Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Guide to Imperfect, but Clean Laundry

If you do an excellent job taking care of your laundry each week, this isn’t a post for you. If all of your clothes are neatly put away, you should skip this post. You don’t need to read it.

If your goal is simply to have you and your family dressed in clean clothes, let’s talk strategies.

1. Have one laundry basket for clean clothes — just one! I’ve had a load of clean clothes sitting in the laundry basket for four days, not even folded. Pretty soon my kids will start getting dressed from it when their drawers are finally empty. I don’t care; it’s just one basket. I put away all the other laundry because I only have that one basket.

2. Do not pile clothes on your ironing board. If your clothes need to be ironed but you don’t plan to do it right then, hang them up in your closet anyway so they won’t be more wrinkled. There are few things more discouraging than an ironing pile. If for some reason you have an inkling to do some ironing, you can get the clothes from the closet or iron one shirt when you need it.

3. Don’t fold stuff. Towels are hung back on the towel bar. Sheets are put back on the bed. Underwear gets tossed in the drawer. T-shirts are hung on hangers.

4. Sorting clothes before you wash — I don’t think you need to do it. I can’t help myself, I sort anyways. Do you or don’t you?

5. Phase out high-maintenance clothes. Look at the care label when you buy new ones. Dry clean only? Pass. The shirt may be on sale, but you’ll pay much more for cleaning costs, not to mention how long it will sit on the floor of the closet before you take a trip to the cleaners.

Mainly with laundry, just try to keep up. You don’t need to have it all finished to feel good about it. I need to do three to four loads a week in my family, so I try to keep up that pace during the week. I don’t try to have all of my family’s clothes clean at the same time. If I did, it would last about two seconds.

Ain't It Funny?

My days are not my own.

My time is not my own.

My schedule is not my own.

My home is not my own.

My room is not my own.

My bed is certainly not my own.

My body is not my own.

My TV is not my own.

My phone is not my own.

My car is not my own (I mean, hell, it's a minivan.)

These days, pretty much nothing in my life is my own. And yet, I have everything I could ever need.

Chapter 1: My Story (and Mine too!)

“Clutter can indeed be traced back to Adam, who, when his fig leaves were worn out and should have been discarded, pressed and saved them as a memory of bygone days.”

Some people believe that there are people that are born this way – the ability to be tidy housekeepers. Mrs. Porter and I both believe that we’re born with an innate ability to clean or that there are “neat freak” or “messy” genes. Where does it start then?

Children tend to learn by what they see and not by what they are taught. Mrs. Porter’s parents, and mine as well, taught their children to clean but also showed behaviors that invite clutter. Her parents, and mine, saved LOTS of things. Childhood games also tend to follow us into adulthood and become habits.

Anyone who has kids knows the game “drop it”. The baby or child will drop utensils, food, toys, and other things off their high chair and mommy or daddy will pick it up and hand it back. It’s a repeating cycle until one person, usually the parent, puts a stop to the “game”. Now that we are parents, we don’t like it so much.

Then there is the game “empty it”. Both Dianna and Genevieve play this game FREQUENTLY and to be perfectly honest, it drives me nuts. Literally. I used to have a bunch of their little toys in fabric bins on their shelves. Then the dumping began. I only have so much energy, so everything is now semi-neatly stored in a large cedar chest(family heirloom type) in their bedroom. Then there are all the books! With the girls having a librarian for a grandmother, each and every birthday and Christmas are filled with books. I had to store all of the paper page ones in their closet, so the books with the stories that I grew up with can last until the girls can read them for themselves. Then there is the laundry. It has to ALL be stored in their closet, which is childproofed. It we had the clothes in a dresser out in their bedroom, I am SURE that the drawers would get emptied daily. These games are mastered VERY quickly, but “put it back” takes a while longer.

Mrs. Porter also mentions that preschoolers graduate to a game that she calls “leave it”. Kids this age like to play with their own toys and then leave the mess for someone else to deal with. She talks about how her nieces like to play this game. At first, she dealt with this by telling them that any toys getting left laying out would get thrown out. She also stated that the girls owned enough playthings to fill a Toys-R-Us store. THAT is WAY too many toys! Another time, Mrs. Porter tries a kinder and gentler approach. She taught her nieces that the more toys they had, the more they had to clean up. More toys = more cleaning! Suddenly, they were very eager to find toys they no longer loved and donate them to charity. I hope I can teach my kids this valuable lesson.

Without setting boundaries on the number of toys and expectations to pick them up, preschoolers might even play “leave it” right into their teenage years. Worse yet, it might get so burned into their brain, that this character trait will follow them into adulthood. Combined with the “need” to get more things without getting rid of some of the things they already own, there is a recipe for disaster.

Mrs. Porter and I have a problem in common. We both tend to play “leave it” quite a bit. Dishes pile up in the sink. Laundry may sit in its hamper or on the floor for days. Things will get set down on the table or bar to the kitchen until “I can get to it”.

It used to be hard to get rid of stuff, but then I started getting tired of how much time I was spending cleaning and organizing. I think I still spend too much time cleaning and organizing, and that is an ongoing project in itself.

Like Mrs. Porter, I also lacked a confidence in my cleaning skills. I know how to wash a counter, it was the cleaning all the junk off it part that was and is still hard. I didn’t read every cleaning book I could get my hands on, I just did a little research online about “green cleaning” and try to keep up with some of the posts from FlyLady. Several people contribute to this Facebook page, and followers also share their experiences so they can help others. I have never tried index cards for anything other than notes for school, have never used a timer, had never thought of using incentives, but I have come up with a cleaning chart/schedule that I hope will help me keep up with everything, especially after LO#3 arrives. Unfortunately, everything is only temporary, especially if you have young children.

If cleaning is “that big” of a problem, then any little part of it should be prayed about. Not some little halfhearted prayer, but one as serious as one that you would send up for a friend who has been in a serious accident. Answers or a spick and span house won’t usually happen overnight. And sometimes it won’t always be in a way that you expect.

Sometimes you have to start over as if you were a child. That was what Mrs. Porter did with the help of 2 friends from church. One BIG point mentioned was “You CAN’T keep it all!” Gifts are gifts. Once it is given to you, you can do whatever you want with it. You can keep it, regift it to someone who really NEEDS it, or get rid of it in another manner. You can’t keep it all and keep a clean house!

That brings about A BUNCH of good questions. What can be gotten rid of? How do I decide what to keep? What other things have I been holding onto that I don’t need? Ask your friends about their methods for handling clutter. How do they keep their homes free of so much stuff? What do they do with possessions they used to love but have outgrown? What happens to expensive items they no longer use? Do they keep duplicates? How many bath towels do they own? How many sets of sheet do they own for each bed? What about extra blankets? Are there items they stock up on? What types of keep sakes do they save? ALL excellent questions!

How many pairs of jeans do I really need? What about t-shirts and sweatshirts? Do I need all that I have? What don’t I wear anymore? Are there clothes that don’t fit right or don’t compliment my figure? What do I have that I just don’t like? Am I hanging onto clothes that are torn, faded, or missing buttons? If so, why am I keeping them?

Mrs. Porter lost pounds of emotional weight with every piece of clutter that went out the door. Her soul felt lighter. Whatever feelings of comfort or happiness she derived from having too much stuff was multiplied by letting things go. This gives a new definition to freedom. You might be able to sense God’s presence even more, like Mrs. Porter was. She also found a peace and clarity previously unknown in her life.

I think that the “new philosophy” mentioned is definitely a good idea to write down or print out and keep where you see it every day. Write it. Memorize it. Say it to yourself when you are cleaning. I CAN’T KEEP EVERYTHING AND KEEP A CLEAN HOUSE!


By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24: 3-4

The first step in maintaining a clean house is obtaining the wisdom in how to do it. Nearly anyone can keep a clean house for a day. Every day is a horse of another color. Understanding is needed to comprehend how to permanently transform clutter into neatness and less stress. We need to remember that the most beautiful treasures we can fill our house with are people, not material possessions.

De-Cluttering My Heart:

Lord, forgive me for: being so lazy after taking the girls down to the library and playground.

Lord, thank you for: time with visiting family. It truly is a blessing, even though it is not for long.

Lore, help me with: getting the girls out of the apartment more often while the weather is still decent and not too warm outside.

Decluttering My Home:

Do I still play “drop it” and “leave it”? I know I still play both of them, and they are a constant struggle that I try to work on daily. Working on them can be hard, especially with having kids around. What childhood habits do I need to change? I definitely need to change the “games” I play and definitely work on getting to cleaning sooner rather than later. What behaviors can I replace them with? I don’t really know what kind of positive behaviors I can replace them with. I know I need to work on not setting things down and taking forever and a day to get back to them.

Am I open to pairing down any of my collections? In the past year or so, I have gotten rid of(given back to the original owner) almost 2 whole series of books, some of my knick knacks, and a bunch of little craft clutter junk, what I like to call things that I save to do crafts but are really trash. What items am I willing to consider letting go? I recently got rid of a bunch of unusable clothing scraps that I was saving to make memory quilts/clothes for the girls. I don’t know exactly how much I got rid of, but it was at least a couple of grocery bags worth.

Which do I desire more – to keep everything I own or to keep a clean house? I definitely desire a clean house more. I hate having to watch where I am stepping, just because the girls have so many toys out that haven’t been picked up yet. I also don’t really have the patience to keep picking up the same things several times a day, every day.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Don't You Want a Doctor?

Note: I found this on Cafemom and it totally describes my feelings about why I really wanted to go with a midwife this time around

Don't you want a doctor?...

It is a question I have been asked, "Don't you want someone who can handle anything?" When I heard this question, so many feelings boiled inside me so fast that
my answer constituted: "No, because I don't want someone waiting for the slightest opportunity to cut me open again." And, while that holds true, there's so much more than that and it deserves to be put into words.

I don't want a doctor because I believe in my ability to birth. I believe that Mother Nature/Creation/ God(s)-or whomever you revere- have given us the ability and the opportunity to birth, and to go through that passage for a reason. Over the years in North American culture, we have lost sight of such experience and its purpose. It has been said before, that "A child is born,
and so is a mother."

I don't want a doctor because they are experts in many things, but not normal birth.

I don't want a doctor because I want a birth attendant who believes in me. An attendant who will empower me, and support me, and tell me to get it together and birth this baby. I choose someone who will encourage me to be educated and make decisions with me, not for me.

I don't want a doctor because I am not making decisions based on fear. I make decisions based on research, and logic and, all the while, I also follow my heart.

I don't want a doctor because, despite widely held beliefs, birth in a hospital is not as safe as birth outside a hospital. Birth with a midwife, at home, is a rational choice.

I do not want a doctor because I am more than a paycheck, a liability, or a 'difficult' patient.

I do not want a doctor because I do not need to wait an hour in a waiting room to be seen for 5 minutes and by someone who needs to look at my chart to know my name. Instead, I want to be welcomed with a hug, offered water, a snack, and have an hour talking about my pregnancy, my feelings, and my birth plans.

I do not want a doctor because I do not need to feel scared about being an inconvenience, or have questions, take too much time, be too "needy" or have too many expectations.

I don't want a doctor because I want to be regarded as a healthy birthing mother. I am not sick, I am not a patient. I am full with life.

I don't want a doctor because birth is NOT an emergency waiting to happen, it is NOT dangerous. A doctor makes you believe birth is unsafe and you need them. After all, they would not have a job otherwise. A midwife trusts the process and allows it to take its course without fitting it into a box or random standards.

I don't want a doctor because I want someone who can handle things without a knife and someone who knows how to help me get the baby into a better position and over a pubic bone, and whatever else, without slicing me open or using torture devices.

I don't want a doctor because my body works. And it works best if not surrounded by strangers poking, probing and interrupting my concentration.

I don't want a doctor because I know I WILL go into labor, my hips are NOT small, they're the perfect size. My baby is NOT too big, my body CAN dilate, I am NOT a failure to progress. I DO NOT need to be saved. By not having a doctor, I AM saving myself.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want him, or a calendar, or a clock to tell me when I HAVE to birth and how fast I need to dilate. My body knows it, my baby knows it. We'll do it when it's time for the baby to be born, and time for me to birth my child.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want to be offered an induction (or be cut open) because it's close to Christmas, Mother's Day, or Labor Day. I won't be hurried because
there's a golf game, a cruise, or a date to be made, or it's just inconvenient for me to wake them up at night or to take too long.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want to be imprisoned in a bed "just in case" and I don't want to have to stay still so a machine can work properly and the nurse doesn't have time to come into my room.

I don't want a doctor because I do not need to ask for permission to use the rest room, move around, eat, or have an opinion. Nor, do I need scare tactics and a "dead baby" card when I opt out of a procedure done only to cover the doctor's legal butt.

I do not want a doctor because I appreciate being talked to respectfully, and acknowledged, and being taken into account. I DO WANT TO KNOW, AND I WILL worry my little head about it, after all, it is my birth, my child, and my responsibility to do so.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want an electronic monitor to tell someone how I'm doing or whether I am in pain or not, or if my baby hugs are adequate enough.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want someone to "manage" my birth, and "solve" things by using interventions, which may lead to more interventions, which would be solved with even more interventions

I don't want a doctor because I don't want to be silent. I will groan, and moan, and sing if I want to, and my midwife may sing with me.

I don't want a doctor because* I *will birth my baby. My midwife will be present at my birth but nothing (besides food) will be delivered.

I do not want a doctor because I am not birthing on my back, or holding my breath or counting to 10.

I don't want a doctor because I don't want my child to be poked and prodded before we have a chance to hold each other. I want my baby to hear my voice first.

I don't want a doctor because I cannot bear another cut into my uterus and my heart, nor can I bear to watch another baby of mine born into blinding bright lights, deep suctioning, IV's and antibiotics.

I don't want a doctor because I have all it takes: wisdom, strength, courage, faith, and a vagina.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Too Much Stuff! Introduction

Organized and uncluttered are probably two of the last words anyone close to me would use to describe me. I am one of those messy “organized” people. If Mike needs something out of our filing cabinet, he usually asks me to find it since it is my “filing system”. I also have my own sort of organization system for our office, crafting, and electronic items.

In my Sunday school class, we started doing our weekly lesson from this excellent book called “Too Much Stuff: De-Cluttering Your Heart and Home” by Kathryn Porter. Mrs. Porter has a unique perspective on clutter, which I think is why her book is so good and helpful. I think even organized people can learn something from her. If the book has a question to answer, I will put my answer(for that day) in RED.

A little background on Mrs. Porter is necessary to explain why she is such a wonderful person to write a book like this. Mrs. Porter’s mother died when she was 57 years old. Her official cause of death was ketoacidosis, a condition that can occur. Ketoacidosis is a condition that can occur when a diabetic does not follow the proper medical care.

“Let me not destroy the beauty of today by grieving over yesterday…or worrying about tomorrow. May I cherish and appreciate my shell collection each and every day…for I know not when the tide will come and wash my treasures away.”

Mrs. Porter truly believes that her mother’s love for material possessions contributed to her early death. The amount of clutter increased, and she gradually stopped taking her medication because she lost them.

“For I know the plans I have for you, “ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 I think this is an EXCELLENT verse to start this off with because as Mrs. Porter says in her book, “God has great plans for you. He loves you through all the messes you make in life, and not just the ones involving clutter. He knows you’re not perfect, yet He still desires a prominent place in your life. Do not be discourages. For when God is our hope, we know we have a future.”

De-Cluttering My Heart

Lord, forgive me for: (This prayer point is for cleaning your conscience. Confess what is on your mind.) stressing about the stupidest things and not being as calm as I should be in some situations.

Lord, thank you for: (This prayer point is for acknowledging God’s blessing. Develop a thankful heart by finding things to be thankful for and sharing your gratitude.) such sweet(at times) and wonderful children. Having them truly is a blessing!

Lord, help me with: (This prayer point is for asking God’s help in specific areas. Recognize that God will show His strength through your weakness.) my patience levels. Help me to discipline and teach my children in ways that honor you and the way I want to live my life.

De-Cluttering My Home

How does clutter impair my lifestyle? Do I lose things? Do I spend extra money buying items I already have? Think of specific examples. Clutter impairs my lifestyle too much. I stress too much about trying to clean up after the girls and keeping the apartment in a condition that I am not embarrassed with. I don’t lose things as often as I used to, but I can always do better. I do pretty good about not buying extra items, although I do sometimes forget if we have something at home.

What would I do if an unexpected guest knocked on my front door? Would I invite my guest inside? Or would I just happen to be on my way out the door and politely excuse myself? Right now, I would invite the guest in and ask them to excuse the dirty kitchen. The girl’s room, living room, and dining room are clean, but the dishes REALLY need to be done tonight.

How has the too-much-stuff lifestyle affected my relationships? What would I like to change? Having too much stuff has affected my relationships some, because of some past events and people being nosey and judgmental when they shouldn’t have been. I’m not sure what I would like to change, because relationships can be fickle things. They need to be worked on all the time.

I hope reading this has helped you, even if just a little. I will try to put chapter 1 up sometime next week, but we will see when based on my energy levels and how busy we get.

Here is a link to the book, so you can buy it or borrow it from the library or find it somewhere else!