Sunday, December 12, 2010

A new week, a new goal!

I really need to form some new habits.  I feel as if my life is... poorly spent. I spend far too much time playing games online and my son spends far too much time watching television. Yes, I know. I'm a horrible mother and my son is probably scarred for life. Actually, sarcasm aside, I do feel quite guilty about this, but when I feel so down and exhausted I tend to shut down. I just need to realize that I can't afford to do that anymore. I have a very small person who depends on me.
For the past few weeks I made it my goal to have a morning routine that really gets us going. I pick out clothes for both my son and myself before I go to bed. Those clothes, and a fresh diaper for him, get put in the bathroom. As soon as he wakes me up we give good morning kisses and then we go to the bathroom and get dressed, brush our teeth and our hair, and I give the bathroom a quick clean up (no more than a few minutes). Being fully dressed and ready helps me feel more productive. For some reason I'm more likely to start the laundry and clean the kitchen when I come downstairs in clean clothes. I tend to spend more time lounging if I remain in my pajamas (not to mention that I typically stay in them all day if I wear them past noon).
So, we've got that down. Yay! Victory for mommy!

This week I've decided to add something else to that list. Craft time. W is really at an age where crafts can be a lot of fun. He already colors, draws, glues, and finger paints. But I would really like to set some time aside just for the two of us, every day, to create. Tomorrow we are finger painting. Then I'm heading to the store for some beans, pasta, beads, and liquid glue. Maybe I'll check out some paint brushes and tempera paint. I think it's going to be a fun week. Here's what I have planned:

Monday: Finger painting
Tuesday: Glue and pasta
Wednesday: Paint the glue and pasta creation
Thursday: Stringing beads
Friday: Gluing shapes and colors

They're simple, easy ideas. I want to start slow. Hopefully we'll be getting some holiday baking in as well, and of course, W will be helping as much as he can! I'd better find some cookie cutters!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Enough of the bull

Not that there are too many people who frequent my blog. But for those who have been anticipating an update here it is. I've had enough of the bull.
And all of the bull is coming from... myself.
When I was pregnant with W, I had no clue what to do about anything. Nothing. Not a damn clue. I didn't know  how I was going to do anything. So, as I tend to do, I started to research. And research. And research some more. It's a hobby, I suppose. I joined a ton of message boards. I subscribed to a ton of mommy blogs. I started getting a ton of magazines and buying a ton (and I mean a ton) of books. I eventually heard about Attachment Parenting.
When I first heard about AP I knew it was right for our family. I craved peace and security and this seemed like the perfect way to make sure my child had those things. I wanted him to grow up to be exactly who he was meant to be, exactly as he was created.  Now that I had a label I really started to research.
I read and I read, and then I read some more. I continued to read after W was born. I had a great start. Breastfeeding was great, bonding was great. I was feeling pretty awesome. I was going to rock this mom thing.
Then, I stumbled upon two things that would render me insecure for a long time.
The first was a blog I found in a Mothering magazine article, Soulemama. It's a truly inspiring blog written by a loving mother. Sometimes her blog really makes my day, so don't think that I am putting Amanda and her blog down. She is the mother, wife, citizen, woman, that I desired to be. She is kind, thoughtful, intelligent, wise, patient, crafty, and grateful. I read her blog and I told myself, "I want to live like that. I want the life she has." And I started cooking her recipes, taking up her hobbies, using her words as my own personal "how to" guide, and reading her books. Which brings us to insecurity inducing item number 2, a book called Connection Parenting: Parenting Through Connection Instead of Coercion, Through Love Instead of Fear, 2nd Edition.
I read the book and it made so much sense! Of course! I need to be patient, look for intent in all my child does, and by all means, I must strive to obtain, keep, and strengthen the connection with my child. I read the book from cover to cover. I made notes, wrote down daily goals, tracked my parenting faults and failures as well as my victories.
So, you're probably asking,  "if these two items were so great, how did they make you feel so insecure?":

It's simple, really. I got caught up. I got so caught up in trying to be as flawless a person as Amanda Soule and as flawless a parent as described in Connection Parenting that I forgot some very important things. I forgot to be mindful. I forgot to celebrate my victories. I forgot to take a break. I was so caught up in trying to be these things that I forgot about myself. I started to focus on what I was doing wrong, on how my situation was not conducive to my goals, on what I didn't have, what I couldn't have, and what I wouldn't have. Negativity reigned for a long time. I was becoming the exact opposite of what I wanted to be. I was angry, impatient, and not productive. I wasn't happy.

I've decided to let it go. I'll never be Soulemama, and that's ok. I'll never be Pam Leo's ideal parent. I am me, I am the mother my son was born to, I am the woman my husband married. I am me. I need to learn to be the parent that meshes with who I am and what I want, not only for my son, not only for my family, but for me as well. Sure, I can take ideas from Connection Parenting, but I can't be insecure in my parenting. I can enjoy Soulemama, but I need to appreciate it for what it is. I need to enjoy it, appreciate it, and possibly use it as inspiration that fits my life. AP is all about doing what feels right, instinctual parenting, I suppose. At least, that's what it means to me. I will be happier if I let these things go and therefore, I can have a happier family.

So (and if you are still reading, I applaud and thank you), I have decided to do a few things. First, I'm going to strive to be more mindful and to become more secure in my parenting. Also, I'm going to start doing for myself more often. W isn't going to be traumatized if he has to be with a sitter while I get out of the house or while I get something done for a few hours. Our parent/child connection isn't going to be irreparably severed if I let him throw a tantrum, and the world isn't going to end if I take some time to knit something for me as opposed to everyone else. In addition, I need to start to be thankful for what I have and show some patience for what I want.

So, here's to finding security, loving the life I have, and doing what I love! Cheers!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Letter to the editor

In response to "Mother Madness" by Erica Jong

It has come to my attention, through a plethora of ill-researched and inflammatory articles, that some people believe that  Attachment Parenting is imprisoning and victimizing women; that it is anti-feminist. I strongly disagree and abject to these accusations and I would like to explain why.
I am an "attachment parent." I believe  that it is my job to make sure my child is as secure, safe, and healthy as possible. To me that means breastfeeding, child lead weaning, baby wearing, co-sleeping, cloth diapering, buying or making natural toys, and making sure my child consumes as little processed food as possible. That is my choice. It is a well researched choice and I am extremely satisfied with it.
I actually feel that there is nothing more feminist than CHOICE. I have a master's degree, but I have CHOSEN to stay at home and raise my son. I have family members who are willing to watch my son if I were to work, but I have CHOSEN to politely thank them and stay home to raise my son.  It's nice to know that I can go back to work when and if I want to, but for now I'm CHOOSING to stay at home. I also CHOOSE to use cloth diapers, breastfeed (past 1 year *gasp!*), and cook from scratch.  I do not feel pressure to do these things. As a matter of fact, since the day I announced my pregnancy, I felt pressure to go against my instincts, to ignore my research, and to follow a more mainstream idea of parenting. As a strong, independent, and intelligent woman, I was able to ignore that pressure and continue following my instincts and sticking by my choices. What is anti-feminist about that?
Believe it or not, I enjoy staying home with my son. I think that I have a fantastic job. I get to spend time with my son, spend time working on my hobbies which include knitting,  cooking, researching miscellaneous topics, and preparing to go back to school to obtain my PhD (what can I say, I love learning).  The only expectations I have are my own. No day is ever the same and our hours are spent laughing, learning, and enjoying each other's company. Sure, I have tough parenting moments, but those have little to do with my parenting choices and everything to do with the nature of being a parent. No matter how you CHOOSE to parent your child, you are going to have tough moments, tough days, and tough phases. Parenting is enjoyable but not always easy, no matter how you CHOOSE to parent your child.
Also, I have never felt more liberated! Not only do I get to CHOOSE, for the most part, how I spend my days, but I'm helping our family achieve self-sustainability. And what can be more liberating than being self-sustaining? I enjoy growing, harvesting, and preserving food, especially when that means I won't be dependent on a stranger's quality assurance. I know what's in my food and I know where it came from. You can't often say that about what you buy in the grocery store.  I enjoy knowing that my diapers are free of chemicals. I enjoy knowing what is in my laundry detergent, soap, and household cleaners. I enjoy helping my family save money and prepare for the future. 
If anyone feels trapped, it is my husband. He is stuck going to work every day. He doesn't get to chose what he does with his day, he doesn't get to work on his hobbies during the week.  He doesn't get to spend mornings cuddling in bed with his son. We decided, as a family, that it was best for him to be the one who goes to work, but that doesn't mean that it isn't hard for him to say good-bye to us every morning. That doesn't mean that it isn't tiring carrying the financial burden all alone. I very much appreciate and respect his sacrifice and I try my best to let him know that. He also understands that we are working towards a goal and that it won't always be like this.
We are working as a unit towards a common goal: to become as self-sufficient as possible in the hopes that my husband will one day have to work minimal hours and we can spend the majority of our days together, as a family, just enjoying life.  That, in my opinion, is the way it should be.
The author of the article published on your website asks, " Is it even possible to satisfy the needs of both parents and children?" I would answer, "Yes." My needs are very well met. My son's needs are very well met. My husband's needs are also well met. Has it been a struggle?  Absolutely. But that has little to do with attachment parenting and everything to do with our society's aversion to families. How is it that we have come from "a woman's place is in the kitchen" to "a woman's place is in the workplace"? It's amazing, the amount of flack I have taken because of my CHOICE.
Jong continues, "Indeed, although attachment parenting comes with an exquisite progressive pedigree, it is a perfect tool for the political right. It certainly serves to keep mothers and fathers out of the political process. If you are busy raising children without societal help and trying to earn a living during a recession, you don't have much time to question and change the world that you and your children inhabit. What exhausted, overworked parent has time to protest under such conditions?"
 I'm protesting now, aren't I?  Actually I find that my CHOICES  are a type of protest. Instead of buying from big box stores and large corporations, I chose to make, grow, or salvage most of what our family needs. It is my protest against the lack of ethics shown by such stores and corporations. Buying my meat from a local farmer who pastures his animals is my protest against factory farming. My using cloth diapers is my protest against the diaper companies who, most times, won't even let you know what you are putting on your child's bum. I have never been more politically active than I am as a stay at home mom. Because we have less money, we spend less, we have less. We don't participate in the disgusting  mass consumerism and materialism that is so rampant in our culture. We CHOOSE To evaluate our lives and decide what is important to us. How is that not politically relevant? Also, I would say that I am no more tired than your average person who is trying to earn a living during a recession. Many people are taking second jobs, working over time, and accepting lower wages for hard work just to make ends meet. What makes them more able to question and change the world than me? During naptime I can research political candidates, write letters, make phone calls, do research, and use my voice in a multitude of other ways. What full-time employee can do this on their lunch break? I would say that being a stay-at-home mom has empowered me, if anything.
And, wait, there's more! "In the oscillations of feminism, theories of child-rearing have played a major part. As long as women remain the gender most responsible for children, we are the ones who have the most to lose by accepting the "noble savage" view of parenting, with its ideals of attachment and naturalness. We need to be released from guilt about our children, not further bound by it. We need someone to say: Do the best you can. There are no rules."
There are no rules, only suggestions.  I feel no guilt about my child, even though I face pressure every day to become more mainstream. I have CHOSEN to be the PERSON who stays home with my child. It could have been my husband, but since his job paid more, we decided it was best if I left mine, if I wanted to. And I did. Maybe the discrepancy between the salaries of men and women is something that you should spend your time writing about. The last thing I need is yet another person telling me what I'm doing wrong as a mother. It seems that your article is a bit hypocritical.
If you parent differently and you feel that my way is inferior to yours, good!  You should feel that your parenting is superior. If you don't, then you are doing something wrong.
If you ever want an educated woman, who is currently a parent, to write educated articles on motherhood for your website, you know how to contact me.

A satisfied attachment parent, by CHOICE.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Our "up north" trip and a lil' something for my Twi-fan friends.

Before we leave the Pacific Northwest we're trying to see everything we can. This includes the Hoh Rainforest's Hall of Mosses. We stayed in Port Angeles and had to drive through Forks to get to the rainforest. After our hike we went to La Push beach to relax.

Hoh Rainforest
La Push
Forks welcome sign.
La Push is the most beautiful beach I've ever seen, not that I've seen very many beaches.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Seattle Adventures and Green Detroit?

We're moving back to Michigan. I've been so distraught. I love Seattle! I love Tacoma! I love Washington! I have great friends here and I feel like such a part of the community.
But, alas, there's nothing I can do. We're moving back in less than two weeks. But I am bound and determined to see all that I can see before we leave.
Months ago, we purchased some Seattle-centric books for Wesley:  Larry Gets Lost in Seattle and Seattle ABC: A Larry Gets Lost Book and we've decided to use the books as tour guides. We took a whole day and took pictures of the little man in front of the places and landmarks they feature. It was exhausting and it's going to take another day, but I believe it's worth it. I hope little man appreciates it.

Little Man at the Fremont Troll

Little Man at the Lake Union Houseboats.
In addition, we're headed up north this weekend and I'll have more to share then. We're hitting up Port Angeles, Forks, La Push Beach, and the Hoh Rainforest (the highlight of the trip).  We'll also be heading back to Seattle to get pictures of the places we missed last weekend.

Before we leave, he had to make one last stop at the Fremont Market. While there, the strangest thing happened. I saw some art that I LOVED, so we stepped into the stall to get a closer look. We started talking to the artist and she mentioned that she's moving to Detroit. Of course we told her that we were doing the same at the end of the month. We talked a bit, bought some art, and moved on to a stall further down to the stall of an artist who happened to be her current neighbor. We mentioned Detroit again and he said something to the effect of "Detroit is the next green city. Everyone is moving there." So apparently, a ton of Seattlites are moving to Detroit. How. Awesome.

I really hope that Detroit is the next "green city," I hope that it fills up with young people, artists, and entrepreneurs. I hope that I can feel in Detroit what I feel in Seattle. Some people might argue that these things are already in Detroit. Maybe I'm not looking close enough. Soon, I'll get a chance to look again. Maybe I can help "bring in the green." Who knows? I was already hoping to start (or find) a community garden in the suburb I grew up in. We'll see.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Shame on you, Better Homes and Gardens

**Update** BHG did issue an apology for the offensive article. The left the article up, but removed the breastfeeding portion. They also rewrote the article using advice from actual parents, including me. You can read that article here

Typically, I like to keep my activism off this blog. This blog is a place where I can feel peaceful and share the beautiful corners of my life. However, a horrendously arrogant and ignorant "article" written for and published in Better Homes and Gardens has come to my attention and I would like to address it.

The author writes, " recent years, I’ve noticed a pronounced blurring of the boundaries between “adult world” and “kid world”, especially when it comes to dining out."
Wait, what? The "adult world" and the "kid world?" Don't we all live in the same world? Apparently our author does not. If we don't allow children to participate in the "adult world" how will they learn to be adults? Are we supposed to hide them at home until they are of an "acceptable age" to interact with society?

The author's tone is extremely arrogant and patronizing. I see her sitting at her desk wagging her finger at parents everywhere, "tsk, tsk." Not to mention her ridiculous generalizations and stereotypes. This "article" basically encourages parents to keep their noisy, picky, gross, unacceptable children home because the author does not want them to ruin her night out. The author attacks photo-taking, leisurely eating, not ordering from the kids menu, and worst of the worst, in my opinion, breastfeeding. This author is absolutely appalled that she has seen women breastfeeding in 4 star restaurants! And she assumes that you'll be equally as upset at the thought.

Yes, I have seen table-side breast feeding at a four-star restaurant. If at all possible, take it to the ladies room. (Note: most upscale restaurants have really nice restrooms!)"

Really?  Really? You want me to tell my child that they can't eat at the table with the rest of the family? You want me to feed my child on a toilet while someone in the next stall is defecating?  You know what, "Heather W.?" The next time you eat at a 4 star restaurant why don't you take your gourmet meal into the "really nice restroom" and eat your dinner there because I'll be BREASTFEEDING my baby AT THE TABLE and I won't be covering up. Enjoy your meal.

I have been to a lot of restaurants and I have seen a lot of things go on in restaurants. What about the couple necking in the corner? What about the extremely loud and drunk frat boys at the bar? What about the teens eating dinner after prom running around the restaurant taking pictures? Aren't those just as distracting? Why target parents just trying to do their job?

Also, you might notice that after every "Commandment" there is a suggestion for a recipe. After all, if you have kids, you should be staying home to eat anyway and BHG is here to help.

Friday, May 21, 2010

This moment

Inspired by Soulemama -  A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Freed from the can!

For a while I've felt guilty and a little nauseous when cooking with canned condensed soups. It doesn't look appealing, it usually doesn't smell appealing... Last Christmas at my husband's family's get together someone made a scrumptious Green Bean Casserole with what I think was homemade Cream of Mushroom soup. There were these nice big tender (but not mushy) chunks of mushroom in it. It was fabulous! It inspired me to try and make my own soups, I don't know why I hadn't thought of that before. I mean, it's bound to be cheaper than buying the can of gloop!
So I went in search of a something to replace Cream of Chicken soup and I found a great, easy recipe.

Here's what it looks like finished:
And the mess?
And that's more mess than was needed because I chopped up some fresh parsley instead of using dried (it's prettier). It only too me about 15 minutes total, and that includes waiting for the broth and milk to boil.
It needed a little salt, but I think that has more to do with the fact that I used a low sodium broth. Next time I'm going to try and make my own broth.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

the Rain, the Park, and Other Things

It's  rainy outside today. Not the usual sprinkling we get constantly in the fall, winter, and spring here, but a nice, constant musical rain. And it smells so clean and fresh! I'm thrilled that I get to have the windows open. So is my little guy.

Here's a peek from our adventures outdoors when it was nice this past weekend.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Saving Money

Lately, people have been asking me how I save money. So I've compiled a list of ideas and suggestions.

Start using cash only - Start using an envelope or jar system. They are labeled: Food, Gas, Etc, Haircuts, Change, and Leftovers.

Start a change jar - At the end of every day take all the change out of your car, pockets, and bags and put it in this jar. It's surprising how quickly it can add up!

Cut unnecessary monthly bills - Prioritize. Think of the things you are missing out on because you are short on cash. Are they worth having what you have now? Example: Is having to work an extra 4 hours every week worth having Cable and "the works?" Cut out cable, movie channels, subscriptions, extra phone lines, minutes you don't use, etc.

Find your "Money Leaks" - Where are you slowly leaking money? Do you make frequent trips to the convenience store (where most things cost nearly twice as much!) when you run out of things? Are you making unnecessary car trips? Do you buy coffee or fast food? Find out where you might be spending a dollar here and a dollar there and stop it!

Stop throwing away money - Stop buying paper products such as paper towels, napkins, maxi pads, and disposable diapers. Go cloth! You'd be surprised how easy it is and how much you'll save. It really doesn't add that much to your laundry. If you're really daring try "family cloth" aka reusable toilet paper.

Turn it off - Keep your lights off during the day or when you aren't in the room, unplug kitchen appliances and doodads when they aren't in use, plug your video game consoles and television into a power strip and unplug it when they aren't in use, do the same with lamps, and don't keep phone charges plugged in unless you're using them. This should shave quite a bit off of your electric bill.

Hang 'Em - If weather permits, hang your clothes out to dry. After taking them inside, put them in the dryer for a few minutes to shake off pollen and fluff them a bit. Throw some vinegar in the rinse cycle as a fabric softener. If it's rainy or cold, hang them on a covered porch or patio on a drying rack.

Get crafty - Before buying something ask yourself: "Can I make this?" If you can, go for it! At least give it a try. Extra points for making it out of things you already have.
Get thrifty - If you can't make something yourself ask yourself: "Can I buy this used?" Then head to the nearest thrift shop and see if you can find it.

Go au natural: Stop buy commercial cleaners. Use natural ingredients to clean your house. Vinegar and baking soda are pretty cheap and they're great for cleaning many things. Castile soap is inexpensive as well. You can use it to make almost anything from an all purpose cleaner to shampoo! A great book on how to do this is Make Your Place. It's full of recipes and ideas.
Make your own - Make your own laundry detergent. There are a ton of recipes out there. Try a few and see what works best. You can clean your clothes for pennies a load this way and you can even customize the scent with essential oils.

Grow your own - Start a vegetable garden. This can save you tons!

Whole Foods - Stop buying convenience foods. Start cooking from scratch. Bread, pizza dough, condensed soups, mashed potatoes, spaghetti sauce, etc. It might take a little extra effort, but not only are you saving a ton of money but you're now completely aware of everything that is in your food. No more hidden additives!

Empty it - Do a complete overhaul of your house, including your garage and basement. Clear out and then sell or give away anything you don't use or need. Be harsh and honest. Try not to hold on to things that you aren't going to display or use. Check out Fly Lady for ideas on how to do this. Having less will allow you to enjoy what you have more which might help squelch any frivolous spending. You might also make a few bucks in the process.

Cars - Can you become a one car family? This might save you a car payment and insurance! Check with your insurance company to find out how much you'll save before you get rid of the car. Some companies give multi-car discounts, so it might hurt you to get rid of it. Also, check to see if raising your deductible can lower your payments.

Check your bills - Are you getting the best deal on car insurance? How about cable (unless you canceled)? Now is a good time to call and see if you can negotiate a better deal or at least make sure that you're getting all the discounts you can. Most companies want to keep their customers and are willing to work with you. Call your creditors and see if you can negotiate a smaller monthly payment if debt is overwhelming you.

Make each trip worth it - Gas is expensive. Try and plan out each outing to maximize your tank.

Do you have any suggestions to add?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Been a while/ This moment

Inspired by Soulemama,
This moment: "{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. "

It's been a while, but I'm back! This weekend I'm going to compile all of my suggestions for saving money, working towards sustainability, and living with less. I'll be posting it on Monday!
Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Broccoli Soup and More

I forgot to update on the broccoli soup! It was DELICIOUS! Even my veggie hating husband loved it. It will quickly become a new staple for us.
I've done plenty of knitting lately. I finished some gifts, that I can't post on here for obvious reasons!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Twenty Eight Years

I had a great birthday with my two favorite men! We bought a new bed, had chicken soup and chocolate mug cake with ice cream. It was fantastic.

More boxing...

Today I wasn't feeling so hot (allergies and a climate change will do that), so I didn't get all that much finished. I did get one box of baby stuff out the door and I managed to keep the kitchen clean after cooking dinner. Go me!
Tomorrrow's goal: 1 box, clean kitchen, trip to the dollar store and JoAnn's, and broccoli soup (turns out I didn't have enough broccoli to make it today, so tomorrow it is!).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Very Productive Day

I am really proud of my family today. We accomplished so much.
I cleaned the kitchen this morning, we went to JoAnn's for some supplies for next year's Christmas presents (I'm starting early so I can get them all done), we boxed up a ton of clothes that no longer fit W, I made dinner for Friday ahead of time, we tidied up the office a bit (accidentally while looking for something), and we just had a great day together! I am exhausted, but pleased.
Tomorrow I plan on boxing up some more clothes and trying a new recipe. I'm going to try the Broccoli Soup recipe from my new cookbook "Apples for Jam" I hope it turns out ok. I'm really excited about it. I even bought some nice, crusty bread to go along with it.

We also made our own laundry soap today! We probably have about 2 gallons of the stuff, it's supposed to do over 200 loads of laundry and it cost less than a dollar to make. It was fun and it made the house smell good. Good thing we made it because the laundry has been piling up!

Here's hoping that tomorrow is just as productive!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Back home and back to work!

I'm finally back in my own home and I'm ready to get things done! I'm going to get this house clean and uncluttered.
I have a schedule set up to keep me on track and I'm trying to keep my expectations low so I don't get worn out.

I want to pay attention to all aspects of my life:
emotional health
mental strength
physical fitness

So I have fit these things into my day, every day.
During W's naptime I will work out for at least 20 minutes with Wii Fit, DDR, or a video. After I work out I'll spend time meditating and trying to center myself. That takes care of physical fitness and emotional health.
Before bed, I'm going to read something of substance, no brain candy! That takes care of mental strength.
As for relationships, we are going to sit down in the dining room and eat dinner together and after we eat we'll spend some time playing together in the living room. Of course, this is an area where we can fit things in at any time, but if we at least eat dinner together and have a bit of time together after dinner it will help keep us close and happy.

I also have set up a schedule for cleaning and simplifying the house. This week I'm focusing on the utility room. It was our "catch all" and it's pretty bad. There are piles and piles of clothes that W grew out of, maternity clothes, and other things that need to be packed away. Today I'm going to start doing just that. I'm hoping to have the room cleaned, even swept and mopped by Saturday afternoon.

Then my goals are as follows:

Week 2: The living room. Get rid of clutter.

Week 3: The bedroom. Go through clothes and get rid of what isn't worn. Get rid of clutter.

Week 4: The kitchen. Go through all drawers and cabinets. Get rid of anything that isn't being used anymore. Go through food and get rid of anything that is expired and donate things that won't be used to food bank.

Week 5: The dining room. Go through buffet and desk, get rid of anything that isn't used.

Week 6: The bathroom and linen closet. Get rid of clutter and things that aren't used.

Week 7: The office. Now this will be a real tough one. It will probably take me two weeks. It's a mess and will take a lot of organizing.

When my husband is available to help: When he can help, we'll go into the garage and totally clean it out. It will probably take a weekend or two. We really need to cut down on the things we have in there.

We'll probably have a garage sale to sell some things after we're done cleaning. We have a lot of furniture to sell too. We're really scaling back and we're hoping to make enough money to assist with our move.

Thanks for reading!