to get me motivated to get my house presentable for guests.  I tried to get my parents to come and visit during Christmas, but they will most likely be tied up with home remodeling.  There is still a chance that they can drive down from IL, but I'm not sure when I'll get a confirmation.  My youngest brother and his new bride (of a year) were going to come down and stay nearby over Christmas, but their plans fell through due to one of their new kittens getting hit by a car.  He's alive, but racked up some costly vet bills.  


So that leads me to my crazy idea:  the challenge.  I am extending an invitation to anyone who is reading this and who is in driving distance of my house, to come over for a Christmas party at MY HOUSE on Friday, December 17th.  I realize that a lot of people might already have plans for that night, but if you don't, come on over and check out my progress.  I promise I won't back out even if my house isn't as presentable as I had hoped (this could happen).  That means I have two weeks (approx.) to get my house cleaned up.  My invite is open to ladies only, sorry guys (I don't think many guys read my blog anyway) and no kiddos, just mommies.  I will have some yummy treats and (non-alcoholic) beverages here, and ask if you would bring either an appetizer or a dessert to share.


My plan on getting my house "in order," if you will, is to stay up each night after the kiddies are in bed for at least a few hours (maybe more) until I can tame this unruly beast which is my clutter.  You all (my loyal readers) will be my accountability partners to make sure I complete this somewhat daunting task.  I'll admit, I'm not sure if I can do this, but I CAN'T WAIT to have friends over once again.  It's been a long time :O(


If you want to come, leave me a comment and let me know if you're bringing an appetizer or dessert.  Thanks for being my friend/accountability partner!
Signing off now, to get busy on the kitchen!
Goodnight!